Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mother Of A Game

It is safe to say that my mother has been a major part of my baseball life.

Whether it was to drive me to practice as a youngster, wash my constantly dirty uniform, or help shop for that piece of baseball equipment that I just had to have...mom was there.

As I grew up, both she and my father pledged their constant support...attending many of my games throughout high school and college -- sometimes driving hundreds of miles to be there.

My mother even played a role in my baseball rooting interests. As a toddler, the men on her side of the family (my grandfather and uncle) attempted to recruit me as a Yankee fan. My mom would have none of it. As a Mets' fan who attended Game 3 of the 1969 World Series at Shea Stadium, she helped guide me toward New York's blue-and-orange team.

In August 1986, my parents took me to my very 1st Major League Baseball game...a Mets' matchup with the St. Louis Cardinals. Almost 24 years later, I was going to return the favor.


It was Mother's Day -- May 9th, 2010. The Mets were set to face the San Francisco Giants at Citi Field in Flushing, New York.

A special day at the ballpark

For my mom, it was a new experience. After attending numerous games at Shea Stadium over the years, she had yet to see one at Citi Field. From the moment we stepped off the "7" train at the Willets Point station, the grand tour was on.

We looked at Shea Stadium's old footprint in the parking lot. We viewed the original Home Run Apple outside Citi Field's main entrance. We walked through the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, and visited the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum. We viewed batting practice from the open concourses around the ballpark. The day was a tribute to both the past and present.

Passing through the Jackie Robinson Rotunda

It was a windy and chilly afternoon in Flushing. As my mother, father and I settled into our seats in Section 516, we were dressed more appropriately for a football game than for baseball. The less-than-ideal conditions were not about to spoil the fun, however.

A cold, but nice day at Citi Field

There were numerous reminders of the holiday throughout Citi Field. The ballpark's scoreboards featured "Happy Mother's Day" messages throughout the course of the game...complete with video messages from Mets' players to their moms.

Pink was the color of the day on the field. Some players on both the Mets and Giants used pink bats while at the plate. Other players (and umpires) wore pink wristbands to display appreciation for not only their mom, but all mothers out there. All of the players wore small pink ribbons on the left side of their button-down jerseys.

The Giants' Pablo Sandoval went with the pink bat and wristbands

Despite the unity shown throughout Major League Baseball for Mother's Day, the games still counted in the standings. The Giants trotted out their ace pitcher, Tim Lincecum, to try and build upon their 17-12 record. Meanwhile, the 17-13 Mets, who were off to a solid start at home, sent struggling pitcher Oliver Perez to the mound.

The Giants didn't have to do much to amass a 4-0 lead by the 4th inning. Perez was wild, walking seven and throwing nearly 100 pitches in just 3 1/3 innings of work. The restless crowd of 35,641 booed loudly as Perez exited the game. It was not a performance that a mom would love.

Oliver Perez couldn't gain his control on this day

With Lincecum -- the two-time defending Cy Young Award winner -- on the mound, few inside Citi Field expected the Mets to put up much of a fight...but mom always told us to never give up.
As the winds gusted, swirling hot dog wrappers and napkins around the playing field...the Mets slowly chipped their way back into the game. RBI singles by 1st baseman Ike Davis and right fielder Jeff Francoeur in the 6th inning cut the Giants' lead in half.

Tim Lincecum sported a pink ribbon above the 2nd "S" in "SAN FRANCISCO"

After 116 pitches in 6 innings, Lincecum left with a 4-2 lead. San Francisco's shaky middle relief would make it anybody's ballgame, however.

Dan Runzler and Sergio Romo were called upon to maintain the Giants' lead in the 7th, but both struggled mightily. Following one Mets' hit and two walks, left fielder Jason Bay came through in the clutch with 2-run single. Just like that, the game was tied! Mets' 3rd baseman David Wright, using a pink bat, followed Bay with a sacrifice fly that put New York ahead 5-4.

David Wright's sacrifice fly (with the pink bat) put the Mets in front

The crowd -- which just three innings ago was booing passionately at the home team's performance -- was now cheering with all their might. The wild afternoon at Citi Field was far from over, however.

The Mets rallied from a 4-0 deficit to take the lead

Highly-touted Mets' pitching prospect Jenrry Mejia was asked to maintain the newly-found lead...but instead, the rookie ran into some growing pains. After a one-out walk, Giants' center fielder Aaron Rowand connected with a fastball, and deposited it into the right-center field bullpen. As Rowand rounded the bases for his 4th home run of the season, the Giants now held a 6-5 lead.

Giants' outfielder Aaron Rowand hit a big 2-run HR late

Rather than boo Mejia as he was lifted for another pitcher, the Citi Field crowd remained relatively silent. Perhaps some of the moms in the ballpark wanted to give the 20-year-old kid a hug...or maybe they were simply shocked by the roller-coaster ride during the last couple innings.

20-year-old Jenrry Mejia ran into trouble in the 8th inning

In the 9th, Mother Nature helped make things interesting. Leading off the inning, Bay lofted a fly ball to left field. As the powerful winds swirled, San Francisco left fielder Andres Torres was fooled. The ball landed in the shallow outfield grass and Bay was aboard with a double! The Mets still had a chance.

Paper wrappers littered the outfield, thanks to the high winds

Giants' closer Brian Wilson shut the door, however...striking out the next three batters to earn San Francisco a 6-5 victory.

Brian Wilson pitched 1 2/3 innings to earn the save

It was a fun game -- not only because it was wildly entertaining -- but also because I was there with Mom and Dad.

A wild Mother's Day at Citi Field

Little did I know that it would almost be the last MLB game my mother would ever attend.
In March, my mother received a serious health scare that placed her in the hospital for two weeks. For a little while, it was a touch-and-go situation...no one really knew how things would turn out.

Fortunately, the situation has improved in the month-and-a-half since. She is home and has resumed a normal life. Still, such a scare can put a lot of things into perspective.

This Mother's Day involved the family watching baseball once again, albeit at home. The three of us gathered in the living room around the TV, as the Mets hosted the Los Angeles Dodgers in another afternoon tilt. When the Mets lost, my mom simply said, "I don't like that. I protest!"

All I could do was smile upon hearing that. Just like last year, the game's result was insignificant...all that mattered was that we were able to view it together.

Mom, Dad and myself following the Mets-Giants game

1 comment:

  1. your parents are so cute! go mom! :) and who needs to watch games when you write 'em up like this. it's like i was there. i'm now a devoted reader dave. :)