When I left you last time , faithful reader, I had just sworn off buying Met tickets. You may recall, I was in high dudgeon, brimming with moral outrage and righteous wrath. I vowed that my own personal boycott would force the House of Wilpon to revamp the front office, which would turn out a better on-field product, which would make a ticket purchase sensible again – i.e.: get me a shot at the post-season again someday.
Last year, it worked for my spirit as well as my pocketbook. 2010 was a cruel season, highlighted by sporadic contention in the first half and utter dismay after the All-Star break. The Mets took off from the time away in full nose-dive. I was looking like a genius. Oh, I still watched most games on SNY or followed along on my Blackberry. Hell, I even devoted a few pixels and keystrokes to this most unworthy cause. But overall, I rather enjoyed not hauling my sorry butt onto three trains or over two-and-a-half bridges and down a couple of pot-holed highways to sit in the heat in a ballpark bereft of Mets’ signature, complete views or any sort of fun. My cable money and my natural angst; that was all they’d get.
As this 2011 season dawned, things seemed to shift – karmically, at least – as we’ve seen. The management team was revamped, and the early season did show us a somewhat better on-field product. Being a Met fan, of course I viewed the 2011 season with a mix of apprehension and excitement, delight and dread. Sarah had talked about going to a game this year – she had come to one game at Shea with me and had never been to Citi Field – and I was actually warming to the idea as I saw some good and some bad. Summer is moving along now and we found ourselves at a block party in Long Beach with some family, the last weekend before the All-Star break. My cousin – Jim’s father – turns to me out of the blue and says, “Wanna go to the Met game on Friday?” (7/15)
I thought for a minute – briefly considering turning him down outright, for all the reasons I’ve mentioned. I looked over at Sarah and asked her the same question. “Who are they playing?” she asked. “Philly,” says I. “Oh, GOD,” was her reaction. She doesn’t like me when I watch a Mets/Phillies game. I become a little…”intense” would be the polite way to put it. “Obnoxious” would be the real way to put it. Screaming at the TV, making up nasty nicknames for Shane Victorino, laughing maniacally whenever Ryan Howard strikes out: I am most unattractive. She’s afraid for me in mixed company. “It’s Fireworks Night,” I said as an inducement. She thought for a minute and said, “OK! It’ll be fun, I think,” giving me a sidelong look that implied “…if you behave like a human being.”
So we got it all set up. Jim, Sr. bought the tickets. We had originally talked about the Pepsi Porch, but that was cost prohibitive for Pyrotechnics Night – the official “Avenue Of The Americas” moniker – for nine (!!!) people (his wife, all four of his kids, a friend for one of them, Sarah & me). Instead, he found some really great seats one deck below. Section 103, 7th row, smack dab between the right field foul pole and the Mo Zone. We’d be able to see everybody!
To get this thing to work, though, required somewhat of a General Patton operation. I work in an office forty miles from my home – in the shadow of the George Washington Bridge. I work until 4:00. With a 7:05 game time, it would not work for me to buck rush hour traffic back to Basking Ridge, then turn around and head back to the GWB to get to NYC. Not even thinking about the fact that Paul McCartney was playing at Yankee Stadium that night, which would only snarl things up even further. We also had a plan for the three older kids, plus the friend, to come back to our house after the game, hang out on Saturday, and then we’d drive everybody home and hit the Beach on Sunday. So Sarah drove me in, dropped me off with my play-clothes and would pick me up and we’d be on our merry way.
We’d be meeting Jim, Jr. & my Goddaughter, Beth, at McFadden’s at Citi at about 5:30 for some pre-game libations – and possibly dinner – but definitely the “libations” part. I got off the Grand Central Parkway, made my way past the famed Iron Triangle of…umm…“auto repair facilities” (aka illegal chop shops), dropped Sarah off McFadden’s front door and went to find convenient parking.
