- Faith and Fear in Flushing - http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

Tuesday Night Baseball Club

Welcome to Tuesday night, Citi Field, Flushing, New York, August, the 2010s. It is not by chance we are here. We make a date. We make this date.

August 10, 2010
August 9, 2011
August 21, 2012
August 6, 2013
August 12, 2014
August 11, 2015

Did we ever have a meeting to decide? Did it go through committee? Did we take a vote? I don’t think we did. It was more a matter of nomination by acclamation. See you in Tuesday in August…seconded…any objections?

The ayes had it. Every August, on a Tuesday night, we meet for baseball. We meet for Mets baseball, of course, usually coincidentally played against the Colorado Rockies. They have a knack for being available in August, four of the last six, including this one.

So there we were, the Chasins — Rob, the dad; Ryder, the son — and the Princes — Stephanie, the wife; Greg, the husband as well as designated chronicler. That’s me. I take the minutes of the annual meeting.

In action Tuesday night: Ryder Chasin, Matt Harvey. [1]

In action Tuesday night: Ryder Chasin, Matt Harvey.

Let the record show the principals met in a light drizzle outside the little-known [2] and even less-understood Payson entrance [3] shortly after 5:30 PM. Our tickets were waiting at an unfamiliar window, left by someone you’d call “a player,” but not someone you’d find in your $5 scorecard, and let’s leave it at that.

The seats for the 2015 edition of our confab were outstanding (and, it’s worth noting, given the events of the night before [4], tightly fastened, albeit uncushioned). A dead-on sightline for the baseball fans. Sufficient cover for foes of precipitation. The shelter aspect turned into a non-issue as the drizzle that accompanied us at the Payson entrance dissipated by the time we u-turned for the more famous, better known Jackie Robinson [5] Rotunda.

My bag was searched. My beverages were left intact. I have learned the secret of not having my half-drunk water confiscated. I will share it only when Citi Field is no more, lest the terrorists win.

No more than two minutes inside the building, we run into Skid from Monday night, Skid from every night [6]. Skid is doing laps around the Field Level. When you’ve relocated your life to a Major League Baseball stadium, you avail yourself of every opportunity it presents. Skid gets his walking in at Citi Field.

We get our walking in, too. We stroll to Shake Shack. We are drawn to it, as if by medium-rare magnets. It wasn’t our planned destination, but when we find ourselves before it with a line that is barely longer than Parnell to Clippard to Familia, we do what all sentient people would do: we get on it. Or do we get in it? Stephanie long ago noticed New Yorkers stand on line, while the rest of America stands in line. Whose colloquialism is it anyway?

However we stand, we don’t stand for long. The Shake Shack line moves like Jose Reyes [7] once did or Michael Cuddyer [8] suddenly does now just around the corner from this slice of hamburger heaven. Oh, the wonders of showing up just early enough for a short Shake Shack line. Behind us the queue has begun to snake in earnest. But we have broken the tape just in time.

Ryder and Rob have to wait for their shakes, which is weird when you realize “Shake” is technically the headline attraction, but that’s less onerous than waiting to order. It just is.

Did you know you can get a great deal on home heating oil at Citi Field? This is an even less understood element than the Payson entrance. On Monday night, Skid and I were accosted by a home heating oil salesman on three separate pregame occasions. On Tuesday night, Ryder and I were pitched twice. Inexpensive home heating oil will be a wonderful thing this winter. Like postseason baseball tickets, it might be the sort of thing a person would be best served by signing up for well in advance of needing it. Unlike postseason baseball, you can be certain cold weather is coming.

But why is a home heating oil concern allowed to accost baseball fans repeatedly in the middle of August inside their favorite team’s ballpark? (Even Shea’s voracious credit card hawkers of yore were relegated to Casey Stengel [9] Plaza.) We were just four baseball fans carrying their Shake Shack to a table elsewhere on the grounds. I can’t imagine anyone among the 25,611 on hand will be perusing his or her home heating bill come February and cursing himself or herself out for not making the switch to this particular oil concern while at a baseball game between the New York Mets and the Colorado Rockies.

I’m not saying this as a natural gas customer. I’m saying this as a baseball fan who simply wants to get to the Shake Shack stuff while it’s still warm.

The oil men went about their accosting as we rode the escalator to Caesars Club, which is named for a gambling enterprise that no longer sponsors the Mets [10]. Perhaps it’s just as well the name sticks to the establishment. Once you start referring to something as something, it’s hard to start calling it something else. Just ask the Avenue of the Americas; it’s over on Sixth Avenue. Or just ask me what stop I get off at to attend ballgames. The MTA says it’s Mets-Willets Point. I still call it Shea.

I’ve only recently ceased thinking of Ryder as “my Bar Mitzvah boy,” though that’s sort of understandable, as it was Ryder’s legendary Citi Field Bar Mitzvah [11] and our unforeseen attendance at it in November 2009 that set the Tuesday Night Baseball Club’s annual meetings in motion. Ryder is nearly 19, sports facial hair and attends Northwestern University. He is nobody’s Bar Mitzvah Boy at this stage of his burgeoning life. (In a related development, time flies.)

As for the limbo in which the name “Caesars Club” lingers, why not use their absence from the Met sponsorship depth chart as a chance to rebrand? I offer, as I’m pretty sure I have before, these alternatives:

Seavers Club

41 Club

The Stork Club, with portraits of George Theodore [12] everywhere and George Theodore himself on the premises if he so desires a sinecure.

