Editor’s Note: Greg is off to Washington to cover the Mets’ first road game against the Nationals. As he will be unavailable to post immediately thereafter, we are happy to offer a Faith and Fear Classic of his which originally ran April 29, 1985, twenty years ago today. Whether you’re seeing it for the first time now or remember reading it then, we hope you enjoy it.
Boy, after a game like that, you really get what Katrina & The Waves are talking about in their new song.
We’re walking on sunshine. And don’t it feel good?
I’d love to tell you and all our friends among the academics and Pentagon types who are joining us here on the Arpanet that I saw the Mets beat the Pirates in eighteen innings Sunday afternoon. I feel like I did, but there was one little problem.
I didn’t see it. I was busy. I was graduating from college.
Yes, after four years, I got my degree. My family came down to Tampa and everything. I sat on the floor of the Sun Dome with however many thousands of my fellow graduates and waited for my name to be called. The College of Arts and Letters was the last and took the longest to be recognized because there were so many of us. It was a thrill. But not nearly the thrill it was when I raced back to my dorm room between ceremonial duty and family dinner and called Sports Phone.
The Mets and Pirates were tied. It was the tenth. Then the thirteenth. Then the fifteenth. Every time I called, they were tied. Aauugghh! What am I still doing here in Tampa? Yeah, graduating, but they could’ve mailed me the diploma. In fact a couple of months ago, the administration at USF wanted to considerably shorten the ceremony, cut out all those bothersome student names. Do you know who editorialized against it in The Oracle? Yeah, Mr. Commencement Crusader, right here. Funny thing was, it actually worked. We sparked a mini-rebellion among the seniors. The dean in charge of lowering self-esteem backed down and they let the names be called.
Stupid me. Without graduation, I could’ve packed up last week and headed north on 95. Instead, I’m sitting up all night trying to cram the last four years of my life into a bunch of boxes and bags after pounding Old Milwaukee and sake with a couple of the older guys, who are like 26 or 27, and a Japanese exchange student down the hall. I would’ve been home to listen to the game (we don’t have cable yet and it was on SportsChannel; I can’t wait to get cable because then you can see every game). Instead, I was still here and I had to rely on Sports Phone into the early evening, which meant keeping my parents at bay, and looking for highlights on the local news and finding a box score in the very early Monday edition of the Tampa Tribune which I just went out and bought. It’s more fun than today’s Bloom County.
Gorman pitched seven shutout innings for the win. Strawberry hit a grand slam. Carter made a great play on a wild pitch to keep Doug Frobel from scoring; it was like he was Tom Petty telling him “don’t come around here no more”. But the most amazing thing? Had to be Rusty. Did I hallucinate or did Davey put him in the outfield? And did he switch him back and forth with Hurdle, left field and right field, depending on whether a righty or lefty was batting for Pittsburgh? Staub and Hurdle: The hottest partnership since Crockett and Tubbs. I guess Davey really wanted Rusty to avoid fly balls the way Reagan can’t seem to avoid controversy with this Bitburg trip of his. And did Rusty make a great running catch off the bat of Rick Rhoden despite Davey’s best-laid plans? Wow. I know Davey’s a computer genius and I’m sitting here using punch cards, but it just goes to show you that you can’t program a baseball game. (I oughta know — I took Fortran, which will hopefully come in handy.)
What a month this has been for the Mets, all the way back to Opening Day when Carter beat Neil Allen in the tenth. I was so excited that day I don’t know if I told you what happened on my end. I was at The Oracle where I usually was when I was in college (was…my goodness, that sounds strange). It occurred to me that I had something at my disposal that few others in Florida would have to keep track of the game. I had the AP wire.
Granted, I don’t much know how the AP wire works, but we did have a wire editor named Brenda whose job it was to monitor all that paper as it clicked out of the machine and look for stories of interest. What’s one more story, right? So I asked Brenda to do me a favor: If you see anything at all today about the Mets, give it to me, OK?
A little later, I’m in a conference with our managing editor when Brenda hands me a bunch of copy. It’s all about the medfly. The medfly! She thought I asked her for stories on the medfly. “Mets, not medfly,” I said. We had a good laugh about it but to tell you the truth, I was less than amused. (She eventually came through for me, but I wound up calling Sports Phone every couple of minutes anyway on the newsroom phone, which I probably shouldn’t have done, but I’ve got my diploma, so there, State University System.)
God, I’ll be glad to get out of Tampa and get back to New York. Hell, the only reason I went to school down here was because it’s a short drive to Al Lang in St. Pete. Look how this season has started without me. Five one-run wins right out of the gate. Doc looking sharp. Gary worth every penny we’re paying him. Roger McDowell coming out of nowhere to stabilize the bullpen and even start like he did yesterday. With Keith and Darryl and the rest of these guys, it’s no wonder we’re a half-game behind the Expos and tied with the Cubs for second. Mark my words: 1985 is going to be our year.
As for Real Life, I wish I could be as certain. I have a few things going on of a freelance nature, but no actual idea what I’m going to do for a career. Like Tears for Fears says in their new song, everybody wants to rule the world. Me, I just want to watch the Mets. I have a hunch that will be enough to get me through the rest of 1985. After that, who knows?