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Charmed Life*

We’ll start with the asterisk: * means “for now.”

That’s not said with foreboding, just a veteran fan’s acceptance of baseball reality. There are no teams with .889 winning percentages, not even dynasties. There are only teams on .889 streaks. While you’re in one, enjoy the ride. It’ll end, but that’s no reason not to throw your hands up and whoop and laugh. The nagging certainty that this isn’t real life is all the more reason to do those things, in fact.

While on their .889 streak, the Mets are cheerfully thumbing their noses at all sorts of perceived baseball realities, such as the fact that nothing good ever happens to them at New Soilmaster Stadium, the lair of the municipal scam pretending to be a sports franchise known as the Miami Marlins. The Marlins are now majority-owned by Bruce Sherman, with Derek Jeter [1] dispensing his usual blanditudes as front man, but they’re the same hustle they were under the loathsome likes of Wayne Huizenga and Jeffrey Loria, a scheme to bilk taxpayers and eliminate all but the most masochistic fans.

The Marlins dumped a 100+ homer outfield over the winter, trading away Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich [2] and Marcell Ozuna [3] in the kind of deals even a lapdog like Bowie Kuhn wouldn’t have countenanced, with Dee Gordon [4] and his .300 average and 60 steals excised as an additional middle finger to whatever’s left of the fanbase. What’s left is an outfit that would be a stretch to be called a Triple-A team: there’s Justin Bour [5], singularly luckless newcomer Starlin Castro [6], and a bunch of cannon fodder.

Oh, but the roof’s open these days. Which I guess isn’t all bad, as it gives passing birds a chance to crap on that Red Grooms excrescence behind the outfield wall.

The Marlins being pitiable as opponents and contemptible as a business is nothing new: the first happens in grimly predictable cycles, while the second [7] is a lead-pipe cinch [8]┬áregardless of what year it is. So too, unfortunately, is expecting the Marlins to give the Mets fits. Seriously, you could put 25 mischievous junior-high kids who didn’t much care for baseball in Marlins motley and odds are the Mets would at least have to navigate a save chance.

Monday night’s game was ominous the moment Sunday night’s game ended, with the Mets stuck showing up around dawn, looking at the possibility of a letdown game after an extra-inning triumph, and Yoenis Cespedes [9] battling the flu. And as Monday night rolled on it sure had the aspect of one of those Objects in Rearview Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear contests. Noah Syndergaard [10] looked sweaty and unhappy, continuing his successful but quietly perplexing early season; the Met bats went to sleep after some early noise; and whoever those guys were in orange and white and yellow and blue and several other clashing colors I can’t remember kept gnawing on the Mets’ ankles, until somehow a 3-0 lead had turned into a 3-2 frowner.

Games like that are New Soilmaster specialities, of course: if I close my eyes I get blurry images of teal, Billy the Marlin’s permanent nihilistic grin, and some slap-hitter bouncing a ball just over second, or a Met making a wild pitch, or a miscast left fielder looking up in sudden panic.

An Amed Rosario [11] single in the seventh gave the good guys a sorely needed bit of insurance, though the worries staged a strategic retreat rather than abandoning the field: with the bases loaded, Kyle Barraclough [12] opted for the unorthodox strategy of attacking Cespedes and Jay Bruce [13] with changeups, his third-best pitch, which somehow worked. Then, in the ninth, Jeurys Familia [14] needed to get two outs with the tying run on second, and oh boy. Would the Mets lose in regulation, or get walked off in the 14th on some high chopper that left Asdrubal Cabrera [15] and Adrian Gonzalez [16] frowning at each other, Miami and the cosmos?

But hey, charmed life [17] … for now. Familia struck out Miguel Rojas [18], caught Castro looking, and the asterisk remained the business for some other day.