Wham! Biff! Pow! Sock!
The Mets were finally doing what they're supposed to do to teams like the Nats, the torrential rains that threatened to engulf New York had spared D.C., and Oliver Perez was looking unbeatable, benefiting from absurd movement on his pitches, overaggressive Nats hitters and a generous strike zone. I extracted some bitter amusement from Carlos Delgado hitting one over Willie Harris's head — earlier in the night SNY showed Harris in a Brave uniform robbing Delgado, a short-circuited comeback that Joshua and I witnessed at Shea last year, and that still struck me as deeply unfair. (How DARE you deny a four-year-old boy's belief in happy endings, you Brave fourth outfielder! The NERVE!) Only thing of note on the night's schedule was I had a 35th-birthday affair for a friend in lower Manhattan.
Ah what the hell, I thought when Emily returned from Pilates for the handoff of parental duties. It's 5-0 and Oliver looks great.
So I blithely headed out into the suddenly rain-free night, and what's more — this is the point where I'm pretty sure the baseball gods looked down from the diamonds of Olympus and frowned — I decided not to take the radio. Um, because I was already carrying an umbrella, or something, and there wasn't room for a radio in the giant pair of cargo shorts with all the extra pockets. As if Monday's freaking disaster — I was not only in attendance for but also kept score for the first time in years — was something that happened years ago.
So I walk into the Tribeca Tavern and it's 5-3. As in “no longer 5-0.” If baseball were a fishing trip, 5-0 would be reeling in flounder and the humidity's low and the bugs aren't an issue and perfect song after perfect song is coming in on the transistor radio. 5-3 is different. 5-3 is warm beer and the boat is leaking and the fish aren't biting and you have Deet in your eyes and you've got an uneasy feeling you screwed up the tide tables and so matters will soon be worse.
“Goddamnit — who blew it?” I demanded somewhat anticipatorally of a luckless guy in a Met hat who seemed to be looking at the TV. (Points to the Tribeca Tavern for consigning the Olympics to the little satellite TVs, BTW.)
“Oliver got tired,” he said.
“Not the bullpen?” I asked, genuinely shocked.
No, not the bullpen.
Chastened, I settled down to my proper station and the business of willing miscreant relievers across the finish line. (What the hell, Tim had about 8,750 hours to get used to being 35.) Joe Smith's slider wasn't going anywhere near where it should have been going. He was excused. Duaner escaped thanks to a nifty jai alai pickup by David Wright. And then the Nats commenced to play stupid, and that was that. But I wasn't so much pleased as I was relieved. The baseball gods had proven their point, we were safe, and no one — even if it would have just been me in the privacy of my superstitious little soul — could claim it was my fault.