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Happy Is Better

After eight and a half innings, I had a little roadmap of tonight’s post scrawled on a bit of scratch paper:

Does that sound fun to read? It didn’t sound fun to write, either. As Andrew Brown stepped in against Santiago Casilla, with Brown’s resume for the evening showing two Ks, a flyout, a horrible error and (though not yet revealed) breaking Ruben Tejada’s leg, I gave a little sigh and tried not to regard the soon-to-be-written recap like a lunchtime trip to the DMV. I love baseball and I love to write. It stinks dreading both.


I don’t like writing about depressing stuff. I hate unwinnable arguments about incomplete front-office plans, and typing M-A-D-O-F-F, and saying mean stuff about Bud Selig, and feeling disconsolate about tomato-can placeholders like Aaron Harang.

What do I like writing about?

I like writing about baseball’s milestones and rituals, even when times are bad. Centeno’s debut made the mini-catcher No. 967 965 in The Holy Books and the last of 2013 barring something truly strange (Edit: see comments for the truly strange). We also got his first hit, complete with the inevitable need to alert the opposing team and watching the now-anointed young big leaguer trying to be cool at first base instead of flopping down and making dirt angels. Nice stuff, but noting that rocket off Sergio Romo was Josh Satin’s first walkoff hit is even nicer.

I like writing about the sight and sound of the hardy faithful, that shrunken band of brothers and sisters, who went from defiant wishing to desperate imploring to a full-throated happy roar as the Giants fans slunk away with their smugness shredded.

I like writing about Brown and Zach Lutz and Juan Lagares and Matt den Dekker and Omar Quintanilla and Josh Satin working good counts and zeroing in on good pitches to hit. Brown, Lagares and Lutz each saw seven pitches, den Dekker and Quintanilla each saw six, Satin saw five. Brown took his hacks on 2-1 and 3-2; Lagares on 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2; Lutz on 2-2 and 3-2; Satin on 2-2. Casilla had to throw 17 pitches; Sergio Romo had to throw 25. The only truly bad AB in the frame was Lucas Duda’s — Quintanilla didn’t get it done, but he did battle back nicely against Romo and put the ball in play.

I like writing about how the tiniest things separate glory from misery in baseball. Consider that bottom of the ninth. Lutz and den Dekker both took fateful pitches that were just off the plate, and correctly called as such. Lutz’s double down the line was just out of the reach of Joaquin Arias’s dive at third. Brandon Belt just missed grabbing a little roller by den Dekker before it went foul, turning a sure out into another chance. After a late stop sign from Tim Teufel, Lagares just got back into third base ahead of the tag. On Centeno’s little paddle shot to deep short, Lutz just reached third ahead of Brandon Crawford’s throw. Change any of those things slightly in the Giants’ favor and the Mets lose. A game of inches? Sometimes the margin’s a lot smaller than that.

I like writing about Gary Cohen getting to be excited at least one more time in 2013, with this voice rising but not cracking and his words coming fast but not crashing into each other: “2-2 to Satin … and he LINES ONE, A BASE HIT!!! LUTZ SCORES! HERE COMES RECKER! Recker coming home … HE SCORES AND THE METS WIN IT! … Josh Satin with a two-run walkoff hit in the bottom of the ninth, the Mets score FOUR and BEAT the Giants’ bullpen, FIVE to FOUR!” (Watch it here [1]. I’m on my fifth time.)

Yeah, I like writing about that stuff [2] better.