I’ve lived in Colorado for the better part of the last 15 years. When I was 25, I left my cushy-but-boring job at WWOR-TV to branch out and join a broadcast software company in Colorado Springs. I didn’t miss ‘OR all that much, but I did miss all the free Mets tickets. While I haven’t lived in Jersey since 1996, my rooting interests have remained in the Tri-State Area. So I always relish the chance to see the Mets play on the road once a year in Denver.
The Mets were back in town April 27-29th this year, so I made sure to get tickets to the games on Friday and Sunday. (What about Saturday, you ask? Let’s just say I was distracted by a semi-abandoned race track, German cars, and Italian food.)
Throughout the years, the Mets have found numerous ways to break my heart at Coors Field. Every year, except 2006, New York has found new and exciting ways to go all China Syndrome whilst I surround myself with sneering Rockies fans. (Sneering Rockies fans who wouldn’t be able to name more than 2 players in their team’s starting lineup, I’d bet) One year, Tom Glavine had a shutout through 7 innings. The bullpen blew the lead in the eighth and ninth and handed the Rockies the win. Another time, the Mets were down 3 with the bases loaded in the ninth. They stranded all three runners. Then Joe Smith allowed a grand slam in relief of Jason Vargas. Kevin Appier was outdueled by Pedro Astacio back in ’01. Ike Davis and David Wright ruined each others’ season last year.
So, when the Mets had a 6-2 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth inning on Friday night, I had a feeling…an instinct…OK, I was sure they were going to blow it in the most horrific, Freddy Krueger-style fashion imaginable.
11 runs later, the game moved to the top of the sixth. I don’t remember much about that inning – just fuzzy recollections of numerous standing ovations that I sat through, cheers of surprise as baseballs trickled off the gloves of Mets players, and an early twentysomething Rockies “fan” who attempted to mockingly high-five me. I recall presenting him with the official bird of the state of New Jersey in response. I later gave his girlfriend my giveaway Dexter Fowler t-shirt, which angered him to no end. I’m not sure why it did, but it made me happy.
Later that game, with a cold wind moving in, my ever-patient girlfriend and I moved to section 140, a seating area next to the Mets dugout, that was Flushing West. A few die hard, sarcastic, and downright delightful Mets fans remained. The Mets were at the plate, and third base coach Tim Teufel was well within conversational distance. He did his best to remain professional and ignore our commentary, but occasionally, he let us know he was listening.
“Hey Tim, our bullpen sucked tonight, right?” shouted one fan bedecked in a bright orange Mr. Met vest covering his snow-white jersey. Without changing his facial expression, Teufel nodded. At that moment, I imagined Teuf the coach overturning tables in the Mets locker room (but of course that’s not his style.). Then I got into a discussion with a couple of fans about what number Teufel wore as a player. One said 11, the other said 22. With more assurance than I’ve ever had in my life about anything, I told them that he definitively wore number 11. They still weren’t sure. I said, “Hey Teuf, you wore number 11, right?” Again, staring straight ahead, Tim nodded. Debate solved.
It was a painful game on Friday, but those last two innings with all those folks just like you and me (and Tim Teufel) made it all worth it.
Coming up, my post about the game on Sunday, April 29th.