The word “nervous” has appeared in texts and emails I’ve received from five different people already today. This is, of course, because the Mets are playing a series-deciding game against the Dodgers tonight in Los Angeles. The anxious anticipation we Mets fans feel will only build until 8:07 p.m. ET, at which point we will scream at our televisions if Granderson gets on base and hold our collective breath when deGrom releases a pitch. We believe we are going to win—ya gotta—but admit it’s a coin-flip game. We try not to think about Mets-Cubs or how the regular season was so rewarding. None of that matters tonight. It’s a winner-take-all Game 5.
Wear your lucky t-shirt, eat the same meal you had before Game 1, don’t change seats or adjust the volume if things are going well. Greinke is an ace, but so is deGrom, and with a stud on the mound you always have a chance. Every Mets pitcher on the roster except Matz should be available tonight. That includes Harvey and Syndergaard, turning an area of concern into a strength. It’s easy to imagine, if much harder to execute, seven strong from deGrom and some combo of Syndergaard/Harvey/Familia to bring it home.
But we’ve got to score. If Mets fans could hold a Kickstarter campaign for an early run, it would generate millions. Instead, we’ll hope, and watch in an almost unhealthy state of anxiety should the game remain scoreless in the late innings. The venue doesn’t scare me. I’d rather the game be in New York, but we know all too well that playing a deciding game at home does not guarantee victory. If you want to take comfort in numbers, the road team is 15-13 in Game 5 in Division Series history, 7-4 in the National League. The Mets have never gone to Game 5 of this round before but they’ve also never lost here, sample size be damned. They’re 3-0 with clinching victories highlighted by a walk-off homer from a back-up catcher, a one-hit shutout by their starting pitcher, and a 9-4 win in this very stadium. We have no idea which of those games tonight’s will most resemble and it doesn’t matter so long as the result is the same.
We hope Granderson and Yoenis and Murph stay hot and Duda finds his swing and Wright delivers like he did in Game 1. But baseball is baseball and they could take a collective 0-for while Wilmer Flores or Michael Conforto connects for a critical run-scoring hit.
When a friend asked if I’d be watching the game by myself, locked in a dark room, I wasn’t sure if he was joking. If one of my wife’s patients goes into labor, I will be watching by myself. But I won’t be alone. A Mets fan never is. Ya Gotta Believe.
If reading about this game wasn’t enough for you, please listen to one of two Scoop and Score podcast episodes published today. We talk about the atmosphere in Citi Field this week and preview tonight’s matchup.