As predicted, the Mets returned to Earth. Heck, they practically burned up on re-entry, came down miles from the rendezvous point, panicked and managed to blow the hatch and flood the capsule while waiting for rescue. I'm pressed to think what was the least fun: the errors, the parade of unlucky or bad relievers or the carousel of Atlanta Brave baserunners.
No, wait, they're all second-place finishers: The least fun was watching Johan Santana in the dugout, gazing out in mild perturbation and puzzlement at the post-error wreckage of what had been a taut game.
Of course the inevitable had to happen on his watch, wasting a gutty, brainy performance in which he arrived with C+ stuff and pitched an A- game. Johan gets the L despite giving up not one lousy earned run — and has now had this happen to him twice and it's not even Memorial Day.
Why do his teammates give him no run support? Maybe it's awe. I felt a little tight myself, and I was a county away. Can fans press too? Of course they can — I caught myself cheering too hard, staring burning holes into the set and grinding my teeth. If I'd tried Let's Go Mets I would have been off the primordially simple beat. If we'd done the wave I would have fallen over the arm of the couch.
Johan Santana is what we wonder if we deserve. Bistro d'Johan is the fancy restaurant at which we knock over our Cokes and get our tie in the soup and wind up getting dragged out by one arm. The Johan Santana Collection is the art exhibition at which we theatrically sigh and fidget and whine so appallingly that we leave early and there's yelling in the car. The Santana is our uncle's new fancy Cadillac whose ashtray we put bright blue gum in for some unfathomable reason. Johan Santana is the losing pitcher, with an 0.78 ERA and a record of 4-2.
Johan Santana — or more properly our squandering of his vast gifts — is the reason we can't have nice things.
A nice thing we can still have is a copy of Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets. Check it out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble or a bookstore near you. Keep in touch and join the discussion on Facebook.