I had the uncommon pleasure of watching today's game from an orange seat a mere eight rows from the field and behind a net. Practically on top of home plate I was. I've only sat in seats whose number begins with an “X” a handful of times previously and not in a long while, so this was, result aside, quite a treat.
When everybody playing ball is so close to you, it doesn't feel Major League. It's more like wandering down to the schoolyard, leaning up against the chain link fence and peering out as the neighborhood kids put together a game.
There was the forlorn, tall kid who couldn't pitch and looked like he'd be happier taking violin lessons.
There was the virtually unknown kid who just moved here, playing second, barely managing to catch a lazy fly and then not knowing how to throw it home.
There was the big, goofy kid at first who forgot how many runners were on base.
There were the big kids on the other team, some of whose fathers obviously used their influence with the league office to get them in the game (if indeed this was organized ball, which it barely seemed to be).
There was the quiet kid with the weird haircut who never gets to play getting a chance and finally hitting the ball real far, but because his team lost, it didn't matter so nobody will remember by the time school starts on Monday.
Actually there were a lot of kids with weird haircuts.
And there were me and my friends. We were either filling the roles of overbearing Little League parents shouting instructions to our kids or found ourselves reborn as wide-eyed youngsters from the neighborhood quite surprised that they let us get so close to the diamond. Either way, we could yell all we wanted, but nobody was going to pay any attention to us.
Bottom line, of course, was the big kids from Milwaukee made our boys — save for David Newhan — appear very unskilled and all of us rather sad. Mr. Fielder's son and Mr. Gwynn's son and Mr. Hardy's son (whatever it is J.J. Sr. does for a living) bullied the Mets from the first to the ninth. Ruben Gotay and Carlos Delgado played like their minds were on their Xbox (two runs on a pop fly that was caught in short right?) and Mike Pelfrey may have punched his ticket for the City of New Orleans. The Brewers played like baseball's best team and the Mets showed no evidence that they are even close, even if they are. If ever there were cause for an “oh well,” this was it.
Oh well, the Mets got stomped. But I got to sit eight rows from the field and behind a net, which doesn't happen every day. In fact, it hasn't happened since 1999 and, given the inexorable Armitron ticking down on the life of the ballpark, it may be the last time I ever do. I'm keenly aware that everything I see or do may be The Last Time I Ever See/Do it at Shea, so I particularly appreciated this up-close-and-personal view, everything from the pronounced crack of the bat (except maybe Hardy's), to the break of the ball (which wasn't working for Pelf) to the generosity of the first baseman (less Delgado's decision to give Milwaukee an extra run in the fourth than the way he tossed three balls into the stands while standing on deck).
For this rare pleasure, I thank FAFIF commenter extraordinaire KingmanFan for a) being in a job that gained him access to this shining spot on the seating chart; b) having a wife and daughter who chose to get their hair done this glorious Saturday; c) thinking of this blog when looking to fill his suddenly empty chairs. I also tip my blolleague cap to the one and only Metstradamus, whose original invite to today's game was the only reason I was within 500 feet (SkyKing distance) of the field level offer. KF was gracious to absorb MD's generosity and treat us both to the primo perspective. I, on the other hand, technically sponged off the both of them. Great guys, great fans, great seats, great time.
Lousy game, but you can't have everything.