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POINT BREEZE. [7-1-07] | metsgrrl.com

POINT BREEZE. [7-1-07]

We bought our tickets to these games back when they went on sale. Rightly we assumed that the games would sell out, and we didn’t want to deal with the open market for a frickin road game. So it struck me as odd in the extreme that for the game that sold out first, we were on the field level. But for the game that didn’t sell out for a while (especially when it was slated to be the ESPN Sunday night game) we had this view:

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We went to breakfast at the infamous Oregon Diner in South Philly. Mindful of the fact that this was 1) South Philly and 2) the Oregon Diner, we were not wearing Mets anything (except my sneakers, and I was even nervous about that), except that TBF forgot to leave his hat in the car. He stuffed it into his hand after I protested repeatedly. After all of this stealth, we get in line to pay for breakfast only to see a table of about 12 Mets fans in full colors walking up to the cash register. I still believe that my caution was prudent, even if TBF was rolling his eyes at me.

Since our plans to get to the park with an hour to spare the day before were scuttled, we decided to arrive at CBP around noon so we could explore the ballpark and watch BP. There was no BP to speak of, just the bullpen loitering in the outfield. There was, however, an ENORMOUS frenzied crowd behind the Mets dugout. We assumed, based on the level of hysteria, that it was someone like D.Wright, or maybe Jose Reyes, or – as two blondes with Lo Duca jerseys kept getting told by security to stop standing on their chairs – at least Paul Lo Duca. As we rounded home plate towards right field, we looked in the dugout, and the subject of everyone’s affections? Bullpen coach Tom Nieto. We were also reasonably certain that 80% of the frenzied crowd didn’t know who he was and that he wasn’t in the starting lineup.

I briefly considered adding a stuffed Phantic to my mascot collection. But I have such a love-hate relationship with this mascot that I finally decided to give it a pass (only to wish at the end of the day I’d gotten something). I learn today, from our perusal of the Walk of Fame, that the Phanatic is “a creature from the Galapagos Islands”. I point out to TBF that he should be glad there is not a Build-a-Mr. Met or Build-A-Mets-Bear workshop at Shea, because I would likely have an entire starting lineup of Mets bears at this point, as they would be easy items of offering for him to acquire. The thing that makes Build-A-Whatever such a damned racket is not just building the the actual creature, it’s the ACCESSORIES. I mean, they even have a stuffed ATV to accompany the stuffed Phanatic.

I’ll stop now.

The Philadelphia Zoo was there on Sunday to raise awareness of their new gorillas who were coming in two weeks. They had assorted creatures with them, such as a large cockroach-looking bug. Perhaps in Philly people like looking at large cockroaches, but that wouldn’t fly at Shea. There was one handler holding a bunny rabbit who didn’t look like he was a big baseball fan, but she assured us he was enjoying himself.

This is about the time we went up to the 300 level and our seats:

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We sat up there, contemplating how much our seats sucked, and then decided to go back down for cheesesteaks before the line got too long. Unfortunately, we had already waited too long, and the line for Tony Luke’s was practically out to the parking lot. I got in line at Planet Hoagie, and TBF made the crab fry run.

When he returned, accompanied by our sherpas (what? there were no sherpas? well, there should’ve been), he pointed out that he’d finally found the flaw in Citizens Bank Park: the specialty food stands are only located in ONE location. And I observed that it wasn’t just that they were only in one location, it was that that location was the area of the ballpark designated for walking around and milling about. The lines at the food stands block Ashburn Alley, which is also where a large portion of standing room is, most notably the standing room above the bullpens, and is where the walk of fame is. So you have a ton of people standing in line, blocked by people who are standing around (in the area they’re supposed to stand around in), blocking the people trying to get to their seats or from left field to right field without having to walk all the way around home plate. (We found out today, from a co-worker of TBF’s who is a Philly native, that the specialty food stands are out there as part of the CBP agreement with Aramark for the rest of the stadium. It’s insane that they get that kind of hold on the place.)

Final food verdict: The crab fries were excellent but the hoagies were sub-par. Water ices were passable (I prefer Rita’s). We should have had the barbeque.

