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Pinch-Me Days

I’ve been thinking of this one game. I was in Connecticut. The Mets were in Atlanta. They were playing the Braves on a Saturday night and Dillon Gee [1] wasn’t very good [2].

Since that game I’ve driven back to New York, worked my butt off for three days and nights, flown to California where I spent three days at a Star Wars convention, flown back and gotten un-jetlagged. I’ve done a lot of things. You have too. There are Mets fans who’ve come down with really nasty flus, been laid out, started feeling better and declared themselves fit for duty. Somewhere out there babies have been born, watched over in hospitals, sent home and their parents are getting the hang of this wonderful new thing. At least three big movie trailers have set the Internet a-flutter. I haven’t paid attention but I’m sure at least three eye-rolling political kerfuffles have done the same. Another Saturday night’s come and gone and now another one’s in view. The aforementioned Dillon Gee’s rested up, started another game, rested some more, had a heart-to-heart with his manager and started yet again.

You know what hasn’t happened during that time when lots of other stuff has happened?

The Mets haven’t lost.

Not once. Not at all. They’ve won 10 in a row. They’re playing .800 ball on the season. They’re in first place by a but-wait-it’s-April 3 1/2 games.

They’re playing nearly perfect baseball, and they’re doing it despite losing guys like it’s World War I.

These are pinch-me days and nights.

Last night was a perfect example. The Mets seemed flat after a half-hour’s rain delay, falling behind the Braves 1-0 and then 2-1. But they hung in there. And they kept making plays. And things kept happening that made you raise an eyebrow.

Like Ruben Tejada [3] making a leaping catch at second that ended with the ball perched atop a waffle cone of glove. As he returned to Earth, Tejada snapped his mitt and the ball nestled itself obediently into the leather, because that’s what happens when you’re winning 10 in a row.

Or Gee facing trouble in the fourth, springing off the mound to seize a grounder, firing the ball to second base at an awkward angle, not taking off the umpire’s head and pumping his fist at the 1-6-3 double play.

Or Wilmer Flores [4] looking brave afield and stalwart at the plate, rifling a home run into the party deck to draw the Mets even.

Or Juan Lagares [5] making a catch for the ages, somehow looking behind him and tracking a ball cutting to his left and putting his glove in the perfect position to reel it in. “That’s over his head,” I said to Emily with the ball in flight. “The heck it is,” said Juan Lagares.

Or Sean Gilmartin [6] running into trouble retiring lefties, which is the sum total of his job, and exiting to have Buddy Carlyle [7] coolly dispatch Jonny Gomes [8]. Carlyle would be rewarded with a W, and deservedly so.

Or Curtis Granderson [9] getting his Eddie Gaedel [10] on, crouching beneath a 3-2 pitch and completing the journey from 0-2 count to base on balls. (And, along the way, serving as Exhibit A if you need to explain to your kid why batting average is a dumb stat.) Of course Lagares then executed a perfect hit-and-run, with poor Jace Peterson [11] reversing for the ball he could no longer reach, like an extra in a Bugs Bunny cartoon and Lucas Duda [12] smacking the go-ahead single.

Trouble? Nah. Jeurys Familia [13] dispatched the Braves with no drama in the ninth, and the good guys had won [14], again.

We’ll now to the obligatory cautions. This isn’t to avert the baleful eyes of the baseball gods, but because the only way to survive baseball is to remember it’s an unfair game.

The Mets aren’t going to win five out of six one-run games the rest of the year. They had a 10-game winning streak in 2008, a year that ended about as painfully as one might imagine. The 2010 Mets went 21-7 over one giddy stretch in a thoroughly ungiddy season. The ’72 Mets started out 30-11 and didn’t win a thing. There will be weeks where nothing goes right and you can feel doom tiptoeing closer with every ball booted and batter walked. The manager and the players will talk about grinding it out and being a little flat and we will scoff and mutter and call for heads to roll. When those days arrive — and arrive they will — remembering how we floated through April will be no comfort whatsoever. Keep that in mind now so you’re not so torn up by it later, even though you will be.

But that’s not to say you shouldn’t be enjoying what’s happening now. You should be enjoying it even more. Go outside and laugh into the blue sky. Grin at Yankee fans. Declare to everyone who asks and even those who don’t that you’re a fan of the best team in baseball. (Hey, you could look it up [15].) Suggest that hey, let’s play two. Take your broom to Citi Field.

Baseball’s an unfair game. Right now it’s being unfair to our opponents. Just enjoy the pinch-me days, however long they last.