As rain descended on Cincinnati, SNY switched us over to Mets Classics. Oh boy, I thought, a chance to see the '86 Mets clinch the division again.
Nope. It was the 9/21/01 game. Baseball's return to New York, with moving ceremonies before the game, Liza Minnelli's roaring take on “New York, New York,” and (oh yeah) Mike Piazza's no-doubter of a home run, a blast that not only won us a ballgame but made it OK to worry about a silly thing like baseball again. Greg and Emily and I were all there, and it stands as one of the most-emotional nights I've ever had in a baseball stadium.
We've written about this game before, and at first I was pleased to see it. (And noted with a start that the Braves' third baseman was the late Ken Caminiti.) But then I got to thinking, and I wasn't so pleased.
Even knowing things will turn out OK (on the field, at least), the 9/21/01 game isn't a happy experience to watch: The shocked crowd, the hushed announcers and the stricken-looking players all snap you back to those terrible days. That doesn't mean that game is holy or should be off-limits. But it does mean, at least to me, that it's a piece of the past that shouldn't serve as background music while the tarp's on the field in the present. You have to see the whole thing: the solemnity of the opening, the tense grind of the early innings, Liza's cynicism-defying turn in the seventh-inning stretch, and the euphoric, triumphant release of Piazza's homer. Every time I looked down at where it said RAIN DELAY on the crawl, I was reminded that we wouldn't see the whole thing, that Gary and Keith would reappear before the experience was complete.
And indeed, we didn't make the 7th. No Liza. no Piazza. Just a vaguely uneasy feeling and the dislocation of suddenly finding oneself worrying about Steve Trachsel (ironically, the only '01 Met still standing) and Adam Dunn and Carlos Delgado. Here 's hoping SNY saves this game for other occasions — but ones where the whole story can be told. It's a classic, no doubt, but a classic that needs to stand alone.