Tuesday, April 10, 2012

In My Absence, The Mets Still Get It Done

Monday marked the first time in the short 2012 campaign I could not be present at Citi Field. No matter how much I would love to go to every Mets game there is, Overtime must be worked so I can go to as many as possible. The Mets faced yet another division rival, one I believe is going to be a formidable opponent during this campaign. In what is arguably the most entertaining game so far in the infancy of this season, The Mets prevailed over the Nationals by a score of 4-3 to stretch their early record to 4-0.

The Monday night affair was the first I listened to on the radio, and when spoiled with live baseball and the gentlemen on SNY, I forgot how eloquent and visual Howie Rose can be. Baseball is still the most cinematic of sports radio broadcasts, with enough time in-between pitches to paint a vivid picture of what the listener's eyes are missing. Not many do it better than Howie Rose, whose Mets Fandom is also a fantastic treat, with his emotions bleeding through subtly to enhance the listener's experience.

I cannot figure out yet what I think of his new partner, Josh Lewin. The Mets got rid of Wayne Hagin at the end of last year, and while I never minded him,  I didn't shed a tear. In my first time listening to the pairing, I can tell Lewin knows his Mets baseball, and is real energetic on his calls. As the season goes on, I will be able to form a more solid opinion of what I think of the new guy.

Mike Pelfrey started and he was very....Pelfrey. He had trouble, as usual, finding his groove in the first inning, and as he staked the Mets out to their first deficit of the year, every Met fan universally rolled their eyes. He wasn't very efficient throughout the night, throwing around 100 pitches in only 5.2 innings. He was able to settle down, however, after giving up 3 runs in 3 innings, uncharacteristically striking out 8. He also helped his own cause by smacking a double down the left field line in the 3rd, scoring on David Wright's RBI single for the Mets' first run (Wright is now 4 RBIs away from tying Strawberry's all-time franchise mark.) No matter how frustrating the consistent inconsistencies of Mike Pelfrey can be, outings like this are what makes his a serviceable 5th starter, and his role as an innings eater has value in and of itself. The new front office, however, has no attachment to Pelf, and the mediocrity he provides will most likely not be accepted for that much longer, especially if the kids down on the farm develop into what we hope they will.

The first deficit of the year provided the Mets with their first opportunity to battle back, and our new center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis (or "Nieuwy" as Murph called him during the post-game interview) responded with a 2-run home run off the Mo's Zone to tie the game (which is now a 4-bagger and should have been for 3 years now). This was also Kirk's first major league round tripper, and when I watched the highlights, you could see how pumped he was, and how excited the rest of the team was for him as well.

Not enough can be said about the bullpen's work. They made some key outs with runners on base during this game. It is forming into a real strength for this team. What a sight to behold.

I got home around the 7th inning, turning the TV on as I got ready to go to our basement gym in our building (where I have watched most of the Knicks' fourth quarters on overtime days.) When a commercial came on, I raced downstairs, turned the facility's TV on and finished watching the game while on the treadmill, another first time for me in this young baseball season. I almost lost my feet below me (as Mike Baxter later did) pumping my fist in the air when in the 9th Murph saved a 2-out hit with a diving stop up the middle, tossing the ball to Tejada for the force out. This was Murphy's first defensive 9th inning this year, and the guy came up huge.

As I ramped up my running, Tejada laid the bunt down, the Nationals' Rodriguez threw it away (so many pitchers who throw 100 mph cannot make a simple throw to 1st) and Mike Baxter made everyone in the ballpark cringe as he stumbled between 3rd and home, arriving safely back at 3rd. Murphy solidified his place as MVP of the game by shortening his swing on an inside, waist-high fastball to line the stitches in front of Jayson Werth in shallow right-center field and score Baxter for the winning run.

I am having such a blast watching this mostly young team slowly build their chemistry, their confidence and their swagger. I know it's early, but I like what I see so far. Until they show me otherwise, I will revel in the Awesomeness.

LET'S. GO. METS.

It was announced yestersay that to celebrate the 50th birthday of the Mets first game ever, the team would be selling a limited number of $2.50 seats for Wednesday's afternoon game (which is an unbelievable price for the scheduled match-up of Johan and Stephen Strasburg). Those tickets sold out pretty quickly apparently and they extended it into Tuesday night's ballgame. I couldn't resist, and I had planned on going after Overtime to see if there would still be tickets available. But the best girlfriend ever traveled out to Citi Field around 7:30 and locked down some seats for us and a friend. She. Is. Awesome. I just can't stay away from the ballpark, especially at $2.50 a seat. You can purchase them here, but at the ballpark there is no service fee (I know even the concept of the service fee sucks, but it might be a lot more complicated than we think to remove it from the site for just this one promotion. I don't know. The service charge isn't expensive at all, but if you have time tomorrow, head down to the ticket booth and lock down, say, 4 tickets for $10. Pretty sweet, huh? Call ahead, though, if you're concerned they'll be gone.)
 
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