After you get used to the season having really arrived and settled down to stay a while, baseball can be like a good dog — at your side and ready to match whatever level of devotion you're giving that night. Want to focus with laser-beam intensity on each and every pitch? Baseball's up for that. (Chase this ball for the 254th time? I can do that!) Busy doing other stuff and so limited to occasional peeks at the TV or close listens to the radio? Baseball may not agree with your priorities, but it'll hang with you nonetheless. (I'll just lie here and snooze until I think you might be getting Doritos.)
This was one of the latter kinds of nights in my house, with the combination of a West Coast game, sleeping wife and sleeping house guest removing the TVs as viewing options and plenty of work making my attention to Howie and Wayne less than perfect. But they were back there anyway, up on the dresser behind my head, and when I'd cock an ear their way it was clear that they had a fairly nutty game to chronicle. Like couldn't anyone pitch? Would both catchers leave their position in disgust over the various cruelties being meted out to them? And how was this crackpot affair going to end, anyway?
For a while this had the look of a Mets game adhering to a rather dreadful blueprint, one we've seen and heard all too often from San Francisco: an early lead squandered, a young pitcher exposed, a wretched loss endured. (Which always comes with the added knife twist of having stayed up way too late for the privilege of being aggravated.) But somehow Bobby Parnell's crumbling was followed by an even bigger gag job by Brian Wilson, and we prevailed.
Lots of storylines in this one. Like John Maine looking like he would crumble, staggering through an ugly first and then watching two out, nobody on turn into its own ugly reflection — two on, nobody out — after Alex Cora turned a double-play ball into an error in the second. But Maine somehow got through that unscathed, labored into the sixth, got Emmanuel Burriss to end the inning and got two outs in the seventh besides. Like David Wright going 3-for-3 with four steals, tying Roger Cedeno's record on a night the Mets set a club record with seven swipes. (And is it fair to say that the Franchise II has played Cedenoesque ball at times recently? Vince Coleman also swiped four, but let's not connect those two Mets in any way. I won't even write their names in the same sentence.) Like Carlos Beltran stealing third again, though once again an umpire's discretion played an uncomfortably large role. By the way, between the steals and the snatches of chin music and the outcome, I wouldn't be surprised to get a Bay Area forecast for “chippy with possible squalls of rancor.” (Which kind of sucks because Tim Lincecum and the Big Unit throw hard.)
There were storylines before the game as well, though they weren't the kind we like. I'm least concerned about Jose Reyes's stiff right calf, since that mild injury corresponded interestingly with Jose's stiff right cerebral hemisphere, or whatever ailment it is that's caused him to forget how to run the bases. J.J. Putz's elbow is more worrisome but not the stuff of panic, though my first, second and third instinct is to join the crowd blaming the stupid WBC for his troubles. (Did you know the WBC also gave AIG bonuses, caused me to gain five pounds and betrayed Miss California by blowing her top open during an innocent photo shoot? All true!)
And Carlos Delgado is the most worrisome news of all — a torn hip labrum is what kept A-Rod on the shelf for nine weeks, and he only had the problem partially repaired and is a good deal younger. It hampered Mike Lowell badly. Chase Utley played through it, but … well, he's Chase Utley. If Delgado needs surgery, that could be the year, the end of his Met tenure, and a rather uncertain patch-and-paste job with Fernando Tatis and Gary Sheffield and Alex Cora and Daniel Murphy and Nick Evans and goodness knows who else over there. Life with Delgado is certainly a roller coaster — looking back at last Opening Day through today, this is one ride pregnant women and people with a heart condition are strongly advised to avoid, and the rest of us might want to hang onto our hats and sunglasses while strapped into.
We won, and that's great. But I wonder what we may have lost.
Random Note: You can now subscribe to Faith and Fear for the Kindle. Costs $2 a month, but … um, it's on the Kindle? (Seriously, I don't quite get the Kindle. But if this makes someone happy, we're happy too.)
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