Until very recently I'd been hoping that Damion Easley, 1,658 games into a career that has stopped short of the business end of October for 16 consecutive seasons, would be traded or sold or waived to a contender on August 31, that a division leader that's 20 games in front would pick him up, that he somehow would make it into the postseason because he so seems to deserve it.
I've quit thinking like that. I hope he's with the Mets through the end of 2008, because for the first time in 2008, I believe there's a chance the 2008 Mets will be the team on which Damion Easley makes the playoffs.
It wasn't supposed to be a shock to think in those terms, but after three-plus months of dishwater doldrums, I've gone from moping to hoping. Sure it's all about the airtight pitching and the timely hitting and the fundamental soundness of a club on a seven-game winning streak, a club a whisper away from first place. If I were telling myself these Mets had a chance when clearly they played as if they did not, I wouldn't have believed it. Nowadays, to sound the most familiar theme in Metdom, I believe.
I believe in Damion Easley. I believe Damion Easley, active leader in games played without a playoff appearance, has the opportunity to grasp that which slipped through his hands twice since 1992. Easley and the '95 Angels were locks to win their division before Seattle turned them into smoked salmon. Easley and the '07 Mets weren't meant to be either, we know too well. Damion went down in a heap in August and the Easleyless Mets made life hard on themselves in September.
This July, opportunity knocks and it's Easley who knows exactly how to tap on that door. For a guy who didn't play all that much last year and hasn't played consistently until lately this year, boy does he have a knack for the knock. Colorado had to have been blinking and thinking back to early '07 when Easley, left to fend off the final strike of the tenth inning, took Brian Fuentes over the left field wall at Shea. That was the Endy bunt game, but it was just as much the Easley homer game. Damion did it again in Arizona a couple of weeks later, rescuing the Mets with a ninth-inning longball. And in the first triumph of the Jerry Manuel era, wasn't it Damion Easley who homered to break a tenth-inning tie in Anaheim?
I love when it's Damion Easley lifting the team on his shoulders because it means Damion Easley will be interviewed by Kevin Burkhardt after the game and Damion always tells Kevin something interesting. Friday night, in response to a question about how the team is feeling, he answered that the team feels confident. Boilerplate, I suppose, but he added, it's “the earned confidence,” earned through the hard work of a team that had been diddling around for too long, that woke up and got busy living. He didn't say that part quite that way; he didn't have to.
We've earned the confidence to believe in our team. The Mets have earned the confidence to believe in themselves. Damion Easley has earned every big swing he gets. May they lead him to a promised land.