Bad to have lost. Better had it been won. Good that it was played. That was Friday night, Mets vs. Phillies, undesirable outcome disallowed from overshadowing several elements that pleased me greatly as I sat and watched from my living room couch.
• Justin Turner returned to all-world status, 4-for-5 at bat, all-encompassing in the field, grinning and radiant from his teeth out to his hair. Those orange terrycloth swatches they were giving away…Turner Towels, right?
• Jose Reyes met his nightly quota of hits and runs, inevitably compiled in mass quantities once Roy Oswalt took a hike. Two days after quietly crossing the plate for the 663rd time in his career, thereby establishing the Mets record for scoring, Jose recorded two more base hits for his lifetime ledger, upping his total to 1,189, good for second place on the all-time Mets list. Jose Reyes has just passed Cleon Jones a few days after passing David Wright. That’s an all-time Mets great in our midst, in case you weren’t sure. Our midst, by the way, is where he must remain.
• Chris Capuano’s dynamite first inning had me in early no-hitter dreamland. Chris Capuano’s determined second inning — aided by a deep fly to left tracked down by Jason Bay and a grounder wonderfully smothered by my boy Ruben Tejada — began to put in place the pieces for how we could see this was going to be the night for which we had all waited a half-century. Chris Capuano’s deteriorating third inning (paging Dirk Lammers!) girded me for the worst. But Chris gave it far from his worst, going six darn good innings that should have been more. It’s not so much that Terry should have not pinch-hit for Caps so he could have kept pitching. It’s that Caps would have been a better bet than Willie Harris to hit with a runner on second and two out.
• My boy Ruben Tejada crafted a masterful sixteen-pitch walk with two out in the eighth, encompassing a mere ten foul balls and frustrating the Antonio bejeesus out of Antonio Bastardo. The Phils’ reliever was so upset that it was all he could do to strike out Scott Hairston on four pitches, but still…a sixteen-pitch walk is more proof that baseball is the only realm in which nothing happens for the longest time and it’s endlessly fascinating.
It was during this deliriously interminable plate appearance that my boy Ruben Tejada morphed into “Ruby…Ruby…Ruby” for whom I was pleading with Coach Dan Devine to send into the game. This was after a parade of seniors dropped their jerseys on Devine’s desk so Ruby could play in their place but before the Notre Dame radio announcer described the growing frenzy sweeping the stands:
It’s just occurred to me what they’ve been chanting for the last few minutes. It’s the name “Ruby,” Ruben Ruettiger, a walk-on senior, subject of an article in yesterday’s student newspaper, The Observer.
Sixteen pitches is a very long time. And I will watch Rudy at the drop of a hat.
• Michael Stutes’s seventh-inning pickoff attempt on Reyes would have been, per the old line about Rex Barney and home plate, stupendous had second base been high and outside. Or had one of his teammates been moving anywhere toward it. Stutes stepped off, whirled, fired…and no one was there to enjoy his artistry. Jose dove back to second, checked his e-mail, swung by Blue Smoke, made good use of his Wet-Nap, took off for third and arrived there safe and secure. When he scored on yet another smash hit by Justin Turner, we led and we looked very good.
Hard to believe it didn’t all add up to a happier ending.
There were a few other moments that when taken out of context — or perhaps cleverly rearranged by a talented video editor — left me feeling better than a 6-4 loss normally does. Rollins and Utley getting tangled under a 99.9% third-out pop fly, thereby allowing Jose to reach; Oswalt letting his internal seething get the best of him while two hits turned that error into a Reyes run; Bay finally getting a base hit with a runner on, albeit not an RBI base hit and after blowing a platinum opportunity earlier; Beato back to being what Gary Cohen called “his old self” (I’m tickled to think a rookie has an old self); K-Rod not melting down as much as suffering nicks and cuts, yet being noticeably professional about it when interviewed; seeing Angel Pagan again; learning R.A. Dickey may not be D.L. Bound; discovering the existence of Dale Thayer; David Wright not completely covering up his dismay about the infamous “not a superstar” remark but leavening it by revealing that his parents texted him that he was their superstar; and the SNY booth and Citi Field scoreboard paying classy tribute to our friend Dana Brand (for whose life a celebration is planned on the site of Shea Stadium’s home plate, July 16; details here).
Plus it wasn’t raining and it was warm and the place looked fuller than usual and more people were in those good seats than usual and it’s the beginning of summer and it’s Mets baseball and I’m going with my wife to Saturday night’s game. Yeah, I was decently happy overall, results-driven instincts and fresh reason to be Met-despondent notwithstanding.
As for Daniel Murphy’s inability to puzzle out a vaguely tricky grounder that more or less cost us a win…well, you can’t have everything.