On Wednesday night, I turned to a co-worker after David Wright committed the error that allowed the Padres to tie the game. “He needs a day off tomorrow,” I said. After baserunning blunders the last two nights, some limp at-bats in clutch situations, and now this error, he looked worn down, sluggish. He looked like he needed a break.
Thankfully, he talked Jerry Manuel out of it. Wright had three hits and belted his first career walk-off home run on Thursday afternoon at Shea. That it came after Scott Schoeneweis could not hold a one-run lead in the ninth — giving up a game-tying homer to Jody Gerut of all people — was barely remembered on the 7 train back toward Manhattan. Though there are plenty of Mets fans who are only happy when they’re bitching about something (Scott Kazmir actually came up, again, on the train ride back. Get over it, people), Wright rounding the bases was the lasting image in my mind as I counted the stops to 74th and Broadway and an escape from the packed, stuffy car.
I’m heading back to the ballpark tonight, my wife and I, for one more first-time-and-last-time experience at Shea: We’re sitting in the picnic area. In 23 years of attending games there, I’ve only looked down at Shea’s small section of bleachers and watched the home runs land there. Mostly a group-seating area, it is only opened for general purchase for certain games, and tonight was one of them. With just 27 dates remaining on Shea’s calendar (postseason TBD), the opportunities are dwindling.
And for the first time in at least a decade, I’m going to have to bring my glove to the game.