How about a nice hand for those Mets who won ten in a row, who catapulted themselves for hopefully not the final time in 2008 into first place, who reignited the baseball season, who made the precise counting off of the final days of Shea Stadium a TBD proposition?
Yeah, how about a nice hand for the boys in blue and orange and a bit of black for reminding us that for all the emotions we've expended on them since they stranded us among the rice paddies of 2007, the one thing we hadn't gotten to do was enjoy them? How about acknowledging that we like our baseball team again?
Do we like them strictly because they won ten in a row? Mmm…a little. But this was building even before the Fifth of July, the night the longest Mets winning streak since 1990 took flight. Remember when I referenced Sammy Davis, Jr.? “Separate the sorrow, collect up all the cream,” I said after a tough loss in St. Louis. It was the first inkling, three months in, that the 2008 Mets were worth a little sorrow and worth a little hope and worth our time beyond the requisite monitoring and bitching we devote to the Mets because we kind of have to.
They don't have a ten-game winning streak anymore. They're not in first place anymore. I still like them. I like the way they play. I like the way they act. I like them all. I don't like that they lost, but I don't hate them for it. This is way different from how I spent too much of the statistical first half; the pre-break segment of the season, FYI, accounted for almost 59% of the season, so let's not call what's left “the second half”.
Friday night in Cincinnati, they simply didn't execute the way they did Thursday night and nine nights and days before that. Every single time they had a chance to turn the tide, to hold back the Reds, to go to eleven, they didn't. It wasn't that they weren't trying or didn't care or emitted bad vibes. Maine didn't grab a bunt on the fly. Wright couldn't corral a tricky hop. A parachute landed out of Delgado's reach. The result was the four-run fifth, when the Reds took the lead. After that, everything just refused to go the Mets' way. It's usually the pattern that emerges when Bronson Arroyo pitches against us.
Oh well. So they're not 11-0. They're 10-1. They're one game out. They are, for now, in a three-way fight for first, the Marlins nipping at their heels, the Phillies feeling our heat and, I suppose, the Braves still lurking down south. The streak that got us here, the manager who pushed almost every button brilliantly, the pitching coach who's fixed a couple of starters and several relievers (with Maine his next project, for sure) don't promise anything beyond a golden opportunity. You heard that the last ten-game winning streak was run off in 1991. I remember it well, mostly for how evanescent it was. When that year's streak reached ten, the second-place Mets sat 2-1/2 back of the Pirates. Two weeks later, they were seven back. When the year ended, they were seven under, more than twenty out and in total fifth-place disarray.
No Alou. No Church. No obvious frontline replacements. No guarantee that the Carlos Delgado revival will be booked into August. No way of knowing if John Maine is just going through a very long phase. No feel for how much Tatis and Easley will have left for the long haul.
But we didn't see 10-0 coming either, so we'll see. We'll hope the hope of the reasonably confident and we'll root the root of fans who aren't constantly waiting for the other spike to drop. We will, based on events of the past two weeks, relish the 40.1% of the season that remains.
How about a nice hand for those Mets for giving us that?