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Damned Season Extended

’Twas a victory of and for the Damned. Damned Castillo. Damned Francoeur. Damned Rodriguez. Damned Mets and their perpetually damning fans.

We won the damn thing!

Y’know what, I’m not even gonna give ya the spiel about it’s just one game. Of course it’s just one game. That’s what a baseball season is: 162 episodes of just one game. Tuesday night, the night after a damned awful game [1], we were treated to a damned lovely game [2], thanks in great part to the second baseman none of us wants and the right fielder we’ve all dismissed as fatally flawed and the closer whom nobody trusts. They’re all issued checks by an ownership group we’d all wrest the keys from if we could — and we’re not so hot on the upper-level management it employs to keep an eye on things.

Things haven’t been so great lately. Boo-bleeping-hoo.

Y’all can bury; I’ll be contrary.

It’s baseball season. Still.

It’s 2010. Still.

The Mets are alive ’til they’re not. Still.

The Mets have picked up a game on the Braves. For a change.

Hey, you know who else is having a season that could be going better by the druthers of those who follow them? The Atlanta Braves, that’s who. Check out this lede from Dave O’Brien [3] in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

The Braves were miserable again with runners in scoring position Tuesday night against the New York Mets, and this time that recent deficiency came back to haunt them. So did a former Brave.

After new Braves reliever Kyle Farnsworth blew a 2-1 lead in the seventh inning, Jeff Francoeur hit a ninth-inning home run off closer Billy Wagner to lift the Mets to a 3-2 win against his former team at Turner Field.

“They’ve been struggling just as much as we have to get that one run across, and tonight they got it,” said Wagner, who has two losses and two blown saves in his past six appearances. “It was a good pitch. Pull hitter, hits the ball to the opposite field — tip your hat.”

Everybody’s got their problems, according to the sage John Mellencamp [4], ain’t no news here. The Braves have problems. The Phillies, minus Howard and Utley and Victorino, have problems. Their problems aren’t quite as daunting as ours given that they’ve each won an extra handful or two of games (and made some pre-July 31 roster renovations), but the season is just as unfinished for them as it is for us. They’ve clinched nothing…and all we’ve been eliminated from is an easy route from here to whatever comes next.

In the meantime, a couple of big hits and nice plays from Castillo; a monstrously huge home run from Francoeur; an untraumatic ninth from Rodriguez; invaluable contributions from Chris Carter and Manny Acosta; and, as always, nothing but good out of the heart, head and knuckles of one R.A. Dickey, the pitcher so tough he’s got extra guts where his ulnar collateral ligament is supposed to be.

Is R.A. Dickey supposed to be anywhere near a major league rotation in 2010? Near the top of ours? At the core of our comfort zone? He persevered on a night when he said conditions weren’t “optimal”. He actually used that word. He also likened pitching in humid and rainy conditions to “straight guerilla warfare”. Again [5], how many pitchers talk like R.A. Dickey? Better yet, how many pitchers stand in and battle like R.A. Dickey? After Francoeur turned Melky Cabrera’s single into a run-scoring triple in the sixth, a Met meltdown would not have been unexpected. It certainly would not have been unprecedented. But R.A. did not give into either Matt Diaz or Omar Infante, and our deficit remained no more than one.

That was impressive. Acosta bailing out Feliciano (why let him face McCann?) on a double play grounder was impressive. Francoeur’s homer to right off Wagner? Shoot, that was just doggone enjoyable. It no more makes Francoeur a long-term fixture than Castillo’s run in the third or double in the fifth or sacrifice in the seventh calls for an extension to be grafted onto Luis’s already endless contract. But you gotta, just gotta love it if you’re a Mets fan who is willing to remember the future is utterly unknowable and that the present — any present — requires nights like Tuesday.

Maybe it was just one game. Or maybe it’s the game before the next game that can be another just one game. Team Torpid from the game before gave way to a bunch that had rarely looked as alive as it appeared after Frenchy’s homer. Dickey spoke afterwards of recapturing the “fire” [6] this team had when it was going gangbusters. My pitcher is R.A. Dickey, and R.A. Dickey says [7]

Well, when R.A. Dickey pitches, Mets fans listen, whereas when Mike Pelfrey pitches, Mets fans have cause to cringe. But look at it this way: Big Pelf is listed at 6’7” — the good Pelf from earlier in the season has got to be hiding in there somewhere.

The good Mets from earlier in the season aren’t necessarily off hunting and fishing already, either. They could have found themselves just in time. They are an imaginable (if not particularly manageable) 6½ out of first with yet another Must Win staring them square in the Pelf.  Turner Field is an unoptimal a place as one would choose for a stay of contention execution, but they’re getting another shot at the team they Must Win against if they are to have any hope at all. Jerry Reed, in serenading the legendary Banditry [8] of Mr. Burt Reynolds, once apprised us that, “The boys are thirsty in Atlanta.” Now would be a good time for them to be hungry, too.

Let it all hang out, ’cause we got a run to make.