You know what? There's something perfectly apt about the Marlins and Phillies having gone into tonight tied for second, making a hash of magic-number calculations for the moment. Because, really, who cares which team is 16.5 or 165 or 16,500 games behind us in second place? It's easier to just count down our own wins, and that'll get us to October soon enough.
Arrogant, I know, but it's hard to resist feeling that way after watching the Mets dismantle the Dodgers tonight. The Dodgers were much improved, nothing like the team in disarray we saw earlier this year, possibly a better team than the Cardinals now, and Brad Penny had won 15 games. Um, yeah, whatever. Penny got waxed, with the biggest blow a Jose Reyes inside-the-parker that left anyone watching it with a Reyes-sized smile on their faces. 15 seconds home to home, first inside-the-parker I've ever seen where the hitter not only never slowed down but could have scored standing up.
So, another supposedly frightening NL team come to town, another supposedly frightening NL team spat out in chunks. It doesn't guarantee anything come October, but we had our likely playoff lineup on the field and they looked awfully formidable.
After watching the highlights, it was time to check the New York-Penn League scores. This was the final day of the Brooklyn Cyclones' season, which has been marked by insanely hot and ridiculously cold streaks. The Cyclones had a shot at the playoffs, if everything broke just so: For Brooklyn to claim the wild card, the Aberdeen Ironbirds had to lose and the Cyclones had to beat the Vermont Lake Monsters.
I don't get worked up about the Cyclones — I only have so much karma to spend on baseball teams, and each year's Cyclones spring brand-new from the high-school and college ranks, making this truly rooting for laundry. But hey, who can resist a final day of the season like that? I hunted up the scores and found that the Lowell Spinners had beat Aberdeen — and the Cyclones and Vermont were tied at 3-3 in the 10th. Win or go home.
Some quick Web-surfing revealed that the Cyclones stream their broadcasts online — a moment later there was Warner Fuselle booming out from the laptop, competing with a Keyspan Park crowd and the Cyclones' sound effects (Brick screaming “Loud noises!” from “Anchorman” is startling on the radio). And whaddya know? In the bottom of the 12th Vermont's second baseman threw a ball away, giving the Cyclones a 4-3 win. They'll play the Staten Island Yankees Saturday night.
Baseball on a warm summer night, by TV and radio (via the laptop), leisurely and frenetic, routine and crucial. And it all came out OK. I could grow to like this game.