Amid the hand slaps, fist knocks and hip bumps the victorious first place Mets exchanged with one another after the final out of this afternoon's game, there was an embrace. David Wright hugged Carlos Delgado .
David was hugging Carlos for all of us. There isn't a Mets fan I know of who doesn't owe Delgado a hug. Hindsight being what it is, the time for the hug was a couple of months ago when Delgado was dragging and taking the team, we were sure, down with him.
We're not that pure of heart. We are, bottom line, results-oriented. We are often not as smart as we think we are. We saw a washed-up ex-power hitter who couldn't or wouldn't move around first and we were ready to trade him, release him, place him in the blue and orange bin that goes by the curb.
We sure like him now.
Were we wrong to declare our frustration with Carlos Delgado when he was batting in the low .200s, when he was leaving runners on as if abiding by a Do Not Disturb sign, when he was more likely to grunt or hide than take responsibility for his bad days? No more wrong than Carlos Delgado was washed up. We're human like he's human. He had a bad stretch, we reacted. He's having a great stretch, we react differently. If Delgado knew better — that he wasn't done, that he was busting his rear to correct what was awry, that he understands baseball more than all the fans and all the media combined — then let's be glad it's manifested itself in moments like the eighth inning today, the eighth inning when he conquered J.C. Romero, when he went down the left field line with authority, when he drove in the two runs that propelled the Mets into sole possession of first place .
Delgado isn't done and neither are we. I'm very happy we're still going together.
Ollie Perez…Aaron Heilman…Billy Wagner two games in a row…Jose Reyes last night…same deal. Their earlier 2008 shortcomings were obvious and expounded upon here and elsewhere. They all stepped up, manned up, moved up into first this series. They all overcame that Pendletonian nightmare of a ninth from Tuesday night. They all forgot how the Phillies haunt us. The Phillies don't haunt them. The Phillies, for now, trail them.
Mets in first, everybody else follows. It's an ideal alignment.
And for everyone who has scoffed and scoffed some more at the presence on this roster of Robinson Cancel, tell me that guy doesn't have a touch of the Mora in him. Cancel gets a chance and delivers three times now. Three times Cancel has literally rallied the Mets to a victory. Cancel seemed as preposterous when he arrived as Fernando Tatis did. There was a time when another manager trusted has-beens and never-weres named Rick Reed and Matt Franco and Benny Agbayani and Melvin Mora to make all the difference in the world. Those guys seemed preposterous or at best mysterious before they meshed with Mike Piazza and Edgardo Alfonzo and Al Leiter and Robin Ventura and Turk Wendell and indeed made all the difference in the world.
That was my team then. My team now leans on Fernando Tatis and Robinson Cancel and Argenis Reyes and Damion Easley and Jose Reyes and Billy Wagner and Aaron Heilman and Scott Schoeneweis and Ollie Perez and John Maine and Carlos Delgado and David Wright and Carlos Beltran. Some nights they let us down. This afternoon, they lifted us up. Way up.
First place Mets. Let's hug it out.