You and I haven't gone to enough games together this year. The next time we do we have to make sure we finally see him.
Win or lose, he's the main attraction. The big draw. The reason so many people look forward to going to Mets games lately. It may be the trendy thing to do, but I'm not ashamed to say I'm one of those people, and I'll bet you are, too.
Then it's settled: We have to go see the next game in which Eric Cooper umpires home plate.
Man, it's so exciting. I understand the Mets sold an extra 10,000 tickets in the last five days once the fans understood who was going to be in the middle of everything. Coop! He's the reason to buy a ticket.
Sunday was a Gold game, which means it cost $27 to watch Eric Cooper umpire from a mezzanine reserved seat or $34 from loge. If you could get an outer field box, it was $41. But obviously everybody who ponied up thought it was worth their hard-earned cash just to watch Eric Cooper call balls and strikes and argue with players.
The Mets must be kicking themselves. Gold? They're probably scouring the umpire rotation charts to figure out when Coop will be behind the plate again at Shea. Then they can institute a new tier. How's Azure sound?
Obviously, it would work. Unfortunately I couldn't watch the game but I could hear the excitement for the five or so innings I listened. Gary and Howie described the scene vividly as always: almost 44,000 on hand, who knows how many wearing those navy polo shirts with Eric's number 56 embroidered on the sleeve, the really savvy fans coming to the park with a chest protector under their tops and a handful of truly clever ones bringing a chip on their shoulders. Just like their hero.
Eric Cooper did not disappoint. Right from the start he made himself the story of the game. Squeezing the Mets' pitcher (I don't remember who that was) in the first; calling borderline balls as strikes when the Mets were up and then…the big one!
The Mets' catcher — Piazza, I think — who Coop retired on strikes (some people would say the Angels pitcher did it, but we know who the star of the game was), didn't like it and said something from the bench. Another umpire might have let it go, but not our Coop, no sir. He turned away from the action on the field and went after the Mets' catcher.
Ya gotta love it! Finally, somebody gets it. It's not about going to see the Mets or the Angels and it's certainly not about allowing either team's interchangeable players to play. In the first inning, Coop took over the game. He threw the Mets' catcher out.
Wow! I mean wow! There's a guy who understands the stakes, who understands baseball and what the fans pay to see. It's not about the catcher or the pitcher or ignoring what a frustrated player may say in the heat of the moment. It's all about Eric Cooper and he did not let anybody who thought so down. I could tell from the way the fans were shouting “COOOOOP!”
Too bad we didn't get a chance to see Eric Cooper umpire today. But it's a long season. Unlike the guy I threw out, we'll be sure to catch one of his games.
Yeah, that's who I wanna see.