Monday, August 15, 2005

Why Can't I Touch It?

Want. It's just one of those words that almost always gets you into trouble. It even sort of mocks us, seemingly a simple four letters, but when you say it (go ahead, vocalize for me), it stretches and grows and hints at all sorts of more-than-you-can-handle problems. It gets to a pretty easy crisis calculus:

want > get = ouch

Of course, usually that theorem is followed by:

ouch = life

So, welcome to life as a Mets fan. I know that Red Sox fans think the whole world bleeds through Curt Schilling's ankle, and that Cub fans have had an even longer drought, but the Mets not only tend to struggle (if originally lovably), but they also have to share NYC with the Yankees, who only win 1 out of every 4 World Series. Trying to be the Mets is like imagining the life of Jesse Garon Presley if he wasn't stillborn and hoped to grow up and be a singer.

Plus the Cubbies and Sox have really cool stadia, heck, they're still parks. Shea is such a dump, nobody even wants to fork up the bucks for corporate naming rights.

All of this is a long winded-way to get me into my seat at Dodger Stadium yesterday, not a young man, but with a dream nonentheless: I've always wanted (shoot, there's that word) to see a no-hitter. I haven't even seen all of one on TV. Statistically about two a season happen (although there hasn't been one this year yet), so while rare, they aren't a win-the-lotto kind of affair. But I love the cleanliness of them, the sheer dominance of the pitcher, and the always necessary flourishes of luck, because asking a team to go 0 for 27 is something: it's the equivalent of making a .300 batter (over 300 at-bats, about half a season) lower his average to .275 in about two hours of bad work.

Turns out I figure I have a shot at it going in to the game yesterday, as Pedro Martinez is pitching for the Mets. Despite his three Cy Young Awards, Pedro has never tossed a no-hitter, although he had a perfect game for 9 innings that he lost (the no-hitter and the game) in extra innings, but he's the kind of guy who will have to throw one, and why not against the poor hitting Dodgers, with Jeff Kent out of the line-up, in a pitcher's park?

Well, those of you who read the papers (or is that watch ESPN? or surf the web? how our cliches date us) know what happened. Pedro took a no-no into the eighth inning, got one out, then gave up a triple and a homer in four pitches and thereby lost the game (since the Mets couldn't bother to score more than one run themselves, managing to leave 10 men on base and have the tying run thrown out at the plate in the ninth for good agonizing measure).

A no-no indeed. It's probably a good thing, though, because after Ricky Ledee struck out to start the eighth inning, I almost started to tear-up, I wanted that no hitter so. Five lousy batters. I checked my scorecard (I was even keeping score--I'd have a killer memento!), and saw the line-up would keep Milton Bradley from coming up again, and he was the guy I figured would ruin things, if anyone, both cause he's good and he's ornery. But no, I forgot that it's always a nobody who ruins things--just ask Tom Seaver about Jimmy Qualls, who broke up his perfect game bid in the ninth innning in 1969. Qualls played in a whopping total of 63 major league baseball games.

So, all power to Antonio Perez, triple hitter. Over the head of Gerald "Ice" Williams, centerfielder almost as old as I am (horrors), who was only playing because regular, stellar Carlos Beltran was still woozy after he and Mike Cameron's joint imitation of the Andrea Doria and the Stockholm a few days before.

As for the Dodger fans, delirious that their team's comeback victory got them to within 9 games of .500--I hope you're all happy. Wouldn't you rather have seen history, the first Mets no hitter? (Of course I mean pitched by a Met--the Mets have been no hit six times, including by a Hall of Famer, a U.S. Senator, a baseball GM, a sadly deceased pitcher, a Moose and a nobody.)1

As for Willie Randolph, Mets manager, did you really have to rub it in so in the ninth? After Mike Piazza whiffed for the third time, and the LA fans, still bitter about losing Piazza, happily roared, Marlon Anderson doubled. He got wild pitched to third (despite all the AP reports that said he stole third--who would steal third with one run down in the ninth?). Victor Diaz grounds to second, Anderson hesitates, tries to come home, is tagged out. The ump, Brian Knight, makes a delayed call, knowing that he has to give Mets fans that milisecond to wonder if maybe they got the game tied and then crush their hopes. Next Randolph opts to pinch hit for Gerald Williams, who has actually already hit (much to my surprise) an RBI double off Brad Penny, with Kaz "No One Will Ever Confuse Him with Godzilla" Matsui. Even if I want to hope that Matsui walks, or throws himself in front of a pitch to get on base, I see that it's Jose Awfulman on deck to pinch hit next for Pedro. Now I know how it would feel to get alongside a slow car on a windy, mountainous road, hoping to pass but instead seeing a loaded lumber truck bearing down at me--should I choose the head on or drive off the road into the chasm?

Matsui, of course, struck out. But not before lining one pretty sharp foul ball, which led me to vent my bitterness thusly, "Good job, Kaz, at least maybe you killed a Dodger fan," much to Amy's chagrin and the clear disgust of the krimp-haired blonde in front of me (who needs to take care of her fingernails if she's going to bother to French polish her toenails, geez--it's LA, girl).

Because, after all, I'm a true New York rooter.

1. That's Sandy Koufax, Jim Bunning, Bill Stoneman, Darryl Kile, Bob Moose and Ed Halicki.


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