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Best Bargain in Baseball

In the parlance of the pocket schedule, Monday night was a value date. Don't say there isn't truth in Mets advertising.
Five bucks for an upper deck ticket (Section 1!) bought the opportunity to watch the once, present and hopefully continuing first-place Mets easily quell [1] the pleasantly pliant Rockies in an economical two hours and thirty-four minutes by the miserly hand of John Maine who makes more than all of us, but less than most of his peers, none of whom has matched his extravagant consistency.
Value all around on the first nonparka, practically shirtsleeve night of the season. Valentin cashed in with interest. Delgado hit the home run jackpot at last. There was outstanding outfield defense (Beltran's, Green's and, with a large enough lead to appreciate an opponent's effort, Finley's). There was Reyes running to second from first twice while Lo Duca batted. There was even a Mr. Met sighting in the red seats.
Warmth and a win. To turn Wes Westrum on his head, ohmigod, wasn't that wonderful?
This was my first night game of the year and it was good getting back in this particular groove, the one that starts smoothly with the 6:11 to Woodside and ends well with the 10:18 to Baldwin and includes the one and only Laurie. Why more Mets fans didn't take advantage of the weather and the prices I don't know, but fine with me. Does anyone remember legroom [2]? I can't believe I'm saying this, but it was nice that the Mets didn't draw 55,000 for a change.
When we're winning and we're not freezing, everything insipid is practically charming. Tonight's unintentional entertainment was provided by two familiar sources: idiots in the row below us and the idiot box looming above left center.
The game was some 50 minutes old when the seats at our feet filled in with six or eight or ten (I lost track) college-age kids. They didn't seem all that interested in Maine's primacy or the Delgado bustout or, in the case of one young lady I wouldn't let out of the house if she were my daughter, underwear of a concealing nature. It was all about the yammering and the texting and the beer that was more expensive than the tickets. I've sat behind worse, but nobody more intriguing than one of the guys. He wore a blue Mets t-shirt whose back was blank until he or his little brother got a hold of it and made it read HERNANDEZ 17.
So? So he used white medical tape to pay his hero homage. The 17 looked close to professional, maybe something from a leftover Blue Jays minor league jersey, circa 1985, but the HERNANDEZ took on an accidental font similar to the name on your local Chinese takeout joint's menu. Picture TUCK LEI or SAM PAN, except now it's HERNANDEZ delivering your moo goo gai pan. Plus, the horizontal line in the R had peeled off, so it was more HE, followed by NANDEZ with an indecipherable emoticon separating them.
When Laurie and I weren't averting our eyes from the immodest thong girl, we bounced theories off one another as to what was the deal with HE NANDEZ. I mean, medical tape? Was somebody's gauze falling off an abrasion at home because this guy had to show his love for Mex? If Keith meant that much to him, he couldn't spring for silk-screening at the mall? It's not like he blew more than bucks on his ticket. Why not just go the Magic Marker route? And what about the missing line on the R? Did it just lose its gumption? Was it, like most bases, stolen by Jose Reyes? Is this man trying to tell us something besides he loves Keith Hernandez enough to show it but not enough to show it competently?
We could have asked him, but what fun would that be?
DiamondVision asked us several things and none of them was much fun, but none of them ever are. The quizzes are at least edging closer to baseball content than in previous campaigns. For example, nobody's asking whether Rome is 4,296, 4,298 or 150 Million miles from New York. Tonight's brainteaser was a multiple-choicer to determine Pedro Feliciano's favorite food. Turns out 85 percent of the crowd that saw fit to answer via cell phone (or 17 of the 20 people who must have participated) guessed right that he's a chicken, rice and beans man; Pedro retired his only Rockie on one pitch, so he can eat whatever he likes. I also learned recently that Billy Wagner carries six pieces of gum to the bullpen. You can win a lot of bar bets with tidbits like that, though you can probably earn a good crack in the mouth for even bringing stuff like that up in a bar.
Another bit of DV filler was recurring live coverage of the kitchen in what appeared to be the Diamond Club. There was no narration to accompany the video, just a chef preparing surprisingly mouthwatering entrees and a waiter picking them up. The message seemed to be you lucky people who chose one of the cheapest nights of the year to attend a game now have the privilege of watching your betters dine. Bon app├ętit!
There are 12 value dates on the schedule this season, only eight remaining. After next week, you have to wait until September 24 against the Nationals for a night of five-buck baseball. Pity. It has to be the last great bargain in Metland. Just as it hit me during Game Six last October that I was paying $150 for a seat [3] that occasionally went for $5, I remembered Monday that I once paid 30 times as much to sit just a little to the left where I found myself six months later. Context is everything, of course, but relatively speaking, a Mets game is a Mets game. And a Mets win is such a deal.