Mike Pelfrey tore through the Rockies like a combine, sending 4-3s and 6-4-3s and the occasional K shooting out in his wake. Mike Pelfrey, mostly known as 79 inches of potential stubbornly untapped. Mike Pelfrey who somewhere in the last couple of weeks we learned to trust and stopped being surprised by. I got chills when the ballpark started chanting “LET'S! GO! PEL-FREY!” but that's not remarkable — tens of thousands of people chanting anything can give you a shiver, and a crowd in the right mood can get behind any individual pitching performance. (Nelson Figueroa heard cheers too.) But there was something else in that chant for Pelfrey. Somehow you could hear that the Shea faithful had come to a conclusion and wanted to revel in it a bit. They brought Pelfrey out for a curtain call not to cheer what he could be, but to celebrate what he's become.
Emily and I took Joshua to Coney Island to hurtle around junior rollercoasters and then to Keyspan Park for our first Cyclones game of the year, an unofficial school outing that saw dozens of sugared-up five-year-olds clambering over seats and dogpiling and covering themselves in ketchup and cotton candy and ice cream and lemonade and yelling at nothing in particular. If you don't have kids, it was as scary as you might imagine. Actually, it was kind of scary (in an amusing way) for those of us who did have kids. The Cyclones, happily not distracted, won. (And Joshua ran the bases with elan, I'm proud to say.) Google told me via cellphone that the Phillies had overcome an early deficit and beaten the Diamondbacks, so there would be no reclaiming first place in the final hour of baseball's first half. But that was OK. There was sunshine and the Cyclones, and an odd bit of nostalgia: Their No. 2 hitter was Angel Pagan, the same Angel Pagan who was the Cyclones' first matinee idol in their inaugural season seven years ago. (And playing for Edgar Alfonzo, the manager then and the manager again.) I knew I was a lot happier about Pagan's presence in a New York-Penn League lineup than he was, but I also knew that was proper: He's needed elsewhere, after all. We caught the first few innings of the big-league game in a friend's car, and heard Howie's voice zoom the second Beltran make contact. He knew we would win. We knew we would win. And we did win.
It's obvious to say that it's a shame the Mets have to disperse for 72 hours, that they'd be better off if they could keep rolling. But I kept thinking something a bit different: Did you ever imagine we'd be sad to have the 2008 Mets take three days off?
Baseball fans fantasize all the time. (I've seen David Wright after hitting a three-run, walk-off home run in Game 7 of the World Series, and I can assure you he and we look very happy.) But did you ever imagine that we'd hear a crowd summon Big Pelf for a curtain call and have it not be for a lightning-in-a-bottle game of his life? That you'd see Carlos Delgado stride to the plate and think of him as dangerous again? That nine wins in a row would have you reaching eagerly for the pocket schedule and thinking about the second half?
I'd say it's a pinch-me moment, but don't you dare pinch me. If this is a dream, I've no interest in waking up.