6 pm: Go over Nationals lineup. Feel pangs of pity. Decide to pitch to contact to minimize their embarrassment, maximize chance that I can pitch every second or third day to ensure we win games more often than every fifth day. Besides, no point making that Dukes kid mad.
6:31 pm: Sheffield and Tatis in the outfield? Hmm. Move to Plan B: Strike everybody out.
6:45 pm: Anthem singer is dry-heaving. Remind her of words, including additional three stanzas in case she wants to be historically accurate. Offer brief account of bombardment of Fort McHenry, history of Anacreontic Society and drinking songs of London social clubs, capsule biography of Francis Scott Key. She just stares at me. I get that a lot.
7:05 pm: Lay hands on blind and sick huddled down right-field line. Feel bad that I don't have time to cure mild astigmatism I spy in front row of Excelsior level. Remind myself I'm only one man.
7:06 pm: Pregame handshake ritual with teammates. For something a little different, do it with eyes closed, identifying teammates through combination of pheromone recognition and echolocation. Fossum keeps forgetting that the seventh and 21st steps in our handshake are the same movement in reverse. Must be patient with the new guy.
Top of 1st: Game on. Strike out side. Use 11 pitches to do so when nine would have sufficed. Enraged at own inefficiency.
Bottom of 1st: Offense doesn't convert one-out situation with runner on third. Allow self brief sigh. Take call from CDC worried about Mexican swine flu thing. Tear page out of Delgado's notebook, model quick redistribution of stockpiles of Tamiflu and Relenza. Docs grateful. Hey, we're all part of the same team.
Top of 2nd: Dunn singles. This annoys me. Strike out next three. Debate sending Dukes SMS saying “You out, dawg” with picture of baseball. Seems ungentlemanly.
Bottom of 2nd: Tatis misses home run thanks to 800-foot-high outfield wall. With my at-bat coming up, go down to expensive new batting cage. Unnamed teammate (I won't tell you whom — discretion is my watchword) is in there lashing line drives. Batting-practice pitcher announces “Runners on second and third!” U.T. looks at bat quizzically, tries to switch ends, misses pitch, falls down. I feel I should be more surprised. Go to Plan C: Strike everybody out and hit three home runs. Hit into fielder's choice instead. Puzzling.
Top of 3rd: Take mound still troubled by not living up to own standards on offense. Only strike out one guy in 1-2-3 inning. Revolting. As I've heard people tell other people, this game will humble you.
Bottom of 3rd: My teammates' inability to score runs is temporarily eclipsed by Nationals' inability to field. I have a one-run lead. Such bounty — perhaps I was traded and didn't notice? Teammates fail to score runner from third with none out. Guess I haven't been traded after all. Begin to tell myself I'm only one man, stop. Because limitations are loser talk. Set up lab for purposes of cloning self. After that debacle in St. Louis, it could be our only chance. Find Tatis in clubhouse, Googling “Citi Field” and “outfield dimensions” and “architect” with murder in his eyes.
Top of 4th: Allow hit. This annoys me, so I strike out Dukes again.
Bottom of 4th: Find unnamed teammate lost in clubhouse tunnel due to batting helmet facing wrong direction. This does not bode well even by low standards for Mets with runners in scoring position. Get on base. Running toward second after Castillo single, have two thoughts at once. One is new hypothesis about string theory that suggests intriguing possibilities about ultimate fate of spacetime. To be specific, when considering the product space of a five-dimensional Anti de Sitter space and a five-sphere … sorry, I forget you guys aren't interested in that stuff. Anyway, the other thought is “Wow, Luis Castillo is the greatest offensive weapon on the 2009 Mets.” Exquisite strangeness of both thoughts leads me to stray too far past second. Am tagged out. Small prize to pay for 2010 Nobel Prize for Physics. Oh, and run scores. A crooked number? For me?
Top of 5th: Remember line from “Bull Durham” that strikeouts are fascist. Decide to eschew them for an inning in honor of Ron Shelton's valentine to the greatest game of all. A private tribute. I live for the small moments, too.
Bottom of 5th: Now Tatis is Googling “chloroform” and “oil drum” and “shovel.” See that this will end badly, conduct quick seminar in Buddhist teachings, breathing exercises. Using more pages from Delgado's notebook, jot down new thoughts about string theory, send it to Nature. Keep ruminations on Castillo to myself.
Top of 6th: Nick Johnson homers while I'm pondering final wrinkle of how to resolve MTA funding impasse. As Roger Penrose used to counsel me when he could no longer keep up, “One thing at a time, Johan!” So irritated that I walk Zimmerman. Fool Dunn so completely he launches little parachute into the outfield. Ramon drops foul pop from Dukes. Restrain indignation and strike him out instead. That makes me feel better, so I fan Kearns too. Get Flores on pop to third. On way back to dugout, make mental note to erase TiVo recording of this game. Its imperfections make it unendurable.
Bottom of 6th: Teammates score third run for me — perhaps they're confused and think it's already my next start? This is out of even my control, and my work is done. Hit whirlpool.
10:28 pm: Check in on cloning experiment. Something is amiss — there are several Oliver Perezes in the lab, balling up my lab reports and throwing them not terribly near wastebaskets. Of course — contaminant DNA from handshake ritual! Make note on iPhone: Buy more Purell.
10:42 pm: Game won. Why can every other team hit home runs in this park? Continue colloquy with beat writers on new ideas about motifs and alliteration, segue from there into Q&A session at locker. Remember to put pants on one leg at a time. Seems like wasteful extra step to me, but other people find it reassuring.
11:30 pm: Homeward bound! Should I walk on water, or transport self home through sheer power of thought? Decide to just drive. A good teammate isn't a showoff, after all.
Speaking of good teammates, my co-writer has spun the literary equivalent of a perfect game with Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets, available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or a bookstore near you. Keep in touch and join the discussion on Facebook.