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Fans Round Into Postseason Form, Too

Pete Alonso grabbed his lumber
And laid on the Brewers
A three-run number

When Francisco Lindor
Saw what Pete had done
He bettered Pete’s bomb
By a sum of one

That’s basically the story of how the Mets employed a Lizzie Borden-style attack in Milwaukee Tuesday night to hack their way to a 7-5 victory [1] in the penultimate game of their series at Miller Park.

HOLD EVERYTHING! The Mets won the penultimate game of their series at Miller Park! Or whatever it’s called now. From 2009 through 2021, the Mets never won the second-to-last game in any series they played in their annual trip to Milwaukee. Never, as spelled out in this 2016 examination [2] of the trend, and never, as confirmed in this 2021 update [3] of the trend, revisited a year ago because this particular and peculiar string continued to defy snapping.

This year however, isn’t interested in what the Mets could never do before 2022. This year, the Mets consider what can be done and then, far more nights than not, they go ahead and do it. They come from behind; they beat the Brewers the night after clinching a postseason berth [4]; they stay ahead of Atlanta for the postseason berth they want most; they win their sixth in a row; they obliterate the memory of being swept by the Cubs a week ago; they soar 40 games above .500 for the first time in 34 years [5]; and they break the most obscure or at least most specific losing streak in North American team sports.

Happy yet? Provisionally even? Or did the glow from the cream soda with which you toasted the mathematical securing of no worse than Wild Card qualification Monday night wear off as Carlos Carrasco nearly drowned in a deluge of hops, barley and pure, high-quality water sourced from deep lakes, cold springs and ancient aquifers [6] in the early innings Tuesday, particularly the second, when the Brewers posted three daunting runs on the No Longer Miller Park scoreboard? Perhaps the Mets really were hungover from their something slightly stronger than Dr. Brown’s-fueled celebration. Perhaps they were due for a Midwest, mid-evening nap. Perhaps all your anxieties were bound to surface after five consecutive nerve-quelling contests.

Oh, like your nerves were quelled by five wins in a row let alone a guaranteed playoff spot. If anything, heightened stakes heightens tension. I found myself rounding into postseason form as Tuesday’s game went along, which is to say I was utterly on edge and manufacturing dread with every pitch. Usually I wouldn’t wait for the pitch. Between pitches provided ample time to create worst-case situational scenarios all adding up to grim projections for the game at hand, for the season remaining, for the limited engagement to which we were condemning ourselves come October.

But then came Pete, with his three-run missile in the sixth, lopping the Brewers’ lead to 4-3, and then came Francisco, with his grand slam erasing their advantage by vaulting the Mets ahead, 7-4, in the seventh, and I could sit back.

And worry some more.

What, you thought seven runs in two innings, built on two blasts that capitalized on Brewer pitching placing runners on base, would calm a Mets fan in September? It wouldn’t calm a Mets fan in October, and suddenly October is a) officially a given; and b) approaching at Terrance Gore speed. A Mets fan wouldn’t be a Mets fan without rehearsing the worst and meaning it.

Thus, my apologies to Trevor May for all the miserable things I barked at you as you wriggled out of the seventh, and no hard feelings, I hope, regarding what I was thinking of you, Adam Ottavino, as you gave way to Edwin Diaz in the eighth. Once Diaz was on, I actually did relax. Well, once he got out of Ottavino’s eighth-inning contretemps that had cut the Mets’ lead to 7-5. I was more than a little antsy when Edwin missed with a slider to let Rowdy Tellez work his at-bat to one-and-two with the tying run on first and two out.

You think I’m kidding.

The bottom of the ninth served as the kind of sedative Joey Ramone would have treasured [7]. Diaz threw eleven pitches. One was fouled off. One was grounded out. Everything else was a called or swinging strike, including the last six pitches Sugar delivered. We were fine and remain fine and will be fine until, of course, we are not.

That’s how a Mets fan negotiates the postseason. No point in waiting to drive yourself crazy.