If anyone hasn’t noticed, summer is here.
Oh boy, is it ever here.
Emily and I headed for Citi Field with our friends Erin and Marie on the first full day of our stay-home-and-work-vacation sans child (not to worry, he’s with grandparents having a fine time), and the blast furnace that was early-morning Brooklyn let us know what we were in for. So: Lather up the sunscreen, leave those extra layers at home, make a plan to hydrate and head for the game.
Though we were actually headed to the foot of Wall Street to catch the Delta Baseball Water Taxi. Which, for the uninitiated, is awesome: It’s free, cool on the top deck (and air-conditioned below), takes about as long as the subway, and you get a great tour of the New York waterways, including things seen fairly rarely, such as the Hell Gate Bridge and a unique view of La Guardia. Plus there’s an odd effect as you approach Citi Field: The tangle of roadways and parking lots between the park and Flushing Bay is foreshortened out of apparent existence, making it look like the park is right on the water — a slice of San Francisco. Flushing Bay isn’t the most gorgeous body of water I’ve ever seen, but on final approach I had a brief fantasy of knocking down all that stuff and making the illusion a reality. (Too bad there’s no water taxi back. And that they have one for the Yankees.)
I passed a companionable time on board with Saltzy, a Baseball Fever fixture, talking everything from David Wright striking out with tying runs on third (we were both against it) and what we’d be willing to trade for Cliff Lee to how excited we could be and how the Mets and/or HOK could have messed up so many sightlines. Then it was time to get our travel mugs and head for the Pepsi Porch, which felt about 93 million miles closer to the sun than I knew it actually was. It wasn’t a dry heat, either — should you be insane and want to achieve the same effect, you could lie out in the yard on a summer day covered with a comforter or a dog you’d soaked in hot water, except either comforter or dog would have to be made out of some transparent material that allowed the sun to beat down on any exposed flesh it could find. Lovely!
But what the heck. It was going to be hot no matter what you did, so why not be at the ballpark? We hydrated (I hydrated mostly with beer until Emily pointed out that I was becoming delirious and enforced a time-out), dumped ice on our heads, stalked the faintest evidence of breezes like bloodhounds, chatted with very nice Twins fans (I think there’s some kind of niceness test for getting to buy a TC hat) and cheered for what was going on down there on the field. Which for a while seemed like a continuation of yesterday, with Jeff Francoeur making dopey mistakes on the bases and Mets hitters unable to lay a finger on a Twins pitcher. (Which I’d witnessed at a bar Saturday via peeks at Gameday when I wasn’t staring at U.S.A.-Ghana waiting for something to happen, not counting 50,000 people making the most irritating noise possible. Sorry, soccer — I tried. If there’s a gene for appreciating you, I don’t have it.)
But then, things started to change. First was Francoeur’s laser beam down the left-field line and into the seats. Next was Wright’s arcing drive a bit to the right. And then Ike Davis … oh my goodness.
Both Francoeur and Wright’s drives were clearly gone off the bat, even from my still-unfamiliar vantage point in the Pepsi Porch. But the ball Davis hit was one of those shots that gets everybody on their feet before it clears the second baseman’s head. There was this crack, and then the ball rising like it had been hit by someone about 20 feet tall. It was Mike Piazza taking aim at a VIP tent, Mo Vaughn seeing how high up the Budweiser sign he could put one. Davis, Francoeur said later, has “got stupid pop. I told David mine went farther, David goes, ‘Mine went out faster,’ and then we both watched Ike hit and we said, ‘Well, we’ll shut up now.’ ”
After that it was a nice slow chug to victory, with Team Brooklyn making a strategic middle-innings retreat to the Promenade Club, then a seventh-inning return to the Pepsi Porch. By now the stadium was half-empty as fans crept up into the shade, wandered off in delirium or, perhaps, disappeared when their body fluids skipped boiling and sublimated into vapor. I’ll confess that in the top of the ninth inning I had no particular desire to see Jesus Feliciano do anything but pop up the first pitch, because enough. Three Bobby Parnell outs later we were racing (OK, walking slowly and sweatily) to a blissfully chilly, nearly empty car on the 7. The Mets, meanwhile, were headed for Puerto Rico and an encounter with the apparently still Bobby Valentineless Marlins. It’ll be hot down there. Let’s hope the Mets stay the same way.