I spent Father’s Day with my dad, mom, brother, and girlfriend at Citi Field for the 1:10 game between the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the New York Mets of Flushing. It was my dad’s idea but I was happy to oblige as I love going to the ballpark, even these days, when the expectations of seeing a win are not high.* Besides, our seats were in the shade so the temperature was perfect, especially after we cooled down with some Shake Shack milkshakes (the most exciting part of the game for 8.5 innings).
*Then again, Megan had never seen the Mets lose. She was 5-0 heading into yesterday’s game, despite attending road games at Fenway and Yankee Stadium.
Shortly after we took our seats my dad commented on how quick the previous night’s game had been. “It was done in under two-and-a-half hours,” my dad said. A middle-aged fan sitting near us butted in: “I think it was like 2:45.” My dad and this gentlemen, who wore a glove despite the fact that he was older than 10, went back and forth a few times on this matter, with my dad noting he saw a plug for the 10:00 news in the ninth inning, when it was 9:20-something. The other guy was sure it was longer than that, and since he had a newspaper he would look it up. I saw him check the box score but he never got back to us. I later checked myself: It was 2 hours and 27 minutes.
This game was relatively fast, too (2:48), but it lasted long enough for about 106 planes to fly overhead. I remarked that in the past few games I’d attended, there had not been nearly as many planes as I recalled seeing at Shea. This prompted a three-and-a-half inning long lecture from my dad on flight patterns, ideal take-off angles, and prevailing winds.
|You couldn’t have asked for a nicer day.|
We spotted general manager Sandy Alderson in his box around the fifth inning. Unlike the previous GM, Omar Minaya, Alderson doesn’t station a stadium employee in front of his suite to deter fans from looking at him. That, more so than fiscal responsibility and sensible free agent signings, is the best part of the new front office.
By the seventh inning stretch, with the Mets down 7-0, Alderson had left. “Even he doesn’t want to watch this team,” my mom noted. Alderson is a Moneyball guy, and if we learned anything from the exhilarating Moneyball movie trailer it’s that the GM does not need to watch the games.
When it came time to get some ice cold Pepsis, we were fortunate to be served by a legendary vendor, one of the few at Citi who I remember from Shea in the late 90’s.* For whatever reason, this guy has never been promoted to selling beer.
*At Shea, they used to discount the fountain sodas after the seventh inning stretch, so naturally my cheap friends and I would wait until then to get a drink. This was true even on one particularly hot summer afternoon, as we sat in the upper deck, unprotected from the scorching sun. My friend Seth and I vowed to wait for the half-price deal to kick in, but by the sixth inning I could wait no more. When the vendor came around, I called to him: “Pepsi. I’ll have a Pepsi.” But given my dehydration I could only muster a faint whisper. “Pepsi. Sir, I’ll take a Pepsi.” He could not hear me. In my head, the story ends with the legendary vendor hearing my cry for refreshment and sprinting from the loge to the upper deck to serve me.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Mets mounted a mini rally. Jose Reyes singled to avoid the shutout, which was good because Megan said she wasn’t coming back to Citi if the Mets failed to score. Two batters later, Beltran singled to make it 7-3, which not only kept the Mets alive, but kept my entry going in Beat the Streak. I’m only at two, but when I break DiMaggio’s mark I’ll look back at Beltran’s unlikely ninth inning at-bat as a turning point.
Since baseball managers are generally paranoid, the Angels brought in a reliever to face the next batter, who turned out to be pinch hitter Scott Hairston. From the moment Reyes had reached base, my dad had been talking about how Jason Bay would likely be the tying run if he came to bat. At the time, it was very unlikely Bay would get that chance. Now we just needed Hairston and the next batter to get on. It wasn’t out of the realm of possibility.
Of course, the umpire had other ideas. Like Alderson, he had no desire to stick around longer than he had to, so even though Hairston clearly beat the throw from the shortstop, he was called out, and the game ended.
Megan’s streak was broken but my dad’s remained intact. “I never see them win,” he said at the start of this game. But on a day like that, a victory from the home team seems like too much to ask for.