Why baseball is awesome, part ten billion

Yesterday evening, in the ninth inning of a long game delayed over two hours by rain, nearly six hours after the Mets and Cardinals were set to start playing, with the long-since mathematically eliminated Mets losing by two runs, Ruben Tejada worked the count full after falling into an 0-2 hole to Fernando Salas with the bases loaded and one out.

Tejada smacked Salas’ next pitch, a fastball, into left field and just beyond the reach of Shane Robinson. Two Mets scored, tying the game. On the Metro-North train, I involuntarily and very audibly whooped.

Around this time of year — seemingly every year now — people ask me why I keep tuning in to every Mets game. The team is essentially done, “folded up” even by its own manager’s account. Several of the club’s most entertaining and promising young players are injured. There are more important games being played elsewhere.

Am I watching in hopes of seeing the club’s first no-hitter? Jose Reyes’ pursuit of the batting title? At-bats for Val Pascucci? Home runs by Lucas Duda?

No. Wait, actually: Yes, but only insomuch as all those things represent aspects of baseball. Awesome, awesome baseball.

I laugh and tell people I can’t pull myself away, but it’s not quite that. I could easily have entertained myself last night watching the season premieres of NBC’s excellent Thursday night sitcoms instead of a few innings each of the Blue Jays and Angels’ marathon and the Rays’ shellacking of Yankee pitching.

I didn’t because I know my TiVo will keep those shows for a drowsier time. By next week there’ll be much less baseball and no Mets baseball whatsoever. In a little over a month, Major League Baseball will crown its champion and then there’ll be no sniff of on-field action until March.

So I keep tuning in, because sometimes the Mets come back from four runs down in the ninth inning to beat an actual playoff contender. And though wins for the Mets don’t really mean a damn thing at this point, they can apparently still be exciting enough to make me yell out in a crowded train car.

It’s not something I need to justify. Baseball rules.

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