It had only been two lousy losses since the previous Mets win, but it felt fairly major that the Mets asserted themselves in Florida. For you pre-Mentos mint lovers, think of it as Asserts…with Metsin!
For the rest of you, consider a club that was pulling itself back to the pack in its actions if not actually in the standings. More significant than the new, improved magic number having been reintroduced as 25% thinner and a thousand percent more delicious, it was a relief to watch a team whose collective head has been taking a collective nap up its collective rump wake up and get back to the work of slapping around the hapless hopes and distant dreams of all comers, contenders and pretenders.
Given the positive result and apparent attitude adjustment, consider Tuesday night 2…2…2 wins in 1.
The Mets reacted to the Marlins Monday night and much of Tuesday the way the Russians and Cubans recoiled at the Wolverines in Red Dawn. Patrick Swayze and his band of young, courageous freedom fighters attacked the Colorado Commie incursion like the fierce animals named for the local sports collective they were, never giving up no matter the odds that sent them into the mountains scrapping for their and America’s survival in the nascent stages of World War III. The invading communist imperialists in their warm coats never knew what hit them.
Well, everything about these Wolverfish is surface-appealing and everybody who isn’t an overcat loves the underdog, but a) we’re the good guys, b) we never give up and c) the National League is our territory. There will be no teal dawn here.
Delgado, Floyd and Wright in particular asserted themselves. They waited out the close pitches and swung hard at the hittable ones. Our bullpen, with Bradford, Mota and Heilman holding them, Wagner stopping them and Heath Bell enjoying sunflower seeds, resisted falling prey to the Marlins’ hackneyed script. We gutted out some very trying innings, but by the ninth, we had persevered and advanced. Let the diehard Florida fan (note use of singular) remember this night the way we can pick a dozen to rue from September 1987 or 1998. They had their chance. They lost to a better team.
Glad to see us acting like it.
And yes, the penthouse is finally vacant. To Cox, to Smoltz, to Jones and Jones, to Giles, to Jordan, to McCann and Francoeur, to all who have attained and defended National League divisional titles for so long, from West to East, from 1991 to 2005, you have been honorable champions and all those who care for baseball will miss your noble presence this October.
I’m just kidding. Take a well-deserved hike you losers. Highway’s that way, fellas.
For us, it’s 3 for the road.
3.01: Sweet! There was no greater clutch hitter in Mets history than Keith Hernandez, but if I needed 1 Met batter to get on base, I might very well choose the ultimate 3-hole hitter, John Olerud. Back when the Atlanta Braves were an obstacle as opposed to an afterthought, it was Oly’s grand slam off none other than Greg Maddux that brought the 1999 Mets back to life after a 7-game losing streak nearly ruined a beautiful season. Olerud’s swing was also a thing of beauty and his ability to accept the pitch that came after ball 3 was sublime indeed. While nobody will ever match Mex at 1st base, when Oly was 3 on your defensive scorecard, you were in good, soft hands. It’s taken 7 years to ride the ex-Jay highway from Olerud to Delgado and have a guy in that position in whom we can feel confident on both sides of the ball (though it’s surely more power than leather where Carlos D is concerned).
3.02: Between Throneberry and Strawberry. Yes, baseball was berry, berry, berry good to Chico Escuela. He was the toast of an otherwise barren Spring Training in 1979 when Bill Murray followed his last-gasp career-extending exploits through St. Petersburg for Weekend Update. Sadly, Chico had become a social leper after choosing to run down 3 separate Mets icons in his controversial book, Bad Stuff ‘Bout The Mets. What was worse — Tom Seaver taking up two parking places, Yogi Berra’s limited card skills or Ed Kranepool forgetting to return Chico’s soap? The real crime, it seemed to us watching the Mets at home that March, was the decision to take 3 young unknowns north that April: Neil Allen, Mike Scott and Jesse Orosco. It was obvious cheapness, the kind of cheapness that has choked Dolphin Stadium of any tangible support as the non-football sublessee make its improbable playoff run. The ’79 Mets couldn’t match the ’06 Marlins for raw talent but as judged by the trio of inexpensive pitchers’ future endeavors, maybe Joe McDonald’s people weren’t as lame as we thought. As you may know, Jesse Orosco debuted as a Met wearing No. 61…and if you know that, you’re either me and nuts or you treat Mets By The Numbers like WINS and tune in 2, 3, 4 times a day. If you want to know more about the numerical savant who runs that Mets site of Mets sites, immerse yourself in Paul Lukas’ Uni Watch blog, which features a berry, berry, berry good interview with its exceedingly capable keeper.
3.03: Our Old Pal. After beating Florida Tuesday night, the Mets need to win 11 of 18 games to become the 4th edition in team history to rack up 100 regular-season victories. The other 3 had 1 man in common, the quintessential Met No. 3, Buddy Harrelson, ’69 shortstop, ’86 and ’88 coach. Buddy’s managerial prospects peaked in the 100-60 year of 1988 when, filling in for Davey Johnson in Los Angeles, the Mets that were temporarily his snapped out of a disturbingly sluggish period way worse than that which has afflicted these Mets for a couple of days, swept the Dodgers a 3-game series and took off on a tear that culminated in a 29-8 stretch run to end that regular season. During the radio broadcast from Miami, Howie mentioned Jerry Manuel and Manny Acta as potential managerial candidates because coaches on winning teams go the head of such lists. Indeed, Bud Harrelson was actually sought by teams that weren’t the Mets (or the Ducks) based on how highly valued he was as a Johnson lieutenant. When he got his chance as Met skipper, he was highly successful…for a while. Harrelson ultimately fizzled as a Met manager. But Buddy will forever be a cherished Met icon. Need proof? Chico Escuela had not 1 iota of bad stuff to say about him.