Some nights we invoke Bob Murphy and offer a happy recap. Some nights we channel Gary Cohen when the big hit is outta here! Some nights we are thrilled to make like Howie Rose and put it in the books! Some nights we even have to agree with Fran Healy that Shea Stadium is rocking!
Tuesday night brought to mind the unlamented Steve Albert because the Mets won a game he might have called scintillating — except unlike Steve, we make no pretenses about our sarcasm.
That was not one of your more scintillating walkoff wins. But the key, after eleven innings, is it was a win and 187,932 fans or whatever fictional figure they posted as the paid attendance left less unhappy than they might have had it not been. Surely it could have gotten surly late.
But don't call me surly. Even if Santana's gopher is still nibbling a little too heartily. Even if Sanchez and Wagner have forsaken perfection as their guiding principle. Even if Reyes' sextet of on-base appearances was overshadowed by his inability to keep one Pirate off base at the worst possible moment. Even if Heilman…ah, you know from Heilman. And even if Delgado was burdened by no vexing decisions regarding curtain call or not to curtain call. Don't call me surly, because a win is a win is not a loss.
Let us not accentuate the negative. Let us glory instead in Ryan Chruch's lefthanded jacking, which can be impressive. Let us note the six times Jose Jose'd his way on base. Let us remember why we fell in love with Endy Chavez those two years ago, first and foremost for the offensive spark we see again now that Endy is playing and regaining traction (at least until Moises Alou returns and inevitably winds up in traction). Let us not forget that the only homers Johan surrendered were soloists and that he was otherwise clean. Let us hand it to Scott Schoeneweis for covering home as he did and to Raul Casanova for shoveling Schoeney the 2-1 assist that cut down Jose Bautista at the plate in the seventh. Let pause and ponder what kind of manager sets the wheels in motion so someone named John Wesley Van Benschoten can pitch to someone named David Allen Wright with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eleventh with less than two out.
I'm not sure, upon reflection, how that could have been avoided once Endy was balked to second and bunted to third, but it sure seemed more fait accompli than it had to. You put on Reyes, you let him take second and you then pitch to Castillo who walks. Could have the Mets, even our hard-to-hug Mets, not cashed in? Against the Bucs? David comes up, the annually feisty if perennially futile Pirates go down. One pitch, one fly ball, one win that couldn't be avoided, done deal. For Pittsburgh, he says at the risk of offending the gods, I suppose simply asking somebody to retire Wright and Beltran was not an option.
The vengeful spirit of Hans Wagner notwithstanding, what really spooked me was the matchup that had Duaner Sanchez facing Xavier Nady in the eighth. July 31, 2006 and everything after flashed before my eyes. Sanchez gets into a cab; Nady gets onto a plane; Oliver Perez comes into and out of his own; Guillermo Mota and Shawn Green arrive with much baggage; '06 grows less certain; '06 just misses being a year for the ages; '06 becomes '07; '07 becomes '07; '07 becomes '08; '08 becomes the year we look for excuses to be relentlessly pissed off at our team…or the excuses seek us out on their own. Maybe all that arguably sprung from the events of that red-letter date in Mets history is why even walkoff wins around here can sometimes seem a little less than scintillating.
But we'll take them. And don't call me surly.