If I hadn’t recognized the onslaught of orange by sight, my posterior would have know that texture of plastic anywhere. It was a 100% genuine Shea Stadium seat, one of four aligned against the front window of the Pine Restaurant at the Holiday Inn LaGuardia on 114th Street. Positioned as it was, it meant that once I sat down in it — the first I time I experienced that reassuring rump sensation since 9/28/08 — my back was turned on Citi Field and I was facing straight ahead at a Shea Stadium Final Season crest nailed proudly over the Pine bar. If I turned my head a little up and to the left, I could comfortably, from the vantage of my Shea Stadium seat, watch a baseball game in which a Mets pitcher seemed to be reaching base far more effectively than the opposing batters attempting to hit him.
That Pine Restaurant is my kind of place. And that Chris Young is my kind of pitcher.
Good night there on the edge of Corona. The occasion was Matt Silverman’s Maple Street Press Mets Annual soirée, but a Mets pitcher getting two hits in one inning — and three overall while striking out seven Philadelphia Phillies — well, that’s cause for unbridled celebration. It may not have provided instant impetus for parade planning, what with 158 games remaining on my crisp, new 2011 pocket schedule, but 3-1 beats all but one of the alternatives, so let’s savor that.
Very good night there on the edge of Corona. Young’s two third-inning singles…one setting up five Met runs, the second driving in a sixth…represented the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not portion of the evening. The rest of the game was good, old-fashioned romp ‘n’ stomp. David Wright failed to bring home runners in the first but then atoned with four hits, two runs, two ribs, even a stolen base. Jose Reyes grabbed himself a bag, as did Angel Pagan. Ike Davis drove in a run somewhere in there. New fellers like Brad Emaus, Scott Hairston, D.J. Carrasco and Tim Byrdak continued to contribute as well.
And I got to sit in a Shea Stadium seat, so very close to where Shea Stadium used to smile back at me when the Holiday Inn was the Ramada and the Pine was Bobby V’s. Now Citi Field eyes me warily in the distance; I don’t think it was expecting me until Friday. Me and it will be fine by then. But last night was for sitting in the seats from the ballpark it displaced. I must say, they’re way more comfortable than I remember, but maybe that’s because there wasn’t a row in front of me and a row behind me and intrusive elbows on either side of me.
Also, at Shea, it was pot luck regarding the quality of my neighbors for a given game. Tuesday night, by contrast, I had the cream of the local blogging crop in my midst: the aforementioned genial Silverman; Jon Springer, the visionary who created Mets By The Numbers when the rest of us were picking out mouse pads; Paul Lukas of Uni Watch; Ed Leyro of Studious Metsimus; and The Coop, of practically everything (but primarily this site). We even had a visit from longtime print chronicler Andy Esposito, a byline familiar to anybody who’s ever maintained a subscription to New York Mets Inside Pitch.
Big-time Mets fans in a big-time Mets establishment watching a big-time Mets win over a big-time Mets foe and engaging in a rolling big-time Mets discussion, the contents of which seemed to revolve around all that has gone wrong for our favorite team these last few years. It was good to get it off our collective chest. It’s always good to get it off our collective chest. It never stays off for long, of course. That’s Mets fandom’s biorhythms in action. I’m not criticizing, mind you. I’m recognizing it for what it is. Had a psychic entered the bar while the Mets were scoring those six third-inning runs, she would have — despite the cheering of the news from Philadelphia — advised us, “There is much pain in this room.” And then she would have found my ass clinging to my orange seat and added, “I feel separation anxiety, as if there was something nearby that was taken from you and you are still not fully recovered.”
Maybe I would have ignored the psychic as I pulled for Chris Young to stay in long enough to go 4-for-4. Or maybe I would have gone on to my recurring rant, now in its 22nd record-breaking season, about how Randy Myers never should have been traded for John Franco…which, come to think of it, I did, even though the Mets were winning by plenty in the present.
Someday when I again run into one of those big-time Mets fans with whom I spent Tuesday night, we might be moved to remember that time we watched the Mets beat the Phillies at the Pine and Chris Young became the first Met pitcher to collect two hits in the same inning, but I have a hunch that will be far down the list of Met topics that occur to us organically. First we’ll remind each other of disappointments ancient and recent. Then we’ll implicitly congratulate ourselves for sticking with our guys anyway. Then maybe Chris Young, big-time hitter and pretty good pitcher for at least one start in Philadelphia, will arise as an example of how good it used to be, in 2011, when the Mets would beat Cole Hamels like a drum; and they’d get a winning streak going early in the year; and a whole bunch of savvy acquisitions would chip in; and Reyes and Wright and Beltran were still together; and, Hey, do you remember they had those seats from Shea? Yeah, right up against the window. God, it felt good to sit in those again, if only for a night.
I have a strong sense that encounters like those, much like the ones in which I engaged as if by second nature Tuesday night, are what I live for.