- Faith and Fear in Flushing - http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

And I Believe in a Promised Land

“Hello? Anyone still up?”
“In here.”
“I’m not coming by too late, am I?”
“No, it’s fine. Come in. Sit down. There’s some old pretzels in the fridge if you want. Might be a little hard, so be careful.”

“I’m not hungry. They’ve got great food at work. I’m still wired, though. I just had to drop by and tell somebody who would understand.”
“You had a good night it sounds like.”
“A good night? Did you see it?”
“I couldn’t stay up. These games are on too late for me these days.”
“Oh, you should have seen it. You should have heard it!”
“It was loud, huh?”

“Loud doesn’t begin to describe it. You said it would be loud if something like this ever happened.”
“Yes, it could get loud in my day.”
“I don’t know if you ever heard it like it was tonight, though. I mean it was crazy.”
“Big win, huh?”
“Not just a big win [1], but a wild scene. The fans were so into it.”
“Those fans can definitely get excited.”
“Excited isn’t the word for it. It was…”
“Amazin’?”

“Yes, Amazin! I’d been hearing about Amazin’ as long as I can remember, ever since I started in 2009, but I never really got it.”
“You have to experience it for yourself. Took me, what, maybe six years to feel it.”
“When you were doing it, were the fans nonstop?”
“They could definitely keep it up.”

“But when the other team was introduced. Did the fans just give it to them? I mean the Dodgers knew they were in for it. And Utley…”
“Ugly?”
“Utley. Chase Utley [2]. You should remember Utley. He was with the Phillies back when you were around.”
“I saw a lot of ballplayers in 45 years. Who can keep track?”

“The noise directed against Utley…wow! The fans would not let up on him. He probably wishes had taken that suspension.”
“Any whiskey bottles?”
“Whiskey bottles? What are you talking about?”
“When I was doing the playoffs, the fans didn’t just make noise. They made trouble for the bastards on the other team. Like Rose.”

“Howie Rose? Why would anybody make trouble for Howie Rose?”
“Not Howie, for Pete’s sake. Pete Rose. Had the most hits ever. Took out Buddy Harrelson with a dirty slide.”
“I don’t know who those names are.”
“You don’t know Pete Rose [3] or Buddy Harrelson? I thought they gave you a museum at some point.”

“Anyway, when I thought it couldn’t get any louder from booing Utley, you should have heard the cheers for Ruben Tejada [4].”
“Tejada…Tejada…is he the one who cries when he’s traded?”
“No, that’s Flores.”
“Ah, Gil Flores [5]. He was a nice boy.”

“I said Wilmer Flores [6], but that was something else. See, after all the Met reserves were introduced, they surprised everybody by bringing out Ruben, who hobbled out with a cane. The place went nuts.”
“The place went nuts when Willie and Yogi and Rusty went out to left field to stop the crowd from throwing whiskey bottles at Rose.”
“Rusty — he was there!”
“I thought Rusty was retired. They don’t have the DH now, do they?”

“No, Rusty threw out the first pitch. Then Harvey took the mound.”
“Haddix? He was Tom Seaver [7]’s first pitching coach. No Rube Walker [8], but a nice fella.”
“This was Matt Harvey, you know, the Dark Knight?”
“It was a dark night when my lights went out in 1977. Have you ever seen the pictures where the players brought their cars on the field, turned their brights on and pantomimed a game of catch?”

“Uh, so Harvey throws a great first inning, but he’s not so good in the second. The Dodgers score three runs and for the first time everybody’s a little quiet.”
“Everybody was a lot quiet in 1977. Not one of my happier years. Not much company then. Not in ’78 or ’79, either, though that Gil Flores was a very nice boy. Did you say he was there tonight?”

“I think you mean Wilmer, and yes, he was the starting shortstop because Ruben was out. The second inning could have been worse, except David made a great jumping catch at third.”
“David…third…that sounds familiar.”
David Wright [9].”
“David! Him, I remember! He must’ve been 23 when I last saw him. What is he now, 24?”
“David’s 32.”
“Nah, you’re kidding. Little David Wright? The kid from Virginia who was all golly shucks and carried Cliff Floyd [10]’s bags?”
“I don’t know. David’s the captain.”
“He is? Good for him. How’s Jose?”
“He’s not there anymore.”
“He must be 24, too.”

“I don’t know. Anyway, we were down, 3-0, but the Mets didn’t quit.”
“The Mets never quit. Have I ever told you about 1986?”
“You have. We got three singles in a row, scored a run and then the most amazing…”
“Amazin’. It’s pronounced Amazin’.”
“Then the most Amazin’ thing happened. Wilmer Flores was up…”
“Gil Flores has a son? Give him my regards.”

