The Right Place At The Right Time

The Right Place At The Right Time

For the better part of eight innings yesterday I sat in section 504, high above the grass at Citi Field. Shortly after Matt Stairs scored in the top of the eighth, however, I thought it'd be a good idea to walk around the ball park, check out different sight lines, and maybe grab a burger from Shake Shack.

As much as I dislike the Mets, I don't really have anything overtly negative to say about their park. There's plenty of space to move around the building, concessions never seem too far away, the beer man (and more specifically the lemonade man) was fun, friendly, and entertaining in his work; there were places to stand behind most sections, and there were Phillies fans everywhere. I kind of liked it. But it wasn't perfect. The view outside the park was not of a beautiful bay as in San Francisco, or an amazing bridge as in Pittsburgh, or even a wonderfully ugly sign as in Philadelphia, but rather a dump of sorts for automobile parts. I also felt like the upper level, section 504 specifically, felt really high above the playing field making it hard to gauge the trajectory and power differences between a legit home run and a routine long fly out. Whether it is in fact higher than other parks, I have no idea. It just seemed that way to me.

Anyway, back to the black-and-white milkshake part. After stopping at different spots around the park and watching the bottom of the eighth and parts of the top of the ninth, we stumbled upon a Shake Shack in the lower center field area with almost no line. A burger and shake seemed in order.

We got our single shack with a shake and perched up at one of the tables in the concourse with no view of the field but there is a very nice screen, surrounded in advertising for people to keep abreast of the action while they wait in lines and/or take a break from their seats to chow down. There was also a similar screen on the upper level behind home plate. It's a nice touch.

So I was enjoying a burger and watching the bottom of the ninth on this big screen, praying that Brad Lidge wouldn't give me worse heart burn than my meal.

So Pagan gets on while we're still in line, then Castillo got on, scoring Pagan while we stood at the tables. At that point, it seemed as if Lidge had allowed things to get serious enough to warrant my total attention. I literally told my special lady friend that "I have to go watch this for real" and walked the 20 feet over to stand behind the center field bleachers. Not two minutes later, with Murphy getting on, did Jeff Francoeur line one directly up the middle and Eric Bruntlett found himself in the exact right place at the exact right time. The rest is history.

Don't fool yourselves. Eric Bruntlett is still Eric Bruntlett. But now he'll be remembered for that amazingly quirky play he made that happens once a century or so -- a game ending unassisted triple play.

And boy, I would have felt like a total punk of a fan if I had missed that one. Ended up at the perfect vantage point in center to watch it happen. Nice little Sunday.

The trip was capped off with the guilty pleasure of tuning in to WFAN on the drive back down the Jersey Turnpike listening to what sounded like Omar Minaya's eulogy. One grieving fan, after noting the hardship upon hardship that his Mets have gone through this season, said that Bruntlett's triple play was the icing on the cake.

The Shake Shack milkshake was pretty sweet too.

Eagles' rookies get their first taste of what Dallas week entails

Eagles' rookies get their first taste of what Dallas week entails

At the conclusion of his weekly Wednesday radio show on 94WIP, Eagles defensive tackle Bennie Logan was asked about the Dallas Cowboys and the rivalry game on tap this weekend.

First, he said he and his teammates don’t need any extra motivation for this one. But before he got off his mic — in a few seconds that didn’t make it on the air — Logan eloquently dropped a “F--- Dallas.”

Logan gets it.

No, maybe the Eagles-Cowboys rivalry isn’t what it once was. Maybe the days of Seth Joyner refusing to think about signing with the Cowboys because he just couldn’t wear a star on the side of his helmet have passed. But there’s still some bad blood. It’s still a rivalry. And fans in the Delaware Valley still care about two things: winning football games and beating Dallas.

Logan has been with the Eagles since 2013, so he understands. For Carson Wentz and his fellow rookies, this will be their first crack at it.

