“Making an entrance after the president. That’s just not how we play bridge. It’s not how we say cricket.”
–Toby Ziegler, The West Wing, regarding breaches of protocol
Instead of veering wide of second base, Carlos Beltran directed his legs straight toward those of Chase Utley and Wilson Valdez. Instead of leaving three runners on base, Lucas Duda drove them all home. Instead of melting down after a poor first inning, Dillon Gee toughened up for the next six.
Instead of losing in Philadelphia, the Mets won. That was a nice change of pace.
It’s not like the Mets hadn’t won before at Citizens Bank Park in 2010; it only feels that way. We’re 3-5 there, which isn’t great, but it ain’t 0-8. The Phillies are a very good team, but they’re not unbeatable. Nobody is. Glad the Mets finally figured that out.
After the 5-2 victory that snapped the Mets’ six-game losing streak and the Phillies’ eleven-game winning streak — and kept the Phils from clinching a tie for the division title — Josh Thole told Kevin Burkhardt it was like the Mets got their “pride” back. Josh is 23 (and appears 14), so he may be given to wide-eyed overstatement. But he’s one of the Mets, so I’ll take his word for it: The Mets got their pride back by beating Philadelphia at Philadelphia and by one of the Mets making a harder slide than he usually does.
Two questions regarding the return of this “pride”:
1) That’s all it took?
2) Where the hell was it before?
Beltran’s slide was good fundamental baseball. It broke up a potential double play. It scattered Utley and Valdez and it allowed the Mets to build what became their winning rally. If there hadn’t been uncommon amounts of chit-chat about Utley’s hard slide the night before, I would not have noticed anything unusual about Carlos’s “retaliation”. Beltran’s slide looked like a thousand slides I’ve seen the Mets make in my life, if not that many lately.
If that’s what fills the Mets with pride, so be it. I’d like to think the paychecks, the uniforms and the fact that a couple of million people follow their every move would make a fella proud to be a Met, but at 75-79, we’ll take what we can get.
From a young Gee’s perspective, this was a big win. He’s only made four starts in the major leagues, so they should all be big. Gee’s postgame comments were in line with this weekend’s narrative about how great it is for the Mets to play in the Citizens Bank “atmosphere”. I don’t mean to get hung up on what is said after games as opposed to what happens during them (though the Mets are generally more interesting talking than playing), but again, why should this all seem like such a step up in class for the Mets? You’re all in the same league, even if you don’t all have similar records. Let’s not invest opponents with any more mystique than they need. The Boston Garden’s been torn down a long time — until another one’s built, make yourself at home wherever you play. The bases are 90 feet apart no matter which park you visit.
Fortunately, Gee pitched as if he doesn’t distinguish among the Nationals, the Phillies or the 1985-86 Celtics (50-1 at home, regular season and playoffs combined). Ryan Howard took him on a very long ride in the first, but after that, no Phillies went anywhere on Dillon’s watch. Hard to say what it means for his long-term chances, but there is no long term at the moment, there’s just September. Dillon Gee is here because it’s September, and he just pitched a wonderful game. Lucas Duda is here because it’s September, and he delivered the Mets’ first big hit in literally ten days. Gee, Duda, Thole, the rest of the kids…they can be proud of being Mets without somebody signing permission slips.
They’re young, but they’re not that young.