clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Another Reason Why I Love This Game

New, comments

NEW YORK -- Here's why I love this game.

I'm at Shea Stadium seeing two teams play in whom I have no intrinsic rooting interest.

And I'm a bit ambivalent about who wins the game because the Cubs are chasing both of them (though as I said before, I was leaning toward the Braves, because I think they will win the NL East, and thus the Mets are wild-card competition).

And it wound up being a thoroughly enjoyable evening, a nice tense game with good defensive plays, key strikeouts, and a bottom-of-the-ninth almost-comeback in front of loudly cheering home fans... and I kept thinking, "THIS is why I love this game so much."

Got my wish. The Braves beat the Mets 2-1, keeping the Cubs five games behind them in the wild-card race -- ah, but allowing them to slip ahead of the Mets, who dropped to the .500 mark. At this writing the Astros and Cardinals are tied in the 11th, but if the Cardinals win, that would put the Cubs alonoe in second place in the NL Central. Click here for the St. Louis/Houston boxscore.

Random thoughts on this game:

  • New York is just a big, big city. Riding on the #7 train from Manhattan, once you come out of the subway tunnel, you see block after block of high-rise residential buildings. You don't get into anything resembling single-family dwellings till you are almost at Shea, and still that's not similar to the north side of Chicago. Incidentally, wanna win a bar bet? Ask someone which ML stadium is the only one not on the North American continent. It's Shea, which is on Long Island. It was also a gorgeous evening, after a somewhat hot and sticky afternoon, with a gentle breeze -- perfect for baseball.
  • Jose Reyes is a major talent. He singled and doubled and had what at the time (the 6th inning) was a game-saving, diving stab of a Wilson Betemiti grounder. He had the bad fortune of having the eventual winning RBI, a Rafael Furcal single, bang off his throwing hand -- he wasn't charged with an error. Reyes is only 22 and in a year or two, he's going to be one of the top players in the NL.
  • So is David Wright, who homered for the Mets' only run (they're now shooting off fireworks a la White Sox for these), and who, after Mike Piazza had sucked all the air out of the crowd in the bottom of the 9th by hitting into a DP, nearly tied it up by hitting a ball caught at the RF wall by Jeff Francoeur -- and, incidentally, Francoeur is also a major talent-in-waiting. You remember his 3-run HR against the Cubs before the All-Star break -- tonight, he singled and doubled and played terrific defense.
  • In the aforementioned top of the 6th, in a tense situation against their bitterest division rival, what do the Mets fans do? Why, of course, they start yelling "Yankees suck!" We might call this "White Sox Syndrome", if we weren't feeling charitable -- oh, heck, yes, let's call it that. I think this particular chant was a reaction to the fact that they had just posted on the scoreboard, the fact that the Red Sox were leading the Yankees 12-1 in the 4th (they wound up winning 17-1) -- but really, kids, root for YOUR team. The Yankees weren't playing at Shea tonight. To be fair, the Mets fans were loud and vocal at appropriate moments -- and I loved the guy who yelled at the underperforming Carlos Beltran: "Hey Carlos! EARN your keep!"
  • The last time I was at Shea, on May 13, Tom Glavine was also the starter for the Mets. That day, he and Roberto Hernandez and Braden Looper combined on a shutout of the Cardinals. Tonight was his first-ever matchup with his longtime Braves teammate John Smoltz, and neither one was that sharp, but Smoltz wound up with the win when Hernandez, who had come into the game after Glavine was removed for pinch-hitter Jose Offerman (all I could think of was, the last time I saw Offerman, a ball thrown by LaTroy Hawkins was caroming a mile off his red Phillies helmet into the stands behind 1B at Wrigley Field), couldn't hold the lead. Nevertheless -- the ballgame was tightly played, contested well from the opening inning, and the ending was in doubt till the last pitch. As a fan of this game we all love, you can't ask for more.
  • For no particular reason, I decided to count the planes taking off from next-door LaGuardia Airport during the game. If you've heard them on TV, yes, they are that loud. Distractingly loud -- you feel compelled to look up, and you can easily read the markings on the planes. Forty of them, from first pitch to last out (2:37 game time). For what it's worth, which isn't much.
  • As I'm writing this I have SportsCenter on TV, and they just this moment cut away to the Baltimore/Seattle game, where Rafael Palmeiro just got his 3000th hit, a double down the LF line, becoming the 26th player to join that club. Congrats to him, and no, I don't think any one of us thought he'd accomplish this when he came up with the Cubs in 1986.
Anyway, as you most likely know, the Cubs annihilated the Pirates 11-1 for their fifth straight win.

I called Howard right after Jerry Hairston's grand slam off the foul pole that put the ! on the victory, and he claims to have called it.

He said, "I just told Jeff that Hairston would hit a meaningless line-drive homer, and he did it!"

For what it's worth.

About the rest of this game, the best thing apart from the offense generating 16 hits and 11 runs (sure, you'd have liked more than one walk, but with that sort of hitting, you can't really complain too much), was a wonderful outing by Kerry Wood with ZERO walks, and only 75 pitches thrown in six innings. For once, Dusty got a starter out of there early when it was appropriate to do so. The bullpen -- today, Mike Wuertz, Mike Remlinger and Glendon Rusch -- all threw well, perhaps enhancing the trade value of someone like Remlinger.

Keep the faith, everyone. Good things are happening.