Big Pelf — 8 wins, a save and a beauty

I’m not inclined to say I’m proud of anyone other than my son, my wife, my sister, my folks, or my very best friends. I’m generally not inclined to say I’m proud of a ballplayer I only know through TV or from the cheap seats — not Graig Nettles from when I was a kid, not David Wells when I was a twentysomething in 1998, and not Big Mike Pelfrey as an adult.

That said, there’s something I particularly enjoy about watching fun, “eccentric” Pelfrey (to quote Faith and Fear in Flushing), and to see him in action thus far this season (8-1, 2.39 ERA this season, 8 K’s in last night’s win) certainly makes me happy as a fan. Could be my cranky nature that prevents me from calling it “pride,” could be that I’m a bit of a newbie. Long-time, long-suffering fans are certainly entitled to call it pride if that’s what they feel. Because of that, they shouldn’t be open to criticism from ego-bloated, Yankee-biased, bombastic sports talk radio hosts, no matter how influential. But I digress.

Maybe it’s Pelfrey’s somewhat goofy smile, which reminds me of a teenager thinking he got away with a night out past curfew, though he knows he really didn’t get away with anything, but he also knows his parents are going to let this one slide because he’s been getting good grades this semester (and also knows his parents might bank it for later use). Maybe it’s his sort-of beard. Maybe it’s how he’s forever licking his fingers and the way that drives my Dad crazy when he’s in Phil Rizzuto/Paulie Walnuts mode (to quote Pops: “This Pelfrey, he’s always licking his fingers. He’s going to wind up with a disease. Who knows what one of these players have?”).

I think what sealed it for me, though, was his lone career save, coming earlier in the year in that memorable 20-inning win in St. Louis. With Francisco Rodriguez blowing the save one inning earlier, Pelfrey stepped up and asked Jerry Manuel if he could take the mound. He did, and gutted out the save in the 20th. That game might have been the turning point the Mets needed, at least earlier this season. They were 3-7 before that victory, and lost the night before on a seventh-inning grand slam. But after their nearly seven-hour win, the Mets went on to win 10 of their next 12, which included their memorable 9-1 homestand at the end of April.

Will it last forever? Probably not. Even Pelfrey is philosophical about it: “‘I feel good where I am,’ Pelfrey said. ‘But there’s a lot of season left. If I lose my next four starts, no one is going to care how I started out.'”

A gritty attitude and that self-deprecating realism makes me, if not exactly proud, then at least happy to root for Big Pelf.


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