These days, it counts as a minor miracle when our bullpen only allows five baserunners in two innings, as happened tonight with Joe Smith, Scott Schoeneweis and Pedro Feliciano backing up Johan Santana, who maintained his dignity even when Kevin Burkhardt asked if he could watch once he came out of the game. (I would have forked over a fair amount of money to hear him say something like “Well Kevin, I'll tell you what I'm going to do — I'm going to stand next to the relievers' lockers with a pair of hedge clippers, a lighter and a gas can, and if they blow this one, we'll see how they like flying to Atlanta with nothing to wear but still-smoking rags.”) No closer? That's the least of our problems — plenty of nights we don't have a reliever who can reliably get anybody out at all.
On Wednesday night at Nats Park my friend Cooper was agitating to get going when Aaron Heilman entered a 9-5 game. He considered that safe; I stared at him in dismay. “This,” I told him, “is the equivalent of the point in the slasher movie where the co-ed realizes they forgot the puppy AND GOES BACK IN THE HOUSE.” Sure enough, Heilman promptly gave up a ringing double and a sharp single, leaving me to bay at our distant, dismal reliever in drunken fury while Cooper stared at me in disbelief. Was I a prophet? Nope, just a Met fan.
It's a useful comparison, though — if you want to properly prepare yourself for the late innings of a 2008 Met game, cue up some wretched early-1980s slasher movies, the ones starring nubile co-eds in their underwear at night and the dullard cops sent to rescue them, with the whole crew picked off one by one by a masked killer with something extremely sharp in one gloved hand. The rhythms and themes are pretty much the same: That first hitter to reach against that first bad Met reliever is the rustle of leaves somewhere in the woods behind the laughing girl drinking beer at the campfire, a sound barely noticed and quickly dismissed by everybody except the agitated audience. And so it goes until REEEEEE!!!!! REEEEEE!!!!!! REEEEEEE!!!!! THE TYING RUN IS ON THIRD AND IT'S A 2-0 COUNT!!!! AND THE BLOODY KNIFE IS FILLING THE SCREEN!!!!!! AAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!
Will at least one co-ed stagger off to safety? Or is this one of those nihilistic movies where the killer winds up triumphant? Let's meet our cast:
Carlos Muniz — Didn't really have any lines, killed off before anybody was on their guard. When the credits roll, sole identification will be under the group heading OTHER SORORITY SISTERS. (See also: Jorge Sosa, Matt Wise, Tony Armas Jr.)
Eddie Kunz — Hot pledge with just a couple of scenes, struck down in some particularly cruel, messily ironic way that's played for laughs. And we thought that one had potential.
Bobby Parnell — Has somehow made it to the final reel despite having had only one line and never being identified by name. If you've seen any of the other movies in this series, you already know this won't end well.
Duaner Sanchez — Ever notice how slasher movies are motivated by a pitiless medieval morality? How the girls who do drugs, get drunk, or have sex are fated to vanish in a river of blood, with the virtuous wallflower the only one who'll limp her way to the sequel? Well, Duaner's the slutty blonde who was mean to the girls who were scared to smoke pot, and then wobbled off early for a shower. OH GOD, A MACHETE!!! I totally saw that one coming, you guys.
Scott Schoeneweis — Has some brains, gives you hope by knowing enough not to get stoned in the woods or to sneak off and make out with the hot counselor from the camp across the lake. But inevitably slips in the wet grass and then scrabbles helplessly in a vain effort to get up as the escaped lunatic fires up the chainsaw. Oogh. That was gross.
Al Reyes — Cut from the movie. I hear the ironic death scene will be on the DVD.
Ricardo Rincon — Not a co-ed (would you want to see a co-ed who looked like Rincon?), but the veteran cop who appears to have restored order. (Often played by Joe Don Baker or one of those nameless, ubiquitous character actors.) Currently walking confidently over to open the closet doors to show the terrified girls that everything is fine now. But the old guy is never the male lead, so — OH MY GOD! DID YOU SEE THAT? THE CHAINSAW CAME RIGHT THROUGH THE LOUVERS!!!!
Aaron Heilman — Will this particularly hapless co-ed be decapitated by a windowpane? Hanged from a showerhead? Run into the clothesline and wind up in pieces in the old well? Judging from the way it's been going, it could be all three.
Pedro Feliciano — Wow, with a pitchfork? Ehhh. That one was too klutzy to put much faith in anyway.
Billy Wagner — The chaperone whose unexpected ambush made you think that jeez, maybe none of these girls will get out of the house alive.
Joe Smith — Such courage! Such spunk! Such basic decency! OH NO! THE MENTALLY DISTURBED LITTLE BROTHER IS LEFT-HANDED!!!!!
Brian Stokes — The handsome young police officer who took that staticky yell for help seriously, drove out to the lake, coolly fired a slug from his .38 right through the hockey mask and then even found a blanket to wrap around the shivering survivor. And now he's comforting her — everything is going to be fine! BUT WAIT! SOMETHING IS MOVING BEHIND HIM! AND HE DOESN'T KNOW!! OFFICER STOKES!!!! TURN AROUND!!!! NOOOOOO!!!!
Luis Ayala — Escaped the ax by leaping through the upstairs window. Now hopping on one good leg down the driveway. But wait! There's the killer, shambling slowly but relentlessly in pursuit! HE'S STILL ALIVE! AND HE'S GAINING!!!
Oh my God you guys, I'm so freaked out. I can't look anymore, not even through my fingers. Somebody tell me how it ends.