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

It's Getting Hot Out There

It'd be an exaggeration to call the Mets hot — like Greg, I'll need to be won over further before declaring our putative NL East leader fit for duty. Three out of four against the Reds? Sorry, but that's the stuff of necessity, not luxury. Lastings Milledge would seem to qualify as hot, and has made good on his promise to bring energy to the team, not to mention a certain surfeit of attitude. But young Lastings really needs to work better counts if he's going to keep his personal temperature elevated — word gets around quickly if you burn through four plate appearances in 10 pitches (four of those pitches part of an intentional walk). The Met bats rode Kyle Lohse's undistinguished pitching and a jet stream to a decent offensive performance, but let's not knock ourselves over doing cartwheels for 2 for 9 with runners in scoring position — and no hits with RISP after the second inning. Let's do say, however, that three catchers is a hot idea — anything that gets the mighty Ramon Castro (seven-pitch double, eight-pitch flyout, five-pitch walk and first-pitch single) more at-bats is just fine with me.

Oh, and Shea Stadium? It was hot too.

I arrived in the second inning thanks to some monumental disorganization to find my pals Tim and Sophie already quietly broiling, saved only by a steady though oven-like breeze blowing from the west. Balls were riding that hot wind to right all day, none more spectacularly than the one Adam Dunn clubbed into and partially through the scoreboard. (I didn't care what the Dodgers and Giants — whose doings were communicated by the bank of lights that got Dunn in — were up to anyway.) Considering the kiln-like conditions, the crowd was pretty peaceable, and I'm happy to report no Norris-related woofery [1] in our section.

The soaring mercury reminded me of another staggeringly hot day, and one of my favorite cautionary tales. This was sometime in the late 90s, and Emily and I met up with our friends Pete and Becky to take in a game on a summer Sunday beneath a sky that was mercilessly absent of clouds. Pete — he of the Monster's Ball cameo [2] — had been up to some considerable amount of foolishness the night before, and now he was a ghastly and pitiable sight, his face and eyes the same shade of unhealthy red. Poor Pete tried to sleep on the packed 7 train on the way to Shea, but it was clear he was fighting a losing battle, and he decamped somewhere around Junction Boulevard, saying he needed to rest for a bit. We figured we'd seen the last of him, but around the middle innings here he came, ascending slowly but bravely to our baking seats halfway up the upper deck. He even peered wearily at the baseball players doing something or other down there through the shimmering heat before passing out again.

Trouble was, we were sitting in the middle of a summer picnic — one organized by the Communications Workers of America, who had brought an enormous number of red shirts and a prodigious number of whistles. Apparently the whistles were to serve as a demonstration of their union's lung power, though they also served quite ably as a demonstration of their union's judgment: By the middle innings the kids on the picnic had burned through their allowance of sugar and crap, so with nothing much else to do (except maybe watch a baseball game, but that was beyond them), they began competing to blow their whistles as loud as they possibly could as many times as they possibly could. Which, in case you can't guess, was pretty goddamn loud and pretty goddamn often.

So there the four of us sat, trying not to melt into our seats, me irritably watching the exhausted Mets and Marlins have at each other, Emily and Becky chatting while moving as little as possible, Pete slumped over trying not to die, while CWA parents erupted at random overzealous whistlers and the sweat pooled under our legs and the SCREECH SCREECH SCREECH! of dozens of whistles went on and on and on. Just as the three of us who were awake were nearing the breaking point, Pete cracked an eyelid, surveyed the whistling calamity around him blearily and managed to croak, “I'm going to freaking kill someone.”

On days like Sunday, I like to break that story out for a little perspective. Was it hot today? Yeah. Hot as hell? Yeah. Could it have been worse? You bet it could. SCREECH SCREECH SCREECH!

Happily nobody needed the threat of killing, the only red-shirted visitors did minimal damage before leaving peacefully, and the Mets took three of four. And the next week can be watched from the safety of a couch in an air-conditioned room.