Yesterday's home opener was special in many ways. First, it was special because it was the Mets' 33rd Opening Day victory in the last 43 years. It was also memorable because it marked the return of Johan Santana. And our Johan was certainly back in yesterday's game, pitching five scoreless innings in the Mets' 1-0 victory over the Braves. Finally, it was special because I got to spend the day with a number of Mets bloggers, sharing in their tailgate parties and talking Mets baseball. In other words, it was a perfect day all around.
We'll start with the tailgate. It was a beautiful day for food, folks and fun. (I hope McDonald's doesn't sue me for using their pre-I'm lovin' it slogan.) At the Chapman tailgate, we met up with a number of acquaintances and even got to enjoy some Mets-colored cookies.
Although we arrived there at around 10:30am, it seemed as if the time flew by while we there. It definitely went by faster than a Steve Trachsel start. From there, we moved on to the Apple tailgate. And no, I'm not talking about a tailgate that served apples. I'm talking about the Apple, as in readtheapple.com. Owner, operator and Mets fashionista Randy Medina was kind enough to pose with me for a photo and even allowed me to take a photo with his outstanding Opening Day pants (hence the fashionista part).
From there, we went back to the Chapman shindig, which by then had multiplied to include many other guests, including a certain blogger/author who keeps the faith (with an occasional dash of fear) whenever he's in Flushing. You know who I'm talking about. I'm talking about one of my blogging heroes, Greg Prince, from Faith and Fear in Flushing.
Greg was kind enough to take a photo with me and my sister, Iggy, before heading into the stadium.
In case you were wondering, the so-called "Joey Jinx" that has affected many current and former Mets does not apply to Mets fans. Therefore, I can be photographed with the most die-hard fans and I will not cause them to go on the disabled list, be traded or (dare I say it) switch allegiances to another New York baseball team. Our blue and orange antibodies are that strong.
After the tailgate action, we wanted some game action, so it was off to Citi Field! But of course, before going in, I had to take this photo. Don't worry. I looked both ways before crouching.
Before the game began, there was a special tribute to the late, great Gary Carter. Although it has been almost two months since his passing, I still haven't gotten over the loss of our 1986 World Champion catcher.
The Mets did a great job honoring their former catcher, inviting his family to throw out the ceremonial first pitches. They also unveiled a special oversized "Kid 8" patch on the outfield wall, which was added next to the Mets' 50th anniversary logo in left field.
Although I was able to take photos of the family and the outfield unveiling, I was not able to take a photo of the ceremonial first pitches. This was due to the fact that a so-called Mets fan decided it was more important to walk in front of us to return to his seat with his pastrami nachos than it was for us to digitally document a once-in-a-lifetime moment. How did I know it was more important for him to do this? Because he said (and I quote)...
"My pastrachos are more important."
Clearly this was someone who was too intrigued by the combination of cured meat and chips to care about the on-field events. Either that or he was secretly a Phillies fan who had lost a bet with a Cardinals booster on the outcome of last year's NLDS and was forced to attend an Opening Day game at Citi Field while dressed in Mets apparel. That's okay. At least our first baseman was able to make his 2012 debut on Opening Day.
Fortunately, yet another Mets blogger who attended the game, Denise Winter (owner and operator of Metscellaneous), was able to snap a photo of the Carter clan throwing out their ceremonial first pitches, as shown below.
|No pastrami nachos were harmed during this photo, but someone holding them almost was.|
It was then time for the other important first pitch, the one thrown by Johan Santana to Braves' leadoff hitter Michael Bourn. Santana retired Bourn before giving up a single to Martin Prado. He then proceeded to retire the next 12 batters, before loading the bases on a double and two walks (including a walk to the opposing pitcher, Tommy Hanson). But Santana remained smooth on the mound, showing his supremacy to Bourn once again, this time retiring the speedster on a comebacker to the mound.
That would be Santana's last pitch of the game, as he had already thrown 84 pitches through five shutout innings. Although he wanted the ball for the sixth inning, manager Terry Collins told Santana his job was done for the day and he was handing the keys over to the bullpen.
After Ramon Ramirez pitched a scoreless top of the sixth inning, David Wright's RBI single plated Andres Torres in the bottom of the sixth. Although Torres was not around to see the end of the game, as he re-injured the calf that kept him out of action for most of spring training, his run held up. The new bullpen of Ramirez, Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco (with a little help from the Hulkamaniac, Tim Byrdak) kept the Braves off the scoreboard over the final four innings and the Mets had their 33rd Opening Day victory, defeating the Braves, 1-0.
Other than the impatient pastracho aficionado, the day was perfect in every way. The tailgating was wonderful and I got to see old friends while making new ones. The food was excellent, although I did notice that the chicken nachos will now set my colleague back an extra four bits, going from $9.25 last year to $9.75 this year. And of course, Johan Santana made a triumphant return to the mound, pitching five solid innings. Although he didn't get credit for the victory (that honor went to Ramon Ramirez), Santana reminded us of what we missed in 2011. It's great to have him back on the mound.
Oh, yeah. I forgot one last thing from Opening Day. If you were at the game, you wouldn't have seen it. But if you were watching the game at home and kept SNY on for the post-game show, you might have seen this...
|SNY Screenshot by Bryan Thompson|
That's right. Your fav'rit bear blogger showed off his photogenic chops during the SNY post-game show, repeatedly attracting the camera. It was my first time on a post-game show but it certainly won't be my last.
I also went over to Bobby Ojeda and reminded him that I'm on his Wikipedia page, as he held me for that classic shot in Port St. Lucie two years ago. Surprisingly, he remembered me, saying "so you're the bear on my Wikipedia page". Memories...
So that's all for this special post-game report. We hope you enjoyed it, as well as the Mets Opening Day victory. Before I go, I'll leave you with one more photo, because I have to give a shout-out to more of my fav'rit Mets bloggers. Some have already been mentioned here, while some others have not. From left to right, we have Denise Winter (Metscellaneous) holding yours truly, Taryn Cooper ( from A Gal For All Seasons and Kiner's Korner), John Coppinger (Metstradamus) and some random guy dressed in Mets gear who wanted to hold my sister, Iggy. If anyone can identify him, feel free to let me know. (Oh, and lest I forget, the photo was taken by another Mets blogger, Richard Sparago, whose work you can find at Random Mets Thoughts.)
|Photo by Richard Sparago/Random Mets Thoughts|
One game down, 161 to go. If the Mets can have more games like yesterday's opener, the season might produce more smiles like the ones in the photo above.
Opening Day was a day in which I met my blogging heroes, celebrated the life and accomplishments of a fallen '86 hero and saw five Mets pitchers combine to put nine zeroes on the board. Ain't baseball grand?