And to think I began the afternoon worried about jinxing a no-hitter.
Ollie wasn’t making history Thursday, at least not the kind you want. For a couple of innings there, I thought maybe. When he had four consecutive K’s, I thought back to another April afternoon, a mere 39 years ago. Tom Seaver struck out ten Padres in a row that once upon a time. Could Ollie incorporate himself as Franchise II? Could he make us all feel silly for doubting him based on his exhibition of abysmal control last Saturday? Could “Ollie being Ollie” come to be understood as a synonym for excellence?
No. No. No. None of that happened. It was just two good innings of Oliver Perez before “Ollie being Ollie” became “hello, I must be going in favor of Darren O’Day.”
Damn, that was quick.
One must always suck up the first loss of the year with the understanding that it was going to arrive sooner, not later. The Mets have never escaped the gate with more than five consecutive wins (1985). The first loss is always illusion-destroying painful. Will the Mets ever lose? No way! They never have, not this year. Now they have. Not many minutes have passed since it took place, but I think we’re all still upright and breathing, so the world goes on, all 159 games of it.
There was some fight in these Mets today until they ran into the better bullpen (did we and the Reds combine to set a series record for most games saved by different Franciscos?). They never seemed out of it, just not enough into it. That, I seem to recall from 2008 and before, happens in the course of a season. Sometimes it happens as early as the third game. It’s reality. And, as a dopey movie once clarified, reality tends to bite.
Still, damn that was quick.
One nugget from our last victory (most recent victory, not necessarily our final ever) still nettles me. It was that forceout not made on Edwin Encarnacion in the ninth when Carlos Delgado’s foot came off the bag at first as Brandon Phillips ran wild, free and rather senselessly to third. Our buddy Keith Hernandez practically choked on his Tootsie Pop when Bill Welke called Encarnacion safe. The replay clearly showed Delgado’s foot was not on the base as he caught the ball. I believe the rule says there’s a connection between the two vis-à-vis recording an out. It was a goof by Delgado. Unfortunate, but human.
Keith wasn’t having it — the call, that is. You get “leeway” there, Mex said. And he wasn’t being a homer, he swore. I didn’t think he was, at least not being a Mets homer. He was surely being a first baseman homer, however. Delgado not getting one of those lazy outs — Encarnacion was pointing up a storm and calling himself safe about 80% down the line — seemed to impinge on Keith’s sense of thieves’ honor. We (first basemen) always get that call, don’t we? Not last night, you didn’t. Thank the soul of Fred Merkle that Welke’s letter-of-the-lawfulness didn’t do undue harm our modern-day New York Nine, but, you know, next time step on the bag, Carlos. And Keith…you’re not a first baseman during these games. Get real.
The reality is you step on the bag with the ball in your mitt and Delgado didn’t properly multitask. The reality is Oliver Perez is 0-1. The reality is the Mets are 2-1. The reality is we get to try it again Friday night in Miami.
Sometimes reality is just fine.
Salve your wounds, such as they are, with Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets, available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or a bookstore near you. Keep in touch and join the discussion on Facebook.