The 2013 All-Star Game is barely over and I’ve already forgotten all but its most salient details:
• Tom Seaver threw out the first pitch, looking as robust as ever.
• David Wright accounted for one-third of the National League’s three-hit attack, in rough proportion to how much of the Mets’ offense he’s accounted for in recent years.
• Some idiot in a CANO 24 shirt was tackled by Citi Field security.
• Orange and blue were in abundance.
The National League may have gone down to defeat but the evening wasn’t a total Mets loss. Inanities of the game itself aside — from the non-Mets’ pitiful showing on the N.L. side to the usual gamut of overwrought Foxian gushing to Billy Wagner’s music being cued up despite 2006 having been a long time ago — the Metropolitan stamp all over All-Star festivities sparkled. Given that I was just a tad over 18 months old in July of 1964 and therefore possess limited memory of the exploits of Johnny Callison (though I do recall something about a very sharp batting helmet), I’d always wondered what it would be like if the Mets hosted one of these babies. Once Shea went away, it became less about a burning desire to be on hand and more simple curiosity to what it would look and feel like. Would it be stupendous? Strange? Undeniably different from when it’s somewhere else? Would we, to paraphrase George Carlin, be a credit to our row and do right by the Midsummer Classic?
Yes will suffice as answer to all of those questions. The All-Star Game takes place at Riverfront Stadium in my mind, since that was the first site where I saw it on TV. It takes place in Kansas City, since that had been the last place where I saw it on TV. It took place almost everywhere that wasn’t beautiful downtown Metsopotamia. I still feel robbed that Shea Stadium never got a second crack at the darn thing (thanks again, Al Harazin). That was where I wanted to see it live. Citi Field, despite my animus toward it having mostly dissolved, just didn’t have that appeal to me personally, which I guess is why I resisted the opportunity to pony up for a ticket. It was the difference between being damn sure I was going to be at Shea’s finale and not much caring that I wasn’t at Citi’s debut — or absolutely needing to see Billy Joel five years ago this week at Shea versus altogether ignoring Paul McCartney in Shea’s successor structure four years ago. One place mattered deeply in my heart, the other is still working on it.
That said, hell yes to Citi Field having hosted the All-Star Game, even as viewed from Section LR (Living Room). Better the Mets than everybody else. Better our colors and our skyline and our captain and our phenom and our legend and our history shining in the spotlight for days on end than the rest of the world’s. Better our transit system briefly breaking down after the Home Run Derby than whatever trains might run in Minneapolis next year. Flushing — and nowhere else — is where the All-Star Game now takes place to my thinking. Give me that overwhelming parochialism when I haven’t experienced it before. Give me Seaver throwing to Wright then making way for Harvey while Gooden watches from great seats. Bleah on Kevin James, but hooray that it’s one of our celebrity fans plugging a dismal movie. And give me a seating bowl and standing room engorged with mostly Mets fans, cheering David and Matt and Tom, booing assorted interlopers and not being anybody else but Mets fans.
Oh, and give me FanFest in Mets flavors again someday. Sorry it has to be Brigadoon and that it can’t be a sixth borough. How nice to enjoy an exposition that’s all baseball all the time for five days (I went for two). How nice that as you make your way to the Javits Center, it’s Mets fans coming, Mets fans going, Mets fans being Mets fans in broad daylight. It was as if I opened my eyes and the Metscape that exists in my wildest dreams had practically come to life. Truth be told, the depth of this FanFest felt a little shallower than in 2008, but it more than made up for its modest shortcomings with Mets, Mets and more Mets. If all I got for my ten bucks was a mural of almost accurately portrayed great Mets moments, a poseworthy cardboard cutout of the most recent (albeit slightly outdated) Mets team picture and a couple of well-preserved Shea seats, that would’ve been worth it. But I got that practically after walking in the door, and there was much beyond the entrance to savor.
A chunk of what I didn’t devote to All-Star Game admission was directed instead toward various commemorative garments and tchotchkes, all of which I will enjoy wearing and/or staring at it from time to time as I dream of the day when everything Metsian is in full bloom not just for a brief spell in July, but clear across the baseball calendar…especially in October. Let’s call this week high-profile practice toward that ultimate goal.
Another way to prepare for further Met triumph: Brush up on the wins that set the stage for all the rest by reading The Happiest Recap: First Base (1962-1973), available in paperback and for Kindle from Amazon. Personally inscribed copies can be ordered from the Team Recap store.