Could a new day really be dawning for Mets fans?
Let’s take a look at a few facts:
- I recently signed up for the MLB package on Cox, a move that normally would send the Mets season immediately into the tank — and they promptly went out and won two out of three in Colorado (and could have swept if not for their manager’s indifference in waiving the white flag during the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader).
- The second (and series-clinching) of those wins came on a game-ending caught stealing. Anyone familiar with the Mets bullpen and its penchant for losing games in the most catastrophic ways imaginable, knows such an ending is something we haven’t been able to even consider possible since the days of Tug McGraw and Jerry Grote.
- In the first of Saturday’s seven-inning double-header games (and I’m sorry, but a seven-inning game is both a farce and an abomination, especially when my team ends up splitting or getting swept — and given the spate of cancellations the Mets have experienced here in April, fans may as well get used to this seven-inning bullshit), the Mets came from behind to save Jacob deGrom from what appeared to be a certain loss, with a combination of timely hitting and lock down relief pitching. We can all forgive deGrom if he broke down weeping in the clubhouse from the shock of such a reversal of fortune.
- As of midnight Sunday night, the Mets occupied sole possession of first place in the National League East.
As Yosemite Sam might ask, “What in tarnation is going on around here?”
But wait there’s more!
What began as a sunny, beach day in Southern California this past Sunday quickly morphed into what can only be described as The Perfect Sports Day. Here’s a quick timeline to provide context into the above statement, which when taken at face value might be viewed as a gross exaggeration:
*11:15 a.m. — a quick check of Yahoo!Sports informs me that the Mets game will be starting at the unusual time of 12:05 out here — something to do with the Mountain Time Zone (if time zones were the Marx Brothers, Mountain Time would definitely be Zeppo…).
*11:50 a.m. — I flip to channel 1681 (yes, that’s really a channel — so much for Mets games only ever being shown on WOR/Channel 9 back in the day), and much to my chagrin, I discover that the MLB package doesn’t include pre-game shows (not to mention I’m going to be forced to listen to the lame Rockies announcers for the second straight day — a HUGE downtick from Gary, Keith and Ron doing the Mets games).
*11:51 a.m. — to kill the time, I quickly scan the other MLB games in progress and see that the Yankees and Rays are on channel 1667. With fingers crossed I flip over and am immediately delighted to see that the Rays are once again in the process of taking the Yanks to the woodshed, leading 3-2 in the 7th inning (love those early east coast starts).
*11:53 a.m. — not wanting to jinx the Rays, I flip the channel to ESPN, the safe haven for channel surfers looking to regroup before formulating longer-term sports viewing strategies. There I am overjoyed to be greeted by Knicks vs Pelicans, in a close one with eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. And if that wasn’t enough good news, the great Doris Burke was doing color on the game! I put down the remote, confident I would not be changing channels until the outcome was decided.
*12:17 p.m. — Knicks point guard Derrick Rose, looking nothing like the Derrick Rose who was a disaster in his first stint as a Knick a couple of years back, drives the lane with the Knickerbockers down three and only a few seconds to play. He draws two defenders and deftly dishes to Reggie Bullock in the corner. Bullock drains the three-pointer and we have overtime — yes!
*12:47 p.m. — With the Knicks having successfully vanquished the Pelicans, stomping New Orleans by ten in the extra period for their sixth consecutive win (SIX IN A ROW — THE KNICKS??), I return to channel 1681, where the Mets are out to an early 2-0 lead over the Rockies. Mets starting pitcher Marcus Stroman, looking nothing like the Marcus Stroman who was barely pedestrian in his 2019 cameo with the Mets before completely spitting the bit on the entire 2020 season, is in the process of baffling the Rockies bats while spinning his second consecutive gem of a start.
*1:43 p.m. — I check Yahoo!Sports again and see that the Yankees have officially been swept — at home — by the Rays, marking their fifth consecutive defeat. This sweep leaves them at 5-10 on the season, good for the worst record in the entire American League (I would subsequently learn that never before in the history of planet earth had the Knicks experienced a five-game winning streak at the same time the Yankees were experiencing a five-game losing streak — this is like cats mating with dogs, or, you know, something really unlikely…) and second-worst in all of Major League Baseball. There is much rejoicing.
*2:17 p.m. — I reluctantly have to leave my post on the couch for a pre-planned family beach jaunt. The Rockies have tightened things to 2-1 in the seventh, and Stroman is beginning to show signs of tiring. I assume as I leave the house that Mets Manager Luis Rojas (I still say Rojas looks way over his head much of the time, but we are in first place, so I’ll swallow my tongue on that topic — for now) will turn to his pen for the latest in a series of high wire acts designed to torture the Mets fan base and ensure another season of missing the playoffs.
*3:21 p.m. — through a confluence of positive vibes and good fortune I get a smidgen of cell service at the beach, just long enough for me to make out the sight of a video airing on InstaGram showing Mets catcher James McCann throwing a runner out attempting to steal second. It appears the play may have ended the game, but I lose my cell signal before I can be sure.
*4:11 p.m. — back at street level, my cell service returns and I am able to see the video (multiple times) and confirm via my trusty Yahoo!Sports app that the Mets indeed did hold the 2-1 lead and win the rubber match of the series in Colorado. On a game-ending caught stealing no less! There is more rejoicing.
So to recap. We’ve got high 80’s temps in Southern Cal and a glorious, April beach day. As a backdrop to that, we’ve got the Knicks on national television, coming from behind to win an OT thriller for their fifth consecutive victory. And somehow the Knicks’ success is being built on a foundation of discipline and tenacious defense, with mostly the same group of guys that didn’t defend a lick or seem to care only a year ago. Cue The Garden’s organ and those deafening chants of “DEE-FENSE.”
Add to that the Evil Empire getting punched in the face (for the second season in a row) by the small market Rays, who, last time I checked, lost all of their best pitchers in the offseason. Sure it’s only April, but the Bronx Bombers in the cellar with a .333 winning percentage? Yeah, cartwheel time!
And to all that we attach the ultimate exclamation point. A Mets victory on the road, where our skipper didn’t over-manage us out of a late game lead, actually allowing his starter go eight innings. And when our fragile-as-an-eggshell closer put the tying run on base in the ninth? We send Mets fans to their Happy Recap with a walk-off caught stealing — our new, free agent catcher doing the throwing, and our new, superstar shortstop applying the tag.
Surely our new, billionaire owner was smiling.
Perfect sports day? Youbetcha…