No matter how many ballgames you go to, it is often mentioned, you’ll see something you haven’t seen before. Sure enough, I experienced a plethora of firsts on Tuesday night, which was by no means my first ballgame.
Let’s see what I saw that I hadn’t seen previously…
• The pat-you-down security guy hassling me about my open bottle of water. Usually you’re free and clear once the search-your-bag security guy misses it, but I was probably a little cocky in my handling of it between their respective stations, or at least didn’t show my usual paranoia that Citi Field’s entire security theater apparatus isn’t designed to deprive me of between four and eight ounces of undrunk packaged hydro. Tuesday it was. Mouths attached to fingers on buttons make fast and loose with comments about fire and fury, but it’s my water that’s gonna kill us all. Sure.
• The gravy not ready at Mama’s of Corona in the World’s Fare Market. The Turkey and Mozzarella with gravy and mushrooms is the essence of Citi Field dependability, yet one of the components was not prepared for my rendezvous with it. I’d say, “go figure,” but I don’t even know how to calculate the chances Mama’s would make me wait. Or make anybody wait. Was a network stooge not giving Mama’s gravy the go-ahead? Everybody who came after me was struck with the same befuddlement. The gravy isn’t ready? But the gravy’s always ready! Befuddled is one thing, but If you’ve remained loyal to Mama’s since Shea (when she and fellow World’s Fare stalwart Daruma of Great Neck were basically all you could count on), you don’t betray the local instinct for impatience. You wait a couple of minutes for Mama’s to finish the gravy. She’s worth it.
• Chris Flexen. I saw him on TV, but never in person, never for The Log II purposes. Now he has been inked and penciled in — Flexen (ink) 1 (pencil) — and he’s on the same line as the W 5-4 indicating the Mets’ victory Tuesday night. The kid from Binghamton bent but didn’t break, carrying that ethic clear into the sixth inning, or four innings further than I assumed he would. Remake my assumptions, Chris. If I can wait for gravy, I can wait for you.
• The ball flying OUTTA THERE as if air traffic control at LaGuardia was giving multiple thumbs-up. Three Met homers (including the first for Travis d’Arnaud at home this year), three for the Rangers (including one from presumptive future Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre, whose recent ascension to the 3,000-hit club I meant to honor with a round of first at-bat applause, but I forgot to). Nine runs scored total, eight of them on round-trippers. We’ve come a long way since the daunting dimensions of 2009, haven’t we?
• Amed Rosario. It wasn’t the savior’s first Flushing appearance, but it was mine with him in my Citi Field of vision. He was the only Met infielder playing his actual position. He played it noticeably well, catching my attention once on a slick double play, once scooping up a grounder on the grass. A sprint down the line that didn’t amount to anything made for a few fun seconds as well. Mostly I liked looking down during a pitching change and watching ROSARIO 1 loitering behind the mound like a big leaguer, clearly belonging amid his environs.
• ROSARIO 1 on the back of a t-shirt. There were probably several of those in the house, but I spotted just one (or 1) in the stands so far. Also caught sight of a CHURCH 19 in the same section. I’m gonna go out on a limb and project that the ROSARIO 1 to CHURCH 19 ratio will never again be so even in any portion of Citi Field ever again.
• Neil Walker starting at first base. The Mets don’t have a first baseman since they sent Lucas Duda away, so everybody’s getting a little more versatile. Neil had never started at first in the majors, not for Pittsburgh (where he’s from), not for New York, not anywhere. The only thing I noticed — and it had to be pointed out to me — that when Neil finished the ritual pre-inning round of catch with his third baseman (Asdrubal Cabrera, not a third baseman), his shortstop (Rosario) and his second baseman (Jose Reyes, not a second baseman), he turned to toss the ball to the fans behind the Mets dugout. Except the new almost-invisible netting shields the fans from such projectiles, so all that happens is the ball hits the net and rolls down into the dugout. Was Neil taunting the fans? Or is the netting so invisible that he just doesn’t know where the ball is going? He’s new to first, so who knows? When a double-switch ensued and Wilmer Flores (not a first baseman) came into play first, Wilmer did the same thing, so there must be an extra layer of ritual I need explained to me.
• Cabrera not exactly stealing third base. Asdrubal’s idea seemed interesting when it materialized in the seventh. There was a shift on, so the bag was basically uncovered, so Asdrubal, having recently doubled, took off, while Jay Bruce batted. Beltre pivoted back into position, received the throw from catcher Robinson Chirinos, caught up to Cabrera, tagged him out and got him again when Asdrubal overslid the bag by many, many feet. Since Cabrera had just doubled home what proved to be the all-important insurance run, we’ll overlook what we saw. But yeesh.
• AJ Ramos getting a save for the Mets. His first for us anywhere. He gave up a home run to make it seem less than worth noting, but they keep track of such things. But also yeesh.
• A win over the Rangers  to inscribe in The Log II. I’d seen Texas play the Mets only once before, in 2014, when the Mets were busy dipping to eleven games below .500 for the last time that year and the last time until this year . The final wasn’t as fine then as it was this time.
• A honest-to-god postgame brawl on the Long Island Rail Road, between Woodside and Jamaica. Best as could be discerned, this was young, drunken Mets fan on young, drunken Mets fan violence, perhaps stemming from the realization that a one-run win like we all just witnessed would have been more satisfying in service to a playoff chase, thus steam simply had to be blown off. Or probably it had more to do with youth and drinking. A change at Jamaica was in order anyway.
Those were the firsts. There was also an eighth. It was Stephanie’s and my eighth annual Tuesday night in August game with Rob and Ryder Chasin, our friends of many a Citi Field summer. It was Ryder who alerted me to Walker’s and Flores’s mysterious net-flinging. He was also the one who clarified for me that I wasn’t watching Andrew Cashner give up home runs to Michael Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes and d’Arnaud. I hadn’t heard Cashner was scratched or that A.J. Griffin would be starting for the Rangers on short notice. I just thought Cashner had grown his hair really long. Ryder, whom I met when he was 13, is about to enter his senior year at Northwestern. I assume he’s majoring in being observant. He and his dad Rob (not to mention his mom Holly, texting updates from home) already have advanced degrees in thoughtfulness. They thought to make the Tuesday night in August game an annual event, one Stephanie and I still look forward to every year. This could be a better Met season. We couldn’t have asked for a better Met night.
Well, maybe I could have held on to my bottle of water, but that’s on me.