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WHAT IF. | metsgrrl.com

WHAT IF.

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Saturday night, we drove down to Midwood to have pizza at DiFara’s. We always take the same route from North Brooklyn, cutting over to Nostrand, taking Nostrand down to Empire, a right on Empire, and so on down to Avenue J.

When we passed the corner of Empire and Bedford, with the looming towers of the Ebbets Field housing project standing there against the sky, I started Tweeting how it always made me sad to drive by there at almost the same moment TBF raised his middle finger in the New York State salute and said, “Fuck you, Walter O’Malley, where’s my ballpark.”

We always do some variation of this exchange, whether it’s me staring out at the towers and feeling sad that I never saw it and trying to picture my father taking the streetcar to the ballgame, or TBF shaking his head and saying “How could they?” It’s not like we talk about it or we plan it, we’re just physically incapable of going by there without some kind of reaction.

“You know,” TBF said on Saturday, “If he hadn’t taken the team away, we wouldn’t be Mets fans.”
“So we would have been Dodgers fans.”
“Unless I was brought up a Giants fan. Like my uncle.”
“Either one would have been okay, it’s not like there wouldn’t have been baseball.”

But I do wonder, sometimes, what would have happened, how things would have changed. If Robert Moses (and I read all 800 pages of The Empire BuilderPower Broker) and his lust for opening up New York City for cars instead of people. I look at aerial photos of the area around Ebbets Field and marvel how you can still see the same buildings around it today, comparing roofs and street views, the apartment buildings that were across the street are still there now, that Firestone store on the corner of Empire and Bedford was a gas station back then.

When we visited Dodger Stadium last summer, and took the tour, I had several conversations with die-hard Dodgers fans who never even stopped to consider the fact that them gaining a team meant that someone else lost their team. I had one gentleman in particular come over and almost apologize, that he couldn’t imagine something that gave him that much joy had to have been taken away from someone else in order for it to happen. (I also took pride in telling the Hitler/Stalin/O’Malley joke, which the tour guide rolled his eyes at, but that no one on the tour had ever heard before.)

I have no love for the Dodgers. I don’t defend the facade of Citi Field (something that truly upset my father, for what it’s worth) or the obsessive need by the Wilpons to try to claim that heritage. I lament Ebbets Field the same way I lament the loss of Penn Station, the way I mourn the loss of the Palladium or the Brooklyn Paramount or CBGB’s – places I loved, places of legend, places that captured my imagination. I don’t think you can be a baseball fan and have a heart and not feel a tiny bit sad driving past the intersection of Bedford Avenue and Sullivan Place, especially not in the winter, not when there is no baseball to watch and Opening Day seems so far away.

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