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'This Is It' & That Was That

That was the last time Titanic saw daylight.
—Rose DeWitt Bukater

I remember reading a quote from a young man who worked for the Al Gore campaign in 2000. The Supreme Court decision that halted all vote-counting in Florida came down on December 12, a Tuesday night. For months after, the kid confessed, he felt haunted on a weekly basis. Every Tuesday night reminded him of the night of December 12, the night the high court handed the election to the other candidate. A little melodramatic, I thought, but passion and disappointment will do that to a person.

Today is November 30, the last day of the month, the first time a month has ended on the 30th since September 30.

On September 30…do I really have to mention what happened?

The next time a month ends on the 30th, it will be April, a Wednesday. The Mets will, as they did in September, be playing an afternoon game at Shea. The Pirates will be the visitors. It will be the 27th game of the 2008 season, barring postponements. By then, with a record somewhere between 0-26 and 26-0, we’ll have fresh concerns. Knowing a month is ending on the 30th won’t mean anything in particular where baseball is concerned.

This afternoon, the 30th lingers for me as I suppose it has at least once every waking hour since September 30, 2007 became September 30, 2007. At this moment two months ago, I was watching some Marlin walk, or not be out on a potential double play, or reach base in advance of other Marlins doing more and worse damage. The variables, the villains, the victims…no need to go into them again.

It was the last baseball game we watched with a sense of overriding purpose. No wonder it sticks in the mind’s eye.

Last week, Stephanie and I were in Stop & Shop stocking up for Thanksgiving. The store’s music system played “This Is It” by Kenny Loggins. I’ve always liked that song. It’s No. 348 in the Top 500 [1], in fact. I nodded when I heard it on September 30 in a large outdoor setting somewhere west of Stop & Shop.

You think that maybe it’s over

Only if you want it to be

Wow, I thought. That’s pretty appropriate for today, September 30.

Are you gonna wait for your sign, your miracle

Stand up and fight

Yes, absolutely…stand up and fight!

Your back’s to the corner

This is it

Don’t be a fool anymore

Uh, yeah…like I said, very appropriate.

This is it

The waiting is over

Funny thing about a song, even if you like it, even if it’s on the nose at the moment you’re hearing it: It can go on too long. And the more I heard “This Is It” before the first pitch of September 30 with all its admonitions that you Mets better be ready for what’s ahead, the more I began to worry. When you’ve lost 11 of your previous 16 and seen a seven-game lead turn into a first-place tie, a four-minute song played to completion gives you a lot of time to fret.

“This Is It” would in short order segue into That Was That [2], and we know how that went. Now when I hear “This Is It,” as I did in the supermarket last week, I get a little queasy.

Four months and a day to Next Year. Whatever it brings, it can’t start soon enough.

OH — AND WE SEEM TO HAVE TRADED LASTINGS MILLEDGE [3] TO THE NATIONALS FOR SOME ODD REASON.

We get Brian Schneider, who’s been catching for a while (bye bye Johnny [4]), and Ryan Church, the last batter John Franco ever faced as a Met and someone who apparently takes his last name [5] a little too seriously.

The Milledge era is over too quickly to assess him as a finished product. We probably take our own prospects too much to heart to evaluate them in terms of their value on the market as a whole. But at 23 next year and with plenty of tools still in his shed, this doesn’t seem like a lot to get back. Maybe he really is attitudinally damaged goods in more eyes than not. Maybe Omar’s building something more than we can see. But at the moment, trading Lastings Milledge today hasn’t really upgraded my opinion of months that end on a 30th day.