Flores' memorable HR caps whirlwind 3 days
NEW YORK -- In the few private moments provided during Wilmer Flores' very public week, the infielder and trending topic tried to disappear. Tough to do with your face -- swelled with tears, pinched in pain and now already memed to death -- penciled into every sports show A block from Corona, N.Y., to California, just for falling beneath the weight of the world. But Flores did his best Wednesday night, the only way he knew how. After contacting his parents, to tell them no, he hadn't been traded, a click of the right finger shut off his phone.
"It was blowing up," he said later.
A glass of white wine calmed his racing heart, and Flores fell to sleep in silence tuned to one thought: "Tomorrow."
Little did he know, the day after that would go down as the best of his life.
"I can't think of one that was much better," Flores said Saturday, in morning-after awe of his stage-stealing walk-off homer to cap Friday's 2-1 Mets win over the Nationals in 12 innings. "It all happened so fast. I'm just glad we have videos."
He'll be watching them for the rest of his life, and they'll help him remember storybook details, the ones Mets manager Terry Collins told the New York media were too perfect to think up. Flores will see himself unsure he got enough of Felipe Rivero's 95-mph fastball, then pumping his fist as the ball cleared the wall. He'll see Daniel Murphy manically leaping out of the dugout to lead the mob waiting for Flores at the plate, and somewhere behind the lens, Juan Lagares fueling the mad rush from within like a charging linebacker.
"I was pushing everybody," said Lagares, Flores' closest friend on the team. "I was so happy for him.
"We are a family."
Lagares and Flores became friends in 2009 when both played at Class A Savannah. Wednesday was the saddest Lagares can remember seeing Flores, and Friday the happiest. Drama seems to follow Flores, but typically doesn't overwhelm him in the way this week's wire-to-wire whirlwind did.
"Wednesday after the game, he was sad," Lagares said. "Now it's like nothing happened."
Flores didn't need to shut his phone off Friday night, though it was still blowing up. He fell asleep not only safely still a Met, but now surely at least a footnote in Mets history. He wondered what tomorrow would bring with another glass of white wine.
"Maybe two," he winked.