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.)
“They may hate the cultural context they now find themselves teaching in, but they love their work. The Achilles’ heel of schoolteachers, one all too easily exploited by politicians, is that they love their students.”
(One of the best reads in the NYT these days is Margaret Renkl, in Nashville. In her latest post, Renkl describes the dedicated core of “born teachers” – the majority, she submits.)
(From Madeleine Albright in one of her final interviews in February):
“Putin is small and pale,” I wrote, “so cold as to be almost reptilian.” He claimed to understand why the Berlin Wall had to fall but had not expected the whole Soviet Union to collapse. “Putin is embarrassed by what happened to his country and determined to restore its greatness.” – Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, recalling her first meeting with the relatively unknown Vladimir Putin in 2000. – The New York Times, Feb. 23, 2022.