All I can say after subjecting myself to all 10 innings and 3 hours and 3 minutes of the debacle that masqueraded itself as last night's Mets/Phillies game is that it's a DAMN good thing I don't drink at Baseball games. I would have very likely done something ill-advised and regrettable in a more sober moment.
The irony wasn't lost on me that this was the second year in a row I'd been at a Mets game on June 11th. Last year, the game seemed to be mere background to the demeanor of the crowd. The Mets were struggling, the crowd was thin, the opponent was sparse, and the game moved along at a fairly brisk pace...until the late innings where things dissolved for the Mets. But they recovered.
Last night was more or less the same, though the game wasn't quite so much background as it was just a waiting game. But it moved along at a brisk pace, until the late innings, where things dissolved for the Mets. Unlike last year, they did not, and could not recover. They couldn't get out of their own way. Every bad habit they've had all season re-emerged. They didn't tack on runs, they let the Phillies come back, and then the game got away from them, and they couldn't scrape their way back. And, unlike last year, the entire game was played in a thick, thick fog that got progressively heavier and heavier as the game went on, sinking closer and closer to the field that, by the end of the game, you could have thought that the fog would descend completely and swallow the Mets whole. Which is basically how the game played out.
Around midnight, or maybe later, it really started pouring in Manhattan, and I said out loud, "Where the hell was this 6 hours ago? It would have saved me some misery." I was solo this evening, as El Guapo found himself stuck at work and other attempts to find a taker for the extra seat went awry. I might have done better with someone else, if only because of the assertion that misery loves company; sure, the Mets have just lost an excruciating game, but we can at least vent to each other about that. I've never disliked going to games alone, but on nights like this, you're left with nothing to do after the game but stew and walk around with a defiant scowl on my face, silently wishing I could just wrap my hands around the neck of that drunken Philly fan running around the Promenade, waving his hat in everyone's face and screaming that the Mets suck. But, as I said before, there's a very good reason I don't drink at games, and this such instance is a good example.
I didn't feel good about this game from the outset. Between the threat of rain and the fog rolling in and the pitching matchup, things didn't seem to favor the Mets. Sure, the Phillies were starting Jamie Moyer, and the Mets did feed Moyer his lunch last month, but that was May, and Reyes and Delgado were there, and Pelfrey was starting for the Mets, not Tim Redding. I figured that even if the Mets matched the 7 they put up against Moyer last month, it still might not be enough. The crowd seemed sparse and desolate. It looked like one of those nights where the weather would scare everyone off.
I didn't figure that the crowd would immediately fall into place once the game started. I didn't figure that Redding would show up with his A game and basically do absolutely everything you could possibly ask from him over his 7 innings, in which he absolutely pitched his heart out. 7 innings, 6 hits, 3 runs, 0 walks and 6 strikeouts? You'd take that from Redding in a heartbeat. I don't even want to hear about him blowing a 3-1 lead. He didn't blow anything. Even when the Phillies got to Redding, they didn't hit him especially hard, except for Utley's double in the 6th. In the 3rd, it was a pair of bloopers, Rollins' hit in the 6th just sort of fell in, and they scored on a groundout in the 7th.
The problem was that his offense couldn't generate anything other than Luis Castillo getting on base, Alex Cora bunting him over or, failing that, moving him along, and Carlos Beltran driving him in. David Wright had 3 hits and scored no runs. Fernando Tatis had a hit and Fernando Martinez got hit, but no runs. And when the entirety of your offense is generated by station-to-station small ball against a team that can blast you like the Phillies, that's not going to cut it. Once it was tied, and once the game got into the hands of the bullpens, the Mets shut down completely. Nothing against Condrey, nothing against Durbin or Eyre or Madson, when one key hit would have swung the game in their favor.
But the Mets bullpen was up to the challenge of going shot for shot with the Philly relievers. Feliciano came in for the 8th and did what he usually does, get the Philly lefties out. Parnell got through the 9th without much drama. In the 10th, he got Rollins to pop out before Victorino snuck one by him. Parnell left for Ken Takahashi. You still had to feel pretty good. It was really foggy, yes, but the crowd remained spirited and positive. Even after Takahashi walked Utley, it kind of felt like things would be OK. Takahashi came back and struck out Howard, and everybody was up. And then, there was Ibanez. And there was Ibanez lifting a fly ball out towards Right-Center. A golf shot. Martinez ranged back. It looked to me like he had it all the way.
He kept going back.
The mass exodus began immediately after the ball landed in the bullpen. I've seen crowds empty out fast, in fact, exactly one year ago, after the Mets blew the lead in that game, Shea emptied out quick. This was something else. Like everybody who had been sitting out in the mist and the fog just decided that this was it, we're outta here and we're outta here FAST. I was too stunned and angry to move at that point, plus I wasn't leaving early. I stuck it out to the end. And we know, more or less, what happened from there.
As I got outside the stadium, there was a pocket, and they appear to move in pockets, of Philly fans enjoying themselves. I passed two Mets fans walking in an opposite direction. One of them screamed at them, "PHILLIES SUCK!"
His friend pulled him aside and said to him, "Dude, the Phillies won."
That about summed up the evening. What more can be said?
It could be worse, I suppose...
We could be the Yankees.