As day-night doubleheaders go, I think I know which side of sundown I need to choose.
When this particular makeup for the rainout of April 15 was announced, I was fascinated. Had the Mets ever done this before? Day-night doubleheaders used to be the province of a place like Fenway Park, where there aren't enough seats to go around so it was only fair to conjure up an extra date when rain rescheduled things. Shea Stadium was always plenty big enough to accommodate all asses for something as mundane as a Mets-National game.
Day-nights have since become de rigueur throughout baseball, just as the planned twinbill has become extinct. But the Mets, I thought, had shied away from this tradition-in-the-making, which seemed nice of them. Two years ago they had every reason to go day-night when they were locked into an 8:05 start for ESPN, but they did the friendly thing and invited everybody in at 4 o'clock and assumed the first game would end in time (it did).
In 2007, Shea has become Fenway in that it's a hot enough ticket where if you postpone a game and don't have wiggle room, the date kind of needs to be saved, lest 45,000 or more risk not seeing any game at all. It would be easy to dump on management for not making it a twofer today, but I get it.
So I got it — a ticket, one, for today's game. I wanted to go to a Saturday game where not all the good seats were taken — rain checks not all being used for the makeup — and accessible only by favor or StubHub. I also wanted to go to at least a portion of what I assumed would be the first day-night doubleheader in Shea Stadium history. I'd learn later that this actually the second, that the Mets, for reasons unknown to me, played a day-night in 1972 against the Dodgers. It was a Thursday and nothing about the attendance figures from the boxscores (8,299 and 20,433, respectively) indicates insane demand was at play. The Times, Mark from Mets Walkoffs was good enough to look up for me, reported merely that it was an “unusual” decision and didn't elaborate as to why this wasn't a routine doubleheader.
Tom Seaver won his 100th game in the opener that May 11. And the Mets announced they had traded pitcher Charlie Williams to San Francisco for outfielder-first baseman Willie Mays. Both were noteworthy events. Neither explains why the Mets didn't do what they had always done and what they would always do for the next 34 seasons and charge just one admission. The only theory I have is 1972 was the year of the first players strike, which cost the Mets a few dates at home, and maybe this was M. Donald Grant's way of trying to compensate for the shortfall at the gate. I kind of doubt that, but it's all I got.
That and precious little sleep when my alarm sounded to get me up for my train to make the 12:10 start this morning. I played pattycake with the snooze function a few rounds until I noticed it was now after 11 o'clock. Oh damn, I thought. I'm not going to the day portion of this doubleheader, am I? Unless I get up right now…then I can get there by 1:00 or so and still see most of it…
Next thing I knew it was 1:30 and I'd slept through five innings. So much for being a tiny part of not quite history.
I caught enough of El Duque to know he'd been masterful and enough of Tim Redding to know he'd been aggravating. I saw Ruben Gotay hit enough to make me think we've got our second baseman and I saw Ruben Gotay not field enough to make me think we need a second baseman. I saw our leftfielder, centerfielder and rightfielder bat sixth, seventh and eighth and wondered how many other teams save their outfielders for the bottom of the order. I watched us win on SNY and I was happy for that.
But I wanted to go to the game!
I bought a ticket!
I had all my stuff together!
When I'd manage to have a good enough excuse to miss school, I got quite a kick out of removing my brown bag lunch from the fridge and digging into the contents without leaving the kitchen. The sandwich always tasted better at home. Today I retrieved the lunch I packed to bring to Shea and ate it on the couch. It wasn't nearly as good. It never is.
I've been to enough home games this year that I actually find it strange to watch them on TV. Today it was strange and disappointing. This would have been my 14th Shea win of the year, but The Log goes undisturbed until tomorrow, weather permitting. This would have broken a nonsensical personal five-game losing streak to the Nationals, but they continue to hold a mysterious whammy over me. This would have been a satisfying result to be mulling while piling onto or off of a 7 train and trying to make a connection at Woodside, but instead I'm just vamping at my computer. How does Shea Stadium's vaunted operations staff handle dispatching one crowd to make room for a new one? Is it different from how they do it in Philadelphia? I'd love to tell you. But somebody will have to tell me.
Next day-night doubleheader, perhaps I'll make plans to take in the night portion. These day halves start way too early.