We were supposed to go to the game.
That was the plan: meet up with a gang of Met-minded folks for our inaugural viewing of the Mets from the Pepsi Porch. And it seemed like a sound enough one: Joshua's Little League team started the morning and ended their season with a win in Prospect Park, beating both their opponents and the rain and sending us back to Brooklyn Heights to rest, take care of weekend duties and hope the weather permitted the Mets and the Rays to inflame their rivalry to pilot-light level. Even if there wasn't built-in intensity, there would be Johan Santana and beer and tacos and the Pepsi Porch and fellow fans and baseball right there in front of you. What's not to like?
But come 3 p.m. the radar map was covered with the grassy bruises of storm systems arrowing for New York City. The question wasn't if there'd be a stoppage, but when that stoppage would come and if it would ever be followed by a startage. We hemmed. We hawed. The kid expressed a love of the Mets, but a reluctance to sit around for an hour or more under some form of Soft Drink Overhang while the tarp was on the field. That seemed eminently sensible. And so we bailed.
It's odd watching a game from which you've excused youself. You feel happy because the weather's crappy and you're not in it, of course. (Because if you didn't go and the weather isn't crappy, what's your excuse?) But mostly you feel guilty — you want Johan Santana to throw the first Met no-hitter and Danny Meyer to give whomever's in your seats free Shake Shack for life so you're punished, to the extent that watching good things happen to the Mets can ever be punishment.
And hey, Johan gave it a run, retiring 13 Rays before the first hit and offering reassuring evidence that whatever happened at Leni Riefenstahl Stadium was some kind of horrid workplace flub, like the time you dropped the water barrel while it was descending to mate with the cooler or accidentally printed three copies of a 680-page PDF just before heading for lunch. Johan gave it a run, but was on the short end when the rain finally asserted itself and gone when it lifted.
Rain delays are their own psychological experiment, particularly when the hope is that you'll get another crack at erasing a small deficit. For some reason they seem to inspire hope. The starting pitcher who's held you down will not be able to return. This will lift the morale of the forces of good, who have undoubtedly spent the rain delay engaged in soulful team-building exercises. By the time word arrived that the tarp was off the field, I had the game all but won. Joshua felt differently, and the bottom of the ninth was an uncharacteristic scene in our house: The six-year-old grousing like a bitter railbird while his cynical father remained blithely confident.
Alex Cora was a smart, smart hitter who might not be the most talented guy in the lineup, but could always be relied on to do whatever he could to make the right outcome as likely as possible. And, indeed, Cora maneuvered his way into a 2-1 count against J.P. Howell. He grounded out, but he did what he could. Joshua flung himself onto the couch and bemoaned that this was the worst game ever. (He was asleep when Luis Castillo dropped the fucking ball.)
No, no, I said, there was just one out. Things were still possible. Fernando Tatis then tried to prove me right, drawing three straight balls and then trying to squeeze one more ball out of Howell, which he couldn't do. He flied out to right. Joshua returned to lamentations.
Kid, relax. There's a baseball expression called “a bloop and a blast.” A little dunker from Carlos Beltran and a dinger from David Wright and we would play on through the rain. And Carlos Beltran drew a 2-0 count before singling solidly off Howell, prompting Joshua to briefly perk up.
And then, well, you saw it. David Wright arrived saucer-eyed and overanxious and left after a near-vertical hack at Howell's final pitch. And there was nothing whatsoever I could do to sugarcoat that, because it had been pathetic and now we were done. Except that as Wright trudged off the field and the rain came down, we were not in the Pepsi Porch and awaiting the joys of the 7 train alongside legions of other tired, wet, exasperated Mets fans.
Which is to say that while I still felt guilty, I wished I'd had reason to feel a hell of a lot guiltier.
It's Father's Day! “Father” starts with “f,” which means you should buy a book with lots of words that start with “f” and is about manly things. You've just described 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.