There, was that so hard?
Absolutely not, and that was the beauty part. Sunday's win was so simple, all its key elements simply described: more than competent pitching from the steadily progressing Mike Pelfrey, a trademark triple to lead off by Jose Reyes, an RBI single off the bat of David Wright, a Carlos Beltran bomb, nearly spotless bullpen work for 3-1/3 and Beltran's glove ending the thing.
There, there, there: Mets 3 Rockies 1.
That's all we want. That's all we need. Nice, simple wins, our guys outplaying the other guys.
Perfect game? Not necessarily, but you don't need perfection every day. You'd like to see Pelfrey last longer. You'd like to see a genuine rally. You'd like to see more runs tacked on.
Those, however, are challenges for other days, like the night before when Ubaldo Jimenez stymied the Mets between nearly inconsequential three-baggers and Pedro Martinez suddenly vanished into Denver's thin air. Games like Saturdays are simply horrible. They're excusable if they're once-in-a-while events, far less so when you've grown used to them being the rule over too much of 2007 and 2008.
But then comes Sunday afternoon and you don't feel so bad about Saturday night's extremely unenthusiastic and nondedicated loss because Sunday afternoon — even if it's the Rockies, even if it's just one game — has as much a chance to become the new normal as it does to stick out as an aberrant exhibition of quality baseball skills.
What does any fan want? Reasonably good baseball and a chance to think your team will make a go of it. That's general admission, that's all you can ask for. You can't ask for championships or playoff berths and expect them automatically. Just make July viable in our minds when it's the last week of June. And if July is viable, August can loom in the distance as vital. And if August is vital…
Well, you get the idea. Few are the teams and their followers who can count on anything. We were there a couple of years ago and, in hindsight, it was a privilege. But it was unusual, not just for us but for almost everybody. Having a chance, though, that's not too much to ask for. Being decent enough to have that chance…no, I don't think it's too much at all.
Seventy-four games have been played. The Mets have seemed mostly terrible and yet they're .500. They're Stengel-Stengel: 37-37. No need to defend the recent past or explain it away. It's done. They're on the borderline now. They're a game away from being a statistically satisfying enterprise. They're only a few feet from first place, which is probably not worth worrying over at this juncture except that it's good to know it's in sight. That's all you can ask to see, a generous glimpse of the goal, your eyes actually able to size up the prize. You can't drive yourself to distraction over 3-1/2 back when there are 88 to play. But you can indulge in the slightest schedule-studying and let yourself wonder.
• Twenty-two of the past 48 games have been played in California, Arizona or Colorado. That's it, though: no more trips west of Central time. The worst of the travel is over. In fact, only three series outside EDT remain.
• Seattle in for three starting tonight. The Mariners have the worst record in all of Major League Baseball, which means nothing to us. Washington has the worst record in all of National League baseball and anybody see us rolling over the Nationals this season? Felix Hernandez pitches for Seattle at Shea this evening, thunder and lightning permitting. Felix Hernandez coming to Shea in '08 could be like Johan Santana coming to Shea in '07 which, if you watched SNY's reportage on trade negotiations over the winter, you were reminded constantly was child's play for the visiting star pitcher. Just so happens we have Johan Santana on our side in '08. Santana vs. Hernandez tonight. It's a better proposition than Sosa vs. Santana last June.
• Subway Series, four games, including one in the hole of hell as part of a day-night kick in the head Friday. That requisite fatalism stated, it's the Mets and the Yankees. Except for 2003, that traditionally means anything could happen to or for anybody.
• On the road to St. Louis and Philadelphia, eight against the two best teams in the N.L. who aren't the Cubs. Proving grounds, to be sure. Mets gotta prove they're worth worrying about beyond July 7.
• Six at home with two nominal dregs, the Giants and the overly familiar Rockies. We're only recently and maybe momentarily nondregs, so I wouldn't get too haughty about it.
Point is the next 21 games up to the All-Star break are, in more than clichéd or obvious terms, the season. It's not so much that the Mets have to go 16-5 against the Mariners, the Yankees, the Cardinals, the Phillies, the Giants and the Rockies. I never, ever set won-lost goals for my team. It's silly to think in those terms, particularly in June and July. What matters is the Mets don't go 5-16, that they build on whatever momentum they seem to have stirred, that they play some more crisp Sunday-type games and play many fewer soggy Saturday-type games. The caliber of the opponents between now and July 13 varies almost evenly: three very good teams, three rather lame teams. Very good teams don't always trip up the Mets (theoretically, none of them is that much better than us), rather lame teams don't always lay down for the Mets (theoretically, none of them is that much worse than us).
This is a fantastic opportunity for us to see what our team is, if it's definitively stopped being an embarrassment on the field — we've seen too much of what they're capable of off it — and if it's capable of competing in the second half, at the very least capable of giving us hope for a viable July and a vital August. There is both a hint of light for the Mets now and an overwhelming cloud that hasn't fully dissipated. Let's not kid ourselves that we're over a hump. We're not. But we are at the hump. Given the depths with which this team has flirted since March 31, that's all you can ask for.