Didn’t we just see this game?
Yeah, it took a couple of minutes longer to lose, the Mets gave up one fewer run, and the Giants’ starter didn’t go all the way. But other than that there wasn’t a lot of difference between tonight and Thursday night: The Mets’ starter looked awesome, his teammates holding bats looked asleep and/or hungover, and no Met foot disturbed home plate.
At least it was quick.
I had a bad feeling about this one from the get-go, what with Jose Reyes still on the shelf, Angel Pagan on the bench and Carlos Beltran still finding his way. Beltran has a firm alibi for now, but the other two situations are disturbingly Metsian. For the sake of safety and sanity, Reyes should have gone on the DL instead of farcically trying to hit wrong-handed before the break, and his return is slipping farther away like it’s the end of the hallway in Poltergeist. For the sake of offense and sanity, Pagan should have been starting instead of Jeff Francoeur, who as usual approached each at-bat like the stadium was on fire. So between the Mets taking half-measures on an injury and their decision-makers continuing their phrenology-based appraisal of Francoeur’s abilities, the lineup had two sizable holes in it already, and that’s not even considering the current struggles of Jason Bay, Ike Davis and Rod Barajas and the daily struggle that is Alex Cora with a bat in his hands.
Ugh. I think I just pissed myself off.
Anyway, for all that it was a terrific display of pitching. Jon Niese is growing up before our eyes, nearly matching Barry Zito with excellent location and a savvy mix of pitches. (And he had the best at-bats of anybody in the lineup.) As for Zito … man. There was that evil hook that started at the shoulders and wound up at the waist (learned from Randy Jones, who never did the Mets a single favor), the high fastball, and the occasional deadly change, all thrown in maddeningly shifting sequences. Which was the pitch that made you cluck loudest in exasperated admiration? For my money, it was a toss-up between the gorgeous curveball that left David Wright walking away in silence in the fourth, the pulled-string change that Barajas waved at to start the sixth, and the curve that froze Tejada to end the sixth. And Ike may wake up tonight screaming: When he lofted a harmless fly ball for an out in the eighth, it almost felt like a victory.
And then Brian Wilson arrived.
As I get older I somehow find it harder to dislike players on other teams. Roger Clemens is not only gone but could only sink lower in public estimation if it turned out he was an Al Qaeda member, Bobby Cox and Chipper Jones are in twilight, and Angel Hernandez is an ump. (I’m leaving aside my irrational certainty that K-Rod and Luis Castillo are responsible for everything that’s wrong with the world from AT&T’s cellular service to the BP oil spill.) Not counting the retired and the ineligible, off the top of my head the List of the Loathed is down to six:
1. Anyone wearing a Yankee uniform
2. That fuckhead Cody Ross
3. Shane Victorino (though if you hate him, you should admit if you weren’t a Mets fan you’d also hate Reyes)
4. Brett Myers (who I fear will be 2010’s Michael Tucker)
5. Greg Dobbs
6. Brian Wilson
Happily, we only see the Giants’ closer a couple of times each year, but that’s more than enough for me. There’s the annoying rooster-tail hairdo, but more than that there’s his irritating personal cosmology, a mashup of ultimate-fighting psychobabble and God Squad showing off. It’s simultaneously weird and boring, the kind of thing you’d get if weight-room goons played D&D. And ultimately, whatever it means to Wilson is irrelevant. Showboating is showboating, and you don’t get an exemption on religious grounds — particularly not when your offering to Jesus Christ is repurposed from a line of Mixed Martial Arts mookwear.
That said, I sure do respect his stuff: That fastball and slider combination is evidence of some kind of higher power. In my personal cosmology the higher power is the genetics that formed Brian Wilson’s right arm, but whatever it is, it’s pretty damn effective.
Addendum: I take it all back. Brian Wilson has won me over, because this is awesome.