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51st & Broadway

The Mets were losing 3-2 after three innings of my listening to them. Then I had to abandon their game so I could see an old friend of mine remarry. Then, during the cocktail hour, I checked the final from Wrigley: Cubs 11 Mets 4 [1].

You could have knocked me over with a feather. From the looks of the boxscore, the Cubs could have done the same to Bobby Parnell.

Ah, but there was a most delightful detail to the day (other than hearing “Dixieland Delight [2]” at the wedding in honor of the Alabama-bred bride), and that was learning of the Met debut of Lance Broadway. By entering in the sixth and pitching three meaningless and not particularly effective innings, Lance Broadway became the 51st different player to play for the New York Mets in 2009.

This means we’re three players away from tying the record for most Mets in one season. For that you can thank whatever voodoo takes down three different shortstops, 60% of a rotation and…well, mostly everybody. The subs for the scrubs get hurt on this team. Sometimes they get bounced on merit. Whatever it is that’s got us piling up Mets at 1967 rates, it’s still going.

Which is a new and valid reason to hate the Yankees.

You probably heard that one of the two players to be named later for Billy Wagner was supposed to be Chris Carter, a Triple-A first baseman of no particular significance to the Red Sox, qualification enough to get him some ups in September with us, pushing us ever closer to the magic number of 54 different Mets, first deployed 42 years ago…which is one of the few things left to root for around here.

We’ve come close to the record in this decade. Fifty-two different Mets battled under the flag of Art Howe in 2004. Fifty came to play whether we wanted them or not last year. But 54 — from Seaver and Koosman to Grzenda and Moock — all saw action in that even more dreadful than this season campaign of ’67. Half of those tenth-place 61-101 Mets were pitchers. Of eleven hurlers who dotted the roster that Opening Day, only four were still hurling in a Met uniform at season’s end, according to Bill Ryczek’s The Amazin’ Mets 1962-1969: Tom Seaver, Jack Fisher, Ron Taylor and Don Cardwell. And the latter two both visited the DL amid all the comings and goings.

Between Broadway’s ascension to the big club and the rumored coming of Carter, I was penciling in Mets 51 and 52. Josh Thole and Eddie Kunz, allegedly en route for September [3], were going to give us 53 and 54. From there, would you put it past the Mets to reactivate 1967 catcher John Sullivan? Just because John Sullivan is 68 years old? And despite his two doubles Saturday, wouldn’t Sully be just as solid an option behind and at the plate as Brian Schneider?

Alas, Chris Carter, who had to clear waivers to be traded to the Mets after July 31, was claimed by the Yankees. The Yankees neither need nor want Chris Carter. The Yankees are just looking to screw [4] with the Red Sox’ 40-man roster because, of course, they’re total dicks. They didn’t like the Mets helping out their archrival by sending them Wagner, thus the waiver claim. The Red Sox pulled Carter back and are looking for another way to get him to the sunny side of the Triborough Bridge. Carter wouldn’t be playing for the Red Sox if he remained Boston property. He would, however, be playing for the depleted Mets if he becomes a depleted Met (and didn’t step into a ditch getting out of the cab from LaGuardia). Most of all, he’d be new blood, a fresh face, a warm body who’s never been in a Mets uniform before. Chris Carter could get us up to 52. Chris Carter could help us set a record that would be exactly the kind of record the 2009 Mets should own. At least the 1967 Mets had the debut of Tom Seaver to go with the debuts of Bart Shirley, Bill Denehy and Bob Hendley.

Think we saw the second coming of Seaver this year? I think not.

For now, we settle for Broadway, for 51 and for the lackluster status attached to being a garden-variety injury-ravaged horrendous team. With any luck, the Mets can still make history by fielding just a few more borderline major leaguers. What a shame it would be to go to the trouble of running through Darren O’Day, Emil Brown, Angel Berroa, Andy Green and Jon Switzer — to name several I’ll bet most of you have forgotten were ever here — and not make them count for something besides losses.

Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets is available from Amazon [5], Barnes & Noble [6] or a bookstore near you. Keep in touch and join the discussion on Facebook [7].