- Faith and Fear in Flushing - http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

Second Time's the Charm

Two summers ago the Human Fight, our friend Pete and I were all watching the Mets take on the Angels [1]. Bottom of the 10th, Mets down 3-2, two on and two out, and Cliff Floyd slams a long drive into the right-field seats, just foul. Pete was thrilled — obviously Floyd would hit the next one several feet to the left, now that he had the range. The Human Fight and I were glum — as we gently lectured Pete, it never happens that a batter hits a home-run-distance foul ball and then manages to recalibrate for a long drive that stays fair. What invariably happens, we explained, is the batter strikes out. (Hell, Cliff said the same thing. You could look it up [2].)

Of course that night Floyd promptly did hit a home run. The Human Fight and I gaped at each other. Pete was sunnily convinced he'd been right all along.

Pete would have loved tonight's game.

First Carlos Gomez slams a ball into the left-field loge — and even tempts the baseball gods with an anticipatory strut. Then he hits a home run a few feet to the right of where his long foul went. (And struts again. He'd better learn to stop doing that.) Gomez is awfully raw, and besides his occasional rookie faux pas, he reminds me of a puppy the way he constantly seems in danger of falling down, the way puppies do when they're still growing into their feet. But he sure looks like he'll grow up to be a champ — watching Gomez race Reyes across the infield or pair off with Jose on one of the Mets' five-dimensional celebratory handshakes is nearly as fun as watching him grow almost visibly in confidence with every at-bat. And get rid of his unfortunate Diamondvision mug shot, in which he looks like a spooked colt, and we just might have another Mets matinee idol. (While we're at it, could someone please reshoot Ricky Ledee's picture? He looks like a psychotic drifter, which isn't helping me put aside his Yankee past.)

After Gomez's recalibrated shot, hours and hours and hours passed, during which Emily and I watched Mike Maroth coolly dispatch Met after Met with wouldn't-break-glass stuff, Met pitchers wriggle out of confrontations with Albert Pujols (and with Juan Encarnacion, whom I was sure would get us eventually, being Juan Encarnacion) and a single sky-blue balloon drop down from the upper deck every four to five minutes. I never bothered to find out what the exact nature of the balloon-generating process above us was, because the truth couldn't have been good as our imaginings — a birthday clown whose party hadn't materialized, a balloon factory, a rip in the fabric of spacetime, etc.

When Green lofted a ball towards the right-field corner, I didn't think it was a game-winner. It was tailing out of our sight, blocked by the mezzanine. A sneaky one around the foul pole? Maybe, but I doubted it — after all these years I've got a pretty good sense of Shea trajectories. The next ball he hit? In Chicago, I bet Cliff Floyd suddenly found himself smiling. In San Francisco, I bet Pete was suddenly convinced he was right about something. I looked at the arc it made against the sky, saw Encarnacion slow down, and threw my arms into the air [3].