Winning would have been preferable. Winning a bad game beats losing a good game. But since relatively little is at stake on this side of the line score, I can’t say watching a good game lost doesn’t engender its small rewards.
I liked watching Ruben Tejada overcome Tim Hudson twice and battle him gamely a third time. I liked watching Jason Bay lay out to rob Hudson of a double the afternoon after he leapt up to grab a home run from Alex Gonzalez. I liked Lucas Duda sliding hard enough to (maybe) disrupt Gonzalez’s footwork at second on what turned out to be not a routine double play. I liked Gonzalez’s neighborhood carelessness being recognized for what it was — a 6-3 fielder’s choice, not a lazily called DP. And I liked how R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball darted about for 7⅔ innings…and how Tim Byrdak calmly collected the third out of the eighth once R.A. couldn’t quite nail it down.
I didn’t care for the result, obviously. Or Hudson’s mastery of both sides of the plate. Or the indefatigability of Eternal Larry Jones. Or Dickey not getting a stupid bunt down. Or how utterly unhittable Craig Kimbrel was, is and will be for the foreseeable future (though good luck keeping it up as long as this SOB has). I surely didn’t like losing somebody else’s crucial game and not having one of our own.
But I liked that the Mets didn’t just play in a crucial game, but that they were fully present. And I liked the quality of the affair: 1-0, 2:22. The scores and times of the previous three Mets games went like this:
Wednesday — Lost 2-0 in 2:56
Thursday — Lost 10-1 in 3:22 (with a 40-minute rain delay)
Friday — Won 12-2 in 3:24
Don’t be fooled by the low score from Wednesday. It was bland and boring for 17 half-innings until the bottom of the ninth briefly got our hopes up. Thursday was a slopfest for the ages. Friday was extraordinarily rewarding on the scoreboard, and a much-needed balm for the gloom-wracked soul, yet it wasn’t what you’d call compelling baseball.
Saturday’s was a very compelling baseball game amid the most wonderful baseball time of the year. That it sped along briskly only made it better, which is one of the great ironies of this sport. You’d think you’d want something you enjoy to keep going, but baseball is generally at its best when its pace, like Eternal Larry Jones, refuses to slow down. When you wish the season wouldn’t go away so soon, it’s because you wish you could watch more games like Saturday’s, more 1-0 games that are over in less than two-and-a-half hours.
You also wish that the “1” was yours and the “0” was theirs.