Friday, July 13, 2007

Hello Goodbye

The Mets Midseason Makeover continued late Thursday afternoon when, mercifully, Julio Franco was Designated for Assignment and Lastings Milledge was recalled. I'll admit I was a little surprised by the move, but I can't imagine anyone was especially upset by it, especially given that the only true outfielders existing on the Mets roster were Beltran, Green and Ricky Ledee (and I wasn't looking forward to seeing David Newhan in left).

It was a half-Ballclub appearance at Shea last night, for Milledge's return, a taut, albeit rather unexciting, 3-2 win against a miserable Cincinnati Reds team led by wiry righthander Bronson "Don't call me Brandon" Arroyo and a melange of relief pitchers you've never heard of (Marcus McBeth? Jon Coutlangus? Jared Burton? I half expected them to trot Josias Manzanillo in). Yes, we were treated to a bit of history with Reyes and Gotay kicking things off with back-to-back HRs (and the first time in 46 seasons that the Mets have had leadoff Back-to-back HRs), but it was Milledge who provided the thrill of the night. After he was robbed by Encarnacion after scorching a liner to 3rd in his first AB, Milledge led off the 5th with another frozen rope to right for his first hit of the season. He nearly got picked off by Arroyo, but after El Duque tried to throw his bat at the ball on a sacrifice attempt and Reyes flied to left, Milledge was still on first, but running as Gotay hit a sinking liner to center. Ryan Freel (Gin blossom drunk) dove for the ball, but only trapped it, then rolled over it, although to anyone watching, you couldn't tell whether or not he'd caught the ball until he'd fully tumbled. But it didn't matter. Milledge was running full bore, around third, as Freel uncorked a rather wimpy throw home that seemed to arrive just in time, but Milledge just snuck his hand around David Ross (and his .194 BA)'s tag, scoring what would be the winning run of the game.

Instant impact and a spark. Sometimes it's the little changes that make the difference. And a hell of a lot better than showing up for Ricky Ledee in left.

Other notes: Mike Stanton (affectionately referred to as "Dumpty" by a Yankee fan College colleague of El Guapo and myself, a companion to Jeff Nelson's "Humpty," the Yankee bullpen combo of a bygone era) entered into the game in the 8th, and was neither accompanied by his reactionary right-wing country music nor a giant American flag on the scoreboard, nor was he announced into the game by PA man Alex Anthony. Perhaps because of the warm reception he would undoubtedly have received. Most people didn't seem to realize he was in the game, perhaps because outside of him and Weathers, you wouldn't have any idea who any of the Reds relievers were.

Of larger importance, mostly to us Subway riding Mets fans living in Western Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan, we all have reason to rejoyce! Finally, FINALLY, the MTA has relented to the complaints of riders and added Express service to Manhattan on the 7 train after the game. This is wonderful, ground-breaking news that deserves special mention and mild celebration. Yes, it is only for one hour after the game, and yes, it will be crowded. But it is a 15 minute ride from Grand Central to Shea, and I am looking forward to my ride home on the Subway of Mirth to be much shorter from here on out.

Now, will this continue once Citi Field opens? This, we shall see...

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