What a pleasure it was to watch Father Time tell Baby Next Year, “Not tonight, son. Not tonight.”
Let’s hear it for the unlikely 100th big league victory of Miguel Jerez (Descartes) Batista, born when I was in second grade and not dead yet. Baseball Reference identifies Batista as having been the sixth-youngest National League player of 1992 and the sixth-oldest National League player of 2011. Batista’s looked at ball from both sides now. Now he’s on our side, for however long “now” lasts, which couldn’t possibly be very long. While he’s here, I hope he enjoys — per Bobby Parnell’s country & western warmup music — the rest of his eight-second ride.
And may all his remaining prospective opponents fall down in front of the Batistamobile the way the Marlins did Wednesday night.
Give all credit that’s due to the ultimate journeyman (ten teams in seventeen noncontiguous seasons, featuring one very sweet eighth-inning out in arguably the most uplifting non-Mets victory ever recorded) for giving up but two runs in six innings. He had some trouble early, but early’s not a problem for 40-year-old pitchers making surprise starts after summering in Buffalo. It’s “what have you done for us lately?” that we are prone to ask a Miguel Batista. One of the latest things we saw him do was pound Gaby Sanchez — wanted in two states for Met-killing — into a 6-4-3 double play that preserved a 4-2 lead. At any stage of a player’s career, at any stage of a team’s season, that’s a high note either on which to build or go out.
Probably go out, in Miguel’s case. It was an emergency-style start and after surviving Irene, it’s safe to say nobody in these parts likes to endure a constant state of emergency. Terry Collins indicates he’ll be looking for somebody else to take the next Nieseless turn, somebody with more of an upside — somebody younger, basically. In other professions, that would be age discrimination. In this one, when sending out your theoretical best bet to win a given game isn’t exactly super crucial, it’s just the way it goes. You’d think Collins would love another look at a guy who just gave him six innings and give up only six hits the first time he pitched for him. Maybe not this guy, though.
Even if he’s already shown more Met staying power than David Einhorn.
I don’t see why the simmering Met youth movement doesn’t have space for Miguel Batista. He’s twice as young as the oldest man in a Marlins uniform…unless you count how much Jack McKeon must have aged watching his fielders thoroughly avoid defense. Let’s just say, as Warner Wolf might have, that if you had Miguel Batista scoring the first Met run of the night, you won!
To be fair to the Marlin defense, Marlin pitching was also absurd. And Marlin batters couldn’t solve a presumably washed-up quadregenarian nor fully purloin the candy Baby D.J. was begging them to swipe toward the end. As much of a 2011 plague as Florida has been, dating back to Opening Night, it was delightful to see the Mets take four of five from them this week.
Then again, considering the Hanley-capped position these Fish are in, what does it say about our juggernaut that Team Teal fell all over itself and the Mets still had to cling to dear life in the ninth one batter shy of Mike Stanton appearing as the go-ahead run?
It says it’s September and it’s better to be the third-place team twenty-two games from first with the forty-year-old who knows how to pitch out of jams than the fifth-place team nearly thirty games out that obviously has a bigger target painted on its feet than ours does.
Though my advancing chronological state makes me partial to most any player still hanging in there in his fifth decade, I must mention that I enjoyed Thursday night’s win in the company of (among other delightful folks) an intelligent, insightful, informed 14-year-old fan named Andrew Hees. The kid knows his Mets, knows farm systems and has excellent taste in both ballparks and books. I appreciated his joining me for several innings.
I also relished the opportunity to take in the wonderful pregame experience a couple of truly Amazin’ people had in the hours before first pitch, and I look forward to sharing their story (with pictures!) in the coming days. In the interim, thanks to the New York Mets media relations department for facilitating FAFIF’s coverage of a special afternoon and evening for that pair of incredibly courageous Mets fans.