I went to a baseball game Tuesday night and Jonathon Niese broke out.
I didn’t go to see Niese. I never go with the express purpose of seeing Niese. I went for the Gary, Keith & Ron bobblehead. That was the inanimate object I craved, not Niese. Grass grows, paint dries, Niese pitches. It’s not usually very interesting, but not everything can be interesting. You still need grown grass, you still require dry paint and now and then a little Jon Niese goes a long way.
This time around, Jon Niese was dynamic, omnipresent and went everywhere. He threw a complete game shutout at the Phillies, who suddenly don’t travel so well now that they’re as lame as us; he scored the first run (through Tim Teufel’s stop sign, no less, because he’s been around this offense enough to know better than to count on his teammates); he drove in the three put-away runs on a double Kyle Kendrick unsportingly dismissed as “lucky” after surrendering it; and he made me yammer delusionally on the way out about how, sure, we’ll be missing Harvey next year, but if you have Niese pitching like this and Wheeler pitching like he did last night and Gee pitching like he has the entire second half and Mejia pitching like he did before he went down…well, we have no hitting and we’re gonna have to rely on some Matsuzaka-Marcum type at least once every fifth day, but, uh…
It wasn’t worth finishing the thought. Still, any attention diverted from the looming absence of Harvey Days in 2014 (no matter what the Daymeister himself is Tweeting) is a welcome distraction. Jon Niese distracted us for two hours and nineteen minutes with his one-man show. Ideal length for a well-rounded win.
Swell bobblehead, too. Kudos to Lynn Cohen and her Pitch In For A Good Cause efforts. Always a pleasure to run into so many familiar faces at these events — besides the ones that bobble, I mean. I attended the game with my Crane Pool comrade Paul, whose last name I have yet to memorize, but it’s the Mets and it’s the Internet, so nobody’s too much of a stickler for details. Our conversation across the evening encompassed, among others, Charlie Neal, Chris Cannizzaro, Ron Swoboda, Kevin Mitchell, Chris Jones and, inevitably, Matt Harvey, but we didn’t dwell on The Bad News.
I didn’t dwell too long on Citi Field’s inability to have hot dogs ready to serve in a section where vouchers for hot dogs were part of the deal (I was told I could wait 10 minutes after having waited 10 minutes in line) or the lack of diet cola in the next section. I wasn’t put off by the presence of the U.S. Open invading our sovereign territory despite my annual instinctive resentment that other things attract people to Flushing Meadows besides baseball. As we rode the Super Express toward Woodside, a lovely woman from another country asked how the Mets did. I told her they won. She expressed good tidings. I then pretended I knew who any of the tennis guys she mentioned having seen were. It just seemed sporting. More so than Kyle Kendrick, at any rate.