The Mets and Dodgers played one of the best games of the season on Friday night, an exciting, back-and-forth tussle in front of the largest crowd at Citi Field since before the pandemic.
There were 38,395 fans in the building. No, wait. Make that 38,394 fans and one knucklehead.
Yes, we’re talking about the person who shined a green light in the eyes of Max Muncy of the Dodgers during a crucial at-bat in the ninth inning.
Pictures taken off TV and put on social media showed Muncy with a green light covering both of his eyes and his nose, too. Some people made fun of it, which people tend to do on social media.
But there was nothing funny about it. There was something dangerous about it.
Muncy was facing Mets closer Edwin Diaz. When he gets it going, Diaz’s fastball can reach 100 miles per hour. He is not known to have pinpoint control. It’s hard enough to see and react to a 100-mile per hour fastball potentially at your head when you don’t have a light shining in your eyes.
Fortunately, Diaz’s first two pitches to Muncy were sliders, at 89 and 91 miles per hour. Muncy took the first one for a strike and fouled off the second. He was in an 0-and-2 hole with the potential go-ahead run at second base in a 4-4 game.
Muncycalled for time, told the plate umpire about the light shining in his face and play was halted while umpires and Mets security tried to deal with the issue.
"Come on, jeez," Ron Darling said on the PIX11 broadcast. "That’s just awful."
"Can’t happen," Gary Cohen said.
After a lengthy delay, Muncy struck out on the next pitch. The Dodgers went on to beat the Mets, 6-5.
Will Smith’s 10th-inning leadoff, two-run home run (thank you, ghost runner, for once again allowing me to use that incongruous phrase) was the difference.
After the game, the Dodgers’ Twitter feed posted a video of Smith’s home run with the headline: "Shining in New York Citi."
Not the cleverest headline ever, but a good reminder that the incident in the ninth should not be forgotten or forgiven.
"We don't want that happening in a baseball game," Mets manager Luis Rojas said. "Players' safety, everyone's safety, is always a priority. The players are here, they're performing, they're putting on a show for the fans. That might have been the best crowd of the season, so for that to happen is something that you don't want to see."
I asked the Mets on Saturday morning if the fan had been ejected. "Due to confidential nature of our security measures and policies, we don’t have any further reaction than what Luis provided last night," was the reply from a team spokesman.
Here’s hoping the fan was at least ejected. Was later given a talking-to by someone he or she respects. Was told why that was stupid and dangerous. And got the message.
"Fans coming here, they think they’re helping the home team," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "But it's just bad, dirty pool."
The Mets, after trailing for the whole game, staged a four-run rally in the seventh to tie it against one of the best teams in baseball. Every inning after that featured a chance for the teams to capture an inspiring win or suffer a disheartening defeat.
"I thought the guys were energized by the momentum we had in that four-run inning, with the fans getting involved in the inning," Rojas said.
Involved with their lungs, Rojas meant. Not with their laser pointing devices. Keep those at home and let the cat chase the light across the room.
The crowd was on its game all night long. There were a significant number of Dodgers fans, so the back-and-forth cheering and booing was just a step below what happens in a Mets-Yankees game.
It was fun, and it was all in good fun. That’s how it’s supposed to be.
What happened to Muncy — and what could have potentially happened if a fastball had gotten away from Diaz and Muncy couldn’t see it because of some knucklehead’s warped sense of a good time — was not fun, was not in good fun, and should never be allowed to happen again.