One row from the top.
Two rows from the north pole.
If Row U was a shore excursion on a cruise, it would be denoted in the catalog with the man carrying the walking stick.
But that's where I was for Game 2 of the 2006 NLCS. I had to send my heckles through messenger service.
But hey, I could at least laugh at the poor bastards sitting in Row V. Now those were some far away seats.
One thing about sitting that high up is that sometimes you can see certain things that would normally go unnoticed from a lower vantage point.
You know what I noticed?
A letter "J", denoted in dirt, written in the grass behind the mound.
"J". What on earth could that have signified?
J for John...as in Maine?
Makes sense, he was, after all, tonight's starter. But if the J was for him, it didn't work very well as Maine gave up four runs in four innings...all on just two hits, but five walks. Perhaps there should have been a strike zone drawn instead of a letter "J".
Could "J" have been for Jack? As in the two jacks that Carlos Delgado had tonight that should have been enough?
By the end of the game I figured it out.
After Guillermo Mota imploded after getting the first two outs in the seventh, and then found it necessary to throw the same pitch to Scott Spiezio that he had just fouled off hard and have him tie the game...
After all those two strike pitches by Met relievers that Cardinal hitters kept fouling off and fouling off and fouling off...no doubt prompting about 13,000 cutaways of Met fans biting their fingernails (luckily, cameras don't reach high enough to hit Row U)...
After Carlos Beltran hit into a double play in the eighth inning which inexplicably and completely killed one hundred percent of the buzz in the stadium...so much so that you could actually make out every note of "Enter Sandman" from the Shea Stadium sound system (yes, the Shea Stadium sound system)...
After Billy Wagner picked the absolute worst time to give up a home run to a guy who's 146 pounds after taking a swim while wearing a fleece outfit (followed by a revelation as to who were the real Met fans, and who were the ones just along for the ride, as the latter left Shea like rats off a sinking ship with the Mets only down by one run)...and then go ahead and lose his mind completely by giving up four runs for the first time all season long...
After the Mets lost a golden opportunity to tag a loss on Chris Carpenter, who was moved up in the rotation by "The Genius" Tony La Russa...only to give up 5 runs in five innings...
It hit me. "J" is for me.
I'm a postseason Jinx.
It kills me to hear seemingly every single Met fan I know tell me great stories about "Oh, I was there for Buckner...Oh I sat in the bleachers for the grand slam single...Oh I was behind the plate for Todd Pratt's home run...Oh I was in the dugout for the Swoboda catch..."
What do I come back with?
I was in the upper deck freezing my extremities off to see the Scioscia HR.
I was in the same spot 12 hours later to see the Mets spit the bit again to the Dodgers.
I was in the mezzanine for to see John Rocker get a save against the Mets in '99.
I saw the Yankees celebrate a World Championship at Shea.
And now, I go up to Row U to see Scott Spiezio and So Taguchi...SO TAGUCHI...give the Mets their first postseason loss of 2006!
I'm 0-5 in the playoffs.
The "J" is for me...the Jinx.
I'm the Armando Benitez of Met fans...I can't get it done when it counts the most.
Sure, I could have blamed the four fans in row S who kept switching seats after every foul ball by Taguchi to find the right combination...instead finding the combination of death.
But hey, they tried, unlike me who stayed in my assigned seat the entire game.
I could blame the guy that wore a Mets jersey that read "KAZMIR 26" that sat a few rows in front of me. Because bad trades are bad trades, and grudges are grudges. But when your team is in the playoffs, you would think the grudge would be put away for the month.
But I can't...because he's probably not 0-5 at playoff games.
I, on the other hand, am.
Wear it like a scarlet freakin' number.
So before anyone asks me:
- I have no remaining games at Shea in 2006.
- I have no tickets to games in St. Louis.
- I have no World Series tickets in Detroit.
- I will no longer fancy thoughts of buying World Series tickets on the Tigers ticket exchange.
- I may even consider turning down any and all offers to attend further Mets playoff games...even if the ticket is free.
Yes, it's come to that. For the good of my team, I have to Bartmanize myself and disappear. I'm parking myself by the computer where I will remain for the rest of the playoffs. I have no choice.
Because the "J" stands for me and my futility.