- Faith and Fear in Flushing - http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

Let This Spell Last Forever

Consider this not a wet blanket, but at most a moist towelette: I attended the game in which Mike Bordick [1] made his Met debut. In his first at-bat, he led off the bottom of the third and hit the first pitch he saw over the wall at Shea Stadium. At that moment, Mike Bordick — the surehanded shortstop who came to us from Baltimore in exchange for lovable but momentarily miscast Melvin Mora [2], as Gold Gloved Rey Ordoñez languished on the DL — was one of the best midseason acquisitions a contending Mets team had ever made.

Fifteen years later, on another Saturday in late July, the name Mike Bordick came up in idle conversation before that night’s Mets game. It wasn’t in a complimentary vein. A few hours after that, without any irony whatsoever, I leapt to my feet to applaud the first Met home run hit by Kelly Johnson [3] in his first game as a Met. He was traded for on Friday. On Saturday, he and his fellow erstwhile Atlantan Juan Uribe [4] went about transforming the Mets from frauds into legitimate contenders. At least that’s how I decided to see it from Section 329, where you could barely see anything that didn’t look like a pennant drive for the ages taking shape.

Welcome back, my friends, to the tease that never ends. These Mets, whose secondary logo is a .170 batting average, came to life on Saturday night in a way they’ve never lived and breathed at Citi Field. They set a stadium record for most runs (15), most hits (21) and most hope (tons). They pounded every Dodger pitcher not named Kershaw, Greinke or Ian Thomas [5]. Almost incidentally, they had Matt Harvey [6] pitching like Matt Harvey. It was easy to miss while reveling in everybody — Harvey included — hitting like hitting is something the Mets do every single day.

Oh good gosh, that was something to behold [7], wasn’t it? Was it all on account of the addition of Johnson (2-for-6, including that home run) or Uribe (1-for-2 and a fine diving play at third when inserted as a laugher replacement)? Maybe in some cosmic, karmic, veteran leadership sense those two altered the chemistry of the clubhouse and/or put everybody on notice that if you want to play, you have to produce. But when the box score is bulging with big, juicy, succulent numbers up and down the agate, it’s surely about more than a pair of rented strangers.

Michael Conforto [8], the Met who preceded Johnson and Uribe by an entire day, was on base five times, four via hit, two via double, all via Binghamton (as if jumping up from Double-A was going to be an obstacle to so natural a talent).

Kirk Nieuwenhuis [9], who once hit three home runs in a single game, you know, also registered four hits and drove in four runs — two of them carried by Conforto, who scored another two times besides.

Lucas Duda [10] gave up sheep-herding or whatever vocation he’d been pursuing in recent months and took up professional baseball again with a vengeance, launching two home runs and passing David Wright [11] on the all-time Citi Field home run list, which it might surprise you to know exists (Duda 48; Wright 46…and unavailable to compete).

Daniel Murphy [12] hit a home run and drove in three runs, which sounds like something he used to do in other seasons.

Ruben Tejada [13] collected three hits and didn’t step on Conforto’s head or any part of the rookie sensation when he almost played modern-day Hahn to Michael’s Theodore.

• Harvey — remember him? — drove in runs in two separate at-bats, with a double and a single. He gave up a pair of solo home runs as well, which in the distant past of pre-July 25 would have saddled him with a 2-0 loss. But these are the Mets of Johnson and Uribe and Conforto, and they are freaking unstoppable.

Well, they were on July 25, and if that’s all this personnel overhaul adds up to, I’ll take it. I never before saw the Mets score 15 runs in person. Few Mets fans have. There was a Saturday at Shea in July 2006 (Mike Pelfrey [14]’s debut) when they scored 17 runs. There were consecutive Shea Saturdays in July 1985 when they scored 16 runs apiece. And that’s the sum total of home games in which the Mets have scored more than 15 runs. They’d only scored 15 three other times at home prior to this Saturday night in July, none since 2000, a few months prior to their trade for Bordick, who was going to help them get to a World Series at last.

Actually, he kind of did. Or they got there in spite of him. Either way, in 2000, it didn’t hurt to have traded Mora for Bordick just as they were bringing in Bubba Trammell [15] from Tampa Bay. From 2001 to eternity, it’s a different story, but sometimes you have to live in the moment. At this moment, the Mets have those two ex-Braves they got for two guys nobody ever mentioned as the next Harvey, deGrom or Matz. Johnson and Uribe could someday drift into oy, Mike Bordick territory. The could do it in a matter of weeks. Doesn’t matter. They gave us one hell of a boost and something tells me the boost isn’t over yet.

In the moment of July 25, everything was good and everybody was happy. As if we knew we were in for the offensive ride of this ballpark’s lifetime, we rollicked early. We saw Cole Hamels [16], not normally a popular figure on these premises, was angling for history in Chicago, and we oohed, aahed and cheered when he completed his no-hitter. The Phillies have contributed eight wins to our fifty; we can tune in to their fleeting moment of triumph and be magnanimous.

There were too many Dodgers fans among us — they effortlessly radiate smugness — but their quiet spoke delicious volumes. At last they presented us with a pitcher who a) we’d never heard of and b) pitched to his reputation.

Who’s Zach Lee [17]? ’Zackly.

Lee was followed to the mound and into the feeding frenzy by Chin-Hui Tsao, and I can’t imagine it went uncommented upon on SNY that Chin-Hui Tsao cost Steve Trachsel [18] the first no-hitter in Mets history a dozen years ago. I remember it like it took place in 2003, but I’m still annoyed that it was a pitcher who left the only speck of cork in Trachsel’s otherwise sparkling wine glass that afternoon. Why, yes, I can hold a grudge. Six earned runs on seven hits in two-thirds of an inning off any opposition reliever would have made me giddy. That it was off Tsao made me ravenous.

Which was a good thing since the next Dodger victim was Josh Ravin [19]. He entered at 11-2. He exited at 15-2. I sure hope Tommy Lasorda was watching. To quote Chevy Chase as Fletch when he observes an adversary’s framed photograph, “Hey you and Tommy Lasorda.”

“Yeah.”

“I hate Tommy Lasorda!”

At which point Fletch smashes the picture. Or Ravin walks in the 15th Mets run. I forget which.

When you lead 15-2, you see a dreaded wave develop and you shrug. When you lead 15-2, you hear the forced frivolity of the “Piano Man” singalong and you join in full-force (not tough for me as a staunch Billy Joel advocate, but even I think this particular exercise should be given a rest). When you lead 15-2, the barley & hops-fueled idiots behind you who keep repeating, “This is the best game I’ve ever been to!” get on no more than your first nerve because it probably is the best game they’ve ever been to. It’s definitely one of the better ones in my portfolio, I tell you what.

The Mets had more hits than Heart played postgame, and Heart played a whole bunch of their greatest hits (as Wilsons wearing Mets jerseys [20] go, Ann and Nancy were positively Mookie-esque). Do the Mets have the heart to keep it going and not make this merely a one-night stand? Do they have the hitters to keep the hits coming? Is Conforto really here? Is Duda really back? Is d’Arnaud really returning? Is there another trade in the pipeline? Are Johnson and Uribe difference-makers of the first order, whether or not they turn into Bordick/Bubba pumpkins when all of 2015 is said and done?

Try, try, try to understand [21]. Or don’t bother and just enjoy whatever goes right on the off chance this spell doesn’t last forever.

Coming Monday: That least consequential Met ever. And, no, it’s not who you’re thinking of.