Steady Tom Takes Care Of Business

By Mike Vaccaro, NY Post
Original article HERE.

CHICAGO - The worst part was the seventh inning, of course, because whatever control Chris Glavine felt she held on fate, however peripheral that might have been, it was all gone.

Her husband, Tom, finally had called it a night after 61/3 innings and 102 pitches in an outdoor steamroom known as Wrigley Field. He had a 5-1 lead. He left a man on second base. He needed eight outs from his bullpen, five days after he’d asked them for the same favor and they’d only been able to get him three.

“I heard from people all night who said I looked like I was about to have a nervous breakdown,” Chris Glavine said. “And I was like, ‘Well, jeez, what do you expect?’ I mean, it’s one thing to be Tom, on the field, the ball in your hand, feeling like you have some control over what you’re doing. Me? All I can do is wiggle and hop around and wince.”

She laughed.

“Then he was out of the game,” she said, “and I guess he started to know a little bit about what it’s like to be on our side of these games.”

The last thing Glavine wanted was to turn this quest for 300 games into a vigil, into the kind of somber parade Alex Rodriguez found himself in the middle of as he tried to hit his 500th home run. That would have been so unlike who Glavine is, and what he’s been, across a most extraordinary career. He was the steady one, the consistent one, no flash, no dash, just business.

“I want to go about my business,” he would say. “Quietly.”

For 61/3 innings, he’d done his best to keep Wrigley Field as quiet as a requiem Mass, but now there were 41,599 people on their feet, lifting their voices to the night sky. A few thousand of them were Mets fans, but they were outnumbered now. The Cubs are in a pennant race. They sensed the Mets’ soft underbelly was now melting in the sun.

They scored a run. Five-two.

They scored another run. Five-three.

Suddenly, in her box seat, Chris Glavine looked like she’d gotten hold of some bad calamari.

“Suddenly,” she would say, “I was a little sick to my stomach.”

“Suddenly,” her husband would admit, “you find yourself saying to yourself, ‘Oh, no, here we go again.’ ”

Guillermo Mota gave way to Pedro Feliciano, and Feliciano gave way to Aaron Heilman. Now the tying run was at the plate, and Glavine had crossed his legs in the dugout, and his family members had crossed their fingers and crossed their toes (and maybe crossed themselves, too, for a little added protection), and Heilman delivered, and Ryan Theriot swung.

For a moment, long enough for 41,599 people to emit a loud gasp, long enough for 30 members of the Glavine traveling party to crane their necks and pray, it looked like Theriot may have given the baseball a ride. Maybe earlier in the day, when the wind was blowing straight out, straight onto Lake Michigan, this would have been a galling new plot twist.

Not now. The ball died in the air, then died in Lastings Milledge’s mitt. The Mets started adding runs. Billy Wagner, Glavine’s car pool partner for home games, was ready to throw the ball 130 miles an hour if necessary. It was all over the Mets won, 8-3. It was all good.

“Relief,” Chris Glavine said. “At last.”

There came a moment last night, after the sixth inning, when Glavine walked from the mound and a huge cheer swept across Wrigley, since Kerry Wood was entering a ballgame for the Cubs for the first time in 13 months.

Even when he was a kid on the make with the Braves, Tom Glavine’s arm speed was always closer to Wilbur Wood’s than Kerry Wood’s. He never made scouts weep. He only had that effect on hitters. And last night, he reminded everyone even those who screamed themselves hoarse welcoming Wood back to the North Side that stinging your catcher’s hand is a fun trait.

But learning how to win is even more fun. Last night, in front of everyone who matters to him, he proved for the 300th time just how much.

“Next time we’re all together like this,” Chris Glavine said, “it’ll be in Cooperstown.”