Game 145 - Mets
Mets 4, Braves 3
Ah, technology -- and the idiots who try to use it. Last night was a curious progression of agitation, animation, and elation in my house's back corner den; the Mets and Braves were the nucleus of it all and had plenty to do with said progression, but it was more about how my ignorance framed the proceedings. The message that recently infiltrated one of our sister blogs for unrelated reasons is that following a sporting event, like life, is all about how you set your expectations. Think about it. (Not too hard.)
I didn't manage to cozy up to Gary, Keith, and Ronny's broadcast until close to 10:00 last night. I'd recorded the game (Dear God, bless Mommy and Daddy and Sister and TiVo and . . .), and figured the contest was well concluded -- well, I hoped it was well-concluded -- by then. But when I queued up the game, it looked as though it was still rolling along three-plus hours into it. Instinctively, I thought, "Hmmm... extra innings. Okay."
Now, why I would rush to that judgment stands in defiance of the lesson I thought I'd learned on this night, when presumed extra frames were instead a drubbing of the Metsies. And that thought crept into my mind. Oh, or it could be a pasting, and I'm hoping by the Mets this time. But with Smoltz vs. Maine, that didn't seem likely.
I began watching the game in Moderate Speed Mode. This is different than Super Speed Mode, when I essentially fast-forward through a game, only stopping to re-watch scoring plays. Super Speed Mode is reserved for when the family is in the car, waiting in the driveway and honking the horn, or perhaps when I know I watched the game over some beers the night prior but can't for the life of me recall what happened.
Moderate Speed Mode is something DVR rookies can't execute, a dexterous double-FF/pause that, if performed properly, gets you from the end of one pitch/play to the beginning of the next next without lag or overstep. Anybody can get through the commercials; the art is getting through an hour and a half of Brewers booth banter unscathed. I'm pleased to say that I'm no slouch at it, and I jetted through good commentary because I wanted to catch up to extra-inning action.
See, by now, those of you who saw the game or the highlights or even the score above know there were no extra innings last night. That's right. I'm sad to say that "user error" skewed my viewing of the game. Yes, even wily veterans make bone-headed gaffes along the way. But here's where it got interesting . . .
So by the seventh inning I was growing confident that the game wouldn't be another 17-7 bloodbath. (These weren't the Orioles, for Pete's sake.) Every time the Mets got multiple runners on I would envision a nine-run inning that would stave off the extras, but with the Mets up late, I simply knew the reality . . . our boys were going to blow another lead. It was just a matter of how, and who.
And so I went through which pitcher I thought might be the culprit. As Jorge Sosa closed out the seventh, I thought that I could've lived with him surrendering at least one. But he didn't. Then the Metmen tacked on another run, thanks to a Milledge triple/Reyes single. 3-1, and a more painful blown save in the works. Damn.
Enter Heilman, and as my surety grew that he was the guilty party, I lamented that fact, since he's been on the rise of late. Not perfect by any means, but on the rise. After two efficient outs, he walked Edgar Renteria on four pitches to bring Mark Teixeira to the plate. Indefensible, really. I had it pegged as a Teixeira homer, but he merely singled. Heilman out, Feliciano in. Had I not already "known" this game was in the 14th inning, I couldn't have been more unwavering in my belief that Feliciano would screw it up. One batter faced, one walk. Thanks for playing.
Feliciano out, Mota in. Reprise: Had I not already "known" this game was in the 14th inning, I couldn't have been more unwavering in my belief that Mota would screw it up. One batter faced, one single, two runs scored. Tie game. Lots of boos (and that's a phrase that sounds a whole lot better than it reads). Deep down I hoped that the Braves might plate another one so that a stirring comeback by the Mets would be in order. The lesson, as always, is that I am an idiot.
So when Beltran singled to open the bottom of the eighth, stole second, skillfully moved to third on a groundout, and scored on Shawn Green's single (by the way, Green is making a late and powerful case for postseason activation), I could only think, "Oh, no . . . Billy." The highlight of the game for the Mets, and it was a deflating moment for me. What a moron.
Enter Sandman (borrowed). Enter Wagner. Matt Diaz flied out to right on a ball I thought could be the one. After Martin Prado grounded out to second (and dropped the bat in a way that it bounced up and landed perfectly on its end -- baseball can be funny sometimes, and not just in the important stuff), I started to muse . . . wait, maybe I . . . wait . . . okay . . . maybe? It started to occur to me that certain recent changes to our programming might've altered things to where the little message doesn't pop up when the Extra Innings feed cuts off at game's end. In layman's terms . . . I am an imbecile.
Billy Wagner promptly induced a dribbler down the first base line, picked it up, did a confused twirl in a tweener state of "tag the bag?/tag the runner?", and made the play. Game over. In 9. I reveled more than I had a right to; for most, it was a hard-fought win, for me it was an Alcoa Fantastic Finish.
My own bumbling enhanced this game to a much more exciting level. In addition, there's dark comedy to be found in my knowing -- even when I didn't know -- that Feliciano & Mota were going to give it away. Of course, the bottom line is that the Mets won, the Phils were bludgeoned again, the lead sits at seven games and the magic number is 11 with 17 to play.
But once again, our expectations carve out our enjoyment quotient. Take a lesson. I know I will. (In remedial TiVo management.)