The last home playoff game the New York Mets played ended with a curveball, and 56,000 morose fans streaming out of Shea Stadium. Nine years later they didn't even have to wait for their team's blowout 13-7 win for a bit of catharsis. It came as soon as public address announcer Alex Anthony began to introduce the Los Angeles Dodgers. Loud boos rained down from all corners of Citi Field. The training staff, up first, got the first wave of the gathering storm. The boos continued to rain down through all the Dodgers bench players, most of whom seemed amused. Zack Greinke even gave a little wave. Then came Chase Utley, and, well…
Citi Field was packed, three deep standing-room-only all around the promenade level, and before the first pitch was even thrown, the 44,000 plus would be treated to even more baseball theater. Ruben Tejada, emerging last among the Mets bench players during their introductions, walking with a Mets-branded cane, limped out of the dugout to a thunderous ovation and the capacity crowd chanting his name. Once a barely-tolerated presence among the Citi faithful, he now joined his also-formerly-maligned-teammate Wilmer Flores as America's favorite shortstops.
Of course there was still a rather important baseball game to be played. While the Mets may have been able to produce a stunning first act to the show, actual baseball tends to defy planned scripting (just ask the Astros). The Dodgers did their part to ruin the dramturgy, knocking Mets starter Matt Harvey around in the second inning. Four straight singles and an errant throw from Curtis Granderson staked the Dodgers to an early 3-0 lead and quieted Mets fans down to late 1970s levels.
Harvey did not have much in the way of stuff throughout his five innings of work. For all the back and forth in the public sphere and elsewhere about innings limits and arm health, Harvey has never thrown this many innings in a season, and looked like a pitcher that was running out of gas. He was missing with his fastball badly on both sides of the plate, and the pitch lacked its top end velocity and late life. The Mets ace had a good changeup and enough slider to keep the Dodgers off balance after the rough second, but he labored throughout his appearance.
That was enough to get the win though, as Brett Anderson, fresh off a night spent repeatedly violating rule #1 of Twitter by arguing with Mets fans about Chase Utley's slide and suspension, saw his shutdown inning ERA balloon in the bottom of the second. And then a Travis d'Arnaud home run ensured he wouldn't make it past the third. The Mets poured it on from there and Citi Field started into a four-hour revelry.
Pregame, Terry Collins was asked if he had any preference between Alex Wood or Clayton Kershaw on short rest in Game 4. Collins responded with a word that apparently isn't allowed in the official ASAP sports transcript and included the phrase “this is no slap at Alex Wood.”
I can't imagine why the Mets skipper would have preferred to see Wood in a pivotal Game 4.
The sound that Citi Field made as that ball rocketed towards the second deck was halfway between the maenads and that screaming duck vine that was popular like a month ago.
Oh, speaking of vines, this happened too:
If I were still in my twenties, an aspiring filmmaker that aspired to the avant-garde, I would run that bat flip over and over again, backwards and forwards, using every optical printer trick I could think of in transparently obvious Martin Arnold homage.
One would think it would almost be enough to make Mets fans forget about the whole Chase Utley thing. But Mets fans have long memories and more than enough capacity to catalog every perceived indignity. Every time the Dodgers sent up a pinch hitter that wasn't Chase Utley; every time a Dodgers pitcher threw vaguely inside, the call went up: “We Want Utley.” I suppose the maenads were never completely satisfied by mere bacchanalia either.