It hasn't been easy being a Mets fan these last few years. Since moving into their new home (Citi Field) in 2009, they have yet to crack the 80-win barrier. Also, mired in the throes of a Ponzi scheme, their ownership group has become a punch line.
But things are looking up so far in 2012! In a season where the Vegas total for Mets wins was projected to be 73.5, the Mets are on pace for 90 wins. A big part of that success has been the return of ace lefty Johan Santana, who has a sparkling 2.38 ERA through 11 starts after missing the entire 2011 season recovering from shoulder surgery.
On top of that, Santana pitched the first no-hitter in the history of the franchise last Friday night in an 8-0 win over the Cardinals.
In short, there are a lot of reasons to celebrate lately if you're a Mets fan. All the Mets would ask is that their fans refrain from celebrating in the field of play.
Enter Mets fan Rafael Diaz.
On Friday night, upon the final out of Santana's no-no, the Mets' bench and bullpen predictably stormed the field to celebrate this momentous accomplishment, another magical 2012 moment for these Mets. A moment with historical ramifications, ramifications so historical that Diaz (a lifelong Mets fan) couldn't resist hopping the wall on the first base side and joining in the festivities.
Watch the video below and at about the 0:32 mark, look for Diaz running toward the mound from first base. He should be pretty easy to pick out -- he's the only person wearing a Mets jersey who is also rocking a pair of jorts:
As always, let's break this baby down Zapruder-style:
0:32 -- The celebration begins, and out runs Diaz! When asked why he ran out onto the field, Diaz gave this answer (which is much funnier if you read it in a New York accent): "I couldn't help myself," Diaz said. "I just wanted to be on the mound celebrating the no-hitter." (The untold story is that there was a second gatecrasher by the name of John Ries who never made it past first base security, and spent the night in jail with Diaz. I like to think that as Ries was getting captured/manhandled by security, he tearfully implored Diaz to trudge on without him and tell the world his story.)
0:35 -- Diaz runs headlong into the pile, leaving both feet. The only thing that could have made this better would have been him jumping into the pile and somehow injuring Santana.
0:38 -- Diaz is burrowing his way into the pile and we get our first look at the jersey he is sporting -- an old-school, pinstriped Gary Carter #8 jersey. So as if the jorts weren't bad enough, any chance of faking being a member of the team is now officially out the window, what with Carter having passed away and all.
0:48 -- At this point, Diaz probably has himself convinced he actually is a member of the Mets, so naturally he violently resists the arrest. (The Cincinnati Bengals immediately add Diaz to their big board for the 2013 NFL Draft.)
For the next 15 seconds or so, you can vaguely make out security and NYPD escorting Diaz off of the field and off to jail. According to the New York Post, Diaz and Ries were both released from jail about 38 hours later:
Diaz and Ries were both charged with misdemeanor trespassing and entering the field of a New York sports event, otherwise known as the "Calvin Klein Law" -- named after the designer's venture onto the Madison Square Garden court during a 2003 Knicks game. They both face up to a year in jail. But with previously clean records, they'll almost certainly get only probation.
Diaz and Ries spent 38 hours locked up. Diaz, a married father of two, is a pilot who works at Republic Airport in Farmingdale.
While the surreal moment garnered Diaz a chunk of his 15 minutes of viral fame thanks to YouTube, the incident cost him not only jail time, not only a lifetime ban from Citi Field, but also attendance at his son's first birthday party:
Diaz paid a stiff penalty, both at home and Citi Field.
He missed his 1-year-old son's birthday party Saturday, and the Mets have banned him for life from their home park.
"That's the bad part," Diaz said of missing his son's bash.
Balloons from the party were still all around his home yesterday.
Asked if his jaunt was worth missing Saturday's family celebration, wise-cracking Diaz said: "You'll have to ask my wife that."
I can only imagine what an overnight arrest at a baseball game along with a jail stay that keeps you away from your kid's first birthday party equates to in terms of honey-do's and nagging if you care to keep your marriage alive.
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Somehow, I get the sense that Rafael Diaz is finding out that answer this week. And for some reason, I'm guessing he probably doesn't care.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.