Friday, June 20, 2014

The Game

I arrived to my 2nd training shift at the Hell's Kitchen Two Boots just before 5 o' clock yesterday afternoon, and I must say, my timing for monitoring this game was impeccable.

Between the minutes of 7:10 and 7:20, I checked on the game during a calmer moment. No sooner after seeing on the main page that EricYoung, Jr. was on 1st base and Daniel Murphy was up to the plate did it say in the gameday play-by-play that Daniel Murphy had grounded into a double play. I rolled my eyes and put my phone back in my pocket. With many different slices to choose from (including The Newman, Cleopatra Jones, Grandma Bess, Bayou Beast, The Larry Tate, The Night Tripper, Mr. Pink, Tony Clifton, The Bird, The Earth Mother, and V for Vegan) a man decided, not knowing his Mr. Pink was on its way out of the oven, to change his order to The Newman. Instead of Creole Chicken, plum tomatoes, fresh garlic & mozzarella, he decided on sopressata & sweet italian sausage on a white pie. With no one else claiming a Mr. Pink in the moment, I decided to get the slice for dinner and stole away for a hot second to the back outside.

I arrived there with the slice in my hand and my phone in the other, ready to get my MLB gameday on with the sounds of the crowd in the backyard of Rudy's Bar & Grill hopping. Gameday catches you up quickly on the pitches in the AB you're arriving to, and with David Wright up, it showed me the 4 pitches I had missed. Then, after a pause, clearly having caught up to the gameday's pace, the 5th pitch said "In play, run(s)" which could only mean one thing with no one on. With the words, "David Wright homers on a fly ball to center field," I knew it must have been a bomb, and couldn't wait to see the highlight when it got loaded. I finished up my slice and headed inside to do my job.

I checked in periodically, including watching the home run on my way home to my apartment a block and an avenue over for my actual roughly half-hour break. It was usually the end of an inning I would catch, giving me a quick update that hardly wasted any time compared  to following it pitch-by-pitch. As it got later into the evening, it was a surprise but refreshing to see the Mets with a 1-0 lead still intact, the game moving briskly along with Wheeler apparently dealing and the Major League debuter Andrew Heaney dealing as well after the Marlins-home-run-structure-moon-shot by David. On a whim, with a slow moment in the store, I checked just in time for a live look-in with 2 out in the 9th, and Reed Johnson up. The phone sat right under the register so I could keep an eye on everything else my eyes needed to be on. The thorn that is Reed gave us more to worry about with a great AB that finished with a clean single past a diving Ruben Tejada, then Rafael Furcal scared the BeJesus out of all of us with a lacer to center that was right at Chris Young. With a 1969 New York Mets poster hanging on my left, the 2014 New York Mets had wrapped up one of the best games of the year.  I could turn off the live-look-in.

So, Zack Wheeler, after all his struggles this year, pitched the ballgame of his life so far with a 3-hit shutout. It almost felt like Gary was calling a no-hitter at the end when I watched the highlights, with so much meaning behind Zack completing it. It meant a lot to the Mets and to Zack Wheeler's career. It couldn't have been scripted any better with the recently slumping captain of our ballclub winning it with a solo shot in the 1st inning. Wright gave Wheeler the run he would need and he ran with it.

Here's what Keith Hernandez had to say with 1 out in the 9th:
“There’s no reason why these young kids...young MEN…and I’m speaking of Wheeler going 9 innings- I know they’re not conditioned to, but I am so hopeful that it gets back to a starter, in a close game- let HIM win or lose it. Don’t have someone come in and lose it FOR him.”

Zack Wheeler was able to do what Bartolo Colon was not allowed to do yesterday, and it was immensely impressive. This is when the naysayers who were calling for Wheeler to get sent down as he continued to struggle get proven wrong. This team will win or lose with Wheeler, and it's all part of the evolution of this ballclub, which has been a hard thing to pick up on lately.

This is the kind of game when everything else doesn't matter anymore. The baseball is the only thing that does.

When I see Josh Thole say that "the hardest thing in the baseball world is to play in New York for the Mets....EVERYTHING is a story there,” and then I see this game, it kind of makes me think that’s the EXACT reason we traded him, other than being R.A. Dickey’s personal catcher (and THAT GUY seemed to do alright in this town, bro.) I've met Josh Thole and he's a really nice dude, but a quote like that just screams incorrect to me. No matter how much we criticize Sandy with where the Major League club currently stands under his tenure, one thing I think is more of a strength than a weakness of his is that he really doesn't care about ANY of that noise. And it would seem he really doesn't. That's something that is extremely valuable in this town. 

Enough worrying about everything we, the fans, are worried about, or about the fact that we keep asking questions about the things we are worried about. 

Just play baseball. You’ll probably do it pretty well.

Wayta pitch, Zack.

Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter @convertedmetfan. For more from myself and others on the Mets, head over to Rising Apple. And for the latest on a Brooklyn Baseball TV Series I am developing, Like the Bedford & Sullivan Facebook page, follow on Twitter hereand listen to the research process here.

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