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

Tell You Why I Don’t Mind Mondays

I noticed an SNY banner displayed by the bourbon-branded club on the Promenade level, which I found odd (the banner, not the bourbon) until I remembered Gary Cohen mentioned something Sunday about broadcasting Monday night’s game alfresco. Our announcers were out of doors, and so were Stephanie and I, along with assorted colleagues of hers. The Queens-based social services agency for which my wife does wonderful work receives from a benefactor a batch of tickets for at least one game every year and conducts a drawing for all interested employees. She always enters and she always wins a pair. I’d like to believe the fix is in, given her status as one of the office’s Mets superfans, albeit on a prorated basis. Being married to me may not be worth much in other contexts, but it will get you inextricably associated with the baseball team eleven local stops away.

Stephanie’s name was called and I continue to be her guest of choice for these games, which makes me very happy on multiple levels. Aside from my implicit fondness for my spouse, I like a ticket to a Mets game as much as the next tasteful New Yorker. And I kind of dig being dropped into a Promenade Box of people at a Mets game who are genuinely enthused to be there without much investment in the outcome. Some get a chance to bring a kid. Some are into the refreshments. Some probably relish having gotten a little something extra out of the job. None is ever on Twitter demanding to know when somebody will be designated for assignment. Good moods abound before the novelty wears off. Eventually it’s Monday night with the Mets and Marlins and you realize such a gathering is not everybody’s bottomless cup of tea. (Crazy, I know.) The ranking member of the agency’s delegation admitted, quite good-naturedly, “you know, I’d forgotten how boring baseball can be,” before bolting in the sixth for a long commute home. Actually, pretty much everybody from the agency bolted by the sixth.

Of course Stephanie and I and a handful of others stayed to the chilly but not at all bitter end, and we were not at all sorry. We got to see the Mets win. Stephanie and I would have seen it on SNY had these tickets never materialized, but that’s a TV show. A great TV show — the best nightly programming our cable subscription offers — but I discovered in April, when I avoided Citi Field in deference to the cold, that I didn’t quite feel like the fan I allegedly am without a little Flushing exposure.

So I’ve exposed myself (phrasing!) six times during the past two Met homestands. My first three visits were losses, which makes mathematical sense considering the Mets failed to win any of their games that week. The second three have all been wins, which is much, much, much more fun. Winning allows me to not say something like, “I had a great time anyway.” Not that great times are to be taken for granted, but how great can a time be if it encompasses a Met defeat?

That’s an intriguing philosophical puzzle, yet I don’t need to solve it after being on hand to see the Mets beat the Marlins [1] on Monday, three nights after I was on hand to see the Mets beat the Diamondbacks on Friday, three nights after I was on hand to see the Mets beat the Blue Jays last Tuesday. The every-three-night plan seems like a winner, but schedules and luck don’t really function that way.

Jason Vargas [2] didn’t seem to function at all during his reimmersion into Metsdom. Has a 9.87 ERA ever appeared more impressive? That’s what Vargas sports after throwing five shutout innings Monday. What was once stratospheric (13.86) is now merely vertiginous. The Marlins, who signed him as an amateur, couldn’t touch him as a professional. Viva Jace Vargas!

The only drawback to Vargas’s five frames of zeroes is the decision by Mickey Callaway to not send him back out to the mound for the sixth. Yes, we live in a world where we occasionally crave more Jason Vargas. Perhaps Gary, Keith and/or Ron explained the decision to go the bullpen, but I was at the game, so I could only guess it was because Jason threw 86 pitches in his first start in thirteen days. Or maybe Mickey doesn’t like not imprinting a game for very long.

On came Sewald to not quite optimal results (two outs, two baserunners).

On came Blevins to no good effect (one walk, no outs).

On came Ramos, who somehow pulled us through the sixth intact.

I can say “us” because I, like my wife and a few others in our section, was still with the Mets by then.

AJ Ramos [3] makes us all nervous, and sure enough, he began the seventh by walking a Marlin. Then there was some standing around that was hard to discern from 428. It turned out to be Met savior Devin Mesoraco being inspected for dings from a backswing. I learned that later. The worst place to glean details from a ballgame is by going to that ballgame. I could have availed myself of technology (or even my trusty little radio), but I decided to hope the meeting of manager, trainer and catcher on the foul side of the white line was a clever method of avoiding being charged for a mound meeting. When all concerned dispersed, Mesoraco was still deemed squatworthy and Ramos survived the seventh.

Then all three of us who remained where we were sitting stood and stretched. I’m amazed how few people around me (when there are people around me) stand and stretch in the middle of the seventh inning these days. All six games this season and every game the last few years I find this tenet of the national pastime’s tradition is withering. It’s as if nobody knows what the seventh-inning stretch is anymore. Baseball and this country are going to hell.

Now back to our game.

The Mets were winning 1-0 to this point. The Amed-Asdrubal connection clicked Monday as it had Sunday, though without going over walls. Rosario singled in the third. Cabrera doubled. Rosario ran. That was a run That was the only run until the seventh. Fortunately Mesoraco the upright proceeded to double, Martin Prado clanked a grounder from Luis Guillorme (sweet instincts from whoever assigned the rookie “Brother Louie” as walkup music) and the indefatigable Wilmer Flores pinch-singled Devin home to make it 2-0.

That’s right, Marlins. We will, we will Meso-rock you. And we will hold on to beat you despite squeezing only two runs from nine hits. Guillorme will leap and grab a liner headed to left field. Nimmo will dive and grab another destined for grass. And when you think you can be all Marlin about it, Rosario will go into the hole and throw out your final hope to keep the game going. Sure, challenge the call; interrupt the ritual blaring of “New York Groove”. Your runner slid headfirst into the base where that never helps avert a forceout. Replay review will confirm Lewis Brinson is out and Ace Frehley will resume kvelling instantaneously.

From back in the New York groove to strolling down those left field ramps that slope gently onto Field Level, through the Rotunda and into that good night. Four in a row for our team. Three in a row for your correspondent. We won a drawing, we won a game, we won a Monday. Nice going, everybody.