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What a Fool Believes

Mike SteffanosWednesday, August 31, 2005
By Mike Steffanos

Mets 6 - Phillies 4

I'm so skeptical. I love the Mets, but I never allow myself to get unrealistic about their chances. If anything, I'm probably a little too much of a pessimist - it's a self-defense mechanism beaten into my psyche by too many bad teams, bad seasons, bad management and bad players. Going into that last road trip to Arizona and San Francisco I felt comfortable, based on how this season has gone, that the Mets were going to quickly fade out of the playoff picture.

Then they finally learned how to take care of business. Arizona is a fairly bad team, but you had to be impressed with how the Mets jumped on those Diamondbacks and never let them up. That's what a real contender does. I felt an unfamiliar sense of optimism that lasted right through the 2 losses in San Francisco. But the way they lost those 2 games, and a day off Monday to think about it, brought me back to my usual skepticism. And certainly the way last night's game started did nothing to change my mind.

Then something strange happened to me. When the game was still 4-1, I found myself abandoning my protective skepticism and just rooting for the Mets to come back. I won't take credit for any type of premonition or psychic vision. When you're down 4-2 in the 7th against the strength of Philly's bullpen, you understand that your team is likely to lose. But I didn't care. I was just living in the moment, enjoying my team fighting to remain in the race. That they actually came back and won that game made it just that much sweeter. Thank you, Ramone.

I hope that I can abandon all hard-hearted reason and hold onto this feeling for a while. It's the way a pennant race should be enjoyed. Wouldn't it be great if all of us Met fans can toss aside our individual agendas and biases for a while and just enjoy what is such a rare occurrence in Flushing. Trachsel, Zambrano, Matsui, Cairo, Looper... can't we all just get along and enjoy this?

Random thoughts

  • Nice to hear you again last night, Keith Hernandez. My only regret was that Ted Robinson was away covering tennis rather than Fran Healy. I'm sure tennis fans would love to hear a lob described as a can of corn...

  • When Looper struck out Rollins leading off the 9th, it was his first K since August 19. Not that Looper has ever been a strikeout stud, but he's definitely down in that stat this year. He has 25 Ks in 53 innings this year, and 11 of them have come in 5 of his 53 appearances.

    There's more than one way to skin a cat or save a game, my point in sharing this is that it's amazing that he saves as many games as he does with fairly unremarkable stuff. As I suffered through Benitez saving 2 games against us this weekend I couldn't help but wonder what you might have in a closer if you combined Benitez' arm with Looper's head and heart.

  • Speaking of Rollins in the 9th, is anyone else out there annoyed by players that strike out on a ball in the dirt, then just stand there and let the catcher tag them? Run it out to first, force them to make a throw to get you. Everyone does this now, and I find it inexcusable, especially in important games like last night's.

  • Finally, on Ugueth Urbina: I know a lot of Mets fans were disappointed when we didn't get this guy, and it's easy to jump on someone after a poor performance. Still, I'm glad we didn't give up a top prospect for this guy. He walks a lot of guys - 19 in 36.1 innings since coming to Philly. He pitches like a guy that doesn't really trust his stuff anymore. Do we really need another reliever like that?
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