“He could have fun in a stalled elevator.”
—Bob Murphy, on Tug McGraw
Inside the attic of Two Boots Tavern, I’m convinced there is a painting of the National League standings that grows grayer by the month. There’s probably also an X-ray of Dorian Gray’s right elbow up there, and every time I walk in the restaurant to read aloud, its ulnar collateral ligament tears a little more.
Gotta be, right? I can track the progress of this blighted Mets season by the prevailing background vibe at each of our generally genial Two Boots events.
• In June, for METSTOCK, we looked up at the Mets game frequently and enthusiastically, convinced the Mets we’d known since 2006 or thereabouts were going to put away those not particularly pesky Baltimore Orioles, because that’s what the Mets are supposed to do. Alas, Frankie Rodriguez legitimately blows a save for the first time and our team falls three behind the Phillies. Not good, not good at all, but not cause for giving up.
• In July, on the first AMAZIN’ TUESDAY, as new rightfielder Jeff Francoeur ducks a ball he couldn’t make out in the Washington lights, the Mets prove unquestionably down in the dumps, frustrating the hell out of everybody who takes intermittent peeks at the Two Boots TVs. We lose 4-0 to the lowly Nationals and fall an improbable — but not impossible — seven out of the N.L. Wild Card lead. Still, we care that we lost because there’s still something to care about up on those screens.
• It’s August now, and we just had our second AMAZIN’ TUESDAY, an extraordinarily enjoyable evening among friends and extended Summer Family. The game was on per usual, and glances were taken, but this time the Mets didn’t devastate us in the ninth or disappoint us much before then. They barely distracted us. That’s what happens when yet another wave of your personnel has been disabled, shut down, traded or whatever. The biggest cheer (and, really, it was more of a non-groan) erupted when it was noticed Francoeur was playing through thumb pain. The biggest buzz, such as it was, came not from Nelson Figueroa’s reasonably robust emergency start (every Mets start is essentially an emergency start) but from the sight of Gary Sheffield leaving with whatever was ailing him…though I’d have to say the most excitement emanated after the game, when we learned J.J. Putz was announced as out for the season.
Somebody must have had Putz in an injury pool.
The Mets lost to the Marlins, dropping their record to a season-worst twelve games under .500 and pushing them more games back of whatever it is we’re no longer contending for than I care to check. Everybody in our reading room was a Mets fan, but nobody seemed hot or bothered over the defeat. That’s what happens when losses accumulate swiftly and numbingly.
Yet our band of brothers and sisters, united for this evening entirely by our Mets fandom, enjoyed a pretty Amazin’ Tuesday, what with the beer and the pizza and the in-depth Mets discussion. The way we Mets fans can have fun in this stalled elevator of a season indicates we may very well be as hopeless as our team.
But in a good way.
Thanks to all who came out for our second AMAZIN’ TUESDAY, along with the sensational staff at Two Boots Tavern. If the Mets continue to exist in some discernible physical form, we’re going to do it one more time, on September 15. We’ll be announcing another great lineup of readers and talkers shortly.