Jesse Jarnow

an attempt to remain philosophical in the wake of the mets’ 4-2 loss to the cardinals (nlcs, no. 5)

For fans, October is an exciting time of year, for the majority of ballplayers — which is to say, all those who didn’t make the playoffs — it must be disconcerting. The sportswire is filled with the dispensing of managers, the scouting of coaches to fill their positions. For players — nomads, mostly, during the summer months — it is about moving. No matter what the Mets’ fate might be over the next few days, and no matter how he pitches tomorrow night, John Maine will soon be vacating the room in the Ramada Inn off the Grand Central Parkway where he’s been living, headed for that black hole known as the off-season.

Watching these games, sometimes, all the fancy fonts and and modern uniforms and tailored facial hair fall from view, and the face in the batter’s box could be peering from a daguerreotype in a Ken Burns documentary or a sun-bleached ’70s Topps card, all gauzy technicolor. The face becomes, for a moment, somehow classic. Tonight, that face belonged to the Cardinals’ runt of a leadoff hitter, David Eckstein, who nabbed a few near-hits during the Mets’ first at bat, and later took a pitch hard on his fingertips. He seemed like a ghost already, someone I’ll forget after the post-season. In my memory, his features will join my blurry gallery of ballplayers, an index like a massive WPA mural.