Good Sport: Mets fan as a costume

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by Anthony HarrisonAnthony Harrison

There isn’t a Mets bar in Greensboro. Or a Royals bar, for that matter.

There are a few Red Sox bars. Fat Dog’s is a Cubs bar. One of my late dad’s favorite haunts, Fisher’s Grille, loudly and proudly roots for the Detroit Tigers, of all teams.

But a lot of Triad bars don’t claim a house baseball team at all, and I wanted to find a Mets bar, just in case they could stun the country with a win on Halloween night.

Suds & Duds on Walker Avenue is unlike any other establishment I know of in the area, though. For one, the concept is novel around here: A laundromat where you can buy a beer while you wait isn’t typical outside of larger metropolitan areas. And secondly, I was told a lot of Mets fans showed up to watch the World Series.

It makes sense. There isn’t much baseball memorabilia anywhere — a sticker on a cooler recalled the failed campaign to bring MLB to the Triad — though gear for the New York Rangers hockey team is hung up on the wood paneling along the bar.

With no real Mets support in the area, New York fans must flock to any familiar-looking port.

Owner Eric Flick, a burly, bearded man in red-and-black flannel, originally hails from New York, too.

“We aren’t affiliated with any team, but we have all these Mets fans come in,” Flick said. “We just keep it going.”

After Flick ejected a drunken patron, the bar was practically empty. He settled into preliminary duties before sitting with a water to watch the trio of TVs broadcasting highlights, football and eventually Game 4 of the series, Royals at Mets.

A regular walked to one of the side bar spaces.

“You got anything going on tonight?” he asked Flick.

“Nope, just gonna hang around here, watch the game,” Flick said.

“If you dressed up as Paul Bunyan, you pulled it off,” the customer said. “Where’s Babe?”

Owner and customer shared a laugh.

The crowd was light, and the game began slowly.

Steven Matz started on the mound for the Mets. He had previously only started six games, making him the pitcher with the fewest starts to kick off a World Series game. He was also the first New York-born pitcher to start a postseason game for the Mets, which struck me passing strange.

He looked strong, too, throwing intimidating inside curves and striking out Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer.

Then, 36-year-old Royals veteran pitcher Chris Young took the mound.

A cowboy named Jake sitting at the bar scoffed.

“I can’t believe they’re starting him,” he said.

“Well, Game 1 was a 14-inning opera,” I said. “The Mets even had Bartolo Colón come out to finish. Made him the oldest pitcher to ever lose a World Series game. Then Johnny Cueto pitched for the Royals and completed Game 2, while [Mets pitcher Jacob] deGrom got assaulted by the Royals batters.”

“What about Game 3?” he asked.

“Didn’t see it.”

Young pitched very well, aided by an impossible catch by outfielder Alex Ríos to end the first inning without a hit, and then the second.

But he soon fell apart.

Mets left fielder Michael Conforto slammed a solo home run past the back wall of Citi Field on the opening pitch of the third inning, and it destroyed Young’s confidence. A contested RBI put the Mets on the board with two runs.

At the same time, the bar began slowly blowing up. And some Mets fans finally showed.

An apparent New Yorker named Tim, decked out in a solid orange shirt, approached me at the bar in the bottom of the fourth.

“You writing on the game?” he fired out. “What are you thinking? Right now. How many games?”

“Well, way it is, both bullpens seem pretty exhausted,” I stammered. “And it’s been really evenly matched.” I shrugged. “I don’t see why it can’t go to seven.”

Tim shook his head solemnly.

“Royals got this,” he said. “In five.”

Sports fans love two things: self-deprecation and predicting the future.

Tim wound up being right.

On Sunday, I watched from home as the Mets poised to force Game 6, with a shutout performance by right-handed pitcher and Chapel Hill alum Matt Harvey. But closer Jeurys Familia, who’d shone so brightly during the regular season, replaced him midway through the ninth, subsequently allowing two Royals to send the game into extra innings.

All Harvey could do was watch despondent from the dugout as the new reigning champs of baseball scored five runs in the top of the 12th.

But that came later.

Despite the rising Mets tide in Game 4, including another Conforto homer, Kansas City took the reins in the final third of the game.

The eighth inning was a wash. Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy committed a fatal error, then just missed a bouncing grounder. The Royals ended up 5-3, eventually the final score.

The crowd followed the game. Suds & Duds began emptying out, as if the bar was the Citi Field stands.

Flick didn’t seem too upset about it. He’s a Yankees fan, anyway.