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Remember Laughter?

A laugher is always welcome as a team trudges through the long march of a baseball season — and, as it turns out, as it sprints through an unexpectedly curtailed one. And a laugher is particularly welcome when that team has recently made you wonder if it will ever play sound baseball again.

The Mets, after being stomped by the Philadelphia Phillies over a lost long weekend, arrived in Miami to play the jury-rigged Marlins, which is my least favorite part of any season. The Marlins are annoying in teal and in barfed-up neon and while wearing home uniforms that inexplicably say MIAMI. They’re annoying in converted football stadiums and when playing under a giant Pachinko machine and when playing in front of nobody in a weirdly silent cavern. They’re annoying when Wayne Huizenga is involved and when Jeffrey Loria is involved and when Derek Jeter [1] is involved. They’re annoying because whatever the specifics, they’re dependably tasteless and tacky and nihilistic and misbegotten and, also, because no matter how rickety and low-rent their current incarnation, they give the Mets fits.

Not Monday night, though. Oh, it didn’t start well — Robert Gsellman [2] looked rusty and ran out of gas in the second, leaving the Mets’ bullpen needing to get 22 outs. But then the Mets got to hitting, in ways that have been in distressingly short supply this year. That was Robinson Cano [3] hitting two balls out, the second an absolute missile into the second deck. And yes, that was Pete Alonso [4] having a big day at the plate, complete with two homers of his own. It’s too early to declare the Polar Bear off the endangered sluggers’ list, not with the frustrating year he’s having, but it was gratifying to see him looking like he was actually enjoying himself out there.

We all were, as the Mets socially distanced themselves from the Marlins on the scoreboard — well, unless you wanted a crisply played game that showcased the beauty of the baseball. If you showed up expecting that, sorry — there was a lot of dopey baserunning, questionable use of challenges and Mark Wegner serving as MLB’s latest walking advertisement for Robot Umps Now. And the game was a dreary slog, finally ending [5] on the wrong side of the four-hour mark when a weary Franklyn Kilome [6] got Jonathan Villar [7] to lift a fly ball to mercifully fieldable right.

Kilome didn’t pitch particularly well but did yeoman duty in sparing the bullpen further harm, if you don’t count Seth Lugo [8] having to warm up. (I bet Lugo would say that counts.) Kilome got the save; Chasen Shreve [9] got the well-deserved win for saving the collective blue and orange bacon by capably relieving Gsellman. Meanwhile, the Marlins were a mess, culminating with poor Logan Forsythe [10] pressed into duty to throw Guillormesque gas in the ninth. (Forsythe didn’t fare as well, surrendering a run.)

The Mets are … an odd club. The starting pitching we figured would be their strength not so long ago has been shredded, but the bullpen looks improved, there are actual defenders available for infield work, and the hitters have been unlucky enough that a simple regression toward the mean ought to bring better results. It would be odd if the Mets slipped into the lower ranks of the playoffs because of their bullpen arms instead of those of their starters. But everything’s odd this year, isn’t it? Why not hope a little oddness could actually be a good thing?

A reminder: Share your tale [11] of Game Six!