Since we began this blog, Tom Glavine has been something of an odd figure in its pages. For a while, we called him The Manchurian Brave, as some combination of Questec and his own stubbornness seemed to have turned him into a mediocre pitcher, one whose struggles just reminded us of his dominance wearing that other uniform. (Not entirely his fault, but that's fandom.) Then Glavine finally listened to Rick Peterson and to what his own stats were telling him: He had to change. He did so, reinventing himself in mid-2005, at a stage in his career where refusal to do so might have won him grudging plaudits for staying a very successful course even if it had needed a late course correction that didn't come — he did it his way and all that. That adaptation won us over, and we started referring to him as The Eventual Met.
But it's true that neither Greg nor I could ever quite get into his corner, leading to the rather odd scenario of a New York Met — an honest-to-goodness New York Met — chasing his 300th career win while two of the biggest Met fans on the planet tried to rally themselves to be truly excited about it. Greg chronicled his feelings last week; by the time I got to a set for Glavine's first attempt, the main attraction had yielded the field to the relief corps.
Today was going to be a baseball doubleheader. Joshua and a number of his classmates descended on Keyspan Park with all the energy a gang of sugared-up, excited four-year-olds can bring. I'm glad to say Keyspan is still standing. I'm happier to say that Sandy the Seagull visited, mugged for pictures and was generally charming, which mollified Emily enough to put aside her two-year-old grudge. Joshua, meanwhile, took a bizarre liking to the Aberdeen Ironbirds' centerfielder that Emily and I refused to share or even countenance. (Matt Angle, if you somehow get stuck with the nickname Li'l Boopy, I apologize. It doesn't make sense to me either.) Fortunately, there were numerous Cyclones runs to celebrate — a Cyclone and an Ironbird hit balls over the right-field fence, something I'd never seen even once at Keyspan due to the stiff wind usually blowing in from the ocean. After the game, Joshua ran the bases, without dad's accompaniment. “I'll meet you at home plate — you remember where that is, right?” I told him as he got ready to run from first. If a four-year-old could have scoffed, he would have. Perhaps he might have mentioned that he knows Carlos Gomez is actually faster than Reyes, so shut up about home plate, old man. Or perhaps he might have pointed out, more practically, that he'd have to be pretty obtuse not just to run where the other kids were running. On the way out, Joshua and his friend Nicholas saw one of those inflatable batting-cage things where you can see how hard you can throw and decided they wanted to do it. The other people in line and assorted bystanders weren't particularly thrilled by this, but they cheered after Joshua reared back and tossed the first one right through the hole in the center of the catcher's mitt. Kind of a mini-eephus pitch (the gun recorded it at 12 MPH), but still.
I have no idea where these genes come from.
So we got into the Zipcar for the bottom of the first of the main event, and followed Glavine's quest through car radio and handheld radio and upstairs and downstairs TVs. I shook my head to realize that Glavine had been sent to the showers by a double from Angel Pagan, once upon a time a Brooklyn Cyclones heartthrob cheered by us from the Keyspan stands. Whether you're talking baseball history or just your own personal subset of the same, the only surprise should be when such connections don't appear. Baseball provides them for anyone paying the least attention.
Despite my own lukewarm feelings about The Eventual Met, I found myself sitting bolt upright in bed for the last several frames of Glavine's pursuit of 300, exhorting Mota and Feliciano and Heilman and Sosa and finally Wagner along. Part of it was for Glavine, of course — and not just the laundry he wears, I'm pleased to say. (Not thrilled, but pleased. Hey, I'm trying.) One of the reasons Glavine's never connected with many Met fans, I think, is that he's so bloodless about how he does things. It's a detachment that can be taken for aloofness. But he wasn't bloodless in the ninth — he was nervous and smiling and fidgety and a host of things we've rarely seen him be. Christine Glavine's anxious vigil helped, too — if you didn't respond to her mostly suppressed tears as the margin turned to a few outs and then a few strikes, you've truly got a heart of stone.
But there were other things that had me sitting bolt upright. Like not wanting to endure another round of questions and bullpen mea culpas and assorted distractions for five more days, when we've got other goals to pursue. Like wanting to beat the Cubs at Wrigley, of course, because who doesn't ever want to do that? And like knowing that the Phillies and Braves had won, so there was business to be taken care of.
All of these considerations were right and proper — a Met's milestone, a father and husband and son's quest, a team's need to keep the eyes on the prize, the numerical reality of the standings. Whatever proportions we each felt them in, as Met fans and baseball fans they were there for all of us.