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Did Ya Hear the One About David Wright?

Here’s a fun fact: May 21 isn’t May 20. Came as news to me on May 20 when I looked at two tickets for what I thought were that night’s Mets-Brewers game and realized they said May 21, a.k.a. the next day. So I’m not going tonight, it dawned on me. I’m supposed to go tomorrow.

Except independent of the acceptance of these May 21 tickets that I somehow convinced myself were for May 20, I had made dreaded Other Plans for May 21, plans I couldn’t and didn’t want to break any more than I wouldn’t think of not using these May 21 tickets, which were for a special occasion above and beyond a meeting of the Mets and Brewers (as if that isn’t special enough). Having considered my conundrum, I resorted to the only answer I could conjure.

TWO PLACES! ONE TIME!

That’s not my leitmotif. I’m barely a one place at one time type of fellow, unless the Mets are involved. In fact, the Mets are pretty much all the place I make time for. But ya gotta do what ya gotta do if ya wanna do more than one thing at once. (This message is brought to you by Schaefer, the one beer to have when you’re doing more things than one.)

Thing One/Place One Saturday was indeed the Mets, specifically Sharon and Kevin Chapman celebrating their wedding anniversary by graciously gathering a group of their friends — Stephanie and me included — on the left field party deck. They did this last year when the deck had a different corporate-sponsored name, but they did it on May 20, which provided the root cause of my confusion this year. In brief, we couldn’t make it at the last minute on May 20, 2015, and it’s kind of haunted me since then, so we were determined to get there on May 20, 2016…until I realized it was set for May 21, 2016.

I guess I’ve already mentioned that, but it does explain why for only four-and-a-half innings we enjoyed the hell out of that deck. I’d never been up there before. It’s truly a marvel.

• You walk among and can’t help posing with the retired numbers.

• You wonder where they’re gonna fit 31 — between 41 and 42 for its Metness or after 42 and SHEA for its chronology.

• You eat and drink pretty well, with beverages and substantial noshing part of the deal (told ya our hosts were gracious).

• You are on the edge of the staging area for the Stolen Base Challenge or whatever that charming promotion is where they bring a kid on the field to run down the left field line. Every kid runs his or her heart out and we all applaud in earnest. Keep doing that; ditch the fake car race.

• You view your left fielder very up close…and you cringe to realize just how much Michael Conforto [1] is learning on the job. His best route to any ball is in the batter’s box, but as Floyd the Barber said of Opie Taylor, “He’s just a kid, Andy.”

• You count pigeons that congregate on the outfield grass. We counted six.

• You actually see, by leaning over slightly, every speck of fair territory in the ballpark, something I’ve never managed from even the most centrally located seats behind home plate. Everything looked different and fresher, as if we were seeing a whole new ballpark. Maybe the Texas Rangers should build one of these party decks and then they wouldn’t think they need a whole new ballpark.

• You are gobsmacked to realize you sit in what was once fair territory. I mean the seats and the walkway used to be in the flight path of a double high off the Great Wall of Flushing. Jason Bay [2]’s career died somewhere beneath our seats. Now we relax with our complimentary pretzels and exchange random disparagements of T#m Gl@v!ne (Saturday’s gripe: consigning Super Joe McEwing [3] to No. 11 upon the Atlantan’s uncalled for arrival in 2003).

Even with a few spritzes and sprinkles and Jacob deGrom [4] not so sharp — bucket hats can protect you from only so many elements — this was the place to be for four-and-a-half innings. I’ll go out on a limb, or perhaps a deck, and say it was the place to be for the full nine, except we were in TWO PLACES! ONE TIME! mode and four-and-a-half innings were all we could allow ourselves. Thus, we bade our fellow deckers goodbye and reluctantly became civilians in the bottom of the fifth.

You know, those sad folks who aren’t at a Mets game, which is most of the world’s population, which is swell when you don’t have a party deck ticket in your pocket and a party deck wristband on your wrist. What kind of people leave not just a Mets game in the fifth inning but the party deck?

