Before anyone goes blaming the prevailing doofusdom I encountered in my section of the mezzanine this afternoon on beer and front runners, understand that I witnessed no overpriced suds consumed and no clueless interlopers. I was surrounded by what appeared to be sober, loyal Mets fans. Doesn't mean they couldn't be moronic.
Behind me was a family or two — whatever their relationship, they were enmeshed — whose matriarch was a raspy yeller in a Wright shirt. Reminded me of a neighbor we had when I was growing up, one who'd threaten to call the cops if somebody parked in front of her house. She just figured out that Trachsel works slowly and informed her children of this…over and over and over again. She took great delight in the Devil Rays' pounding of the Yankees and chanted “Let's Go Rays!”…over and over and over again. When Trachsel or the parade of relievers that followed him managed two strikes on a National, she led her brood in “Strike Him OUT!”…over and over and over again. Oh, and when a brief shower sent those sitting to our south scurrying for shelter, she started a “Who's got the cover? We do!” call and response that fortunately fizzled as fast as the rain.
Her or whoever's kids they were specialized in kicking seats. A kicked seat doesn't have to be yours for the kicking to be irritating as psoriasis. For those of you don't have it, psoriasis is extremely irritating.
A couple of rows in front of me was a Jets fan. I suppose there were lots of Jets fans at Shea. That's fine. I'm a Jets fan in my spare time. But this Jets fan — COLES 87 jersey, Mets cap — wanted to be Fireman Ed east. He listened intently to their game with the Bills on a transistor radio and whenever the Jets scored, he turned around and raised his arms to signal a touchdown. The raspy lady, after protesting that the Bills are the only “real New York team” (I'd never heard that!), got caught up in this, too, and intermittent J-E-T-S spelling was added to her repertoire.
While all I did with the kicking kids was turn around and tell them to STOP IT!, I found myself strangely emboldened to heckle the Jets guy. It wasn't so much the updates from another sport infiltrating our national pastime that got me (though a harumph of “baseball gentlemen, baseball” never seemed more in order). It was the solemnity with which he carried out his dispatches that struck me as inappropriate. The hands over the head for a few beats too long elicited a “WHAT ARE YOU, TOUCHDOWN JESUS?” from me. And when the Shea scoreboard offered the final from Orchard Park before he could — about an eighth of the crowd was already applauding — he started to tell us that hey, the Jets won. “WE KNOW,” I said, “BUT THANK YOU FOR DOING SUCH A DUTIFUL JOB OF KEEPING US INFORMED ALL DAY!”
Forgive me for telling the story with me as the de facto hero, but I got a very positive response from at least a couple of Mets fans who came to the Mets game to watch the Mets game.
So I was not crazy about those behind me or in front of me. Next to me? Joe. As in my pal Joe with whom I've gone to five games this year and with whom I am now Joe and five. Not much to say here about Joe and me at Shea today except we sure do wish we could have seen the Mets win a game together in 2006.
Except for this:
While I was settling in to my seat, with the raspy lady and the Jet correspondent making themselves evident early, Joe was completing the triangulation of my day by harassing Ryan Zimmerman. With Reyes up in the first, Joe shouted, “HEY ZIMMERMAN! YOU'RE NOT PLAYING IN ON THE GRASS…YOU FOOL!” over and over and over again. Reyes singled, which meant Joe was going to scream at the Nats' third baseman during every single Met at-bat for the rest of the day, several times per at-bat — or until it was proven that it wasn't working. Took a couple of futile innings, but he got off it, though not until the raspy lady wanted in. “What about the grass? Why are you saying that?” Joe didn't acknowledge her. Good man.
All that was missing from this discomfiting 5-1 loss was some idiot in a Yankees cap. As if on cue, one appeared, a guy in his teens in the company of his similarly aged Mets fan friends. The sight of the vertical swastika raised everybody's ire into a good, old-fashioned “YANKEES SUCK!” Natch, the kid did the thing where he points at the vertical swastika with pride. “TAKE HIS HAT! TAKE HIS HAT!” swelled in response.
The Nikon Camera Player of the Day was clearly the kid's buddy, a dude who actually did take that crappy Yankees cap and actually did fling it logeward. A huge cheer ensued.
So really, a good time was had by all.