Thursday, April 4, 2013

Accidental Attendance

I was home on Tuesday night puttering around when I received a text from a colleague. He'd randomly come into free Field Level seats for last night's game (courtesy of some random do-gooder who apparently left a large number of tickets at a Brooklyn supermarket) and asked if I wanted to go. My initial inclination was to go, primarily because of the lure of Matt Harvey making his 2013 debut, but after checking the weather forecast, I had to give it some pause. A game time forecast of 39 degrees and windy might not have stopped me a few years ago, but in my old age, I've become less and less fond of sitting in the wind tunnel that is Citi Field during these April night games. I'd have to wear my winter coat. When I have to wear my winter coat to a Baseball game, that's probably a sign that I might be better off sitting in the comfort of my well-heated apartment. But in the end, I let Matt Harvey get the better of me and said I would go. Besides, it's usually slightly warmer in the 100 level than it is in the 500s. So, I eschewed the new Game Hat in favor of a Mets ski cap, layered up and trekked off to Flushing after work.

Neither the weather nor Matt Harvey disappointed. It was cold enough in the Field Level that I shudder to think what it must have been like in the Promenade. But I suppose it could have been Greenland in January and that wouldn't have bothered Matt Harvey, who picked up in 2013 right where he left off in 2012, allowing 1 hit and striking out 10 over a 7 inning effort in which the Padres looked completely overmatched. Not to belabor the point, but in a year for the Mets where the development of Harvey and his contemporaries is a major factor for the Mets going forward, it's easy to pay particular attention to when he's on the mound. What it boils down to is you get the feeling that this season is really more about players like Harvey than it is about how the team does as a whole. So, Harvey's performances will be magnified. Once Zack Wheeler ascends, he'll be under the same scrutiny. But Harvey, in particular, seems to be impervious to pressure. He just goes out and pitches his game, whether the conditions are Arctic or not (And as proof, you need look no further than Harvey's 2nd inning single. Once Harvey reached base, my colleague wondered when they would bring him his jacket. I noticed someone hop out of the dugout holding a jacket, but he then immediately turned around and went back. Apparently, cold weather doesn't bother Harvey at all, since he spent the entire night running around in short sleeves). And with all eyes on him, Harvey went out and pitched like an ace.

The rest of the team looked pretty good, too. John Buck, who appears to be the perfect placeholder for the Catching position, continued his hot start with a Home Run and 3 RBI, Lucas Duda and Ike Davis both launched monster Home Runs, and by time Harvey departed, the Mets had an 8-0 lead and the Padres looked as if they were ready to hop on the first flight back to San Diego. By this point, the game had moved at a brisk pace, to nobody's dismay, since the quicker things finished up, the quicker we could get out of the cold. But a succession of Mets relievers were alternately horrible (Burke, Hawkins) or able to quickly mop up a mess (Edgin, Parnell), and a game that could have been over in about 2 hours, 10 minutes was suddenly dragging past 2 hours, 30 minutes, or, more appropriately, 20 minutes longer than the total effectiveness of my layers of clothes and winter coat. Usually, there's one or two guys in the bullpen who has a fit of shittiness early in the season and is generally cut not long thereafter. It appears Greg Burke and La Troy Hawkins have emerged as the early favorites. Burke may have been victimized by some ground balls with eyes, but Hawkins seems to be suffering from severe Leiteritis (the inability to put a hitter away with 2 strikes), because he seemed to have used up his gas tank throwing pitches that were fouled off before the Padres started getting to him and Collins was forced to make a pitching change just to get the game over with.

That annoyance aside, I suppose I'm glad these tickets somehow fell into my colleague's lap and I was able to go. I'm also glad I never lost feeling in any of my extremities. And I'm glad that today, Matt Harvey will be the new Toast of the Town. For someone with his "I can do better" attitude, this is a pretty tantalizing start to his season.

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