The second and final game I attended at Coors Field began with a pre-game beverage at a bar called “1UP.” It’s an establishment whose theme is 80s arcade games. And they have plenty of them – Pac Man, Asteroids, Space Invaders, and my personal favorite, Operation Wolf. There are other 80s-themed features such as Pabst Blue Ribbon in a can and a gaudy Billy Dee Williams sign.
The walk to Coors was only a block, and I exchanged nods and “Lets Go Mets” greetings with fans wearing throwback Strawberry jerseys.
My seats were not as close this time around. I ended up in the lower 327 section, in the first couple of rows of the upper tank. They’re fairly high up, but the fact that they are offset behind home plate gives the fan a clean, clear perspective of the field (as opposed to lower seats, which are nice, but if you’re on the aisle, you have to constantly crane your neck around people).
Something like Kirk Nieuwenhuis’s insane catch looked even more insane from this perspective. When the ball
was in the air, it seemed impossible for anyone to come within 10 feet of it – but Kirk covered the sprawling center field of Coors with lightning speed, left his feet, and made the catch of the year so far, for my money.
The game itself moved along crisply, which is what happens when the teams don’t score a combined 27 runs, as was the case on Friday.
It also helped that Johan Santana carved up the Rockies through 6 innings, allowing only 2 hits. But then he was replaced in the 7th by Miguel Batista after only 90 pitches. I checked Twitter on my phone to see if he had gotten hurt, but no, the Mets were just being cautious with the post-surgery Santana.
OK, fine. Batista got out of the seventh with the greatest of ease. But Jon Rauch got into something more in the 8th. I sensed another tragedy at Coors Field for the Mets. It was like a coming storm. And just as I had a sense the Mets would blow a 4-run lead on Friday (which they did), I was almost certain they would blow their 4-0 lead on Sunday. Sure enough, Tim Byrdak served up a grand slam to Todd Helton (one of my favorite non-Mets, but not that day), and the game was tied. The Mets came back to take the lead, thanks again to Niewenhuis, but, as I predicted, Frank Francisco gave up a line-drive homer to Carlos Gonzales. The Mets took the lead again on Ike Davis’s single. Ramon Ramirez came in to try to save it and got the first two batters with relative ease. But then, one-time Met Marco Scutaro ripped one to deep left. As Scott Hairston raced back to the track, I felt the same way the bowl of petunias in “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” felt: Oh no, not again. But Hairston slowed down, and parked in front of the wall. Ball met glove, and the torture was over.
I left Coors Field that day happy, but relieved. Then, taking a step back, I realized what a great game I had just witnessed.