Well, you know you're beloved when the fans stay to cheer you in an 11-3 game when the only question left to be settled is whether or not third place is yours alone. (Florida rallied and we have to share.) The tributes were nice — the ones involving hands together in the stands, I mean, as the ones on the Diamondvision were banal when they weren't embarrassing. The look on Mike Piazza's face was nicer. But the moment that got me the most, oddly, was Anderson Hernandez receiving a near standing ovation for his first big-league hit. That was the best side of Met fans on a day that also showed some less-than-best sides. Met fans read the papers, listen to the radio and generally know what's going on, enough to cheer a young player who'll go into the winter smiling because he's 1 for 18 instead of 0 for 18. But by that same token, they're informed enough to know that Carlos Beltran has been hurt multiple times, pressing all year and still working his behind off — the booing of Beltran has long since corroded into sour, pointless hazing. Kind of like the way Mike Piazza's every failing was once booed, come to think of it.
(And I still want to hear why Mike DiFelice came to the plate.)
The sunshine and farewells for Mike also couldn't let me brush away the fact that as Emily and I were leaving, we ran into a line of Met security drones intent on keeping fans away from the entrance to the Met offices and the skyboxes. “THIS WAY! HEY! YOU! THIS WAY!” they barked, mouths inches from the faces of fans understandably confused at being asked to squeeze their way through the bomb barriers into the parking lot. In Flushing that means “Thanks for coming and spending money to support the team.” You started the season finding the escalators weren't working; we ended the season being bellowed at by semi-cops. No matter how hard the Mets try, the surliness and decrepitude of Shea and those who work there elbow their way into the picture, like a garden party with something dead under the porch.
But oh well. It was a .500 day for what was basically a .500 team.
And now it's winter. I'd reach down deep and try to wax lyrical about what it means, but somebody already did it better. Take it away, Mr. Giamatti:
It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings. And then, as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it, to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then, just when the days are all twilight, when you need it the most, it stops. Today, October 2nd … it stopped, and summer was gone.