It was during Willie Harris’s at-bat in the ninth inning Wednesday night that I was trying very hard, from way out in the right field corner, to will another ball out of Drew Storen so as to build the slightest of rallies and increase the slightest of chances that the crappiest of games might reverse its useless course right then there at the very end.
That’s when it hit me, in that watching myself watching the Mets way these things have of materializing, what was really taking place.
“I’m hanging on a ball-strike count as if it’s the single highest priority in my life. Two weeks from now, there will be no more ball-strike counts on which to hang, at least where the Mets are concerned. This game has sucked, this season has been erratic at best, this final lap has grown futile, yet I sit here, outside on a Wednesday night so warm it requires no jacket, imploring this Met — of whom I’m not particularly fond — to succeed against this National for a few pitches longer. I wish vocally for Storen to be wild and for Harris to take advantage by not swinging. I wish out loud for Harris to join Bay on the basepaths. I wish for those two baserunners to become runs and keep this game, whose suckage to this point cannot be denied, in progress. I wish for an optimal Mets resolution here in the ninth, but failing that, I wouldn’t mind if a tie could be worked out now, and a win arranged in an extra inning to be determined. Will ya listen to me worrying about this? I’m however old I am, which is older than I’ve ever been, yet I’m wearing a baseball cap and a shirt with the name of a baseball team on the front and the name and number of a long-retired baseball player on the back, and it’s September 14, and the Mets have been freshly eliminated from everything but my consciousness, yet I can’t or won’t let it go. I need Storen to throw a fourth ball to Harris at once.”
Storen threw ball four. Collins told Turner to bunt, which was bizarre, considering the Mets were down two and you were giving up your first out to no clear end. Turner bunted lousily. Pridie grounded into a near DP. And they still almost got what they needed out of little more than eight balls and wishful thinking when N.L. batting leader Jose Reyes lined Storen’s 21st pitch into the center field gap…except that distant patch of real estate was inconveniently blockaded by Rick Ankiel’s glove.
When Ankiel dove, stretched and caught Reyes’s otherwise surefire two-run double to end the game at the same 2-0 it had been when the ninth started, I was no longer outside myself thinking about it. I was totally present and disgusted. I grumbled about it from the instant it happened until I changed at Jamaica for the train to Babylon.
In two weeks, such distasteful pleasures will no longer be available to me. They will disappear to wherever it is warm nights in right field corners go when baseball seasons end.
Which probably explains why I’ll be back to the same ballpark in a matter of hours for another round of Mets and Nats.
If you’re going to any of the remaining seven Mets home games in 2011, pick up a copy of Mets Magazine (a.k.a. the program and scorecard) and read a profile of this here blog on page 154.