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CONEY ISLAND BABY. [4-11-08] | metsgrrl.com

CONEY ISLAND BABY. [4-11-08]

I’ll confess that I didn’t want to go to the game tonight. We had actually talked about getting rid of the tickets, and had tried to get rid of the tickets, but who on earth wants to spend $50+ to go to Shea in April on a Friday night to see Nelson Figueroa, especially with Santana starting the very next day? It had been a long week, lots of early starts for me, and we were heading right back to Shea on Saturday, weather gods permitting. It would be okay, right, to skip this one, sit it out? Maybe send TBF out to Flushing with my ticket and if he got rid of it, great, if not, well, we’d already paid for it. It would be okay, it would be understandable. It is April baseball. I am tired.

That was the thought pattern in my head when I crawled out of bed at 6:20 this morning, and yet, at 4:30pm, I am on the phone with TBF discussing food options and meeting places and times and by 6pm we were on the 7 train out to Willetts Point. When we got on the train at Bryant Park, I was completely in afternoon commuter mode, barreling down the stairs and into the train and letting him hopelessly follow me. And then by Grand Central I was apologizing, and by Vernon-Jackson it didn’t matter too much, and by the time the express was speeding by Sunnyside, I was laughing and making jokes. The closer the train got to Shea, the better I felt.

Even then, I admit that my attitude was, it’s baseball, and I am happy to be here, those April games at Shea that are not crowded and we can spread out across the section comfortably. I will inform you that that is no longer the case, maybe on Tuesdays we’ll have that room, but our overly zealous usher (dude, when people are handing you season and plan tickets, don’t treat them like criminals if they’re sitting in seat 6 and their ticket is really for seat 5). I didn’t even bring a camera, there was just too much to bring and manage, work clothes and game clothes and shoes and enough warm clothes so I did not turn into the iceman round about the bottom of the 5th inning. I was just going to chill out (literally) and enjoy things. TBF was just praying we get through 5 innings so the game would be official.

As we walked to our seats, TBF noted the Brooklyn Lager stand on the mezzanine, not far from our seats. He points, I nod. We never drink at the games, but tonight we are starting the evening with a beer. I think this might account for why I was cheering the pitcher on in this fashion:
“Alright, FIGGY!”
“Let’s go FIG NEWTON!”
“Okay, FIG MAN!”

Within a few innings my theme had caught on, and we were hearing cheers of “Figgy” from all around us. TBF shakes his head reproachfully.
“It’s the sensation that’s sweeping the nation,” I offer.
“Perhaps the section is what you mean.”
“Can I make another joke about Corey Hart wearing his sunglasses?”
That look again, and he turns back to his scorecard.

I watched some of the game when we got home, and I think it probably seemed worse lower down, but for those of us sitting up in the cloud layer (as I write this, the little weather module over to the left says ‘Clouds: vertical visibility to 100 ft’ ) it seemed odd but not as dire as Gary, Keith, Ron and Kevin made it seem out at Shea. We did wonder at what point it was going to become so foggy that it might impede the game. Miriam asks TBF if a game was ever called on account of fog. We do not have an answer, and my PDA is not getting signal out at Shea.

She is struggling with her scorecard tonight, because Ned Yost bats his pitcher 8th and his catcher 9th. TBF offers that he is going to create a special scorecard just to accommodate the Brewers and the Cardinals, who do the same thing. With that, he hands me the scorecard as he runs out between innings to get a snack. I look at the scorecard and panic. It is one of my 2008 Baseball Resolutions to really learn how to score, and we are going to make me my own custom scorecard one day soon, but right now I am panicking at the thought of getting things right. Luckily, since all of 50 people are at Shea tonight, TBF returns with ice cream in a helmet before the next batter reaches the on-deck circle.

I think it had all started to dawn on us what might be happening when one of the twins behind us says something that causes TBF to yell through clenched teeth, “But WE’RE NOT TALKING ABOUT THAT,” and then it dawns on everyone, and we all start briskly discussing the Yankees vs. the Red Sox and the moronic hordes of Yankee fans at Shea tonight, and how are Miriam and Julia’s parents, and anything except the thing that we’re all not going to talk about or otherwise acknowledge. My own superstitions get the best of me and I rule out even thinking about what we’re not talking about.

And then we got to the fifth inning.

After that first hit, we stood. We applauded heartily. We tried to get the people who were doing the whole OMG IT IS FRIDAY AND I AM AT A BASEBALL GAME DRINKING BEER! WOOO! to stand up and cheer with us but now they are not interested. They weren’t completely hopeless, because the next inning they started a “FIG-UR-O-A clap-clap-clap-clap-clap” chant, for which we like them.

At this point it feels a little bit like the bizarro world. The cloud and the half-empty stadium make it seem like we could be anywhere, because there are no identifying landscape features in the distance, since they are all obscured by the fog. And I start to think about how almost every night of the week, there is a baseball game playing somewhere, and there are people who go almost every night and people who go as often as they can, and there are places that get crowds like the one we have right now even on a weekend, especially if the team isn’t very good or is losing or isn’t very popular. But it doesn’t matter how many people show up, the game still goes on. The groundscrew takes care of the field, they rake the infield and the warning track, they chalk the lines. There are 9 men on the field and the game has the same rules. I could go to a baseball game anywhere in the world and mostly know what was going on, even if I didn’t speak the language.

This is what I think about sitting up in my cloud, watching Aaron Heilman be mighty and Joe Smith be okay and Billy Wagner kick serious ass. And then “Taking Care of Business” plays and I am sorry I did not watch the handshaking on the field more closely, after I came home and watched that fifth inning and then that 9th inning and the Kevin Burkhardt interviews with Nelson and his family and his father and hearing Ronnie’s voice crack in empathy and identification just a little.

And I resolve to remember this all the next time I think I’m too tired to go to the game.

My reaction to the 8th inning singalong (Billy Joel tonight):

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