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Stock of the New

They’ve played big-league baseball in Colorado for nearly a quarter-century now somehow, which means it’s lost its capacity to shock. There have been some refinements along the way — fences, humidors and the like — that have dialed the videogame-gone-mad experience of early games against the Rockies down to levels approximating baseball on Earth.

Note I said “approximating.” Baseball here is still strange, just in more subtle ways. Balls still find their way to and over walls faster than you’d expect, carve out higher velocities into the gaps than you’d think possible, and generally speaking just behave differently. The lunatic sensation that you’re spinning a prize wheel at a carnival each half-inning is gone, but this is still a place where you eyeball the score and do the baseball equivalent of currency conversion. One run means nothing, five is about two and a half, and nothing short of a double-digit lead feels comfortable.

It’s an odd place to make a big-league debut, or a second appearance. But then I imagine any big-league park is odd after a steady diet of Binghamton and Las Vegas. Crash Davis rhapsodized about white balls for batting practice and other people carrying your bags, but then he was a couple of generations too early for TVs the size of sedans, clubhouses the size of parking lots, nap rooms and aromatherapy lounges.

Chris Flexen is no longer the newest Met, but he’s pretty much new to me — I only got a cursory look at him during his first appearance in San Diego. A longer second look yielded no particular impression: Flexen has the classic power pitcher’s big butt and legs, a standard fastball/curve/change repertoire, and generic features that look like they were chosen from a Young Athletes Pattern Book. But that’s all right — Flexen’s reported for duty early because of the Mets’ plague of injuries, and no one should pay too much attention to what pitches do or fail to do in Colorado. Assuming neither a blister nor altitude-induced PTSD fells him, we’ll see Flexen in more normal conditions over the next few weeks (or next year or never again, baseball being a chancy business) and adjust our impressions accordingly.

Amed Rosario, meanwhile, is finally risen and now riding the tiger of small sample sizes, which he’d tell you beats the hell out of riding a bus in the Pacific Coast League. A night after the game looked a little fast for him [1] at a crucial moment, he recorded his first extra-base hit, RBI and run in rapid succession, showing easy speed and sound baserunning skills. In the field he continued to showcase a strong arm and a certain ineffable something that’s reassuring after watching horrors at shortstop all year — more often than not, his hands and feet do what they’re supposed to before the brain has to intervene.

(Oh, and the just-recalled Chasen Bradford — old hat given that he made his debut in June — pitched effectively for his first career win and the first appearance of the Mets Crown in too long.)

But while I was focused on the new guys, it was the old warhorses who delivered the game [2] for the Mets: Asdrubal Cabrera chipped in three hits, Yoenis Cespedes showed signs of life with glove and bat, Jay Bruce homered and Curtis Granderson untied a recently far-from-tied game with a three-run homer that left Tyler Chatwood glowering and steaming on the mound.

Which will happen in Colorado as balls soar above walls and sizzle into gaps. Whether you consider that a bug or a feature on a given night depends on what the scoreboard says.