Few things are more fun than what I did last night. I watched a baseball game at Shea from a seat in the Mezzanine on a warm summer night. Yeah, I had to park at the Hall of Science. Yeah I had to ride the school bus shuttle to the LIRR station and then take the long walk over the plaza into the Subway station. Yeah the escalators to the mezzanine weren’t working. Yeah, it was kind of hot. But nothing could mar the pleasure of watching a well-played Mets game.
I know it was against Pittsburgh and I know that they’re having serious trouble. But everything just looked right last night. Maine was formidable, winning his eleventh and striking out so many baffled batters. Mets, even those who’ve looked kind of awkward lately, like Paulie and Shawn, were slapping out hits as if they knew exactly how to do it. We always felt secure. The only worrisome moment was in the first, when it looked as if Maine might be having another inscrutable early meltdown. But I missed that anyway, because I was in the goddamn school bus, bouncing through the old World’s Fair.
Last night had two moments that I think I will always remember. The first of course was John Maine’s little homer that could. I have never seen a home run that so surprised the man who hit it. In the crowd it was like people wanted to shout out to him what he should do. I’m sure he knew what to do, but it looked as if he wasn’t entirely sure how fast or slow you were supposed to run around the bases when you had hit a home run. So there he was, awkwardly and dutifully plodding around the paths, touching every base, while Lastings Milledge, whom he was driving in, goes pounding around the basepaths as if he is leaping for joy. When Maine finally got back to the dugout, we roared and he came out, sheepish-shy to take his curtain call. He knew that it was important for us to exult, to savor the pleasure of the impossible event. Oh, it was so great.
And it was so great too when to cap off a fabulous, electric night, Lastings Milledge, struggling to contain himself, encountered Jose Reyes at the entrance to the dugout after hitting his home run in the eighth. They did this … dance. What was that? Did they both know what to do? They couldn’t possibly have rehearsed it. But with their loose, strong, and fluid arms and legs, and the powerful energy in their bodies, whatever they did looked spectacular. It was an awesome moment. Profound and moving. Youth happy to be alive, to be playing a wonderful game, to be playing it so well.
I’m so glad I saw that. And I say “get a life!” to anyone who had a problem with it. What I saw last night was what I go to a ballgame to see. I go to see young people playing a game they love and I love. I don’t go to see grim competitors repressing their emotions in order to do their job. Let them save that kind of thing for war.