A Microcosm of the Season

That thirteen-inning game that opened the series in Milwaukee was very long and very exciting.

It was played between two talented, yet flawed teams that have held on to leads in their divisions for almost two-thirds of the season, yet still are not really sure of themselves.
There was brilliant defense and there were mistakes.  There was clutch hitting and there were too many men left on base.  There was superb pitching and there were some crucial moments of lousy pitching.

The Mets could easily have won it.  The Brewers could easily have lost it.  It was essentially a draw, but I like how there are no draws in baseball. 

Since the All-Star break, the Mets had a West Coast road trip against two very good teams.  They took four out of seven and we were happy.  Then they had a homestand against two not very good teams.  They took four out of seven and we were not as happy.  The 2007 Mets, it seems, are a four out of seven team.  If you take four out of seven and play 162 games, you will win 92 or 93 games.  Barring any major surprises, that’s just about exactly where the Mets are going to end up.  That’s good, isn’t it? 

Yeah.  I guess.  Some years you’ll win the pennant with that.  Some years you’ll come in second.

Will they go far in the postseason?  I think that they are as likely to win each series in the postseason as they were likely to win last night’s game.  What’s the minimum level you need to play at to win a League Championship Series or a World Series?  Four out of seven.  That’s enough to win the whole thing.  If you win three out of seven, you lose the whole thing.  And as you know, there’s hardly any difference between winning four games and winning three.

The Mets this year are on the edge between triumph and no triumph.  They’ll have a good season.   And they’ll win things by a hair or they’ll lose things by a hair.   

And how we remember this season will depend completely on which side of the very thin line we end up.  Just like last night’s game.  If you spent four hours watching it, as I did, you think of it as basically four bad hours.  If they had pulled it out, as they might have several times, you’d think of it as four good hours. 

The jury is out on the six or seven months of the 2007 season.  The decision will come down to a few might-have-been-otherwise events that will happen around two months from now.  We in the present are held hostage to those events in the future.  We don’t know if we’re living through what we will remember as a good season or a bad season.  We know that this is a good team, but not a great team.  We’re balancing on the edge of something we can’t stay on. 

I don’t expect us to be happy over the next three months.  There’s going to be a whole lot of kvetching.  I doubt that we’re going to start feeling invincible.  There’s no reason why we should.  But you know what?  Great teams are in the same place.  But they have even more to fear if they lose.  The 1954 Cleveland Indians were 111-43 and they got swept in the Series.  The 1986 Mets, as you know, came unbelievably close to not winning the pennant or the Series.  We don’t have as much to fear as the 1954 Indians or the 1986 Mets.  We don’t have a record of triumph that can be wrecked and soiled at the last minute.  If we lost anything from this point forward, we would have a sense that we deserved it. 

So okay.   Here’s what I have to say.  This season has been just like that thirteen inning game.  The rest of the season is going to be just like that thirteen inning game.  It may or may not turn out differently.  But it will be like it.  It will be close.  I think it will be long.  And it will probably be very exciting.

P.S. I want to apologize to everyone who has ordered my book from Amazon and not gotten it yet and I also want to apologize to people who want to order it from Barnes and Noble and are getting the message that they are out of stock.  I keep being told that new books will be in stock at both places very soon.  I am upset that it is taking so long, for no reason that I can figure out or that anyone is telling me.  Please be patient.  I’ll keep you posted as I hear anything.



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