Thursday, October 05, 2006

Nervous Guy

NLDS – Game 1

Mets 6, Dodgers 5
Mets lead, 1-0

Whew. That took some doing, and I don’t just mean the Mets’ ordeal in the opening game of the postseason. It took quite an effort for me to see bits and pieces of the contest, then more effort not to hear or see the final score until I could watch the end myself . . . which I ended up not quite able to do.

I hunkered down at the Dubliner in Washington to catch the opening frames. My bartender extraordinaire and drinking buddy there joined me in observing one of the most bizarre plays on a baseball field I’ve seen, as a double off the right-field wall resulted in bang-bang tag-outs at home (within a couple of seconds of each other) of Jeff Kent from second base and J.D. Drew from first. The quiet, dark, Irish pub doesn’t lend itself to vocal outbursts, but I couldn’t help myself as I yelped upon watching Paul LoDuca make the two quick tags. The play saved the Mets from a big inning, and likely saved the game.

That said, the Dubliner was not feeling like the right venue to bring the Mets luck, and they remained down, 1-0, for several innings. Enter the Irish Times. (I did.) As soon as I made the miniscule trek to the second bar (it was right nextdoor), Carlos Delgado and Cliff Floyd took Derek Lowe deep for a pair of solo shots. When the Mets tacked on another pair of runs, it was obvious I’d found a fortuitous viewing locale, but softball called, so I made the sacrifice and left. I’m so altruistic like that.

Bad idea. In the car, I heard the game go to 4-4 and quickly turned off the radio. At that point I didn’t want to hear any more until I could relax and catch the final few innings via Gheorghe blogmaster TJ’s DVR. A challenge, of course, because folks at the park and in the sports bar afterwards wanted to discuss the game, naturally. Oh, and the 100 TV’s felt the need to offer scores and highlights non-stop. Bastards.

I managed to make it through celebrating our softball win and drowning the sorrows of our loss with no knowledge of the Mets’ final score, and the DVR indeed had recorded . . . most of the rest of the game. It cut off in the ninth inning with the Mets up, 6-4. Painful. I now know that it got hairier before the happy conclusion, and it’s probably just as well that I didn’t see it.

I spent a great deal of yesterday anxious, and it’s not going away with the one win. When I was watching the Mets struggle in the early going, I had that white-knuckle, taut muscle ache that plagues us all in these moments. I’ve actually kind of missed this tension, and I welcome it a tad. The closest I’d come to it in recent years was when I signed on to support Rob and his Sox in ’04, as I described in a post then. It’s the greatest form of agony I know.

Maybe it shouldn’t feel this way, but yesterday’s win feels enormous. After an uncanny succession of calf tears not seen since Animal Farm, the Mets found themselves dropped from heavy favorites to major question marks. To rally, then rally again, then stave off the rally – well, that’s a redundancy I’d love to see repeated throughout these playoffs. Game 2 offers a match-up (Glavine vs. Kuo) more in the Metropolitans’ favor, but there can be no let-up. Show some patience at the plate, youngsters, and keep up the concentration in the field. (That means you, Mr. Valentin.) Keep doing what you’ve done all year, and more good results will find us.

Is it just me? Doesn’t it seem like decades since the Mets were in the postseason? I guess once you sink to the depths, it makes you forget recent successes. Let’s hope that this fall makes us forget those depths.

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