Thursday, May 29, 2008

"There was Something in the Air that night..."

The game the Mets played last night was quite reminiscent of a number of games they played during the 2006 season, and even a few they played last season. But, for the most part, this is the kind of game that they haven't been able to come up with at all in the early going in 2008.

Those were the kind of games where the Mets would fall behind, sometimes by 3-4-5 or more runs, and yet you felt like the Mets had it in them to come back. This year's version hasn't been able to inspire that sort of confidence. I don't know if this is one of those proverbial "Games you can build on" that never seem to happen for the Mets, but if they have one in them at all, it would have to be a game like last night, wouldn't it?

After pitching as good a game as he'd pitched over the past month, Oliver Perez got burned in the 6th on Cody Ross's 3-run HR. Who else? This is a guy who is barely deserving of a Major League roster spot, and yet he always seems to beat the Mets. And he damn near did it again last night, giving the Marlins a 5-4 lead, and with the Mets offense ready to go to sleep for the rest of the night.

Someone, apparently, forgot to tell Endy Chavez.

I've been rather critical of Endy lately, in other forums and other situations. It's almost as though it's taboo in Mets Nation to be too critical of Endy, and I know there's a contingent of fans who still believe he should start. I'll never change my tune on that. But it had seemed to me that Endy, after failing, for the most part, to duplicate his success of '06 last year, had basically been trading high based on The Catch. This being with the fans and with the organization. Think about it. Endy could very easily have been cut this spring, and if he had been, fans would likely have rioted. But he wasn't playing much, he certainly wasn't hitting, and with Alou out and Pagan getting most of the playing time in LF and Church's hot start, Chavez had basically become a spare part. Then, Alou came back, Pagan got hurt, and Endy resumed his duties as the late-inning defensive replacement in Left. Then, Alou got hurt again, and Church got hurt, and suddenly, Endy was playing everyday. Not particularly well, but playing nonetheless. Endy is the kind of player who won't ever play spectacularly on a regular basis. But, he does play solid baseball, heady baseball, and more often than not, his successes are magnified by the circumstances under which they're accomplished. His lone HR in 2007 served as the winning runs in a game against the Yankees. And his lone HR in 2008 served to tie the game last night in the bottom of the 9th.

So, as I was saying about Endy Chavez...He sure knows how to pick his spots, doesn't he?

So, it was on to extra innings, where, unlike last Friday's game in Colorado, it wasn't particularly a matter of when the Mets would figure out a way to lose the game. It just didn't feel that way. Last Friday, I was listening to the game, and after Wagner allowed the HR to Holliday that tied the game, but got out of the inning, I turned to the nearest person and said, "Oh, come on! Couldn't you have just blown the game there? Why prolong the misery!?" Last night, the plane seemed to favor the Mets, with the back end of the Marlins bullpen being as suspect as it was. But in the top of the 12th, it was Alfredo Amezaga, who's good for about as many HRs per season as Endy Chavez himself, popping one off the banners in RF for the lead run. The way things have gone, it was very easy to expect the Mets to roll over and go down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 12th. But, again, the Mets fought back. Wright walked and Beltran executed a perfect hit and run, and suddenly, the Mets were cooking. But Damion Easley couldn't come through.

That left it to Fernando Tatis. Tatis, who barely even made it to Spring Training, who hadn't played in the Majors since 2006 before hooking on with the Mets, who was regarded as an all-or-nothing, big bat, no head player during his days with Texas and St. Louis, who came up with the big hit. Somehow, Fernando Tatis, after all the years as a journeyman and the struggle just to get back to the Majors, turned into someone appreciative of what he'd had, and someone desirous to get it back. Abba was singing a song for him at that particular moment. And at that particular moment, he lined a double into the corner, allowing Wright to walk home, and sent Beltran streaking home behind him with the game winner, as Tatis rounded the bases with his fists raised. You could tell just by the look on his face how much it meant to him. And for the second night in a row, it was Tatis coming up with a key hit in a key spot to spur the Mets on to victory.

Bill Simmons wrote earlier in the week
about how you can tell how close a team is by how long and how jubilant they are in celebrating walk-off victories. The "Walkoff Mosh Pit," he calls it. After all the talk about how the clubhouse is in dischord, and the Mets don't seem to like each other very much, I'd be hard pressed to believe that after half the team gang tackled Tatis at home plate and wrestled him to the ground.

Maybe they don't do it pretty, maybe they don't do it easy. They're certainly not making it easy on me or anyone else. But maybe, just maybe, the Mets are pulling a "Godfather 3" on us all. Every time we think we're out, we're giving up, and they pull us back in.

Maybe they build on it. I don't know.

For the 19 games: 6-9.

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