By Mike Steffanos
Game 126: Mets 7 - Braves 3
Billy Wagner isn't coming back anytime soon. Maybe not at all. Every ninth inning that the Mets manage to hold a lead going into will be an adventure.
As I mentioned yesterday, I have accepted the above facts after having moved through the anger, denial and bargaining stages. It doesn't make me happy, but I don't believe that I'm as fatalistic as many of my fellow Mets fans and most of what I'm reading in the papers.
I guess I look at it this way: last year the Mets were supposed to win, had everything in place (including their closer and a late 7-game lead) to win, but didn't win. The year before, after El Duque went down before the first playoff series, the Mets were supposed to go quietly. Instead, they were within a game of the Series.
Any conventional wisdom was that their starting pitching would let them down in that NLCS. Instead, it was the hitting and bullpen. Baseball can often defy logic. I hope it does again, because my logic keeps dashing down my hopes for October baseball. I can only take it one game at a time now, which for some odd reason I actually find comforting.
For one night it was nice to see the other guy's 'pen give it up. Especially after watching the Mets spend the second through sixth inning making Jo Jo Reyes look like Koufax. In one inning, gloom lifted and the world seemed right again. Scott Schoeneweis even managed to contribute a rare drama-free ninth.
Thirty-six games to go. The cavalry is nowhere to be found. If the Mets do it, they'll have to do it with the guys who are already here. Conventional wisdom says they can't do it. My heart hopes they can. Thirty-six to go.