The Mets have won their last four one-run games. In fact their last four wins have all been of the one-run variety. They beat the best team in baseball Wednesday night. They stayed close to each of their rivals in the N.L. East. Oliver Perez is 1-0 since early May.
See what happens when you read the eye chart with one eye covered? It may not improve your seeing, but what you see might look a whole lot better.
Beating the Dodgers provided an effective tonic for all the moping and griping we've been doing as Mets fans. Forget for a moment that the moping and griping is a completely legitimate response to the totality of the eye chart; that each of these last four squirmy, more lucky than good one-run wins, including the most recent, deserves to be lumped in among that third you're gonna win no matter what; that you have to stretch way back to June 25 to find four Met wins; that this fourth-place club is closer in form to Washington than they are to Philadelphia, Florida or Atlanta no matter the alignment of the standings; or that our returning savior Ollie walked seven in five innings.
He won. We won. Save your fresh mopes and/or gripes for another 24 hours.
Citi Field was a fun place to be Wednesday night. I tend to forget that while P1 fans like us immerse ourselves in the Zeitgeist of the moment (currently and deservedly doom and gloom), there are Mets fans who, while not immune to what's going around them, simply show up and shout at Mets games. It was true amid the nadir of Mets series versus the Braves ten years ago as Atlanta was ruining everything, it was true as we entered Game Six against St. Louis three years ago on the brink of the abyss and it was true again as the Los Angelinos seemed determined to make our lives more miserable.
Ha! Our lives in 2009 can't be any more miserable, though I think a little of the extra zip this crowd contained had something to do with the opponent and its leftfielder. We were supposed to sign Manny Ramirez at some point, weren't we? We didn't, which is too bad from a production standpoint, just fine from other perspectives. Manny missed 50 games, which would make him the perfect Met this year. He also seems to wander through a different baseball game than the other players on the field — again, a very Metlike thing to do, as the New York Nine rarely seems to gather on the same, successful page. But Manny tested positive, and not for baseball acumen, so obviously he's not our kind of guy. Thus, we booed him a lot, which was fine with me. Being on the other team is good enough reason, but if righteousness is your bag, Manny should be your target. A bulging MAMMARY RAMIREZ banner was posted all night in left field. Nice touch.
As for Matt Kemp, he's a bum. I don't mean as in member of a club that used to play in Brooklyn (insert your own appropriate if predictable “Fred Wilpon finally has his favorite team playing at Citi Field” observation here). Guy in the row in front of me and my host Matt Silverman (co-author with Keith Hernandez of Shea Good-Bye and guest scholar at the upcoming AMAZIN' TUESDAY extravaganza) high in Section 508 was adamant on the point:
“KEMP! YOU'RE A BUM! KEMP! YOU'RE A BUM!”
The Kemp You're A Bum Guy gets a pass for his volume and repetition because he was sitting next to a man in a RAMIREZ 99 jersey, an older gentleman who should have known better than to jump on such a skeevy, frontrunning bandwagon. As for our solo Greek chorus, his cries of Kemp's bumminess blew up when Ryan Church turned Matt's single into a triple. You never heard a blowhard turn sheepish so fast. It was almost worth the eventual run Kemp scored to hear a half-dozen wise guys turn on the mock ire:
“CHURCH! YOU'RE A BUM!”
That's stuff's way funnier when your team wins. Visiting fans like the one we nicknamed Dodger Girl are more tolerable, too, when they leave after seven innings because their team is losing (of course a Dodger fan would leave after seven). I have to give Dodger Girl credit for assuming the mantle of obnoxiousness you might have thought would go wanting with neither the Phillies nor Yankees on the premises. But she kept bringing it, even if “it” was kind of incoherent. Lots of bluster about “POSTSEASON! WE'RE THE ONES GOING TO POSTSEASON!” which I found both presumptuous (I'd like to introduce you to a Mr. Branca for a seminar on chickens that go unhatched) and misplaced. We don't have much to hold over the heads of other teams' fans lately, but the last time the Dodgers passed through these parts in October, I'm pretty sure I saw two of them tagged out on the same play at home plate. You can remind me of that aspect of Dodger POSTSEASON! all you like.
It occurs to me that with all the games I've been to at Citi Field, I haven't come home with too many of these types of anecdotes which were a staple of my Shea Stadium reportage between 2005 and 2008. I think Wednesday night was, in its way, the first time I've gone to a Mets game in the new place and it felt like a Mets game in the old place. Even the good results I've encountered this season (I'm 14-5 now; go figure) never quite added up in the stands. There was a cohesion of experience present against the Dodgers that had gone missing over the first half as Citi and I warily went about our tenuous courtship. The last Subway Series game was the pits in that regard. Citi Field was not home of the Mets that Sunday night. It was just some place where two teams showed up to play baseball.
Not this time. This time it was alive the way Mets games are supposed to be. I imagine it could have died at any moment — without Oliver weaving fifteen outs among his seven walks; without the runs eked out in the third while Matt and I were dining adjacent to Mama's of Corona of the Promenade and comparing woe-is-us notes with two good guys we ran into, Louie from Centerfield Maz and Darren from WFUV; without Daniel Murphy's WTF? 3-1 handling of Mark Loretta's carom off the first base bag (I thought Loretta was safe, but I had three young chippies on their way back to the beer line in my line of sight); or without Frankie Rodriguez having the good sense to give up a home run before a walk and a single in the ninth. Yes, any number of things could have killed the fun. But as was the case in the previous three one-run wins, nothing did.
It's one win. It doesn't defuse the doom or unglue the gloom. But we're as entitled as anybody to the third of the games we're not supposed to lose.
Join us for the first of Three AMAZIN' TUESDAYS at Two Boots Tavern on July 21, a Mets night devoted to reading, rooting and Rusty Staub. Get all the details here. And get your copy of Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or a bookstore near you. Keep in touch and join the discussion on Facebook.