We tuck into our Shake Shack in the club currently known as Caesars, until otherwise dubbed. “Tuck” is one of those words I only see in Times profiles of celebrities and politicians who are inevitably interviewed over lunch in chi-chi locales. They’re always “tucking into” steaks or salads. I have never heard anybody in real life refer to anybody tucking into food otherwise. So let’s just say we ate our Shake Shack and we were quite satisfied.

I was so satisfied, I left my denim overshirt draped on the back of my chair as we left Caesars. “Overshirt” is how Stephanie and I refer to whatever shirt we schlep along when we think it might get a tad chilly, but not cold enough for a jacket, let alone heating oil. I pride myself on leaving no shirt behind, but somewhere between the national anthem and first pitch, I realize I have blundered. I must return to our old table at once and see if it’s still there. Rob accompanies me, presumably to calm my nerves.

“There’s nothing but Mets fans here,” he assures me. “They’d never steal anything.” And he’s right (hell, the Mets barely steal bases). My ratty denim shirt is still draped where I left it. I snatch it back without ceremony. When we get back to our sensationally sightlined seats, we tell Stephanie and Ryder that some big galoot was wearing it and I had to resort to weaponry to fully secure it. Then, because accuracy is everything when you’re tasked with taking the minutes of the meeting, we let them know we’re kidding, it was just sitting there, neglected and ignored, sort of like the Mets most Augusts, though certainly not this one.

Say, you know who else we saw Tuesday night at Citi Field? Matt Harvey [13]. He sports facial hair, too. The Rockies and their beards were more hirsute than Harvey, but were no match otherwise. The Mets didn’t score for the longest time, but it barely occurred to me to worry they wouldn’t win. Even with a Terry-rigged lineup that lacked Granderson and was noticeably Duda-free, I figured our first-place team would find a run draped over its chair eventually, and as long as they did, Matt Harvey and his facial hair weren’t going to be touched.

That’s basically what happened in the actual game that you probably came here to read about while I’ve been going on impressionistically about mood and circumstance and my wife and our friends the Chasins. (The blog for Mets fans who like to digress!) Harvey was Harvey for eight innings and the Mets eked out a run in the sixth. They added three in the eighth to make the lead safe for Eric O’Flaherty as Woodrow Wilson once strove to make the world safe for democracy. It’s what a first-place team does, you know. Victories achieved by first-place teams in games pitched by their premier ace are by no means automatic, yet it’s delightful to believe they’re more probable than possible on any given Tuesday night.

Ryder and Rob and Stephanie and I, across all these August Tuesday nights, had seen a lot of Mets and a bunch of Rockies, but never a first-place team. Well, to be baseball-retentive about it, we saw a pretty powerful first-place team last August [14]. It was the Washington Nationals, our Rockies substitute in 2014. The Nationals rattled Rafael Montero [15] pretty badly that night. That seems like more than twelve months ago.

Five years ago [16] when we — the Princes and the Chasins — first did this, we saw 25 different players take the field as either Mets or Rockies. Ryder dutifully kept score of each of their official activities, just as he tracked each of the 24 Rockies and Mets who played Tuesday night. Was there, we wondered, any overlap? It turns out that five years later, only four of those from our 2010 meeting joined us again: Carlos Gonzalez [17], Rafael Betancourt [18], Ruben Tejada [19] and Jose Reyes. Reyes was the only one to change outfits in the interim.

Tuesday night, as Jose batted against Matt Harvey, I honestly forgot who was playing for who. This was early in the game, when Reyes was batting and I was focusing intently on him and somebody sitting behind us was invoking a classic Jose-Jose-Jose and somebody next to him marveled that the last pitch was 96 miles per hour. My honest thought was, “Who on the Rockies is throwing that hard to Jose?”

Then I looked at the mound and remembered what was actually going on. I will cop to my mind wandering and our four-way conversation wandering. What do you want from us? We only go to one ballgame together every year.

You already know the Mets won Tuesday night [20]. A little while ago I checked and saw the Nationals lost in L.A. I don’t recall the last time I pumped my fist in the wee small hours of a Wednesday morning. A pennant race will do that to a person.

The Mets are 61-52, which appears too impressive to belong to the Mets, doesn’t it? That’s the record of a good team. This year it’s the record of a first-place team. Our first-place team. Our first-place team that leads second-place Washington by 2½.

Don’t you love half-games? What other sport has half-games? I suppose basketball, but stay with me on this one. I’ve paid at least modest attention to the NBA all my sentient life and I’ve never heard anyone get excited over leads or deficits involving half-games. That’s a baseball quirk. Baseball, at its best, is defined by its quirks.

Did you know that on Tuesday night every home team beat every road team? That, according to the Elias Sports Bureau (and doesn’t “bureau” make Elias’s mission sound that much more pulsating?), had never previously happened [21] with a slate of 15 games. That’s pretty quirky right there. It means that in every MLB park across the continent, those people who made a special point of getting together because it’s what they do every year at this time came away very happy.

Not that we in our little Tuesday Night Baseball Club wouldn’t have enjoyed ourselves (albeit less) had the road team prevailed. That’s the whole idea behind these annual meetings. We are happy to get together, we are sorry to adjourn, we are eager to resume more or less a year from now in the very same place.

First.