- Faith and Fear in Flushing - https://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

Out On the Edge of Darkness

Now I’ve been happy lately
Thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be
Something good has begun

Perhaps it’s because once Marcell Ozuna [1] threw out Kirk Nieuwenhuis [2] at home plate to end Friday night’s game one brick shy of a tie [3], the baseball gods had simply run out of quintessentially Metsian ways to saddle the Mets with losses. “Tying run cut down at the plate on a sure sacrifice fly, we’re not gonna top that one for a while,” they reportedly said before going on a well-earned vacation.

Nieuwenhuis was improbably out and the Mets had predictably lost, yet from that moment forward, it’s been Mets 25 Opponents 6. Amazingly, the 25 runs have been wisely distributed so it wasn’t like there was a 1-0 loss tucked between a couple of 12-run blowouts.

The Mets have won three in a row [4], five out of six. That doesn’t sound all that impressive, but it sure feels like something. They pounded the almighty Oakland Athletics, they of the best record in baseball, the best run differential in baseball, the best storylines in baseball [5] on a recurring basis.

The Mets are 8-1 in the village of Flushing against the Oakland Athletics since Game Three of the 1973 World Series, when Tom Seaver [6]’s 12 strikeouts couldn’t keep the Mets from losing, 2-1, in 11 innings. Don Hahn [7] couldn’t feel his way around Shea Stadium’s desodded warning track, Jerry Grote [8] couldn’t hold on to strike three from Harry Parker [9] with Ted Kubiak [10] on first…yes, there was more to not winning that World Series than not pitching George Stone [11] four days later.

So where was I? Oh yeah, we’ve been beating Oakland at Shea and Citi pretty consistently ever since even though some regrets refuse to fade with time. We took the next two in 1973, all three in 2007, two of three in 2011 and Tuesday night, too. We’re not just regular hot; we’re cosmically hot.

Take that, Charlie Finley, wherever you are.

Now I’ve been smiling lately
Thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be
Something good has begun

There is little daylight to be found streaming through the Tuesday night box score, cluttered as it is with heavy Met hits. Everybody who started, including Bartolo Colon [12], put a dent in Oakland pitching. There was a homer from Travis d’Arnaud, who offered more proof for my new theory that the most consistent offensive weapon the Mets maintain is Whoever They Called Up Just Now. There were two from Chris Young [13], who made an excellent case for Being Threatened With Removal From The Premises. Word conveniently leaked out [14] that Young’s salary wasn’t going to save him, so he’d better get to belting ASAP. By some crazy coincidence, he belted a whole bunch.

Absorbing most of the Met pounding was Johnny Narrative, a.k.a. Scott Kazmir [15]. George Stone’s got nothing on Scott Kazmir when it comes to Met lefties whom hindsight insists should’ve been handed the ball. We’re about a month away from the tenth anniversary of being reminded (again [16]) the Mets mindlessly traded Scott when he was a lad full of hiss and vinegar. For what it’s worth, the Mets made the playoffs two unrelated years later anyway. Also for what it’s worth, Victor Zambrano [17] pitched a handful of good games [18] for the Mets before his aching left elbow got the best of him.

It was still an insipid trade and nothing like it should be repeated late this July, but the transaction deserves maybe a touch of forgiving revisionist history if only for accuracy’s sake — and just so it doesn’t need to be dredged over when the Mets visit Oakland in August.

Besides, I’ll need that time to dwell on George Stone being skipped some more.

Get your bags together
Go bring your good friends, too
’Cause it’s getting nearer
It soon will be with you

Hey, how about those towels? Kind of silly, kind of super, I’d say. Nice to detect a note of enthusiasm from our occasionally detached millionaire heroes. Waving towels (even if they are mostly surrender-white) strikes me as good, clean high school jock behavior. It’s even kind of creative.

“Mets towel waving party after hits has turned into towel waving car wash after home runs,” tweeted the Star-Ledger’s Mike Vorkunov, who wrung from Curtis Granderson [19] a perfectly sensible elaboration on what else they’re doing with their Terry cloth:

“Once you finish, you gotta get dried off.”

These rituals are all a matter of taste. By my reckoning, waving the towels beats giving buzzcuts [20]. It’s not quite as excellent as that business with the claw or the spotlight or whatever they were calling it when Jose Reyes [21] and Justin Turner [22] were instigating a fleeting whale of a time in 2011. I’ve always liked the dancing and the curtain calls and such. I like anything that indicates the Mets are winning.

If the Mets keep winning, they can stage The Nutcracker between innings for all I care.

Now come and join the living
It’s not so far from you
And it’s getting nearer
Soon it will all be true

Cynicism will not die easily if at all around here. As I watched the homers fly and the towels flutter Tuesday, I could picture the Mets marketers, quick studies that they are, scheduling a Rally Towel Night for August 28 or thereabouts. Branden and Alexa and possibly Christina would crank up their collective charms and excitedly inform us that “there’s nothing better than coming to the ballpark and waving a tow…” before SNY’s automated brain cut them off in favor of a Cambridge Pavingstones commercial (pavingstones are not to be confused with George Stone). By the time Rally Towel Night finally arrived, the Mets would be umpteen games under .500 and umpteen-and-a-half games out of the second Wild Card and nobody would remember that night in June when Chris Young was still on the Mets, let alone hitting home runs. Grumpy Guest Relations staff would be handing out sad, sponsored towels to handfuls of patrons who wondered what any of this had to do with baseball.

On the other hand, I also allowed myself to think that whatever has gotten into this team over the past week — Ozuna’s temporarily deadly peg notwithstanding — is utterly fantastic and I’m giddy as hell and what fun it is to be a Mets fan when five of six have been won, including three in a row that have been taken by four, six and nine runs, respectively. There were so many long, awful games [23] for such a long, awful time until very recently. Now we win by a ton and it takes no time at all and you wouldn’t mind evenings like these lasting into perpetuity.

Maybe we’re not so great just yet. Maybe we’re just that crappy team that happens to give a much better squad inexplicable fits. That’s not unfun, either, y’know. However this train [24] rolls, what’s the point of a baseball season if it can’t carry you away now and then?


Though you suddenly can’t wait for first pitch, there are suitable diversions to help occupy you between now and 7:10:

• Monday night I returned to the Rising Apple podcast, where host Rich Sparago, John Coppinger of Metstradamus renown, Mets Musings’ Gary McDonald and I swapped recipes and gardening tips. No, actually, we talked about nothing but the Mets for an hour. Listen in here [25].

• In March, I took part in a wonderful event [26] that explored Storytelling as Good Medicine, the kicker being that all the stories were baseball stories. A second edition is coming to Bergino Baseball Clubhouse on July 17. Learn more about attending here [27].

• The best time to induct Gil Hodges [28] into the Baseball Hall of Fame is right this very minute. Wish it was that easy. If you believe the manager of the Miracle Mets and the cornerstone of the Boys of Summer — and by all accounts one of the greatest gentlemen the game has ever known is worthy of enshrinement — there is a petition you should know about right here [29].

• If you’ve worn out your copy of A Year To Remember, there is a new movie coming together about your 1986 World Champion Mets. Learn more from filmmaker Heather Quinlan here [30].

• And you’ll want to play this little ditty from 45 Adapters [31] at least 45 times today. As the band in question advises, Let’s Go Metropolitans!