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Don't Anger Shea

The final homestand is at hand. These seven games, starting tonight, will determine how many/if any games beyond them might be played in 2007. I have a suggestion designed to make the most of our final-week home field advantage.

Don't anger Shea.

It's been a matter of curiosity all season that a team with the best road record in all of baseball (47-34) has been only moderately successful at home. The rule is kick ass when you bat last and maintain when you're away. The Mets, being the Mets, have turned this directive on its head and made life just that much harder on themselves. Entering the series-opener with Washington, they're 40-34 at Shea Stadium, almost certainly guaranteeing they will have a better record on the road than at home.

There isn't another contender or quasi-contender in the National League that can say that. It just isn't done.

Why has this happened? Because the fans are inconsiderate of their favorite millionaires' feelings? Because the horde of media is that much more massive? Because the players are nagged by their significant others before leaving for work and are thus distracted? Because sometimes anomalies occur?

All mildly plausible explanations, I suppose. But I have my own.

Shea Stadium is pissed off. It's cranky. It's hurt. And it's taking it out on the Mets the only way it knows how — by not being home-field-advantageous to its home team.

For this homestand, Mets management needs to tone down the Citi Field promotion. No more DiamondVision plugs. No more Preview Center [1]. No more “let's get it done!” You don't need to advertise the wonders of Citi Field this week. Citi Field is in plain sight. Its obvious and impressive progress is its best advertisement.

By hyping [2] it as much as you're doing right now, you're hurting Shea's feelings at the worst time possible.

Bad move. This is no time to tell our comrade-in-arms, our best ally, our oldest friend that we can't wait to place him on the curb for recycling. We need him. We need him desperately.

Should we manage a victory tonight, we are somehow tied with Arizona for best record in the N.L. It's almost slipped my mind, but we can still be the 1-seed and have HFA throughout the LDS and LCS should we make it that far. It didn't help us in Game Seven last year and our record would not indicate it's an asset this year, but those factors notwithstanding, wouldn't you rather more games be played at Shea than somewhere else?

I don't know how Shea is doing it, but Shea may be conspiring against us. Why should he display loyalty to us if management [3] is not loyal to him? Why should he care about going out in a blaze of glory if he is reminded not so subtly that, like the merchandise in the chop shops across 126th St., he will soon be stripped down and sold for parts?

I'm also guessing Shea's sensibilities are offended by the desperation the organization shows in its unseemly appeals for enthusiasm. Shea remembers when “MAKE SOME NOISE!” was an Astrodome conceit. That much Shea has probably gotten used to and sucked up, but what's with this steady drumbeat of celebrity nonsense on DiamondVision? Kevin James may be bona fide, but he's wearing a cap promoting a move that's already out of theaters and he's got the cadence all wrong. He's sacrificing the good of “LET'S GO METS!” for a cheap laugh. Chris Rock has wavered back and forth between New York teams his whole life. He looks uncomfortable leading our cheers. Robin Williams has no connection to the Mets save for a Comic Relief appearance in the booth seventeen years ago. Adam Sandler is a Yankees fan, for crissake.

This is like the sainted “Let's Go Mets!” video [4] being tainted by appearances from Scott Shannon and Mark McEwen and J.J. Kennedy, disc jockeys whose only interest in the Mets was the publicity it could lend their careers. Shea can smell such desperation. He's downwind from the Iron Triangle. He's smelled everything. The only non-baseball celebrities Shea needs to hear from on DiamondVision are the late Curly Howard [5] and Peter Finch [6]. The rest of us can handle LET'S GO METS! are on our own.

I tuned in early to the Phillies-Nationals game yesterday specifically to watch the farewell ceremonies to RFK. I don't know what I was expecting, but even with no expectations it was underwhelming. They rounded up seven 1960s Senators to trot out with current Nats to their positions. They couldn't find nine. Except for Frank Howard and Dick Bosman, the identities of most of them strained even my trivial impulses, though this was obviously an internal matter among Washingtonians. Still, they were remembering a blatantly unsuccessful franchise that played there a grand total of ten years more than 35 years ago while the current franchise has been in residence all of three years sans pennant. Plus RFK is a pretty beat [7] facility, to be kind.

But ya know what? I was moved. They were saying goodbye to a ballpark and it was sweet. I'm always watching out for the soul of a stadium and RFK got, at the very least, a classy acknowledgement of its existence. It will continue to exist for non-baseball purposes. It was never intended as more than a refugee encampment for the Nationals anyway.

One year and four days from now, September 28, 2008 [8], it will be our turn. No doubt the memory machine [9] is already cranking behind the scenes and I'm confident the Mets will do a worthy job when the moment of departure arrives. But this week, fraught with postseason implications, is special beyond the standings. This is the last homestand of the second-to-last season of Shea, in essence the final “regular” or “normal” final homestand of a season we'll ever have here, the last time we'll leave it with the certainty that we'll come back to it next spring. Let us proceed with dignity this week. Given the stakes, let us cheer our team on toward better things and let us remind Shea Stadium that it is still the family homestead.

Ballparks, I'm convinced, have feelings, too.