Hey, I was there. First game I’ve been to at Shea Stadium all year (I’ve previously been to two other games at Citizen’s Bank Park). Also, it was the first time I’ve driven to Shea on my own; normally, when me and my gang of friends attend games, we take the train/subway combination. To be honest, after years of avoiding the drive, I found it to be much easier than I thought, other than I missed my exit going there. Traffic going there was a little rough during rush hour, but I still made it there in about as much time as I would have taking the train/subway, and the ride home was definitely quicker with less traffic.
Live, the game was pretty cool. I sat out in the picnic area, which is the first time I’ve sat there since I won free picnic area tickets in a Bubblelicious contest when I was 13 (I got to see the Worst Team Money Could Buy). That was my first trip to Shea, where I missed out on getting a Willie Randolph (then the Mets’ disabled second baseman) autograph (he was out signing in the picnic area for some reason). In addition, my dad got really drunk and started heckling Danny Cox. Why, I don’t know…my dad wasn’t a baseball fan, he had gone simply to take me to the game, but he started really giving it to him in the bullpen when he was warming up, and after Danny Cox gave up a run, my dad took credit, claiming he rattled him. Then we went home, where post-game traffic drove my dad crazy enough to where he vowed never to take me to another Mets game, and I would not return to Shea until Opening Day 1998, when my friend Joe and I started an Opening Day tradition that would last several years.
So that sets up today’s return to the Picnic Area. As with most things from our childhood, I remember it being bigger, with more picnic tables set up, and more places to buy freshly-grilled products. Here, I got in a line and was served two cold hot dogs (cold dogs?) and a soda for $13.25. I like the view from the picnic area, though, it gives you a nice view of the entire field. I’m generally not a fan of bleacher seating, because it hurts my back, but I love sitting in the outfield, so it balanced out.
Today for the game, they had a Beatles cover band called 1964 annoying the crowd between innings singing classic Beatles tunes. I’m not quite sure what the point was; I thought this may have been the anniversary of the Beatles’ playing Shea, but that was on August 15th. I guess they were there because they were there. Also, I’ve never noticed this on television, but Chris Woodward’s at-bat music is a Dire Straits song. Now, nothing beats Pat Burrell using Dio as his at-bat music in Philadelphia, but this is close. I mean, Dire Straits? Have they been relevent in twenty years? Some strange choices there by your 2006 Mets.
Hey, how about a couple of words about the game? Well, for starters, I didn’t stay for the whole thing; I couldn’t. I had to get home at a reasonable time because I have to get up for work early in the morning, and plus I was worried that I’d get lost coming home (I did have trouble finding the Grand Central Parkway, but after that, it was smooth sailing). Plus, I was there by myself, and baseball is a game to be enjoyed with friends and family. It’s just not as much fun by yourself. I stayed up until the fifth, and what I saw was the Mets kicking ass. Mark Mulder was atrocious tonight, just getting shelled for 3+ innings. The Mets could have easily tacked on another run or two to that lead before he got the boot; quite frankly, I’m surprised he lasted as long as he did.
Every Mets hitter had it going tonight, as they all reached base; only Carlos Beltran was held hitless. Jose Reyes came to bat in each of the first four innings, and collected hits in his first three at-bats, including a nice home run that landed only about 30 feet from where I was sitting. Carlos Delgado had two doubles, and even Woody had two hits, including a pivotal first-inning, bases-loaded double that put the Mets up 4-0. For the first four innings, the Mets’ bats were rocking. Amazingly, against the second best team in the NL, they were up 10-2.
Then, the Cardinals started getting back in the game. First, Jose Vizcaino homered to make the lead 10-4. At this point, I had left, so I had to listen on the radio as Scott Rolen and Preston Wilson went back-to-back in the sixth, effectively dooming Steve Trachsel (he was Bad Steve tonight, but thanks to some amazing run support, he picked up his team-leading thirteenth win; see why I say that wins are not an effective way to judge pitchers?). Chad Bradford, who didn’t have one of his better outings, allowed two runs in the eighth, and suddenly, it’s 10-8 with Pujols batting in the ninth. Meanwhile, since starting off hot, the Mets’ bats have gone cold.
I wish I could have stayed until the end, because it seemed on the radio that the ninth inning was electric. Wags gets the first two batters out for Pujols. He gets two strikes on the best hitter in the NL…then allows a single up the middle. Now there’s a runner on for Scott Rolen, one of the most dangerous hitters in the NL. Mets fans, surely aware that last night the Mets made a comeback from six runs themselves, have to have in the back of their mind, “The same could happen to us.” Thankfully, Wagner got Rolen to ground back to him, and the Mets escaped.
The Mets have taken two straight, and have now won six in a row since losing three in a row to the Phillies last week. Nice to see them back in the groove, especially against a good team against the Cardinals. They’ll try for their second straight series sweep tomorrow night at Shea, a rare Thursday night game at Shea Stadium. Dave Williams will make his second start for the Mets, facing Jason Marquis. Expect another hitter’s game, as both men come into the game with ERAs north of 5.50. Game time is 7:10, and the game will be on ESPN2, for those out of towners who may want to watch.