Five Weeks Until Opening Day!
This week’s flashback: 2008
Tuesday, April 8, 2008 vs. Philadelphia Phillies. (Home Opener – Game 6 of regular season)
Loss, by score of 5-2 to go 2-4 on the season
The last game at Shea Stadium was of course a big deal, but for us Opening Day traditionalists, the last Opening Day at Shea Stadium was a really, really, big deal. One last time Opening Day in our home, our church, the dump that had to go.
After a bitter, bitter end to the 2007 season and a long cold winter, Tom Glavine was gone and back with the Braves, and Johan Santana was here to our rescue. The Mets acquired him from the Twins for four prospects including can’t-miss Carlos Gomez and Philip Humber, ensuring that no matter what happened during the course of this new season, with this durable ace we wouldn’t collapse at the end. It took the Mets a few days to convince Johan to sign the largest contract ever for a pitcher, $137.5 Million for six years. The 29 year old Santana’s average annual salary for the contract would be $22.9MM, including $31Million in 2013 when he would be 34 years old. What a bargain! However, we didn’t get to see Johan Santana pitch on this cool spring day. Oliver Perez, who had won 15 games the year prior, was on the mound as we started a yearlong goodbye to Shea Stadium, in the shadows of Citi Field.
photos and more after the jump
$35 got me into the upper reserved section 18. I was back in the Northeast permanently, now living in New Jersey after a three year tour of duty in the south, and even though i was a new dad, I thought enough of the Mets to commit to a “7 Pack” for the 2008 season. The ticket is branded with a Shea Stadium 1964-2008 logo, which also adorned the Magnetic Schedule and some banners throughout the stadium.
Fittingly, Bill Shea Jr. threw out the ceremonial first pitch, and“SHEA” was added to the retired numbers on the left field wall. Also in Centerfield, before the game a countdown banner was revealed, which would be changed at every home game.
The other storyline being played out was around what song would be played during the 8th inning. Even though Neil Diamond was a Brooklynite, and Sweet Caroline had been played at Rangers games since forever, many Mets fans felt that singing along to the song was somehow a Red Sox “tradition,” and that the Mets shouldn’t copy them. Many of us thought “Curly Shuffle” or “Meet The Mets” would be just fine, but the Mets brass thought they should put it up for a vote. Of course the joke was on us, again, as Fark.com started a campaign and Rick Astleys “Never Gonna Give You Up,” was the overwhelming winner. My father was quoted in Newsday as saying “the Mets should have signed Carlos Santana. At least then the Mets would have a solution for their 8th inning music.”
The Mets lost this game, with the bullpen blowing a decent start by Oliver Perez. Scott Schoeneweis, Jorge Sosa and Aaron Heilman all did their parts to make sure we went home with our heads hanging, despite scoreless innings from Perez and a long homerun by Carlos Delgado.
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