Even for my baseball-obsessed family, it was a wall-to-wall day.
Saturday began with the annual Little League Parade, an exercise in genial chaos in which a rainbow of teams assemble on a block of 1st Street whose residents I imagine make sure to be out of town this particular weekend, then march down 7th Avenue to 9th Street, then up the hill to Prospect Park. “March,” you’ll understand, is a somewhat approximate description: It’s more a kind of Brownian motion, with kids racing around and tossing balls and stealing each other’s hats amid a mass of parents and siblings and dogs and cops and bands and miscellaneous well-wishers and the occasional defeated-looking driver wondering what the heck this is and wishing he’d known about it. It’s about as Brooklyn as it gets, the borough become a very big small town.
And Joshua even gets to wear the right colors, as you can see for yourself. Yes, those are Mets colors — and with a Brooklyn Cyclones logo on the sleeve, no less.
Having paraded in the morning, in the afternoon our newly christened team (the Tornadoes) went out and claimed their first victory, a contest that would have been perfectly concluded by Bob Murphy announcing that “the Tornadoes win the damn thing, 28-26.” Standing behind the catcher and the umpire to prevent passed balls from rolling into the dog pond (a position the teenaged ump dryly and correctly noted “sees the most action on the field”), I had an excellent view of my kid’s three-run double, which made me want to throw another parade on the spot, even though an older third baseman might have kept it from shooting past into left field and it might not have driven in three except this kid threw it over the head of that kid who threw it over the head of that other kid who was prevented from throwing it over the head of another kid by the ump declaring the ball dead, which is the way most plays end when the players are all eight. A father’s pride knows no asterisks, which is as it should be. And Brooklyn Little League is for the most part a genial affair, with coaches offering positive reinforcement and teenaged umps getting respect even when the score is approximate and parents working together to keep kids away from teammates swinging bats in the on-deck circle. All of which is as it should be too.
With victory secured, we headed home for Baseball Part 3: Mets vs. Nationals, and my first look up close and in HD at Citi Field in 2011. I’d absorbed yesterday’s rather discouraging proceedings via MLB At Bat while on Amtrak, with my decrepit iPhone insisting, to my mounting fury, on losing the audio data whenever a Met had a chance to drive in a run. I wasn’t mollified in the least that the Mets themselves seemed to be missing key data in this situation, and so watched the TiVo’ed pregame festivities with the surly awareness that they’d preceded a dreary, frustrating loss.
But you start over every day, and there were the Mets in the increasingly familiar green and black and brick and orange confines of Citi, and once again properly attired in pinstripes and blue caps. (The phony-retro cream still annoys me, but all in all I’ll take it.) There were happily familiar sights such as Jose Reyes and his smile and his mane, which has reached Predator dimensions, and Ike Davis alternating looking pitifully gawky and enviably graceful inside a single plate appearance, and David Wright inspecting his bat and yanking at his shirt before turning his gaze to the pitcher with an intent, vaguely worried look on his face. There were not-yet-familiar sights, too, such as Terry Collins’ pop-eyed stare and the way his crossed arms and furious gum-chomping convey kilojoules of nervous energy being spun up with nowhere to go, or Chris Capuano’s smooth, rubber-band leg kick, echoed by his oddly aerodynamic features.
The most welcome sight of all was Carlos Beltran’s gorgeous swing employed in service of the forces of good, not once but twice. The first Beltran homer seemed impossible, a high and outside pitch that he somehow pulled into the seats above the Great Wall of Flushing, while the second was a classic case of a pitcher putting a ball in a very bad spot and watching what happens after it’s intersected by a perfect arcing swing. I was so thrilled by those two at-bats that my enthusiasm tacked a phantom 20 feet onto Beltran’s third drive: It wasn’t a third homer, as I happily proclaimed upon seeing Jerry Hairston Jr. retreating toward the warning track, but it also somehow wasn’t an out, as Hairston tried to throw the ball before catching it, which isn’t advised whether you’re a Tornado, a Met or a National.
Just behind that on the Most Welcome list was Ike Davis, Daniel Murphy and then finally Jose Reyes halting a stretch of Met futility with runners on. Ike’s triple ended with a slide into third that was more of an exhausted tumble; Reyes’ double ended more gracefully, with a patented Jose whoosh on the belly across second, the back foot grabbing the base in much the same way a jet fighter catches a cable on the carrier deck. Great to see, and not just because it looked like the Mets would manage to turn bases loaded and nobody out into nothing through the unlikely combination of Ike Davis interfering with Ian Desmond, K-Rod trying to hit and Jose coming up empty. After that, even a sudden flurry of K-Rod walks couldn’t keep us from the win column, and from feeling better about things.
It was enough to make a Mets fan want to throw another parade.