OK, I admit it. I bailed out when it was 10-1. To watch a TiVoed Gilmore Girls. (I should really say “to get good and drunk” or “because something needed welding,” but it would be a lie.)
Leaving aside the fact that it's fricking spring training, my only
defense is that thanks to Cablevision, I couldn't see the game, and
there's not a lot to be learned from hearing what future Binghamton Mets are doing. If I could have seen Blake McGinley, rest assured I would have stayed glued to live TV. At least until it was 14-4.
Still, it did leave me feeling somewhat better about the 112-odd games
that may be lacking visuals this year. Howie Rose and Gary Cohen were
in great form, at one point letting the scrimmage going on downstairs
share time with a lengthy, increasingly agitated review of the shameful
conduct of Richie Hebner, the world's least-happy Met. Hebner
(forever known for working as a gravedigger in the offseason) played
his one miserable campaign for the Mets 26 years ago,
but Howie sounded as outraged about his Robertoesque showing as he
must have been at the time. I'm willing to bet that most other teams'
broadcasters can barely remember briefly employed first basemen from a
quarter-century ago, let alone work themselves into a lather over their
malingering. Getting to share a game with Howie and Gary is a pleasure.
Even when it's 10-1.
Speaking of barely remembering, I confess I had completely forgotten
our loathing of Manny Aybar, though I did recall two other things:
Junior's return was one of those rare nights I guessed the next day's
tabloid headline (it was “Junior Whiffey”), and Jackie Robinson Night was its
polar opposite, as it was the lone good pitching performance I can
remember by Toby Borland.
My favorite return by a hated foe is still Bobby Bonilla as a Marlin.
(Somewhere in the bowels of Shea a machine just clunked out a check to
Bobby Bo for more than you and I will make in two months, by the way.)
I was at Shea with Chris, a.k.a. the Human Fight, and the sparse crowd
was hungrily booing Bonilla whenever it could get a fix on him during
warmups. In his first at-bat, Bonilla lashed a ball foul — one of
those drives that looks impressive but is only hit hard because it
can't possibly stay fair. The ball clanked into the seats a few sections
outside the foul pole, and there were so few people there that everyone
could watch the most-enterprising kid in the stands jog 40 feet and
start hunting for the ball. When he found it, he held it aloft for a
moment — and then hurled it onto the field. I'm sure Fran would agree
the reaction was electric.
Later in the game the crowd was too tired and dispirited to boo Bonilla
with much volume anymore, but it did find an alternative: a low,
hooting chant that spread slowly but inexorably through the park…
you suck you suck you suck you suck you suck you suck
…at which point Chris turned to me and said, “This may be the purest expression of hatred I've ever heard.”
Joey Hamilton got released after being arrested for DWI. If you're out
there, Todd Hundley, rest easy. His tower has been buzzed.