…well, you know the rest of the line.
On Wednesday night I walked down the stairs through the rotunda, but before proceeding out of the gates with their NYs, I looked briefly behind me. I had two reasons for doing so.
1) I wanted to see what oversized faux-Topps baseball card they’d created for Matt Harvey. It looked pretty good too — or at least it looked better than the big Mets logo representing Kelly Shoppach.
2) I realized I was seeing Citi Field for the last time in 2012.
Of the two reasons, the first was much more of a motivating factor for risking turning into a pillar of Metsian salt. The second was an afterthought at best. As I walked across the fan bricks with Greg, I felt a tinge of regret that I wouldn’t see the yard for seven wintry months. But there’s been so much regret in the second half of this year that it was a fleeting thing. The year was over for me in terms of seeing the Mets with my own eyes, but I wasn’t that sad — just as I wasn’t that sad about the prospect of afternoons and evenings without the chance to see the Mets on TV or hear them on the radio. After a second half like this, some time apart will be good therapy.
But then today R.A. Dickey won his 19th. He was terrific, freezing Marlin after Marlin, getting out of jams, sprawling in the grass for grounders, campaigning politely but insistently with umpires and almost, almost, almost getting to gallop around the bases after a grand slam — he was short by a couple of feet and a fantastic backhanded Bryan Petersen grab.
A complete game wasn’t to be — Dickey was clearly tired in the ninth, and left with two men on and none out. Enter Jon Rauch, and exit a baseball thrown John Buck’s way. It clanged off the left-field foul pole, was ruled foul, and we were treated to a relatively new baseball feeling: the grumpy sunken sensation of knowing that the other team has scored three runs now temporarily trapped in gestation. The umpires ran off the field to look at the video those of us at home and in 75% of the park could already see, and we knew unless an outbreak of hysterical blindness occurred or martial law were declared, the score was about to be a skinny 4-3 Mets, with nobody out and plenty of fingernails still to be bitten.
With the runs approved, Rauch struck out Gil Velazquez but then gave up a hit to Rob Brantly, and I told Emily and Joshua that I now realized the 2012 Mets hadn’t quite killed me yet. Then I amended that: No, they had killed me, probably around mid-August, but that hadn’t been enough to make them happy. Now they were digging up my grave, exhuming my corpse so they could put a red clown wig on my head and slather Kiss makeup on my putrefying face. Not even the sanctity of fan death was to be respected in this awful year.
A fielder’s choice replaced Brantly with Petersen, who stole second, and I waited for the fatal dunker or bleeder or rifle shot up the gap or high majestic drive that would deny Dickey his 19th win and possibly leave me a babbling ward of the state. I was pretty sure it would be a little parachute, one of those humpbacked liners that makes us all into amateur physicists calculating velocities and vectors, and it would plop down between Daniel Murphy and Andres Torres and Scott Hairston, one of whom might then kick it.
Instead Rauch struck out Gorkys Hernandez and we had won. And before I quite knew what I was doing, I was on StubHub looking for a seat for Thursday afternoon’s game, to see Dickey try and win his 20th. And when the ticket emerged from the printer (ain’t technology wonderful these days), I looked at it and found myself grinning.
One more date at Citi Field. One more chance for a day in the sun, a dog and a beer, and the chance at a happy baseball memory.
Don’t remind me of this when they put up three hits against the Pirates and lose 2-0.