Turns out the Mets have guys who play and guys who pitch when Pedro Martinez is otherwise engaged. They're not so bad.
Season's back on, one supposes. Might as well put this .667 winning percentage and our remaining 159 games to good use. Get well, Pedro. See you when we see you, whenever they say that is plus however long it will actually be.
When you win by 13 runs — and we can say that as if it happens regularly because two of the Mets' last three wins have been thirteen-zip teal whitewashes if you don't gag at the thought of including the final weekend of 2007 — you have to dig pretty hard to find something to complain about…unless terrible umpiring is in your midst. Then it's easy.
Beltran's fifth-inning home run that was a double but was really a home run was a lot easier call with the benefit of replay than it was in real time, I'll grant the boys in blue that. But you called it right once, there was ample reason to not overturn it, the Marlins didn't seem to be arguing all that strenuously, so what the fudge? You have a Helsinki arms agreement conference and you overturn? You decide Beltran hit a double suddenly? You take a run off the board?
How do players not all act like Paul Lo Duca in that situation? Maybe it's because they're not all juiced like Paulie allegedly was at times, but still. When I saw mild-mannered Carlos Beltran and calm and reasonable Willie Randolph gentlemanly accept the revised and wrong ruling, I was ready to go Lo Duca on umpire Rick Reed's ass. Just on principle, mind you. It changed the score from 6-0 to 5-0, which is a rare baseball occurrence (I didn't know you could lose yardage in this sport), but even that wasn't the point. The point was you bastards had it right and you went out of your way to make it wrong.
I was ready to jump through the TV and strangle whomever's windpipe would give me satisfaction. That's when I marveled that more athletes don't do that, that more athletes don't take the Lo Duca route. If I had hit a handsome home run, I would want credit for it. I would not look kindly upon being called back from the adulation of my teammates in the dugout to have to stand on second while Carlos Delgado did not drive me in. I would thirst for justice.
When you wonder why ballplayers make so much money, I think much of it is for achieving an exalted mental state that keeps them from assaulting the necessary authority figures who grow worse at their jobs year after year. I salute Carlos Beltran for his self-control now much as I steamed at it last night. And I would suggest the Mets put someone like me on the bench to emerge raging mad at the next atrocious call so I and not and not one of their useful players can be ejected. Every team should have one. Call him the Designated Jerk. He gets thrown out, he gets suspended, he gets expelled, no problem. He's just the Designated Jerk. You can always find another one.
Though it goes against all my post-2007 impulses (and we are, as Mets fans, living in a post-2007 world), but the run that was removed didn't really worry me in terms of the outcome even if you can never be certain and all that. The Mets were not fighting in their weight class in this series, which, along with the tiny reality that it's only three games, makes it difficult to assess if the Mets are truly a .667 team, if Ryan Church is really a .385 hitter, if David Wright is going to steal MVP votes from Angel Pagan, if Ollie Perez will unanimously win the newly named Ollie Perez Award. That's the kind of stuff you can't seriously get a handle on until you've played a fifth, maybe a sixth game.
These Marlins weren't ready for prime time, or even the 4:30 start on Monday. That the Mets didn't sweep them is caution enough against not taking them seriously. We've gone into the two previous seasons with a bushel of dates versus teams that the experts deemed 1962 Mets in waiting. The '06 Marlins straightened up and went 78-84. The '07 Nationals stirred in the second half, managed to go 73-89 and won five of six in September versus a club that was lounging in first place. The '08 Marlins may suck at times but they will find ways to unsuck when we don't need them to. Thus, when Angel tagged up in the ninth to make it 13-0, I didn't want to hear word one about unwritten rules and rubbing it in. The Mets need to rub like there's no tomorrow and score as many runs as they possibly can. If you want to be a heavyweight, keep pounding.
They're off to a good start in that respect.
So was WFAN's broadcast last night. You know that thump-thump-thump montage of highlights they play as the introduction to every game, what is known in the industry as the rollup? Usually it's five clips from five slightly memorable games from the current season or, as it was on Opening Day, last season? Last night, expecting nothing special, I was blown away:
• Curt Gowdy called the final out of the 1969 World Series
• Lindsay Nelson described the jubilant mob scene at the end of the 1973 playoffs
• Bob Murphy announced the Mets were champions of the world in 1986
• Gary Cohen tracked the fly ball into Timo Perez's glove that clinched the 2000 pennant
• Howie Rose spontaneously combusted when David Wright drove in the winning run against the Yankees at Shea in 2006: “Put THAT in your books!”
The last time I was as unable to speak was when Endy Chavez climbed a fence against the Cardinals. It was as breathtaking as it was chilling and it was a perfect way to open a road game in Shea's final season (all of the aforementioned happened in Queens). I hope we hear more monumental moments from the past in that slot, just as I hope we hear great highlights from 2008…and that those are suitable for replaying in 2009 and beyond, too.