Monday, May 2, 2011

Perfect night: Mets beat Phillies in extras, bin Laden is dead

I watch most Mets games on the DVR. I've got two kids and the bedtime routines start around the same time as the night games do, so I usually don't start watching til 9 or so.

The plus side is I get to fast forward through the commercial breaks, and from pitch to pitch if I want. I don't do the latter that often because it means I'd miss the chatter from Gary, Keith and Ron. Except when the game is on Fox or ESPN, when there's no chance I'm missing any kind of substantive commentary. The national TV teams are patently awful compared to the SNY crew, but we all know that.

So I'm riding the FF button when I see the crawl change to BREAKING NEWS. It took me a second or two to realize that the crawl had something to do with the crowd shots of people on their iPhones and BlackBerrys. Osama bin Laden was (finally) dead.

Ten years ago this fall, the Mets played the first major league baseball game after 9/11, a night when Mike Piazza homered to beat the Braves and give the city something to cheer about. Ironic that the bin Laden news broke during a Mets game, and with Bobby Valentine in the broadcast booth, no less.

Chris Young said after the game that it would be a night he'd never forget. His seven shutout innings — hanging inning for inning with Cliff Lee while dealing 85 mph fastballs — will have something to do with it, as will the fact that the Mets won, 2-1, in 14 innings to avoid the Philly sweep and salvage a 3-3 road trip.

But what will stick with Young will be the same thing we'll all remember about this May 1 baseball game. Where we were when bin Laden, 9/11 architect and Public Enemy No. 1 since G.W. Bush said he was "Wanted, dead or alive," was finally brought down. And not in some cave in the mountains, but in a mansion with 18-foot walls in a Pakistani suburb.

The bin Laden news overshadowed the extra-inning victory, but that's probably a good thing since so much of the game story was negative for the Mets. Not the pitching — that was outstanding, with the exceptions of Izzy and Tim Byrdak not getting it done in the eighth.

It was the old bugaboo, hitting with runners on base and runners in scoring position. The Mets had baserunners on in almost every inning and outhit the Phillies but could only scratch across two runs. Of course the Phillies were just as impotent, despite playing at their home bandbox, managing just the one run in the eighth on an opposite-field hit by Ryan Howard.

Thank God for Ronny Paulino! Five hits, including the game-winner, on his first game with the team after Visa and health problems. And he threw a runner out in a key spot. Welcome to the club, Ronny.

So on an off day where we'd normally be talking about how Jason Bay has stopped hitting, or how good Pedro Beato continues to look, we'll rightly be spending our time discussing an event of historic importance. An event that, once again, has ties to the Mets. Amazing.

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