Mets and Phillies. Shea's final home opener. Perez versus Moyer. Pomp. Circumstance. Cliché. Hyperbole. All of these things converge violently in Queens this afternoon.
In reality it's just another game in a long regular season, but every game *does* count, and the emotional utility at stake today seemingly makes this one worth a bit more. There was some trash talking during the preseason, and neither team is off to a particularly good start. The Mets are 2-3, having dropped a rain-shortened two-game series in Atlanta over the weekend. The Phillies are 3-4, an improvement over some of their recent early Aprils, and are coming off a four-game split in Cincinnati.
Jamie Moyer and Oliver Perez are two lefties of widely divergent age, repertoire and skillset. Perez has youth, power and stuff on his side. Moyer has experience, guile and incontinence going for him. Perez was terrific last week against the Marlins, and his fastball/slider combination should be a good match for the Phillies' power lefties in Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. Moyer had a really nice stretch in the late-nineties to early-aughts, but his career ERA is just 5% better than average and even worse than that of late. The Mets wield a lefty-heavy lineup, but they're facing neither Sandy Koufax nor Randy Johnson, so that should be less of a problem.
It's the beginning of the end for Shea Stadium, a point made all too obvious by the specter of Citi Field rising gloriously behind Shea's outfield wall. There is still plenty left to accomplish in this old ballpark, so let's start things off on a good note. By whipping the Phils.