On a lot of nights, the New York Mets are a pretty unstoppable baseball team from about 7:20 until about 7:45.
Unfortunately, the nights drag on, and so do the Mets. The orange-and-blue hare begins to coast. To hop only now and again. Then it goes to sleep somewhere, and you feel yourself go rigid at home on the couch or out in Flushing in your new properly angled green seat. You can feel it coming. Then you watch it happening.
Tack-on runs not scoring. C'mon, Mets.
David Wright striking out AGAIN and looking perplexed. Get UP, Mets.
Starters not going deep enough. The game's not over!
A little insurrection put down and now the lead is less comfortable. METS!
Some reliever comes in and is fine. More runs, please, fellas! Please?
Another reliever comes in and is not so fine. AUUUGGHHH!!!!
Fizzled rallies and strikeouts and it's over, the tortoise has won, and you are so not surprised. You realize you felt this marching towards you since about the third inning or so, and it arrived sure as the thunder and lightning followed the racing clouds and the treetops bending and pitching. Only the Mets are the ones out there soaking wet, looking perplexed.
I really don't know what it is with this team. They look poorly constructed and rickety and mismatched, and logy and lead-assed and dull. I'll just go for the lethal comparison: They look like the plodders who bumbled along under Willie Randolph's sour glower for half of one season and then half of the next. I thought Jerry Manuel had at least exorcised that evil spirit, but here it is again spitting bile and showing off its alarmingly flexible vertebrae. I'd call it the Ghost of Shitty Baseball Past, but a 9-11 record and a run differential of zero isn't exactly past. This phantom is all too Present, and the Future scares me.
Speaking of the past, HEY, HAVE YOU BEEN TO MY WEB SITE LATELY? As if things weren't irritating enough.
A more interesting note: Over at Keith Olbermann's blog, he's discovered another Almost Met — a guy with the Only In Baseball name of Wilbur Huckle, who suited up for the Mets in September 1963 but never got into a game. Huckle becomes the ninth Almost Met — the others are Jim Bibby, Randy Bobb, Billy Cotton, Jerry Moses, Terrell Hansen, Mac Suzuki, Justin Speier and Anderson Garcia. But Huckle joins Cotton and Hansen in having tales that are not just odd but tragic, from a baseball point of view: The other six Almost Mets played at least one major-league game in another uniform, and so became Real Something Elses, but not those three. They never crossed the white lines to find a home in the eternity of the Baseball Encyclopedia. (Olbermann calls the sad ranks of such players the Bill Sharman Society, after a Brooklyn Dodger phenom who suffered the same fate. Elias, less poetically and more cruelly, calls them zombies.)
I've been obsessed with the Almost Mets for some time, and the line I always use — because I haven't been able to improve on it — is that Terrell Hansen would give his eyeteeth to be Moonlight Graham. Think about that some night when 3 a.m.'s sitting on your chest and you know it's going to be a while.
Anyway, Ken Takahashi — if you're warming up for your debut and feel a little tight, maybe you should just go on out there anyway. Trust me on this one.
You know what looks good next to the Baseball Encyclopedia? 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.
Remember, at midnight you can turn to WOR 710 AM, when Greg joins Joey Reynolds to talk Faith and Fear and whatever else comes up. Besides, like you want anything to do with the FAN after this debacle.