Lucas Duda ’s second home run had just left the building and perhaps the solar system. The Mets’ seventh run of the evening was crossing the plate, their lead over the Pirates was reaching three and it was only the fifth inning. My good friend Jeff, once he was done jumping up and down like the kid a long Lucas Duda home run will turn an adult Mets fan into, draped his right arm around my shoulders and grabbed me as good friends will when they want to share with you something they’ve decided you need to hear.
“Guys like us,” Jeff declared amid the cheers — “this is what we dream of. Other guys may dream of sleeping with supermodels. Not us.” He made a sweeping motion with his left hand to encompass the pulsating scoreboard, the forlorn visitors hanging their heads all over the field, the giddy occupants of the first base dugout and our neighbors whooping it up around us in Promenade. “This is our dream.”
That was in the bottom of the fifth. We woke up in the top of the sixth. No dream. No supermodels. Just Pirates running round and round.
The Mets had led the Pirates, 7-4, when the fifth ended. Before they batted again, they trailed, 11-7. Prospective winning pitcher Matt Harvey  gave way to presumptive savior Paul Sewald . Between them, they gave up as many runs as they possibly could. Neil Ramirez  came on to…well, Neil Ramirez came on. Tells you pretty much what you need to know.
What had been the stuff that dreams are made of dissipated into a 12-7 drubbing . Five Met runs in the fifth weren’t nearly enough. Seven Met runs overall — generated primarily by Duda (3 RBIs on two stratospheric blasts), Michael Conforto  (his own two-run homer) and Neil Walker  (a run-scoring triple facilitated by a stumbling Gregory Polanco ) — also weren’t nearly enough. The Mets could have loaded the bases in the ninth, produced a grand slam and still trailed by one.
For the record, the Mets didn’t load the bases in the ninth. They barely tickled the bases after Lucas went extraordinarily deep a second time, and left them completely unoccupied during the final inning. But let’s not make this about offense that levels off too soon. The Mets scored seven runs in the first five innings, which constitutes a dreamy amount, provided your pitchers don’t proceed to give up eight.
The Mets’ pitchers didn’t give up eight. They gave up twelve, a quantity certain to shred your win probability to a fine mist unless you score thirteen. So that part, the part where the Mets went from winning by three to losing by five, was not a highlight. Nor was the Free Shirt Friday t-shirt, judged by Jeff as “hideous,” though, with apologies to Pittsburgh catcher Elias Diaz  and his six RBIs, the giveaway garment earned player of the game honors. You had to give it to either the shirt or this guy CitiVision kept showing us, a guy who pulled one Free Shirt Friday t-shirt after another over his head until he was wearing so many of them that he could have been moonlighting as the Michelin Man . I don’t know how many shirts (or beers) that took. Guys like him are in their own league.
Also not in the box score, yet not to be overlooked: a guy named RALLYMAN. I couldn’t overlook him. He was in my line of sight. Have you seen RALLYMAN? RALLYMAN wears a custom jersey identifying him as RALLYMAN and adorns it with a cape (given the whipping winds, I thought he might take flight à la Sister Bertrille ). Then, if you’re situated in just the wrong seat, he enthusiastically blocks your view. RALLYMAN, to be fair, played ball while the Mets played ball, moving his act slightly to his right at my request so I could see batters and the pitches they scalded.
RALLYMAN, incidentally, was trying to rally the Mets, not the Pirates. Like Harvey, I’m willing to give him a no-decision.
Jeff and I converge at Citi Field once a year, save for the years he can’t make it up from his home in the Washington area, where he curses out every move the Nationals make, every breath the Nationals take. There were also a couple of years between 2012 and 2016 when he copped to being too disgusted to deal with the Mets, except at relatively nearby Nationals Park. Some years, guys like us have all the luck. In 2016, our game featured a twelve-run inning , all of it belonging to the Mets. In 2017, we got twelve runs spread out disproportionately over two consecutive half-innings. Guys like us, we win some; we lose some; we examine the team museum with a veritable jeweler’s loupe; we faint from the prices in the team store; we just miss a Mr. Met photo opportunity (with him, not against him); we devour a mess of Blue Smoke; we analyze Jay Bruce ’s true self with scant evidence to support our respective assertions; we critique where our 23-30 ballclub’s construction went awry; we wonder why the Pirates continue hold on Met runners who are no threat to run; we save our souvenir cups; we grab our pocket schedules; we board the 7 Super Express; and at Woodside we say see ya later until next time, probably next year.
Maybe not what guys like us dream of, exactly, but the Jeff game is always a highlight of my season. Except for the losing by five. That part was as hideous as the Free Shirt Friday t-shirt. The guy on the video screen probably had so many to put on because nobody around him wanted theirs.