The fans were out, the vibe was electric, baseball’s best player was scheduled to pitch, and the wildly popular Chicago Cubs were in town.
New York Mets fans finally have something to be thrilled about. Jacob deGrom is having a monster year, both on the mound and at the plate, and after the team was sold to billionaire Steve Cohen, the feel around Citi Field in Flushing is quite different.
I went to a New York Yankees game over in the Bronx on May 2. The allowed capacity gave way to an overall attendance of 10,021, the game itself lasted just over two hours, and the only two runs in the game were scored while I was getting food with my friends and missing all the action.
This June 16 night was a completely different feeling. Taking the subway to the game was almost like being smack-dab in the heart of the brand new MLB Store in New York City. Hats, jerseys, shirts for both teams playing that evening. Getting off the Mets-Willets Point stop was electric. It felt like a playoff buzz. Baseball is back.
Jacob deGrom is the aforementioned best player in baseball. Debatable? Kind of. But not really. He has more RBI (6) as a hitter than earned runs allowed (4) as a pitcher in 67 innings pitched. Hold on, let me pick my jaw up off the floor.
The much bigger crowd of 23,545 was on fire for the introductions of some of their favorite Mets stars. Dom Smith, Kevin Pillar (now a folk hero to Mets fans), and even Francisco Lindor, who hasn’t yet lived up to his new $340 million dollar contract, received loud ovations.
None were as loud as two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom.
deGrom did not disappoint. In three innings (before he left with right shoulder discomfort, which he and the medical staff have now deemed insignificant), he struck out eight of the nine outs, and added an RBI single of his own. Unreal.
Admittedly, when the crowd learned of deGrom’s early exit, the air was popped out of the balloon. It wasn’t until eventual home runs from Smith and Pillar did the crowd come back to life.
By the time Edwin Diaz came in to shut things down, the crowd was on their feet.
It was nice to be back at the ballpark, watching the game’s best do what he does at his elite level, and once again enjoying overpriced concessions. I have never been so happy to pay 15 dollars for a sausage and a bottle of water.
I love baseball.
Follow Allen Austin on Twitter @Allen_Austin_