“I keep telling you, I don’t know who Gil Flo…just listen, old man. You’ll want to hear this part.”
“I’m listening, I’m listening already. I listened to the Beatles, you little pisher. The girls were screaming and you could barely make out that they were even singing.”
“I’ve heard this story! Can I tell you mine? I finally have one of my own.”
“So who’s stopping you?”

“Wilmer Flores was up, with men on first and second and he beats out an infield hit.”
“That’s nice.”
“Nice? It was more than nice. The fans went crazy.”
“Yes, crazy. You said that before.”
“You don’t understand. I vibrated.”
“You what?”

“I vibrated. Out in left field, I could feel it.”
“You vibrated? That’s…that’s Amazin’!”
“I know! You used to tell me about the times you shook…”
“Oy, did I shake. It was against the Cardinals in 2000…or was it the Dodgers in 2006? Either way, yes, I shook. My Upper Deck almost came off from shaking. Are you all right? Did your Upper Deck come off?”

“I don’t have an Upper Deck. I have a Promenade.”
“Fancy with the euphemisms you are.”
“The important thing, the thing I’m trying to tell you, is I really got to feel what you always felt. The people came and they made noise all night and they were into it from the beginning to the end. They made the visiting team uncomfortable and they supported the Mets. And the Mets fed off it and won big.”
“Oh, they won? All from an infield hit by Gil Flores’s son?”

“That was just the beginning. Curtis Granderson [11] hit a three-run double to put the Mets ahead, 4-3. In the next inning, Travis d’Arnaud [12] homered to make it 6-3, and in the inning after that, Yoenis Cespedes [13]…”
Orlando Cepeda [14]? The Baby Bull? He’s a Met now? No, that can’t be right. He’d be older than I am.”
“Yoenis Cespedes hit maybe the longest, definitely the most majestic, probably the most important home run a Met has hit since I’ve been around. I mean, the arc…wow!”
“Did you shake then?”
“You know, it was so loud, I couldn’t even feel myself at that point. It was like I just stood there with my mouth open in awe of what Cespedes had done and what the Mets were doing. It was 10-3 and everybody knew they were going to win and take a series lead.”
“This Harvey — he gave up three runs in nine innings?”

“No, he only lasted five.”
“He left with an injury? I mean a starting pitcher in a playoff game who’s ahead by seven runs would only come out after five if his arm was falling off. Did I tell you about the time Rob Gardner [15] pitched 15 scoreless innings [16] and it was declared a tie?”
“It’s different these days. Harvey went five, Bartolo Colon [17] went two…”
“Colon…he sounds familiar from my out-of-town scoreboard. He’s a Met now? No, that can’t be right. He’d be older than Orlando Cepeda.”

“There was a little bullpen sloppiness later, but the Mets won easily enough, 13-7.”
“That’s a strange score.”
“I know. Some guy who keeps track of these things says the Mets have won by 13-7 only once before [18], at Wrigley Field.”
“Wrigley! My old friend! Is he still active? Give him my regards if you see him.”
“The Mets just might. There’s still one more game for the Mets to win.”
“Oh, that’s important. You’ve gotta keep the momentum going. Did I teach you that?”

“I think you said something about that.”
“Listen to me, this is crucial. It sounds like you had a good night.”
“I had the best night. There was spontaneous chanting and there was bunting hung everywhere and orange towels waving and one high-five after another and 44,000 fans…”
“Forty-four thousand? What, was the Upper Deck under renovation? Forty-four thousand’s pretty low for a playoff game.”
“Forty-four thousand’s my record for any Mets game.”
“I keep forgetting you’re so much smaller than I was.”

“I may be smaller, but I get the job done.”
“You make sure you get the job done! Don’t just sit back and think it’s over. The Dodgers, they always have good pitching. They have a good pitcher going tomorrow night?”
“Uh, yeahClayton Kershaw [19].”
“Oh, Don Shaw [20]’s boy? Or is he Bob Shaw [21]’s boy? I could never keep those two straight.”
“Clayton Kershaw was Cy Young [22] and MVP last year.”
“A regular Koufax, huh? Well, then you’ve gotta bear down even more. You got a taste of the playoffs. But you can’t stop there. You’ve gotta keep going. You and those 44,000 fans and these Mets of yours — you like how tonight felt?”

“I loved how tonight felt. It was what I was waiting seven seasons for. I thought a night like tonight would never come for me. But when it came, I finally felt like a real ballpark.”
“Well, you keep going, because you have no idea how much better it can be. Brush this Clayton Shaw and this Chase Ugly aside while you’ve got them down. Win this series. Move on to the next round. You feel like a real ballpark now? You’ll feel like something you’ve never imagined if you keep going.”

“I’ll feel Amazin’?”
“Ah, I’m not worried about you anymore, kid. You know how to be a ballpark in the playoffs.”
“And you’re not the dump everybody said you were, old man.”
“Lemme let you in on a secret. When they told me I could stay open in October, I was never a dump. I was a home field advantage. Now make me proud and go keep being one yourself.”