To quote the old song, baseball has so many ways to be wicked. There are blowouts you find yourself on the short end of, making a hash of a pleasant afternoon. There are epic struggles that wind up with your side exhausted and vanquished. There are nail-biters that wind up with teeth in the quick. And sometimes, if you’re particularly unlucky, there are losses that combine various flavors of awfulness.
The Mets were done, toasted. Dillon Gee had nothing, particularly when Ryan Howard was at the plate, and the Mets were stumbling around the field when his teammates were out there. It was 7-1 with the Mets down to their last nine outs, and a wise fan’s fondest hope was that no one would get hurt out there.
But the one suffering was Jonathan Pettibone, whose back had tightened up on him. Pettibone left without throwing a pitch in the seventh, and a parade of Phillie relievers arrived, determined to invite the Mets back in the game. Omar Quintanilla, Eric Young Jr. and Jordany Valdespin got the Mets to within 7-5, and there they stayed when Daniel Murphy was caught looking at a 97 MPH fastball from someone named Jake Diekman.
But Murph would get his chance. In the ninth, Valdespin rocketed a one-out homer off Jonathan Papelbon, who’s having one of those closer dry spells that leave remote-shaped dents in living-room walls. (JV1 even ran around the bases without annoying any veterans.) Down to their last out, the Mets had David Wright on first courtesy of an error — which set the stage for a marvelous little bit of baseball clockwork. Wright broke for second, Jimmy Rollins left short to cover, and Murph smacked the ball where Rollins had been, leaving him looking mournfully and helplessly over his shoulder. Even better: the ball was slowly hit, allowing Wright to steam all the way around from first. The Mets had tied the damn thing, 7 to 7.
Which brings up an old baseball question: When down six runs, is it better to just expire quietly, or would you prefer a frantic comeback that then turns into a loss anyway?
Going gentle into that good night inconveniences no one and allows the salvaging of an afternoon for activities that don’t lead to gnashing of teeth. On the other hand, coming back puts a scare into the enemy, passes the time admirably, and offers moral instruction in not giving up, eating elephants a bite at a time, and so forth.
But remember, we’re talking about wickedness here. We’re talking about the baseball gods’ little eyes lighting up while they’re walking you through hell.
So then: Is a comeback worth it if it ends in a brutal loss?
How about if it ends in a brutal loss two pitches after all that work to get even?
How about if it ends in a brutal loss two pitches after all that work to get even and Citizen Bank Park’s hideously annoying bells toll for about an hour and you think the only way they could be worse would be if they also had a recording of John Sterling stuttering in triumph?