Thursday, June 19, 2003

Game 70 - Mets

Mets 10, Marlins 5
Record: 33-37

You know how Rob Russell said about a month ago that he loved the current Red Sox team? Well, lightning may strike me down, but I love this Mets team. This Mets team. Hated the crap-tacular April/May version. (You know, the one where Cedeno strikes out, Alomar tries to bunt his way on and is thrown out easily, and Mo strikes out to start every game.) This team is much, much different, if only for its youthful exuberance. Oh yeah, and its ability to make bat meet ball. 13 more hits last night, 10 more runs, and that saved Al Leiter, giving him the win after a mediocre performance. After Big Al hit the showers, Graeme Lloyd threw one shaky inning and in came Dan Wheeler . . . of course. For those of you who have been hiding under a rock for the past four years, Dan "My ERA Hovers Around 18" Wheeler spent three seasons in the vaunted Devil Rays bullpen, followed by a year somewhere other than the major leagues, and he's been in Norfolk this spring leading the Tides in saves . . . with 3. (Currently in 1st place in their division, they are demonstrating how a bullpen by committee can actually work.) So, he got the call-up and was brought in to protect a 5-run lead -- thank you, Jose Reyes (2B, 3B, 4 RBI), though all eight starting position players got hits. Three perfect innings later, Mr. Wheeler recorded his first major-league save. He looked sharp, fooling pretty good hitters, and he made quick work -- his three innings required just 26 pitches.

Anyway, I enjoy watching this team loads more than the previous incarnation. (You know, the one where Astacio yields yet another hit, Cedeno misplays it into a double, Piazza tries to throw him out stealing at third and the ball sails into left field, and another run comes home.) And after an agonizing spell of Fox Sports News (the opponents' broadcasters) covering the games on the ticket, I've gotten back-to-back MSG nights with Fran & the gang. And the Mets have won six of eight. Given the way this season has shaken out thus far, and given the two series against the Yanks on the horizon, this may be the apex of my 2003 baseball season enjoyment. These are the happy days, the salad days as they say . . .

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