Watching Game 6 On Staten Island

Normally we'd be home watching stuff like Game Sixes, if there are Game Sixes to be watched, but it was a mixture of prior commitment and hubris that took us to Staten Island to participate in the latest Staten Island Pub Crawl during Game 6 of the NLCS. "Commitment" because we hadn't done a pub crawl in some time and "hubris" because, well, who would have thought this thing would have gone six games? Turns out that the Giants are on a major league streak right now . . .

I guess it could have been worse — had the Yankees beat the Rangers on Friday night, I think Game 6 of the NLCS would have aired in the late afternoon, which would have meant that we would have been on subways, ferries and trains for much of the game. As it turned out, Game 6 started at 7:57 (I never understood the :57 of MLB playoff start times), so we were able to monitor the progress of the game during stops along the crawl.

Cucina Di Napoli, Tottenville

Cucina Di Napoli, 7324 Amboy Road, Tottenville, Staten Island, October 23, 2010, 7:23 p.m.

Things started out pretty well — we were carb-loading at Cucina Di Napoli in Tottenville when the Phillies scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning and Jen was excited as we walked to Atlantic Station to get to our next stop. Our friend Bates, a Red Sox fan who (at least for one night) was sympathetic toward the Phillies, cautioned that the offense still looked weak, which of course was true but which also didn't mean much if Oswalt could hold back the Giants.

So it was a tiny bit worrying that some sort of error (Jen saw it on her phone during the train ride to Great Kills) lead to at least one San Francisco run as the Giants tied the game in the top of the third, but it was still early in the game.

Talk of the Town, Great Kills

We got to Talk of the Town in Great Kills in time to catch the bottom of the third inning, including that bench-clearing flareup. I was a little bit surprised to see two apparent Giants fans sitting at the bar. Things still looked good even after the Giants pulled starting pitcher Jonathon Sanchez and Ryan Howard was up to bat with no one out and runners at first and second. Of course Howard struck out; this would stick out in my mind later on.

Talk of the Town, 24 Giffords Lane, Great Kills, Staten Island, October 23, 2010, 9:29 p.m.

I continued to watch the game out of the corner of my eye while we tried to overtake "Larry" and "Larry Who" on Erotic Photo Hunt (note: the Penthouse version of the game is much more difficult than the generic version — too many dumb subtle differences between the two photos). Still 2-2 when we left Talk of the Town and still 2-2 when we rolled into Night Gallery in New Dorp.

Megamasters Photo Hunt Penthouse Top Scores, Talk of the Town, 24 Giffords Lane, Great Kills, Staten Island, October 23, 2010, 9:40 p.m.

Night Gallery, New Dorp

Now Night Gallery is a little bit different than the rest of the places we usually stop at on the crawl. The place has a little bit of a dodgy history, and on this particular night, it felt like we came in a little too much like gangbusters. It's not always so low key, to be sure — we've had good nights when whoever is the bartender there is friendly and whatever patrons are around don't seem to mind a bunch of yahoos invading their space, but there was something a little off about the "vibe" there on this night — to me at least. I was feeling like we were clogging up the path between the door and the back, then feeling like we were too loud as I chatted with some folks we were with. Or it could have just been that I was too preoccupied with watching Ryan Madson pitch the seventh and eighth innings. The conversation was veering off into politics when I noticed that overused camera angle that Fox employs when a runner crosses home — you know which one, the low angle looking up at some slugger's mammoth legs as he's reaching out to high five whoever is on deck. That was when I silently took in the fact that Juan Uribe just homered to put the Giants up 3-2.

Night Gallery, 36 New Dorp Plaza, New Dorp, Staten Island, October 23, 2010, 11:20 p.m.

I still thought there was hope when we left Night Gallery until I realized that it was already the top of the ninth inning. Jen kept following the game on her phone and we saw there were two relatively quick outs. Then Rollins walked . . . and Utley walked . . . and Howard was up to bat again . . .

Northbound Staten Island Railway Train, Staten Island, October 23, 2010, 11:32 p.m.

Lee's Tavern, Dongan Hills

We got off the train at Dongan Hills and entered Lee's Tavern to find the patrons gathered around the front following the game on the television above the bar. They — I'm assuming they were Mets fans — were clapping loudly as Howard swung at another strike. 2-2 count, bottom of the ninth, and another ball makes it a full count.

Lee's Tavern, 60 Hancock Street, Dongan Hills, Staten Island, October 23, 2010, 11:36 p.m.

"One more strike and the Phillies are going down!" the guy next to us yelled out. I guess Mets fans have to get inspiration from somewhere, and it would come down to Brian Wilson and that freaky-ass Just For Men Black Bart beard versus Ryan Howard.

Lee's Tavern, 60 Hancock Street, Dongan Hills, Staten Island, October 23, 2010, 11:37 p.m.

No matter how good your team is, there's a sickening feeling about your chances in this position. As Jen put it, the Phillies fans in the stands looked like they were going to barf. I think you watch that kind of situation and know that it probably won't turn out well — which also makes that feeling all the more awesome when it actually happens to go well. Of course Brian Wilson got Howard to look at a sinker just in the zone for strike three. Those are how those situations usually work out.

