Monday, June 11, 2007

A great day with the Mets -- unless you look at the scoreboard



If the final score was all that mattered, then Sunday’s trip to see the Mets in Detroit was a disaster.

But seeing the Mets in a regular season game in person for the first time this century and sharing the day with my 10-year-old baseball buddy daughter made the day special no matter what the scoreboard said.

Caroline wore her new Mets t-shirt purchased just for the occasion, and after much debate I opted for the classic Faith and Fear in Flushing t-shirt as the foundation for my black Robin Ventura road jersey.

I know, I know. I’m opposed to the black alternate uniforms. But my cousin Tim recently said he breaks his alt out when he needs to feel like a bad ass, and after Saturday’s loss I figured we’d need to look a little tough while cruising “The D.”

Caroline and I arrived at Comerica Park about 20 minutes before the gates opened because, well, I’m trying to raise her properly and getting there for batting practice is just the right thing to do.

We did have time to pose in front of the Tiger statue in front of the
ballpark. A family offered to take the shot for us despite our obvious allegiance. I wasn’t too surprised because it’s rare to see the Tigers faithful pile on opposing fans. I suspect that’s because the team was so bad for so long that the fans have forgotten how to be cocky.

Once inside, Caroline had a deal. She collects those flattened pennies, and learned from the official penny collector website that there were two machines inside Comerica. (Apparently there is one at Shea outside the pro shop, if the Web site is correct) The plan was to hit the machine by the carousel first, then let me hang out down by the Mets dugout. We’d hit the second machine at the gift shop when the Tigers came back out.

She was excited to quickly crank out four pennies, and I was pumped to see John Maine and Pedro Feliciano hanging out on the dugout steps. Jorge Sosa popped out, too, and even signed my Mets book.

Before long, there were other people dressed in Metsware lining the rail, all with a neat story. One guy snapping photos was from Northern Jersey and travels on business. He was able to prolong his stay in the area in order to see the Mets. Another was born in the Bronx and now lives in a Detroit suburb and brought his young son to see his team.

A couple in black t-shirts were holding signs that I thought were shaped like bats. One said “Welcome back, Jose” and the other said “Pink Panther.” I confess that I didn’t understand the signs.

“Jose Valentin has the best mustache in baseball,” the guy said. Apparently what I thought was a bat was actually facial hair. How does one judge a 'scache? What's a good one?

Usually it’s pretty lonely to be a Mets fan out here. There was much bonding.

Soon all the pitchers came out for stretching and sprints, led by El Duque. The whole team seemed kind of flat. Not a lot of joking or smiling. Virtually all of them completely ignored the fans. I know the autograph pests are drag, but they could at least look over and wave. Only Shawn Green responded, saying his injured foot felt good.

It was exciting to see all the guys in person as they stepped into the cage. David Wright launched fine batting practice bombs.

We completed our penny-squishing mission, grabbed some snacks and found our seats in the upper deck.

Concession prices at Comerica are just insulting. There’s crazy, ballpark crazy, then Comerica. An Icee goes for $4, and water – water! – is $3.75.

Up in section 215, a guy with a Mets t-shirt and Mets watch sat with his family, and a loud Mets fan sat two rows back. It’s one thing to cheer for your team, but I think this guy was trying to incite the low-key Tigers people.

I sat next to a nice guy from Ohio who roots for the Tigers but said he likes the Mets and hates the Yankees. I deemed him suitable for conversation after he revealed this information. Turns out he’s a Board of Education member, so we enjoyed chatting about school issues and how Tom Glavine expands the strike zone.

Speaking of Glavine, I thought we were well on our way after Wright’s three-run jack deep into the right field stands. But it was clear Glavine didn’t have his stuff.

The Tigers went ahead in the third and never looked back. The middle of the order knocked Glavine out and beat the snot out of Aaron Sele, who makes me long for the return of Darren Oliver.

Meanwhile, the Mets were doing nothing right. While still down by just one, we had Easley on third with one out and Delgado at the plate. I explained to Caroline that it was almost certain we’d tie the game. All Delgado had to do was put the ball in play. I told her the only thing that wouldn’t help was if he struck out – which he promptly did.

Another freaky thing was that Comerica Park has suddenly become home to seagulls. I have no idea why, and I've never see it that way before. But they were all over field and pretty fearless, too.

