Well, it's past 1 a.m. and the Mets showed very little in a 5-1 loss.
Oliver Perez missed Brian Schneider's mitt by three feet on his third pitch of the game, resulting in a Rafael Furcal home run, a 1-0 Dodger lead and a stare from Willie Randolph that could have frozen magma. And it was vaguely downhill from there: Oliver hung around out there to make matters worse with a blah effort that won't get him or Rick Peterson off the hot seat. Oliver, being paid a lot of money, will get time to work things out, but the Jacket has painted a target on his back at a time when ownership may be itching to squeeze off a few rounds. If it was bad when it turned out Peterson was ducking the scribes, it got worse when Jay Horwitz flatly contradicted his excuse that writers suddenly and mysteriously had to go through media relations.
Keeping with the ledger of frets and fears, what's wrong with Carlos Beltran? (Sentence with unspoken, uncharitable but inevitable addition: “What's wrong with Carlos Beltran now?”) Sometimes you need a psychiatrist, mediator and a soothsayer to interpret Beltran's physical condition: There are times he doesn't play because he's only X percent healthy, and long stretches in which it turns out he played when he should have been on the DL. Between his batting average and oddities on the basepaths tonight, you have to wonder if we're not back to the latter problem. Why didn't Sandy Alomar send him home on Delgado's third-inning double? He sure looked like he could have scored, and of course Schneider struck out and Luis Castillo did what he usually does, wasting a chance to pull within 2-1. (From a neutral, baseball-first perspective, kudos to the Dodgers for not robotically walking the eighth-place hitter and so letting the Mets clear the pitcher.) Then, in the sixth, same question in reverse: Beltran made a stop sign of his own at third despite Alomar waving him home. To paraphrase an old baseball tale, did Carlos think Sandy didn't mean it? I wonder if something beyond post-surgical aches and pains is wrong with Beltran's legs — and if so, if anybody is going to find out what and deal with it.
All in all, ample reason to get to bed early rather than go into the night watching a mediocre team get beat on the other side of a big continent. So why am I writing this now?
Well, most immediately because I went to sleep a little after eight for nearly two hours. But beyond that, because it's what we do when the body is willing. Our team's playing somewhere, so we watch, hoping that our vigil will be rewarded.
Was it? Not particularly. And yet absolutely.
No one will remember this game very long, but it had its moments. Like the leather flashed on both sides. There was Furcal's nifty stop on the backhand in the outfield grass, after which he threw out David Wright (a reasonably speedy runner) by a full stride; the awkward but effective dance between Delgado and Perez to beat Juan Pierre to first base; and the double play started by Wright, kept alive by a balletic pivot by Castillo and completed with a nice scoop from Delgado. There was the sight of Joe Torre in new colors, the absence of the Vertical Swastika from his head miraculously transforming him in one observer's eyes from surly, gimlet-eyed and unwelcome to calm, reflective and familiar. And there were the misadventures of future DH Matt Kemp — tell me the sight of the bewildered ballguy retreating farther and farther into fair territory (and lugging his chair!) as Kemp floundered after Beltran's triple wasn't worth at least a smile.
Little things, but they'll all go into memory, to be subconsciously retrieved and analyzed and fussed over and made part of the storyline for a dozen games yet to be played over the coming years. Is it crazy to watch your team lose a not-so-great ballgame when you could be sleeping? On the contrary — it's the rest of the world that's crazy. It's spring and the Mets are playing baseball — who cares what time it is? Besides, from November to March there's nothing much to do but sleep.