A lesser player would’ve choked in the pressure last night, simply popping out to Luis Castillo with Derek Jeter on 2nd and Mark Teixeria on first in the last of the 9th representing the tying and winning runs respectively. But not our Alex.

The most beloved Yankee of all  sliced a perfectly spinning ball to shallow right, a bloop so deceptive that even Rodriguez himself successful feigned disappointment.  Many will look at A-Rod’s vast salary, lack of post-season success and questionable ethics and wonder if he’s worth it.   On Friday night, he proved once and for all that he earns every penny.

Well, either that or Luis Castillo and a trotting-off-the-field Ryan Church conspired to waste the Mets rebounding from 3 Yankee leads and coming within one out of their own improbable defeat of Mariano Rivera, despite Livan Hernandez and Jon “Don’t Call Me Barry” Switzer serving up 4 gopher balls earlier in the evening.  Your weary editor was a witness at the Nu Stadium last night, and a number of things continue to trouble me hours after arriving back in Lower Manhattan :

1) Should MTA workers wielding megaphones really be taunting Mets fans upon their arrival at the 4/B/D station?
2) Would it kill the Yankees to announce the score of the hockey game?
3) How does it feel to be Francisco Rodriguez this morning, blowing his first save of ’09 (after pitching for the 4th consecutive day) yet knowing 99 times of out 100, someone —ANYONE — catches A-Rod’s bloop?
4) Has any player put up numbers as prodigious as Rodriguez and earned so little respect or admiration from his own fans?  On the subway ride back to Manhattan, the consensus amongst most Yankee fans seemed to be the only person more deserving of mockery than A-Rod was Luis Castillo.

(to be completely truthful, I’m not really “troubled” by item no. 4)

Few pennant races end on June 12 (indeed, the Phillies failed to gain ground Friday, losing to the Red Sox in 13 innings) but the manner of defeat, if not the venue/setting, made for a conclusion far more humiliating than Armando Benitez, Mel Rojas or Billy Wagner’s lowest moments as Mets. I’ve no idea how the Mets (Castillo in particular) get their heads together by the time of Fernando Nieve’s start tomorrow afternoon, but even beyond present company, their fans have been traumatized.   I don’t use that word lightly, in fact, I ususally save it for describing recent photos of the Widow Cobain (or a particularly scary nightmare I have involving Jeanne Zelasko), but every Mets rooter in attendance last night can vouch for this : morale killers don’t come much uglier than Luis Castillo’s failure to use two hands.