It's always weird to watch a four-game series against a team that isn't in the division. At some point, we'll have to have to form an opinion on Jordany Valdespin. Can you imagine such a thing? It's a bleak, dystopian future. But that's where we'll be after four games against the Mets. Four games against the Mets. The Mets.
Who used to be good. At least, they were one of those surprising teams that was unexpectedly interesting early in the season. The Pirates and Orioles got all of the early press, and the A's are the darling right now, but the Mets were right there with all of them for a while. R.A. Dickey was having a historic run of success. David Wright was playing like the kind of major-market star who should lead the world in All-Star votes. Everything was coming up Mets at some point. At the beginning of July, they were 2.5 out in the NL East. That was, like, four weeks ago.
Since then: 6-17. Just a brutal stretch, and now the rest of the league is rifling through their stuff and asking if they're going to use that partially chewed Scott Hairston. So it goes. Hey, it could be worse. They could have hung around first place until August and traded their best prospect for a rental before falling out of the race. Better to get the debacles out of the way early before you do something stupid. I can't even imagine what that'd be like.
I'm not interested in the travails of the New York Mets, though. I'm still annoyed at Darryl Hamilton for stabbing us in the back in 2000, and the constant Zack Wheeler feting by Mets fans still takes me to a dark place. But the only thing I care about for this Mets series is the reception that Andres Torres gets.
My idea: Everyone pretends like nothing's up. The PA announcer introduces Torres. There are some scattered rounds of applause. Nothing big.
And then an elephant appears from behind the center-field wall.
It's one of those sultan-carrying elephants -- a powerful, lumbering pachyderm with a golden … hell, I don't know what they call those things. You know, the things that look like a gazebo on the elephant's back? The ones that sultans ride. Yeah, those. One of those comes out from center field, and right as Torres is thinking, oh no we're all going to die what with the elephant charging us, everyone breaks into applause and cheers and displays of affection and tears and the scoreboard flashes "WE LOVE YOU ANDRES" and trumpets play and confetti falls. Torres gets on the back of the elephant and does a few laps around the park. People run bouquets of roses up to him and throw them in to the sultan-gazebo thing. Men and women hold their children atop their shoulders. You saw Andres Torres, they'll tell the children one day. You saw him come back. You were there. When it's finally time for him to take his at-bat, the crowd is still just as loud as they were during the celebration.
That's what should happen.
What will happen, though, is a nice round of applause. If you're there, I beg of you, yell louder. Embarrass yourself a bit. Goad the person sitting next to you into cheering just a little bit louder. Cheer until it becomes awkward and uncomfortable for you. Andres Torres is playing his first game back at AT&T Park. This is important. He should step out of the box at least once. Twice would be better. He should cry. That's the goal of the ovation. Make him choke up.
Right now, there's a Mets fan wondering what in the hell this is all about. How can Giants fans care about Andres Torres so danged much? I want hundreds of thousands of Mets fans to wonder that same thing when watching the game on TV. We don't get their affection for Edgardo Alfonzo; they shouldn't get our affection for Torres. That's how fandom is supposed to work. And Torres is our guy.
That's the idea, anyway. Maybe I'm taking it too far. But I've had this series circled ever since the Torres trade. This is a way to show respect for the unlikeliest part of the Giants' World Series run. The whole freaking thing was unlikely. But Torres was the most unlikely. In a city that watched Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Barry Bonds, and Will Clark come and go without a championship, it wouldn't have happened without the stars aligning for Torres.
Other than the obvious -- you know, scoring more runs than the Mets in each game over the next four days -- the reception for Torres is the only thing I care about.
Hitter to Watch
Andres Torres is on the Mets now. You should cheer for him.
Pitcher to Watch
Not R.A. Dickey, suckers! That's all I care about. I enjoy watching Dickey pitch. I was not looking forward to him reducing the Giants to a thick, flavorless au jus.
I'll get overly sentimental about Andres Torres. Maybe even in a Mets/Giants preview.