Monday, October 5, 2009

The Feel-Good Finale

Yesterday's finale at Citi Field was truly a finale to be welcomed, but not so much for the obvious reason of finally putting to rest what has been a miserable, forgettable season.

More importantly, by winning their final game of the season yesterday, the Mets snapped my 8-game losing streak, and erased a lot of ill will and bad feelings in the process.

It wasn't so much that they won, but it was how they did it. They did it by manufacturing runs and riding the shoulders of Nelson Figueroa, whose first complete game shutout came a little over two months after I witnessed him absorb a beating so bad that I assumed his career as a Major Leaguer was over. That was the 3rd loss in the infamous 8-game losing streak. The streak saw the Mets lose in all sorts of mystifying ways. They lost games they were in until a late screwup. They lost games where they didn't hit. They lost games where they didn't pitch. They lost games where they neither hit nor pitched, nor looked worthy of taking the field. It stretched for over 3 months. I hadn't seen the Mets win a game since a sunny Thursday afternoon in June. But Sunday, they won. And by winning, the Mets most importantly ensured that I wouldn't have to carry around that losing streak all winter, until Opening Day 2010 on April 5th. There's not much to feel good about as we embark on the offseason, but if nothing else, I won't have to carry that around with me on top of it all.

I was in Section 516 yesterday afternoon, one of those rare games where I wasn't up on my perch in 518, to see the redemption of Nelson Figueroa finally complete its course. Yes, on August 3rd, he was TERRIBLE!!! But since then, he'd been better. The past couple of outings, he was respectable. And on Sunday, he was brilliant, even if the Astros team he blanked looked like they just wanted to get the hell out of there. But who cares about that. The day belonged to Figueroa, who wrote a happy ending to a magnificent Citi Field Finale, and on the 10th anniversary of another notable Mets pitching performance in a much higher-stakes situation.

Citi Field wasn't full by any stretch, but there were certainly more people there than I had expected to see. A crowd announced at 38,135 was probably more in the 15-20,000 range, enough people that the Shake Shack line was once again too long to attempt. My final Citi Field meal for '09 came from Blue Smoke, and perhaps it was the winning combination of the Pulled Pork Sandwich and Fries that helped to end my streak. However, superstitious as I may be, I don't know if this is going to be the meal that I continually get every time I go to Citi Field from here on out. Up in Section 516, I was sitting amongst some familiar faces, the group of gentlemen who used to inhabit UR1 at Shea, led by the guy who does his ubiquitous strikeout chant and kept everyone within earshot updated on the happenings of the more important games of the day. A friend was texting me updates from the day's NFL games. Everything was going well, and the game was moving along at a nice, brisk pace. The weather was fabulous, the crowd was into it, nobody booed anyone (other than Kaz Matsui), and in a season that seemed to be full of misery and frowns, on this afternoon, everyone appeared to leave with a smile on their face. And if that's what we can take into the offseason, well, that's good enough, I suppose.

Coming up:
2009 Mets Report Card
Divison Series Predictions
A Nod to things that happened 10 years ago

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