Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Rolling Stones

Games 47 through 50 - Mets

Mets 6, Marlins 2
Mets 7, Marlins 2
Mets 6, Marlins 4
Mets 5, Giants 4 (12)
Record: 33-17

Memorial Weekend was a blissful blur for me, a series of cookouts, cocktails, and cavorting that was finished off with a carriage ride down Constitution as the masses cheered me on. (I was Abraham Lincoln in the National Memorial Day Parade. Normally I don't do carriage rides, much less get applauded by anyone.) Somewhere in the mix, I merely checked in on and distantly followed the Mets' three-game plow through the Florida Marlins. With the Braves dropping their weekend's worth as well, I wished a tad that I'd had a slower schedule of events. As it was, it was a pleasant backdrop to a nice few days.

Last night, however, I was back to cheering on the New York nine. After playing -- and winning, finally -- a tennis set that lasted an hour and a half (one featuring more Deuces than a KISS Army tape trading convention), I parked it at the bar for a few pints and the end of the Mets-Giants game. Or so I thought. As the game went into the 12th, I headed home, only to be stuck watching replays of Omar Vizquel reaching the plate just before Paul LoDuca could tag him. Annoying.

As an aside, let me throw out there that I have never much cared for the San Francisco Giants. Love the city; it's the one place on the West Coast I could tolerate living for an extended period. Hate the team, or more appropriately, just never liked them. I don't possess the kind of impassioned loathing for them that I have for the Atlanta Braves (and at times, the Phillies, and oh, yeah, the Yankees, and . . .). That hatred also contains respect from time to time; meanwhile, I have nothing but uninterested disdain for the Giants. Not really sure why that is; I'm certainly much too young to harbor resentment for Horace Stoneham bailing out on the Big Apple for the City By the Bay. (And championship-denying karma seems to have enacted retribution in ways I cannot muster.)

It may well have been because the Giants always seemed to have the Mets' number over the years, even when they weren't a better club. That trend has waned in recent seasons, but in all likelihood it's been that fellow with the inflated . . . everything . . . that has further kept me from embracing the franchise in the least. Of course, Omar Vizquel bugs me as well, making astounding plays in annoying ways that make me wish against all logic for Jose Mesa in our pen. Ugh.

Whatever it is, there's more gnashing amid these teeth when our boys take on San Fran than there should be for an NL West club under .500.

And so my annoyance with missing the fourth SF run was inexplicably exacerbated. Right . . . up . . . until . . . yeah, right up until they announced Armando Benitez coming into the game as I was walking towards the kitchen. "What are you, nuts??" I questioned Bruce Bochy from a quiet Virginia den. I had been heading to the kitchen to leave an empty and return empty-handed, but with that, I knew I needed the nightcap's nightcap to accompany the fireworks that seemed so inevitable. It is not simply hindsight told-you-soing. I knew for sure there would be trouble, and I know I was not alone.

I just didn't know how random and ridiculous it'd be. After Jose Reyes walked -- vintage Benitez, by the way; all of my suspicions about his fragility became iron-clad once that happened -- first base ump "Balkin' Bob" Davidson inserted himself unnecessarily into the conversation with a balk call. Multiple replays showed nothing balk-like about any of Benitez's motion. You shouldn't have to go the Zapruder route to discover the tic that Davidson calls with freak regularity. If the pitcher feints at all in a way that's going to cause the runner and even the batter to be unfairly unready, call it. That's why it's in the book. Eye-blinks, toe-wiggles, nostril flares, sweat-drip drips, and wind blowing baggy pants side to side are not what the spirit of the rule outlaws. Just another umpire who needs to be bludgeoned about the head and chest with the hardback version letter of the law that he hides behind.

Anyway, uh, we'll take it when it goes our way.

As it turned out, Balki Bob's phantom balk did have an effect on the outcome of the game. After a sacrifice, the 3B ump saw a real live balk -- a knee-jerk, or as they were calling it in the SF dugout, a Bob Davidson. 4-4, new life. It was mere seconds before Benitez took us for a little stroll down Memory Lane -- except altered in a way where the Mets win, like watching that director's cut of "Halloween" where you find out in the end Michael Myers is actually the hero and Jamie Lee Curtis and everyone else are Nazi stormtroopers. Or something like that; my mind is always scrambled when Armando Benitez enters the fray.

Anyway, Carlos Delgado hit his second homer of the night, a blast into the bullpen that ended the game -- in exactly the way every one of us who lost sleep, hair, and sanity from 1999-2003 because of him saw coming down Broadway. When will it be enough payback for us? Cuando, 'mando?

The Mets are cruising of late, when not playing those loathsome Braves. They're not putting the kind of distance between themselves and their foes that the Red Sox are, but there's plenty to like out at Shea these days.

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