I may live in North Carolina, but I earned my stripes as a Shea Faithful tonight. I took the John Rocker Express train to Shea and arrived early enough to get a free bag of Cheez Doodles from a Wize Potato Chip giveaway canopy, and pick up a couple of $5.00 Upper Reserved seats for myself and my buddy Tubby. For five clams, our seats were phenemonal. Way up in Row P, but right behoind the plate. The best part was when it started to pour, and all the folks below us in the $19 seats came up to under the eave with us to stay dry. Right before the rain started to come down though, we were treated to a pretty cool shot of a rainbow. I took a shot of it with my camera phone - can you make it out, between the lights?
Anyway, Pedro was awesome tonight, striking out 9 Pirates despite getting soaked by Mother Nature throughout the game. He left the game with a 3-1 lead, thanks to sixth inning heroics by Endy Chavez who drove in Floyd with a double, and then scored on a Jose Reyes triple. Pedro came out of the game after throwing just 78 pitches, and was pinch hit for by Jose Valentin, who of course struck out, and who is now hitting .125 on the season. Valentin has just two more hits than Pedro Martinez on the season in twice as many atbats.
We stepped into the corridor to get out of the rain for a bit, to use one of the highly modernized, clean and spacious Shea bathrooms, and to treat ourselves to a "hot" soft pretzel. My buddy Tubby said the pretzel tasted "like a box." He was being kind. It was just plain awful. We watched a few more innings in the corridor, then moved back into the seats to see Aaron Heilman pitch two perfect innings for the Mets.
So the game was moving nicely along in the pouring rain, and The Best Bullpen In Baseball seemed to have Pedro's sixth win one tied up rather nicely. When Sandman entered, the Shea crowd was feeling very jovial. Especially when the announcement was made that everyone who sat through tonight's rain-soaked adventure were entitled to come back to Shea in June for a game against the Reds, compliments of Freddy Wilpon.
That was when Pedro got hosed. Billy Wagner, despite reaching velocities of 98mph, and despite the full support of the crowd, shouting WAG-NUH!! WAG-NUH!! WAG-NUH!!, walked the leadoff batter and Jason Bay. Then, with two outs, he gave up two runs at the hands of Jose Hernandez (with his .174 average coming into the game), and backup catcher Ronny Paulino. Why the hell is Billy Wagner the weak link in the Mets bullpen??
Beltran, Delgado and Wright went down quickly in the ninth, and it was on to extra innings. Even though I have to be awake for my seminar in the morning, and have a report to do for work due tomorrow AM as well, I was in it for the long haul. Duaner Sanchez started the 10th, and so did the Mets new rhythm section. A group of young guys with various percussion instruments and a plethora of Dominican Republic flags started up playing Latin rhythms and choruses. It was great! I felt a little bad for Cow Hyphen Bell Man though, whose playing sounds kind of weak against these guys. The percussionists made the cold, wet night easier to bear, as Sanchez and Chad Bradford shut down the anemic-except-against-Wagner Pirates offense.
So we would not leave! And as the crowd dwindled to the point where one could probably count them, Delgado led off the bottom of the twelfth with a game-winning homerun that just cleared the left field wall.
What a great day in New York! I started the morning off with a coffee from Dunkin Donuts (sweet nectar of the gods), had a bagel sandwich for lunch, and for $5, the price of nine innings of Mets baseball, we got three innings free, plus an option for nine more in June. What a deal!