For a very long time at Shea Stadium last night, nothing happened. Pitchers Tom Glavine and Jeff Weaver defied age and mediocrity, respectively, and went back and forth like Tom Seaver and Bob Gibson. Albert Pujols, the world’s best hitter (and, according to scientists, the fastest finger-tapper since Babe Ruth), struck out and lined out. The Mets took turns politely grounding out to second base. It started raining. Ugly Betty pulled at the remote from two channels up. You could feel the crowd getting more and more nervous the longer Glavine pitched — it was like watching the makeout scene in a horror movie.
Then, finally, something did happen, the first potentially defining moment of the Mets’ playoffs.
With a man on first, Carlos Beltran hit a fastball off the scoreboard in right field. Not only did it turn out to be the game-winning two-run homer (and the only runs scored all night), it marked a tantalizing possibility: the return of Beltran as superhero. For those who’ve just joined us, Beltran’s $119 million contract with the Mets is almost entirely the product of his miraculous performance the last time he was in the playoffs, when he hit .435 for the Astros in 2004. If he can somehow replicate that, soon we’ll all be wearing his face on our shirts and naming babies after him. It might even shift the center of gravity in New York sports: Suddenly, after two decades of shame, the scrappy Mets will have become virtuous overachieving winners who spend money wisely and smile (not entitled vultures who poach aging stars from weaker teams and self-destruct). It could fuel our municipal nostalgia for decades to come.
As Beltran rounded the bases, the giant apple emerged. Someone threw a beach ball on the field. “Axel F” played in background. Ba da dum da da dum dum. It felt like 1986 all over again.
— Sam Anderson