Don’t worry folks, I’m just the amuse-bouche until Greg arrives with the main course.
Several times I’ve had the experience of bringing someone to the first baseball game they’ve ever seen, or at least paid any attention to. I find it nerve-wracking: You hope for a crackling game full of reversals and anxiety and perhaps a little bad feeling thrown in — years ago my parents had a German houseguest named Joachim, and his first game turned out to be this throwdown between the Mets and the Cardinals. Joachim started the game baffled by everything that was going on and not sure what he was signing up for, and ended it whooping and hollering with the rest of us. (He’s been referenced in these parts before.) That’s what you hope for, while knowing it probably won’t be what you get.
What you really don’t want is a game like today’s matinee — the baseball equivalent of a lizard on a rock. Joshua and I were there in great seats behind the Padres dugout courtesy of a kind benefactor, and everything was lovely. We ran into Faith and Fear reader Chris and his son Alexander on the train and had a grand time discussing all things Mets. We toured the Hall of Fame and museum for the first time (yeah, I know — I’m a bad fan) and Joshua read the entire Mets timeline, perhaps sensing that there was no way his impatient father would rush him through this self-appointed task. We had hot dogs and French fries and lemonade and Taqueria and a beer (mine, not the kid’s, seeing how this isn’t Philadelphia) and Joshua capped his afternoon by eating a Sno-Cone the size of his fist, after which I wondered if he might need to be Tased for the protection of those around us.
Everything was great, except for what was happening out there on the field.
Johan Santana wasn’t sharp and spent his time stomping around looking annoyed. Mat Latos and his supporting cast were superb: We saw Met after Met rear up in dismay after strike three, with the only variable whether we were looking at said Met’s front or back. Other than Henry Blanco’s jolt of a home run and a couple of nifty double plays started by Alex Cora and David Wright, it was a snoozer. (Though all four balls struck by Jason Bay were hit on the screws — he might have had two home runs in a bandbox.) I assume Jesus Feliciano will remember this game (he got a nice hand from the knowledgeable fans in attendance), but give me two months and I’ll have trouble.
But before we move on to the main event, two quick things.
While foraging for hot dogs Joshua and I ran across a guy wearing a dazed smile and a well-loved Chicago Blackhawks jersey, collecting attaboys and high-fives and back pats from random stranger after random stranger as he made his way through the concourse. Unless you’re a geologist, 49 years is a fricking long time — and it must have seemed infinitely longer after the Blackhawks turned into the NHL’s North Korea. Congratulations to them and their fans, and here’s a Hang in there, baby for every loyalist of a downtrodden cause. Your dazed smile awaits you somewhere in the future, and it will beam ever brighter for these dark days.
As I left Citi Field with a child whose exhaustion and sugar intake had him speaking in tongues, I thought to myself, If only every game like this could be the first half of a day-night doubleheader. And with that, it’s Greg’s turn.