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Bugs & Cranks
August 25, 2009 at 11:42 am ET
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Baseball Like it Oughta Be?

There are times when I wonder why I ever left New York. Sure, it’s loud, crowded, overpriced and always a little hotter than the rest of the surrounding world.テつ But it’s also the most interesting, exciting, amazing place in the world.

And it’s home.

So, when I got Mets tickets to wrap up my latest homecoming weekend, I couldn’t help but waxing nostalgic. Beers, baseball and beers — just like the home I left behind nearly three years ago. Maybe the venues have changed, but this was going to be a throwback weekend, right?

Right?

My weekend started typically enough. A trip back to my old regular in midtown on Friday provided me with a lifetime’s worth of fuzzy memories and more man-hugs than I’m comfortable discussing here. But, thanks to the company of old friends and a surprisingly long visit from our own David Chalk (who makes a lot more sense when you’re drinking…trust me), it turned out to be a great night of liver abuse for all.

But the meat of the trip was based around my first real visit to Citi Field. It took me too long to get to a Mets game this season — so long, in fact, that this game actually meant nothing in terms of standings, wild cards, pride or power rankings. It was just going to be a baseball game…and therein lied the supposed beauty of the evening. Baseball, for the sake of baseball…nothing more.

Oh, if that was only the case…

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As I mentioned in my previous post, Wifey bought me these tickets thinking that a mid-August matchup against the Phillies was going to be an epic battle for the ages. The tickets were purchased in December 2008, and we were still located a good ways up in the upper dec——sorry——Promenade. Meanwhile, a friend of ours from the afore-mentioned bar bought tickets in the same section that morning, and was actually ten rows closer.

So much for foresight — Nostradamus, your job is safe for now.

Instead, the main draw of the night was the pregame reunion of the still breathing 1969 Mets, and the first time Nolan Ryan had put on a Mets jersey in 38 years. It was quite a sight, given the career the man had wearing other uniforms. Speaking of sights — ominous clouds were forming on the horizon, but despite Hurricane Bill’s empty threats in the distance, it turned out to be a nice little ceremony for the original Amazins.

Not to mention, on the way to our seats, I ran into this guy:

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Known to his mom as Eddie Boison, Mets fans know him as the inimitable Cow-Bell Man. I slipped him a Bugs business card and asked him to shoot me an email for an interview. Instead, the man seemed to trust my hangover-ridden face and gave me his home number. The interview will appear on these pages shortly.

Then the night took an even more unexpected twist.

Top of the first. Redding looking surprisingly professional against Rollins and Utley. Phone buzzes with a new text.

“Wht sect r u in?”

It was a brother of a friend of a friend — twice removed by marriage — who just happened to be a lead security guy at the Mets’ new digs. We sent him a text the night before, just on the off-chance that my friend’s friend wasn’t blowing smoke about his brother. Well, slap my ass and call me Rosie — it was legit, and more importantly, it looked like we’re movin’ on up…um…I mean down

Within seconds, our new best friend Mikey E. arrived in our section and started the most frantic, all-encompassing stadium tour in the history of the medium. Wifey could barely keep up, huffing like a coke fiend as we did two laps around the ballpark, hitting every damn luxury club on the way. Now, let me say this — luxury boxes are nice, but they always seem to be missing one element — the actual game. This was no exception. As we made our way around the Caesar’s Club, I saw more than one guy hugging a bar while staring at the televised game in progress…a game that was actually happening less than 40 yards away.

I don’t get it…but anyway…

As we’re exiting this area it’s already midway through the third inning, and we haven’t seen more than 15 pitches.テつ One notable occurence went down, though. While chasing our caffeinated tour guide through the hallways, someone yelled out, “Bugs and Cranks!” which made me stop in my tracks to see who it was. But Mikey wasn’t stopping for anything short of an open whiskey bar, so I was forced to miss an opportunity to feel famous for ten seconds. I hope this person doesn’t think I was ignoring her, because it’s always nice to meet a Bugs fan.

Anyway, while keeping pace with Mikey, making our way through our third luxury VIP club in as many minutes, I nearly walk headfirst into a tall, graying man in a sharp blazer…

…Omar Minaya…

Instinctively, I reach for my business cards and try to secure the blog interview of my young career, but then recall that my last few Omar-themed posts haven’t exactly been warm and fuzzy. I settle on a nod and a weak, “How ya doin’?” and keep walking. He smiles at me and does the same.

Missed opportunity? Yeah, but at least I got Cow-Bell Man, right?

