Life is too short, time is too precious and the stakes are too high to dwell on what might have been.
—Hillary Rodham Clinton
Yesterday's news, literally, was the Mets' stirring comeback win against the Angels…that's yesterday as in Pacific time, though as I heard somewhere time of day is strictly a matter of perception. Gary Cohen called the extra-inning triumph the biggest win of the year. I'm fairly certain the Mets have collected the biggest win of the year about a half-dozen times in 2008, yet it's unlikely that each simply outshone all of its predecessors and we know for sure that none of them had any legs in terms of what came next. I have no idea whether Mets 5 Angels 4 in 10 was the biggest win of the year. Let's take the Bobby V route and say it was since it was the only game they played Wednesday and today is Thursday.
I hope those were some signs we saw, not just another aberration amid the mediocrity. Wright reaching out and touching K-Rod was a great sign. Wright reaching out and foiling Kendrick — give that man a Gold Hand Award! — was a fantastic sign. Reyes and Easley you can figure out for yourself, signwise. Endy regains his Endyness the more he swings, which is gratifying from a good ol' Endy perspective but really a godsend considering that this batting order, dominated by bench guys and castoffs, looks like something out of 1943. Whatever their merits as hustlers and gamers and, for a night, achievers, it's tough to monitor a procession in which Anderson, Nixon, Easley, Chavez, Castro and Tatis are prominent and not think, “The healthy guys are off to war, these must be the 4-Fs.”
The best sign of them all was watching Oliver Perez endure his standard awful inning and being left in to deal with it. No disrespect to the departed Rick Peterson, he whose jacket was stripped in the conversion to Tuscany tile, but I was thrilled that New Pitching Coach Dude (still trying to learn their names) didn't spend a lot of time pouring ketchup on Ollie's ice cream and that Jerry Manuel didn't pull Perez after the usual inning from hell. Ollie and the Mets survived the Angels' four-run fifth. Maybe it was the DH being in effect, but Perez coming back for a 1-2-3 sixth felt more solid than hardwood flooring. Giving your starter some rope and showing your starter some faith is the way you can manage the game when you're not scared for your job. You make the starter pitch and you don't run through relievers like Skittles.
Damn, it feels good to be a gangsta.
The Angels, though it was hard to notice amid the Sturm und Drang that surrounded this series, are a swell team to watch, rightly praised by Gary and Ron for their aggressive, loosey-goosey style of play. It doesn't take much to convince me the Angels are a quality outfit. They're my nominal favorite American League team since 2002 and Vladimir Guerrero is the only opposing player who puts me in mind of what it was like to watch Hank Aaron when I was a kid. You didn't want Hank Aaron to beat you, but if he did, so what? He was Hank Aaron. I used to refer to Vlad as The Greatest Player Who Ever Lived in deference to the overwhelming hype he received at every at-bat. I wasn't, however, being ironic. I'd prefer he not beat us, but Vladimir Guerrero doing so almost doesn't bother me. There's nothing not to like about him and he will carry no asterisks en route to his Hall of Fame election.
OK, so I consider the Angels a team that hovers above us mere mortals, but that's not my point here. My point is the way they play the game, the Bingo Long zest and all that? If the Mets tried it and got thrown out trying to take extra bases as often as the Angels do, we'd hear without end what unprofessional morons the Mets are. LAA's a perennial contender and Scioscia is as stable leading his team today as he was placid hitting demoralizing home runs against our team twenty years ago and they must be doing many, many things right out there by I-5. But if the Mets were pissing away baserunners the way the Angels did when Willie Randolph won his last game and when Jerry Manuel won his first game, whoever was managing the Mets would be skewered to within an inch of his professional life. Or worse, fired in the middle of the night…since it's always the middle of the night somewhere.
Speaking of he whose shove-off came to light in the wee small hours of the morning, Willie Randolph seems to have led the Mets about as long ago as Salty Parker did, doesn't he? Talk about yesterday's news. On SNY's SportsNite, after a recap of the Mets' rubber-game win, there was a piece on Willie's Side of The Story, essentially how Omar's version of events is full of it. I tend to believe Willie in this latest tapping of the hoary sitcom dueling-flashback device (“you should get down on your knees and thank your maker for a friend like Omar!”), but I tend to believe with much greater fervor that I'm no longer interested in Willie Randolph. As in the case of Peterson, there's something invigorating about not having Randolph around. When his picture shows up on TV or in the paper, it's a downer. It's a reminder of all that went wrong. It's a shame, too, because of the good he did when he did it, but I don't think I quite appreciated how badly this dugout needed a change. As faintly unsettling as it is to stare at these mysteriously appearing coaches and, to a certain extent, Manuel as manager because I'm just not used to seeing them in their newly assigned roles, I'm fairly grateful that what was no longer is.
I can only dream of how special it will be when there's a new GM.