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May 21, 2007

When Adjectives Hold Hands in the Desert

Baseball writers are notorious for overly dramatic writing. Within a genre that routinely attributes mythic qualities to even the most routine 6-4-3 double plays, Marty Noble, beat writer for Mets.com, stands out for audacity and entertainment value. As Noble himself might write, this is a man who never met a cliché he didn't like. He recaps Mets games like a WWII veteran recapping the Battle of the Bulge. The Mets did not move into first place, they reclaimed it. Jose Reyes is "electrically charged danger" on the base paths, while a losing rookie pitcher nobly "throws himself on the sword." His opening lines are consistently histrionic, and his signature move is a snippy one-liner at the end. Below are a few of Gelf's favorite Noblisms from the 2007 season.

Noble kicks off the season with this gem of a recap from Opening Day:

Connect them if you choose. Draw a line from October to April if you must. See the Mets' victory against the Cardinals on Sunday night through the prism of the National League Championship Series, as the first phase of some season-long effort to avenge the events of the fall. It wasn't that at all, though. Opening Night '07 wasn't about getting even—that ship has sailed. It was about getting going. It wasn't revenge, it was renewal. It was success, and that was reward.

There are a few notable Noble moments here. The revenge storyline and use of prisms are a nice touch, but the success-reward connection would set the tone for the rest of the season.
Closing line: "Their .630 Opening Day percentage is the best in the game.
'What about second games?' Randolph wanted to know."

May 6th, 2007 Mets 6 Diamondbacks 2

The inexplicable and unpredictable joined hands in the desert Saturday night when the Mets engaged the Diamondbacks for the third time in three nights. The result was the improbable—yet another Mets victory in the Snake Pit, one fueled, in large part, by the contributions of Jorge Sosa…An understudy for an understudy, Sosa shut down the Diamondbacks for six innings and emerged as the winning pitcher in the Mets' fourth straight victory.

When adjectives are holding hands in the desert, there must be a baseball writer in Arizona.
Closing line: "[Randolph said] 'I'm not surprised by [Sosa's performance].'
But he hadn't predicted it either."

May 14th, 2007 Mets 5 Cubs 4

Jose Reyes has an uncanny knack for chaos.
It can strike at any time, his electrically-charged game injecting danger into even the safest of situations. And it can work in so many ways, that energy, igniting a team and a crowd while unsettling anyone who dares oppose it.
So it was on Monday, when Reyes sparked a game-winning rally out of nowhere, tossing lightning bolts of action into a night that seemed destined for the dull and mundane. And what Reyes started, Carlos Delgado finished, drawing a bases-loaded walk to give the Mets a dramatic 5-4 walkoff victory.
Wuertz wisely wanted even more of an edge against Reyes, as futile as that may seem. So he threw to first. Then again. And again. It was a comical game of cat and mouse, more frustrating than functional, as it did nothing to halt the shortstop's intentions. Finally Wuertz threw home on a pitchout, and Reyes was gone.

Jose Reyes, an unstoppable base-stealing, crowd-igniting machine. The only baseball cliché missing here is Reyes' ability to shut the light switch and be in bed before the room is dark.
Closing line: " 'It was over my head,' Delgado laughed of the game-ending pitch. 'I've been known to swing at those.' "

May 19th, 2007 Mets 10 Yankees 7

In the home clubhouse, afterglow and postgame delight. In the other clubhouse, subdued aftermath and postmortem analysis. The difference on the field between the Mets and the Yankees in two games during Interleague Play has been stark. The difference in their postgame posture is even more dramatic.
The Yankees are searching and denying and probably fretting. The Mets are laughing—at themselves, mostly—and enjoying all that the merry month of May has provided them.
So it was early Saturday evening after a strange and strained Interleague Play encounter in which this city's baseball teams continued to move in opposite directions.

This has been Gelf's favorite of Noble's game recaps so far. Postmortems, the merry month of May and the epic "so it was," make it particularly enjoyable. There is also the way he captured an off-target throw by Billy Wagner in the ninth:
Trailing, 10-6, with one out in the ninth, the Yankees had Alex Rodriguez on third base and Jorge Posada on first after hits off Wagner. Bobby Abreu hit a ball back at the Mets closer, all 5-foot-9 of him. Wagner jumped, turned, slipped, twisted, turned and finally threw home, of all places. His throw was wide and flew past Paul Lo Duca as the catcher reached for it. The Yankees had a run, runners on first and third and still two more outs before their fifth defeat in six games would be complete.
Wagner achieved those outs, striking out Robinson Cano and Josh Phelps and sending most of the remnants of another sellout crowd home happy and hoarse. But the play that preceded the outs was fine fodder for clubhouse fun, the kind that only winning teams can share.

This is the same play as reported by the Associated Press:

Billy Wagner took over in the ninth and made an ill-advised throw home that helped the Yankees pull to 10-7. With the tying run at the plate, he struck out Cano and Phelps to end it.

Closing line: "Only laughs. It's good to be in first place."

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