- Faith and Fear in Flushing - http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

Red as Blood

They even shot Tommy in the face so his mother couldn't give him an open casket at his funeral.
— Henry Hill,
Absent a handy black hole or Superman determined to blow off Kal-El and pull Lois Lane out of a ditch, you can't turn back time. All the Clydesdales in the world won't put those rings back in their cases or put the ball back in Adam Wainwright's hand and give Carlos Beltran another chance. It's over. What happens in April 2007 won't change what happened in 2006.
But it might have something to do with what happens in 2007.
Anticipating Braden Looper, last night I told Emily I wouldn't be satisfied with anything less than 10 earned in a third of an inning against our former closer, mock-“Jose” chanter and embodiment of 2004's horrors and 2005's frustrations. That didn't happen, and I didn't hear Looper escape mostly unscathed — I was at Varsity Letters [1], where I'm proud to report that the crowd was mostly Met fans and raucous cheers greeted the news that the Mets had finally broken out on top.
With Varsity Letters complete, I headed into the night and turned on my trusty radio for the first time in 2007, enjoying the brief stumble of remembering what button does what, since the labels have long since worn away. Fortunately I figured it out, had batteries, and got Howie and Tom on just in time to hear Julio Franco elevate the score from comfortable to ridiculous. And accompanying it was a wonderful sound: Cardinals fans booing.
Booing? In St. Louis? But I thought they didn't do that! I thought they cheered and cheered and cheered, when they weren't busy carrying newly acquired utility infielders through the streets on their shoulders or building housing for the indigent while offering each other very nice compliments. Naaaah. You know what Cardinals fans do? They boo and mock-cheer beleaguered relievers and leave stadiums in droves when things don't go their way even when it's just the third game of the new season and they're once again celebrating a brand-new world championship. Can “The Best Fans in Baseball” now join the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus on the list of things we gently explain to our children are very nice ideas but not actually real?
Of course, a fan's patience is tested when you've just been torched 20-2 in a three-game sweep, never held a lead for a half-inning, seen your bullpen and outfield exposed, and watched your superstar go 1 for 10. A fan's patience is tested when the final game of that three-game sweep is an absolutely pitiless beatdown of the variety that more-sheltered Midwesterners assume happens to anyone unwise enough to set foot in New York City.
Cardinals fans are fine fans compared to everything but their own myth. But last night wasn't the night for being reasonable — last night was the night for glee at the pain of others. When Jose Reyes took third and drew Yadier F. Molina's ire, I clapped madly. (This was around Lafayette and Canal, and people looked at me anxiously.) When Reyes came home on the slow roller to Rolen, which also probably didn't make Y. Fucking Molina happy, I yelled and pumped my fist. When Wright's long drive to open the ninth was caught, I moaned in disappointment. (This was on the Brooklyn Bridge, so I had no audience but myself.) This was a closed-casket game — no quarter and check your mercy at the door.
In April 1986 the Mets, then 7-3 and rounding into form, went to St. Louis with fans still muttering about being edged out by the Cardinals in 1985. They beat the Cards 5-4 in 10, then administered a 9-0 pasting, then won 4-3 and 5-3 for a four-game sweep. The Mets didn't retroactively go to the playoffs in 1985 because of that, but in 1986 Whitey Herzog and Company were never a factor again. A lot has changed since then — we're no longer division rivals and have just four games against each other remaining, so we won't have a lot to do with the Cardinals' fate one way or another. And a regular-season beatdown means nothing, as all of us still cringing over the 1988 NLCS remember all too well. But while the past is past, I think it's safe to say we've made our point about the present — and sent a clear signal about the future.