October 04, 2004

At the End, There Was Endy. Pinch-hitter Endy Chavez, that is, who grounded out to second base at Shea Stadium yesterday at 4:15 p.m., cementing the Expos' 2943rd and final loss, instantly turning thousands of jersey and hats (most of which seemed to be worn in Shea yesterday) into hot retro items. The team of Dawson, Carter, Raines, Staub, and what seems like the first three seasons of most of the stars in baseball these days was no more.

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:In the end, it turned out to be a good day for everybody but the Expos. Art Howe's Mets won the game 8-1. John Franco came on in to get the final out in the eighth, inducing a foul pop to Todd Zeile, who was making his first start at catcher in 14 years.

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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