“I have tickets for the Mets tonight. Great seats for probably a terrible game. I'll be by at five.”
—Ken Cosgrove, Sterling Cooper, 1962
Yeah, it was pretty terrible at Shea Monday night. Lifetime game 409, regular and postseason combined, might have a hard time cracking my personal top 400 had August 2002 never occurred. Enduring Marquis' grand slam, the festival of futile relievers, wave upon wave of Cubbiephile inanity, the standing/sitting/standing/sitting Mets fan in front of me who bumped his head into mine as I bent down to retrieve my radio to monitor Beltran's well-being (ouch for all of us) and, yes, the Amazin' Luis Castillo — he's actually batting .249, or 249 points higher than I would have guessed — mixed to make the remainder of my planned septupleheader at Shea look about as sure a thing resultswise as AIG.
Speaking of which, Endy's fence has changed for the last week, and I don't think it was voluntary. Since October 19, 2006, we've all recognized the AIG slogan as iconic even if many of us didn't know anything else about the company until last week. Well, given that they needed a government bailout to avoid utter calamity, I suppose it wasn't surprising that when I peeked at left field as the first inning began, I noticed an alteration to the adscape. There are now two AIG logos where there was only one. The second one replaced the previously emblazoned, now inoperative motto:
THE STRENGTH TO BE THERE
One supposes that with all their other problems, AIG didn't need to be brought up on charges of untruth in advertising. (I wonder if the Feds will repossess our Endy bobbleheads.)
The Mets are still running first for the Wild Card. Do they have the strength to be there? Only because they are one length ahead of the Brewers, you'd have to say technically, yeah. You'd also have to ponder if the Brewers could possibly be any worse than they've already been of late, because we are going to need them to drown in their own suds if Monday's and Sunday's and Saturday's games are leading indicators of the Mets' abilities to avoid choking on their own final six-pack.
The National League has been mostly about streaks in 2008. There was a time when the Diamondbacks looked unbeatable. There was a time when the Dodgers looked as if they'd buried the Diamondbacks. Suddenly Arizona trails Los Angeles by only two games. The Phillies were 3½ behind us less than two weeks ago. We're 2½ behind them now. Neither the Mets nor Phillies figured as Wild Card possibilities in late August because there was no way Milwaukee could be caught. Now Milwaukee is trying to catch us. The Cubs have been the only block of granite in the N.L. this year — and, hey, what a great time to invite them over for a four-game set.
This could all be very bad news for the Mets or it could all be slightly less terrible than it looks now…which is about as optimistic as I'm willing to get after Monday night. Beltran lived, Johan's going and New York owes Chicago one where the date 9/23/08 is concerned. Clearly, signing Luis Castillo to a four-year deal should go down as Minaya's Boner, but we need to get past that. Just as the jobbed Giants hung in there a hundred years ago, the Mets will keep playing and all of us who bought tickets to every inch of Shea Stadium's final week will find, somehow, the strength to be there.