Sometimes it’s great when the Mets make a hash of my plans.
Getting ready for today’s game, I had a promising albeit rather sorrowful blog post mapped out — it was going to deal with the Cyclones, the Sand Gnats, childhood and the inescapability of Chipper Jones. And that plan held after Chipper doubled in the third to put the Braves on top.
But then things changed, and I wound up happily balling up my plan and pitching it, as the Mets came out on top in a taut, entertaining game, one of my favorites of the year. It was one of those Just When I Thought I Was Out They Pull Me Back In games, which exactly what’s needed as an also-ran season gets down to the dregs.
Even nicer was finding Ruben Tejada front and center, with four RBIs and even a steal. (Tejada is one of those guys you assume is fast and eventually realize is anything but.) Joshua and I have talked a lot about Tejada in the last month: how a lot of guys his age are still Cyclones, how you have to accept that players that age make doofy errors of omission and commission, and how he has baseball instincts that no one can teach. Yes, his swing has gotten a bit long in recent weeks, and yes, he made an error today. But he also delivered twice, and was his usual precocious self out there at most other times. We saw it in the third: On second with two out, Tejada slowed up on David Wright’s grounder to Chipper, forcing Chipper to make the throw to first instead of giving him the easy tag play, and trying to get close enough to bother him on that throw. Joshua wasn’t interested at first, but perked up when I noted that you do that for the one play in 30 or 50 or 100 where it pushes an opponent into an error, and Tejada had known to do it. I love this kid; I can’t wait to see what kind of player he is in three or four years.
Tejada wasn’t alone in nice moments. There was Ronny Paulino, motionless at the plate in the top of the eighth like an especially contemplative Buddha as Jonny Venters threw balls five, six, seven and eight. There was Lucas Duda, taking the un- off the untouchable Craig Kimbrel for some much needed insurance. There was Manny Acosta, cleaning up yet another Bobby Parnell mess in relatively orderly fashion. (Lest we be too hard on poor Parnell, remember that a month ago any of us would have gladly swapped Acosta for moving up three or four places in the Shake Shack line.)
I don’t care about the Mets getting to play spoiler; that always seemed like second-division stuff to me. Spoiler talk just reminded me of how few days are left on the calendar — we’re down to rookie hazing and picking bandwagon teams and planning that last visit to Citi Field. It’ll be winter all too soon, which makes every game precious and every victory even more so — and a game to put aside and think about happily in the off-season is a very fine thing indeed.