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Turn the Page

It's quite appropriate that Saturday afternoon's game was the 325th regular-season affair I've attended at Shea Stadium. Any game whose chronological standing ends in a multiple of 25 finishes off a sheet in The Log, my trusty steno notebook in which I've jotted down the essentials of every game to which I've ever been. I reach the bottom, I turn the page.
Just as the Mets must after losing to the cellar-dwelling Nationals.
Turn the page, fellas. Turn the page from this:
4/14/07 Sa Washington 2-5 Hernandez 5 177-148 L 6-2
I'll read my code one spare day and perhaps recall all the futility of this specific Saturday loss [1]. Or perhaps the green won't echo after all. Fine. I'll be better off forgetting the clutchless hitting (everybody), the boneheaded fielding (Wright), the inane baserunning (Beltran), the indifferent starting pitching (El Duque) and the relentlessly criminal umpiring (Mike “Angel” Winters for both his whack-a-mole strike zone and spastic thumb) that contributed to today's 6-2 L.
Just about every element of what could go wrong in a baseball game went wrong for the Mets, which could get and keep me very down right into the teeth of tomorrow's nor'easter (can't imagine anybody will be wearing 42 around here Sunday afternoon). Remedy? Turn that damn page, figuratively and literally.
But before I do, here's some of what is not included in The Log, but some of what its chicken-scratchings may someday jog:
• The flag atop the Citi construction site blows one way while the Shea centerfield flag flies another. And neither of them have anything to do with the flags that ring the existing stadium. What's up with that [2]? By the way, a construction site is a perfect backdrop to Shea's essentially unfinished motif. They could just leave it undone, stay at Shea and after a few years we'd probably come to view the girders and pits as remnants of Nickelodeon Extreme Baseball that we'd simply never noticed before.
• Beachballs bopped around with glee, dropped out of sight to jeers and reappeared magically the next inning. Who brings beachballs to games in April?
• Bag searchers and ticket scanners now say “Welcome to Shea,” with no discernible sign of an exclamation point. You can just feel the mandatory fan-friendly training in action. I say it fades by next homestand and is utterly gone by May.
• There's a men's room almost directly behind home plate on the highest level of the ballpark. It has maybe six urinals. The line for it after the game is longer than it would be if it had more. Why a bathroom in the middle of its largest level has the fewest plumbing fixtures possible is one of the great unsolvable mysteries of this doomed edifice. (The ladies room next to it also queued for miles, so we assume it is also inadequate to its assigned task.)
• This is actually left over from the Home Opener [3], but as long as we're indulging in tile talk, I was surprised to find a paper towel dispenser actually dispensing paper towels on Monday after the game. Having availed myself of its contents, I wiped my hands dry on a towel and looked to toss it into the washroom's trash can. Except the trash can had been removed and, in its place, stood a veritable Everest of used paper towels. This means somebody decided the logical thing to do with his used towel was toss it in a corner where there should have been a waste basket. The next fellow decided the same thing and, by tacit communal agreement, Mount Paper Towel burgeoned from the porcelain earth. (I couldn't pass by this erstwhile molehill without topping it off.)
• “Sweet Caroline” takes a little longer to get the crowd revved without a playoff or Home Opener atmosphere or a Met lead. But the people come around with the oh-ohs and the so-good-so-goods eventually and the point of “SC” is to engage the customers. Still a great singalong anywhere, anytime (yes, yes, Fenway, I know, I know) but it feels just a bit old suddenly, and not because it hit the charts in 1969. Mr. Mojo never rose again after '99. Armando claiming “Who Let The Dogs Out?” as his mound music post-2000 never sat quite right. There's a fine line between crafting traditions and leaving the past in favor of the present.
• Gosh 2006 was nice.
• I saw a 37 14 41 42 [4] shirt, our FAFIF exclusive, at Shea on somebody I'd never seen before. But it wasn't a surprise because I knew CharlieH, one of our Golden Circle commenters, was going to be debuting in his and Del Unser-knowin' [5] dad's Saturday seats — Mrs. CharlieH's Xmas present to her man. Swell guys both. I thought Charlie was crazy to have removed his jacket to show off his good taste in tees, but in the sunlight of the upper deck, temperatures were surprisingly tolerable. Likewise, the postgame transit picture was clearer than on Monday. (Maybe that was the problem today — we need Traffic and Weather [6] to work against us if we want an optimal sports report.)
• One of my longest-running (sometimes trudging, ultimately loyal) Mets relationships picked up almost exactly where it left off in September [7]. The last time I saw my buddy Joe, a Mets companion of seventeen, now eighteen seasons (and quirks all his own) was for a weekend loss to the Nationals. Some things never change. Joe and I are on a six-game losing streak together, causing genuine concern between the two of us that we may never witness another win side-by-side at Shea. We're back at it in a week, but the world always comes to an end when we take in a loss.
• This was the day the world didn't come to an end when we lost. Oh, I didn't enjoy the result nor how it came to pass, but I allow the Mets two losses a year. They're permitted to post a first loss of the season (that's the “get it over with already” loss that keeps me from imagining how awful it will feel to miss out on 162-0) and a first loss [8] of my Shea season. By definition that comes early on, so I'm still in that “baseball's here!” mood, the one that permits me to shake off horrendous defeats at the hands of irritating opponents and patently crooked officials.
Watching baseball…seeing friends…sitting outside…fuckin' A [9].
Page turned.