On Friday night I went to Citi Field to see the Mets play the Nationals. Or, more accurately, so I could see Matt Harvey pitch against Stephen Strasburg.
I know not all of you are big sports fans, so here's why this is a big deal:
Stephen Strasburg is the Nationals ace - he was the number one overall draft pick and has lived up to all the accompanying hype.
Matt Harvey is a Mets first-round draft pick who came to the majors last year with significantly less fanfare...and has far exceeded any accompanying hype.
Here's all you need to know about Matt Harvey Friday night: In the 7th inning he gave up the only run the Nationals would score, and, after an error and a couple of hits, was facing a bases loaded, no out situation.
He dug down, consistently surpassed 90 miles an hour as his pitch count ticked past 100, and got a strikeout, foul pop, and ground ball to second to get the Mets out of the inning. (The above picture is Harvey's last pitch of the night - number 105 - on which he induced the grounder.)
The Mets went on to win 7-1. (Another highlight? 2-homer games by Ike Davis and Lucas Duda - both homers coming one batter away in the 6th and 8th innings. The Killer D's!)
I have to be honest, though. While I was hoping I would see a Mets win, I was really hoping I would see a no-hitter...if not by Harvey, then by Strasburg. In the first inning the Mets notched their first hit, which was fine by me...but Harvey lost his in the 3rd inning to the opposing pitcher. (Reminding me that I was at R.A. Dickey's one-hitter when the only hit he gave up was to the opposing pitcher.) So while it was an exciting game, it wasn't all that I was hoping for. (I also hoped, once I saw where we were sitting, that I'd leave with a foul ball. I barely missed an Ian Desmond foul pop that bounced off the hands of the woman sitting in front of me.)
The other thing about this game is how distracted I was by what was happening in Watertown, Massachusetts. I was on Twitter and texting with my wife throughout the game to find out if there was any progress on the hunt for 'Suspect #2' in the Boston Marathon bombings. And there was a lot of progress. Amazingly, it was the first time I was able to consistently use my phone at a baseball game - usually my 3G at ballparks is terrible. Friday night I had a clear connection. (In the 7th inning the Mets put the news of the arrest on the scoreboard.)
I bought the tickets for Friday night's game on Thursday afternoon at Citi Field. I knew a while ago that I was going to go to the game...it wasn't until the Mets played on Thursday that I knew Matt Harvey would be going for the Mets and pitching against Strasburg.
It may end up that I'll see future Harvey-Strasburg matchups. Ace versus ace for division rivals...it'll happen often over the next 10-15 years, if their arms cooperate. But walking up and buying tickets the day before such a matchup? And ending up with the great seats we had?
That might make this New Thing a Once-in-a-Lifetime Thing as well.