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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Let Me Flask You Something...

Who can identify the last time or place anyone took a gold eagle or sovereign from his purse and slapped it on the table to pay for dinner? Who can identify the last company of archers sent into battle by a captain who still believed a well-drawn flight of arrows could overmatch a volley of bullets? Who can identify the last time a two-dollar bill was folded into a matchbox and passed to buy a vote?
—Theodore White, America in Search of Itself: The Making of the Presidents 1956-1980


Pass me that bottle and mind your own business.
—Harry Truman, as imagined by the Rainmakers, “Downstream

You know what you don’t really see much anymore? Guy sneaking a flask into a ballgame. I don’t know that I’ve ever actually seen it. Maybe it happens all the time, but I’m thinking that’s a football thing. Or an alcoholic thing. Might have seemed like an excellent plan as recently as Wednesday night when the Mets were dropping their twelfth decision in fourteen appointments and everybody who wasn’t tethered to cough syrup (like myself) needed to be seeking relief in something stronger than free samples of Pepsi Max.

But we were so much older then. We’re younger than that now. We’re where we were in the heady period that spanned April 2 to April 5, those halcyon days of the first three-game winning streak of 2011. I can say first because — wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles — we have another, and it’s going on RIGHT NOW! It’s true. I’ve done the math, and by winning Thursday, Friday and Saturday without losing on any days that were added to the calendar when they were reworking the zodiac, it adds up to three consecutive wins.

That’s eight off the team record and four from being what a more confident fan base might consider a noteworthy winning streak, but let us not killjoy this thing with logic. We’ve won three in a row. I’m not well-versed as regards illicit alcohol, but I would think that’s a reason to hoist your pints out in the open, not drown your sorrows via snuck-in containers.

A flask? Who sneaks in a flask?

The guy in front of me out in right field was who. Maybe there was a touch of irony intended. Dude was pretty young — legal certainly, but not of the flask demographic, which I would tab as someone pulling a fast one in 1954. He was part of a birthday group of about fifteen guys and gals who weren’t much trouble yet I would have consigned to a different section altogether had I had my druthers (which I rarely do in a public situation). Two guys took turns giving each other the finger all day, and not out of empathy for Bobby Parnell. It was that kind of birthday party. Not a 1-800-FLOWERS cake in sight.

Vodka was in the flask, I learned. I can see how it might have slipped by the battery of anti-flask barriers set up by management. This group brought their own food, and lots of it, and somewhere amid the capicola and deviled eggs, a flask could just get “lost”. Lotsa food, these people had. I always admire the people who err on the side of too much when they make their pregame deli trips. This guy, for example, was bearing several heroic sandwiches. One of the finger-givers worked on a big bag of Lay’s while one of his non-finger companions unfurled a budget-size sack of Rold Gold. That’s a movable ballpark feast. Best I could do was a turkey wrap from the King Kullen that I had the presence of mind to pick up Friday and save for Saturday, consuming it while waiting out the rain delay in a dark corner of the Promenade Club — or the Braniff Airlines departure lounge, as the regulars at LaGuardia know it by sight.

Not that Citi Field lacks for the culinary, but the economy inherent in the big bag of sandwiches, snacks and sealed containers is unbeatable. Perhaps that’s where the flask of vodka came in. How much is a beer at the ballpark? Haven’t partaken of my occasional Blue Point Toasted Lager as of yet this season, but the price of anything can get hefty by the cup. Flask of vodka? I didn’t have to fail microeconomics more than once to infer that’s a relative bargain.

The flask was passed around a bit, so its impact on the flask guy was diluted. Plus he alternated sips with a bottle of cranberry juice cocktail and a bottle of water. He may be a problem drinker in some facet of his life — I mean he brought a flask of vodka to a baseball game — but he wasn’t a problem today. A little annoying when he shouted “FIRE ’EM ALL!” after Frankie Rodriguez surrendered a single to Juan Miranda (who had the right to remain hitless), but not major Drunk in the Next Row type of hassle. Many were worse at Shea. Shea was Kelcy’s Bar compared to Citi Field. Must have been less expensive to get soused there, or perhaps all those Designated Driver golf shirt signup sheets really have proved a boon to safety and civility.

