May 27, 2012 marked the return of Banner Day after a 16 year hiatus. The date also marked my 26th birthday and I thought there was no better way to spend the day than at Citi Field with my loved ones and with my banner.
The 300 or so banner entries were creative, thoughtful and inspiring. Each had their own spin and touches of what it meant to be a Met fan, or a particular memory they have. The participants were uniquely die hard fans, many of which were culling the line, genuinely interested to see what their fellow fans incorporated into their banners. It was an exciting group to be a part of, brimming with camaraderie. Entering the field after an almost two hour wait was exciting, coming out from the guts of the stadium into the sunlight of the left field warning track. Walking on the clay track, participants held their banners high, with a sense of pride for the onlookers leaning over the outfield fences to see. Rounding third and heading home the judges panel came into view and a robust Rusty Staub and larger than life Doc Gooden were waiting to judge, if not greet us, along with Howie Rose and WFAN’s Evan Roberts.
By the Mets dugout I noticed Jeff Wilpon leaning against the mesh fence and quickly asked for a photo op along with SNY’s Kevin Burkhardt. I found it amusingly ironic to be able to take a photo of my banner with COO Wilpon, one of the main targets of Met fans ire, myself included, but on this sun soaked day, I kept my comments to myself and was content with a picture to remember the moment by.
Oh yea, there was a game played also. R.A. Dickey was brilliant yet again in 7 and 1/3 innings of shutout ball while striking out 10 Padres in the process. The Mets got the first inning 1-0 lead on a Daniel Murphy 2 out single and the game stayed that way until the fifth inning. Mike Baxter lead off the inning with a double and Padres starter Edinson Volquez combined with catcher Nick Hundley to allow Baxter to come around to score on a wild pitch and a passed ball. Dickey got into trouble in the eighth, but unsung hero Tim Byrdak came on to induce a line out and struck out Will Venable to get out of the inning. Frank Francisco came on to pitch a 1-2-3 ninth inning to nail down the 2-0 victory and send the crowd home happy.
As an aside, I have attended six games this year and the combined score is Mets 13 Opponents 14 for an average of 2.2 runs per game for the Mets and 2.3 runs per game for opponents. The Mets are 4-2 in those six games. The moral of the story is expect a pitcher’s duel if I am in attendance.
But the true take away from this day is that the Mets are playing an exciting brand of home grown ball and there are a good number of optimistic, if cautiously so, fans who are excited about the product and brand on the field for today and for the future.