I’d like to thank Robert Moses for remaking New York for better and for worse. I’d like to thank Robert Caro for chronicling his vision and his megalomania so perfectly in The Power Broker, my favorite book ever. Without Caro’s epic, I don’t carry around a lifelong fascination with Moses. Without the fascination, I don’t go see an exhibition reconsidering his work at the Museum of the City of New York last week. And without the MCNY trip, I don’t feel compelled to see its companion program at the Queens Museum of Art.
Today. In Moses’ jewel Flushing Meadows Corona Park, right across from one of his side projects, Shea Stadium. And as long as I’m rushing to Flushing to catch Moses before he closes, gee, it would almost be wasteful to not check in on the Mets and Cubs as long as they, too, are on display this Thursday afternoon.
Yup. Would have been a shame to have not gone to this game.
So thank you Roberts Moses and Caro for making me care so much about municipal planning and thank you to the museums in question for telling such a fine story (they like Moses more than Caro did) and thank you Long Island Rail Road for including May 17 as one of your discount-date specials and thank you, in no particular order, Jason Vargas, Ambiorix Burgos, Lou Piniella, Ryan Dempster, Scott Eyre, David Newhan, Carlos Gomez, Carlos Beltran, Endy Chavez, Ruben Gotay, David Wright, Carlos Delgado and Willie Randolph for giving me, à la Dido, the best day of my life.
Well, one of them. It’s way up there. You go to Mets games not dreaming you’ll meander through eight listless innings, wondering what it is you’re doing with your time, sitting among strangers, talking to nobody, only to float out of Shea on a puffy cumulus cloud of unlikely victory, slapping every palm that hovers in conjunction with yours. This wasn’t a walkoff win. It was a floatoff triumph. I’m still not touching the ground.
A few lessons from my day of Moseying:
1) Play the full nine, stay the full nine. I changed seats after eight to get closer to a right field ramp and gain a step on the murderous 7-bound foot traffic (and get away from some annoying neighbors). But I didn’t leave. I’ve stayed this long, let me at least hang in there for the final three outs — two of which Sweet Lou is still waiting on. I found a seat and mostly stayed glued to it, my ass on plastic, my ears with Howie and Tom, my hands over my earbuds to drown out all distractions and, more importantly, any doubts.
2) Never doubt Willie Randolph. He knows more about baseball than you. Than me. Than everybody. He knows when not to pinch-hit for Ruben Gotay with David Wright and when to pinch-hit for Shawn Green with David Wright. Genius! Did I say genius? Nobel Prize Winner! Nobel Prize Laureate! Whichever is brainier!
3) Don’t give up on Rando’s Commandos, the bench corps that will never be mistaken for Reyes (pleasebeallright…), Wright, Beltran and the rest of the A Team. Guys behind me kept repeating (because it was so funny the first time) that we should have been charged minor league prices with this lineup, but hey! Fellas! This is a team! They’re all here for a reason. Blend the Commandos with the Resting Battalion, two of whose members joined the fight in the ninth, and magic can ensue. Sends a good message, too: Yo Cubs! We can beat you with four All-Stars tied behind our back!
4) Never stop hating the team you’ve hated since you were six years old. I know the Cubs are a shaky proposition. I know they’re not in the N.L. East. I know that other than an overpaid ex-Yankee and a third baseman who doesn’t bother running out of the box, there is nothing particularly repugnant about the contents of their dugout. Until today (with his whining about every little thing to the umps) I didn’t even mind Piniella. But I will never be able to look at those Cubs caps — on the field and in the stands — and not take extra relish in knowing that the Mets have been making their lives miserable on an intermittent basis since Nineteen Blessed Sixty Nine. Believe me, they don’t like us. Don Young…Victor Diaz…now today and the first four-run deficit turned into a one-run, ninth-inning win since we did it to Curt Schilling and the Phillies eight years ago this month. Cubs fans are a horde of Curt Schillings minus the success. It might have been sweeter to do this to, say, the Braves, but tell me it could have felt as great to have pulled it off against the Rockies. It’s awesome to beat the Cubs anytime, but especially in the ninth. Speaking of that fateful, faithful inning, I spied on the other side of the stadium some Cubs fans gamely holding aloft a banner. More like a flag. It had a blue W as in Win on it, a replica of the one that flies every now and then over Wrigley. They were declaring their mission accomplished. They had this game won. They held it right up to Carlos Delgado’s final at-bat. After Carlos swung, I got a little distracted and didn’t see if they had decided to burn their flag.
5) Do not boo Carlos Delgado. He actually heard it from the otherwise disengaged masses when his average dialed Manhattan prior to the ninth. Look, I’m not happy he’s hitting .212 or thereabouts, but he’s Carlos Delgado. Patience, amigos. Consider his game-winner a down payment on what he’s bound to do to pitching staffs in the National and American Leagues over the next several weeks.
6) Go it alone when you’re overtaken by the impulse. When I saw this museum-ballpark daily double jelling, I wondered who I could get to go with me on a Thursday afternoon. Nobody, I decided. Maybe I could scrounge and beg, but I hate doing that. I feel so pathetic. Oh, I’d love to but I have real responsibilities like an adult…aren’t you a little old to be wearing a baseball cap? Nobody ever says that to me but that’s what I hear. I cherish others’ company at Shea Stadium but once in a grand while, I can stand to be with myself.
7) Touch all souls when you score five in the ninth to win. I wanted to hug every man and every woman I saw. I settled for high-fives. I screamed “OH MY GOD!” and “CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT?” over and over. I flitted back and forth in my adopted row in the right field mezzanine just looking for more Mets fans with whom to indulge my overflowing emotions. I hit things and yelled things clear to the bottom of the last ramp. I wanted to cry, I really did. But I just kept smiling. Couldn’t stop. My mouth hung open to Woodside; hope nothing flew in. Damn, nothing makes me happier than a win like that except maybe for following through on a whim and witnessing such a win in person. Years from now, I won’t remember whatever deadline I turned elastic to be there today, but I will remember “OH MY GOD!” and “CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT?” and that silly W flag, never to be flown over Shea Stadium by opposing armies.
8) Get yourself some culture. See what good comes from a trip to the museum?