Hustle. Enthusiasm. Clutch hitting. Add-on runs. Big moments. Smart plays. Range at second base.
It was all there tonight — all those things that went from our delight in 2006 to our supposed birthright in 2007 to our casus belli in 2008. Whether it was Reyes keeping the horse of a Marlin rally from escaping the barn with a quick throw to Wright at third, or Castillo laying in the dirt on a shot up the middle, or the modern-day Bomb Squad of Easley, Tatis and Castro going 5 for 9, the Mets looked as advertised tonight.
Now let's see it for two nights in a row.
This isn't a Just When I Thought I Was Out moment — there's been too much anger, too many false starts and we're too many games back in the NL East for that. Where my partner has achieved the Zen of Shea Surrender, I'm still mired in alternating anger and despair about what will, barring some unlikely resurrection, go down as the most disappointing season I can remember as a Met fan.
Seriously. There have been Met teams that I knew would be bad or mediocre, and only a fantasist could have been mad at them — your Torborg and Howe teams fit the bill. There have been Met teams that succumbed to tragedy but still left happy memories for a lifetime — the '85, '99 and '06 teams will always be riding down my personal Canyon of Heroes, whatever the record books say. There have been Met teams I disliked anyway, and whose failures left little lasting harm — such as the ones constructed around the flawed centerpiece of Gregg Jefferies. But a team of players I loved two years ago (and so was grudgingly prepared to forgive for '07) playing way, way below their abilities? That's a new one on me, one that leaves me scrabbling around in the dark woods without a map.
Beating the Marlins for one night won't change that or solve anything. But it did offer Baseball Without Rage, and for the next 18 hours or so that'll do.
Johan Santana still looks mortal? Nick Evans looks overmatched? When you're a good team, you pick those nits. The Mets aren't that yet, not by any means, but at least for one night they're winners.