Now why, beyond your own demons for which you should seek counseling, would somebody feel it necessary to sneak a flask of vodka into a Saturday afternoon ballgame? I’m not using economy as a motive; that’s just a benefit. Two reasons as best as I can figure would go into taking this action:

1) Terrible weather.

2) Terrible baseball.

Granted, the day did not lurch to a promising start with all that rain, but it turned quite pleasant. My winter coat was the right outerwear before first pitch, excessive by the ninth inning. If the flask was brought along as protection against the elements, then it outlived its usefulness. On the other hand, you’ve brought the flask, what’s the point of not opening and draining it regardless of climate? Remember having your lunch packed in the fridge the night before, then waking up too sick to go to school? Didn’t you love eating your school lunch out of its brown bag at home?

The baseball, like the weather, improved as the day went along, too. The reasons not to drink…

• Dillon Gee’s six crackling innings of adequacy

• back-to-back bombs from Bay and Ike so powerful that Harry Truman would have thought long and hard before ordering them deployed;

• Josh Thole’s sincerely doofy grin when Tillman the Skateboarding Bulldog delivered the ceremonial first pitch to kick off Bark in the Park Day;

• Pedro “What Idiots Rule 5’d Him?” Beato and Jason Isringhausen rendering at least temporarily obsolete the dependence on high-leverage no-shows like Byrdak, Buchholz and Carrasco;

• and the all-important but oft-missing tack-on run, as delivered by Daniel “Bonehead” Murphy in the eighth

…surely outweighed the reasons why a Mets fan would want to drown multiple sorrows in smuggled vodka…

• Murphy earning the Bonehead sobriquet with characteristic defense that makes me hope very much that any bonehead can play second base;

• Miguel Montero’s demonstrated ability to wipe out half the planet’s population three times over with just one swing;

• the fact that Mets fans with dogs are welcome to parade around the Citi Field warning track but no similar invitation has been issued to Mets fans with banners;

• and a sense that too many Mets were left on base for eight innings and that K-Rod was putting too many Diamondbacks on base in the ninth inning and that ohmigod, let me get a hit off that flask.

But we won. We won our third in a row. We won our third game of the year when I was either in a bar near Citi Field, in a bar at Citi Field or fascinated by the actions of those I just as soon would have preferred spent their afternoon in a bar far away from Citi Field.

I guess I can drink to that.

19 comments to Let Me Flask You Something…

  • LWFS

    Don’t you dare judge me!

    I LIKE flower cake, you high-and-mighty bastich.

  • Will in Central NJ

    Greg, I don’t condone any over-the-top, vodka-fueled behavior at the ballpark, and I’m not saying that your latest essay does either, but you brought to mind a memory that involved my fairly regualar smuggling of alcohol into pre-9/11 Shea.

    When my now-teenage son was an infant (late in the Dallas Green era), my wife and I used to smuggle a couple of beers into ol’ Shea in a diaper bag decorated with giraffes and such. Those burly Shea security guys would see a young couple with a sleeping 6-month old in his foldable stroller, tear our tickets, and wave us in (past the table of confiscated bottles and cans) with a smile, through the wheelchair gate.

    Our justification was that, by smuggling in 2 or 3 cans of beer, we would save the $13 – $20 from beer purchases, and apply that savings toward a future pair of tickets in the Upper Reserved. Flawless logic! The Mets would get us back for another visit, and we’d quench our thirst while taking in an Expos-Mets game! Oh, the memories….

    • I’m trying to figure out if the curtailed concessions revenue contributed to the Expos being forced to move to Washington. The visitors probably don’t get any of that anyway.

      I judge nobody’s mores if they don’t turn my enjoying a ballgame into enduring a ballgame.

  • I’ll give you 3 guesses who used to bring in a personal liquid stash to the odd Giants or Jets game we’d attend when I was young. (Hint: starts with “S” & rhymes with “flip.”)

