By Mike Steffanos
I didn't post yesterday because I was spending a long day in New York City with the Metropolitans. Thanks to Mother Nature, tickets I had with Lisa to see an afternoon game against the Braves turned into tickets for an old fashioned Twi-night double header.
One thing I've noticed about the Mets this year is that they have a tendency to look flat after being off, particularly for more than one day. That certainly proved to be the case against Mike Hampton yesterday. He wound up pitching a decent game against them, but only because they let him off the hook a couple of times.
I'll write more about the games later, but one thing I will admit is that I was extremely nervous about the second game. The Mets had lost the sort of game in the opener that had literally sucked the life out of the ballpark. They were sending a rookie to the mound for the nightcap after already dropping a game of their lead to the Phillies -- who have two more against a Brewers club that seems to be thinking more about October vacations than October baseball. The pressure was on.
Then, as they have done so often this season, the Mets found a way to rebound in the second game as Niese pitched as fine a game as I have ever seen from a relatively untested young pitcher with so much riding on it. This kid was dropping in 3-2 curveballs for strikes in key situations. He deserved every bit of the ovation he received after his performance.
You could drive yourself crazy with this club if you dwell on the might-have-beens. They could easily have swept this double header yesterday, but then again, they could have been swept. They just keep plugging along with what they have and I try to take it one game at a time.
I don't pay any attention to their magic number. I don't chew up my fingernails worrying about this bullpen or imagining in my mind what can go wrong. I don't go into any game against any opponent expecting a win or a loss. I just root for the Mets to pull it out some way, any way, and when it's over I look at the next game exactly the same way.
If they pull enough of them out, there will be October baseball at Shea. If not, there won't be. It's a brutally simple equation that makes sweating out the small stuff seem like a waste of time. And maybe that's exactly what a September pennant race should be all about.