“I know how much this means to the city, how much it means to these fans,” Wentz said. “There’s a lot of excitement going on just with Eagles football, but definitely this week. I recognize that.

“But at the same time, I don’t let that bother me or let it distract me from the main goal and that’s just preparing every day. Because I know if I get sidetracked by any of those things, it’s going to mess up the preparation and it’ll affect the game on Sunday.”

Head coach Doug Pederson emphasized the importance of “business as usual,” but admitted this rivalry isn’t just usual. He’s been a part of it as a player in 1999 and as a coach under Andy Reid.

He took the correct coach approach on Wednesday, saying the Cowboys game is important because it’s a division game. And it’s even more important because the Eagles lost their first division game a couple weeks ago in Washington.

“It is a little bit different, but our guys have just got to come ready to play, and it's a road game,” Pederson said.

While this is Jalen Mills’ first time being a part of the rivalry as a player, he was raised near Dallas in DeSoto, Texas, and grew up with it as a part of his life. The most important games of the year, he remembered, were Cowboys-Eagles and Washington on Thanksgiving.

Mills said the rivalry was a “pretty big deal” in his house as a youngster. Now, he finds it pretty cool that he gets to be a part of it.

“Oh man, no doubt,” Mills said. “It’s an experience that I can’t wait to experience, but it’s going to be exciting.”

The defensive back said, without hesitation, the biggest rivalry he’s ever been a part of before was LSU-Alabama. The most important thing he learned from those games is that execution is key. It’s OK to buy into the hype during the week, but he realized it was counterproductive to change anything about preparation.

“You can’t get caught up in it,” Mills said. “Of course you’re going to hear about it, like right now before the game. But once that clock starts, it’s all about just playing sound football.”

Like Mills, Halapoulivaati Vaitai grew up in the Dallas area (Haltom City) and has been around the rivalry his whole life. In fact, both rookies have previously played games at AT&T Stadium. Sunday will be the first time Vaitai’s parents get a chance to see an NFL game. Eagles-Cowboys is a pretty good start.

And it’s not just Eagles rookies who are getting ready to experience the rivalry for the first time. Cowboys rookie quarterback Dak Prescott will live it for the first time on Sunday too.

How much does he know about the rivalry?

“A little bit, man,” he said on a conference call with Philly reporters this week. “I grew up a Cowboys fan. I can’t tell you certain games or things like that from the past. But I’ve always known it to be a good game anytime they meet up and a good rivalry in the division.”

Nah, not exactly Logan-like responses from these guys. But give them time. They’re rookies.

Gunn's Bullet Points: Flags could fly in secondary for Eagles-Cowboys

Gunn's Bullet Points: Flags could fly in secondary for Eagles-Cowboys

Some notes and keys ahead of Sunday night's Eagles-Cowboys game:

• Since throwing for 301 yards against Pittsburgh in Week 3, Carson Wentz's aerial numbers have declined — 238 yards in Detroit, 179 in Washington and 138 vs. Minnesota.

• Even though he missed two games with an injury, I still can't understand how Zach Ertz has been targeted only 16 times in four games this season.

• Dallas WR Cole Beasley is arguably the best slot receiver in the game right now. Last November against the Eagles, he had nine receptions for 112 yards and two touchdowns. With the Eagles' best slot cornerback, Ron Brooks, out for the year with a ruptured quad tendon, Malcolm Jenkins will have his hands full trying to keep up with Beasley in the slot.

• Eagles and Cowboys defensive backs beware: Jerome Boger's crew is officiating this game. This season, Boger's crew has called 36 penalties for defensive pass interference, illegal contact or defensive holding.

• The Eagles' 20 sacks ties them for third-most in the league. Dallas has allowed just nine, second-fewest in the NFL.

• Does Doug Pederson still have faith in RB Ryan Mathews late in games? Mathews has fumbled with less than five minutes left in two of the last three games. The head coach says he has not lost faith in Mathews, and Mathews says he'll stop fighting for more yards late in games. Time will tell.