October 04, 2004
I was joined at Shea by Mike and Gerard, a pair of baseball fans who are always up for a beautiful afternoon of depressing baseball history. And there was plenty of that on hand yesterday. Besides the main depressing event, the final-ever game for Montreal before next season's move to D.C. (the first franchise shift since the second Washington Senators moved to Texas in 1972), there were a few depressing sidelines:
- It was the final game as Mets manager for Art Howe, who was fired three weeks ago but apparently nobody wanted to tell him to just go home already.
- John Franco, the all-time Mets leader in appearances and saves, made what is almost certainly his final appearance as a Met and possibly the last of his career. Franco was very ineffective this season, and the team has reportedly offered him a job as a coach.
- Todd Zeile, journeyman extraordinaire (he played for 11 different teams in his 15-season career), had announced that he would be retiring following the game. He had gotten some exposure late in the year as Howe played the backup more than usual in a successful push to let Zeile get his 2000th hit.
But in the end it was definitely Todd Zeile's day. After being honored by the Mets with a pregame retirement ceremony (and let's be honest: Zeile was a decent hitter who played well for the Mets for their pennant-winning 2000 team, but he ain't exactly Tom Seaver), Zeile supplied a Ted Williams-like moment in the sixth, hitting a three-run homer in what would turn out to be his final at-bat (he came out to bat in the eighth, but was lifted for a pinch-hitter). The homer was Zeile's 253rd, and only Williams (521) and Albert Belle (381) ended their career with a higher-numbered home run. As you can imagine, the crowd went wild.
It was...nice. That's it. Just nice. A nice moment on a nice afternoon, standing and cheering for a decent player ending a decent career, cheering on two crappy teams ending a crappy season (and for one of them, ending a crappy history). We ate popcorn and nachos and ice cream and got our picture taken with Mr. Met and what the hell else do you want in this world?
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