Turns out I didn't miss the Monsta's Ball. After a singularly tasty meal at Shake Shack, our party (me, Emily, The Human Fight, HF Girlfriend Peggy) headed downtown to await Pete, who'd decided to drive in to meet us. Pete's choice was a way bar downtown, one that's virtually deserted early on weekend nights. Good for playing pool — and, as I instantly recalled, a bar with about 10 million TVs. Despite recent disappointments, I heartily endorsed this choice; thanks to the rain delay, we arrived in the bottom of the second.
Keeping track of a game in a bar is difficult, though: Unless you're antisocial and glue yourself to the set, you can't really pay pitch-to-pitch attention. Without the sound, you miss a lot and constantly wind up surprised and pondering the injustice of it all: What the hell, Piazza was on second with nobody out! Stupid Mets!
Anderson's amazing trip around the bases — my theory is Beltran's catch, being Finleyesque, used up the stadium's quota of Finleyism just in time — focused our party's attention on what was going on at Shea. (Minus poor Emily, who'd headed home to relieve the babysitter. More on that in a moment.) So we settled in for a baseball colloquy, with The Human Fight (a big Red Sox fan who gnashed his teeth each time the Cubs-Bosox score was posted) and I comparing notes after each pitch: Do you send Reyes here? Even though he hasn't had a decent read on Donnelly all inning? What's Donnelly gonna throw here — fastball or slider? 3-2 on Cameron — send Reyes now? That error ain't Minky's fault — Looper was late getting off the mound. Why was Wright playing so far in? How many goddamn catchers do the Whatever Angels of Whatever have? Etc.)
Pete (a Met fan ages ago, now not a sports fan at all) is perennially optimistic, given to the enthusiastic embrace of signs and portents, and intrigued by strange plays. He was fascinated by Anderson's inside-the-park home run and wanted to know when I'd seen one before. “Don't remember — a long time ago,” I said, still astonished. (Now I do: Tim Bogar's inside-the-parker during Bobby Jones's debut, which ended in the head-first slide that ruined Bogie's career.) In the 10th, with Beltran and Piazza having infuriated me, Pete stayed serenely sunny: The inside-the-park home run made it obvious that the Mets would come back. I pointed out that we'd already used up a massive portion of good baseball karma — the next time I see the center fielder kick a ball past the right fielder will be the second time — but no matter, Pete was confident. If anything, Cliff's just-foul bid for heroism increased his confidence — never mind that the Human Fight and I had lapsed into anticipatory disappointment and kept explaining that a guy who hits a home run just foul in a long battle with the pitcher almost always makes an out in some lame fashion.
Well, Serene Sunniness 1, Experienced Pessimists 0. They could have shown that replay for two more hours and I would've still been on my bar stool waving my hands around like a goddamn fool. A happy goddamn fool.
That was the kind of game that keeps you watching 10,000 lost causes: In June 2009 I'll remain to the bitter end of some aggravating loss because in June 2005 Cliff Floyd hit one just foul and then hit one considerably fair. Of course I'll be watching anyway, but you know what I mean.
Postscript: As today's game got started I remarked to Emily that I wasn't sure I could properly pscyhe myself up since I was still exhausted from last night's fandom. “Why, what happened?” she asked — she'd gone to bed when she got home, and the game ended too late for the Sunday paper. Painting the word picture was almost like winning it again.