- Faith and Fear in Flushing - http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

The Other Ballpark

“Greg? Is that you?”

“Um, yeah. Hi Shea.”

“Where have you been all Friday? You missed the day-night doubleheader on TV. The Mets swept!”

“I heard. Great for us.”

“You must’ve heard. You have an extra-big smile on your face.”

“Sure. I’m always happy when the Mets take two.”

“From the Phillies, no less.”

“Yeah, I guess that’s who they played.”

You guess! Silly boy. You know it was a potential battle for first place and that by sweeping the Mets ensured they’ll at the very least leave town no worse than where they came in.”

“You don’t say.”

“Well, you missed an exciting day of baseball. I’m going to get a crusty usher to wipe down your cramped seat with a grimy wet rag so I can tell you all about it. Fish a single out of your wallet.”

“No, that’s OK. I’ll just stand here.”

“Well at least let me find you a stale pretzel and a Diet Pepsi with no cap. It’ll only be $8.50.”

“Um, no. I’m good. I had something.”

“Are you all right, Greg? Usually you’re starved for what I can give you.”

“No. I mean yeah. Fine. I’m fine. What’s with the third degree?”

“How about a nice five-dollar-and-twenty-five-cent [1] slice of Sbarro pizza?”

“No.”

“Maybe I should get you some help. There’s a number for the Dallas police department somewhere above a urinal [2] in my upper deck…”

“I said I’m fine!”

“Greg, something about you is different. You don’t want to sit with me. You don’t want anything I’m offering you. You’re suddenly immune to my charms. And you weren’t around to watch the doubleheader against the Phillies…wait! You weren’t…YOU WERE!”

“What?”

“You were at Citizens Bank Park today!”

“Huh? What would make you say such a crazy thing?”

“Don’t deny it! A stadium knows when one of its fans has been somewhere else. And what’s that plastic red batting helmet in your bag? That’s a…PHILLIES ICE CREAM HELMET! You were!”

“Now, Shea, don’t get all hysterical on me.”

“HYSTERICAL? You’re cheating on me!”

“What cheating? I went to see the Mets! I’ve gone to see the Mets in other ballparks before. I’ve shown you the pictures. I went to RFK two years ago [3] and you didn’t mind.”

“Yes, but this is different.”

“Why?”

“Because it’s Philadelphia. Because it’s so close. Because you think that tarted-up, red-brick whore of a new ballpark of theirs is prettier than me!”

“Shea, don’t be like that.”

“I’ll be any way I wanna be!”

“Yeah. That’s the problem.”

“WHAT DID YOU SAY?”

“Huh?”

“I said WHAT DID YOU SAY?”

“Oh, I’m sorry. I couldn’t hear you over your decrepit, ancient sound system.”

“I NEVER!”

“That’s right you never. You never sound good. You’re never comfortable to be in. Your food tastes terrible. Your bathrooms are a horror show. You make it impossible for me to get around you. You treat me as if I have nowhere else to go.”

“How could you say all that after we’ve been together for 35 years [4]? After all the great times we’ve had together this year [5]?”

“Oh Shea. It’s not about that.”

“What do you mean it’s not about that? You, Mr. Sentimental Blogger, you, it’s always about that with you. That practical ‘why shouldn’t we be modern and comfortable’ jazz is Jason’s bit [6]. With you, it’s always ‘Shea Stadium is home, Shea Stadium is special, Shea Stadium is ours [7].’ I guess I’m not that special anymore, huh?”

“No.”

“WHAT?”

“Well, not with that crappy attitude.”

“WHAT?”

“No, I’ve NEVER liked your attitude! I love YOU, but your attitude SUCKS! You act as if I’m doing you a favor by being with you as often as I am. I was with you last Friday [8], last Saturday [9], last Monday [10], last Tuesday [11], and you squeeze me for every dime, you paw through my stuff, you eye me suspiciously, you give me no room to breathe, you act like I’m some sort of moron [12], you don’t even speak clearly to me.”

“And I suppose Citizens Bank Park speaks clearly to you.”

“Yes, as a matter of fact, Citizens Bank Park has the greatest sound system I’ve ever heard at a baseball game.”