While we are eating, we are treated to the sight of the Philly Phanatic joining the Mets in their pre-game workout:

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A few minutes later, we observe everyone’s favorite rookie, Joe Smith, getting stuck with cooler schlepping duty. TBF notes he’s not using his good arm:

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I observed the presence of ball *girls* at the game yesterday, and then again today, and was all ready to work up a spirited defense to TBF about how the Mets need to get with the times – other teams use women – until I saw a short promo piece before the game and notice that every single girl chosen was model-quality in looks. I don’t know how the ball boys are chosen, but I believe they are not selected based on their measurements or their head shots.

Just before the Phillies take the field, small children in Phillies gear run out and take their positions, where they are then joined by the Phillies themselves. I have seen this before at other parks, and never think much of it, except that I notice that the players are each taking time to shake hands and sign autographs. The kids get to stand next to the players during the national anthem, and I have to tell you, I have seen few things this completely adorable in baseball. It’s even more precious when I find out from TBF (how he knows this, I have no idea) that the kids are chosen randomly, as long as they are wearing Phillies gear.

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So this is the game where we can’t get a damn hit. We slaughter Cole Hamels, but the rookie guy we can’t hit to save our lives. We knew it was going to be a struggle for Pelfrey, and sure enough, it was. He seemed to have trouble with his composure before he’d step on the rubber and even once he was there. All sorts of people are writing, “I don’t want to be cranky about not getting the sweep” but I’m going to be cranky about not getting the sweep. I’m going to be especially cranky about Aaron Heilman, and even more cranky about Julio Franco. Seeing Franco at bat, to me, means that Willie doesn’t care about winning the game or not, and that pisses me off, especially when most, if not all, of the rest of the Mets have decided that they want to be winning games again.

:: off soapbox ::

I know the Phanatic’s shtick is old, but this one wasn’t. The Philadelphia Zoo people come on field to dance with the Phanatic. They open a box of stuffed snakes. They dance. Then, they open a cooler, and remove this fella:

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In-game announcer: “The Phanatic has a present for the Mets dugout.”

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Okay, I thought it was funny. Admittedly, not as funny as Ramon Castro and Ruben Gotay being put on camera for the Kiss Cam (and Ramon giving Ruben a peck on the head) – but still amusing.

Not amusing: getting that late inning hit, and then Julio coming in and not hustling on the run down to first base. If you’re going to set an example, then set a fucking example. I am tired of being cranky about this but I am going to keep being cranky about this, for all the good it will do.

Late game heckle:
“THE METS BEAT THEIR WIVES!”
TBF: “No, actually, that’s the Phillies.”
Mr. Heckler shrugged, and conceded.

The most annoying part about the end of the game (besides realizing we weren’t going to sweep) was having to stand up to see what was going on, and we had these frickin morons behind us yelling ‘GO BACK TO JERSEY…’ every time one of the Mets came up to bat. As though there were no Phillies fans from South Jersey, and any baseball fan should know that Jerseyans are mostly YANKEES fans, because, according to Mr. B. Springsteen, it was “easier to get there” than Shea. (I’m not kidding).

While walking around CBP this weekend, I kept overhearing Mets fans talking about “this makes me really look forward to CitiField” or some variation thereof. And then I read this fine essay by one of my esteemed colleagues earlier today, which made me realize my chief concern: all the great sightlines and comfortable seats and food choices and clean bathrooms in the world won’t make one iota of difference at CitiField if the people who work there are still intent on continuing mediocrity and taking out their frustrations on their customers. I know this is New York City, but this is *New York City* and that means everything about the place should be world-class, down to the ticket takers. I know Shea is big on giving out awards for customer service personnel, but with very few exceptions, I have never run into these extraordinarily helpful folks at Shea. Even last year, when we were encouraged by friends to try to upgrade our plan into a full season plan – which Shea does not do – instead of kindly explaining that they were sorry but they couldn’t do that (which still astounds me – I WANT TO GIVE YOU MORE MONEY, WHY WON’T YOU FIND A WAY TO TAKE IT?), I received a snippy, snotty response instead. (And don’t get me started at the rapidly declining quality of the ushers in our section this year.) So, not that it matters, but – take note.

(And don’t decrease the ladies’ room ratio.)

The Flickr feed from Sunday is here.

My formal CBP review will come later.

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