By Joyce Mandelkern
The Mets home opener. In our house it is a holy day. I even laid out my clothes the night before. Layers and layers of Mets clothes. I prepared our seat cushions and our blanket. I selected not one, but two Met hats. I do this just in case I need to change our luck at some point during the game, which I did. I brought out the orange gloves. And I finally gave in to Pete's insistence that we take the LIRR instead of driving to the stadium although we have prepaid parking. Since we live in Port Washington it really was the logical way to go, but I like to listen to the post game show on the radio on the way home and I know that both the platforms and the trains to and from the game on opening days are very crowded and my claustrophobia sets in. And sometimes there are very drunk, out of control people on the train on the way home, which makes things even worse.
We got there about an hour early and I was so happy to be "home". The first thing I noticed was that they changed the picture that hangs by the escalator that I take up to my level. When I pointed it out to Pete I could tell he thought that only I would notice that, but it is part of the silent good luck ritual I go through every time we attend a game. I'm really hoping this doesn't jinx us. I was happy to see the ticket-takers. I was happy to see the ushers. I was happy to see the people I know in my box. I was not happy to see the Shea bathrooms. Only at Shea can the women's bathroom be disgustingly dirty an hour before the first pitch of the first game of the season.
I look around the stadium and notice differences there as well. There is a big Dunkin' Donuts Coolata Cup. The Home Run Apple looks a little worse for wear and tear. The Mets now have an official potato chip. And of course there is the construction that looks like its literally touching the batter's eye. Pete seemed especially intrigued by the cranes. It must be the little boy in him.
I love all the first day ceremonial stuff. The introductions were great. The crowd adored HoJo. I'd like a word with those that booed Aaron Heilman. C'mon guys, lets get real here. I did, however, boo Jimmy Rollins. I don't like this trash talking nonsense. I'm very protective of my Mets. And just for the record, I was upset with those in the stands that booed Burgos after the home run to Howard.
The game begins. OK, Maine has no control, no fastball, but he is keeping the damage to a minimum and keeping them in the game. I hate walks though. It slows things down, walks will kill you, and I feel like I'm watching Trachsel all over again and I hate that feeling. But I'm enjoying singing "Meet the Mets" and the fact that they still have Reyes doing his learning Spanish spot. There are plenty of decisions to debate. And debate we did, in the little field box we call home. The biggest question of course was whether Burgos should pitch to Howard. None of my box buddies were for it. Some wanted him walked, some wanted Feliciano in to pitch. I understand why Willie did it. And I knew what was going to happen. I swear I did. After the home run I turned to Pete and said, "I miss last year. I'm depressed." The guys behind me told me I have to let last year go. I told them I'm trying, I just can't seem to do it. I will keep trying though. Pete asked me if I wanted to leave, knowing full well what I would say. "Of course not," was the answer. That was his way of telling me to have a little faith, so I shut up and changed my hat and took off my gloves to try and change our luck and things started to turn around.
Back to the game. I loved Delgado's bunt. Do you know how many times we wanted him to do that last year? The entire stadium loved that he did that. The entire stadium also questioned why Willie sent Franco up to pinch hit and pinch ran Endy for Green instead of for Alou who was ahead of him on the bases. Couldn't he have let Endy hit instead of Franco? It all worked out so who am I to question anything. There were a lot of questionable moves/non-moves in yesterday's game, all understandable and justifiable, but debatable nonetheless. I think with Willie, at this time of year, it is about making guys feel like they are part of the team and seeing what they are made of. He is not as concerned about winning one game in April, as he is about finding out what someone will give him in a tough spot in September or October. And with Mota, Sanchez and Padilla out, he needs to find people to step up for him in the bullpen. So far, Schoeneweis has not been that guy. I think Heilman's elbow may be more of a problem then we know. I trust Willie to manage and I certainly trust Peterson when it comes to the pitching.
Some other quick observations. Why aren't they playing TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS after a win? I was nervous when Billy came in to pitch in a non-save situation. I am still remembering that middle game of Mets-Yankees series at Shea. I wish I had a short memory. I can't decide if I was happy that Jimmy Rollins had the day he had yesterday or if I feel just a little bit badly for him - ok both. We Met fans can be brutal to our own, so you know how we can be to the enemy! The Jose chant has got to be the best in baseball!
All in all it was a great day. It was cold, it was emotionally exhausting but it was fun. I love Mets baseball. Can someone please remind me of that the next time they lose?