The first truly great moment, of many to come, at Citi Field. The first Mets moment in history in a while that instantly became a “Where were you when?” moment. The last one was probably also Johan Santana‘s. His amazin’ domination of the Florida Marlins on the second to last game of 2008.
I was at a restaurant for my mother-in-law’s birthday. A Hibachi steakhouse in Valley Stream, NY. Much like Johan Santana, this restaurant had recently been damaged and shut-down, only recently reopening. My wife, among others, joke that I’m addicted to my phone and this bit of positive reinforcement certainly won’t help with that. I fully intended to detach from baseball for a night. I’d seen Carlos Beltran‘s first at-bat before we went to dinner, and figured I’d read the recap and watch the highlights later. I didn’t. I finished my onion soup and peeked at the score. After all, Johan Santana was pitching and we’d been there to see his last dominating start as a mere mortal last Saturday. Game day told me of Duda’s 3-run home run and I smiled. I did notice that there were no hits. Of course I noticed. We always noticed. It was early though, and we’ve seen that before. My salad came and I started eating, and I drank my beer and ate some edamame. All the while that nagging feeling in the back of my brain was tingling. Internet addiction? Mets magic? I checked the score. I checked the pitch count. I got worried. These checks got more and more frequent, with a brief reprieve while the Mets were coming to bat. They had a big lead and I was just hoping they wouldn’t prolong the time Santana had to sit and wait to continue. I fretted briefly over the ‘injury delay’. As we got to the 7th inning I started seriously checking the pace of dinner.
Would the guy behind the bar flip the tiny screen to the game instead of whatever race they were showing? Was anyone really watching that? Maybe I would step out to the parking lot and use MLB’s At-Bat app for a live look-in. Would 3G service be enough for that? Probably not. The audio feed would probably be the way to go. We’d finished ice cream and our waiter had disappeared. Where was he? Run my credit card already! Bottom of the 8th. Someone finally showed up and processed it, and we could leave. I got to the car in time for the 9th. Instantly I was transported into the game. It’s amazing how these events manage to do that. I’d mentally pushed baseball down on my list of important things for the night, but it wasn’t having any of that. Tonight was about Mets baseball. I turned on the radio and Howie’s voice instantly filled me with all the jitters and emotions that we all know so well. He called the game while I drove, which I don’t recommend in such situations..not that there will ever be a situation quite like that, and he called each ball in play with the urgency it demanded but also with a hint of terror that it was going to fall in. Your brains, like mine, like Howie’s, probably ran through each of the billion ways it could’ve gone wrong. It didn’t. It so didn’t.
I parked, and everyone else went in. I listened to the recap and interviews, grateful that they didn’t go to commercial and say “Back to talk about it in a moment”. It was a great night. It was a Mets night. Baseball took over, and it was glorious.
Congratulations to Johan Santana, and Happy National Donut Day everyone!