I didn't buy a pair of seats from Shea Stadium. I bought a brick instead. An outfield wall brick. It's a lot less than the seats if not quite equal value. Nine bricks, once you factor in shipping and taxes, would amount to two seats. You don't need nine bricks. I didn't need two seats.
One of the great internal debates of 2008, wherein I wondered why I didn't very badly want the seats, ended as soon as I saw the bricks had gone on sale. They were overpriced (you expected different?), but I didn't let that stop me. I didn't let my lack of budgeting for such a blocky bauble stop me. Nor did I let the advice of financial experts — none of whom said “put your money in bricks” — get in my way in these uncertain times. A Shea Stadium brick and I were destined to be together. Hopefully we won't be together on a street somewhere.
The seats? You'd think I'd have done that, wouldn't you? I sat in enough of them while they were active, you'd think I'd want to give two a good home. As long as we're adding consumer debt at the behest of sentiment and poor judgment, what's another $940 or whatever it is with New York State taxes? Well, it's a lot, obviously, but beyond the bill, the seats never sat right with me. I don't think I'd turn aside a pair that magically appeared at my front door, but seeking them out felt forced. It was like when playoff tickets went on sale and I sensed it was folly but before I knew it I had bought four for NLDS Game Five (let me know when that is, would you?). To my addled mind, the eventual postseason refund more than makes up for the price of the brick.
With rationalization skills like those, surely there's a job awaiting me in Washington.
Shea Stadium seats without Shea Stadium surrounding them felt wrong to me. They may feel great to you and I hope you enjoy yours if you went for it. I'm glad my partner has a pair en route to his backyard deck and that the legendary Chapman Wiffle Ball Grounds — 69 feet to center — will have a legitimate first base cheering section, with its Veterans Stadium seats bumped to the visitors' side where they belong. Mazel tov, as Shawn Green might say to Art Shamsky.
All through September, I sat in Shea Stadium seats and wondered if I'd literally feel comfortable in them in my living room. Ah, maybe, I thought. They weren't so bad to sit in and I'd finally have a reason to have horded all those Seat Cushion Night seat cushions all these years. The utility of them, however, was secondary to the “wow!” factor. “Wow! Shea Stadium seats…here!” But once the novelty wore off, I had a hunch it would become one more place on which the Princes would inevitably pile stray pillows and catalogues. We'd clear them off when company came and we'd take plenty of pictures of Hozzie and Avery napping on them, but after a while, they would be $940 reminders that I spent a lot on something I quite obviously didn't need and probably didn't really want.
Why a brick? The bricks were always there, even if they weren't the main motif or emphasized accent of Shea Stadium. The corner outfield walls were always there. They'd been covered up since a slight altering of the dimensions from 341 feet to 338 feet circa 1979, and you couldn't make them out in recent seasons thanks to the Dream Seats and whatnot, but I knew they were there. They were low-key. They were dignified. They were the quiet reserve of which Mets fans had deeper wells than is generally acknowledged. They were the somber Giant influence as opposed to the extraversion we adopted from the daffy Dodgers. They weren't added later. They were there from the beginning. To have a brick from Shea is to honestly say I have a piece of Shea. I've had my eye on those bricks since the late '90s, since they first started talking about replacing the park for real. Prorated over a decade's worth of staring at them, that's only like ten bucks a year. Sheesh, makes a hundred-dollar brick sound like a bargain.
Besides, it makes me feel better about having accepted a very well-meaning if as-not-yet completely embraceable Citi Field brick (heartfelt inscription notwithstanding). One for everything up to now; one for the rest of the way. I rather like the bookend effect even if they aesthetically don't match at all.
Plus it comes with my very own letter of authenticity, presumably addressed “Dear Sucker”. But still, I'll take it. This little piece of Shea, I assure you, will be in good hands with me.
This purchase decision in no way indicates I disagree with anything Steve Keane of The Eddie Kranepool Society so pungently and accurately says about the way this memorabilia money grab is being conducted. Then again, look at how much I'm saving on World Series tickets!