For 90 seconds or so, there was joy in Metville.
We’d punished the Cubs for removing Jake Arrieta, whose curveball had jelly-legged Met knees and kicked out Met fannies and turned Met bats into fan blades throughout another insanely beautiful August afternoon.
We’d reminded ourselves that we do too like Curtis Granderson, who broke a seemingly centuries-long run of futility with a two-out RBI single in the eighth inning off Pedro Strop, he of the octopus-like assemblage of arms and elbows and glove from which a ball would eventually emerge. Granderson’s hit chased home Eric Young Jr., tied the game and left the Met faithful cheering the thought of either a Met walkoff in the ninth or a win achieved in extra innings. After 7 2/3 innings of frustration and futility, it seemed like a fine plan.
We’d also got to see Rafael Montero showing off what he can do — he wasn’t quite as good as Arrieta but he was pretty close, dazzling the Cubs with an impressive mix of fastballs, curves, sliders and change-ups. It was far and away Montero’s best start in the big leagues, and a useful reminder that he’s only 23 and has an arsenal that’s respectable even among the Harveys and Wheelers and what we hear of the Syndergaards.
And finally, we got a Mets-Cubs pitchers’ duel to summon up memories from now-legendary eras. Squint a bit — OK, squint a lot — and you might have thought it was Jerry Koosman against Bill Hands out there, or Dwight Gooden and Rick Sutcliffe. (Squint a lot because this game, unlike those games, meant absolutely nothing.) The Mets and Cubs are no longer archrivals or even particularly rivals, but those of us on either side who grew up hating Those Guys remember what was, and regret that it’s been taken from us.
(Odd sidelight: the appearance of the Cubs’ Matt Szczur, backed by a cheerful rooting section from his hometown of Cape May, N.J. Szczur immediately bumped Kirk Nieuwenhuis from atop the How Do You Spell That Again? leaderboard — heck, he would have dethroned Doug Mientkiewicz — and filled Twitter with inevitable HAIL jokes, but what I noticed was he was standing out there wearing the No. 41 made famous by semi-soundalike Tom Seaver. Hail indeed.)
Anyhow, Montero acquitted himself admirably, Josh Edgin and then recently downtrodden Carlos Torres fanned Cubs to avert danger, and their pitching heroics gave Granderson a chance to even things up. After the eighth the Mets went to the commercial break tied 1-1, and all Jenrry Mejia had to do was hold the line for a half-inning and then we’d see if a weary Daniel Murphy could get things started and/or Lucas Duda could take aim at the Shea Bridge and/or Eric Campbell could have another big moment.
And then Mejia threw one pitch and Starlin Castro parked it in Utleyville.
So the happy times lasted … zero pitches. We enjoyed the reversal of fortune for the time it takes to hear about some horrible new variety of already-horrible Bud Light and get told the merits of an unbreakable awning made out of something weird and watch that kid decide he’d be OK with a Happy Meal.
And then the Cubs were in the lead and a few minutes later the Mets had lost and Jeez Louise, that kind of sucked, didn’t it?
Well, except for those 90 seconds or so. Those were awesome.
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Addendum No. 1: Readers may or may not know I have an interest in genealogy. Now, genealogy is like a fantasy-baseball team — your own is fascinating; everyone else’s is tedious. But you might be amused to learn that Joan Payson and I turn out to be ninth cousins three times removed. Obviously once he’s sworn in as commissioner Rob Manfred will move swiftly to award ownership of the Mets to me as one of Mrs. Payson’s 500,000 or so closest relatives. I’ll be waiting for his call.
Oh yeah, and Sandy Alderson and I are something like fifth cousins. Somebody gimme the team already.
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Addendum No. 2: Our pal Heather Quinlan in in the final week of her Kickstarter campaign for ’86 Mets: The Movie. We know this movie will be amazin’, but without our help it won’t happen. Visit Heather’s page to check out some of the great interviews she’s conducted so far, and to see some of the cool extras even a small donation will get you.