Saturday, October 31, 2015

Queens (WORLD SERIES)

On Finally Getting What I Wanted, Sort Of

Citi Field
Not Shea Stadium, 2015

Saturday, October 31, 2015
Kansas City Royals vs. New York Metropolitans
Not Shea Stadium
2015 World Series, Game 4
Queens, NY
7:05 PM


Outside the Game: 
To say I was excited about this game is an understatement. A World Series game was something I had worried I would never see in person. I made a personal rule that I would only go to a Series game if the Metropolitans were in it, and the chances of that happening again in my lifetime (before the pitching showed up) was grim. I got the All-Star Game, but perhaps never a Series game. I was too young in 86, and too poor in 2000, but when the opportunity presented itself this year, I decided to throw caution to the wind.

And I would have to throw it pretty far. As soon as the final out was made against the Cubs, I went onto Stub Hub and decided to just go for it. The good news is that I was able to get an upper deck seat in under four digits of price. The bad news was not by much at all. I got Game 4, as it was a potential clincher, had to be played, and was on a Saturday. I no doubt paid for that premium.

But the day finally came. I got up, did some early laundry, and then waited until at least it was the afternoon before I headed out to the park. I walked through Hoboken to the PATH train, and it was all mass transit from there. Even at the early, early hour that I went, there were people in Mets gear shadowing me on my entire uneventful journey out to Queens. Leaving the game was less enthusiastic. A mass of angry and defeated Metropolitan fans who knew better than to hope for anything good in their lives all needed to get back to civilization. It was mostly just depressing until I got back to Hoboken. As it was the weekend, the light rail wasn't running on the line I needed, and I didn't want to combine my already foul mood with walking through Hoboken on a Saturday. But, oh, that wasn't all. I had largely forgotten to this point that it was also Halloween Saturday in Hoboken. I went out to get a cab, and the place was inundated with drunk idiots in costumes. The cabs were all out, so I had to wait for fifteen minutes to get driven out to the light rail station. I walked back to my apartment, ditched all my stuff, and contemplated everything that I had done wrong in my life that got me to this point in my life.


The Stadium & Fans: 

Citi Field, World Series
Not Shea Stadium, World Series

There was only one real event to compare this to: the All Star Game of 2013. Sure, the early season games are generally packed with people and most are even sell-outs, but there isn't the same sense of event as goes on. Game 4 of the 2015 Series was the All-Star Game on steroids, as while you can't quite get more extras thrown in, there was more a sense of event and purpose, as all manner of fans were there for the All-Star Game, but there were only two for the World Series: Metropolitans fans, and goddamn communists. While the game the night before would lend itself to the title of the first World Series game played at Not Shea Stadium, this was the first weekend World Series game played at Not Shea Stadium, so the hype was perhaps slightly higher. With a win in that game, there was an incredible expectation for this game, as a win would make it whole new Series. The other, unspoken, thought was that a loss was probably it for our chances. The gates were opening super-early, and even as early as I got there, a huge crowd was already present. Much like for the All-Star Game, but moreso, there were booths outside the park in the lots and walkways. There were more merch stands than you could swing a cat at, not to mention all the broadcast stands for all the major sports networks. There was even, for some reason, a Budweiser bar parked outside of third-base side of the park. Security was everywhere, and cops making time and a half were spread evenly around the stadium. And they were all decked out in tactical gear with the big guns, which made for some amusing situations with the more rotund of NY's finest looking like heavily-armed blueberries with their tac gear fighting their gut and losing. Lines were obviously nuts, even at the back entrances, and once the gates opened, the place was immediately swarmed with people, who no doubt knew exactly how much money they paid for tickets. All of the special areas inside the stadium were put to use, with the Fox team taking over the broadcast spot in right field. A-Rod, making an appearance, was being mercilessly heckled by fans around the open booth. (I may or may not have caught his eye for a second and screamed, "A-Rod, you suck!" at him. It is merely something that might have happened.) Special merch stands were on every available surface plying "limited edition" wares. Pre-Game festivities included the presentation of the Hank Aaron Award to Josh Donaldson (with Joe Torre and Hank in attendance), and Tug McGraw's son and Jesse Orosco threw out first pitches. The center field orange section (which named themselves the 7 Line Army) were out in full force, and the game was obviously a sell-out. The orange towels were a give-away at the front gate and visible everywhere. There were also signs all over the place, though my favorite had to be, "We're not in Kansas City Anymore." But people were obviously more excited coming in than leaving. Obviously. God damn it, Murphy.


At the Game with Oogie: 

Scoring
World Series Scoring

I got to the game at what I thought was a ridiculously early time only to find a crowd already mobbing the parking lot. After doing some photos of the festivities, the lines to get in at all the main entrances were already miles long. I went all the way around the park to the right field entrance furthest away from everything, and planted myself on a much shorter line. I was behind an older couple who had been to the game the night before, standing in front of a camera man for Fox. Apparently, he had to go in through the regular gates like everyone else. That was a bit of logistics that still baffles me, but did not really surprise me, given what I know of Metropolitans ownership. On this day of all days, as soon as the gates opened up, I jogged directly out to center field and Shake Shack. Being at the right field entrance had me strategically placed, and I was about the second person on line. Within a minute, there was a line that filled up the entire roped-off area. I'm not even kidding. But I got my Series Shack. I also spent more than was prudent on World Series merchandise, because, at this point, it was only a fraction of my overall expense. My (expensive) seat was in the upper deck between home and third. It was actually a pretty great seat, if not quite worth what I paid for it. The only problem was a Johnny Try-Hard in the row in front of me who stated his intention to stand for the entire game. Which, by the way, blocked my view of the plate. He kept it up for an inning or two, before he got tired of getting shouted at by all the older people in the section who didn't want to stand for the entire game just because he did.

