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Sometimes You Ride the Cycle, and Sometimes the Cycle Rides You

I’ve had a ball helping my co-blogger moderating panels at Hofstra’s New York Mets Conference [1] over the last day and a half, as well as sitting and listening to smart Mets fans, former players and baseball historians amateur and professional discuss all things blue and orange. On Friday, for instance, I a) heard a great Craig Glaser presentation breaking down the odds of the Mets’ having no no-hitters; b) had fun shooting the bull at a lunchtime panel with blog colleagues and Mets fans; c) posed for pictures with Mr. Met; d) heard Art Shamsky, Bud Harrelson, and Ed Kranepool discuss their time in blue and orange; and e) chatted with John Thorn. That’s a pretty good day, and I had to go home before the evening sessions and the banquet.

But my favorite moment from the conference wasn’t academic at all — it was the roar from a nearby lounge as Kirk Nieuwenhuis drove the ball over Giancarlo Stanton’s head, sweeping the Marlins out of Citi Field. While I’d been sitting at a table with one earphone on, feeling simultaneously bad that I was listening to the game instead of chatting with some very interesting folks and insisting to myself that one could and should keep apprised of Mets doings at a Mets conference, other attendees had found a big HD set and tuned it to SNY, with the Mets obliging us by providing a scrappy classic. I like my Mets discourse academic and analytical and historically minded and literary and delivered in innumerable other high-falutin’ ways, but this was simple and transcendent: Mets win, that was awesome, we’re happy.

As for tonight, well … did anyone mention how great Nieuwenhuis’s hit was? Greg did [2]? And then I just did again?

Oh. Well then.

Tonight’s game wound up being one of those spottily attended to semi-West Coast messes, seen in fragmented glimpses so that it seems halfway to a dream.

I watched the first few innings on Gameday while attending a gala raising money for my kid’s school, during which I drank blue martinis, the exact number of which can now only be approximated. (This is known in storytelling as foreshadowing.) Those innings were mildly worrisome but not the stuff of disaster: The Mets trailed the Rockies, and Gameday hinted pretty strongly that Lucas Duda was doing ill-advised things in the outfield, but it was only 2-1.

Emily and I got home, relieved the babysitter, and took in the next couple of innings from the couch. These were terrific. Scott Hairston clubbed a home run to tie the game, while fill-in starter Chris Schwinden — the lumpy pitcher with the graceless mechanics whom I’ve struggled to abide [3] — seemed to have settled in. Then the Mets ambushed the Rockies in rousing fashion: Hairston tripled to pull within a double of the cycle, and the Mets strung together four more singles (including Zach Lutz’s first big-league hit and Schwinden’s second) for a 6-2 lead. It looked like a rout was in the offing, one I was thoroughly prepared to enjoy.

Well, I got the rout part right.

Emily went to bed; within a few minutes the Mets were playing like they were half-asleep. It began so innocently, as it always does. Schwinden fielded an Eric Young Jr. comebacker, lollipopped it to Lutz at first, Young slid in headfirst, Lutz didn’t bend down quite far enough to tag him. Then Young stole second, taking third on a high Mike Nickeas throw that Daniel Murphy muffed. Then Marco Scutaro walked and Jonathan Herrera singled to make it 6-3.

Not good, but I figured Schwinden would gather himself and escape the inning at 6-4 or so. Instead, he promptly served up a Carlos Gonzalez homer to tie the score. Exit Schwinden, enter Manny Acosta … and somewhere between Acosta leaving the bullpen and toeing the rubber against Troy Tulowitzki those martinis had their say and closing my eyes seemed like an excellent idea.

When I woke up Scott Hairston was being roundly congratulated and Gary Cohen sounded excited. Ah, I realized: He’d hit for the cycle, becoming the 10th Met to do so. This is what we do instead of throwing no-hitters — how weird is it that the Padres have never done either? That was great, but there were other things to process, and I was having trouble. The Mets had nine runs, but the Rockies had … 13?

What the hell?

Such evidence of Acostalyptic doings proved too much for my foggy brain; I hit my own personal snooze alarm, during which time passed and events occurred. When I came to again, Ruben Tejada was at the plate, the Mets still had nine runs, and that number by COL was still large and dramatic.

Still 13, though.

No, wait. It looked like a 13, but it was … an 18?

Jesus [4].

Tejada struck out, the ballgame was over, and of course I was awake.