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The Two Constants Through All the Years

Friday night in Dyersville, Ia., the 25th anniversary of Field Of Dreams was celebrated [1]. That’s the movie in which legendary ballplayers of yore stream out of a cornfield in the full flower of youth and play the game that made them iconic as if no time at all had passed.

And in a wholly coincidental development, Bobby Abreu [2] went 4-for-4 and Bartolo Colon [3] pitched 7⅓ four-hit innings in the Mets’ Friday-the-13th victory over the San Diego Padres…on Zombie Night at Citi Field [4].

Our youth movement may not be amounting to much, but the Mets of the living dead seem to be alive and well.

Those New Faces of 1997 can still amaze audiences nearly two decades after their debut. [5]

Those New Faces of 1997 can still amaze audiences nearly two decades after their debut.

Abreu and Colon were rookies in 1997, when Field Of Dreams was eight, Wilmer Flores [6] was five and Interleague baseball was being born. Friday night also marked the 17th anniversary of the first regular season N.L.-A.L. game the Mets ever contested, versus the Red Sox. They lost to Boston at Shea, 8-4. By then, Colon had pitched six times for Cleveland and Abreu had accumulated 169 career at-bats with Houston. They were both already older than Interleague play, not to mention Derek Jeter [7], Alex Rodriguez [8] and the Red Sox’ winning pitcher of June 13, 1997, Jeff Suppan [9]. Today, they are older than dirt.

But dirt’s still got a few tricks up its well-worn sleeves. Colon was whacked around a bit in the first two frames he threw Friday against the Padres, who seem even more Metsian than the Mets in their offensive ineptitude. They got to Bartolo early but not often. Then they were completely shut down. Bobby, meanwhile, was open for business in the cleanup spot all night: doubling and scoring; singling and scoring; singling home Murphy; singling home Murphy once more. Together, the B-Boys — with a bit of help here and there from their more callow teammates — combined to overcome an early two-run deficit and secure a post-midnight 6-2 win [10].

The game crept beyond the witching hour because two hours of rain postponed its first pitch. That meant Abreu and Colon, each of them already past 40, grew yet a little more wizened as they waited to do what they’ve been doing since the middle of the Clinton presidency. Abreu would be playing in his 2,385th big league baseball game. Colon would be making his 418th start. What was a couple of extra hours against almost half a lifetime of experience?

It’s not like these guys quiver in the face of time’s inevitable march. Colon (6-5 for a 30-37 team) missed the entire 2010 season because of injury. Abreu (.319/.386/.472) was presumed done after not playing anywhere in 2013. The Phillies released him on March 27 of this year. The Mets picked up him up four days later and sent him to Las Vegas. So far he’s been their most promising minor league callup of 2014.

If you build it, maybe they will come. Some nights, though, there’s something to be said for renovating.