Forgive me if I am a bit rusty but I haven’t done one of these in awhile. I used to tell how inspiration for a column came to me in some strange ways and that may be the case here. Somebody told somebody who told somebody who told me (isn’t that the normal path of information in small towns?) that they missed me writing about baseball, so this week I am carving out some time from an extremely busy schedule to write about baseball. So, whoever said they missed it, you can buy a paper this week.
An absolutely perfect day. I believe that last Saturday falls under that category for myself and my son. Those of you who follow me on Facebook already know where I’m going with this. The baseball gods were shining on us as Jordan’s favorite team came to town for their one excursion a year to Great American Ball Park and we always go to one of the games each year, but this year was different. The Mets are good, very good, and a couple of weeks ago I told Jordan that if everything worked out right, they could very well clinch the division title while they were in Cincinnati. How prophetic I was!
Let me give you some background on how Jordan became a fan of the Metropolitans. We were on vacation in 2004 in Virginia Beach and we always tried to take in a minor league baseball game if they were close to our vacation site. This time it was a trip to see the Norfolk Tides, who at the time were the Mets’ AAA affiliate. We had very good seats right by third base where a kid named David Wright manned the position for the Tides. I don’t remember specifically what went on in that game but I do remember informing Jordan the next day that we had seen Wright’s last minor league game because he just got called up to the majors. For some reason, a connection was made and Jordan began his love for the team from Flushing along with The Captain #5.
Back to Saturday. As I said, the baseball gods looked favorably on us and brought the Mets to town with a magic number of 5, with four games to play in the Queen City, so the numbers looked promising if the Mets could win at least three in Cincinnati, which isn’t that tough a task these days. We went to the game Thursday night, which was a 6-3 win for the Mets, which combined with a Nationals loss, dropped the magic number to 3. On Friday, the Nationals lost again as the Mets were pounding on more hapless Reds pitching, meaning now that Saturday could be the day.
A trip to Stub Hub got us two tickets in the front row in left field and each donning a Mets jersey, we were ready for another possible once in a lifetime baseball experience, especially for Jordan. A chance to see in person his favorite team clinch a division title. Now I have seen teams clinch before, but the last time was 1976 when I saw Dave Concepcion slide home with the winning run that sent the Reds to the World Series. Yes, I am still a Reds fan but they packed it in about the trade deadline in one of the worst seasons in team history, therefore I am all for the Mets going all the way.
Just comparing the Reds and Mets is all you need to know. The Mets have young talent, especially pitching. that is major league ready and to be honest, just plain “good.” The Reds have young talent that is just plain”not good.” If you need further proof, just look at the pitching rotation for the series. The Mets bring out four of the most talented young arms in baseball-Matz, Syndergaard, Harvey, and deGrom. The Reds counter with Josh Smith, Anthony DeSclafani, John Lamb, and Keyvius Sampson. Enough said.
Well, Saturday couldn’t have turned out more perfect for one Jordan Carpenter (though I admit it was pretty cool for me too.) We got to the park early enough to watch the Mets take batting practice and when first baseman Lucas Duda blasted a grand slam in the first inning, my comment to Jordan and the numerous Mets fans around us was “Game over.” We just continued to count down the innings after that point and could it have been any more perfect that David Wright hits a three-run homer late in the game. Wow!
Then it came down to the bottom of the ninth and the big moment was at hand. Jordan had the cell phone video ready and of course, I had my camera ready. As chants of “Let’s go Mets” filled the third base and left field sides of the park, the 27th out was recorded and the celebration that we had come to see was on. In Jordan’s words as we left the park, “That was pretty cool.”
We didn’t leave the park right away, though. Along with his sister who had joined us in the fourth inning, we ventured down to the seats behind the Mets dugout and joined about a thousand other New York fans in waiting for the players to return to the field, which they did to celebrate with their faithful. Sometime during that celebration, the crowd broke out in another chant, this time in unison it was “This is awesome.” Yes, it certainly was. Perfect.