As the later innings happened, everyone--even Johnny Try-Hard--started to flag. A guy further down in my row got up and demanded everyone to start cheering. He said, "I know how much y'all paid for your seats, because that's how much I paid. So let's cheer, damnit." And you know what, for what it is worth, it was a compelling argument, and we all were in it to the end. The bitter, bitter end. I mean seriously, Murph. Two friggin’ hands.


The Game: 

First pitch, Royals vs. Metropolitans
First pitch, Royals vs. Metropolitans

This was the game the Metropolitans needed to win to get back in the Series. Win it, and it is tied up. Lose it, and be down 3-1 to a team that did not let opponents get up from the mat. Why? Dear god, why?

The duel between Matz and Young had things humming along for the first few innings. The Royals had a just a leadoff single erased on a double play with an interference call (more on that below), and the Metroploitans went in order. KC just had a single from Gordon in the second, and Metropolitans went in order again. Matz got the Royals in order in the third, but New York decided to find its bats in the bottom of the third. Conforto launched one out of the park to right center to give the Metroplotans the lead. Flores singled and went to second on a passed ball. Matz sacrificed him to third, and Granderson got one just deep enough to bring Flores in. Wright walked, but Super Murph grounded out to first to leave it at a 2-0 lead.

Both teams went in order in the fourth, but KC got one back in the fifth. Perez hit a one-out double to center and Gordon drove him in with a single. Morales pinch-hit another single, but it ended there at 2-1 New York. The Mets got that run right back when Conforto took another one out of the park to right center to make it 3-1. I have to admit, I was believing it all at this point. I was. God as my witness, I was.

The Royals got that run back in the top of the sixth, with a leadoff double from Zobrist and then a single from Hosmer to bring him in. He stole second and made it to third on a blown pick-off thrown. Neise came in and got two outs, and then in came Bortolo for the third out by strikeout. The Mets went in order against new reliever Hochevar.

Both teams went in order in the seventh. And then the eighth. The inning when Super Murph came back to roost, and we all got to remember what he really was: a streaky hitter with a bad, bad glove. Clippard came in and got a quick groundout before walking two in a row. Familia came in to stem the flow. A tailor-made double play ball went to second, and Murphy let it go through the wickets. Just right through the goddamn wickets. Zobrist scored from second, and Hosmer was on second. Moustakas singled to right to bring in Cain from second and move Moustakas to third. Then Perez singled to right to bring in Moustakas, before another ground ball went to Murphy, and he turned the double-play he should have before, with Kansas City on top 5-3.

There was a noticeable deflation of enthusiasm in the stadium. The Metropolitans went in order in the bottom of the eighth. Robles got the Royals in order in the top of the ninth, but Davis stayed in for KC in the bottom of the ninth. Wright struck out, but Murphy got a single to center. There was still hope; at least he could still hit. Cespedes, 0-3 all night, laced another short single to center, and the tying runs were on base and the winning run at the plate, in the person of Lucas Duda, who lined a scorcher, right to Moustakas at third, who doubled up Cespedes at first easily, ending the game, and the Metropolitans hopes in the Series, with a 5-3 victory.


The Scorecard: 

Royals vs. Metropolitans, 10-31-15. Royals win, 5-3.
Royals vs. Metropolitans, 10/31/15. Royals win, 5-3.

The scorecard was part of the $15 (!) World Series program. To be fair, I guess, they had scorecards in there for all the games of the World Series, so if the series went seven games, and you scored every game, it was amortized to just over $2 a game. I guess.

The scorecards were all cardstock in top/bottom arrangement with no ads, leaving a lot of room to score. It was also a plain white background, which was a bonus from the colored background usually found on Metropolitan scorecards.

So ignoring the huge E4 in the room (seriously, screw you, Murphy), there were a number of other plays of scoring note in the game. We start in the top of the first, with the strike-‘em-out, runner's interference double play that I may never again see in my lifetime. In the bottom of the third, the sacrifice fly was review and upheld that the tag-up was legal. The error in the top of the sixth that got Cain to third base was a pickoff throw that Matz threw away. The double play that finally ended the eighth was a DP 4t-4-3.

Thanks to double switches, I had to use letter annotations to move around spots on the Metropolitan lineup in the eighth. The Royals managed to keep their pitchers slot in one place, which was perhaps more of an accomplishment.

E4. E friggin’ 4. What is it about New York baseball and E4? One knee, Murphy. One damn knee.


The Accommodations: 
Not so sweet home, Jersey City


2015 Stand-Alone Event