David Wright has 733 career RBIs, a .500 batting average and, I vaguely recall, a fractured pinky. Ike Davis has three home runs in four days despite playing no games for four-and-half months last season and contracting valley fever this spring. Kirk Nieuwenhuis has been leading off games in the major leagues for one day and he shows signs of being as skilled at it as Rickey Henderson. Mike Baxter is all of a sudden a pinch-hitting machine.
So many good things to cherry-pick that it’s hard to believe all of the above is true and came to be in a game the Mets lost by eight runs.
We’re still over .500, we’re still in second place (albeit tied with Atlanta) and we’re still in the portion of the season where baseball for baseball’s sake retains a few morsels of novelty. Twelve games down, 150 to go. R.A. Dickey will have better days — drier days, to be sure. Tim Teufel will make better decisions as third base coach and not have two runners thrown out at home on his watch. Andres Torres will heal…which of course we hope for…really we do. But in the meantime (and maybe more), there should be no rush to reacquaint Nieuwenhuis with the charms of Buffalo, considerable though they may be.
This Mets fan’s patience is by no means wearing thin despite our pitchers — led by top two starters — having surrendered 23 runs in less than 21 hours. The 7-3 record from Monday is now 7-5, but it beats the hell out of the 4-8 the first dozen games from the past pair of seasons gave us.
Things just feel better than I’m used to. Instead of being convinced there’s worse hiding behind every Met rock, I kind of assume things will be relatively OK. Check back with me if 7-5 becomes 9-15 and I’m on pins and needles (or needles and pins), but I’m rather Zen about the whole thing at the moment. I had no expectations last year but wasn’t easily assuaged when proven correct in lacking them because the state of no expectations was a defeat unto itself. This year’s lack of expectations feels connected to what’s possibly being built for another year somewhere down the road.
I’ll repeat an observation I made on the eve of the season opener: Murphy, Niese, Parnell, Thole, Tejada, Davis, Duda, Gee. Eight homegrown players between ages 22 and 27, brought up for their first tastes of the bigs between four and two years ago now maturing as a unit. Add Nieuwenhuis if you like. An investment’s been made in Niese, so we have to consider him a de facto staple for years to come. Everybody else is getting the chance to earn a similar status. None of them is the least bit expensive yet. If we can’t count on all of them breaking through, a few will do.
It’s a step in the right direction. Plus the step in the Wright direction has been pretty sweet to watch. When this young season has been good, it’s been a joy. When it’s been bad, it hasn’t been a chore. There may be an expiration date for this filter through which I’m accepting consecutive blowout losses, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if it didn’t kick in for a few months?
Or if there were very few defeats along the lines of 9-3 and 14-6 en route?