The cats here didn't enjoy Saturday night's game any more than the people did. Mike Lincoln's logging of called strike threes on Wright and Beltran brought howls from this human. The living room noises were so disturbing that I'm told by a reliable witness who was in the kitchen that they sent both Hozzie and Avery scurrying for cover — and those are cats who regularly ride out all but the most severe thunderstorms with aplomb.
My over-the-top sound effects are yet another sign that the 2008 Mets are back, though I'd rather prove it through sustained applause. When I was wandering aggressively ambivalent Met territory, I could handle with an affectation of smirking indifference David and Carlos B. looking at kill-me-now full-count bases-loaded pitches. These nights, however, I'm taking our setbacks personally again, just as in pennant races of yesteryear when it was every cat for himself.
In the wake of the 10-0 run, watching the Mets has re-emerged as serious business, which made surprising to my wife my nodding off during whichever early inning it was that the third-base ump screwed Tatis out of that great catch in foul territory. I had to see it on replay after Stephanie nudged me out of my catnap. She had put down her Redbook long enough to be disgusted by the frighteningly bad call and then wondered how I could have snoozed through it:
“I was expecting you to punch the couch or grunt or something.”
Later I was expecting the Mets to do something, too. They did. They lost in excruciating fashion, one of those affairs in which a five-run pounding felt like a one-run squeaker. All the Mets needed was one lousy timely hit, one baserunner not held up at third, one crucial pitch…and they got nothing. They seem to be, at the very least, going through a phase. I'm willing to believe 0-2 is the aberration, that 10-0 is the leading indicator. We shall learn more soon.
Partial to precedent as I am, let me point to one that is, unlike the 1991 model, actually kind of cheerful. The 1986 Mets (like their '91 and '08 descendants) entered the All-Star Break blisteringly hot. Their first game back, a Thursday night in Houston, was a nailbiter into the seventh. They trailed the Astros 1-0 until they exploded like the Astrodome scoreboard used to. Seven in the seventh, three in the eighth, three in the ninth; Mets won 13-2 and appeared (like their '91 and '08 descendants) unstoppable as all get-out.
Then they fell victim to the Astros and incompetent umpiring for three agonizing games in a row. OK, it wasn't so agonizing considering they were double-digits ahead of the pack in the N.L. East, but it rather sucked. They were shut out for the first time all season on Friday night, wasted a four-run ninth that tied Saturday's game when Roger McDowell turned around and surrendered a walkoff homer to Craig Reynolds and were jobbed by a dismal call at the plate in the bottom of the fifteenth Sunday. Also, four of the Mets (Darling, Ojeda, Aguilera and Teufel) managed to get themselves arrested at a lovely club called Cooter's Executive Games and Burgers over the weekend.
What's that? These aren't the '86 Mets we're watching? No spit, Spurlock, but the '86 Mets — bail made — got on a plane to Cincinnati right after that and swept the Reds. Featured in that series was the famous fourteen-inning game in which included Dave Parker dropping the surefire last out in the ninth, the brawl between Eric Davis and Ray Knight in the tenth, ejections galore, Gary Carter playing a flawless third, Roger McDowell and Jesse Orosco switching off between the mound and right field and Howard Johnson blasting a three-run homer to eventually win it. According to Baseball Tonight, that 3-1 letdown turned 6-3 triumph was the last time the Mets entered the ninth in Cincinnati trailing by two runs and went on to win…until Thursday night when they were down 8-6 and won 10-8.
Moral? I have no idea, but finding some way, any way, to connect 2008 to 1986 makes me purr a little.
Quick as a cat, three more points…
• Quasi-cultural recommendation: City Center (55th between Sixth and Seventh) is staging a summer revival of Damn Yankees through July 27. Stephanie and I saw it Saturday afternoon and it had, as its signature song suggests, heart. Good tickets are relatively cheap (starting at $25), City Center is, as always, a charming venue and, best of all, the title characters are neither seen nor successful.
• If I may be blasphemous this steamy Sunday morning, it's far too hot for a sermon. Keep the Commandments and say a prayer for Dave Murray to break his Streak of Shame. You'll recall our friend from Michigan tried (and failed) to get his first Mets win since 1991 at Shea during the Subway Series in June. He was at Great American Saturday night to extend what has become a seventeen-season, nine-park victory drought to eleven games. He's sticking around Cincy Sunday to take one more shot at ridding himself of it. May Mike Pelfrey guide him to the promised land.
• The Reds inducted Cesar Geronimo, Joey Jay and Barry Larkin into their Hall of Fame before defeating the Mets Saturday. The Mets inducted Tommie Agee into their Hall of Fame before losing to the Dodgers on Sunday, August 18, 2002. Those are each team's most recent inductions. Kudos to Gary Cohen for noting during Saturday night's Snighcast how the Mets have completely neglected our Hall for six consecutive seasons and have made no known effort to even convene a meeting to discuss nominees since Agee went in posthumously. May Mets management find a bit of time between polishing the doorknobs to the Ebbets Club and spiffing up the Jackie Robinson Rotunda to someday honor somebody who had something to do with the nearly half-century history of the New York Mets.