The Mets hadn't risen so high this week that they were in danger of contracting vertigo, but I was feeling a little less than steady Friday among the upper boxes.
Never mind Row V (or my forthcoming Seven-Pack stay in Row Q). At least up there there's a railing to grab hold of as you make your way down the stairway from the stars, if not an oxygen tank as you make your way up its thousand steps. I was reminded last night that the most treacherous spot in Shea Stadium — besides behind Aaron Heilman — is the steep slope you have to negotiate if your ticket tells you you're in a UR Box B or A. Maybe you're nimble and you're fine, but I'm not and I wasn't.
In the best spirit of the Met offense, nothing really happened, but I didn't like the short trip to my seat. I really didn't like the guys in seats 3 and 4 rising every five minutes for another overpriced beer (or to rid their systems of the previous one). Nice guys, bad habits. I had the aisle, which I greatly appreciate for legroom, but all the getting up unsteadied me. With nothing to hold onto as I stepped onto the steps to let their thirsty asses out, I made myself a near-nuisance to those around me as I looked to grasp and clutch anything and anybody so I would feel more secure.
When not being rousted, I was engaged in my usual nine-inning yapathon with Jim Haines, who invited me at about the last minute he could have for me to make it. I hadn't been to Shea on a Friday night all season (I've now seen them lose every day of the week but Sunday) and I hadn't been to Shea with Jim since the third date of the Collapse Tour, so it was worth the rush.
It's always worth the rush to join Jim. Actually, we've been joined at the proverbial hip since 2001 when we met and discovered we're basically the same person, at least in terms of topline interests and drill-down instincts. If you'd like to listen in on a four-inning critique of when and why M*A*S*H went downhill, two innings on what's irredeemable about six different radio formats and a three-inning version of Kiner's Korner in which Ralph unloads on everyone who ever did him wrong (Jim's arsenal of voices includes a spectacularly grumpy Walter Matthau, I discovered to my delight last night) — laced with intermittent takes on how certain publishers ruined certain magazines — then sit next to us. But don't keep getting up to buy a Bud and use the John. I hate that.
Only problem going to a Mets game with Jim, at least this game, is Jim doesn't yet approach the Zen state I actively seek where the 2008 Mets are concerned. I know they kind of suck and am learning to accept it. Jim knows they kind of suck yet it still bothers him. It leaves him questioning why he likes baseball, why he watches baseball, why he allows the Mets to disturb his biorhythms, why do they HAVE TO SUCK SO MUCH?
I cannot answer those questions for Jim. He must discover his own inner path and I hope the steps he takes are not perilously steep. But I do know with great certainty that M*A*S*H never recovered from the horribly indulgent two-part episode that sent Radar home in 1979.