Maybe it was just the chance to really watch a game after days of personal distractions, but somehow I wasn't that bothered by tonight's loss. Perturbed, sure. But undone? Nope.
I like the Mets' new kiddie corps. I like Daniel Murphy's ability to pull a ball when needed, the way he makes adjustments at the plate and his general air of fearlessness. I like Argenis Reyes's goofy smile and hustle. I like that Nick Evans is a remarkably patient hitter for one so young, even if he does always look like his dog just died. I'm prepared to find something to like about Jon Niese when he gets here. I like that Eddie Kunz is gigantic and induces ground balls.
Well, except when Eddie Kunz is giving up the first home run of his professional career. And that gives the Padres insurance enough to put the Mets in bloop-and-a-blast territory, from which wouldn't emerge alive.
I've always liked the kids — if anything, I'm too ready to shove aside underperforming veterans for youngsters who've yet to fail and so obviously never will. Last year Greg endured many nights of me booing Shawn Green for everything from hesitating just long enough so balls fell in front of him to, oh, standing in a way that I didn't like. Where was Carlos Gomez? I'd demand. At any point between last summer and mid-July I would have thrown Carlos Delgado over in a heartbeat for, say, Mike Carp. (And then where would we be?) I like to collect significant Met debuts, from Bobby Jones's (in Philadelphia) to David Wright's. The kids are, by their nature, new and different — they're change, and I'm usually all for change. Even when it might be change for change's sake.
In my calmer moments, I remember that young players also come with growing pains. They give up dingers that let them know they're not in Oregon anymore. They follow gusherous debuts in Colorado with long dry spells everywhere else. They muff pop-ups and double plays. I'm sure the aforementioned Mr. Murphy will screw something up one day soon. It won't really be his fault — it'll be Rookie's Law.
And even those who have bid kiddom adieu can have nights that remind them of harsh lessons learned in their younger days. When David Wright forgets how many outs there are and then gets eaten alive by a grounder at the worst possible time, you know you're going to be fighting uphill. When Brian Giles's bounder spun its way out into left field, I felt for Pedro, sitting in the dugout after a pretty encouraging outing only to watch an L get hung on him. But not as much as I did for Wright. After his error, David turned and watched Giles's ball for a moment — helplessly, for it may as well have been on the moon for all he could do about it. Then turned back toward home plate. He looked stoic, but his eyes told another story. Giles said later that he'd thought he'd fouled the ball off, that he had no idea he'd somehow hit it with the kind of wicked English that will get you thrown off the pool table if you try it in a bar. Maybe it didn't rip the felt, but David had no chance. And neither did we — youthful energy notwithstanding.