- Faith and Fear in Flushing - http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

Nine in the Afternoon

Three consecutive wins with ascending run totals starting from seven should make any Mets fan feel Amazin'. But when, without warning, your head explodes into a disco inferno — it was burn, baby, burn, my temp briefly but sharply returning to 102.4 — it's hard to enjoy one of the most fun series you'll ever see.

It's fun for the Mets [1]. It's been shadows and fog to me. Even when they schedule an afternoon game on one of those glorious San Francisco days [2] and the Giants can't do a thing to stop us [3], I'm at a loss. I've been missing crucial hits, pitches and errors between the sixth and eighth since Thursday. But through my shadows and through my fog, I'm able to make out that just about every crucial hit, pitch and error goes our way. So I take my antibiotic and I let that 'tussin get down to the bone [4] and I hang in as best I can.

Not unlike the Mets versus the Giants these last three shadowy, foggy days.

I was up and at 'em early Saturday, at 4:00 PM. I had a sixth (or sick) sense of where this alleged Mount Olympus of pitching matchups was going to go. The Fox broadcast seemed set to slobber over Randy Johnson, so it didn't surprise me that he gave up four consecutive hits to start the game. “First time! First time!” they caterwauled in shock. “First time Randy Johnson has given up four hits to start a game!” Interesting? Perhaps. Surprising? Well, barring any Clemenstorious revelations, he's on his way to the Hall of Fame and he's only almost as old as dirt (a.k.a. me), so no, not really. Approaching 46, even without the flu or a virus or whatever it is I've got — perhaps it's just Mets fever [5] — you're lucky to get out of bed in one piece some days. Giving up four hits to start a game is the least of your problems.

So we generate megatallies for Johan and you had to know that this would be the one time when he wouldn't cruise (not even pitching in San Francisco and throwing to the Castro [6]). The Giants would milk his one day as merely human and appear, through the shadows and fog, capable of catching up. But that must have been my delirium's interpretation, because the Mets would just keep hitting. Their husbandry of runs for the day Johan would need them more than any other represents some fine planning or dumb luck.

Nothing can ruin a game in which your 3-4-5 hitters scald everything they see, but when you're burning up and slipping in and out of consciousness, every little thing you don't care for begins to bother you disproportionately. Friday night, for example, I sucked on ice chips and persevered gamely for Frankie's last knockout of the evening. When Gary and Keith threw it to the studio for the postgame, a most unpleasant bald man was shouting at me. Under optimal circumstances, Chris Carlin is maybe borderline tolerable. On a night when I was fighting off fevered dreams in which I argued with umpires and Bruce Bochy that some controversial home run counted even though I didn't see it (what — you don't have fevered dreams like that?), this Loudmouth bellowing at me wasn't just a bad broadcaster. He was bad for my health.

Note to SNY: Bench Carlin and bring in someone with a comparatively soft, soothing manner for any postgame show that starts after one in the morning. Like Atilla the Hun.

Saturday my bête noire was Eric Karros. Can Fox please send him out for coffee for nine or more innings? How inane and generally incommunicative does an ex-ballplayer need to be to become a backup Fox baseball broadcaster? In the production meeting, was Eric instructed to treat every viewer as utterly unfamiliar with the sport and its participants? Besides beating that “first time four consecutive hits” tidbit to within six feet, ten inches of Randy Johnson's life; mastering the obvious (he doesn't like when pitchers throw above the shoulders — who does?); and reviving the hoary “crack statistician” line from forty years ago when it wasn't that funny, Eric Karros seemed to believe he had a secret discovery in David Wright, as if it was time for America to meet the wonder. “He's the future of this team,” Karros babbled. “Mike Piazza introduced me to him when he came up and…”

David Wright came up five years ago. David Wright was the future of this team in 2004. David Wright is the present of this team in 2009. His present is scheduled to endure for quite a few more seasons, knock wood or whatever substance constitutes Brian Wilson's glove. David Wright is a three-time All-Star, two-time Silver Slugger, et al, et al. Even folks going to the trouble of tuning in a baseball game outside of New York have probably heard of him and know something of what he's been up to since he shook Eric Karros' hand a half-decade ago.

Annoying when you're feeling fine. Inexplicably grating when you're woozy, queasy, sneezy and every dwarf dating back to John Cangelosi. Cream and sugar, Karros, cream and sugar.

My own internal issues aside, the Mets scored seven Thursday night, eight Friday night and then nine in the afternoon [7] Saturday. My head may have blazed like a disco inferno, but no panic at the disco, the ballpark or anywhere else this weekend that doesn't involve the Disabled List, no matter when Delgado [8] and I get off it.

It's even better than chicken soup for the Mets fan's soul: Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets, available from Amazon [9], Barnes & Noble [10] or a bookstore near you. Keep in touch and join the discussion on Facebook [11].