The Mets are playing a day-night doubleheader, and so are we: My take on the day game will be followed by Greg’s report on the nightcap.
The Mets’ late-season swoon has annoyed me of late, but the morning still found me down in the dumps. Joshua and I were headed to Citi Field for our last visit of 2011. Taking our seat in the left-field seats under the Gulf sign, amid a red sea of hooting Phillies fans, I looked around sorrowfully, wanting to fix things in memory, wondering about what would be different the next time we were here. (The Mo Zone sure looks better with that added picnic area! But, man, seeing someone else wearing 7 is an atrocity!)
For a while it looked like we might have a day to truly remember: R.A. Dickey was ripping through the Phils, including Cole Hamels. I found myself getting testy as the countdown-by-threes reached 15, then 12, then nine, shushing my kid and crabbing at him that you didn’t discuss what was going on, even as the Mets and Phils fans behind us were yelling about first a perfect game and then a no-hitter. Nick Evans’ stumbling, staggering, sprawling catch on the warning track seemed like it might be a harbinger of wonderful things, but no, we are still the Mets. That Metsness would assert itself with eight outs left to get, as Shane Victorino received his ticket to the Clubhouse of Curses (how perfect that it was him), and Ryan Howard promptly drove him in.
The maroon invaders rose up to bray and cackle, and those of us in blue and orange slumped in our seats. Two minutes before we’d been floating along on a cloud of what-if; now we were neck-deep in despair. One brave Mets fan in the neighboring section came to the railing to berate the Phillies rooters, his wild, scraggly hair and bad teeth and helter-skelter clothing marking him as a ballpark crazy. His stare was baleful enough to get everybody’s attention, whereupon he screamed that “THE YANKEES WILL BEAT YOU IN THE WORLD SERIES!”
Dude, shut the fuck up.
The Mets, though, had a little gumption in them. The left-field corner isn’t the best place for judging long fly balls, particularly ones hit right at you, but the second Valentino Pascucci connected I was up and out of my seat, howling with glee. The ball landed about 25 feet in front of us, with Joshua’s late scramble just failing to end with a souvenir. An inning later Ruben Tejada turned in another terrific at-bat, digging himself out of an 0-2 hole and singling on a 3-2 count, after which he stole second and David Wright bounced one that had Placido Polanco going this-a-way and third-base ump Mike Estabrook going that-a-way and Tejada heading home. Manny Acosta survived a moderately frightening ninth and we were homeward bound.
All in all, not a bad way to go out.