Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Year Long Ovation

It was just about one year ago, coincidentally a weeknight game against the San Diego Padres, when Met fans started saying thanks to their future hall of fame catcher after a two run home run (with the help of a butchered ball in center field by Padres center fielder Xavier Nady, you know, as long as we're going down memory lane here). The ovation that night...that I was a part of in the stands...wasn't your garden variety "thanks for the dinger, Mike" that he had known for the better part of seven plus seasons. That ovation was different. That ovation was the start of the Mike Piazza farewell tour.

It lasted all the way through tonight.

Tonight's game was certainly not reminiscent of Eddie Giacomin's return to the Garden as a Red Wing in November of 1975, when chants of "Ed-die! Ed-die" punctuated a virtual Red Wings home game at Madison Square Garden after Giacomin felt the ultimate indignity by being put on waivers, nothing gained in return for the then bumbling New York franchise. Thankfully through the Mets' success this season, it didn't go that far...because even though nothing was gained by the Mets in exchange for Piazza either, there was an understanding by all parties that it was best for everyone...Piazza included. And tonight there was nothing but love for all involved...as it should have been. But mostly for Piazza.

Why it was even a question as to whether Piazza was going to be received warmly is beyond me. For all he's done for the New York Mets franchise, he's family. And when family comes home you clean the house, you stock the refrigerator, you wheel out the rollaway bed, you get out their favorite CD's (some Jimi Hendrix, perhaps) and you make family feel welcome. He got an ovation before the game. He got an ovation when he took his position in the field. He got an ovation before his first at bat to the familiar strains of Hendrix's "Voodoo Child". He got an ovation before his second at bat, when with second and third, he had a chance to perform some actual damage on the franchise that provided his paychecks with runners on second and third.

It was Mike Piazza's third at bat that Met fans proved they have enough love for everyone. First, another ovation for Piazza in his Padre surf and sand ensemble (yes, the color that adorns Piazza's pants is actually called "sand"). Then, a moment for the man who replaced him, which flew in the face of what is now known as conventional journalism. Paulie Undertaker received his very own "PAUL-lo-DUC-a" chant after throwing out Brian Giles attempting to steal second. Tonight, the first home game for Lo Duca since he was stung by the pesky bee that is tabloid journalism, and Met fans gave him a little extra something to tell him that although Piazza is forever a Met, Paulie is a Met right now, and through the adversity he's facing now that they've got his back...just as it would be on the streets of Brooklyn when sometimes all you had was your friends.

I'm sure it was a moment Piazza, standing practically next to Lo Duca, could appreciate as it was once Piazza who the tabloids attempted to use to sell newspapers. Next pitch, Piazza lines one to center for his first Padre hit at Shea Stadium...and once again it was love for Mike Piazza as his name was chanted as well. It was five minutes that provided a perfect parallel of past and present.

Future was present tonight too. After all, there are no boundaries when love intersects with baseball. So David Wright not only drove in the tying and winning runs tonight, but he and his partner in expectation Jose Reyes both did what any red-blooded American male would do. They stole bases on Mike Piazza.

But that hardly mattered.

What mattered was that a long lost family member came home...and the year long ovation continues.

15 comments:

Sean said...

I was at the game tonight, and I've got to say, it was quite touching, especially the back and forth Piazza/Lo Duca chants.

But you know what I'll never forget?

The jackasses all around me in the upper deck trying their hardest to start the wave.

In a one-run game.

And Padres on the bases.

And Royce Ring on the verge of blowing the game.

I was in shock; my section, all adorned in blue and orange, were actually booing loudly when their wave died out somewhere along the third base line. 'Cause those are the kinds of situations where our pitcher really needs to hear boos.

For the wave.

And then? The wave actually made it all the way around. And for a few moments I dreamt of *real* waves, or perhaps some Great Flood to cleanse Major League Baseball of all who engage in this foul ritual.

Do Mike Piazza die-hards just really hate baseball or something? Was it the menacing looking yellow moon? I crave an explanation for this utterly inexcusable behavior.

(Good game, though.)

Metstradamus said...

Sean, I'm sorry you had to be a part of a disgusting display such as that. Awful.

