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I Believe in Me Field Advantage

FLIGHT ATTENDANT: More anything?
JERRY: More everything!

“The Airport”

I don’t get to sit anywhere I want and I don’t have access to everything there is, but otherwise I’ve been a first-class passenger at Citi Field for the past ten games I’ve attended. When it comes to baseball, I get just about anything I could possibly want.

• If I want a personal-best ten-game winning streak, I get that. I got that Tuesday night [1]. I’m three games beyond my previous high and four over anything I ever achieved at Shea.

• If I want the Mets to score more runs than they ever have in a game I’ve attended, I get that. Three times — 1995 vs. the Rockies, 2000 vs. the Diamondbacks and 2008 vs. the Nationals — the home team at Shea put a big 13 on the board. Tuesday night, there were 14 scored on my behalf.

• If I want the biggest Met half-inning I’ve ever witnessed, I get that. As best as I can tell, my previous high came in the seven-run bottom of the eighth of the 2007 Home Opener [2]. That mark became the old mark in the bottom of the third on June 22, 2010…which also had to be the longest half-inning of all time, considering it was well underway when a 58-minute rain delay interrupted it. But you’ll wait through a little (or a lot of) rain when it means the Mets will return in an hour and bat around after a run had scored and runners stood on second and third.

[Ed. Note: In the euphoria of Tuesday night, I somehow forgot I was on hand for a not altogether unmemorable TEN-RUN INNING [3] on June 30, 2000, something I’ve written about extensively [4] and rank as one of the TEN GREATEST GAMES [5] I ever attended. So while the Mets scoring eight runs in the third was wonderful, it was not a personal record.]

It was that kind of night in this kind of season. It’s been an unbelievable stretch for The Log II, which has known the kind of success its predecessor could only have dreamed of and little of the frustration that marked The Log’s developmental years.

It’s not just the ten consecutive W’s that have made 2010 at Citi Field A+ territory. Just about every one of those wins has come from a game you can identify by shorthand, the kind of game I have a hunch the eternally aware Mets fan will understand a year or five from now: Ike Davis’s debut; Ike Davis’s first home run; the Sunday night when it rained so much [6] that they had to call it in the sixth and offered ticketholders an exchange for one of six games in June…

Hey, that became this game! I was some nice person’s guest on April 25 and was ready to return my ticket his way so he could make the exchange but I was told, no, you go ahead and take both. The choices were San Diego and Detroit. For novelty’s sake, I went with the Tigers (American idiocy [7] objections notwithstanding). I chose the Tuesday game because Stephanie is off Tuesdays, which means I don’t have to worry about not picking her up at the station because I’ve already taken off for Mets-Willets Point.

Funny thing is the tickets I exchanged from April, which were perfectly lovely Left Field Reserved seats, received a makeover in the mail and became brilliant Caesars Club seats, a few rows in front of the press box, a couple of sections to the third base side of home. When I mentioned this to Stephanie, she basically invited herself to join me…which is something I’ve been waiting for her to do for 23 or so years. The lure of the Logezzanine level is so strong that it transcended her longstanding aversion to being out past her bedtime on a work night She even arranged to go in a little later this morning because she wanted to see the Mets last night!

It’s been that kind of season at Citi Field for me. It would have been a pity to break a historic winning streak Tuesday, so the pity was held in abeyance. It would have been a pity to have tossed out a 3-0 lead on account of rain, so the rain, rain went away. It would have been a pity to have left those runners from the third on second and third, so the Mets brought them and a whole bunch more like them across the plate once the basepaths dried.

No pity at Citi for us. When precipitation occurs, I will readily admit the new joint kicks the ass of Beloved Shea, where not being drenched and not being crushed were mutually exclusive options [8]. This was the first full-fledged rain delay I’d hung in for as a normal person, so to speak, at Citi Field. There was an endless delay the second-to-last game of last season, but I was part of the Gary, Keith and Ron event, and we were in the Bullpen Plaza/Citi Field Basement for the duration (plus, overcome by melancholy [9], I bolted before the tarp was removed). I didn’t wait out any of the Sunday night delay in April because by the looks of things, it was going to be a called game as soon as it could be (and it was).

Tuesday night, we put in our 58 minutes mainly by moving about. The Caesars level, particularly its club, was a little too busy to allow unfettered standing around. We tried our luck on Field Level, ducking into World’s Fare for a Mama’s cupcake and then seeking out a spot to split it in semi-solitude. After bulldozing through a Shea-ish pedestrian traffic slog, we settled along what I guess you could call the Rotunda Terrace, above Mr. Robinson’s grand staircase, leaning against a brick pillar and trading bites of our mint chocolate chip delight. It was surprisingly uncrowded considering the Rotunda is supposed to be the central gathering spot for Mets fans. Maybe it had been earlier.

