I’m going to the tavern, Johnny. If there’s anything I can do for y’there, let me know.
—Stephen Hopkins, Delegate to the Continental Congress from Rhode Island (1776)
Guy walks into a bar. Says, “give me something special — something you don’t usually have.” Bartender says, “how about a Mets win?” Guy says, “you give me that, I’ll never leave.”
I suppose the punchline is I went to McFadden’s at Citi Field Thursday night and I got more or less exactly what I ordered. I showed up there because Sharon Chapman and I had organized our little Buy Tug a Beer pregame fundraising event — thanks to all who attended, contributed and spread the word in advance — but didn’t bother to obtain tickets for the Mets game to take place on the other side of the wall. It was very cold, I have a stubborn cold and the Mets of late have been making everybody sick. Therefore, my plan was to enjoy the happy hour with our visitors, maybe take in an inning on one of the many McScreens and bolt for the 7, the LIRR and two tablespoons of Robitussin.
But the same Mets who couldn’t drag me into their ballpark just steps away from where I sat wouldn’t let me completely out of their gravitational pull. Terry Collins came out to argue balls and strikes. Well, I’ll stay and watch this — he got himself thrown out! Chris Capuano looked pretty good. Let’s see if he can keep it going. Mets were, per usual, not scoring. Hold on, Nickeas homered! His first! Capuano still sharp. I guess I can still make the…HEY WRIGHT FINALLY CONNECTED!
Resistance was futile. My friends Jim and George, actual ticketholders who were among those who dropped in to support the Tug McGraw Foundation, never rushed to their actual seats, so I never rushed for my train. We ordered food, the Mets and I took turns taking our hacks (they used bats; mine were from chest congestion) and I felt much better as the night wore on and the runs piled up.
Kind of strange to go to Citi Field without actually going to Citi Field while a Mets game was in progress inside Citi Field. Call it a changeup, like the Mets resorting to their two-tone caps or Jason Bay returning to left field. Whatever it was, it worked. For the second time this season, I spent the balance of a Mets game inside a bar within hitting distance of Citi Field, and for the second time this season, the Mets won going away.
So why would I want to go away from such a scene?
McFadden’s was pretty well-attended from innings one through nine. Maybe it had something to do with the weather. Would never occur to me to journey to Zip Code 11368 and not make the extra effort to gain entry to its ballpark, but boy was it windy out there. And boy was it not at all bad where we were. Lots of television screens (though, strangely, not all) tuned to SNY; Gary and Keith piped in over the PA; sound effects cleverly mixmastered here and there (a little “William Tell Overture” for a Met rally…well done); commercials drowned out by C+C Music Factory and other upbeat acts; fine fried calamari materializing on the table; friendly service from one of those nice young ladies…I couldn’t blame anybody for coming to the game without actually going to the game as long as McFadden’s was being so accommodating.
The highlight of the evening was the dropped fly ball that Hunter Pence and Jason Bay teamed to turn into a four-base error/Little League home run in the eighth. Everybody looked up from their chicken wings as the long-absent Bay tested his rib cage. We weren’t sure how it was going to be scored when Jason crossed the plate, thus Jim briefly thought he missed witnessing his first live inside-the-park home run and lamented his decision to stay exclusively indoors.
Come now, I said to Jim: on an Arctic night, by the eighth inning, “you would’ve been in McFadden’s already.” He didn’t argue the point. When you win 9-1 and you can leave the frozen ballpark environs still feeling your fingers, what’s to debate?