Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Ignore the Surroundings

Tuesday night's game was my 13th of the season at Citi Field and my 3rd non-plan game. I'd made the decision to go a couple of weeks ago after I realized that, for whatever reason, I didn't pick this game on my plan and, more troubling, I actually hadn't picked seats for any Mets/Braves matchups this season. I make mention from time to time about seeing teams more or less often (particularly teams like the Cardinals, Dodgers and Cubs), but the Braves are a team I see basically every season. Going back to 1998, I have been to at least one Mets/Braves game every season, so with Tuesday night being my last chance to see the Braves (the afternoon game today not an option), I had to go. Usually when this happens, and there's no discount via the Mets, I try my luck on StubHub, where I've had good success finding a good seat at a decent price, and last night was no different. I found a single seat available in section 419 (still the Promenade, but in the boxes, where I rarely sit unless it's late and people have left).

Unfortunately, as I found out, my single seat was sandwiched in between the following "undesirables."

- The family of kids all dressed in Boston Red Sox garb, replete with the dottering father who spent the majority of the game looking at a Fantasy Football magazine.
- Two Braves fans.
- A group of about 8 guys, one of whom was excessively drunk to the point where I wasn't quite sure if he had too much to drink or he had Special Needs, until he started speaking, which he did quite often, punctuating his nonsensical rants with excessive profanity, and at a decibel level reserved for Michael Buffer.
- An older, heavy-set gentleman who kept engaging the drunk guy while yelling about how "Wheeler's gotta get it together" and "d'Arnaud's goin' back to Triple-A!"
- The group of 3 20something girls out for a birthday who also drank too much and screamed really loud.
- A pair of catatonic-looking guys who moved very slowly. I paid them no mind until, when they announced the Braves lineup, I heard him say "Andrelton Simmons is a MORTAL LOCK to win Rookie of the Year."

When I find myself surrounded by know-nothings like this, and I'm by myself, the best I can do is try to keep quiet and focus as much as I can on the game. Sometimes that's difficult. Especially when the Mets are losing. Then I just hope that people leave early.

Fortunately, thanks to Zack Wheeler, that didn't happen. Wheeler continued his dominance over the Braves, zipping his fastball around with aplomb and shutting out Atlanta and their Overrated Rookie (Simmons is proving my "overglorified Rey Ordonez" comment as truth since although he has 11 Home Runs, he's hitting all of .240), and their Meatheaded Rookie (Evan Gattis and his 15 Home Runs, 11 of which were in April), and their annoying 1st Baseman (though for as much as I dislike Freeman, from what I've heard he's actually a pretty likeable guy). Wheeler continues to look better and better with each start, and although he still has room for improvement, pitching shutout ball into the 7th inning against a team running away with their division is pretty good. There's always things to pick on, like the fact that he gave up too many 2-out singles and threw too many pitches early on, but can you really complain too much? He got into trouble in the 7th, but having thrown over 100 pitches, he didn't quite have the juice to get out of it. This was all well and good, except that Carlos Torres then gave up a 3-run double to Overratedton Simmons, and then had a hand in nearly throwing the game away altogether. After an ill-advised and lousy throw home by Quintanilla allowed Simmons to take 3rd, Torres then heaved an even worse throw back to 3rd that was ticketed for Left Field, but for Daniel Murphy of all people alertly backing up the play. This saved the tying run and then Scott Rice, Gonzalez Germen and LaTroy Hawkins did the rest.

The Mets also hit a little bit last night too, which was great, because their small-ball approach could only get them so far. It got them their first two runs, at least, since Eric Young, Jr was all over the place. He stole a base and scored a run on an Ike Davis single in the 1st, and reached on a beauty of a bunt in the 6th, stole another base and scored when Brian McCann's Mark Sanchez-like throw to 2nd sailed into Center Field. He also robbed McCann in the 6th with a ridiculous diving catch, after which he immediately hopped up and styled for the cheering crowd.

Marlon Byrd and Ike Davis supplied the rest of the offense with a pair of no-doubt Home Runs, Byrd's a skyscraper that hung in the air for a long enough time that I actually lost track of it, only seeing it land in the seats, and Davis' a Home Run Derby-esque bomb that landed near the top rows of the Pepsi Porch to supply a sorely-needed insurance run in the 8th.

By the last of the 8th, with the Mets ahead 5-3 and seemingly in control (though you never take these things for granted), the only remaining drama would be whether or not we'd have a chance to see Travis d'Arnaud finally get his first hit. d'Arnaud received a hero's welcome when he was announced before the game, and although the cheering for him was unwavering, he'd struck out twice and clearly didn't impress the guy sitting in front of me. He also almost beat out a slow grounder on a hit-and-run play in the 5th. But all for naught and he sat at 0-for-10 with 5 walks, not exactly the most auspicious entry to the Majors. You hate to see these things drag on, because it can wear on you from a psychological standpoint. But Davis' Home Run provided him with one last shot in the 8th inning, and he took advantage of the not-so-fondly-remembered Luis Ayala, shooting a line drive double up the Left Field gap for that elusive first hit, therefore putting a good capper on the night's proceedings.

In the end, it was a good night for the Mets and a good night at Citi Field. Yes, I had to watch the game amongst certain undesirables, but by time the game ended, most of them had left (or been thrown out), and even if they were still there, they wouldn't have dampened the good vibes generated by a solid performance from Zack Wheeler, a pimp catch from Eric Young, a pair of Home Runs, Travis d'Arnaud's first Major League hit and a 5-3 win over the Braves. The win, obviously, most important.

No comments: