Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Circle Back Around

Happy July 4th, everyone! On Independence day, as always, we remind you to take your hat off, and keep out of the aisles during the National Anthem. Don't forget to fist pump and genuflect while you're at it.

Three years ago, I went to a Mets/Phillies game that included a full house, some similar in-game fireworks, and ended with Citi Field covered in a smoky haze, but with a different result, one that resulted in an early exit for Mets fans and in Philly fans strutting around doing Harry Kalas impressions to tell everyone that the Mets season was "OUUUTTA HEEERE!"

Last night, the shoe was on the other foot.

I'd been waiting for that first really great Citi Field game, where it truly seemed like Citi Field was what everyone envisioned it to be before the team went in the tank and everyone stopped showing up. I know that the night of Johan Santana's No Hitter was one of the first truly great moments at Citi Field, but the stadium was only about half full. I could tell that there was going to be a big crowd just by standing outside the stadium. I'd never seen the line to get through the checkpoint at the Rotunda to be un-navigable, but that's what it was. Either I had to go down to Right Field, or risk not getting in until the 3rd inning. Although it may have been a bipartisan crowd, it was as full as I'd seen it since Opening Day (and the postgame boast of an attendance record may have been accurate—it certainly felt more full than I ever remember Citi Field being), possibly due to the lure of fireworks more than the fans actually beginning to believe in the team. You had to have the feeling that the crowd juiced up the Mets, because they came out and absolutely ripped Vance Worley to shreds. Ruben Tejada fired the keynote after dinging several 2-strike pitches foul, working out a 11-pitch at bat that resulted in one of the few outs Worley was able to get. Daniel Murphy followed with a triple, David Wright hit a run-scoring ground out, and the Mets were on their way.

Sure, the Philly fans were out in force, but they had little reason to do much other than slump in their seats and sit on their hands. Outside of Carlos Ruiz's 2nd inning Home Run (inspiring the requisite "CHOOOOOOCH" chants), Jon Niese had probably his best outing of the season, and something he's been building towards of late. He's been getting progressively better and better as the season has progressed, and now the results are starting to gather some notice. He also helped his own cause at the plate; with the score tied and the bases loaded (following Tim Teufel's questionable hold of Lucas Duda on Thole's hit—many were annoyed by this, however it was the right move since Duda likely would have been out by 20 feet), Niese slapped a pitch off Worley's glove and through the infield to plate two runs. He'd later score on Murphy's double, and later on, he'd draw a walk and score again on Wright's monster Home Run.

Though Daniel Murphy was the offensive standout with his 4 hits and 4 RBI, he wasn't without help. Ruben Tejada, of the aforementioned 11-pitch at bat, followed that up with 3 hits, and together, he, Murphy and David Wright served to back their pitcher up with an outstanding all-around defensive effort, taking hits and runs away from the Phillies at every angle, mostly stifling Shane Victorino, who is probably the Phillie most in need of some stifling.

So, if everyone was feeling nice and warm following this 11-1 washout, we all got to sit back and get treated to a fine Fireworks show, which was pleasantly cheesy, well-designed, not too long, not too short, and just enough to satiate me so I don't feel obligated to go watch fireworks tonight. I'd never actually been to a Mets fireworks night before. I usually tended to avoid those games, and in fact, this year would have been no different. I actually ended up at Fireworks Night by accident this year. When I selected the 15 games on my 15-game plan, I had no idea what dates would be promotion dates. I just picked July 3rd because it was a weekday night game, it was against Philly, and I knew I didn't have to work the next day. But, sure enough, they made it fireworks night, and so after 25 years of attending Mets games, I've finally been to a fireworks night. I guess you can have me bronzed and sell me on eBay or something.

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