“When did that become so important to you?”

“It isn’t. I don’t care about a sound system, but…”

“But what?”

“But it’s nice to be somewhere where things work the way they you figure they’re supposed to in the 21st century.”

“Oh, don’t worry. You’ll have a place like that soon enough.”

“Don’t start with that Citi Field stuff again. I’ve barely given Citi Field a second look.”

“What are you talking about? I’ve read your mash notes [13]!”

“That? I was just trying to be fair.”

“Fair? Are you fair to me? You’re running down to PHILADELPHIA to sit in that floozy tramp of a stadium?”

“It’s not a stadium. It’s a ballpark.”

Excuse me. I forgot multipurpose stadiums aren’t adequate for Mr. Ballpark anymore. Mr. ‘PNC Park [14] is so precious, let’s move it to Flushing.'”

“Not this again.”

“Don’t think I’ve forgotten all those googly-eyes you were making at Pittsburgh five years ago.”

“It was just a vacation.”

“So now you need a vacation from me?”

“Stop putting words in my mouth. How about putting some decent food in my mouth?”

“WHAT DID YOU SAY?”

“Shea, you make me sick with the garbage you sell me. Why do you think I keep bringing sandwiches with me from 7-Eleven?”

“You said it was your delicate digestive condition.”

“Who do you think gave me the indigestion in the first place?”

“Oh, that’s it. You’re not seeing any more games in me for two weeks.”

“Like I don’t know the schedule.”

“Anything else? Anything else your pretty ditzhead of a ‘ballpark’ do for you yesterday?”

“Well, everybody who worked there couldn’t have been nicer.”

“So why don’t you go to Disneyland if you want nice?”

“Do you have to take everything I say the wrong way?”

“Well, what do you want from me? I forced all the ticket scanners to spit out a ‘Welcome to Shea Stadium’ after you go through security. And you get some of your change back correctly if there’s change at all. Isn’t that enough?”

“Maybe not.”

“You don’t come to me for the Mets? Didn’t you always say that that’s what you and me are all about?”

“Again with the words in my mouth. Yes, Shea, I love you and the Mets and you know it. But god it was refreshing to be in a place where everybody treats you like a valued guest, not a shakedown object. Where everybody smiles and not just because they begrudgingly went through some half-assed customer-training session. And a place where I can hear the PA, yet not be overwhelmed by it and where I can see everything from everywhere and where they serve some of the best barbecue I’ve ever had. Where I can go to the men’s room and come out dry!”

“So I’m not good enough for you anymore?”

“Hmm.”

“What? What did you say? Was that a ‘yes’? I’m not good enough for you anymore?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“One doubleheader and you’re through with me?”

“I wasn’t there for the doubleheader.”

“Don’t lie to me.”

“I’m not lying. I was there just for the day game [15].”

“You were?”

“Yeah. I met my friend Fred from Baltimore at 30th Street Station because Philadelphia was a mutually convenient spot in the middle and there were tickets for the game available since it was a makeup of a rainout. I didn’t stay for the nightcap [16]. I listened to it on the train coming back.”

“So you don’t love that…that place enough to have stayed the whole day?”

“I guess not.”

“Oh Greg! You do love me more than any ballpark!”

“I didn’t say I didn’t.”

“Oh come here and let me charge you an arm and a leg for subpar concessions and surliness. Tell you what, let’s forget everything I said and we’ll watch today’s game on Fox together. You can tell me all the things you love about me [17] all over again.”

“I can’t.”

“Why not? I’m not mad at you anymore.”

“I’m going back.”

“What?”

“I’m going back later today. Taking another train and meeting some other people. Going to another Mets game in Philadelphia.”

“Oh. I see. Well. I hope you’re very happy together, you and your SIGHTLINE SLUT! GO! GO HAVE ANOTHER BULL’S BARBECUE SANDWICH! [18] GO HAVE SOME MORE TURKEY HILL ICE CREAM! GO USE A CLEAN BATHROOM! GO BE TREATED LIKE A HUMAN BEING!”

“Um, OK. See you tonight. Bye.”