“And I guess that’s what I want to do with this campaign: sort of calm things down a little…”
—Former Gov. Fred Picker (D-Fla.), “Primary Colors”
Early during the seventeenth game of the Mets’ 2018 season, I found myself longing for the Mets of the first not quite fifteen games of the 2018 season. That was a great team and a great year. Alas, the Mets from the end of the fifteenth game through the first several innings of the seventeenth game were such a comedown. We were obviously sentenced to be stuck with them forever.
On the other hand, I thoroughly enjoyed the throwback game the Mets spontaneously staged in the nine-run eighth inning of the seventeenth game, bringing back to Citi Field the 2018 Mets from the first not quite fifteen games. They even wore the same uniforms.
Whichever team it is we have this year won the seventeenth game , much as it had won twelve of its previous sixteen, which reads as pretty impressive on paper and in pixel, but registered as useless in our hearts and heads. We knew the magic was gone after the defining lead-blowing elements of Monday night. No wonder Tuesday was ruined. No wonder Wednesday, until the eighth, was a lost cause for the potentially 12-5 first-place Mets.
Thank goodness it wound up a won cause, 11-5, for the actual 13-4 first-place Mets, the team that came back on the Nationals in the eighth inning the way the Nationals came back on the Mets two eighth innings prior. It was almost as if, across a 162-game season, some nights things suddenly fall apart wildly; and some nights things suddenly come together sensationally; and sometimes those nights and their aberrant things occur in counterintuitively close proximity.
These Mets, the eighth-inning Wednesday-night Mets…the ones who tied the score on Todd Frazier’s two-run single up the middle, surged ahead on Juan Lagares’s pinch-hit two-run double down the right field line and slammed the hammer down via Yoenis Cespedes’s four-run homer to distant galaxies…these were the real Mets. Not those Mets; these Mets. I know we decided the eighth-inning Monday-night Mets were the real Mets, but we have since obtained new information which we have verified as reliable by tasting it for salt and pepper.
Given that we could really use a sip of water, we can say with confidence it checks out. The momentum-depleted 2018 New York Mets were going to be swept and the competitive portion of their season was going to be cancelled. Instead, the momentum-fueled 2018 New York Mets stand unswept and nobody is going to catch them — certainly not the momentum-depleted Washington Nationals, who couldn’t even sweep those lousy Mets.
The magic that was gone is back. All hail the way things are going now until they’re not.