Don’t know what’ll happen tonight in the stadium with the unfortunate name, but if recent form holds and the National League is getting its ass kicked, its clock cleaned and its bell rung, Clint Hurdle may think back to two nights earlier and wonder why he didn’t act on what he saw.
He saw Reyes. And he saw Beltran. And he saw Pelfrey. And he saw Delgado. And he saw Easley. Hell, he saw Castro and Evans and Tatis and Smith in addition to that humble third-chancer David Wright. The days before those guys he saw a whole slew of relievers who gave up nothing and assorted hitters and fielders who showed him something.
Clint Hurdle will wonder if he’s forfeiting, yet again, the N.L.’s home-field advantage by not having named Mets by the dozens to his temporary team. I saw stars Sunday night and Saturday afternoon and Friday night at Shea Stadium! Why didn’t I take them while I had the chance?
We know it doesn’t quite work that way, that it wasn’t all in the Rockies’ manager’s hands, that somebody voted somewhere that Miguel Tejada is a worthier shortstop than Jose Reyes, that Ryan Ludwick somehow surpasses Carlos Beltran, that anybody can pitch better as we speak than Mike Pelfrey. The rest of the Mets who just pounded the Rockies into pebbles? Let’s just keep them our little secret.
Shea’s enough of a galaxy right now. It’s the heavens — and oh my heavens, you should have seen it Sunday night, free of Joe Morgan and Jon Miller’s input. You should have seen how it sparkled and twinkled…literally. I don’t know if it’s the epidemic of smart cell phones or ever easier tiny digital cameras or the mass realization that you should take a picture, Shea will last longer, but everybody seemed to be clicking away all night. This was McGwire territory, a throwback to when every fan became a paparazzo. Big Mac would stand in and flashbulbs would go off. Big Mac would take and flashbulbs would go off. Big Mac would swing and tens of thousands of blurry prints would be ready at tens of thousands of CVSes the next day. See that? That’s McGwire’s 51st homer! No, right there! It’s kinda small and that guy’s head is kind of in the way…
I don’t think it was any individual among the Mets inspiring this kind of spontaneous memorializing, even if every one of them has contributed to a nine-game winning streak. It didn’t seem to be just for Wright, and it sure as hell wasn’t for Brad “Hippity” Hawpe. It could have been for the hell of it, as in “hey, look over here and let me take your picture.” But I think it was the impulse to capture Shea before Shea is no longer recordable and it was probably motivated not a little by the feeling saturating the old place at this moment in time. When the joint is jumping, you can’t help but be moved.
The summer of 2008, at least through July 13, has become the surprise gift of the decade. I didn’t see 9-0 coming. You can tell me how limp and gimp the Giants and Rockies are, but if it was all about lousy opponents, wouldn’t the other teams in the N.L. West be 50 games ahead of them by now? And didn’t we start this roll (it’s a roll, all right) against the Phillies?
We’re good. We’re very good. We may not be forever, not even starting Thursday, but I can’t look a gift roll in the mouth. What I got to partake in at Shea before the break, three of the six wins on the perfect homestand, was a present attached to a card signed by Jerry Manuel, Dan Warthen and 25 thoughtful players. I mightily appreciate the gesture.
I also appreciate my friend David inviting me to Sunday night’s game. With so much great pitching in the air, we had been talking early in the evening about Sandy Koufax finishing off the 1965 Fall Classic — David recently downloaded the three-hitter that defeated the Twins — and after Pelfrey left the mound to swelling cheers, I suggested eight scoreless innings was as close as we’re ever again going to come to seeing a complete game shutout.
Maybe not, David volunteered: “I’ve got Game Seven of the 1965 World Series on my iPod.”
One-hundred eighty degrees removed the wit of my host was the girl in the tube top who paraded through Mezzanine waving her Yankees cap in one hand and somehow not spilling her beer in the other (Yankees fans literally know how to hold their beer). A couple of times as the game progressed, we heard YANKEES SUCK! chants go up and they seemed more irrelevant than usual. Some dope in a Jeter jersey, I figured. We had given Bobby Murcer a moment of silence and a respectful round of applause and we were en route to as sure a win as we’re likely to see for the rest of the season. So why jeer those not here?
We jeer because of drunken girls in tube tops begging to be jeered at. That was her whole shtick. Waving the cap and telling us how her team is No. 1. “Check the standings, girlie,” I huffed to David, but it didn’t seem worth getting into a lather over. Still, you have to wonder about people who not so much go to another team’s ballpark when their own team isn’t playing in it (baseball’s baseball) but why they would actively elicit enmity. Like I said, I guess there’s some shtick involved.
But she, like every Rockie batter, was a pest easily brushed off our collective shoulders. The Mets won their ninth in a row. Shea Stadium was happy. That’s a picture I think I’ll keep.