Mike said...

If I was at the game, I'd have chanted, "Get-A-Hair-Cut!"

Fer' crissakes, Mikey, you're 38 years-old! Lose the shag.

sean said...

Oh, and P.S.:

The same section booing loudly when the wave didn't make it around?

Would give standing ovations during Paulie's at bats...but not for Paulie; rather, they were hooting and hollering about a large picture of his wife that someone in front of them was holding up, screaming "Oooooh, DANG!", "That shit HOT." and the ever-classic "Whatchoo cheatin' on THAT fo'?" This lasted a good five minutes.

I get really sad when people make me realize that not all Met fans are wonderful people that I want to be friends with.

Shea Gadfly said...

Mike's a classy guy...he was asked about the Lo Duca situation and he said point blank that it wasn't his place to say but...he feels for anyone who has to go through that sort of thing. As you pointed out so well, he knows what it's like to be a part of totally baseless rumors and accusations. I wish him only the best.

The wave is so annoying. I actually have Saturday tickets so I only get to go to a limited amount of games. I kind of want to see the game when I go...it should be outlawed during innings. If people want to block your field of vision during a break in the action that is fine but during an inning or even worse during a close game...unacceptable.

What do you think the deal was with leaving Oliver in for as long as Willie did last night?

Shea Gadfly said...

PS - sorry about the meatloaf. It's hard to pass it up but probably better to avoid it if you can...

Jessica said...

What really makes me sick is that every so often a "Do The Wave" graphic was shown on the Diamondvision. Not during the situation Sean described, but often enough to give misguided people the idea that doing the wave at a baseball game is acceptable behavior.

My section was relatively wave-free, but I did get stuck next to 2 Yankee fans who only wanted the Mets to win because both of them had bet on the game. Oh joy.

Other than that, a great game and and one I'm glad I was there for.

j m said...

MD - July 14, 2005. Piazza hits a (nother) eventual game winning homer against the Braves. Shea is electrified. He is called out for a curtain. The place serenades him vociferously with just a tinge extra for that particular time of the season.

I believe that was his final truly great moment as a Met and I believe that was the start of his farewell tour.

tjmc923@suscom.net said...

Here is what I love. For those that live in the NY area, you are certainly aware that both baseball teams are having excellent seasons. Yet, while listening to sports radio everyday and watching ESPN, all I ever hear about is how great
the Mets are and they are the toast of the NL and blah, blah, blah. Yet, heading into tonight's Mets/Phillies game the Yankees would be 1.5 games ahead of the Mets if the teams were in the same division. I'm not even getting into injuries, but can everyone stop talking about how fucking good the Mets are and realize that they just play in a shit division. The Yankees split 6 with the Mets this year and the Red Sox absolutely destroyed the Mets for 3 straight games. I am sick of this shit! The Mets still suck, always will, and I hope they make the series so the Yankees can crush their dreams just like 2000. Get off the Kool Aid Met fans and realize your team is still second best in
this city!

tjmc923@suscom.net

j m said...

Hey susancom, you're a moron.

Ed in Westchester said...

hey, tjmc923@suscom.net said...
you posted the same thing, word for word, on metsgeek.com.

That is exceedingly lame.

Metstradamus said...

Sounds like someone is exceedingly bitter about Mo blowing the save last night, so he's trolling, in between sobs of jealousy wishing the Yankees were in an awful division like they were from 1996-2000 (not that we heard a peep out of Yankee fans about it then)

But suscom, you're right. let me further your point: If the Yankees played in the A.L. West, they'd not only be in first place by a mile, but they'd be the California Yankees!

Now go back to stealing lollipops from three year olds like you Yankee fans are accustomed to.

mets_grrl said...

he's just cranky that The Greatest Closer In The History Of Western Civilization [tm YES and all Yankees fans] blew yet another save last night.

Feel sorry that this individual clearly has nothing else to do with their time...

j m said...

Nothing else to do, but read Metstradamus? I don't feel sorry for her...in fact, susancom even has a little bit of class.

Metstradamus said...

jm, I feel like Piazza at Shea wearing Padre sand...I'm ferklempt!