Bravo! You have thrown around more inside-baseball dance terms in one post than I have in the decade-plus that I've been attending performances of the New York City Ballet. It's one of those things, rather obviously driven by my non-blogging better half, that I've come to appreciate without really learning a lot about. I just kind of know what I like when I see it.
I can't say I liked the date of Sunday, June 4 for our annual visit, but I signed off on it somewhere back in the winter, gambling that missing a few innings of Bondsmania wasn't going to kill me. That I'm still technically alive proves I was right, but while ballet played out in front of me and baseball played on without me, it was touch and go there for a while.
Keeping up on afternoons like Sunday is the luck of the draw, but you've got to work your opportunities. I caught just enough of the game to feel informed and missed just enough to be completely in the dark.
Train ride in: The David homers. We lead 1-0. Plenty of time for pizza at Don Pepi at Penn Station in advance of the 3 o'clock start (or curtain, as Stephanie calls it).
Emerging from the 1 at Lincoln Center: Resume radio contact with too much apparently going on. Trachsel wriggles out of a jam, retiring Bonds to preserve 1-1 tie in the middle of six.
First ballet: An American in Paris, led by the incomparable Damian Woetzel. Why is he incomparable? Because he's the only principal dancer whose name I recognize anymore. But he (and George Gershwin) totally carried the piece. He earns my most sincere applause of the day to this point. DW = David Wright. DW = DW = Damian Woetzel. They're both kicking ass. DW II is the early choice for the evening's headline if things work out.
First intermission: Years of May and June Sunday matinees have taught me where to stand to receive WFAN inside the New York State Theater. On the Third Ring level, it's the picture window overlooking Lincoln Center's famous fountain, avoiding all obstructions if possible. I march to my spot. Long commercial break. Probably means a call to the bullpen. But whose? Ah, crap, Chad Bradford is coming in. The Giants have scored three in the eighth and now lead 4-3. We led 3-1? Bradford does his bit for the arts by coaxing a DP out of
Alfonzo Alfonso Alfo… whoever. Inning over, valuable intermission time being used up by more commercials. Let's hear who's up for us in the bottom of the eighth. It's Wright! OK, I'll wait through The David's at-bat, you never know, he might hit another home run. And he hit another home run. It's 4-4! I pump a fist — the best player in town ties 'er up while I'm getting my culture on; what a madcap Manhattan weekend! — and go back to my seat. Anything else the Mets do will be interrupted by those damn bongs that call you back in anyway.
Second ballet: I'm interested in the guest conductor because he has the same last name as a branch of my family that is chock full of classical musicians. I've never heard of this guy, though. I wonder if he's related? A glance through the opera glasses is inconclusive. A later Google search yields no evidence that we share anything but an alibi for why we weren't watching the ninth inning. Fancy Free, I am reminded, inspired the film On The Town, not the other way around. It was first produced in 1944. Sailors on leave, drinking, fighting, chasing skirts. I've been to the ballet enough now that I can say I've seen it before. Stephanie agrees that it didn't seem particularly fresh.
Second intermission: Out onto the patio off the First Ring where the other patrons drink and smoke and perhaps impress one another with their use of balletic terms. I'm unraveling my cord and tuning in, allegro. The game is in the tenth. Nothing happened after DW I hit his second of the day, but he's leading off again…and facing the dreaded Benitez. Tom McCarthy diplomatically explains for all listeners under the age of six that while Armando had many big saves for the Mets when he was a Met, he also didn't several times. Armando retires The David. One out, no chance. Jose Valentin up. Maybe Valentin will do something. He sure as shootin' does. Home run! Of course it's 6-5 and I remember Mike hitting one off Armando when he was a Marlin and Armando still holding on. Bastard. Stephanie, who's bought her annual NYCB t-shirt, and I hear the first set of bongs. I could wait out the intermission to the bitter end, but I don't want to cut it close. Not because I care all that much about the third ballet but because these audiences are notorious for the dirty looks they give you when you need to get by them to find your seat. I swear it's some sort of tradition, like the Bleacher Bums who throw the enemy homers back at Wrigley.
Third ballet: Whoever put the program together screwed up. An American in Paris, specifically Woetzel, was so good that it should have closed the afternoon. Fancy Free was sturdy enough to hold down the middle. But this thing in the three-hole, N.Y. Export: Opus Jazz was a Benetton ad meets Hurray For Everything. And it could have taken bronze in a high school talent show if the competition wasn't too tough. I've seen enough ballet to know what I don't like, too. The novelty has worn thin and I'm wondering what the hell happened after Valentin's homer. Did we go down futilely to Baby Huey? Is it possible there had been yet another danceoff win? Victory or defeat? I must know! Would my pulling out my phone, turning down the sound and fiddling with whatever function gives me scores be ruder than the ladies at the end of the row who gave us the punim as they grudgingly rose to let us through when we got here? Fortunately this unendearing audition for Up With People ends — the dancers milking the curtain all the way; I think it's required — and we race out of our Ring. We agree to meet after we make our respective pit stops (the men's room at the ballet is pretty much a private comfort station while the line at the ladies room likely began when George Balanchine was just discovering his feet). I knew I'd have time to catch up with how the game concluded.
After the final curtain: THEY'RE STILL PLAYING? Yes, they are. It was 6-5 when I left the Mets and Armando to carry out their maneuvers. Tom and Eddie are kvelling about how 48,000 were in attendance and many are still here given all the magic moments they've seen. MAGIC MOMENTS? WHAT MAGIC MOMENTS? HOW DID THE METS TIE IT? Somebody says something about the Mets having been down to their last strike when Lastings Milledge hit the game-tying homer, the first of his career. LASTINGS MILLEDGE HIT THE GAME-TYING HOMER, THE FIRST OF HIS CAREER? AND I MISSED IT? Suddenly, I was the Jimmy Fallon character in Fever Pitch whose night of romantic bliss with Drew Barrymore was rent asunder when he found out the Red Sox scored eight in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Yankees in the first home game he had missed in eleven years. I always thought that portrayal was a little over-the-top, but I now owe it an apology. I MISSED LASTINGS MILLEDGE'S MAGICAL GAME-TYING, FIRST-EVER, TENTH-INNING HOME RUN OFF ARMANDO BENITEZ TO WATCH THE FUCKING BALLET, AND NOT EVEN THE GOOD PART WHICH WAS PERFORMED IN THE SEVENTH, AND I'LL BET DAMIAN WOETZEL HIMSELF IS BACKSTAGE WATCHING THIS ON CHANNEL ELEVEN? “And once again the Mets are down to their last strike,” Eddie, I think, said. Hey, wait a minute…last strike? I assumed it was still 6-6 from Milledge's first-ever home run that I missed. Had the Giants gone ahead AGAIN? Apparently they had. And apparently that would be that. Giants 7 Mets 6. Final in 12.
As we walked down Broadway, I sorted out my emotions while catching up with the highlights. Eddie Coleman's call of Lastings' long shot was the best thing I've ever heard come out of his mouth and as honest a description I've ever heard in a baseball game. He was, to quote Mel Allen, partisan without being prejudicial. Eddie was excited. I was excited and it had taken place like an hour earlier. Gosh, it would have been nice to have waited out that second intermission and heard it as it happened. Would have been even nicer to have won. I'd have leaned over the Third Ring and high-fived every dancer I could. But we didn't win. And I did miss it. Then again, the Diamondbacks swept the Braves. The Phillies were leading the Dodgers on the Coast, but by the time I discovered that tidbit, we had found a Cuban place on Eighth Avenue for dinner. At some point, you simply have to concede that you can neither see nor win them all.