Before the Padres came to town I kept yammering about how nice it would be to go to Shea and watch them, considering I went to school in San Diego but never traveled to Petco Park or whatever the hell the previous stadium was (there were lots of “Say No to Petco!” flyers all over San Diego around that time). Then I yammered about how I wanted to go boo the Dodgers when they came to town, seeing as we experienced a rocky Mike Piazza-induced breakup back in the late 90s.
Well I did get to see one of the two heartbreaking losses to the Padres last week (damn you Mota! etc.) and, thanks to Joe’s boss or whoever, I got free Loge seats to go see the first game of the Mets-Dodgers series. As soon as I sat down I started feeling antsy, as I found myself in a sea of goddam Dodgers fans. Guh. Nevermind that my companion was Anderson, a diehard member of Red Sox Nation, fully equipped in his damn BoSox hat. So basically I was surrounded by a lack of enthusiasm, which kinda hampered my enjoyment of Ollie Perez doing his requisite Houdini act in the top of the first.
Fortunately the Mets jumped on Brad Penny early, and after getting a few beers in him, Anderson became loud and boisterous and taunting, like a proper Masshole. With Russell Martin up we’d shout “HEY RUSSELL WHO’S THE BOSS?!?!?!” or we’d yell to Penny “HEY PENNY YOUR CATCHER FUCKS YOUR EX GIRLFRIEND DOES THAT MADE YOU SAD?!??!!?!?” Needless to say, the Dodgers fans didn’t particularly enjoy that, especially not the family sitting to our left. Eh, the little girl was pissing me off all game, so screw them (combatting her, however, was another little girl a few rows back, who kept shouting DODGERS SUCK and variations thereof…eventually, Anderson and I found an empty Loge box and moved there, surrounded by Mets fans finally thank God). David Wright hit a homer and had some sweeeeeeeet defensive gems. He always plays so well when I’m there. Sigh. Wags made it a little too interesting in the ninth, but thankfully allowed only one run for the Mets win (during Latina Fiesta night!), breaking my two-game losing streak. I’m now 7-2 at Shea. Wee.
Orlando Hernandez was just masterful in the next game. It’s funny how he just kind of quietly does his thing, no fuss, no fanfare. He just gets the job done. And then we all forget about him until his next start, when he’s brilliant again. The Mets have not lost a game he’s started since July 4th. What?! Because of some lousy run support and/or bullpen breakdowns, El Duque has less wins than Maine, Perez, and Glavine, but he really has emerged as our most consistent starter and possibly our ace. He was brilliant up until giving up back-to-back homers to Luis Gonzalez and Russell Martin in the seventh, but he was so dominant that I’m willing to forget about it.
The real story of the game, however, was the reception of Carlos Delgado in the fifth. Having gone 0-for-19 and stranding about seven thousand runners on base (including a bases loaded in the first and two men on in the third), Delgado had heard his fair share of boos. I myself don’t agree with booing your players when they’re struggling. Hell, I don’t even boo Mota. But I can see the need to vocalize your frustration, and with two outs and the bases loaded after an intentional walk to Jeff Conine, I was surely expecting a groundout and more boos. And then, seemingly unprompted, the entirety of Shea stood up and applauded. Stood up and said, “You can do this!” Cheered for him–not just to drive a run in, but to prove to us and himself that he’s still muthafuckin Carlos Delgado; that he did not deserve the past week’s jeers; that he, in fact, is still a vital aspect of this team. First pitch: 2-run single. LA came and brought some Hollywood magic with them. I honestly got a little teary. As others more eloquent than I have put it, there’s no real satisfaction in booing your own. What we crave is a reason to cheer, loudly and long. Delgado gave us that moment on Saturday, and I hope Mets fans don’t soon forget it. I hope they appreciate it. Davey certainly did.
Final game and Willie Randolph’s old “Step on their necks” adage rang in my head. Though the Dodgers scored first, I felt confident, even thinking to myself “Maine’s getting a hit here” during his first at-bat. He did, and was followed by a Reyes single. After Milledge struck out (woof), Wright doubled to score both Maine and Reyes. Can we talk about how hot David Wright is? OMG WHAT A BABE! No, really: could you have guessed, after his dismal April, that Davey would eventually be in the top 10 in NL batting average come August? Or OBP? When he somehow doesn’t get a hit, he seems to draw a walk. I hope that he’ll be looked at as a legitimate MVP candidate. He’s having a quietly great year. For all the talk about Reyes (and God how good is Reyes) being the sparkplug, the catalyst for the offense, without Wright these past few months, I don’t believe the Mets would be sitting with a nice cushy lead in the NL East. Real talk.
Well that’s all the good news (well, Jeff Kent got beaned in the head, but I guess that’s mean, even if he’s a huge douche). The bad news is that David Wells–David Wells, of all people!–sparked a Dodgers rally in the fifth, with a leadoff bunt single. David Wells, leadoff bunt single. Yes. The mind is boggled. Maine really wasn’t the same after that, and after working in and out of trouble all night, saw his luck vanish as bloops turned into hits that turned into runs. It’s quite puzzling, really, that within the span of a month/month and a half, Maine is no longer the stud ace pitcher about whom I’m most confident, and instead has become the pitcher who worries me the most.
The Mets attempted to rally (and to be fair, left lots of men on base early in the game), but ran into big hulking monster Jonathan Broxton. I had been cheering/hoping for Roberto Hernandez. As Broxton came in in the seventh I thought “Grady Little must really want this.” He did, and he got it.
If there’s a silver lining, apparently Pedro Martinez called up Guy Conti and said there was a flaw in Guillermo Mota’s delivery. No shit, Pedro? If this is true, this is the second time he’s done this, as he gave some advice to Jorge Sosa earlier. Well lo and behold, Mota mowed down all six batters he faced while in mop-up duty. If Pedro somehow managed to fix Mota while not even being here, well, he deserves both the Nobel and the Pulitzer.
The Mets are up 6 on the Phillies and 7 on the Braves. And hey look: our next four are in Philadelphia, followed by a three-game set in Atlanta. The lead may be nice, but a bigger one would be nicer. Now’s the time to show your mettle, boys.