Monday, April 9, 2012

...aaaand 7,971 games.....But We Swept the Braves, You Guys!!!!!!

Almost 24 hours after we decided, "What the heck?" and purchased tickets to our 3rd trip to Citi Field in 4 days, I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat, wondering, pondering and dreaming of the possibility that after 50 years of at least one opposing player hitting safely in every game ever played by our Metropolitans, this third game of 2012 might just be the one that breaks all that.

But alas, Jon Niese's no-hit bid was just that, a "bid," as every single "bid" has been before the 9,791st game the Mets have played in their 50-year history. Our orange and blue team, however, kept playing inspired baseball, beating the Braves 7-5 and beginning the season 3-0 for the first time since the infamous 2007. Only this time, the team we see before us is a bright young core taking shape, including the man on the mound, whose recently signed 5-year contract represents the new-found efficiency of this front office.

Sunday mornings, I work in the city, and for the first time in  this short season I was able to take the 7 all the way from Times Square. This provided me with the opportunity to check out the 5 pointz Aerosol Art Center for the first time in a long time. What a first sight it is out of the tunnel and onto the L.

Around the corner, they have a wall that changes periodically, and at one point last year, they had a great set of Mets graffiti, which I wrote about here. I was wondering if they would have something up there for the first weekend, but unfortunately there was nothing about the Mets as of yet. Clearly, still awesome, though.

I had gotten out of work a little late and soon while on the train I realized I was going to yet again miss the first pitch. I met my girlfriend at the base of the subway stairs and entered the ballpark through the rotunda. We arrived just in time to hear of David Wright's Sac fly to plate Ruben Tejada (who had doubled, moved over to third on Murph's ground out and tore it up the rest of the day, finishing 4-5. He was quiet the first two games but at the same time did not look uncomfortable at the plate. I thought it was just a matter of time before he broke out. It is hard to remember sometimes that Ruben Tejada is only 22 years old.) Unfortunately, Ike Davis does look uncomfortable at the plate, and he struck out swinging to end the 1st inning. My girlfriend and I made our way to our seats.

Or kinda our seats....actually not even close to kinda our seats. We bought upper deck left field seats but found some empties in the outfield on the 3rd base side.

It turned out some friends of mine were in similar seats on the 1st base side, and I told them we would head on over there in a bit. Jon Niese, however, kept in a groove. As the game went on, superstitions took over and I wasn't going anywhere.

As the possibility of a first no-hitter inched closer and closer, I started day-dreaming of what it would be like to be a part of the crowd to see such a historic event, even though I told myself not to. This isn't just another no-hitter (and witnessing any no-hitter would be cool) this would be the first ever. I don't know if even witnessing a championship could trump that. 'Cause the Mets have had a couple championships. They have NEVER had a no-hitter. They have around 35 one-hitters (which I like to call the Mets no-hitter. Ugh.)

It got to the point where I was slightly frustrated as the Mets offense kept hitting up Mike Minor and the rest of the Braves pitching. I kept telling myself, "However the first one is gonna go, that's how the game is gonna go. Relax and let itself play out." But still, a big part of you just wanted Jon Niese to get back out there and work through the Braves line-up, even as the Mets keep giving you signs that they will hardly ever been easy outs for pitchers this season. When Niese came to bat, I figured he was in the same boat of thought, but the guy got a single down the line! Jeez! And eventually came around to score! That's cool and all, but we got a lead! I wanna see a no-hitter!

The Mets got 7 runs and Jon Niese arrived at the 7th inning with around 90 pitches under his belt. I noticed his pitch count was a little high around the 4th inning but I thought that this might not matter, that he might be able to work through it. Dan Uggla, one of my least favorite players, kept fouling pitches off to start the inning and eventually walked on 10 pitches. The signs weren't pointing to this being the day we have been waiting for, but I held out hope that Niese could work through the adversity and the high pitch count. Freddie Freeman, however, was the next batter and landed a pitch in the center field grass. The bid fell in line with the rest of them, and we all stood to give Jon Niese his due. The Duda then lost a fly ball in the sun, and all of a sudden it was a good thing the Mets scored all those runs I didn't want them to score. The inning ended with us still up, though, albeit 7-4.

I was no longer glued to my seat and we decided to go over to my friends, who said there were some seats available in their region.

Manny Acosta came in to relieve Niese for his first appearance of the year and pitched an inning and two outs, giving up one solo homer to right field, a homer which would have been one last year as well (a sentence we will constantly hear this year.) Jon Rauch got the day off after pitching in the first two games and the Freak of Nature Tim Byrdak came in for one batter to finish up the 8th inning. Frank Francisco, however, did not get the day off, and became the first Mets closer ever to begin his New York career with 3 saves in the team's first 3 games. Awesomeness.

What a weekend. They did a great job with the blue Citi Field walls (which were basically how they should have been in the first place) and a fantastic job with the uniforms, both of which made the place feel much more like home. I have been waiting for baseball for so long, it made perfect sense for me to be completely engulfed by the game all opening weekend. I know it is only 3 games, and it is a Braves team that made hardly any additions or improvements coming off of a collapse to rival our own collapses, but if there was any team that needed to show early on they will play hard and compete in every game, it's these young New York Mets. I know neither Terry Collins nor Sandy Alderson will stand for complacent, lackadaisical baseball, and if anybody on this team makes them think changes need to be made, those changes will happen sooner rather than later.

Doesn't that fact feel good as a fan of the Metropolitans?


Converted Mets Fan is now on Twitter. Follow here for random thoughts and new post updates. 

Correction to yesterday's post: Martin Prado did not take a double away from David Wright down the 3rd base line. It was, rather, Juan Francisco.  

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