The first Monday game brought the Mets in the pleasant blue home jerseys, and was a first of sorts for some things.
It was Steven Matz‘s first start of 2016, and his first April start ever in Major League Baseball. It was Yoenis Cespedes‘s first April Monday home start for the New York Mets, and also, the first time in a couple years we were treated to the Mets in their natural colors on this particular day of the week, other than the Camo-jerseys we had become familiar with seeing. Though it was appropriate to designate Mondays as Military Mondays, there was some divide in how the armed services jerseys were aesthetically perceived (though the amount of winning the Mets did in the unseen colors smoothed over, and even converted, those camo-jersey naysayers.)
To disclaim, my schedule, with Two Boots Pizza in Hell’s Kitchen, is a little wonky, so I regularly don’t wake up till 2-3 in the afternoon. Most people, after getting off of work at 5pm, will stay up about 6-7 more hours. Well, I work normally, 5-12/1/2/3/4, and that 5 is attached with PM as well. I was a night owl before my schedule was aligned this way, and this has only further night-owled this being typing these words right now. So, when I say I woke up Monday at 3pm and decided by 3:30 I would leave my place at 4, go have breakfast, and leave by 5 or so from Flatbush on my bike to Citi Field, none of that was a typo.
I arrived to the Citi Field Plaza, with photo op stops on the way, at 6:37, taking the bike path along the West part of Brooklyn, and then into Queens via Greenpoint Avenue. Greenpoint took me to Roosevelt Avenue, which I took the rest of the way. As far as I’m concerned, for the body and the soul, there is no better way to see this city, and the part attached to the Island that is Long primarily, than to hop on a properly tuned bicycle and pedal your way through.
I was probably in Citi Field by 6:50, and upstairs to see if I could grab a slice of pizza from the pizza place I normally work. After a Mojo Risin’ Pat LaFrieda slice, and a Coney Island Mermaid beer, I was sitting in section 514 staring at Matz taking the mound. Finally, the fellow New Yorker would be on the Queens field.
It had been raining a little bit, and though 60 degrees when the sun went down, you knew along the water it would be rather chilly. The chill didn’t really settle in till, well, what was probably the 2nd inning, but all things considered and a Monday in April to boot, you knew the crowd would probably be of the 2011 variety. It was paid 25, but expect 15,000 at most. And don’t lose their attention.
I was finally in my happy place. Behind home plate, with a perfect view of the entire field. You almost forget how comforting that moment is, all those months of being without in in the offseason, but it’s so, so amazin’ when you finally get it back. And weirdly enough, even the sight of the Mets and Matz falling apart in the 2nd inning, is familiar and comforting.
Yes, I would have much rather different outcome. One of my favorite games having watched from behind home plate is when we came back against Papelbon and the Phillies before we collapsed in July of 2012. But another one of my fond memories is yelling loud for Ike Davis in a rainy blowout against the Padres (where the Padres were blowing us out) I think, sometime that same year, and knowing there’s no way the players didn’t hear me, ’cause the crowd had thinned out so much and my voice is too freaking booming that there might be some chuckling involved in that dugout. Razor Shines definitely heard me in the 2nd to last game of 2009. I saw him smirk. Todd Zeile probably didn’t smirk in 2003 when I kept asking him, from right behind the tarp on 3rd base, loudly and obnoxiously, whether he wanted some ice on Mets Interlocking NY ice tray night.
Anyway, the reality was and is that Citi Field has had many more of those memories than the ones we’d rather be fond of from the year prior to this one. Still, it can’t be easy for this team. It’s not supposed to be. Maybe Steven Matz, and the Mets, and us for that matter, needed that inning, and this Monday, to get back to our natural state, so we can battle even harder from here on out.
Existential talk aside, regardless of that 2nd inning, I was so thrilled to be back to where I once belonged. I finally got up from behind home plate to start walking and watching, as I’m so fond of doing in that space. And at that exact moment was when we finally started scoring runs. Wright and Cespedes were the catalysts then, and unfortunately any rally ended there. The crowd got pumped when those two started combining for runs, but unfortunately, the small crowd’s enthusiasm over the course of the night could not be sustained, as the Marlins kept tacking on, and the Mets did not answer.
In the middle of the game, I got to meet our own Ryan Punzalan for the first time, and though we enjoyed finally talking some Mets together in person, we unfortunately watched Lucas Duda, after a random fan asked to take a photo of my “The Duda 21” jersey, strike out after being 3-0. He most certainly did not abide right there.
So, we lost 10-3 to go 2-4 on the season. Man, that’s a little amount of games. It shouldn’t be, but for some reason, all parties involved agreed to an atrocious first week schedule like that. So toss them aside, dust yourself off, and gather yourselves for the remaining 156 games. What a long strange trip it will be.
All we got to do is Keep on Pushin’.
LET’S. GO. METS.