We don't wait for a panel of judges to score baseball games by holding up signs indicating what they thought of the precision and beauty of the respective entrants' execution. This ain't Blades of Glory (though it would be infinitely more entertaining if it were). So never mind that the Mets lacked a little crispness here and there or weren't particularly razor sharp (or even Razor Shines) around the edges. They showed up, they played ball and they won handily.
It helped that they were participating in the same game as the Washington Nationals.
If the Nationals were a bit ragged, it would be an upgrade. They are the worst team in the history of Citi Field. The St. John's Red Storm, the Georgetown Hoyas and whoever's frolicking out on that Wiffle Ball diamond have all represented the tenets of baseball professionalism with more distinction than the Nats.
We beat them by six runs Saturday. We should have beaten them by sixty. That's probably an indication that the lousy Mets of midweek haven't been altogether cured, but no judges showed up to look down their noses from a sea of 5.7s because of it. New York took the undisputed gold in this contest. Washington came in second in the competition yet didn't qualify for the silver. If there's a tar medal, Manny Acta should fire up his troops by exhorting them to, by all means, try for the tar. And maybe go for the nicotine.
The whole day, frankly, was a blur of stumbling outfielders, twin killings, pop flies and bases on balls. A few of those went against us. Most of it transpired to drown the Nationals who, as my host and seatmate Charlie Hangley put it, were already under two feet of water. They sunk only deeper from there. I wish I could be more specific about what I remember witnessing from Promenade 532 — me in fair territory, Charlie geographically if not personally just foul — but what I mostly recall is hoping fly balls to deep left and deep center elicited a useful crowd noise. Oh those World Class blind spots! It's a fly ball…let's hear if there's a groan or a cheer…never mind, Elijah Dukes is involved, we won't have to listen for long. First the Mets were winning by a substantial margin, then they were winning almost prohibitively. Usually I derive little warmth or security from a simple six-run lead. When you're playing a professional baseball team, six-runs leads aren't necessarily enough.
Today we played the Washington Nationals. Today I was pretty relaxed.
One thing I did see amid the fresh air far above and beyond left field: birds. Lots of birds winging around. I used to sit in Shea and notice the birds over the fence. The people have moved; the birds stayed put. Nobody told them to fly south, so they haven't. The Polo Grounds was infamous for housing pigeon coops and accumulating piles of what pigeons left behind. Given how close Row 10 felt to the pigeon skyline, maybe some of us are in for a Giants tribute after all.
It ain't Johan Santana's diary, but it will do in a pinch: 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.