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Loyalty Rewarded … for One Night

It was probably the eighth inning when I realized I’d been watching the entire game between the Mets and the Rockies yet wasn’t sure I could name a Rockie who was on the field. I taxed my brain and managed to come up with Michael Cuddyer [1], but that was because he’d hit a home run. Beyond that? Drew Stubbs [2] or Drew Storen [3] or Franklin Stubbs [4] or someone sort of familiar was in center. And what’s his name who isn’t William behind the plate. You know. That guy [5].

This isn’t to make fun of the injury-ravaged, ludicrously depleted Rockies. I’m sure there were more than a few viewers out in Denver wondering who the heck Wilmer Flores [6] and Dilson Herrera [7] were, and in whose mind “Nieuwenhuis” was best left as an auditory smear of vowels. It was a snoozy game even for garbage time, a 1-1 duel that was more flat than taut, played with autumn hammering at the door demanding to be let in.

So I wasn’t paying much attention and the game wasn’t particularly punishing me for it. On Twitter, a member of Mets nation wondered why she was watching this and I noted idly that it was better than the best possible day in January. Which is true, I guess — look out the window and wait for spring, donchaknow. But truth was, I imagined the wait for spring beginning, as it will in a couple of weeks, and I wasn’t particularly sad. It didn’t feel like the end of something, but like a rest.

David Wright [8] doubled with two out in the eighth to bring Lucas Duda [9] was up, but Duda is at one of those points in the development of a hitter where the pitchers have the upper hand. He’s being starved of fastballs, fed nothing but junk and dared to change his swing and sacrifice his power and slap one to left field. So far he can’t or won’t do that; he’ll either adjust and force pitchers to find another way to get him out, or fail to adjust and be exposed. Nothing is decided yet, but Christian Friedrich [10] had read the scouting report and tortured Duda with sliders. He struck out, left Wright at second, and the Mets were down 2-1. It sure felt like a last gasp: The Rockies went down 1-2-3, and old friend LaTroy Hawkins [11] arrived to end things.

Which was when the Mets came leaping out of the coffin.

It only took six pitches. Travis d’Arnaud [12] rifled the inning’s third pitch up the left-field gap for a double, with Eric Young [13] Jr. jogging out to second to take over and do the only thing he can sometimes do. I braced myself for a bunt (which would have been a defensible call [14], actually), but it wasn’t needed — Curtis Granderson [15] spanked the inning’s fourth pitch for a game-tying triple. I still hadn’t picked my jaw up off the floor and the Mets had gone from giving it a shot to being poised to win it. Up came Wilmer Flores, who lofted the sixth pitch to mid-center.

It wasn’t deep.

It wasn’t anywhere near deep.

Surely Tim Teufel [16] wasn’t going to try it, not with Herrera on deck. (Who would have been walked, leaving it the hands of one of numerous pinch-hitting options.)

Nope, Teufel was going to try it. Granderson looked to me like he was going to be out, either through a tag or a ludicrous application of the Posey Rule. But Stubbs heaved it in the direction of the Rockies’ on-deck circle, Granderson was home free, and the good guys had won [17].

So a 68-75 team took a garbage-time game away from a 59-84 team. Not exactly the stuff of baseball legends, perhaps, but I had a good time hooting and hollering and watching the highlights. And I’ll still smile about this one when the next 40 or 50 snoozy 2-1 games produce no such reward. If you’re not a fan that probably sounds like madness, but it makes me smile. It’s what we do, win or lose, but it’s nice to be rewarded now and again.