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

Those Summer Nights

“All right, Harold. Let’s do it.

“OK, everybody, Buck is available to answer questions. First, Steve.”

“Buck, great 5-1 win tonight over the Reds [1]. In light of the passing of Olivia Newton-John earlier today, do we have to believe this Mets team is magic and that nothing can stand in their way?”

“Aw, is that right? Olivia Newton-John? She couldn’t have been that old. How old was she? Seventy-three? You’re kidding. My wife and I saw her perform one year at some winter meetings or postseason banquet. When I worked for the Diamondbacks, Jerry Colangelo introduced me. What a nice lady. She could really sing. I’m sorry, what was the question? Are the Mets magic? Well, we work hard to do what we do. So does the other team. It would presumptuous to think nothing could stand in our way. I tell you, though, we got a really solid inning out of Otto tonight. I don’t know if it was magic, but we were happy to get it.”

“Tony, a question for Buck?”

“Yeah, Buck, the great pitching you got from Chris Bassitt tonight, after the kind of outings we saw from Scherzer on Saturday and deGrom on Sunday, do you think opponents look at your rotation, throw up their hands and beg, ‘please, mister, please’?”

“They beg? Nobody in this league begs. I hope they’d have a healthy respect for our pitching and all aspects of our game like we do for theirs. Chris certainly went a long way tonight. What did he go? Eight innings? That’s a big help to our bullpen, which has been so good lately. Did you see Joely on Sunday? Those two-and-a-third were a lifesaver. But, you know, I’ve always wondered about the line ‘please don’t play B-17.’ What do you suppose the song was on that jukebox the button-pushing cowboy had to hear? We try to play everybody who can help us win, but of course we can’t play 17 anymore. That’s hanging up there way above left field. I think Keith would express his displeasure if we were playing 17. He might wanna get a few swings in the cage first.”

“Tim, you’re up.”

“Buck, your team got off to a strong start tonight when Starling Marte muscled a home run for an immediate two-run lead over the Reds. Would you call that a matter of telling your players, ‘let’s get physical’?”

“If we’re doing anything physically outstanding out there, that’s a credit to the training staff. They come in early, they’re keeping the players ready and loose, drinking lots of liquids. This hot weather makes hydration essential. We have a whole lot of guys who can hit the ball far if they find their pitch. Where Starling really excels is the mental game. Francisco, too. What’s the saying about baseball being 90% half-mental? I once asked Yogi at a Yankee old-timers game if he really said that. He didn’t. But if you’re asking about good shape, Tyler Naquin is a specimen. Did you see him go to third on that triple? Of course the first winter Angela and I had cable, that video was all over MTV. There was nothing else on, so we had this crazy new channel on more than we should have, probably. Those guys, the ‘Physical’ guys? They were in great shape. No wonder that was such a big hit.”

“The other Tim.”

“Buck, speaking of great shape, you’re 32 games above .500 for the first time in sixteen years, you’re seven games ahead of the Braves after tonight. But you still have four in Atlanta next week plus a couple of series against a very hot Phillies team. Does that give you enough to tell your fans, ‘don’t stop believin’?”

“I saw that. That many over .500 for the first time since 2006. That was Willie’s team, right? Willie Randolph is a great guy. I’m surprised he never got another shot at managing. He won a division title his second year. I don’t know what happened after that. But let me tell you something. Everybody thinks those lyrics about not stopping believing belong to Journey. Their song got used at the end of that gangster show. What was it called, the one in New Jersey? I should know that, being a manager in New York again. Right, The Sopranos. Great song. You still hear it all the time. Olivia had a different song, a little more country, ‘Don’t Stop Believin,” when I was comin’ up in the Cape Cod League. That’s when I got the nickname Buck supposedly for how little I’d wear in the clubhouse. I’m not gonna tell you to not stop believin’ that story. It’s makes for a good story, whether it’s true or not. As far as the fans, we really appreciate their support. Did you hear how loud it got tonight when Vogie drove in Francisco? I know we didn’t have as many people here as we did over the weekend, but it sounded the same. We have a sponsor, but you could call the ballpark Xanadu if you want. It’s been that good for us. The key to that inning was Pete making their pitcher work. Pete didn’t get a hit tonight, but he saw a lot of pitches. But ‘Don’t Stop Believin’” is a great song. She had so many of them.”

[2]

When your team has won of 13 of 15 in July and August, it can be said they are Totally Hot.

“Deesha.”

“Buck, your lineup, one to nine, when everybody is going well, could be said to be running deeper than the night. How do you prevent slumps from changing that dynamic?”

“Players don’t have slumps. I know it looks like they have slumps when they go a while without many hits, but there are ebbs and flows in this game and everybody is subject to them. I know I am. I take the same route to the ballpark every day, yet I missed my turn off the Grand Central this afternoon. Can you believe that? They were doing construction and I got distracted, and next thing I knew I think I was practically in Brooklyn. Glenn was gonna be promoted to manager if I hadn’t gotten turned around and I’d be scouting the Cyclones. Wouldn’t be a bad change of pace maybe. But our team prides itself on our consistency. The thing about ‘Deeper Than The Night,’ the song I think you’re referencing, is it was on that album that came out after the Grease soundtrack. My god, that album and that movie were huge. I think I saw it three times the summer it came out. It was the only one playing. You don’t have much of a choice in those minor league towns. Of course they didn’t have streaming then. You just hope too many teenagers didn’t start smoking because of Olivia as Sandy at the end in the leather jacket and all. The album after was called, oh…Totally Hot. That was a real image-changer for her, but she knew she could shift that way after those last scenes in Grease. But to that question earlier, the Phillies are totally hot right now, but we’re not looking past Cincinnati. We think we’re doing OK, too. Anybody else, Harold?”

“We’ll finish up with Mike.”

“Buck, the fan energy around the Mets has always been one that’s kind of a hopeless devotion. Yet you’re suddenly incredibly formidable. Is it some kind of twist of fate that you’re this good? Or are you still worried that the Braves will make a move on you? Can you yourself be mellow?”

“All right, y’all are just playing with me now. Listen, we’re gonna miss Olivia Newton-John. I’m just glad she left us so many great songs [3]. We oughta do something for her here, shouldn’t we, Harold? I mean we had that slogan, the Magic is Back. I wasn’t here then, but I remember that. I thought it was clever, and she had that song at the same time [4]. I’d love to hear her music during BP or between innings. The players might be too young to want to use it for their walkups or whatever. Maybe I’ll just listen on my drive home tonight. Maybe I won’t get lost. But I think our fans can all be hopeful. I don’t think our success to this point is sudden. The coaching staff and myself had a short spring, but we had a lot of willing players putting in a lot of effort and I think you’re seeing it pay off every night. I don’t believe in fate. Too much can go wrong. Atlanta is still capable of going wrong on us if we don’t keep doing what we have to do. Mellow is for after the season and, if we’re lucky, the postseason. We’ll have to keep grinding and make our own moves. Y’all should make a move on the clubhouse. Talk to the players who win these games. They’re the ones that you want.”