Finally, after the most dizzying 25 minutes in recent memory, Mikey drops us off in the center field food area, right by Shake Shack. He tells us that he’s going to be at his section in 15 minutes, so we are to relax, get a bite to eat, and then casually make our way over there where he can then find us some seats behind third.テつ At this point, the game is now in the fourth inning, and the only actual baseball we’ve seen has been on one of the 1,800 flat screens littered throughout the park. But it appears that the Mets are up 1-0, so I don’t mess with karma just yet.

Fifteen minutes later, Wifey and I think it’s time to actually sit and *gasp* watch some baseball. Mikey does as promised and finds us a few seats in prime foul ball territory.テつ I think our row is designed for the handicapped, but I don’t argue with the leg room.テつ By now, Tim Redding is having the best appearance of his Mets career, going five strong and only allowing one hit. So, now the Mets are going to find a way to blow this, right?

Of course they are. Manuel decides that Redding’s deal with Satan is about the expire, so he pulls him for the always reliable Pat “Squea-” Misch. Two pitches later, Utley is doing a slow trot while Misch investigates the mound for imperfections. Nice call, Jerry.

We were just getting comfortable when the sixth inning ended, and my phone buzzed again. This time, it was my friend from earlier:

“Meet shake shk now.”

I assume that’s an order, and Wifey and I reluctantly leave our prime real estate for the crowded confines of the food court. It didn’t bother me too much, since the score was now 3-1 Philly, and frankly I was getting tired of hearing some of their fans anyway.

Not all of them, mind you. Most are a lot of fun, and know the right way to do a rivalry.テつ No, I’m talking about the ones that drove their limo-tinted Kias up 95, just to throw beer at kids and start fights. So, when the panty stain wearing the powder blue throwback caught a fat right to his inbred chin, we all laughed…a lot. Yeah, Philly’s in first place, but if you take any pride in beating these Mets, then you clearly don’t have a clue about the game.テつ Now go back home to your cousin and ponder why your dad should have pulled out.

Anyway…

Now, we’re back in centerfield again, watching a very live game on a TV with a 5-second delay. I debate about getting a beer, but decide to hold off in case my previous night’s consumption decides to make an encore. Five minutes…ten minutes…no sign of my friend. Finally, my cargo pocket buzzes with the following news:

“Left game. See u next time in town.”

Wow. I’m so-o-o-o-o-o-o glad I left my primo seats for this revelation. Turns out my buddy and I need to get a refresher course in communications, to which we both agree. A few texted apologies later, we’re okay.テつ Donald, if you’re reading this, many apologies. I owe you a few beverages when we get back to NYC.

But here’s the issue. On this night, the clock is reading 10:00, and is running out on the Mets.テつ Our options at this point are to a) try and work our way back to those seats. b) start climbing to our original seats. or c) do two more laps around Citi, trying to soak in as much baseball Vegas as we can before we head back to the car.

Yup. The night was just about over. Wifey and I decide to split a box of frites (which are a lot like french fries, but more expensive) and then make our way back to the front. So, let’s review:

Free t-shirt — check
Pregame ceremony for old players — check
Interview/photo op with beloved bell-playing uberfan — check
Tour of luxury areas I’ll never be able to afford — check
Failed interview/photo op with Mets’ GM — check
Cardio workout — check
Actual baseball — FAIL

Now, I knew that my first Mets game at Citi was going to be as much about the experience as it was about the game, but I never expected to get so caught up in distractions that I’d miss a total of seven innings. And that’s my concern. Are there simply too many things to do at Citi Field for it to feel like a true ballpark?

Sure, the food, kids area, overpriced shops and main entrance are just ripe for exploration. But regardless of injuries or standings, my only regret about the game was that I never really watched it.テつ And I’m sure I’m not alone.

Saturday night was supposed to be about a ballgame — a uneven matchup between a division leader and a wounded underachiever. Maybe we’d win, maybe we’d lose, but regardless of outcome, it would have just been fun to watch baseball without worrying about wins, losses, wild cards or percentage points. You know — the way it was intended.

Instead, my first Mets experience at the team’s new digs was chock full of Vegas with none of the Atlantic City that always made games fun in the past. Let’s hope that the glitz, glamour and novelty appeal wears off by the next time I go. Because, when asked, “How was the game?” (as I was when I got home),テつ I never again want to answer…

“I have no idea…”

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One Response to “Baseball Like it Oughta Be?”
  1. Ollie Perez psychology major says:

    Dr Omar Minaya:

    “Seems like the Mets are scuffling with themselves,maybe a need for an investigation is needed”

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