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

And Then Things Got Easy

It was, admittedly, one of those Everything Has to Go Perfectly ideas: Emily and I were landing at JFK a little after 4, taking the subway home to drop our luggage, then turning around and getting back on the subway to meet her father and our niece at Citi Field to see the Mets take on the Padres.

Everything Has to Go Perfectly plans do occasionally work, even in New York City, and when they do you feel like you’re at the head of your own triumphant parade. But not this time. The plane was late leaving Logan, sat on the tarmac at JFK while a gate was cleared, the A train was slow to come, the A train was slow to advance, the 7 train was a local, the 7 train inched into Mets-Willets Point at the end of its journey, and then — inexplicable and maddening — the 7 train sat at our destination, doors stubbornly closed, for a good three minutes or so.

By which point it was 7:40 or so and the only gate taking mobile tickets was the rotunda, a Mets customer-service change I’d forgotten. We got in through McFadden’s using the tickets I’d printed as backups (that’s a genuine customer-service improvement, at least), but it took a while and by the time I joined a long line for tacos and realized the kitchen was both understaffed and moving with the urgency of a sweet summer stroll, I was thoroughly annoyed.

What made it worse was I’d glimpsed the score during our trudge around the stadium and seen a 3. The Mets were already down 3-0. Fantastic.

And then, in the taco line, everything changed.

I saw Wil Myers [1] single and Manuel Margot [2] slide into Devin Mesoraco [3] at home, his foot pushed off home by Mesoraco’s knee. Out, singled the ump. Mesoraco, aware of replay-era baseball’s uncertainties, fired down to third to nab Carlos Asuaje [4] as he sauntered into the base like he was auditioning for Citi Field food prep. The first replay showed me and the surrounding Mets fans that Margot had pretty clearly been safe. But what to do with Asuaje? Declare him out with a lecture about assumptions, or replant him on an unoccupied base given that he might have considered the inning over?

While the umps huddled, my fellow taco seekers and I did the same. After a brief exchange of views, our conclusion was unanimous: fairness dictated Margot be called safe and Asuaje out, ending the inning. Which, miraculously, was what happened.

The tacos were still being prepared by too few people moving too slowly. But my impromptu seminar with fellow Mets fans had chased away my being annoyed by travel bobbles and Wilponian customer service. The world is a better place when the people around you care about a weird play in the early innings of a meaningless game between also-ran teams and the importance of Getting It Right.

Oh, and I’d noticed something else: that crooked number I’d spotted wasn’t against the Mets, but for them. Rather than being 5-0 Padres, it was 3-2 Mets. That made me feel better too.

As my life’s Waiting for Tacos period finally reached its conclusion, the crowd roared. Michael Conforto [5] had driven a two-run homer over the fence below where my party was waiting in the second row of the Coca-Cola Corner. 5-2 Mets. I arrived and found the night had turned breezy and coolish if not exactly cool — the front that had threatened to rain on the game had instead knocked down some of the humidity.

Things had turned, and the rest of the game was calm and soothing. The Mets added another run on a Amed Rosario [6] triple and an Asdrubal Cabrera [7] single, a combination likely to soon become impossible and so best enjoyed while still available. Zack Wheeler [8], having emerged from his bumpy inning intact, pushed through seven innings of fine work. Before the top of each inning, Jose Bautista [9] tossed the ball he’d used to warm up into our sections, serving as his own one-man Pepsi Party Patrol or whatever its new name is.

I realized that my having been absent from the premises since last April (!!!) meant I was getting my first in-person look at the likes of Rosario, Brandon Nimmo [10] and other Met stalwarts. And Jeff McNeil [11] appeared, to my surprise — he’d been recalled while I was piloting rental cars and being piloted on airplanes. McNeil, as if making up for lost Reyesian time, liked the look of the first pitch he saw as a big-leaguer, served it into center field, and tried and failed to look cool about things while he stood on first and the ball was removed from play. If I watch baseball until I’m 99, I will never get tired of that little ritual.

Oh, and the game was concluded [12] in a crisp 2 1/2 hours or so, allowing us to wind our way back along the 7 and fall into bed in Brooklyn by a reasonable hour.

Maybe this isn’t the greatest season in Mets history, but it was a pretty fun night. Maybe I ought to do this more often.