Monday, May 3, 2010

Winning Streak, Games 1 and 7

Remember when the Mets couldn't beat the Braves and fans chanted derisively, "Larr-ry, Larr-ry," whenever Chipper Jones came to the plate? You know, the guy who had so much fun in Flushing, Queens that he named his second-born Shea, in honor of the (former) stadium? Well, this is the 21st century and I'd like to introduce you to the Phillies who've got a half-dozen ways to beat you, as they did the Mets by scores of 10-0 and 11-5 over the weekend. Sunday's loss was particularly painful, as Mets ace Johan Santana had his worst career start and 47-year-old Jamie Moyer got the win. Moyer's not retired? I thought he was dead.

The Mets did beat the Phils decisively on Friday, 9-0. That was the end of an eight-game winning streak that took the Mets from last to first (for a day). Before that, they were playing .333 ball and there were betting pools to guess manager Jerry Manuel's last day. I attended the first (Cubs, 5-2) and seventh (Dodgers, 7-3) games of the streak. I went to the first game with a professional colleague and a couple of former neighbors from pre-gentrified Williamsburg. A former co-worker joined me for the Dodgers game. These were pretty social affairs with guys I don't get to see often enough and my attention wasn't always on the game. "WW," as former Yankee player and announcer Phil Rizzuto used to mark his scorecard; "wasn't watching."

I do know this: David Wright tied Ed Kranepool's team record for doubles in the game against the Cubbies and broke the record six days later at the Dodger's game. Kranepool set the record over 18 seasons that encompassed 5,436 games. By comparison, Wright hit his 226 doubles in 3,266 at bats over six years and a month. (Photograph of Kranepool banner at Citi Field by Wally Gobetz.)

What else do I remember from my first two games of Season Two at Citi Field? They've re-oriented the bullpens so you can actually see both teams' relievers warming up. Putting one behind the other last season was in my mind the biggest design blunder of the new ballpark and caps off to the organization for fixing that. The old Mets home run apple used to be exiled to a picnic area beyond the bullpens like they were ashamed of it, but now its in front of the stadium. The super-sized team shop off of the Jackie Robinson Rotunda was converted to a museum; I'll have to check that out. I wonder if that was always the plan, after the inaugural season euphoria wore off. Finally, the Mets have added a Blue Smoke franchise to the plaza above the rotunda, so fans don't have to go all the way out past the outfield for a pulled-pork fix. All good stuff.

So, I'm on the subway coming back from game seven of the streak and I miss a call while underground. It's Chris in ticket sales. He wants to know if I'd be interested in a "Premium Pick-a-Pack;" the subway series and four more games of my choosing at prices starting at around $100 a seat, not that Chris mentions that last part. Chris, I know you're just doing your job. That winning streak was exciting, and it came in just the nick of time. But I'd be a fool if I thought the Mets were going to play like that all season. You see, there's this little problem called the Phillies....

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