You gotta love Daniel Murphy. He really doesn’t give you much of a choice.
You wanna get down on Murph sometimes. You wanna scold him, rap him gently on the snout with a rolled-up newspaper, admonish him off the furniture. “Murph! Don’t stand there by first base! That’s where the first baseman stands!” Then you remember you can’t stay mad at him because it’s not his fault he’s Murph, or that it wasn’t until after you adopted him that you realized he didn’t come with a position.
So we let Murph wander around the diamond. We let him think he has a position — or maybe we just try to convince ourselves he does. Murph’s not a third baseman, which for the moment is OK because we have a real one again (though you could argue how real “rusty” David Wright is defensively). Murph’s not a second baseman, though no one ever is around here. In case anyone’s forgotten, boy is he not an outfielder.
What about a first baseman?
Sure, why not?
As a fielder, Murph’s a helluva hitter. We saw that Monday night from Cincinnati in the seventh inning of a game that flirted with frustration early and disaster late but got put in the books as rewarding and entertaining, thanks in part to many Mets, but primarily Murph.
• Murph got himself thrown out at third, running from second on a ball hit to the pitcher. Overaggressive? Well, look at it this way: at least he didn’t get himself left on base.
• Murph interjected himself in the midst of a potential 8-2 putout when he decided to cut off Jason Pridie’s bullet of a throw from center instead of letting it possibly hit its target inside Josh Thole’s mitt. The decision permitted a Reds run that might have scored anyway. Or it might not have had the throw gone through. We’ll never know. Murph certainly didn’t when he grabbed the ball.
• Murph made an outstanding barehanded grab of a sharp grounder that appeared headed down the right field line and then an, uh, acrobatic lunge for the first base bag that only could have killed Jason Isringhausen while forcing Paul Janish. It’s not like it actually did.
Mostly, Murph delivered the big hit of the night for a club that had been crying out for a big hit for more than six innings. The Mets had runners on in the first, the second, the fourth, the fifth and the sixth. Mike Leake saw to it they — to the consternation of a highly effective R.A. Dickey — had nothing to show for it.
In the seventh, Jose Reyes singled with one out and Justin Turner — after perhaps being robbed of an extra-base hit when Leisurely Laz Diaz didn’t hurry himself into the outfield to make the most foolproof fair/foul call he could — did the same, sending Reyes to third. Carlos Beltran, still a Met, sac-flied Jose home to make it 1-1. Wright singled to put two on with two out.
And then the Daniel Murphy Action Figure did what all the commercials say it can.
It sprung into action!
Murph doubled to right (but not so far right that Laz Diaz guessed it foul) and brought home Turner and Wright for a 3-1 lead. Then Jason Bay forgot to ground to short and doubled instead. The Mets were up 4-1, a margin that could withstand Murph’s version of fundamentals on Pridie’s throw. Tim Byrdak got his man Jay Bruce ten months after the fact (better now than last September from a Met perspective), Bobby Parnell took a respite from his youthful inexperience and Izzy…well, Murph didn’t kill him on that putout at first, and loading the bases only made him stronger. Our golden-years closer struck out Brandon Phillips and the Mets were .500 yet again.
A team that wins exactly as many as it loses is the epitome of you never know what you’re gonna get, which suits the Daniel Murphy Mets just fine. As with their
left fielder second baseman third baseman first baseman, the point isn’t necessarily winning or losing. It’s taking the thing out of its package and playing with it, ’cause it’s amazing just how much fun you can have if you do that.
But be careful not to cut yourself opening it, ’cause I’m pretty sure the Daniel Murphy Action Figure doesn’t come with a warranty.
Action of a more novel sort from our blolleague Caryn “Metsgrrl” Rose, who has published a book about something that isn’t baseball at all. If you love music, check out B-Sides and Broken Hearts, here.