THE ARGUMENT. [7-18-10]

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This was going to be a fairly boring post. It was going to consist of multiple lovely photographs of the various members of the New York Mets standing at home plate and swinging, and of Johan Santana throwing pitches. If I was lucky, I would have one or two baserunners crossing home plate, and hopefully at the end, some celebration shots on the field.

Instead, the game turned into an extra innings drama that was for once not entirely caused by one Francisco Rodriguez. (Please note that ‘entirely’ there.) Between Frankie, Jerry Manuel, and Phil Cuzzi at home plate, it was a freaking soap opera being played out within my hearing distance. I took the photo above because I was practicing taking shots from my seats today. It would prove to be oddly prescient by the game’s end, but not in a good way.

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Our seats for today at AT&T Park were in the Lexus Dugout Club. The photograph above gives you a general idea of the view. We were slightly below the field in the second row. This allowed me to get behind the dugout during BP, where the fantastic light allowed me to grab tons of photos. Apparently we were also on tv every single time a pitch was thrown. (Yes, the seats were expensive, but we have been planning this trip since September 2009.) Sitting down there was like another world. It was absolutely overwhelming, because it was all RIGHT THERE. We usually chatter to each other nonstop during the game, but there wasn’t much talking today because it was absolute sensory overload. There was a dickish Giants fan in the row behind us who wanted to get into it, but we were just too busy watching the game to have any energy to muster a retort.

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We should have known the game was going to end up being dramatic because early in the game, Razor Shines had some words for Phil Cuzzi regarding whether or not a player had his foot in the batter’s box or not. That’s when TBF stood up and yelled, “Shut up, Phil, no one’s here to see you.” While that was awesome because there’s no way he didn’t hear him, it also informed everyone around us as to the name of the home plate umpire. As you can imagine, that was information that the Giants fans around us were very happy to be in possession of as the game went on. Suddenly, everyone was on a first name basis with him.

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Once Johan settled down – and he did – it was a great game to watch, especially at the vantage point where you could clearly see where the pitches were landing. It was a beautiful thing, watching Johan Santana be effective. It was a gorgeous day, sunny but not too warm, and we were close enough to see absolutely everything. We could see Ike Davis on deck, following where the foul balls went into the stands. We could see players finish their at bat and turn around and exchange quick looks with the next guy. We could yell encouragement at David and Ike and Johan (especially Johan). There are few things more hilarious than a Johan Santana at-bat. There was muttering under my breath as Jeff and Jason took their turns at the plate. We tried to be encouraging to Justin Turner and Reuben Tejada, who took it pretty hard from everyone around us because they just look like they’re 8 years old and lost. Reuben really took it hard because of that damn necklace. (“What is it, 1992?” was the best comment I heard.) We watched David Wright take that ball in the arm and then held our breath until he was declared just fine.

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I was actually starting to believe that the Mets were going to win this game by the time Francisco Rodriguez showed up. I was thinking that it wasn’t so bad, that Johan was great, that Jerry let him go 8 innings, that while it wasn’t exactly an elegant outing it would be a win and at least we would have avoided the sweep. I was thinking that there was no way that Frankie could possibly blow it again, that he couldn’t blow it as bad as he did in DC. Right? If I was a Catholic girl, I would have made the sign of the cross at that moment, but instead I just clasped my hands together and prayed to the baseball gods.

And then Frankie stepped off the mound and started yelling, and then Phil Cuzzi started yelling back, and then there was David holding Frankie back and Blanco trying to run interference so Frankie wouldn’t get thrown out (although to be fair I did stop to consider that perhaps that might be doing us a favor) and Jerry coming in and being very, very vocal, and everyone anywhere in the ballpark with an opinion on the subject standing up and offering it, including a quantity of people in the Lexus Dugout Club, including TBF. During the entire game, the few rows around us had generally come to an understanding that while the strike zone might have been a little low, it was consistently low for everyone, and thus both Mets and Giants fans had nothing to complain about. Suddenly, however, this started to change, and there was suddenly one blown call after another. Calls were so bad that Giants fans were turning to us and saying, “That was a strike!” while we were in complete agreement that Ishikawa was safe.

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When we got to the 10th inning, I turned to TBF and said, “Well, if we’re going to have bonus baseball, let’s at least have it in these seats.”
“I guess that’s one way to look at it.”

The 10th inning was sheer torture, pitch after painful pitch. The Giants fans were living and dying by every single one as well – which of course they absolutely should have been. (By the way, the Giants do the whole ‘let’s get pumped’ thing on the scoreboard a million times better than we do, even if they did steal “Network” at one point to do it.) The entire ballpark was paying attention, but before we go and hand out Good Fan badges, the people in the row in front of us – that would be row AAA – LEFT after the 9th inning. Maybe they couldn’t stand the suspense.

My stomach was doing backflips. I was glad I had not had any garlic fries today. I was considering how bad it will be to get out of the ballpark when we lose. I was thinking about how long it will take us to walk back up Third Street to our hotel, surrounded by gloating Giants fans. I was thinking about how we were so sure that this season was salvageable, that the Mets no longer rolled over and gave up. I wanted the Giants to either hit the fucking walk off home run or I wanted Frankie – yes, FRANKIE came back out for the 10th – to pitch efficiently and get the Giants out instead of running everyone up to a full count because I was sprouting gray hairs for every single one.

And then, in the end, that last out was almost anticlimactic, because there was no sound. There was the opposite of sound. It was like all of the sound had gotten sucked out of the ballpark, and for a second I wasn’t sure that the Mets had won and it was over, because there was no YAY METS WIN or screaming and yelling and cheering. I have never been to a road game where the Mets have won and there wasn’t a preponderance of Mets fans in attendance to make the requisite noise. But then I saw Blanco heading for Frankie and the two of them hugging each other in obvious relief, and the rest of the Mets lining up for handshakes, so I knew it was over, and got out of my seat to start taking pictures. While I was busy doing that, the Giants fans were very, very busy making their displeasure known at the umpiring crew, who had to have a police escort as they walked off the field. I did not get photos of that, because I was taking pictures of the Mets, but I did notice Rod Barajas put his arm around Jose Reyes, who was looking over very interested in the officiating crew, to get him to stop looking. I am sure there were some words in about three different languages uttered in the Mets clubhouse when the game was over regarding the quality of the umpiring in today’s game.

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We were quiet as we walked back to the hotel, but noted a very dudely dude walking up the street wearing a MARTINEZ 45 Mets jersey with a decided spring in his step. He went into the street to get around the crowd, and this turned into him bouncing up half a block in the middle of the street, both hands raised in victory symbols.
“GO HOME,” a group of Giants fans yelled in his direction.
“I AM HOME, MOTHERFUCKERS,” was his calm response.
We high-fived him at the next corner.

It was ugly. It wasn’t pretty. There are problems and holes and we need an arm and we need a bat to start, well, batting. But it was a win, and a road win, and a win that was needed, and I’ll gladly take it.

See you Tuesday in Arizona. (We are staying behind to see the Red Sox in Oakland tomorrow. I know it’s a dump, but we’re here, so we’re going to see it.) BP photos from Sunday will be up a little before lunch East Coast time.


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