Queens erupts with joy after Mets clinch
Dykstra among revelers at Citi Field watering hole
NEW YORK -- A palpable tension between nostalgia and catharsis permeated McFadden's Saloon in Queens on Wednesday night. The Citi Field watering hole, dedicated to celebrating the Mets, finally, for the first time since its opening, had something real to celebrate.
Playoff hero of the past Lenny Dykstra, starting center fielder of the 1986 World Series champions, held court in one corner, signing autographs and snapping photos with fans who remember, and still revel in, 1986. In the other corner, orange towels typically reserved for stadium seats waved as Lucas Duda homered.
A collective brow furrowed in between when Terry Collins removed Steven Matz in the fifth inning, evolving into a euphonious cheer when his replacement, Bartolo Colon, trotted out from the bullpen. By then, a delirious crowd of Mets fans demanded poetry. "Pour it on!" they chanted, as drinks flowed. Then Daniel Murphy ensured that he would never have to buy a drink here again, and New York did pour it on, running away to its first National League pennant since 2000 with a 8-3 win over Chicago in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series.
That sent this little sliver of Queens into a stupor.
"This is amazing," said Kevin Gaffney, a Queens resident. "I don't know how to play top dog. I'm so used to being the underdog."
Dykstra's appearance and the potential for an NL pennant brought McFadden's its most boisterous crowd of this postseason for an away game. The entry line trailed far up the block well into the early innings. Once inside, jerseys ranged from Keith Hernandez and Dykstra and Tom Seaver to Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey and David Wright, decades of fandom united under a single roof. One confident individual delighted patrons with a Mr. Met mask. By the middle innings, every picture snapped of him came with what became a ubiquitous sight: two thumbs up.
"It's unbelievable, that's the only word I can use," said Dykstra. "The enthusiasm you see in New York fans having a winner again, it's awesome. These are the best fans here."
"I've never seen such a cohesive team, where there is a calm and a momentum to everything they do," said Deborah Pritello, of New York. "It's inspiring. They have an incredible amount of energy. [My family] was at the game the other night, and even though it was freezing outside, it was a warm feeling to be around that. It was magic."
Magic, these fans believe, is Murphy, the second baseman who homered in his postseason-record sixth straight game Tuesday. "M-V-P" chants followed his homer in the eighth, a rally cry reserved around here for Yoenis Cespedes, as recently as two weeks ago.
Mets fans are a notoriously pessimistic bunch, weathered by years of longing and major moments of heartbreak. Many relented they would not be pleased until that final out was made, their long-coming victory technically assured. Once it was, McFadden's erupted as it hadn't since it debuted here on Opening Day 2010. The tension let loose, set free into champagne-soaked bedlam.
"It's amazing how these fans remember," said Dykstra. "The way they show love and compassion, it's powerful."
"This is so much better than 2006!" Gaffney said.
With Jeurys Familia on the mound in the ninth, the bar's DJ took the microphone to gauge the crowd and make sure they were ready to "turn this place upside down." Then Familia struck out Dexter Fowler, and they did.