Friday, August 13, 2010

A Last Chance Saloon

Mets Face Phillies In Latest Must-Win Situation

Although each late reaction by Jose Reyes on a groundball, each sidearmed and errant throw by David Wright at third, each three-pitch strikeout by Jeff Franceour and every last inscrutable and self-contradictory pitching move by Jerry Manuel kills a little bit more of the part of me that loved baseball so very much in the summers of 2005 and 2006, the Mets find themselves, largely thanks to the understated dominance of Johan Santana in last night's four-hit shutout of Colorado, with another chance to suck me back into their 2010 season. I'm not sure if that's quite the same as actually getting back into the pennant race. But for my television viewing habits it's about the same. And since I could be duped into buying more tickets, I'd imagine it's all the same to ownership as well.

Oh, and did I mention the jailing of a player for third-degree assault in the bowels of our home ballpark as one of the occurrences that has sapped some of my rooting spirit? No? Well, that too. Yet, the Mets are a .500 team with nearly two months to play in the regular season. For all the embarrassment and infamy they may have heaped upon themselves they could still re-write the end of this season, changing it from traditional horror a la Friday the 13th to horror-comedy with a happy ending, like Shaun of the Dead. They could also, perhaps more predictably, opt for straight up screwball comedy. Although, I must admit that I don't remember Clark Gable's character slamming the father of Claudette Colbert's character into a wall in It Happened One Night.

The Mets trail the Braves by 9 games heading into today's action. They trail Philly by 7 games. The Braves just lost Chipper Jones and there are plenty of games left against the Phillies, who have yet to score a run at Citi Field in 2010. Our local National League nine is not as out of the NL East race as AM talk radio and most of my fellow fans would say I gotta believe. With the Fightins in town for three in Queens and visits to the woeful Astros and Pirates on tap after that, it's not entirely impossible that the Mets find themselves back from the dead in a little over a week. And after next weekend's 3-game series at Houston, the Mets get the Marlins and Astros (again) at home for three games apiece.

If R.A. Dickey, whoever starts on Saturday and whomever takes the hill on Sunday can get the Mets 2 wins in 3 tries against the Philles then they will have four series against teams not likely for October. It may be no coincidence that this stretch begins on Friday the 13th. Like Jason Voorhees, perhaps the 2010 Mets could prove impervious to fire, shooting, stabbing and in-laws. Of course, that could just mean we're in for a sequel of collapses past and paster. Either way, this is the Mets latest last chance. Perhaps their last last chance. But perhaps not. The National League offers ample time to locate one's bootstraps and begin pulling. And, it seems like nearly every year someone makes a late-season charge to get into the postseason. Of course, it may just seems like that to a Mets fan because usually our team is the one being overtaken by such charges.

Back when frontiers involved sage brush and scoundrels with scars running across their faces instead of space and syndicated television, the were numerous roadhouses and bars with "last chance" worked into the name. The phrase could refer to the fact that there wasn't another whiskeying hole or watering hole or much of anything for a long ways or that travelers who kept on keeping on the trail where about to enter a dry township or county. These sorts of places proliferated across the country. Just like a National League pennant race in the 2000s, there were last chances around every bend in the road. Beginning with these three home games against the Phillies, the Mets are bellied up to the bar at their own Last Chance Saloon. The drinks are cheap. The water is warm. And the beer ain't much better off. But if they don't drink their fill now it might not be until next April that they get a chance to play a meaningful game. The first round is on R.A., a fella who seems like he might have fit in just fine in Caldwell, Kansas in the late 1800s.

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