Luis Castillo’s on first, Angel Pagan’s on second, and Jose Reyes hits a pop-up to third.
The infield fly rule is called, but Chipper Jones is napping, wakes up, and then drops the ball—and all hell breaks loose for the Braves.
That’s right—all hell breaks loose for the Braves, not the Mets.
Every infielder on the Braves is pointing to first base, running to first base, throwing the ball to first base, or tagging Reyes at first base, when...there’s no play at first base.
Pagan (with Chip Hale's help) scores from second on what should have been a routine pop-out. It’s actually the Mets who do the smart thing and the opposition who are the blundering boobs.
Major leaguers who don’t know the rules of the game? And they don’t play for the Mets? Are things turning around for the Amazin’s? Is the sun finally coming out for them?
Letting in a run on an infield fly rule is pretty much the only wrong-headed thing the Mets didn’t do last year. Are the opposing teams turning into the 2009 Mets, while this year’s version starts to catch some breaks?
The Braves couldn’t even perform the simple task of tagging up on a sacrifice fly this weekend, and when the Cubs were in town last week, they looked like they’d rather be doing anything else in the world but playing baseball. The Mets even caught a break with the weather last night, picking up a rain-shortened win, which saved their bullpen.
The team’s pitching has been surprisingly good, their defense solid, and while their hitting hasn’t taken the world by storm, it’s at least been timely and just enough to win games lately. Even the scatterbrained Pagan is looking like a base-running genius, and when an injured player goes down, he’s replaced by phenom Ike Davis instead of a Wilson Valdez (sorry, Wilson).
And what can you say about Mike Pelfrey? After spending 2009 looking like Danny DeVito in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest every start, the Mets' best young pitcher has a major league-leading 0.69 ERA, sports a 4-0 record (with a save), and is working on a 24-inning shutout streak so far this season.
Not everything is perfect for the Mets—their starting pitchers need to go longer in games or the team’s bullpen will die of exhaustion by June, and David Wright is twisting himself into a pretzel at the plate just trying to put the ball in play, but after their brutal start the Mets are actually looking like a pretty good team.
Okay, maybe I’m getting too excited and wide-eyed, just like when young Dewey Cox’s brother Nate said something along the lines of, “This is going to be the greatest day ever—I can’t see how anything bad can happen today” right before he was cut in half by a machete, and maybe the Mets will revert to “the same old Mets,” but it’s also possible they can actually play solid baseball with good pitching, above-average defense, and timely hitting—just like a fundamentally sound professional team should.
I’ll keep an eye out for that machete, just in case, but I’ll also keep my fingers crossed that this year the opposition will be the team that suffers from self-inflicted misfortune, while the Mets are the smart team that takes advantage of it.