Wednesday, August 05, 2009

A Tale of Three Citis

Shea was a hole but it was our hole, perfect for any Mets fan's inferiority complex where the g-d Yankees get to be "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia" and Mets fans get to be Jan, a middle child sort of thing, not so unfortunate as the Cubs, say, or post-Bonds vintage Pirates, just painfully bad enough generally at the most painful moments (see season's end 2007, 2008).

Of course, that doesn't mean I didn't get excited about going to see the Mets in Citi Field--after all, I made sure it was something happening in a mere week-long trip to see my family. So after trying to decipher the 40 jillion or so ticket options--whatever happened to the ease of field, loge, mezzanine, and upper deck? is simplicity in seating too 20th century?--and forking out $75 a ticket, and getting to NJ, and then getting to Queens, we got to see this through all the parking for people who paid more than the $18 we did:

It is sort of thrilling in its bricky massiveness. It's supposed to mimic Ebbets Field, so being connected to old NY is cool enough, and then there's the Jackie Robinson Rotunda to enter through. Why not? After all, the man did usher in real baseball, that is, a game where anyone can play (even in Boston, eventually). Sure, he wasn't a Met, but we're all Jackie Robinson. I still think there should be a statue and not just videos and the big blue 42, since baseball is a statue kind of sport, and not just because of the speed of play. It's about classicism, after all.

There's a huge shop off the rotunda that my niece appreciated. Glad to see you can stil get Gooden and Strawberry shirts, too, proving the only real baseball sin is steroids.

As frequent readers know, my prefered sin is food, so we headed to the Taste of the City area behind CF (well, after watching a bit of BP and realizing that even using my 10-year-old niece as bait, I wasn't going to get a ball, no matter how much we flattered Brian Stokes). I'd done my reading up--what's the internets for?--so we hit the Shake Shack just before it got shaking. Darn good burger that looks like one from fast food but actually has flavor. There's real beef in there, and it doesn't taste boiled. The accouterments are all fresh, too. Quite nice. Also got some fries from Box Frites, and they stayed tasty and toasty to the bottom of the large serving (which it better be for $6.50--it cost the same as the burger, which means potatoes are getting over their inferiority complex). The smoked bacon dipping sauce lived up to its name, if I typed its name SMOKED BACON. The Brooklyn Brewery beer from Shake Shack was pleasantly ale-y. Plus, the old NYC skyline that used to be at Shea crowns the area. I was pre-game pleased.

So we go to our seats. Exclesior section, down the third base line. You lose a bit of the leftfield corner, but that just means at times it's hard to see Mets starting leftfielder Cory Sullivan. And why, yes, I did know who he was--I play fantasy, remember? There are lots of TV screens to watch, too, though, and I'm still not sure about that. Too easy to be distracted by pixels and ignore people. My god, we've been trained.

This is where the pictures run out and an old friend shows up, John from State College days, who I hadn't seen in at least 4 years. We did a big baseball trip years ago, cut our fantasy baseball teeth in the same league, and have the habit of drinking together as if we hoped the young Tom Waits would write a song about us. He gets to the park from work about a half hour before game time so we go to find a drink, and there's beer, but then there's a bar! Right there in the concourse, field one direction, windows with the Manhattan skyline the other. Clearly it was meant to be. Always good to see, and drink with, an old friend.

As for the game, something was wrong that night in Queens--the Mets won! It was the fourth in a row at the time, against a team relatively hot coming in, the Rockies. Lots of good D helped--seemed like there was a double play any time Pelfrey needed one. We also got to see the Citi Field dilemma, AKA home is where the home runs aren't. At one point David Wright totally smoked one to center, a good 408 feet away. However, in the centerest of center Citi Field's wall gets taller, as it hides where the Big Apple rises out of the top hat to celebrate a four-bagger. Which means, yes, the only thing that stopped Wright from hitting a homer was the thing that would celebrate his hitting a homer.

Final score, 4-0.

But better than that--new park, old friend, family at peace. Even my niece, at her first baseball game, didn't get the fifth-inning-antsies I was sure would happen. I guess it hit her the game was a place she could shout as loud as possible and actually be socially accepted (I hope my sister doesn't rent her out to Republicans to bust health care townhalls). The next day she said she wanted to have her birthday in September at Citi Field. And she wanted a David Wright shirt--he gets all the young ladies, doesn't he.

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Blogger Smitty said...

My wife has had a lifetime goal of visiting all of the MLB stadiums. She's about half-way there. Loved the post and the pix (as always...I am in danger of being psychophantic towards your writing).

Speaking of posts, yours truly was highlighted in the lead article of a Lansing, MI political/social rag called Lansing Capital Gains. Guess what I was discussing...

6:14 AM  
Blogger Mike said...


And believe it or not, George, if I wasn't in LA for work I was set to go to that game.

You and I came closer to meeting up than we realized.

7:13 AM  
Blogger George said...

Mike, it's kind of funny I was on your coast and you were on mine. Remember, if you have other LA trips, it's a mere hour and a half drive from SB and we do it all the time.

10:59 AM  

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