Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Travel With The Light

It was a difficult night all the way around for me, as I attended the penultimate game on my 15-game plan last night (and I have to say last night because the proceedings dragged on long enough that I was unable to arrive home before midnight). Difficult to get to Citi Field, difficult to sit through and difficult to get home from.

I work in the East Village, so getting to games after work is usually pretty easy for me, just hop on the 4/5 at Union Square, take it one stop and switch to the 7. Not much to it. Tuesday night, however, was a different story. I was meeting a friend by the apple at 6:15. However, I was slightly delayed leaving work, but that generally is the case and it's never actually been a problem, since even if the trains are running slowly, I can get there in about 40 minutes. So I texted him and said I'd be there closer to 6:30. I arrived at Union Square and got a 4 train, which sat there for a few minutes before creeping uptown. This, again, is nothing new. The 4 is always slow, especially during rush hour. It was when I got to Grand Central when things really went haywire. I arrived on the 7 train platform to see people standing about 4 deep. The 7 is one of the few especially efficient subway lines and can run like clockwork during rush hour, so already I knew something was up. I stood around for a few minutes and a train came by going to Times Square. I took that as a good sign, since what goes down has to come back before too long. But nothing was running to Queens. And I was starting to get concerned because my friend was probably sitting out at the apple wondering where the hell I was, and I couldn't text him since I was underground. Finally, a Queens Express came by, but people had packed into the train so tightly that there was no possible way to even get a foot on, so I had to let it go. After about another 10 minutes of waiting, and an announcement of a "Police Investigation," another Times Square-bound train showed up. This time, I was taking no chances. It had to come back the other way, so I figured if I get on now, I'll be able to get it back out to Queens. Or, there'll be another train I can get on. And, sure enough, there was an Express at Times Square, about to leave. It was about as packed as the prior Express, but I managed to shoehorn myself in and finally get myself out to Queens. By this time, of course, it was about 6:45 and making first pitch was a lost cause. It wasn't a total disaster, however. By sheer happenstance I ran into Faith and Fear's Greg Prince getting off the train at Citi Field. I've communicated with Greg several times over the years, but we'd never actually met. We both seemed a bit amused by the folly of meeting due to the MTA's mishaps.

I eventually found my friend, who had also found himself stuck in the delay, but nonetheless had still been sitting there for a good 30 minutes waiting for me. He demanded I buy dinner, although I eventually negotiated my way out of it. Perhaps the free seat upgrade, that took us from section 512 down to section 112, worked in my favor. Nonetheless, by time we were seated, we'd missed the first inning almost entirely.

In the grand scheme of things, missing the first inning didn't matter too much, since we ended up sitting through more than our share of ballgame. The remainder of the game dragged on endlessly, with no particular rhythm and loads of raucous fans that were unfortunately rooting for the Giants. Ostensibly, we missed the first 10 minutes of a 3 hour, 55 minute mess of a game that started ugly and ended uglier, with only a small bit of good in between.

Zack Wheeler, who is probably just about at his innings limit at this point, faced off against his former team and looked like a guy who was probably ready to shut it down for the Winter. He was all over the map in the 2nd inning, walking 4 guys, including the opposing pitcher Yusmeiro Petit with the bases loaded, gave up another run on a dying quail by Angel Pagan, and a 3rd on a Fielder's Choice. He looked not long for the game, but somehow managed to settle down enough to get through 5 innings, barely.

Meanwhile, the Mets exploded for 4 runs in response, thanks to rallies centered mostly around some good fundamental play. Ruben Tejada doubled to lead off the 3rd, went to 3rd on a Wheeler sacrifice, and scored on a Young groundout. My friend, always quick to call for sound play, was a fan of this. In the 4th. Wilmer Flores rang an RBI double off the wall and later, when Matt den Dekker got himself in a rundown long enough to distract the Giants infielders, scored the go-ahead run.

Sadly, the Mets decided to abandon the fundamentals after the 4th inning. The Giants re-tied the game in the 5th thanks to Zack Wheeler forgetting to cover 1st following a fine Lucas Duda stab of a Brandon Belt line drive (Wheeler was, perhaps, stunned that Duda managed to come up with the ball&madsh;I certainly was). Later, with Josh Satin on 1st and none out, neither Eric Young nor Juan Lagares attempted to move him along, where he would have scored on Daniel Murphy's subsequent double. My friend, at this point, was screaming and tearing his hair out.

And it all pretty much went down the toilet from there. Angel Pagan homered and tripled and the Giants fans chanted and cheered, and Lucas Duda, who the Giants for some reason was walked intentionally in the 5th inning (the Giants must not have bothered to send advance scouts), generally fouled up some rallies. By the 9th inning, it was pushing 11pm and just about all the Mets fans had left. In spite of having the lead, Bruce Bochy kept insistently changing pitchers (as opposed to Terry Collins, who kept changing pitchers because they weren't getting any outs), finally landing on Tony Sergio Romo, who allowed the Mets to load the bases and bring up Duda as the potential winning run. I'm sure I wasn't the only Met fan thinking back to Friday when Duda shocked the world and hit a 3-run Homer. Surely, he was more than capable of running into a Fastball. If he could do it here, maybe some of his foibles could be forgiven. But, sadly, it was not. Duda worked the count full before taking a mighty swing and popping out to 3rd. Andrew Brown's final out was pretty much academic. And after 3 hours and 55 minutes, the game had mercifully come to a close.

But I still had to get home. And I had to get home amid swarms of Giants fans, because they were more or less the only people left. A large group convened in the Outfield seats, but others were scattered about. My friend and I ended up with several in our subway car going back into the City. We got to talking to them, and I of course was all too happy to mention that I root for the 49ers. Apparently, the Giants are going to play the other team here right after they finish with the Mets. Many San Franciscans seem to be making a holiday of it, going to see the Giants play the Mets, and then again in the Bronx. Though the fans in the outfield seemed intent to endear themselves to nobody, the ones we rode with on the Subway were more than pleasant and provided good discussion to pass time on the ride back to the City.

In the end, I suppose, it's always good to find people to talk to in transit. It helps to remind everyone that there's more to the game than what goes on on the field.

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