Stephanie and I did that, because we thought May 21 was going to be May 20 and therefore told our comedian friend Jeff [5] that we’d love to come to his show in Manhattan Saturday evening. He lives down around Washington and doesn’t do many gigs up here and it wasn’t like we were going to a Mets game that overlapped with it or anything.

Whoops.

To clear up any lingering urban myths about my fandom being infallible, I have left Mets games early in my life, though probably not in the fifth. I’ve missed a couple of spectacular endings (foreshadowing!), too, but the important thing is that the spectacular ending occurs. Please, Mets, don’t hold off winning on our account.

I followed the action by app and transistor on the 7. I more or less heard Yoenis Cespedes [6] homer to tie the game at four while we were pulling into Queensboro Plaza. What I caught was Howie Rose announcing a ball had been hit down the line, but had to wait a moment, through static, to ascertain that it had not gone foul and that the Mets had indeed knotted matters at four.

It was a good note on which to slide under the East River. Due respect to Craig Counsell [7]’s troops, but trailing the Brewers is a bad look. Who are these guys? They have a Flores, but not the one they tried to trade for last summer. They have a Scooter, but not the one convicted in the leaking of the covert identity of a CIA agent. Sixteen percent of them are ex-Mets who nobody will ever go out of their way to reunite for Two Thousand Whenever Weekend.

DeGrom gave up four runs to these guys and the Mets didn’t score more than two against them before we left. Thank goodness for Cespedes, huh? Fourteen homers, 35 RBIs, .297/.378/.659, and we mostly notice when he doesn’t run out a dropped strike three. WOR’s fadeout on the 7 notwithstanding, I wasn’t surprised when Yoenis went deep in the sixth. It’s what he does. What’s surprising is that we have a guy whose exploits can be casually encompassed with a “that’s what he does”.

Also not surprising that my optimistic forecast of waiting until the fifth to depart Citi Field for Jeff’s comedy date on the West Side would result in an on-time arrival by us turned out to be misguided. Weekend transit did its pokey thing and deposited us at 51st and 8th in plenty of time to see lots of talented comics, but not the one we aimed for. Jeff’s set was over by the time we found him. Another performer might have been miffed. Jeff, having commandeered a stool in the corner of a sweaty alcove off the main stage, was simply shocked.

“You left a Mets game before it was over?”

Like I said, it has happened despite my preference that it never does. I excused myself from Shea in 2003 to make an Off-Broadway curtain and missed a Mike Piazza [8] walkoff homer. Later that year I had a crazy notion of taking in part of a Mets game and part of a Cyclones game and missed the scoreboard announcement that Bob Murphy had decided to retire (and never made it to Coney Island besides). A year after that, I couldn’t stay beyond Victor Diaz [9] puncturing the Cubs’ playoff hopes and therefore didn’t get to witness Craig Brazell [10] letting all of Chicago’s air out. There have also been more mundane exits and less memorable final frames that have escaped my personal observation.

But that’s why they make radios and digital devices. And that’s why Saturday’s game against the Brewers never left me. Jeff, you see, is a Mets fan first, a comic second and everything else third through infinity. He didn’t much care that we missed his jokes in the city. He was touched that we set aside the baseball in Queens. Really, though, he was mostly interested in whether the Mets could complete their comeback over Milwaukee.

The logistics of what transpired next are a little hard to explain. Though Jeff was done, his wife was still in the crowd, seated somewhere Jeff couldn’t easily find her let alone give her the high sign to vamoose; another friend of his (and ours) was also too polite to ditch the show in progress. Mix in professional protocol that generally demands a comic stick around after doing his bit so as to stay in the club’s good graces, which is what Jeff was doing when we found him. Hence, instead of leaving the club and finding a bar or restaurant with a TV, we huddled in that sweaty alcove corner, tracked the game on our phones and watched the seamy underbelly of standup comedy unfold before our very eyes.

Due respect to everybody’s setups and punchlines, we got a show most of the ticketholders never get to see. We saw comics and club management snarl at each other. We heard “I’m being disrespected!” countered with “I’m gonna call the cops!” We listened to one hopeful tell no one in particular, “I just vomited.” We avoided being seated in the main room — and being saddled with two-drink minimums — by resorting to the clever retort, “We’re with Jeff.”

Amid all that, we clung to Addison Reed [11] in the top of the eighth; wondered who Tyler Thornburg [12] was in the bottom of the eighth (the subject of an ABC miniseries was my best guess); invested our faith in Jeurys Familia [13] for the top of the ninth; and hoped like hell the Mets could win this in the bottom of the ninth almost as much as we hoped Jeff’s wife would finally notice the many LEAVE NOW texts Jeff was sending her (the text count was approaching Jake’s pitch count).

“How about a walkoff?” Jeff asked rhetorically, until he noticed who was up to start the Met ninth: Eric Campbell [14], in there not for his bat but because he’s in less discomfort these days than Lucas Duda [15]. Jeff’s instinctive dismissal was a reasonable reaction after three years of Soup simmering at a very low boil. Campbell and huff, sure, but Eric breathed unlikely life into the Met attack with a leadoff single. Kevin Plawecki [16], almost as inspirational an offensive figure, walked. Matt Reynolds [17], rockin’ the MLB .000 since his long-anticipated elevation from Las Vegas, successfully sacrificed himself at the altar of conventional strategy to move the runners up ninety feet. Curtis Granderson [18], who homered in the first and nothing-muched the rest of the day, was intentionally walked.

Bases loaded. One out. Up next to potentially untie the game was David Wright [19]. The very same David Wright who Jeff was seriously considering dropping from his fantasy team. That’s admittedly a matter of concern to Jeff and nobody else, but it was symbolic enough to model Wright writ large. Jeff loves David. He’s his favorite Met. He’s everybody’s favorite Met in some sense. Cripes, it wasn’t that long ago that he was the Mets.

Which is to say if we didn’t already love David Wright, it wouldn’t occur to us to embrace him given the trajectory of his career at the moment. But it’s not about the moment when it comes to us and the Mets. It’s about the long haul. David Wright is as long-haul a Met as they come. Wright’s appearance at the most crucial juncture of a game the Mets could really use may not fill you with confidence like it used to, but you can’t reject it out of hand. Whether you’re getting rained on at Citi Field, huddling in a sweaty comedy club alcove or taking in the action in drier conditions, you need to line up behind your Captain for that critical at-bat that’s destined to decide the difference between an immediate win and an indeterminate outcome.

If you can’t do that much, there are 29 other teams and myriad other amusements that might better suit your needs.

David Wright, who we know all too well, took three balls from Michael Blazek [20], who I wouldn’t know if he was headlining the eight o’clock show at the Comedy Cellar. Who are these Brewers? Then, for a veritable eternity, we stared at our screen for the next pitch.

What’s this? “In play, run(s),” it said. I knew what that meant, but it always takes an extra beat to sink in. Hey, David Wright did something that wasn’t striking out. He swung on three-and-oh. He got a hit. The Mets scored a run. Instead of it being 4-4, it’s 5-4.

They won! It’s over! [21]

Stephanie and I weren’t at the game anymore, David may still be cut from Jeff’s fantasy team (he needed to generate a grand slam to acquire immunity), we still couldn’t find Jeff’s wife (though when we did, she told us about the Spring Training trip to St. Pete when she shared an elevator ride with Bob Apodaca [22]), it was still sweaty in the alcove and it was pouring outside, but none of that was an issue. The Captain came through. He swung at ball four, we’d learn in a little while, but he connected. That was a David Wright walkoff hit like he’d produced eight times before. That was David Wright like the one we’d always relied on, like the one we still have to believe in.

Two places. One time. Not bad.