Monday, July 28, 2008

Second trip to Shea

Lunchbox day at Shea yesterday, and the last game of the Cardinal series after a 14 inning, five hour game Saturday night that completely wiped out the bullpen.

Again, the weather forecast was a little iffy, but we left the house early to make sure we'd get that commemorative tin lunchbox for our son. We packed a bag with snacks and books, and lunch was some extra barbecued chicken legs from the day before.

We had seats about halfway up the upper deck, right behind home plate. Our son was a little low-energy and cranky early on in the game, which was making me nervous because Santana was throwing no-hit ball through four, AND because the Mr. Met Dyna Met Dash promotion was scheduled to take place after the game. We were all excited about the chance to go down on the field. He perked up about the time the Mets did, though, with the help of some ice cream. Everything seemed to go right for the home nine yesterday -- Santana threw a complete game; homers from Wright, Tatis, and Castro; Beltran had a couple hits so maybe he's heating up, but he also made the best catch since Endy's in '06.

High fly ball off the bat of number two hitter Ryan Ludwick. Beltran has a nice jump, retreating right away, his eyes rising. All of a sudden, he turns his back to home and kicks it smoothly into a higher gear, running straight back to the track, where he turns, feels for the wall, gathers, leaps, and makes the catch, the ball snapping his glove beyond the wall before he pulls it back, and you see the perfect sno-cone. It was gorgeous.

Each time it replayed on Diamondvision, the crowd exploded. "Whoa!" The same "Whoa!" that Little Steven would make when he was playing Silvio Dante on The Sopranos. [I hate that Beltran gets a bum rap from some Met fans - he is a joy to watch, a cadillac, so smooth and effortless in center field. I can only imagine that DiMaggio covered the outfield in the same way. ]

I have to admit, it is fun to sit near glumfaced and sullen Cardinal fans in their ugly red clothes. Especially since I was there for Endy's catch in '06, and Yadier &*%^$^# Molina is still behind the plate for St. Louis.

Anyway, the weather threatened to cancel the Dyna Dash, but in the middle of the eighth we made our way down to the Gate A and the picnic area to wait on line. We had our radio so we could hear Santana finish the game. It was a long wait in a light drizzle, but well worth it. You enter the field from behind the bleachers, and you pass behind the camera stand, and the huge and rusting light tower in left center, finally stepping onto the warning track just to the left field side of the Home Run Apple. It is cool. Seeing that stuff up close, looking up at the scoreboard, out across the outfield, into the the bullpen and the dugout, and up into the upper deck. Stadium crew does not want you to lollygag -- they are very nice about it, I have to say -- but you don't get the chance to really soak it in. And the kids run once, from first base to home, which our four year old covered a lot faster than I thought he would. Even after being gently steered away from the outfield grass a few times.

Rounding third and heading for home. His face looked like Christmas morning as he approached Mister Met.

Then he was a little glum because he couldn't run again, but a free ice cream cone helped him get over that. And I think we're going to do it again anyway -- we're going to two more Sunday games this month alone, next one in a couple weeks against the Marlins when my brother is in town in with his wife and nine year-old daughter. Goodness knows I want the chance to be down on the field again.

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