All those Met fans you see at Citizens Bank Park? They're either staying with friends in Philly, or they're crazy. Man am I tired.
The inaugural visit by me and Emily to CBP couldn't have gone more swimmingly, however: quick trip down on the Amtrak, cab ride with our friends Jerome and Val (though the cabbie seemed to have no idea there was a baseball stadium in Philadelphia and needed some coaching from a somewhat-amazed Val), and then the park.
If this is truly what New Shea will be like, I'm reporting to Flushing with my sledgehammer first thing tomorrow morning, because it can't come soon enough. No, everything isn't exactly perfect in Philadelphia: That outfield wall is a bit too quirky, they should pipe the radio feed in more places, you can't see the field while strolling the concourses, and the retired numbers are hidden away. But compare this to Shea, where even a happy recap might include something along the lines of “the escalators were broken, the bathrooms were a lake, my seat kept dumping me in the aisle and the lady at the hot-dog concession was moving at the speed of continental drift.” There really is no comparison. Down with the old barn already.
I loved CBP: The sightlines are great, the seats are close, the architecture is interesting without being in your face about it, there are cool statues of Phillie greats (like Mike Schmidt and…um….), you don't have to wait for the bathroom, there are lots of food options (though I'm kind of regretting that cheesesteak as it turns the consistency of concrete somewhere in my innards), the Liberty Bell is cool (though it was ringing far too often), the Diamondvision is sharp…I'm in. I'm all in. The complaint that these retro parks are too samey? When I'm at Shea in the ass end of the loge ducking my head so I can see the arc of a fly ball, warily eyeing the mixture of pigeon urine, Pepsi and rust dripping near my head and wondering what substance has made the concrete simultaneously green and frictionless, I'm not exactly pondering what a downer it would be to look around and think our park reminds me too much like Camden Yards and Citizens Bank and Busch III.
Oh yeah, the game. That porch in left field? It's short. By now I've got enough baseball in me to not stand up in home-run anticipation on balls that drop into the shortstop's mitt, but I kept getting fooled tonight. And Jimmy Rollins flies out — no, wait, that's gone. And on and on and on, as Glavine and Ryan Madson got whiplash and the score mounted.
The crowd was an interesting element: I'd guess 1/5 to 1/4 of the assembled were Met fans, and they were the loud 1/5 to 1/4 — they even got the “Jose!” chant going for Reyes. The Phillie fans accepted these blue- and black- and gray- and orange-clad interlopers among them somewhat grumpily, showing less patience for the Phillies kicking baseballs around the infield, which they did entirely too much of. (OK, the crowd did boo a rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” but it was pretty terrible — this is not a tune that benefits from melisma.) I geared up for the game (black road jersey, Cyclones hat), but refrained from obstreperous rooting except when Wright went deep. You pay your money and you can do what you want, I suppose, but you're still in somebody else's house. If only because you're outnumbered and that City of Brotherly Love stuff has always struck me as one of those deliberately misleading monikers, sorta like Iceland and Greenland, one ought to err on the side of humility. Of course this Gandhi act did me precious little good — on the way out I accepted the high-fives of some tattooed Met fans, and Val reported that a gigantic Phillie fan eyed me all the way up the aisle with bad intent. (Sure, pick on the guy who looks like a blogger and not like a biker.) Steeped in beer and cheesesteak and ice cream and the happy glow of a 9-4 lead, I didn't notice, which was best.
Getting back to NYC at a semi-decent hour, alas, meant we had to leave after the top of the 8th. After which everything immediately started going to hell, with Aaron Heilman giving up a
flyout home run to David Dellucci and Billy Wagner seeming nervous to be back under the Philly microscope. But then he escaped via the strike-'em-out/throw-'em-out as we arrived at 30th Street Station. We got on the train as the teams changed up in the mid-9th, and of course there was no signal while the train was in the bowels of the station, and of course the train just sat there, and of course I was going more than slightly insane.
And then out into the Pennsylvania night, Emily on one earbud and me on the other, and Wagner in trouble. Bad trouble. Except Wright makes a play that has the crowd gasping and the 1210 radio guys howling in disbelief, one I immediately file away as SEE THE MINUTE I GET HOME. (And it was worthy. Wow.) And then a Ryan Howard hit just to make us shudder at imagining a very bad parallel universe in which this game is tied and doom is on second with nobody out, and Aaron Rowand swings at a slider in the dirt, and we're 7 1/2 up, 11 on some other NL East team, and New Shea is a day closer, and all's (W)right with the world.