By Ernie Palladino
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Stretching a winning streak to a franchise record-tying 11 games is one thing.
Putting together their first-ever 10-0 homestand, which ended Thursday with a 6-3 win over the Braves, is another.
But 41-year-old Bartolo Colon tracking down a base runner on an unassisted pickoff? Uh, that's unnatural.
Only one explanation satisfies that: much higher powers than athletic talent are working in the Mets' favor these days.
One might only guess what outside forces have changed Terry Collins' team from hapless to unbeatable as it heads off to Yankee Stadium for an early season Subway Series. It rattles the mind what voodoo some might have conjured to change the hoodoo that has hung over the Mets the last eight years.
Dare anyone think that certain favored pets have had to find a safe hideout so as not to fall victim to pagan sacrifice? Might some frustrated, desperate old rooter have made a deal with the Fallen Angel for just one more season of excitement in Flushing before he heads off to that great Pepsi Porch in the sky?
It does seem that way. Given the way baseball at large has treated the Mets in recent years, the 29 other teams who are now looking up at their 13-3 record can only assume a cauldron of newt eyeballs is boiling somewhere near Citi Field.
Or maybe it's not that complicated. Perhaps one person, say, a purveyor of popular condiments, made one alteration in his emotional and material bond with the team he has lived and died with since boyhood, and it all worked out.
Marc Gold makes the mustard many pick up on supermarket shelves. He makes a lot of other things too -- horseradish, borscht, cocktail sauce, barbeque sauce. But he also makes one of the Mets' more popular giveaways. It's his company's name, "Gold's Horseradish," emblazoned on those bobblehead dolls.
Only this year, there won't be any bobbleheads. Following Einstein's assertion that the definition of crazy is repeating the same mistake while expecting a different result, Gold finally caught on. He made a switch.
No more bobbleheads. On May 2, his company will hand out garden gnomes in the image of Jacob deGrom.
It came to him, albeit a bit late in the game, as no small revelation that bobbleheads had jinxed the team of his childhood. A string that ranged from the forgettable Kaz Matsui to Curtis Granderson to a lineup of old-timers like Doc Gooden and Keith Hernandez added up to nothing but trouble for player and team alike.
It was time to try something new.
"We finally decided to break the Curse of the Bobblehead," Gold said in a recent e-mail. "We tried Matsui, K-Rod (Frankie Rodriguez), Jason Bay, Ike Davis; all bad news. Keith and then Doc. Franco, Santana, even Piazza. Did not work. We went to Granderson last year and he had the worst year of his career."
He got the garden gnome idea from the Jayson Werth giveaway in Washington last year.
Now, deGrom's image will sit upon various local flower beds.
Gold, of course, won't take credit for anything that happens on the field. But, much like the old poker belief that walking around one's chair can heat up a cold night, perhaps switching things up a little changed the total atmosphere.
How else would an aged, rotund pitcher like Colon make like a cat and run down A.J. Pierzynski to finish off his fourth straight winning outing in the sixth? How else would a pull hitter like Lucas Duda continue to provide valuable runs hitting away from the shift. Who expected this lineup to come up with bases-clearing doubles like the one Daniel Murphy stroked for a 3-0 first-inning lead Thursday?
Unless a bunch of chickens have mysteriously gone missing from some upstate farm, something else had to have caused this shift in fortunes.
The deGrom gnome? Could be.
Little change, big result.
"He looks downright scary," Gold wrote. "And so are the Mets."
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