The only truly sour note of the delay was when we decided to go to the main team store via the Museum. The thrill that there’s an actual Hall of Fame at the Mets’ ballpark has yet to dissipate but I’ve been in there four or five times, so I’m no longer in the wide-eyed gawking phase when I visit. I just wanted to take a quick glimpse to see if anything had changed since it opened (it hasn’t), which made the appearance of a partition between us and the door a little annoying when we attempted to enter. The annoyance factor ratcheted up when the burgundy-shirted guard told us we’d have to wait for the “crowd” to thin out before he could let us in.

“What crowd?” I asked incredulously (which is usually how one is compelled to ask anything of a Met employee). “There’s no crowd!”

There really wasn’t. There were fans to be seen through the glass, and I’m glad there were, but no fire marshal was going to have to be summoned. A couple of dozen people milling ain’t no crowd. Perhaps sensing my growing unease, the guard volunteered that the game would restart at 9:10 PM. That defused the brief but palpable sense of tension. “You didn’t come to the game to look at this,” he said of the museum. “You came for the game.”

Interesting sales tack. But it worked. We browsed the Hall and the store, met a swell FAFIF reader (but aren’t they all?) and were back in our seats for the rest of the third somewhere between Barajas being hit and Francoeur being hit. That was the last hitting any Tiger would be doing for many minutes.

Once the Mets are up 10-0, you know what I’m thinking? Besides “let’s not get overconfident here”? I’m thinking that if this isn’t blown, and I’m up to ten in a row, have the Mets used up all their immediate runs in advance of tomorrow when I’m due back here? Will the streak, only nine until this thing is an official ballgame, be stranded at ten because tonight was so delicious and I got greedy wanting more runs, more everything?

That’s the Mets fan mindset at work. That’s the experience of a man with a Log whose first page reflects 18 losses in 25 games between 1973 and 1982 and whose lifetime Shea record right up until that first 13-run outburst against Colorado on July 14, 1995, wallowed at a soggy 38-51. I’ve been on a fifteen-year roll ever since (227-147, encompassing all Shea, Citi and postseason that have counted), but I’ve never shaken the feeling that it can all end at any given second. It’s why I take no win for granted and why I continue to take my single 2010 loss — effing Willie Harris — rock-hard even if its memory should have been obliterated by now.

I have seen so much this year. I have seen the Mets sweep the first single-admission doubleheader in Citi Field history. I have seen the Mets celebrate their first extra-inning, walkoff home run. I have seen the Mets turn a 6-2 deficit in the middle of the eighth into an 8-6 triumph by the top of the ninth. I have seen a Goose Egg Sweep begin to take shape, a one-hitter trump a triple play, Angel Pagan bid for a cycle, Jose Reyes return from purgatory, Ike Davis land on his head, and some strangers from Detroit pound the baseball for two innings to no avail because when it got to 11-6 last night and it began to feel a little too close for comfort, the Mets stuffed an extra three runs in their already formidable cushion and shooed the Tigers off the furniture for the balance of the evening.

I have now seen 14 runs scored by the Mets against the Tigers at Citi Field. In 1997, I saw 14 runs scored against the Mets by the Tigers at Tiger Stadium, the memorable ballpark [10] whose right field grandstand inspired the Pepsi Porch. It sure was good to return the favor and make a grand offensive stand of our own, lack of home team home runs costing us nothing but an apple-rise or two.

Fourteen runs. An eight-run inning. Ten consecutive wins. Sweet potato fries in the Caesars Club before the game. Kevin James gleefully throwing out the first pitch and not wearing an “I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU CHUCK AND LARRY” cap. Tom Seaver materializing in the fourth when our former Marine joined another former Marine during the always beautiful Veteran of the Game salute (we got a good look at Tom, but not as good as some people [11] got). Rain that fell hard but ceased soon enough. As fine a Tuesday night as one could order if one could order Tuesday nights custom-made.

Wednesday night will be Promenade, much further from the press box, which is where an even bigger celebrity Mets fan than James, Jerry Seinfeld, will be special-guest analyzing [12] alongside Keith Hernandez and Gary Cohen. We’ll get foam fingers and exhortations to vote David Wright onto the All-Star team and endless sales pitches about the cheap and fantastic tickets we can purchase via mets.com (while “convenience fees” [13] go unmentioned) and another drive-by Tigers sighting. Stephanie’s 5-0 lifetime Citi Field record will be safe as she’ll be sitting this one out. My personal-best ten-game winning streak, however, will be squarely on the line.

But that’s OK, because that’s exactly where a winning streak belongs.