Loge 13, a blog dedicated to “the last days of Shea” — thus a blog after my own heart as any I’ve ever read — reminds us that today is the 43rd birthday of the place we call home for the next 18 months. The impulse is to stick the requisite number of candles in a four-tiered cake, light only some of them (because a third probably came without wicks), have the frosting from one level drip onto the level beneath it and, after being careful to step around the puddles of icing that have inevitably formed, blow the whole thing out as best we can…then go wait 15 minutes to use the bathroom.
Two trips to Shea in the first week of its second-to-last season remind me as always that the gauzy notions I tote in my sentimental schlep bag never quite match the stark real-time reality of the place. It doesn’t work, it’s rarely worked, it won’t suddenly start working from a form or function standpoint. Most public buildings probably need at least one of those two to be considered a success.
To which I say so what?
It’s too late for the birthday boy to start making resolutions. Besides, it’s a ballpark. Our ballpark. There is no type of structure in the world whose architectural and logistical sins can be held it against it less. When our minds wander back over all the days and nights we’ve indulged our passion and our passion has indulged us, “what were the widths of those concourses again?” probably won’t be the first thought that springs to mind.
Maybe a new ballpark can momentarily attract the curious and entertainment-starved with glossy come-ons relating to “multiple sit-down, climate-controlled restaurants”; “numerous permanent attractions”; and some strange commodity called “enhanced comfort” — and I won’t necessarily sneeze at that stuff when it comes to be — but that’s of primary concern to daytrippers and dilettantes.
We’re Mets fans. We want the memories, the ones we’ve got, the one we’ll get. All of ours since April 17, 1964 and through the early fall of 2008 stand courtesy of Shea Stadium. That’s nothing to sneeze at either.
I was at Shea on its 30th birthday, a win against the Astros. DiamondVision commemorated the milestone with a video montage of momentous occasions set to one of the most beautiful songs our house band the Beatles ever recorded. As John Lennon, who capably filled in for Ron Hunt right around second base, put it:
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
My next game is Saturday.