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Getting Our Stomp Back

Whaddya know? The Mets really can beat the Nationals.

They did so tonight — you could look it up [1].

They did so despite the umpires failing up to correct a bad call even with a replay review, which burned Terry Collins [2]‘s challenge, which meant he couldn’t challenge the next play, when Ian Desmond [3] overslid second stealing and was called safe even though he was once again out. The idea that you can lose your right to challenge is a moronic bit of NFL bureaucracy, but not quite as infuriating as umps getting a call wrong twice and then blowing the next one for good measure. I mean, how many times could Desmond be out in 30 seconds and still not be asked to leave the field of play?

Wait, where were we? I got a little upset there. Sorry.

They did so despite playing the Nationals at Citi Field, which usually means Washington hitters taking aim at the Shea Bridge while New York starters get whiplash and the relief corps contemplates hiding under the stands.

They did so despite the presence in the lineup of Anthony Rendon [4] and Adam LaRoche [5], who have earned their plaques in the Freeman-Jones Hall of Met Killers and do not need to torment us further, thank you very much.

The Mets aren’t going to win a wild card [6] and have an uphill battle to finish .500 or better. They’re OK against lousy teams but generally get curb-stomped by good ones [7]. They still do dopey things and go into offensive funks. (And when they make news off the field you almost always want to put a bag over your head.) And this is garbage time — many a wise baseball man has warned not to trust anything you see in September.

But for all that, more often than not the Mets are fun again.

There’s Juan Lagares [8] growing before our eyes. There’s the superlative defense, but also the growing confidence and record of success as a hitter and a newfound track record as a base-stealer. What fun to imagine baseballs expiring meekly in Lagares’s glove for years and years to come.

And how about Travis d’Arnaud [9], reborn as a hitter since his Vegas vacation? D’Arnaud needs to work on his catching — he allows too many balls to go through and throws way too many balls over the head of the second baseman — but the beautiful swing we’d heard about is very real.

September’s probably a cameo for Dilson Herrera [10], but it’s been the kind of cameo that leads to your name in lights. Herrera makes errors in the field and can go fishing at the plate, but he’s got good instincts and a quick bat and he’s never looked scared or overmatched, which is impressive to see from any rookie and a revelation in one who can’t yet take a legal drink. He’s coming fast and I can’t wait to have him here for good.

And then there’s Jenrry Mejia [11]. Mejia was just a bit amped tonight, hosting a small party after fanning Rendon with one out in the ninth and then throwing himself a parade after he struck out Desmond to end things. Mejia pantomimed reeling in Desmond before doing his trademark stomp as various Nationals glowered at him from nearby.

I enjoy Mejia’s theatrics, but they’re approaching Naked Gun-level intensity, and it would be a good idea [12] for someone to reel Jenrry in a bit just as he reeled in Desmond. You could see Collins thinking the same thing when asked about it in the postgame, a question he negotiated like a soldier being ordered across a minefield. Collins noted with a touch of weariness that you see this kind of thing everywhere and said he’d try to settle Mejia down a bit. Which would be wise, in my opinion — not because Mejia’s Disrespecting The Game or some such bushwah but because baseball’s hard enough without recklessly pissing off opponents you have to see 19 times a year.

Still, I say that reluctantly, and not even the paleo-school Collins was convincing in his disapproval. “I want these guys to have some fun,” he said. “I don’t want to corral them and worry about every move they make. … gosh, it’s a big win for us against a first-place team and there’s no reason not to be excited.”

Which is true. It was a big win, and they should be excited — certainly I was.

I hope someone tells Mejia that the stomp’s enough, preferably before he adds jugglers, fire eaters and a Mardi Gras float to his repertoire. But man, of all the Metsian problems I’ve dealt with as a fan, shows of emotion from a talented, overexcited young closer has to be the one that concerns me the least. I’ve spent years watching dead-assed Met teams “battle,” losing meekly without disturbing their opponents’ dignity. That was a lot more upsetting.

This is a roster showing signs of imminent rebirth. Yeah, it’s September — but some of these guys look like they’ll be disappointed to go home in October. Maybe in a year or two they won’t have to, and wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing?

Just thinking about it makes me want to stomp my feet.