As Mets fan, we know that all too often the jokes write themselves: On Tuesday the Mets canceled a game while the sun was shining, and sat around at home while the evening was more or less dry. Tonight the Mets played on and on, while the rain fell in sheets and the infield turned into a bog. It was like Bishop Pickering in the monsoon during Caddyshack, except no one was laughing. (And happily, nobody got hit by lightning.)
I did have one of my more or less random moments of precognition. After the Nats walked Jose Reyes in the sixth, I entreated Justin Turner to “knock one up the gap, make it 3-0, the ump can put the tarp on, and in an hour everybody goes home.” Well, at least I got the important part right. Turner did as I asked, but Bill Miller remained rooted in place in the rain behind third base, refusing to let anybody do anything except wipe rain out of their faces and hurl wet balls in the general direction of home plate. (I even stayed my hexing of fans on their cellphones waving at the camera. If you were still there after 9:30 tonight in that mess, I hope you called everybody in your contacts list and waved your ass off.)
Why keep playing? I assume Miller was stuck with the same baffling weather-as-videogame forecast we’ve all endured this week, with mist and monsoons and dryness and even teasers of sunshine randomly succeeding each other as the same apparently immortal low pressure system chases its tail around and around the Ohio Valley. That not being any fun, though, Emily and I sought a more interesting answer. Miller, we decided, was some kind of flinty scorched-earth type, a fire-and-damnation ballfield preacher seeking to save players and fans and his umpiring brethren from the fleshpots and booze factories of New York City, the Sodom of the West. “For ye shall not be set free to sin in Manhattan; nay, ye shall play on — and so be purified by the Lord’s heavenly rains.” (For the benefit of dim future Googlers, let me state for the record that this is almost certainly not true.)
Games played in such conditions are almost always close (since otherwise everybody would have been sent home), and so teeter uncertainly between farce and tragedy. Tonight’s followed the blueprint: In the seventh, as things cratered, Jonathon Niese clearly couldn’t control his pitches, batters were peering at them between raindrops, the field was nearly submerged, balls put in play were doing unpredictable things, and no one could run or throw. The Mets were one Roger Bernadina calamity away from descending into a baseball Verdun, and I held my breath as Daniel Murphy grabbed a soaked baseball and set sail for first across a drenched, strangely reflective infield, with Bernadina on a different course for the same destination. Would Murph get there first? Would he drown en route? Happily, he made it. That was enough for me and probably everybody else, but the game continued, with Izzy and K-Rod keeping the Nats down and victory achieved. Will we play tomorrow? Don’t ask — not even the weatherman knows which way this wind is blowing.
Meanwhile, something struck me tonight beyond the immediate business of chronicling: At least for the moment, the Mets are fun to watch again. I know most of that is simply that they’ve been playing better baseball, but that’s not the entire explanation. With Ike Davis and David Wright and Chris Young all shelved, we’re way past Plan B: I felt like I was reading those interminable “X begat Y” sections of the Bible as I explained to Joshua how Murph and Turner and Ruben Tejada had wound up where they were to start play. With half of the Buffalo Bisons in residence in New York, expectations have been adjusted accordingly, and our fan prophecies become self-fulfilling. If the Mets win, they are spunky and gritty and more than the sum of their parts. If they lose, they are snakebit and outmanned and we figured it would happen.
It’s not the stuff of making plans in October, or even meaningful games in September. But it beats the heck out of being pissed off by 7:20 every night. Lets go Mets, whomever that category might conclude on a given soggy evening.