I haven’t enjoyed too many Citi Field nights more than I enjoyed Tuesday’s. You know you’re on the literal right track to a fine evening when your LIRR conductor announces that “for tonight only,” you won’t have to change at Jamaica for Woodside. All the dominoes fell favorably from there.
Stay on for Woodside and you…
• Get the Shea…I mean Mets-Willets Point connection across the track at Woodside
• Don’t get checked for a ticket, so — in transitspeak — you’re saved both a Metrocard swipe and a ten-trip punch.
• Meet up with two-sport blogger extraordinaire Matthew Artus (late of Always Amazin’, lately with Amazin’ Avenue, plus with the soccer) in plenty of time to secure BobbleIke, quite possibly the only Ike we’ll see ’til next year.
• Enjoy a ringside Promenade seat for Dillon Gee’s four-some innings of no-hit threatening.
• Shake off dissipation of potential no-hitter when the Mets actually begin to cash in their own bounty of hits for a couple of runs here and a couple of runs there.
• Analyze the efficacy of Tony La Russa’s insistence on batting his pitcher eighth and remaining baffled despite our (and Kyle Lohse’s) best efforts as to why if it’s so bleeping genius, why hasn’t anybody else adopted it?
• Boo Yadier Molina.
• Wonder why Daniel Murphy is so mad at his batting helmet.
• Welcome back Jose Reyes with open arms, smoking bats, ready gloves, healthy legs, contract extensions — welcome him back with everything we have, really.
• Stare agog, agape and aghast as Lance Berkman drills a pothole in the Shea Bridge, but that’s almost all right, because nobody’s on and it kind of gets us past the idea that Gee should have stopped those two balls up the middle that cost him his no-hitter, like we were really going to see a no-hitter, but as Matt admitted, “I was thinking no-hitter from the second inning.” Anyway, Berkman’s shot was a sight to behold, as long as it came in a losing cause.
• Be joined in our section (right in front of one of our several weird, incomprehensible, yelling neighbors who wasn’t particularly invested in either the Mets or the Cardinals, he just liked yelling weirdly and incomprehensibly) by Matthew Silverman, who drops by for the late innings.
• Settle down in our newly reconfigured bullpen with Bobby Parnell and Jason Isringhausen making us all most comfortable.
• Put it in the books, or in my case, once I get home, The Log II, the steno pad in which I record the essential details of every game I’ve ever been to at Citi Field, just the way I used to at Shea Stadium.
• Make an eastbound train at Woodside that requires no changing at Jamaica. If you ride the Long Island Rail Road on any line but Port Washington, you understand what a luxury that is.
The seamless commuting, the no-resemblance Ike, the pair of Matts, the ultimately harmless Bridge job, the return of Jose and of course, of course, of course that 4-2 win all get filed under why we count off the days in winter until it’s spring. We do it so we have summer nights like this one. Amid what amounted to an infomercial for baseball, however, something nagged at the Metsopotamian soul:
We were probably watching the beginning of the last series Carlos Beltran ever plays in a Mets home uniform.
If we were — and it’s tough to doubt, considering that the Mets are on the road starting Friday and through the trade deadline — then what a way to begin to go out, for him and for us.
First off, I’m impressed most not that he went for 3-for-3, smacked two doubles, reached base five times and showed no ill effects from the flu he was sweating out during the previous few days.
I’m most impressed that he showed up for work on the heels of a reported 105-degree fever. Either impressed or horrified.
I don’t know if he showed his face Saturday, but I saw him on the bench Sunday and Monday. Maybe coming to Citi Field to take advantage of its convenient I.V. drips was better for him than turning up his bedroom AC to full blast and trying to forget how sick he was by seeking out reruns of Match Game ’75 on the Game Show Network, but geez: a 105-degree fever? In this heat? The players have a strong enough union so they get a couple of sick days, don’t they?
Carlos Beltran doesn’t take sick days, not willingly. Do you realize that with Josh Thole on paternity leave, the only Met position players to spend every moment of this season on the active roster are Beltran, Murphy and Scott Hairston? And as evidenced by his “oh, by the way” streak of reaching base in 25 consecutive games, I’d say Carlos is the leading candidate for Met Employee of the Month, no matter where he ends July.
This is who Carlos Beltran has been for the bulk of seven Met seasons, even the two that injuries curtailed into veritable half-years — even during the first one, back when he was still trying to dash to third while carrying the weight of outsized expectations on his shoulders. He didn’t meet them in 2005. He exceeded them in 2006. He stayed ahead of them in 2007 and 2008, for the most part. He did what he could with them as lack of physical well-being dictated in 2009 and 2010.
In 2011, at least now that July 31 is coming into view, the expectation is he’ll be traded sometime in the next eleven days. It’s one of the few expectations I’d prefer Carlos Beltran not meet. He shattered what little was thought in store for him this spring. Beltran was projected to be a part-timer and a fairly gimpy one at that. There’s no gimp in this man. There’s no quit in this man. What concerns me is there will be no Met in this man’s uniform when the Mets come home from Miami, Cincinnati and Washington.
I get it. I understand the financial realities. I see the benefit of getting something in a trade now as opposed to nothing when he leaves later, and I grudgingly accept there is no next year where this team and this increasingly pricey free agent to be are concerned. I also maintain no illusions that even as the Mets scrap and claw, their Wild Card chances are probably too remote for even Lance Berkman to reach on the fly. Beltran 2011 isn’t Reyes 2011 in terms of allocating future resources.
But Beltran 2011 is a joy in whatever’s left of the present. And the vision of Beltran in a Mets uniform, putting every one of his five or six tools to brilliant use, just keeps looking better and better in the rearview mirror of the mind. When I summon a mental highlight package of No. 15 for whatever reason I might in the coming years, I’ll make a note to ask the truck to include the night he went for 3-for-3, smacked two doubles, reached base five times and showed no ill effects from the flu he was sweating out during the previous few days. That what Carlos Beltran did on quite likely the second-to-last night I got to see him play in a Mets home uniform.
Why do we count off the days in winter until it’s spring? We do it so we have summer nights like this one, so we can watch players like that one.