I think I've got the baseball equivalent of an ice-cream headache.
Seven hours is a long, long time to spend at Shea Stadium, even if it was a very pleasant time. We (me and Will, noted earlier in these pages for Cardinals fandom and being struck by legumes ) were in the upper deck, but a remarkably convivial part of the upper deck, considering it was 90 degrees and the quality of the baseball being played down there below us did not elicit universal praise. I fervently cheered The Beleagued Kaz Matsui each time he came to the plate, though I admit that was more to avoid provoking wrathful comments from Laurie than from conviction. (Hey, Kaz really is trying. He even made a nice play going to his right.) But other than booing Kaz, this was a peaceable crowd — mostly happy, occasionally clever (“Where's Bernstein?” demanded one wag when Chris Woodward entered the game), willing to entertain irony (two college kids did a very serviceable Macarena, and one guy asked his buddy if Marquis Grissom was really French — I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt on that one), friendly to rowmates, and glad to engage in the advanced mathematics of the NL East standings. One of the better Shea crowds of my acquaintance, in fact. And in the upper deck, no less.
Since everyone knows what happened and I'm exhausted, some tidbits:
* This was the Day of the Pitchers. Between Ishii, Tomko, Benson and Schmidt, pitchers went 4 for 7 with 5 RBI on the day. Somebody get Elias on the phone.
* The fan of the day was the early-20s woman in the row below us who sat placidly for eight innings with her friends, then came to life when “Welcome to the Jungle” was played, dancing sinuously along with a look of rapt adoration and after that reacting to every play with hand gestures worthy of a somewhat-deranged symphony conductor. In fact, she looked vaguely like Axl, except for the lack of cornrows, 'do rag and Kleenex boxes on her feet. There was no evidence she was about to release an album either.
* They played the 1969 season highlight video between games, complete with promotional spots from Borden, which at the time offered extremely funky primary-colored yogurt containers. (Though one of the flavors was mandarin orange, which seems like a bad idea.) I misted up when Cleon dropped to one knee. “I was raised on this stuff,” I explained to Will. “It's like my Beowulf.” He laughed and nodded, no doubt thinking of his own tales of the deeds of Bob Gibson and Lou Brock.
* No offense to Todd, but Randy Hundley was a major dick. Bunting down 4-0 to try and break up a perfect game. I'd forgotten that. I hope there was a head shot some time during 1970 to make up for that one.
* One of Tom Seaver's Borden-related duties was to carry around a calf at some silly promotion on the field. Can you imagine the hue and cry if some member of our starting rotation strained something carrying around a heifer? What a bad idea.
* The observant members of the crowd booed Joe Torre when he appeared as a '69 Brave.
* Pedro was wildly cheered while running sprints in the outfield between games, when he appeared on the Diamondvision, when he was spotted leaning on the dugout railing, etc.
* The fireworks after home runs have got to go. It's so Turner Field. And playing “San Francisco (You've Got Me)” by the Village People was fairly low-rent too. Besides the suggestion of a sneer, it's a really crappy song.
* The looks at what was happening around the majors were actually relevant — and not just because suddenly the doings of four other baseball teams are of major relevance daily.
* This game would be a lot easier to take if every loss that makes you squinty and sulky was followed within 90 minutes by a 12-1 shellacking.