Spencer swings and squibs. The ball travels 35 feet down the first base line. Sturtze grabs it unsurely and flings it over Posada’s head. Matsui, who isn’t as fast as everybody says, finally crosses the plate. Mets win 10-9. Yankees lose 10-9. And all at once, the new place is christened. The co-op is truly ours. We belong. The Mets are 1-1/2 games out of first, the Mets have won this series, the Mets can sweep tomorrow, the Mets can win the overall 2004 showdown. Mets win! Yanks lose! Hot damn! I guess I don’t want to shout through the neighbors’ walls, but my muted volume doesn’t reflect my enthusiasm. I start punching the recliner, triumphantly. I go to give Stephanie a warp-speed high five, but don’t want to knock her over. Instead I grab her and lift her several feet in the air. She could feel it coming. The last time I did that was for Todd Pratt against the Diamondbacks. I need to lift somebody else. Bernie the Cat, willing or otherwise, is the next victim. On TV, I can hear the PA blare “I love the way you move,” and I do. I love the way we moved, too. The move is over. Five days in, we have a signature win at this address. We’re home at last.
It was July 3, 2004, the first tangible baseball memory in the first home we’ve ever owned and my fondest memory of experiencing baseball with Bernie the Cat, our first cat together, the first cat I ever had, and the cat I will forever cherish beyond all reason and proportion. Bernie came to us on October 31, 1992 and left us all too soon on May 27, 2005. Thank you, Bernie, for all the love you gave me, Stephanie, your brother Hozzie and your late brother Casey. And thank you for putting up with me and the Mets over these past thirteen seasons. I didn’t mean to continually startle you with the shrieks of delight (and twice as many of disgust), but like everything else, you took it in stride. You are and always will be, as I told you thirty or forty times day, The World’s Greatest Cat.