It was 10-3 in the top of the sixth, and Jim Leyland pulled starter Andrew Miller, presumably because the game was in hand. But as my school board member row-mate knew, the Tigers have a backdraft bullpen and no lead is safe.

And it was pretty sweet when Carlos Gomez launched our second three-run bomb of the game. The bottom third of our lineup – all of which were in spitting distance of the Mendoza line – had collectively sucked to that point, and after that point, too.

All through the Tigers scoring and Mets sucking, Caroline and I had fun flagging down the cotton candy and frozen lemonade vendors and teaching her to keep score. I also ran into a former colleague from the Flint Journal and we enjoyed catching up and marveling at how big our kids have become.

The final was 15-7. I can’t say I was stunned that they lost. I went back to my records – I’m enough of a geek to keep track of these things – and was stunned to find out I haven’t witnessed a regular season Mets win since bleeping 1991! How long ago was it? Dwight Gooden was the winning pitcher.

My streak of shame:

6/10/2007 Tigers 15, Mets 7
4/5/1999 Marlins 6, Mets 2
6/30/1997 Tigers 14, Mets 0
9/24/1995 Marlins 4, Mets 3
7/26/1995 Cardinals 3, Mets 2
7/21/1991 Mets 9, Dodgers 4

Derek F. Jeter was still at bleeping Central High School in Kalamazoo only dreaming about taunting us when I last witnessed a Mets win.

Yes, there were a bunch of spring training wins in there, but we’re talking regular season. Truth be told, I haven’t even seen a spring training win since 2001.

I’m either a jinx, unlucky or need to get to more games to improve the odds. Amazingly, I’ll have another chance this year because Will has invited me to see the Mets and the Cubs at Wrigley on Aug. 4.

I’ll be thrilled to see the Mets – but they might not be as thrilled to see me!

In other words...
If you think I'm tough on Derek F. Jeter, wait until you read this great post from the Toronto baseball guys, who has compiled 100 reasons to hate Jeter, which is a good start. Great job, guys! My favorite line: "What do you call a slow roller to Derek Jeter's left?" "Single up the middle!"

4 comments:

lifl said...

Dave,

Tough weekend in Detroit for the Mets. Too bad they could not pull out a win for Caroline and yourself. Kathy and I were in the Bahamas this past weekend. Our pilot on Jet Blue going down from JFK was a former Mets pilot who grew up in Deer Park. The plane was half loaded with Boston transfers who got irate as we Mets fans cheered. On the return trip the lead flight attendant announced as we landed at JFK "Welcome to NYC, home of the NY Mets!!" It was great. All the Yankess fans were grumbling. Unfortunatley we had to hear all the way down in the Caribbean how great Clemens pitched. You just can't escape them. Even in another country.

Mike

jon said...

It's not your fault, Dave, but to be safe I'd set fire to that Ventura jersey posthaste.

Anonymous said...

Dave,
I like the photos, Caroline looks like she was having a great time! It's good to take one kid at a time, once in a while. I still remember my dad taking me to the Nets game when they played in Nassau Coliseum. I won the "one, two, three shoot" finger contest, much to the dismay of brothers Tom and Mike.
Now, let's get down to business. If you know your going to jinx the team when you are there in person, send someone else. Don't you think that is just a tad bit selfish? Do it for the team!! Ten years, shmen years; it's about winning; my favorite baseball blogger. I mean, come on, 0 for six. Didn't you go and watch them beat the Yankees one year. I would put that in your record, you need the stats. Now I know why they were so miserably crushed. And here I thought it was because we lacked offense.
By the way, everyone was nice to you because you did look like a bad ass in that black jersey!!
Go Mets!!!
TW Granite bay

Mets Guy in Michigan said...

I think it's safe to say that Rockin' Robin's black jersey will be not be seen outside of the hanger in the baseball room for quite some time. KNEW I should have gone with the 1992 home jersey instead.

Tim, I have to think that the jinx will end at some point. It's got to! I figure that during most of the 1990s the team was bad, so the odds were greater for them to lose. The Cardinals game at Busch was extra innings, so that was a near-win.

You'd have to think that this year, with the team so much better that I'd have a shot at leaving a game happy.

After the seven-year drought, I might have three opportunities this season, so keep your fingers crossed!

Mike, that sounds like a sweet trip! It's nice to know that your lives were in the hands of a Mets fan.