I have told people who either don't pay attention or who aren't coming from the same angle as me that there was EASILY more talent on this Opening Day roster than on Opening Day of 2012. You have the likes of an unproven Collin Cowgill getting the spot of Andres Torres, whose ceiling (problem was mainly consistency, 'cause his great times were AWESOME) was never all that high to begin with. Then there is who ever you could argue is taking Jason Bay's roster spot, who could have been great, but unfortunately was the victim of many different circumstances, some of which we will get to later in this article. The roster is littered with those kinds of examples that made it clear even early on in spring that this 2013 New York Mets squad was attention-worthy. My optimism is always strong, but even before I witnessed an out-of-nowhere rout, you could tell there was potential for something special. Small-sample size aside, the things we discussed could be strengths for this team and characteristics the Mets stressed they wanted to get to as soon as possible in this season were felt. Moves made came together for a day, if not yet validated, and a fun time was had by all who encountered the New York Metropolitans on an early spring day in Flushing.
Every year is familiar but fresh. You are more experienced and the game is more experienced, and so the whole experience is always slightly surreal. Last year was less so, but with the Mets scoring 11 runs, it happened so fast that it was almost like I got off the 7, blacked out, then came to and the Mets had 11 runs.
The day began with my usual trek from Times Square on the 7 line. As always, one of the best parts of taking the train out to the game is passing by 5 Pointz. This year, though, I was not as inclined to snap away as I usually am, for the moment I was out of the tunnel, I got the technology ready I would need to broadcast live from the Elevated Circle 7. For the hell of it, I'm gonna embed it again.
Arriving at Willets Point with Greg Prince of FAFIF on the line and the podcast rolling was an absolute thrill and I am happy all parties involved were able to make it happen. Thanks to Rising Apple site editor Matt Musico, Staff Writer Dan Haefeli (who was in the parking lot at 10 and I, for some reason, mistook him live on-air as Staff Writer Danny Abriano), Robert Moreno of Fansided's Chicken Friars, and Greg. There was a lot of wind at some points, but you can here us plenty. And what was a lot of fun was that I met Dan Haefeli in the middle of us interviewing Robert, basing his on-air location description as a guide to where a man might just be pacing back and forth on his phone.
After the show was over, Dan and I headed to the gas station at the corner of Roosevelt Avenue and the Grand Central Parkway to pick up a 6-pack of Flushing's Finest (Modelo.) We then found that very Abriano and Co., introducing ourselves for the very first time and enjoying some brews in the parking lot before making our ways to a jam-packed McFaddens.
After we all parted ways to go off to our respective sections, I noticed there was an exit to the side of the bar that went directly into a Citi Field entrance, one that arrives in the Center Field Food Plaza. Just in time as well, for I was able to catch the middle of Howie Rose's lineup introductions. Emmy Rossum then sang the National Anthem, an actress who now has more male Met fan fans (and I'm sure some ladies too) than she did before April 1, 2013 (myself, though, included in those fans she had prior to Opening Day.)
She was good, but my expectations were sky high having seen the following clip.
Anyway, I digress.
On his birthday, Rusty threw out the first pitch. I unfortunately missed what was apparently a tribute to the '73 squad at the beginning of the ceremonies, but I'm glad I caught Rusty (well...Anthony Recker caught Rusty.)
Baseball was settled into, and as I walked around at the beginning of the game, I was on the 3rd base side of the upper deck when I decided to call Greg Prince and see where he was at. Sure enough, I had literally stopped at his section, and hung up the phone to make my way up (if I remember correctly) section 526. I met a friend of his, and the three of us watched Jon Niese give up a first-pitch hit, but keep the inning together. Having received a text from an unexpected, though far from surprising, place, and with more people arriving in the section, I bid farewell to Greg and friend and made my way around to the 1st base side of the upper dekker, where an entire family of former Tranquillity Campers were indulging in baseball (when you have purchased a single seat, you are afforded more opportunity to work through the Citi in this manner.)
