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And We Have Escaped Ourselves, at Least for Now

The good thing about 5-0 leads, besides the obvious Us > Them factor, is that it lets you screw up a fair amount and not have it be fatal. Which Jerry Manuel and Frankie Rodriguez promptly did, with a little help from Elmer Dessens. Elmer has somehow been fairly reliable, certainly reliable enough to be able to secure another out, but Jerry had to manage by the rulebook and be ruled by a perfectly stupid statistic, so out he came and up went his hand and in came K-Rod, who didn’t actually record an out on his own, but benefited from more Mets shenanigans around second base. It’s fitting that a game whose first inning saw David Wright give Nyjer Morgan’s foot an assist away from the base ended with Ruben Tejada dropping his foot between Roger Bernadina’s hand and the base in the ninth [1]. Jim Riggleman’s Medusa gaze from the dugout was priceless; if I were Bernadina, I might have considered spending the night lying beside second base, rather than have to speak to Jim Riggleman before he had a chance to get a good night’s sleep and enjoy a nice breakfast.

A nifty play, to be sure, and God bless Tejada for his hustle, talent and welcome precociousness, but it was ridiculous that things had descended so far, or that for the second night in a row Jerry’s managerial goal seemed to be trying to make us all hang ourselves. Gary Cohen was killing Jerry on the air for managing with saves in mind; I was hiding behind the couch muttering nasty things about him; and Amazin’ Avenue’s Eric Simon was concocting the best rant of the night [2]: “Before making any pitching decision, ask yourself whether you’d make that same decision if there was no such thing as a save. If the answer is clearly ‘yes’, go ahead and make the move. If the answer is ‘no’, go back to the drawing board.”

This, as the kids say.

(By the way, Eric Holder needs to stop telling people how he left Game 6 so he wouldn’t have to see the Red Sox win. That was some embarrassing bullshit there. Plus this interview [3] with ESPN New York reveals he’s one of those civic-minded asshats who roots for everybody. Boo!)

The Mets’ revival is a marvelous thing, but I can’t help but see foreboding signs and imagine disaster. And a lot of those hypothetical disasters involve K-Rod doing something dreadful, as he has done far too often in his nine rather unimpressive months here. His quotes about making things dramatic but always having a plan are cute; they’d be a lot cuter if I believed more than half of that statement. As for Jerry, I almost believe he enjoys torturing us. Witness his pregame musings that there’s no place for Tejada once Luis Castillo returns — because Luis’s veteran status is magical enough that we should overlook the fact that he’s a gimpy hitter who struggles to hit the ball 110 feet or reach any ball he can’t crumple on top of. I should have learned by now to pay what Jerry says no particular attention, but that agitated me. There’s been far too much praise given to the Mets for ceasing to do idiotic things several weeks after everyone else concludes they’re idiotic; let’s see them get ahead of the curve for once and consign Castillo to the bench or the beach, rather than hurt the club by removing Tejada from what’s been a wonderful mix.

But anyway, enough crying. We won, didn’t we? David Wright got lots of hits. Alex Cora got one big hit. Jon Niese was great, winning a game in which he looked like he had to think hard and work hard.

We won, and R.A. Dickey faces Stephen Strasburg later today in a game that could be enormous fun, if we allow ourselves not to make too much of it. It’s not for all the marbles, just one out of a bag of 162. It might be a wonderful clinic in two or three very different ways you can make hitters miss a baseball, each of which can be wonderful to watch. From the way he wrote his preview story [4], I take it David Waldstein tried out his metaphor on Dickey, suggesting Strasburg is supersonic jet and Dickey is an old Piper Cub. Dickey’s response made me love him even more than I thought I could love a gentle, ligamentless knuckleballer who reads actual books: “It’s the F-15 vs. the butterfly. I like that because the butterfly is alive.”