It’s not a good sign when you miss nearly all of the Subway Series, then are relieved that your team has an off-day.
I was at my 25th high-school reunion over the weekend, and so the Debacle in the Bronx was reduced to occasional bleary, baleful glowers at my phone, with the exception of a couple of painful innings I heard while waiting for and sitting on the Delta Shuttle back to New York. The captain has indicated it’s time to switch off all electronic devices? No problem, ma’am — this one’s giving me nothing but pain as it is.
Tonight’s renewal of the thrilling rivalry between the Mets and Rays didn’t immediately promise a much better outcome. Besides the fact that the Rays are really, really good, the Mets played the first couple of innings like a dispirited team walking straight into another uppercut to the chin. Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Lucas Duda lost balls against the weirdly colored, weirdly canted Mad Max roof that feels like it’s going to slide off the top of Tropicana Field, with Gary Cohen’s sympathy extending up to but not including the fact that every other visitor plays in the same conditions. That was bad; worse, Chris Young couldn’t locate his curveball, leaving various Rays waiting on his rather pedestrian fastball. Forget bringing a knife to a gunfight — poor Young was facing a Wild West showdown with an empty holster.
But Young persevered, the Mets stopped dropping balls, and eventually they figured out that Alex Cobb was basically armed with nothing but his own fairly ordinary fastball, which he kept aiming at the hands of left-handed hitters. Perhaps the Mets heard Keith Hernandez howling about this rather metronomic plan in the booth, when he wasn’t registering crabby opposition to Moneyball, video review and Twitter. That last one was perhaps the least surprising statement in the universe for Tuesday, June 12, 2012 — Keith Hernandez Has No Use for Twitter — but an unfortunate one nonetheless, as Keith would be phenomenal on Twitter. I imagine his Twitter persona as a mix of Bill Murray and Buzz Bissinger — hell, I’d pay to follow him. The only thing more entertaining would be a Keith Hernandez reality show, which would instantly win “Keep Until I Delete” status on my TiVo. Surely SNY can make this happen. Option Keith TV and cancel, say, Loudmouths, and think what a better place the world would instantly be.
Anyway, Jordany Valdespin thrived at his natural position, racking up four RBIs, Ike Davis blasted a three-run homer into the seats, Daniel Murphy came through with the bases loaded and Jason Bay … well, Jason Bay tried his hardest. There were dicey moments as Young’s pitch count climbed above 100, with Terry Collins perhaps wondering whether a one-armed Young might be more effective than anybody he might bring in from the bullpen. (Honestly, it’s neck and neck.) But Jon Rauch got the last out in the sixth, ensuring he’ll have to retweet minimal amounts of cyber-venom, and after the commercial the rout was on.
We can’t know what tomorrow will bring, except that it includes the ferocious talent and heat of David Price (in what ought to be fascinating Strasburgian matchup with R.A. Dickey). But at least for tonight the Mets had what they and we sorely needed — a laugher.