When my friend Mike offered me a ticket for game two of the NLCS with a projected matchup of Jeff Suppan and John Maine, little did I know that it would turn into the series opener with a future Hall-of-Famer pitching seven innings of a shutout. I was more worried that the ballgame would be postponed given the weather forecasts at the beginning of the week.
As a matter of fact, I don't think I could have expected a nice day for a ballgame. It turned out to be a beautiful day with a perfectly clear sky. I completed my three hour and forty-five minutes commutedon't askto arrive at the ballpark a good forty-five minutes before game time. That was just enough time to grab some food and settle into our seats. Unfortunately, the line the continually wound out the door of the only men's room in our vicinity was not as accommodating. No wonder they are replacing this tin can.
Which reminds me, as I exited the 7 train and sited the ballpark, the first thing I heard was a mock argument between two Mets fans: "It's the worst ballpark in baseball." "No, it's the best ballpark in baseball." Meaningless banter, but it was full of festive spirit and blissful enthusiasm for the game. That set the tone for the night.
The Mets fans, with whom I have had my share of unpleasant run-ins in the past and of whom I have not had the nicest comments, were in fine form. Yes, the still cheered for every fly out to centeris something off with the site lines there?and they continually stood for every two-strike count to a Cardinal, no matter the situation or path taken to get to that two-strike count. My impression of most Mets fans is that they are displaced Bruce Springsteen fans in mismatched jerseys, which did not change. But it was all in convivial abandon. (By the way, the jersey of the night was a #66 Rick Ankiel special on a putative Cardinals fan.)
I guess it didn't hurt that I was, for once, rooting for the Shea men. Being a National League fan, I can't stomach any NL team but the Mets facing the rep from the superior AL. But it wasn't only that. They had their moments. I have to say the "Jose, Jose Jose Jose" chant for Jose Reyes is enjoyable. I had to laugh when the fans greeted their former closer with "Looper sucks!" chantsI wonder how that played on TV. It even got my nose out of my scorecard to laugh and join in (though I changed it to "Hooten sucks", my homage to the 1977 NLCS). And a pair of Cards fans, father and son, wearing Pujols jerseys were left completely unmolested even when Pujols was doubled off of first on a line out.
Watching the game last night, it's shocking to me that the Cards lineup could score nine runs in a game as they did tonight. Glavine was masterful, but when a team has Juan Encarnacion batting cleanup, they are doing you a favor. The Cards did the Mets a favor as well in letting themselves get doubled off on a line drive to end an inning in two consecutive innings, the third and fourth (Pujols). The Pujols one in particular was inexcusable.
Given the shortness of the shutout I was able to catch an ever-late New Jersey Transit train home though it was well past 2 AM. With only four hours of sleep, I paid for the game today, but my day was nothing compared to Billy Wagner's.