Saturday, July 10, 2010

Reds 3, Mets 1 -- July 7, 2010

The late Bob Murphy, the voice of the Mets for a couple generations of fans, was fond of intoning, "it is a beautiful night for baseball," and a trip to the ballpark can be sublime when the weather is just so. It was bitterly cold when I went to CitiField in April, and my last trip to the ballpark was hampered by rain. By the time the New York Mets and Cincinnati Reds took the field on July 7, two days of record heat had cooled off to a balmy 87. The humidity remained oppressive. Back in April I thought CitiField was windier than Shea Stadium but now that we needed a breeze, none could be found.

The game seemed sort of like a pitchers duel. Jon Niese (6-2) matched his career high with eight strike outs, including three of the first four batters, which set the tone. And Niese and Bronson Arroyo (8-4) walked just one apiece. But the Mets had eight hits and the Reds seven; what kind of pitchers duel is that? Angel Pagan's home run in the first was the only Met score. The visitors had two solo shots--Brandon Phillips in the third and Chris Heisey in the seventh--with the second homer followed by a run-scoring ground-rule double by Phillips. Niese came back for part of the eighth but he looked like we felt, wrung out. The sporadic hitting also seemed affected by the humidity, as if a rally was just too much work.

Although I hated seeing the Mets lose the rubber game to the Reds and start to back-slide a bit, I am happy to see Cincinnati on top of the National League Central. My mother's family is from southwest Ohio and I grew up with the excitement of the "Big Red Machine."
(L-R, above: Pete Rose, George Foster, Dave Concepción, Johnny Bench, César Gerónimo, Joe Morgan, Ken Griffey Sr., Tony Perez) From 1970 in brand-new Riverfront Stadium to 1976, the team won the western division five times, the National League four times and the world championship twice. The back-to-back championship in 1976 was a sweep of the Phillies and Yankees, the only time a baseball team was undefeated in post season. The Cincinnati Red Stockings are generally considered the first professional baseball team and (with apologies to Griffey Jr.) it makes me happy to see the storied franchise playing well again after a decade of losing records.

Before the game, a friend and I took a quick tour of the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum. It has a smattering of memorabilia; clips from games, some (top) featuring past broadcasters; a wall of plaques; more--it bears a leisurely visit. I wrote previously the museum took the place of the team shop off of the rotunda, but only partially. It is devious how one minute you are looking at autographed jerseys, balls and bats and then you round a corner and you're in the shop where you can buy ... autographed jerseys, balls and bats, or maybe just a cap or other souvenir. It redefines 'exit through the gift shop.'

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