The poorest player on the New York Mets makes nearly $400,000 a year to ply his trade, but have a moment's sympathy if you can: Right now they're on a bus, and that bus is going to Philadelphia.
But at least they have memories of an extra-inning marathon that went from taut to excruciating to taxing to absurd over a mere 285 minutes.
If last week's game against the Phils (the one with the Angelic finish) was the first 2008 classic, this was the first 2008 game that saw us crawl out of the wreckage dazed but happy. I mean, where to begin? There was Nelson Figueroa stubbornly refusing to be just a day's worth of feel-good story, even starting that always-premature Met No Hitter clock ticking once again. There was John Lannan matching Figueroa unlikely K for unlikely K. There was Carlos Delgado, clawing his way off the scrap heap for at least one more night. There was a parade of suspect relievers making very good, from Heilman to Wagner to Sanchez (looking genuinely effective instead of just glad to be back) to Smith to the heroic Sosa. (Sorry Feliciano — it wasn't your night.) There was even the Mets belatedly doing right by their own countdown, bringing Jack Fisher and Tim Harkness and Ron Hunt back to the park they helped christen. I'll take a '64 Met over the general manager of a Lake Ronkonkoma Ford dealership any night, thank you very much.
All very nice, and then that ending traded in high drama for slapstick. (Memo to the baseball gods: Not complaining!) Just consider Easley's 14th-inning journey: single, advanced to second on wild pitch, advanced to third on throwing error by pitcher, scored on wild pitch. The Nats' luckless Joel Hanrahan did everything but leave the mound to physically carry him around the bases.
Of course, the Mets have been bystanders to their own unlikely victories before: Somewhere out there, I like to imagine, Brad Clontz winced, while Mike Piazza shook his head and smiled.