Post-game, Greg made a good point that our brief drop-by's have brewed luck of the good form for the Mets. Unfortunately, the times we've watched a whole game or the majority of one together have not stirred up similar outcomes.
Anyway, when I arrived to their section, the surrounding seats were (fortunately and unfortunately) completely filled (WHAT?! you say?). I sat in some empty seats at the top of the stadium while looking around my fellow Tranquillity-ites. The Mets made the wait very pleasant as John Buck, Ruben Tejada and Jon Niese helped turn zero on and 2 out into a 2-0 Mets lead. I then found my friends and sat at the end of their filled row. The inning ended and one of the sons made his way to the aisle (his two brothers could unfortunately not make the game). We settled for a brief catchup before I waved to his parents and traveled to my section, fully expecting to make my way back later in the game when the population over there was more modest.
I settled in around whatever my official seat was and caught the the majority of the early action. What was very noticeable was that the longer lineup we fans said the team now had potential to have was on full display.
Marlon Byrd, who should be doing it cleanly now and clearly seems to have determination in his eyes to prove last year was an aberration, was able to collect his first hits and RBI's as a Met.
Pitchers are usually going to get John Buck out. But it'll be because they had to battle him, not because he's an easy out. There's pop at the catching position again. I'm a fan of Thole, and I think last year he got thrown off, but when he's not going well, he doesn't have the pop to occasionally get into one, so he just ends up popping everything up. Pitchers have to come right at John because otherwise he will crush an apathetic pitch. It's a longer lineup.
Ruben Tejada had a terrible Spring, but found a pitch he liked in the 2nd and drove Buck in from 1st for the commencement of 2013 Metsian run-scoring. Below, he strikes out for the last of the 4th, and receives a little advice from 3rd base coach Tim Teufel.
Collin Cowgill just needed a shot. And he has been given one with the 2013 New York Mets. He collected his 1st hit AND not only his 1st career grand slam but his first home run in the Orange and Blue as well.
"The Grand Slam Triple" as I am now dubbing it, was yet another exploitation of how poorly designed the original concept for Citi Field is and was. Even though the walls have been corrected, the structural design that could not be corrected will most likely always be a constant reminder to how anti-climatic the walls were created. Let's forget the fact that Jason Bay's Mets career would have been completely saved had he, from the moment he got here in 2010, been able to just clock it off the wall out there for a home run. I'm glad the ball can dunk over the wall in front of part of the Great Wall of Flushing, but the fact the Grand Slam first appeared as a triple once again screams the walls should have never been designed that way in the first place. It is funny, however, how I film Collin standing into 3rd, pan to the fan celebration, then look back to the field unable to find where Cowgill went since I had missed the ump signaling the Grand Slam Triple.
Before the Grand Slam, and ironically helping to set up for the bases loaded, Jordany Valdespin made his 2013 debut, pinch-hitting for Brandon Lyon in that 7th (I had of course arrived back in the section where my Tranquillity family was for the latter part of the game.)
Guess how many pitches it took for Jordany to swing?
All of a sudden, it got real windy and real cold. It had been overcast but sunny and 60 for most of the day, but the clouds moving in near the water brought what seems to be another last cold front, winter continuing to sputter at the end. Thanks for most of Opening Day at least, Mother Nature.
Finally, we had reached the 9th, and the perfect opportunity was there for Scott Rice to make his Major League Debut after 11 years in the minors.
Gil Hodges celebrated with a little jig afterwards.
And we said goodbye to the day and hello to the 2013 New York Mets season. Opening Day was crazy all over the MLB, with my favorite outside of our general area of expertise being Clayton Kershaw's baller Opening Day performance.
Man, he CRUSHED that.
Tonight (besides the regularly scheduled 6:30PM EST podcast which will be posted on Rising Apple later today) Matt Harvey takes on Clayton Richards for game 2 of the Padres series tonight a 7:10PM EST.
Settlin' back in, everybody.
Baseball's back in town.
Here is a little short film of the footage I got on Opening Day (including footage from above AND footage unseen in clips on my Youtube.)
LET'S. GO. BASEBALL.
LET'S. GO. METS.
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