Since today was a day game, we headed out to the ballpark early, especially since today was going to be The Apple's Final Mets Tailgate Ever. So after a few hot dogs (I think I had more hot dogs than Jason Bay has doubles this year - he has two in case you didn't know or can't count past one), we took some photos of friends, tailgaters and bloggers alike before moving on to another historic event - the shaving of Keith Hernandez's iconic mustache.
The crowd that gathered around the Home Run Apple before the stroke of noon for the shaving of the 'stache was quite large. In fact, I'd wager a hot dog that the number of people with cameras in tow was larger than the attendance at Wednesday night's game. But then again, this was no ordinary 'stache we were talking about.
Some fans, like Matt Falkenbury of The Daily Stache, were particularly moved by the moment. After seeing Matt's sign, I couldn't help but be moved as well.
Shortly before noon, the barber began to work his magic. There was music playing over the speakers, with all the songs having a common "gone" theme. I was glad they didn't play any songs from "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street", or else Keith might not have stuck around in the barber's chair very long.
But why am I still talking? I'll just let these exclusive photos tell the story for me.
That was the pre-game show. Now let's move on to the game itself. Today's game came on the heels of David Wright's historic hit against the Pirates. Wright's 1,419th hit in Wednesday's game moved him past Ed Kranepool into the No. 1 spot on the club's all-time list. R.A. Dickey was also trying to make history today.
With a win, Dickey would become the sixth Mets pitcher to win 20 games in a single season, joining Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Dwight Gooden, David Cone and Frank Viola. Things didn't start off so well with the Mets' resident knuckleballer, as Rod Barajas drove a long double off him in his first at-bat, followed by a home run his next time up. Barajas' blast off Dickey gave the Bucs a 3-1 lead over the Mets, giving this bear and my 31,506 human friends in attendance a brief "oh no" moment. But it was just brief.
An RBI single by Scott Hairston in the bottom of the fourth cut the deficit to one. Then in the fifth, Daniel Murphy dropkicked a single to center to tie the game, which was followed by a titanic opposite field homer by David Wright. The three-run blast could not be caught by Pirates' rightfielder Travis Snider, who made an Endy Chavez-like catch earlier in the game on a long drive by Mike Baxter. And by Endy Chavez catch, I mean he made a highlight-reel catch in a losing effort.
Although Dickey admitted he "felt exasperated" and "was not himself today for the most part", he certainly didn't show it on the mound. After Barajas' fourth-inning homer, Dickey did not allow another run, striking out a bazillion batters in the process. Okay, so it was really 13 Ks, but it sure felt like a bazillion.
|I guess "bazillion" didn't fit on CitiVision.|
Dickey pitched into the eighth inning but with two outs, he walked Travis Snider on his 128th pitch of the game. That was enough for Terry Collins, who removed Dickey and handed the ball to birthday boy Jon Rauch. Rauch got the final out of the inning, but then had us all reaching for our Rolaids in the ninth.
A leadoff walk to Jordy Mercer (he of the .196 career batting average entering the game), followed by a two-run homer to Alex Presley (he of the 41 career RBIs in three seasons entering the game) cut the lead to 6-5. But Rauch beared down (no pun intended) and got out of the inning without allowing another runner to reach base. When Mike Baxter squeezed the final out into his glove, Dickey became the team's first 20-game winner since Frank Viola in 1990. Interestingly, Viola also defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates for his 20th victory, as did Tom Seaver , who turned the trick twice. Seaver picked up his 20th win against the Pirates in both 1972 and 1975.
|Congratulations indeed! What a season by the great R.A. Dickey!|
Today was a day filled with many "lasts". It was the last tailgate by The Apple (unless if the Mayans were wrong). It was the last day Keith Hernandez got Tootsie Pop residue stuck in his 'stache. It was the last home game at Citi Field. But it was a "first" that became the most memorable part of the day, as R.A. Dickey became the first Mets pitcher to win 20 games in over two decades.
Although the season wasn't exactly great, Citi Field did get to witness three great moments. In June, the home fans were treated to Johan Santana throwing the first no-hitter in team history. Then in a span of 24 hours, David Wright became the franchise's all-time hits leader and R.A. Dickey put the cherry on top of his remarkable season (the whipped cream will be added on the day the Cy Young Award winner is announced).
Thanks to everyone who made this season special for me. I'll miss seeing you all at Citi Field, but it'll just make me look forward to seeing you all again on April 1, 2013, when the Mets play their home opener next year. I can't wait to see what the Mets have in store for us then. Toodle-oo!