On the Friday afternoon of May 3, 1996, while the Mets played the Cubs at Wrigley Field on the tiny TV I kept in my office for the stray Channel 9 game, something work-related pissed me off tremendously. I couldn't tell you what anymore, but in the habit I used to have that I've either outgrown or not had cause to reach down to the toxic side of my soul for, I yelled and I cursed and I threw things and I sat and began to stew with my door closed. Everybody in the office knew I was radioactive at that moment and wouldn't come anywhere near me if they knew what was good for them.
About five seconds after my fuming crested, Sammy Sosa hit a two-out, three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to beat Paul Wilson — who had struck out 10 Cubs in 8-2/3 innings — and the Mets 4-2. I wanted to yell and curse and throw things, but I had just done that over something far less repulsive (the home run had to be worse because it I remember). All I could do was sit some more and stew doubly hard. A person only has so many demons he can properly service, only so many tantrums to unleash into the atmosphere.
I was seriously pissed off Thursday afternoon after Willie Harris robbed Carlos Delgado and the Mets of a 7-7 ninth-inning tie. It didn't matter to me that, as young Joshua correctly pointed out, the Mets had tried real hard to win the game late. I also didn't pay even lip service to how they didn't do much about not losing early. I saw Harris leap and had to buy a new dictionary thereafter. Mine had been depleted of f-words.
One night later, the Mets lost another game, also essentially decided in the ninth inning. It was probably worse than Thursday's. It was against a team clearly not on a par with the Mets or the Braves. Not that that really enters into the equation, but in the case of Atlanta, you could grudgingly force out a rationalization that losing to a club that's more or less on your level is…well, it sucks, but it's instantly and logically understandable. When you've gotten used to the idea that your club is generally good to very good to occasionally excellent, you quietly drop the “on any given night” pretense of taking nothing for granted and tend to accept the idea that there are other clubs that simply don't deserve to beat you.
Yet they do manage the feat from time to time. In the case of the Marlins, they've done it on three of the four dates they've come to Shea this season. We're 1-3 against Florida in New York. That's every bit as statistically bad as being 2-4 against Atlanta here. Not scoring in seven of the first eight innings is bad. Not touching raw rookie Daniel Barone (rhymes with baloney) until the fifth is bad. Not to do anything to fellow neophyte Ross Wolf or journeyman Lee Gardner or Met castoff Matt Lindstrom after we scored our only runs off Barone is bad.
Billy Wagner failing to hold a one-run lead? Carlos Beltran not properly tracking a deep fly ball from Hanley Ramirez? A professional 3-2 win morphing instantly into a revolting 4-3 loss? Bad results, but bad timing mostly if you want to finger these two. Wagner is totally doubt-benefited this season. Beltran was playing center for the first time in weeks, Ramirez's ball rode the same Jetstream that drove poor Pat Leahy to distraction and, shoot, Hanley hit it hard. Beltran clearly giveth with his three-run shot in the fifth. I'm not prepared to say he tooketh away by not making a Tal's Hill type catch on flat ground. I can't blame Wagner and Beltran, at least not exclusively, for the way a win receded into a loss.
But behind 4-3 in the ninth when you entered the inning ahead 3-2? And going out 1-2-3 to Kevin Gregg to seal your fate?
That's bad, mmmkay? It was a bad loss. Probably a worse loss than Thursday since the game was far more winnable and the opponent was technically less formidable. Still, after being so sauna-steamed at Willie Harris and the Braves, I just don't have it in me to figuratively toss furniture or more than nominally curse the Olivos, Woods, Ramirezes and other assorted Fishes.
The toxic side of my soul, however, is getting quite a workout these last two games.