NYC hot spot buzzes with WS in sight
'It's been pretty wild here,' says Playwright Irish Pub owner during Game 3 win
NEW YORK -- The cowbells started early Tuesday night at the Playwright Irish Pub, and more "Murphy!" chants followed.
The midtown Manhattan watering hole might as well be renamed Murphy's, as scores of Mets fans, mainly from the club's rabid "7 Line Army" superfan group, descended here to witness Daniel Murphy once again lead New York closer to its first World Series appearance since 2000 with a 5-2 win over Chicago and a 3-0 series lead.
"It's been pretty wild here," bar owner John Doherty said. "The playoffs bring out an extra intensity. These Mets fans are the best fans I've ever dealt with."
So many Mets fans are lifers, lifelong sufferers occasionally graced with exuberance. The crowd at Playwright portrayed that as they wore Keith Hernandez and Lenny Dykstra jerseys to cheer for Jacob deGrom, to chant "Mur-PHY", "Mur-PHY" when the second baseman homered in the fifth straight game, then hustled in to score a valuable insurance run in the seventh.
When Yoenis Cespedes scored the go-ahead run in the sixth, high-fives became the bar's new currency. When Wilmer Flores' hit to right was ruled a ground-rule double a batter later, the crowd erupted with as much fire as manager Terry Collins springing from the dugout. In unison, they chanted their displeasure, united by years of repressed pride.
For most of the Mets' tense, pivotal win in Chicago, the crowd back in New York fought the cautious optimism that comes with the realization of a dream. "This is surreal!" one fan shouted late in the game. Earlier, the cowbell rang whenever the Mets recorded a hit or struck a batter out. Fans threw their hands on their heads when Murphy homered in the second, many bewildered: "Again?!"
"There is something special about these Mets, the city is buzzing," said bartender Kiealy Hajnoczi, of Brooklyn. "I've seen more Mets caps here than ever, and most of them look like they've been pulled out of the closet after seven years."
Hajnoczi, 25, reached out to 7 Line Army founder Darren Meenan prior to the postseason to coordinate what's become the best blue-and-orange party this side of Citi Field. Those wearing "7 Line" shirts were greeted at Playwright with free beer beginning an hour before first pitch, and drink specials once the game starts.
Said Hajnoczi, who has worked at the bar for five years: "I've never heard this place so loud."
New York doesn't have a Wrigleyville, like Chicago, or a Ballpark Village, like St. Louis, where the city's baseball fans come to congregate and cheer. The sprawling nature of the metropolis won't allow it, its ethos doesn't accommodate for it. There is not enough space in New York, and nowhere are neighborhoods devoted to any single cause.
Still, those with similar interests can find each other. "It's like a community here," said Jaclyn Adler, of Queens. "Even if I don't know you, we're all Mets fans, so it's great."
Paul Mencos, of Jamaica, N.Y., Robert Lenahan, of Richmond Hill, and Rachel Barnett, of Rockville Center, have made the pilgrimage to Playwright for almost every playoff game. Barnett was at Shea Stadium when Adam Wainwright struck out Carlos Beltran in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS. She sat there stunned, and didn't leave the stadium for a half-hour.
"Since then, we haven't had much to cheer about except for Johan's [Santana] no-hitter," Lenahan said. "And now look, we're this close to the World Series."
"Knock on wood, dude," Mencos reminded him, tapping the nearest table. "Knock on wood."