Pallets of brown corrugated boxes sit somewhere in Queens. They are filled with magnetic schedules. Could be the reason I suddenly feel something.
I already kind of don’t remember the first week of the 2008 season. I was there, it was there, but there wasn’t much there there. Admittedly, I haven’t managed to sit down and focus like a laser on nine contiguous innings, but that’s just an excuse to go with all the others. Whether it’s the hangover of ’07 (if you can have a hangover after drinking no Champagne) or the clammy New York spring or the inability to mix and match new Mets with previous Mets and call the collection a team or, to be blunt, the saggy 2-3 start, I’m just not feeling this particular campaign yet.
But where I’m headed in a matter of hours…I’m feeling that. I’m feeling the pull of Opening Day at Shea Stadium. It’s absolutely magnetic.
Somebody’s down in storage unloading those pallets right now. Case upon case of those brown boxes. Somebody’s cutting through the bands, somebody’s rendering the adhesive obsolete. I can hear the boxes tearing open. I can feel it. Somebody with a clipboard is directing a fleet of forklifts. These go to Gate E, these to Gate D and so on. Break ’em out, have ’em ready. Company’s coming.
It’s the Home Opener at Shea Stadium. They always hand out magnetic schedules, since 1997 at least. It’s the first sponsorship, the first promotion of the year: Kahn’s…Delta…whoever pays the freight. They used to give one to everybody. Now it’s the first 25,000 through the gates. You’d figure they could afford another pallet’s worth, given the Amazin’ advertising the thing provides. These magnets go up on 10,000 fridges and 10,000 filing cabinets in the Metropolitan area almost immediately. Who knows how many millions of times this summer somebody in New York or New Jersey or Connecticut will say “hang on a sec…let me check…” and crane a neck toward the schedule he or she was handed April 8 and positioned purposefully onto a cooperative surface April 9? Who knows how many Mets fans have waited patiently since September 30 to replace the previous magnetic schedule with a better one?
The new magnetic schedule’s gotta be better than its predecessor. It’s just gotta.
Or so we hope, which is fine — which is required, actually. Hope’s in fashion this morning and afternoon, no matter how few sparks the season to date has thrown off, no matter that the cast of 2008 doesn’t feel whole, as if we’re in the Archie Bunker’s Place phase of All In The Family.
Ah, stifle yourself. Enough moping that these Mets haven’t clinched a darn thing after one week on the job. Those were road games. They counted only in fact, not at heart. The season starts when Shea unshutters, when indifferently trained personnel dip into those brown boxes and peel off a magnetic schedule to you…and to you…and to you…and sorry, we’re all out, you shoulda got here sooner. The season starts upon first sighting of the big blue shell with the white trim, its amazing Technicolor dreamcoat of seats and its green, green grass of home.
The season starts at Shea. One more time it does. The contents of a pallet of corrugated boxes sitting somewhere in Queens says so.