My gosh, that was a lot of fun at Citi Field on Tuesday night! R.A. Dickey with another complete game, Ruben Tejada skilled at bat and in the field, Nick Evans maintaining his momentum, Angel Pagan making like it was the first half of the season and Carlos Beltran making like it was the first half of his career.
My gosh, it was depressing at Citi Field on Tuesday night! There was nobody there. If not literally nobody, then incredibly close to it. Whoever was there made as little noise as possible, save for the bursts of energy that would emanate during the scoring of nine Mets runs and the completion of nine Dickey innings. The paid attendance isn’t worth citing. Let’s just say your row was your own and probably your section, too.
That’s not bad as far as fan comfort goes, but these things work better with a crowd. No crowd on Tuesday night. More like a klatch. Beds were made in advance and the lying in them was not unexpected. Still, vacant is vacant, and that business of how “there are 5,000 but they sound like 50,000” didn’t apply. If we were 5,000, we sounded like 500. That’ll happen at Empti Field.
But the game was full of good stuff. Oh, R.A., can’t you stick around this winter and have a snowball fight with us? With your 57 MPH knuckler, you’d be a more sporting opponent than Randy Johnson — and better company when we go sledding afterwards. And Ruben…where have you been lately? Oh right, nailed to the bench by the mad manager Manuel. Jerry accidentally wrote you into the lineup and you’re the second baseman again. I always love watching you field. Watching you hit was a boost to my fan esteem.
Nick Evans, walkoff hero of Monday night (which was acknowledged by absolutely nobody when he was announced in the lineup or when he came up to bat the first time) earned the right to keep playing at least one more game by crushing a home run to dead center. If Evans had been saving it up for months to show Manuel he still exists, the message should have been received — though with Jerry, the phone is usually turned off.
Pagan woke up and Beltran hit like a younger or perhaps just less injured man. It was just a crisp, crisp game on a crisp, crisp night. These Mets reminded me of the Mets who were once 2010 contenders. Didn’t hurt that the visiting Pirates reminded me of the Orioles and Indians from that same distant period when we were steaming hot.
Empti Field, however, is surely playing out the string. So many concessions were closed on Field and Promenade levels I’m surprised they weren’t boarded up. (Shake Shack, however, could form a line even if it was sentenced to life in solitary.) My friend Rob and I, extending our games attended streak to at least one in every season since 1995, found an open outpost upstairs. I asked for a hot dog and a knish. The knishes, the polite lady said, weren’t ready.
Ah, it was too nice a night to make a big deal of it, but it was five minutes to seven. What were they saving the knishes for — Simchat Torah? The other day, Stephanie and I got a similar answer in one of the swanky clubs we sampled. The menu said there was mushroom pizza available. That was a new one on us, so we asked for it. We were told it wasn’t ready. Just like the knish. Hmmm…perhaps the knish and the mushroom pizza, like Billy Paul and Mrs. Jones, got a thing going on.
Anyway, I went with the hot dog and pretzel instead; both were ready and both were excellent. Sometimes simple is best. Same for our seats. I asked at the box office a couple of weeks ago for two Promenade Reserved Infield, the second-least expensive tickets they had. They gave me Section 514, Row 11, about as good as I’ve ever had in this place. We could’ve moved down, I suppose, but the night and the view weren’t going to get any better.
It helps when you have all the room you want at a baseball game. That’s the hidden value of a Value night at Empti Field. That’s also the pity of it. Someday, September will be crowded and you won’t be able to sit where you want and the prevailing excuse at the concessions will likely be not that “it isn’t ready” but “we’ve run out of everything.”
And that, for all it implies about the possibilities inherent in September baseball, will be fantastic.