- Faith and Fear in Flushing - http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

Sunday Is the Day for Church

Well, we survived Augie Ojeda (7 for 14 in the series!), today's installment of Bullpen Roulette (“Some Met will be ineffective! Which one? Don't you wish you knew!”) and an OK but not sky-high effort by Johan Santana (yeah, he needed nearly 120 pitches to get through six, but the Diamondbacks are freaking good, and wise beyond their years in the batter's box) to win two of three against the NL's best team.

This was shaping up to be a stinker, with Joe Smith's giving up the lead in the seventh prelude to Pedro Feliciano hurling Chris Burke's bunt down the right-field line, which was clearly leading to a Diamondback on second and nobody out in the eighth. But as has happened frequently this year, Ryan Church stood between the Mets and a meltdown. Felicitously, Feliciano's throw to Carlos Delgado was so terrible that it wasn't a bad throw to Church, who fired a strike to David Wright, waiting in mock idleness to pounce on Burke and erase him. (Somewhere, Pedro Martinez smiled.) Then, just as we seemed to be settling in for the long haul, Conor Jackson fired a ball three feet over Stephen Drew's head, and the Mets pummeled Chad Qualls into submission, making us briefly forget they'd been punchless much of the day. About time we had a game [1] in which we weren't the much-heralded National League team that lost after commencing to play stupid.

In our house, this was one of those busy Sunday games that unfolded as everything else happened. Saturday was our annual Kentucky Derby party, which over the years has come to include a larger and larger percentage of children. The kids are now old enough to be turned loose downstairs with minimal intervention while the adults drink bourbon and beer upstairs, but they're also now large enough to reduce the downstairs to rubble within a couple of hours — our house looks like it's hosted a cruise missile by the time we're done. When the game started things still hadn't been entirely put right, so the first few innings were kept track of on various TVs while surfaces were vacuumed and swabbed and washed and otherwise put right. (Well, except for a cobblestone in the backyard that the kids somehow fractured into three parts. I have no idea how they accomplished that and am not certain I want to know.)

With the house once more functional, it was off to the park with Joshua, who'd been foolishly promised a game of wiffle ball when the cleanup looked like it would only take a couple of hours. In deference to his feeble father being hobbled by a hurt toe, Joshua agreed he'd be both the Mets and the Tigers. (I don't know why he picks the Tigers. Occasionally the enemy team has been the Cardinals. We once had a showdown because I flatly refused to be the Yankees, even for pretend. I'm nearly 39 and don't know why you're asking.) While the virtual Mets and Tigers did battle, I kept track of the real Mets and Diamondbacks with a single headphone and my ancient radio. When I told Joshua that David Wright had hit a home run and it was now Mets 2, Diamondbacks 1, he looked baffled and reminded me it was Mets 8, Tigers 2.

When the babysitter arrived Emily and I headed out for a We Survived Derby Day dinner and restorative liquor. Normally a 4 p.m. start would see us go around the corner to the bar to see the rest of the game (I love my wife), but today basketball was claiming the TVs. (Stupid basketball.) So we decided to walk the 40 minutes or so down to Red Hook and the Good Fork, our favorite restaurant in the city, sharing a headset and only occasionally moving out of sync so that one listener or the other had earpiece and game suddenly ripped away. (By the way, walking single-file through a construction zone while sharing headphones, exhorting Met hitters and tapping out a text message … it's difficult.) Wright popped up with the bases loaded near the Moonshine; Burke committed his sin of overeagerness near the Hope and Anchor, and with Jorge Sosa arrived on the mound we settled in at a table in the Good Fork's garden, under a slowly darkening early-evening sky. Figuring al fresco was casual enough for subtle al radio, I sneaked an update every 30 seconds or so, announcing the bottom of the ninth with raised fingers, as if I were the shortstop and Emily an outfielder.

One finger … two fingers … and reach for the off switch.

“Put it in the books?” Emily asked.

“Put it in the books,” I said.