"Yes! Yes!" the guy next to us yelled as he pumped his fists. I think he quickly realized from our lack of shared enthusiasm that we might have been rooting for the Phillies so he thought to add that Howard had to at least swing at that pitch, that it was too close. He was obviously correct — and Mets fans should know — it sucks a whole lot harder to take a called third strike than to at least take a swing at something (spin it however you want from here). (Part of me wants to remind the guy that the number two candidate for the Mets vacant GM position is the same person who ran the Diamondbacks into the ground.) (Part of me also wants to remind Giants fans — if we knew any, that is — that Cody Ross is a free agent after this year.)

It serves us right I suppose, rootless as I guess our lives are, to have to watch the Phillies lose among a bunch of frustrated Mets fans in a Staten Island bar, but, jeez — ouch — that was rough.

They seat our group in the annex room on the other side of the bar where chairs are stacked on tables. I was zoning out watching #11 Missouri closing out an upset of #1 Oklahoma, which I guessed was good for Boise State, but it was hard to get excited about anything sports related right then. Meanwhile, Cooley baits Bates about the various Red Sox-Yankees series this past year. Cooley's feeling less stung 24 hours after the Yankees own Game 6 loss. Bates recounts all the injuries the Red Sox had in 2010. I ask Cooley about whether Girardi will come back, if Posada will be eased out of an everyday role and if she really thinks they can get Cliff Lee. We scarf pizza (Lee's is still good, no matter how crazed their Mets clientele is) and make it out in under an hour.

On the way over to the train Bates recounts all the greatest disappointments in his personal Red Sox history. For him, the "best" series he ever saw wasn't the epic 2004 Red Sox-Yankees ALDS but rather the 2003 Red Sox-Yankees ALCS. I have a hard time abiding this contrarianism, but Bates made an interesting case: Of course the Red Sox lost that series, but the way they lost it really stands out — Tim Wakefield giving up that home run to Aaron Boone, Rivera praying on the mound, etc. In Bates' view, 2004 was not possible without 2003, and having Tim Wakefield lose it in 2003 was OK with him, Wakefield being his favorite player of all time.

Knuckleball pitchers really are cool, and to me there's this awesome mystery in how and why a knuckleballer will have his fingers work one day and not the other — Wakefield's knuckleball obviously was not working in Game 7. Bates adds that he loved that Joe Torre said something along the lines of how Wakefield was the best player he never got to coach and that it was classy that he called out Wakefield during the post-game press conference. (I'm amazed at how well Bates remembers baseball stuff — looking up stuff today, it seems he's remembering everything 100 percent accurately — I wonder if this is a Red Sox thing or something.)

The point being, according to Bates, is that it's much better to lose in seven games (or five games) than to lose in six games. There's something especially horrible about losing in six for some reason . . . this is true.

The train to St. George was delayed by some mechanical glitch — Bates joked that it sounded like they were riding on square wheels — and we lost a few more from our group as they ran for the 2 a.m. ferry. We circled back to the last stop, a new place, Karl's Klipper in St. George (The Real McCoy has since been replaced by a new pizza place that seemed a little too Belmar for our speed).

There are some girls in Karl's Klipper yelling out the lyrics to "Sex on Fire," which was Jayson Werth's walk-up music in 2009. My mind drifts toward Jayson Werth and his contract year . . . and I'm still thinking about Howard looking at that last strike. Meanwhile, Jen goes into a bit about Morgan Freeman, which probably doesn't merit an explanation beyond which to say that I think she was somehow trying to take her mind off of the loss.

It's 2:15 or so and most of us are tired and hinting that it would be nice to get on the 3 a.m. ferry. We finish the last of our drinks and start to get our stuff together. By this point, Bates has donned some sort of Halloween wig and is joining in with the girls at the bar: "Just gonna stand there and watch me burn! Well that's alright because I like the way it hurts!" We finally get him to ditch the wig and leave the sing-a-long behind. We make the 3 a.m. ferry back to Manhattan in plenty of time — fortunately we can still buy 16-ounce tall boys, and that really is the best deal in town.

Staten Island Ferry, New York City, October 24, 2010, 3:01 a.m.

We leave everyone behind at Water Street with their cabs home and Jen and I head over to the Bowling Green station. It's not until we get to the subway platform that she admits that she's sad. I agree. Then the thing that first bothered me about Howard striking out in the third inning finally comes into focus.

The other day ESPN's Jim Rome "burned on" the fact that Jimmy Rollins wasn't bunting the runner over in Game 4, the game where the Giants went up 3-1 in the series. What really bothered me about that third inning Howard strikeout wasn't that he struck out — we had seen Howard strike out that way many times over the course of the season — but rather that he struck out with runners on first and second and no one out. Now I know it's not the kind of thing that cleanup hitters "do," but in a must-win Game 6, why the fuck can't Ryan Howard bunt? I know it's lame or whatever to have your big slugger bunt like he's some weakling shortstop or pitcher or whatever, but wouldn't you rather have Ryan Howard swallow his pride and help manufacture a run than have the team end its season? I don't get it. And it doesn't make sense when Charlie Manuel already went "unorthodox" by pitching Roy Oswalt in relief in Game 4 before some of his other relievers. Ryan Howard should have sucked it up and bunted. I'm convinced this is a big reason they lost this game.

On the subway platform at 4 a.m. Jen thinks Charlie should be fired, but reconsiders the next morning — there's only so much a manager can do, and besides, they had their chances last night — a few of which just went the wrong way because of dumb luck. Neither of us have read any of the Philly sports sites yet. It's still a little too raw. Maybe tomorrow.

Posted: October 24th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: The Thrill Of Victory And The Agony Of Defeat! | Tags: , , , ,

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