Game 119 - Mets
Mets 10, Pirates 8
You can take everything I said about the Mets and especially the Pirates from yesterday's post and ratchet it up one notch after last night. New York was poor to fair, Pittsburgh just dreadful. In many a sporting event, there is such a thing as playing down to the level of your competition, and there's a palpable sense of that in this series. I could say that the Mets are deft enough to do just enough to win, but it's more a case of "whatever you bungle, I can bungle much worse" on behalf of the once-proud, once-even-mildly-capable baseball franchise in Steel Town.
Even the umpires couldn't see their way through to helping the Bucs out with a favorable (or even fair) call. There's no way I should be feeling sorry for a Mets opponent, not when we need wins so desperately just to stave off the charge of the rivals, but when Pirates were getting punched out on balls a foot wide of the zone to kill the scant rallies they mustered, I did. I guess you can't blame the men in blue . . . you watch enough Buc-ball, you can't fathom them doing anything right.
These flurries of disparaging remarks about the Pirates will surely come back and bite me in the posterior when the Mets drop tonight's game, but my posts' disappointment is actually directed more at the Metmen. Take a stroll through Mets Township this week and see what you see, hear what you hear. There's a consistent tone, vibe, and message. Please, New York Mets, give us a reason to believe. We're patrolling the horizon with the infrared goggles in hopes of a tiny spark, something to generate a little fan mojo. As yet, all quiet on that front.
Then again, it's August. It's hot -- Cool Hand Luke hot. It's humid and muggy and the kids aren't yet back in school and reruns are still in full effect (okay, that doesn't mean as much as it once did) and although it seems like we just gotta be in the home stretch of the baseball season, there are 43 games left -- a friggin' eternity.
No team in first place of any division feels all that great right now. The Tigers and Indians are treating the lead like it's a hot potato, the Angels, Brewers, and Red Sox have menacing presences suddenly looming over their shoulders, and eeny-meeny-miney-moe has landed on Arizona in the West . . . for now. That the Mets are fidgeting in their first-place boots right now isn't all that unsettling or surprising.
Nor is our quest to find something to latch onto. Feels like there's a battle coming, and we just want to know what we've got on our side. We want a sign, or a moment, or a mantra, or . . . something. We've got the tuna, celery, and horseradish, but we're searching in the fridge for the mayo to hold it all together.
Say what you will about Kevin Millar's hijinks in '03 & '04, but his goofy rally cries weren't just fun for the fans, they were an indication that the players, not just the fans, wanted to band together and take the wild ride. The Mets shaved their heads in May; I hope there's some silly gesture of solidarity in September that will draw smiles, get our blood pumping, and show us we've been wanting to see.
A wise man once said, "At the end of every hard earned day, people find some reason to believe." We undoubtedly will; it's just won't be as ready-made as "Cowboy Up," and maybe that's a good thing.