Okay, the Mets stunk it up in extra innings Friday night. Not sure Collins should have gone back to Carlos Torres one night later, but if they keep playing extra innings, Torres will keep being available.
Laura Vecsey was ranting about Cespedes' apparent loaf after the inside-the-park HR. Blessedly, I missed it. I had switched to a swath of "Bird Man," which I had never seen. Michael Keaton. The Mets. You are seeing a pattern here?
Mets fans still have Thursday night, and, as Gary Cohen blurted on the tube, "The play of the year!"
Carlos Torres of the Mets is one of those unsung players that exist on every post-season team – the guys who helped get their teams there.
The Mets of 1969 had pitchers named Calvin Koonce and Don Cardwell. The Mets of 1986 had Rick Aguilera and Randy Niemann, among others.
Amidst this current bizarre spontaneous combustion sparked by the salary-dump arrival, Yoenis Cespedes, there are so many disparate elements. Consider Carlos Torres, tall and lanky, out of Kansas State and San Jose State, who does his job, impassively, maturely.
Torres is rarely interviewed. When he is, he comes off, as Casey Stengel used to say about Wakefield and Anderson and Altman, “a university man.”
Torres has not been as good this year as last year. So it goes. But his exploits Thursday night will always be remembered by hard-core fans. Good grief, I think I have become one.
In the 10th inning Thursday, the first batter Torres faced whacked a grounder off his soccer-style boot and bolted toward first. Daniel Murphy scrambled to recover the ball wide of first and violated the Mets’ own Murphy’s Law: Don’t Improvise, Murph. He flipped the ball sideways, blind, toward first base, classic Murphy, hoping Torres would get there. Like a greyhound, Torres sprinted to the base, caught the ball, and Jeff Francoeur nudged him aside, to make sure not to maim him, I think. First out.
Three innings later, Torres dribbled a ball to deep short and the shortstop messed it up, as Torres again sprinted to first – for his first hit and, as far as I can tell, his first trip to the bases since 2013.
Torres took a lead and dove back to first like a professional pinch-runner, as the Mets’ radio guys pointed out. Then he toured the bases, bolting home on Murphy’s double for the go-ahead run. The Mets scored four runs and Jeurys Familia finished up.
No matter what happens from now on, Mets fans will always remember Torres, this long, lean, pitcher playing the game the way it used to be played, before the gimmick of the designated hitter, by pitchers like Ruth and Ferrell, Gibson and Newcombe, Drysdale and Guidry. Torres hit, in a fashion. He ran. He fielded. He pitched. He was an athlete. National League ball. Real baseball.
In this strange unexpected season, another memory.
(Portrait of a professional long man, after pitching second through fifth innings, 2014.)
"Among the things that have long fascinated people about Jesus and explain his enduring appeal is his method of dialogue and teaching. "He asked a lot of questions and told a lot of stories in the form of parables. In fact, parables form about a third of Jesus’ recorded teachings. The Gospels were written decades after he died, so his questions and parables clearly left a deep impression on those who bore testimony to him....
"Some of Jesus’ questions were rhetorical; others were meant to challenge or even provoke. In some cases, Jesus used questions to parry attacks by religious authorities who set traps for him. In others, he used questions to enter more fully into the lives of others and to help people look at the state of their hearts. He asked people about their fears and their faith. Jesus used questions to free a woman caught in adultery from condemnation and to inquire whether people considered him to be the Messiah. He probed deeply into questions not many had asked before him, like “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
---(Peter Wehner, long-time White House consultant and writer, in the NYT last week about Jesus Christ’s method of teaching by asking questions.)
"Would that I could mention all the illuminating details in this biography, for example, why Wells praised Black Americans so highly, saying, 'I took a mighty liking to these gentle, human, dark-skinned people,' and 'Whatever America has to show in heroic living today, I doubt if she can show anything finer than the quality of the resolve, the steadfast efforts hundreds of black and colored men are making today to live blamelessly, honorably and patiently, getting by themselves what scraps of refinement, beauty and learning they may, keeping their hold on a civilization they are grudged and denied.''
-- "How H.G. Wells Predicted the 20th Century," Charles Johnson, NYT Book Review, Nov. 19, 2021. ***".
...the monsters arrive."
"They come in a deafening, surging swarm, blasting from lawn to lawn and filling the air with the stench of gasoline and death. I would call them mechanical locusts, descending upon every patch of gold in the neighborhood the way the grasshoppers of old would arrive, in numbers so great they darkened the sky, to lay bare a cornfield in minutes. But that comparison is unfair to locusts.
"Grasshoppers belong here. Gasoline-powered leaf blowers are invaders, the most maddening of all the maddening, environment-destroying tools of the American lawn-care industry."
---The great Margaret Renkl, from Nashville, one of my favorite NYT bylines, Oct. 26, 2021.
(She describes our Long Island enclave to every decibel, every stink.)