- Faith and Fear in Flushing - http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

The Man Comes Around

Never mind the parenthetical nature of Mets offense, the way its tallies appear only at the beginning and end of games (wrapping between them a row of 0's). Never mind that our chain gang of a bullpen would do more service to the community by donning orange jumpsuits, grabbing sharp sticks and picking up litter along either side of the Grand Central. Never mind the nagging undependability of the entire operation, the sense that at any minute one of the neighbors will knock on our door to ask if we've been receiving their first-place mail by mistake.

Never mind all that. You don't need to mind it when Carlos Beltran comes around [1].

The last time we saw him, the man was alive, well and shattering what little remained of Kevin Gregg's inner peace. Carlos Beltran is up and at 'em as of the ninth inning Friday night, rising to the occasion and soaring to heights he's been bypassing most of 2008.

Come on up for Carlos Beltran's rising. Come on up for a bolt unleashed, a game saved, a loss reversed, a lead extended, a weight off his and our upper torsos. Come on up for the dream we all dream of, us beating them in a final swing of love.

Two out, nobody on and one run down and you hope that somehow somebody gets something started and then something done. But nothing's been getting done all night, not since the first, especially not in the LOB-heavy seventh and eighth. All you want is a baserunner (Castillo…hit…check), another baserunner (Wright hit…check) and, at the very least, a third baserunner (Delgado hit…below the knee…ouch…and check).

Then all you want is for Carlos Beltran to come through like the Best Player The Mets Have Ever Had, the one you're constantly telling people — including yourself — that he is, like he was for virtually all of 2006 and for key segments of 2007. Carlos Beltran, despite numbers that were resembling reasonably attractive in certain departments, wasn't that player in 2008. You'd been constantly telling people — especially yourself — that he was on the verge of catching fire, that he was the one ingredient that hadn't been added to tasty Manuel Stew, that when he did…hoo-boy watch out. When Carlos Beltran had the kind of tear his middle-of-the-order teammates had already contributed to the greater good, even you would finally bring yourself to fully believe that the club receiving its mail in first place wasn't merely tolerating the missteps of an addled letter-carrier.

Dribs, drabs, dribblers, 86 RBI entering Friday and the weekly Web Gem notwithstanding, this had not been Carlos Beltran's year. As long as he's vital, you assume he'll never have another annus horribilis along the lines of 2005 when he shouldered a lucrative burden that nearly crushed him. But you'd been assuming since April that 2006 and 2007 were the norm, not the aberration. You'd been waiting for sustained evidence that 2008 to date wasn't Carlos Beltran's true identity.

Since his most recent swing, we have a better handle on who the man is. And how the man comes around.

The first pitch to Carlos Beltran from Kevin Gregg with the bases loaded and two out and the Mets down by one in the ninth was up in the man's happy zone. And the man who doesn't smile all that much knew how to turn on it, and turn us on, and turn our frowns upside down. Carlos Beltran in the top of the ninth was a grand slamming ecstasy factory after depositing that Kevin-sent delivery onto whichever moon of Jupiter is farthest from the sun. Luis Ayala may have taken a bit of the edge off in the bottom of the frame, but not even a Met reliever — not even a Met “closer” — could bring us down after Beltran had us floating so dreamily high.