15 OUT OF 162. [4-24-09]
Somehow, I banished St. Louis from my mind on the way to the ballpark tonight. I banished St. Louis and Beltran not sliding and Murphy fumbling balls and the litany of Citi Field issues and tried, instead, just to go into the automatic pilot of It Is Friday And The Mets Are At Home. That means baseball. That means loading up the baseball bag, charging the camera, checking for pens and notebooks and getting the tickets out of the ticket book and checking the weather and all of that mindless minutiae, all of the things that are part of going to the games regularly.
I walked out of the ladies’ room at work wearing SANTANA 75. I pray I can make it out the door and into an elevator solo, but today I did not have that luck. Some coworkers joined me. I politely tried to look busy. No dice.
“You’re going to a baseball game.”
“Didn’t you just go last week?”
It’s just easier than trying to explain, especially in an office which prides itself on its loyalty to That Team In The Bronx, and maybe going to one game a year.
You don’t see a lot of Mets shirts down on Wall Street. When you see the blue and orange, it’s on a construction worker or a delivery guy or the guy putting on a hat as he’s walking out of the mail room. The tourists downtown are always wearing the Bronx Swastika; TBF mutters sometimes that he suspects the City of New York is handing the hats out for free somewhere as they enter the city, whereas I know that the tables selling NYPD and I [Heart] NY hats around Ground Zero are also carrying bootleg Yankees merchandise too. I will consider the Mets as having gained significant ground in this city when that starts to happen.
But more than I ever remember, I am seeing Mets hats and jackets and shirts out and about. On the train, in the street, when the team is out of town, when they win and when they lose. My former manager who lives in Yonkers always knew when the Mets won based on the people he saw on the train in the morning wearing Mets hats. These days people are just wearing them, at least in my neck of the woods.
On last week’s Mets Weekly, someone interviewed said that being at Citi Field made him feel like he was at an away game. TBF and I exchanged looks at that remark, because he nailed it. It still doesn’t feel like home to me, and that’s not right or wrong, it’s just a statement that describes my experience. I want it to feel like home. I want to settle in. I want to get to know the people sitting around us and the quickest way to my section and the quirks and tricks and shortcuts. Tonight I tried entering the ballpark through the Left Field gate, the logic being that it was three escalators straight up to the People’s Seats and being the furthest away from the train, it would be the quickest route to the top. I think it works, but there is still far too much stroll and far too little hustle in the crowds entering the stadium. I think I will be happy when that gets out of people’s systems, but it’s going to take probably another month and a half.
Things that are desperately needed: signs that can function as some kind of meeting point out in front of the stadium. Right now, apparently every Mets fan in the Tri-State area is telling their friends “Meet me when you get off the subway” and given that there is one subway entrance, everyone comes down the stairs and to a dead halt. Either they’re taking photos, getting their photos taken, or have a phone to one ear and are peering into the crowd to find Bob or Josephine. Add to that the people combing the Fan Walk for their brick. Add to that the Rotunda. Just bear right around all of these hordes and you’ll do fine.
We sat through a series of fake ceremonial first pitches as “Ugly Betty” filmed their last episode. Alex asked us to cheer, and cheer we did, until they had to re-shoot the scene five separate times and the guy throwing the pitch had clearly never seen a baseball before in his life.
And then, there was a game.
This was one of those April games that wouldn’t necessarily be memorable, just another game out of the 162 we play between here and October. But it was Johan and they just got back from that disaster in the Midwest. Johan, however, was a gem.
He pitched like a superstar.
He threw strikes.
There were K cards.
He ran well.
He ran badly.
(OH MY GOD DO NOT EVER DO THAT AGAIN PLEASE MY HEART.)
I want to say that Johan is my guy. I realize that is a broad statement to make. But when I didn’t know much about other teams, and certainly not much about AL teams, I knew about Johan Santana. I read Bat Girl (legendary Twins blogger) talk about Johan Santana, and I learned. Johan was everything to them. I got that. I talked about Johan Santana coming to the Mets when people would look at me funny or at least admire my delusional sensibilities. I am not surprised that Johan is a fucking superhero on the Mets, because he was one out there too. I just feel sorry that he has to be one here just to get a goddamn decision. I love watching him pitch. There is strength, and fluidity, and power, and an electric grace. It is a gift. It is a thing of beauty. My ideal game would be just sitting in the front row of the Promenade with no one around to bother me so I could just watch and take picture after picture.
The crowd tonight was weird. People booed David Wright. People booed Ramon Castro. People booed Carlos Beltran. We booed “Sweet Caroline” the loudest of all. (Apparently some beat writer had written something earlier this week saying, “When are they going to stop playing it? How can they not hear the boos?”)
The Mets got a run. They got two. They got two more. People settled back and went for a walk, while I sat there on the edge of my seat and wished out loud for some insurance runs.
“I think that’s what we just got, honey,” TBF said.
I shook my head no, silently. Not with this team. There is no such thing as too many insurance runs. Get them. Get them all. Get as many as you can.
TBF: “LUIS! DON’T BUNT!”
Some things never change.
I love, love, love that they gave JJ the intro he deserves. AC/DC blares, the boards are full of flames and other cheesy graphics, and he gets to come running out of the bullpen. It is every flavor of awesome. I like him, and he is a great fit for the team.
And, we won. Yeah, Frankie gave us a heart attack. No, it wasn’t the most solid win we’ve ever had, but it was still a win, and now we can just hope that the rest of the rotation pulls it together and the rest of the position players pull it together and we get this show on the road. I am not jumping off the bridge yet, and I don’t even think I’m on the entry ramp. It is frustrating and infuriating but it is more so because we are under the NYC microscope. I am going to have patience. I want to enjoy this season.