Some time ago I was given a book to read by a colleague.  The book is titled A Fan’s Notes, and its author, Frederick Exley, does a remarkable job of barely speaking about sport in the two-hundred seventy pages I’ve read thus far.  (I write like a fiend, work a full-time job, and watch baseball.  Time rarely presents itself for reading anything but the paper while cooking or in the W.C.) 

Really, the book is a memoir, detailing the author’s institutionalization during the mid and late ’50s.  Conformity issues.  I don’t imagine being lent the book was meant to send a message of any sort.

When Exley does speak of sport, he speaks of the Frank Gifford New York football Giants.  He speaks of getting far too fired up about them, about clapping grown men repeatedly on the back, on jumping and screaming and praying and slapping his hand on the bar.

That was me yesterday afternoon.  I became the living embodiment (Mistah Exley–he dead) of Frederick Exley.  I was in a safe place to be such a Loopy Lou–Pacific Standard on Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn–but goddamn.  I need to calm down.

Others, however, seemed to feel differently, because I put on quite a show during the top of the ninth:

Alex Cora singled off Manny Acosta.  I clapped hard and whacked my knuckle against my wedding ring, letting out a sharp, “Nnnneeeeowwww!” which amused everyone and no one at once.  Angel Berroa hit for Brian Stokes and sacrificed to get Cora to second.  I stood on the support rungs of my stool and beat the bar with my fist.  Chuckles abounded.  The small crowd there that afternoon had decided it would be best to laugh at me than wait so they could laugh with me.  There is little to laugh about when watching the Mets these days–at least with anything more than gallows humor.

When Pagan ripped that ball past Martin Prado and out to right, I had fully intended to punch the air in excitement. 

However, my face got in the way.

I didn’t stop screaming, “Go, go, go!” though I felt a sharp pain in my cheekbone and my glasses were now nowhere to be found.  Turned out that in the excitement and scoring of the insurance run, I’d punched them off my face with such ferocity that they flew off and behind my head, dropping to the floor behind me and causing one of the lenses to pop out of its half-wire frame.  I also sliced the top of my right index finger.  I could photograph this, but I think I’m going to pass.  Respectfully.

When I gathered myself in time for the next batter–the eyewear being crucial in actually SEEING what’s onscreen–I had a flashback to the old “poking the eyes” bit that the Stooges pulled.  I didn’t think my day would get wackier.  Then Castillo executed the best suicide squeeze I’ve seen in my admittedly limited history of witnessing suicide squeezes.  I can count them on one now scarred hand.

As Acosta prepared for David Wright, I muttered a barely audible, “Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.”

**

Speaking of David Wright: the Braves seemed to have it all worked out for him yesterday.  Walk the poor *bugger.  Here’s how that strategy panned out (ordered by plate appearance):

  1. top of first, two out, 0-0: intentionally walked; Chowdah grounds out.
  2. top of fourth, no one out, 0-0: strikeout.  Given that he led off the inning, it was an acceptable deviation from the plan.
  3. top of sixth, one out, Castillo on second, 0-0: intentionally walked.  Chowdah reaches on an infield single to load the bases.  Jeremy Reed walks (unintentionally), scoring the lead run.  Wright would then score on a Santos sacrifice.
  4. top of eighth, no one out, 2-0: Wright singles, then steals.  Nothing really comes of the inning; he’s stranded at third.
  5. top of ninth, two out, Murphy on second after a walk and a steal: intentionally walked.  Chowdah would then get Murphy in on an RBI-single.

I don’t believe the strategy of intentionally walking David Wright, even given the state of the team at present, will bear much fruit.  Or, if it’s to be done, perhaps best to do so only if there are outs and no one on.

The Mets may be bloodied and bruised, and jokes abound about their not-ready-for-prime time players.  But don’t treat them like they absolutely don’t know what they’re doing.

**

Sheffield left Friday with a cramp.  Now it’s a tweaked hamstring.  Sure it is.

*I had a different “b” word in place there, but apparently the MLB censor drones believe it unfit for mass consumption.  Very well.  Lame.  But very well.

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