If Tim Teufel gets fired today, I’ll know why. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I went to last night’s Mets game. Even for a Real Fan™ like myself, if Matt Harvey isn’t pitching there’s little incentive to show up. But if the weather’s nice (it was), the company is good (yup), and you’ve got seats in the first row behind the on-deck circle with access to unlimited free food, you could argue it’s worth the trip to Citi Field. I’m not saying you would win that argument, but you could make it.
The evening got off to a promising start—on my way from the subway to the stadium I was handed a Mets towel and a pocket schedule! I had been to two games in April, including Opening Day, and was told the pocket schedules weren’t ready yet. Not ready? The MLB schedule is announced months in advance. It’s as if the baseball season snuck up on the Mets. Then again, without a pocket schedule, maybe it did. It’s the ultimate Catch-22.
My younger brother Steve and I got to our seats while the Reds were still taking batting practice. He had gotten the tickets from his boss; they were in the first row between home plate and the visitors’ dugout. We hung out with my man Brandon Phillips, and by that I mean we watched him interact with Reds fans sitting near us. The Cincinnati second baseman is my new favorite non-Met; he signed autographs and took photos with anyone who asked. When those fans posted the photos on Twitter, Phillips responded to thank them for their support.
My dad and my friend Seth showed up and the game began. The Mets’ starting pitcher, Jon Niese, zipped through the first two hitters of the game before loading the bases for Todd Frazier. Frazier hit a sharp grounder to third and David Wright took a half step back and failed to get his glove down; the ball went through his legs and the Reds led 2-0. Their win expectancy shot to 70 percent on that play and never dipped after that. My dad pointed out that Mike Leake got to hit before he pitched, and that’s never a good thing for the opposing team. He struck out to end the inning but it was 3-0 Reds, all the runs unearned.
Niese was very strong after the first, but it didn’t matter. The Mets got three hits. Ike Davis went 0 for 3; he has one hit in his last 36 at-bats. If he goes 1 for 6 in his next game his batting average will improve. Sandy Alderson said during the broadcast that “We are going to live with Ike a little longer.” Ruben Tejada went 0 for 2 and has three hits in his last 35 at-bats. “Everything was seeming to work,” Leake told reporters after the game, which makes sense against the Mets lineup if not grammatically. Seth asked me if they still show the “hit parade” graphic like they used to at Shea. How would we know?
In the later innings, the action picked up. Not on the field, of course, but in our seats. Earlier in the game, we saw a fan give a foul ball to a young kid. When the same kid caught his own foul ball later on, he spotted the guy and threw the ball to him. At the time, it was the highlight of the game. Until the ninth inning.
We had seen Mets third base coach Tim Teufel give some candy to fans near us between innings. Naturally, we were jealous, and pestered Teufel to give us candy. A guy can only eat free hot dogs, pretzels, peanuts, popcorn, and cookies for so long; eventually, he’s going to need some free candy. After watching the Cincinnati reliever take his warm-up pitches in the ninth, Teufel jogged towards us. “You’re gonna get me fired,” he said as he stuffed a dozen pieces of gum through the netting. Why distributing gum to fans between innings would get a coach fired is beyond me, but he sprinted to his spot in the third base coach’s box before I could find out.
The Mets went quietly in the ninth, and the worst part was that they did so against some guy named Logan Ondrusek. Nothing against Logan, but he’s not Aroldis Chapman, the Cuban Missile. A ninth-inning home run made the score 4-0 and no longer a save opportunity for the Reds’ flame-throwing closer. Denied a Mets victory, I was at least hoping to see Chapman up close and personal. I was also hoping to scout center fielder Shin-Soo Choo, a potential free agent target for the Mets next offseason, but he got the day off. (I did, however, see John Franco. We shook hands as I left the stadium. He will have his bobblehead day on Saturday.)
Harvey pitches today, the second time in a row he starts an afternoon game. Don’t the Mets know people work during the day? The Mets aren’t worth the time or effort these days, but showing up at the ballpark is usually a good time, especially if you have the privilege of awesome seats. I’ll be back to watch the unwatchable team on Friday.