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Don’t Let Go, Mets

The Greatest Show on Murph continues. Every postseason night, a supremely credentialed starting pitcher faces the New York Mets and every postseason night, Daniel Murphy [1] trumps that ace, converting him into just another overwhelmed spectator craning his neck in a venue jammed with gobsmacked gawkers. Clayton Kershaw [2], Zack Greinke [3], Jon Lester [4] and now Jake Arrieta [5] have each been left a standing-room ticket by the Met second baseman. It entitles the bearer to reluctantly stand on the mound, glumly turn his head and helplessly watch the ball he threw leave the ballpark.

The crowd goes wild. The pitcher goes silent, wondering where his intimidating persona, his sterling résumé and his best stuff went.

It went that-a-way…over that fence over there. See? See? Go ahead, watch the replay. It’s really cool…unless you’re the pitcher who gave it up. But don’t feel bad if you are, though. You’re in really distinguished company.

Murph’s glitzy pass list duplicates his October victim list. A home run a game against any pitcher at any time of year would be pretty impressive. What Daniel is destined to imprint itself on the consciousness of a franchise and its legion of fans for all of baseball eternity. If someday you have trouble recalling what you’ve been seeing from Murphy in this particular string of playoff games, either get yourself tested for memory maladies or reconsider your self-identification.

No Mets fan should ever forget any of this.

The best part about Daniel Murphy is he’s part of a set. He comes with 24 teammates, several of whom do significant things to help Murph’s team win the most important games of the year, the kinds of games the vast majority of them had never participated in as recently as two weeks ago. These days, they’re all decorated postseason veterans, having already won one series [6]; the first two games in a second series; and the chance to return to New York as champions of their league.

They’re not there yet. Make no mistake, no matter how succulent the math seems. After beating the Chicago Cubs, 4-1, in Sunday’s NLCS Game Two [7], the Mets hold a two-nothing series lead. That’s halfway to the World Series, but it might as well be a world away. Two more wins are needed. The sooner they are attained the better. The longer it takes, the more fraught the journey becomes. Just ask the 2003 Cubs, who led the then Florida Marlins three games to one in the National League Championship Series well before anybody had ever heard the name Steve Bartman. Their 2015 descendants aren’t here by accident. They’re dangerous as is and now they’re cornered.

Thus, there should be no letting up, not by the Mets, not by we who root for the Mets. Our job in these two home games just played was to give our team all the support we could muster. I can attest from personal experience that we full-throated our role on Saturday night [8]. Sunday I could gauge from TV and radio (via volume-muted, DVR-manipulated TBS video synced as best as possible to WOR’s delayed audio feed over SiriusXM) that 44,000 were, in the favored phrase of Keith Hernandez [9], on point again. With the action shifting from Citi Field to Wrigley Field, our mission is less about twirling towels than tending karma.

No kidding. Let’s not think potentially harmful thoughts like “I hope the long layoff doesn’t hurt them going into the Series.” Some idiot who looks an awful lot like me found himself thinking that for two seconds late Sunday night and then properly berated himself for getting waaaay ahead of the present. The present, up 2-0 on the 97-win Cubs after withstanding Lester and Arrieta, is a precious enough gift.

Besides, why would we want to rush through this? This part is incredibly sweet. We gotta savor it.

Gotta savor Noah Syndergaard [10]’s Norse god poise and 9K heat in Arctic conditions.

Gotta savor David Wright [11] slowly climbing out of his morass to drive in the first run of the night.

Gotta savor Curtis Granderson [12] always making something happen, whether stealing a base at third or a home run at the wall.

Gotta savor Yoenis Cespedes [13] — who now gets pitched to because Cy Young [14] candidates no longer want any part of Daniel Murphy — placing a grounder in just the right spot to bring home Grandy the thief.

Gotta savor that relief pitching: Jon Niese [15] for an out, Addison Reed [16] for a perfect inning, Tyler Clippard [17] for a security blanket and Jeurys Familia [18] for a Mets-record fourth postseason save, or one fewer save than Murph has hit homers.

Told ya Daniel had help.

Gotta savor the entire experience of what’s going on around us. Sunday I savored from great seats in Section Living Room, which it took me a moment to adjust to. Having been fortunate enough to find my way into the first three Citi Field games this postseason (thanks again to my dear friends the Chapmans for two of them and good buddy Larry Arnold for the other), I went from thinking it unusual to be in a ballpark this time of year to processing it as second-nature — sort of like it’s gone from strange that the Mets are in the playoffs to…no, that’s still a little strange. Anyway, not having had any ticket-lottery luck for NLCS Game Two, I felt a little off knowing I wouldn’t be bundling up and screaming at Cubs.

Then I felt warm and didn’t altogether mind that I wouldn’t be sitting outside, except for one detail. I worried that I was endangering the cause we hold dear by not subjecting my ass and assorted other body parts to a live reboot of Frozen.

I realized the last time the Mets played a postseason home game I didn’t attend, it was Game Seven of the 2006 NLCS, which we lost, and that the previous times before that I hadn’t had tickets for Shea postseason games were the last two World Series contests there in 2000. We lost both of those. It’s not that the Mets win every high-stakes time I show up (they’re 12-4 with me since 1999), but they hadn’t won with me not there since the Subway Series hadn’t gone completely off the rails. I wasn’t silly enough to believe I brought the Mets good luck. I was, however, silly enough to believe maybe I warded off evil spirits.

Silly me. That’s what Daniel Murphy does. He also wards off outstanding pitching.

My not taking direct part in the wintry autumnal festival Sunday night didn’t impact the Mets in any tangible way. As for Saturday night, geez, that was ice-cold fun. Everything Citi Field told Shea Stadium last week [19] remained true. It’s an epic place for an epic event when it’s filled with epic fans, and I’ll count myself as one of 44,000 of that species for these purposes. So much standing and roaring. So much blue and orange (the latter receiving my blessing in the New York Times, which you can read here in case you’re curious [20]). So much clapping for two strikes and high-fiving on strike three. So much good feeling behind so much chanting.

So much chanting “LET’S GO METS!” which really struck me as Matt Harvey [21] was giving way to Familia. “Let’s Go Mets” is our signature signoff. It is the quintessential [22] Met sentiment — our aloha, our shalom. We say it and type it and acronym it so often that sometimes we overlook its inspirational power when it’s unleashed in its natural habitat, which is the meadow of Flushing in the month of October. The video boards had nothing on improvisation on Saturday night. What can we do for our Mets as our Mets are doing everything for us? We can Let’s Go on their behalf. And we did, repeatedly, right up until Familia went and got us a last out.

I can’t wait for Game Three of the NLCS and to immerse myself in whatever the Mets can win from there. Yet I’m in no rush to let this October go. Can’t we and Murph just live here?