I drove all around the perimeter of Citi Field trying to find an entrance to a lot that would leave me close to the center field/bullpen entrance. No luck. I kept going and found myself deep in the heart of Corona. I saw waaaaay too many red-shirted Pennsylvaniacs walking down Roosevelt Avenue toward the Citi, and then finally figured out that I’d better turn around. I navigated the grid of one-way streets to get back to the ballpark, only to get stuck behind a wrecker hooking up to a parked car. Backing through a luckily non-busy intersection, I finally got back on Roosevelt going toward the ballpark. I still couldn’t find a friendly entrance. I drove past McFadden’s and saw Sarah, Jim & Beth waiting outside. I gave them a friendly wave and a yell as I sped on past. I ended up getting back onto the Grand Central, going through LaGuardia Airport to get turned around, and making another pass at it.
Finally, I got into the parking lot, paid $19 – a crime! – and found a spot near the fence, so I’d remember where the damn car was. The downside was that McFadden’s is in center field and I was parked behind the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. That made for a pretty long walk to get some cold alcohol. And it made me apprehensive about the end of the night – Sarah had double knee replacement back in March. I walked the whole way wishing I could’ve gotten closer in.
After some strange drinks – the kids are 26 and 25 – and tasty nachos, we headed upstairs, where we met the rest of the gang. The game itself was basically a drag, but the experience was pretty awesome. First of all, it was good to have Sarah get her first taste of Citi. I was able to point out where the new Home Run Apple was in relation to our seats, show her where the Shea Bridge was and my little game rituals. She had a lot of fun, anyway. Secondly, it was great to be taking in the game with that much family around. There was a lot of elbowing, guffawing and pointing. And my niece was nice enough to video me on her phone, doing a seventh-inning “Lazy Mary” crazy dance. Mercifully, she hasn’t put it on YouTube or Facebook yet: of all the things that would make my face viral, I pray that isn’t it.
Another great thing was, being that close to the field, we could make ourselves heard by the players. As the Mets’ right fielder was shagging fly balls before the first pitch, I stood up in my Darryl Strawberry BP jersey and shouted “Carlos BelTRAN!” and pointed at him. He looked up at me and gave me a point right back from hip-level. Very cool…
The capper was Sarah & me making our way up to the Shea Bridge in the bottom of the fifth and meeting my friend Jason Fry – co-chieftain with my other friend Greg Prince of the excellent Faith And Fear In Flushing, my second-favorite blog – and his wife Emily for a quick chat. Standing there, we missed Raul Ibanez’s laser shot of a homer that landed about seven seats next to our group…and the stand-up guy who threw it in disgust back onto the field. We had a great chat about the sad state of things Met-wise, Sarah’s new knees, the weird-o Philly fans surrounding us, the hope for better times ahead and we made plans for our annual rendezvous at the Jersey Shore on Labor Day weekend.
And of course, fireworks! They were spectacular and a fitting reminiscence of 1986, when the fireworks were actually on the field, instead of mere promotion.
So the night was great. The game sucked. It happens.
The bottom line, though, is that it will not be another two years before we go back.
4 comments on “Citi Night: A Met Game Odyssey – Part The Second”
It was a pleasnt night for me too!! Never fear. We live long enough to see fortunes change.
“and the stand-up guy who threw it in disgust back onto the field.”
This is the dumbest ballpark tradition. I don’t give a damn who hits the HR, if I catch it, I’m keeping it. What’s the point of throwing it back? It just gets tossed to someone else who then gets to keep the ball.
I made a loud announcement before the game, “If Howard or Utley hits one out here, I’m tossing it back!”
I have absolutely no flippin’ idea about what I would have ACTUALLY done if that had happened…
I wear a Men’s XL Tall dudgeon myself…
I have given up on subsidizing stupid management decisions by putting myself and a loved one or two in an actual seat at the ballpark. Good game or not, I walk away feeling like I’ve been shaken, taken and had my pockets vacuumed out. For whatever reason, I feel this much more at a Mets game than at a Y***ees game – possibly because the latter are putting a better product on the field.
You can have 90% of the fun and 5% of the hassle at a game in Somerset and still come home with money in your wallet. (Of course, I’m the type who will pull over to watch a Little League game.)