I've been about as lucky and unlucky in general as anyone, but when it comes to attending baseball games I've got to thank the stars. On the one hand, I attended Al Leiter's 1-0 loss against the Braves back in 1999. At the start of that game, there was as much electricity at Shea as I've ever seen, but oh how it faded, right down to the 1 hour drive from my parking spot to the stadium exit. That was unlucky.
A few years before that I came across some Yankee tickets. I am a Met fan through and through, but I love baseball, and wouldn't pass up free tickets to almost any MLB game, much less the Skanks, and a visit to that legendary ballpark in the Bronx. I grabbed a Yankee fan friend (not hard to find) and had to convince HIM to stay the full 9 as Doc Gooden tossed a no-hitter against the Mariners. As a Met fan, this was better than an ordinary no-hitter, because I love Doc. This was a great experience. Lucky.
I live in Jersey now, and a trip to Citifield is an excursion ($25 in tolls, $20 to park). One of my lotto dreams is to attend every game, home and away, and as soon as I hit lotto...it's a lot for me to get to more than two games these days with young kids (girls that I can barely get to watch baseball), and time and whatever. But my brother-in-law lives in Queens, and needed us to collect Mugsy, an 11 year old English bull dog, because he was going to Arizona for an extended stay. If we have to drive to Queens to get the dog, then we are stopping at Citi, I told my wife, and she agreed.
I hooked up with the first roaming ticket agent I saw, and haggled down to a reasonable number for four seats, sec 310, row 9 seats 12-15. (1st base side, edge of the infield) There were clouds threatening and I liked the idea of being under the overhang, so we were safe if it rained. I was also quite proud of the Mrs. for staring down the roaming ticket agent, telling him we would be looking for him if we were turned away the the gate.
We got there, gathered some food and spent the first inning out in right field on the picnic tables near the international farmer's market or whatever it is. It was freezing, cold wind that came out of nowhere, but much warmer at our seats, which we got to by the 2nd inning.
I familiarized myself with my surroundings. In the row behind us were a couple of St. Louis Cardinal fans, and a guy with a Red Sox hat, to whom I offered my condolences as they showed the Buckner play. It still has to be rough for him, even though they have 2 rings since.
So through four it's great, but not anything to get worked up about. After the fifth, I look to the guys sitting to my left, and say, "Nobody say it!" They nod.
Wife and kids keep themselves amused with the iphone, taking pics, etc. (I thought I was just the 1st person to think of the 'scorecard app' but, duh, it's there already) They get ice cream in the Mets helmets. The Mets enjoy a lead, and oh, by the way the Cards don't have a hit yet. Getting interesting.
Beltran's shot looked like it could easily be foul with the naked eye, so when Oquendo started arguing, and then Matheny, I was screaming for an ejection. Then the replay...well maybe it was a bad camera angle. They have monitors all over now so as they showed the replay the Cardinals fan behind me is going, "See that? That's a hit!" Ump calls keep it like life. It builds character, and I'll leave it at that.
I think I was most afraid when Yadier Molina came to bat in the 7th. The Cardinals fan behind me is poo-pooing the moment because of some chalk that maybe was kicked up when the ball landed foul the inning before, and now the diminutive Met killer is lining up the bugs with his pointy shoe, ready to stomp the hearts again. Off the bat I think, 'ok, Mets are winning, it's still a great performance.' This had double or even homerun written all over it. Very late in the ball's flight I realize Baxter has a shot at this, and even then I'm thinking, 'he's no Jason Bay, certainly no Endy...' But what a moment! The chants of "MI-IKE BAXTER" to the beat of the 'let's go rangers' chant, gave me chills, because they got louder and louder as he approached the dug out holding that shoulder still, and I know he heard them. This is as good as it gets, guys leaving it out there for a teammate. Now I am full on believing in Miracle Moments--Met Miracle Moments.
When Johan came to bat in the 7th, I get up for the standing ovation, and I notice there is like one other person standing. I look at him in disbelief. Is anyone even aware of what is happening here? At this point I notice my wife is looking at me like I am the weird one, and I realize that she has no clue either. I remember swearing never to take her to a game again. I hate superstitions and superstitious people but still I try to drop hints because I just can't bring myself to say it. Later I point to the monitor showing Johan sitting all alone in the dugout. "Why, what did he do?" she keeps asking me. I point to the scoreboard, but nothing registers.
She did catch on by the ninth. I start getting texts from friends that don't know how lucky I am, that I'm there! Even though the place was barely half full, the electriciti has ramped up. A few running catches and one in-betweener were the only drama. The excitement of that ninth inning was in a word awesome. I remember noticing the nut job in the Carter jersey being pounced on by security. Probably worth it on some level.
The 1/2 hour it took to get out of the parking lot was not painful, because I got to listen to the replays of Howie and Steve. I'm sorry to be late with this, but this moment has not faded, even if the Met hot streak has. This one is in the history books, and lucky me, going to the game that night on a whim, I got to
see feel it.
PS I have an unspectacular picture from my seat that I'd like to post, but couldn't figure it out (URL???). There is also a good pic of Mugsy.