  • Hmm, did they nix the 1-800-Flowers cake this year? I feel like they’ve done that one for years.

    • dak442

      They still have that. It always cracks me up. Imagine the excitement in being told you’ve won something just for sitting in your seats, and then you find out it’s a cake. A cake made of flowers. Wait, what? It’s a birthday cake but I can’t eat it? I wonder how many of them remain on the floor under the seat with the peanut shells at game’s end.

      My friends and I used to smuggle in all manner of booze in the 80s. We probably got a bit rambunctious for more sedate fans’ druthers. Good times. At least for us.

      • One of the benefits of the Mets drawing fewer fans is that for those who are receiving flower cakes midgame, there’s plenty of seats on which to rest their “prize” for the remainder of the game.

        • dak442

          Yes, it’s been well over a year since I had to put our tote bag of supplies on the floor where it usually steeps in a puddle of spilled beer and who-knows-what-else.

  • You nailed it in your fourth sentence. Flasks are very much a football thing, especially late in the season when the hawk winds start swirling around the Meadowlands. I’ve been known to flask it myself (usually with bourbon) none to infrequently. Guess this is just indicative of the differences between the cultures of the two sports, because I wouldn’t have thought twice about what I saw if I was in your seat at New Shea yesterday.

  • mikeinbrooklyn

    I had a friend who used to bring oranges to the game. Only beforehand, he had carefully prepared them by using a hypodermic needle to shoot vodka into them. A sort of screwdriver affect, I’m thinking. Where he got, or why he had, hypodermic needles I’ll never know.

  • The flask I got for being in my sister’s wedding–filled with whiskey I believe–was all that kept us going after Scioscia’s homer in the ’88 playoffs. I was too cold, too depressed, and too damned sober when they nightmare of a game was over.

  • Bobby F.

    Yes, the warning track’s many potential uses. I enjoyed your piece on banner day, as I try to catch up on some reading. Sign me up to petition the suits. Maybe you can catch them at this, their most vulnerable time.

    Here’s something I also think about every now and then: the bullpen cart. As a kid I was really into it. Ch 9 would show the entire trip. I suppose SNY might balk at losing the commercial cash …

    Anyway, the cart would stop in front of the dugout, as you know, and out popped Skip Lockwood. Very cool for a kid who thought Buzz Capra had Cooperstown upside.

    Granted, the bullpen cart is not an original Mets’ creation, but perhaps a cart splattered with the colorful images of the Mets’ yearbooks covers — or something like that — would add some real blue and orange to the joint. We’d have to convince the pen arms to jump in the thing.

    • Will in Central NJ

      During my first trip to Fenway Park in June 1994, I went into the huge souvenir store across Yawkey Way from the venerable ballpark. While looking around, lo and behold, there on the sales floor was the genuine Red Sox bullpen cart—a Bosox version of what we used to see at Shea. A baseball with a Boston cap, and headlights set into fake mitts. I agree, the Mets should track down their old bullpen cart, and display it in CitiField somewhere!

      (Postscript: on my second visit to Fenway in September 2010, the cart was sadly no longer there in the souvenir store. Salesclerks had no idea what I was talking about.)

  • rich

    hahahaha..good stuff!

  • Kevin From Flushing

    My girlfriend (wearing 2 coats in the Promenade) and I were making Miranda jokes every time he came to the plate. The capper was in 9th inning when I imagined how legendary it would be for him to hit a go-ahead home run, then grab a microphone as he crossed the plate, point to the crowd, and say, “you all have the right to remain silent.”

    If he ever does it in a big-time spot, you can bet Buck or McCarver will say something similar. Coming from them, however, it will be the opposite of cool.

    • Kevin From Flushing

      Oof, didn’t realize Miranda was an ex-Skank. I’m guessing Sterling already played out the Miranda jokes after the first time he made one.

  • ShalomMetsJets

    I saw flasks all the time in the 70s and 80s at both Mets and Jets games. I don’t think I’ve seen one since Torborg. I always bring my own food in, but stick to water or soda. The beer is too expensive and too watered down.