Friday, April 18, 2008

My Kind of Game

By all rights, I should have been at last night's game.

My plans to actually attend were thwarted somewhat by a friend calling to see a show, then said friend not showing up, leaving me to see the show by myself.

The Mets must have sensed my intent, since last night's game was truly the kind of game I seem to have attended most of my life. In fact, the most recent game I attended was that kind of game.

What kind of game? Why, it's the ridiculously extended Extra Inning game, of course!

These are the kind of games that run 12-13-14 innings, end around 11:30 or Midnight, and then I come home and my father laughs at me. The only thing that could have made it more perfect would have been if it had rained. Those tend to be the games I seem to attend, at least 2-3 times a season. Generally, the Mets have won these games, particularly if they've extended past the 12th inning. Good thing, too, because I can only imagine that I wouldn't be too pleased on the ride home if I'd sat in Shea for 4 and a half hours and they'd lost.

I've been to three 14-inning games in my life, most recently in 2006. 12 and 13 innings? Too many to count, although I know I've been to a 12-inning game in each of the last 3 seasons.

Last night would have been my 4th, if I'd gone. What I missed was a game that certainly would have had me shaking my head by the time it concluded, at 11:57pm, on a walk-off Wild Pitch, something (and this would be a question for Mets Walkoffs) that I don't believe has happened since Melvin Mora.

Generally in these kinds of games, there's an unlikely sort of break that leads to the winning run. Last night, it was Damion "Don't Panic" Easley doing what he seems to have done so often for the Mets these past couple of seasons, getting a hit and getting in the middle of things. I said it last year, and I'll say it again. You can laugh all you want about certain intangibles, but it's usually a guy like Easley, not the most talented player, but certainly the most heady player, who gets the job done when his team needs it the most.

First, he got the leadoff single. After Reyes popped out on his first-pitch Bunt attempt, Joel Hanrahan threw a pitch on 1-1 to Ryan Church that seemed to trickle just a few feet away from Wil Nieves, his catcher. Alertly, Easley took off like a shot. Nieves' throw was there, and Easley likely would have been out had Cristian Guzman (who I'd forgotten was even in the majors) been able to hold the ball. Two pitches later, Hanrahan had Easley picked off at second, but somehow his low throw only managed to bank off of Guzman's leg into left field, setting up Church needing only to hit a fly ball to end the game.

Church struck out. And he knew he blew it.

Wright and Delgado were both walked intentionally, setting up a scenario straight out of 1999. With Jorge Sosa, the pitcher, due up, Willie sent Brian Schneider to the plate. Schneider was batting even though the only pitcher remaining, Scott Schoeneweis, hadn't started to warm up until after Schneider was announced. If Schneider had 1-pitch at bat, Schoeneweis would likely have had to come into the game cold. Willie looked to be painting himself into a corner...

...Until Hanrahan bounced the first pitch, a 55-foot curve, well in front of the plate, bouncing over Nieves' head and allowing Easley to trot home with the winning run, capping off a long night (in which my father suggested I head out to Shea at around 11pm so I could pitch the 18th inning) and capping off a Sweep of the Nationals, a team that the Mets should be sweeping, no matter how ugly it may seem.

Funny thing is, most of us on the East Coast probably went to sleep. Then, as I found out this morning, I realized that the Mets hadn't even come close to playing the longest game of the night! By the time the Mets game had ended, the Rockies and Padres were just warming up for their little 22-inning marathon, the longest game in the Majors since 1993.

Tonight, Santana vs. Hamels at Steroid Field 2. Who will hit more Home Runs tonight in that bandbox?

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