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A Day at the Yard

(Note: The format for this post didn’t occur to me until 20-odd hours after the game, so accuracy of timestamps is theoretical at best. Sorry!)

10:00 am: Wake up, groggily. What? I’m a freelance writer, I can wake up when I want. I also am typically still working at 2 am, so lay off.

10:10 am: Oh, that’s right, I bought a ticket for today’s Mets game using that 84% off code. Which meant my ticket cost $6. Awesome! Hmm, it’s a matinee, but I probably don’t need to leave for a while yet. Cool, cool.

10:30 am: Wait a minute, when does this game start? 12:10? Hmm, I don’t have as much time as I think. Still, I have a little.

10:35 am: Hey, dumbass, if you want something to eat and drink and to be in your seat before the third inning, you don’t have as much time as you think. In fact, you need to leave, well, now.

10:36 am: What to wear? Too warm for a Cyclones jersey. Way too warm for that Mobile Bears jersey. Way too fat for any Mets jersey I own. A-ha, Ebbets Field Flannels Tides t-shirt!

10:37 am: Do I need sunscreen? That horrible heat wave has broken. Eh.

10:38 am: No wait I definitely need sunscreen. The melanin in my skin has vanished for weird age/decrepitude-related reasons, so I am not capable of tanning at all. I just turn tomato-red and then peel and possibly get skin cancer.

10:39 am: Sprrrrrrrtttt! As always, manage to get sunscreen in eyes. Ow! Fuck! Ow! Fuck! Ow! Fuck!

10:40 am: Grab Lost Mets custom cards for Greg, verify ticket is on phone, grab Cyclones cap in Mets colors that I bought off eBay. Let’s go!

10:42 am: Idle thought while walking to subway and trying to rub sunscreen away from still-stinging eyes: Has a Met ever gone on the DL because they got sunscreen in an eye? Somehow this seems like it would have happened to Jeff D’Amico [1]. Which might be unfair. Sorry, Jeff D’Amico.

10:44 am: Cool, I have my own elevator at the subway station. On the other hand, the elevators in this station get stuck all the time. If that happens now I will be unable to cannibalize a fellow stranded commuter and starve to death weeks earlier. Not that I’d want to eat another human being, but you never know. Besides, he/she would probably be a Yankee fan, so whatever.

10:45 am: Didn’t get stuck in elevator. No need to spend rest of life being taunted for cannibalism.

10:48 am: 2/3 train is not coming as advertised. Sigh. Remember when the NYC subway was reliable? (No really, it used to be.)

10:53 am: Ah, here we go. Progress resumed.

11:09 am: Switch to 7 at Times Square. Pat self on back for having learned exact car to be in to maximize efficiency of transfer.

11:12 am: It’s still confusing to not just be able to hop on the first 7 train that pulls in. Stupid Hudson Yards.

11:19 am: On 7 train. No express — wrong time of day. Decide this is proof the city hates Mets fans anyway.

11:32 am: There’s no way the 7 train needs stops every six freaking blocks. There’s no way this is the first time I’ve thought this.

11:44 am: Citi Field. My train filled up with summer campers in rainbow t-shirts. I forgot about that. They are super overamped and they haven’t even had sugar yet. Yikes.

11:46 am: Scalpers hawking cut-rate hats and asking who needs tickets. Resist temptation to tell everyone I got my ticket for $6 so hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

11:49 am: Lines at the Jackie Robinson [2] rotunda make you think there’s a helicopter taking off from Saigon at the other end. Ugh.

11:52 am: Lines at the right-field gate are actually worse than that. Double ugh.

11:55 am: Line at little-used Bullpen gate is pretty reasonable. Pat self on back.

11:55:30 am: Actually helpful maroon tells us if we have no bag we can just go on in. Score!

11:56 am: In park. Wow, that really wasn’t so bad.

12:00 pm: Realize national anthem is being sung. Remove cap. Half the fans in the beyond-the-scoreboard plaza are looking at the screens and standing stock still in patriotic silence. Other half are paying zero attention. I’m normally hand-on-heart for the anthem, but it’s nearly first pitch and I need to secure food. What to do?

12:00:30 pm: Settle on a hopefully respectful-looking shuffle through crowd with cap over heart. This probably just looks weird.

12:04 pm: Fuku, David Chang’s rather excellent fried-chicken-sandwich place, has no line, probably because its location in the least-accessible corner of the plaza is horrendous. Still, that will work. Get a spicy chicken sandwich, some jalapeno-imbued fries and a Tecate the size of a fire extinguisher.

12:08 pm: My food cost me $36. Economics of how teams make money: noted.

12:10 pm: In seat for first pitch. Pat self on back yet again. I’m in the very last row of 141, to the right of the home-run apple from the batter’s point of view. I chose this seat because I’d never sat in this section. I have a weakness — not just in this ballpark but in every park — for seats that didn’t exist at Shea, and am still getting used to them 10 years after Shea got turned into rebar and powder.

12:11 pm: Being in the last row means standing room is six inches behind my head. Lots of hallooing and non-baseball yapping directly behind me. Remind self my choice of seats is not those people’s fault.

12:14 pm: A meteorologist would call this day “hot as fuck.” Neither the temperature nor the humidity are that high but the sun is high, scorching and relentless.

12:15 pm: Jacob deGrom [3] looks excellent. The usual pitiless fastball and the other pitches seem to have a ton of movement. I can’t actually see that from beyond center field but I can see the Padre batters looking hapless and dispirited.

12:15:30 pm: Hmm. DeGrom pitching during the day, Padres not so great, getaway day. Maybe Jake will throw a no-hitter?

12:16 pm: Manny Machado [4] singles.

12:18 pm: Holy shit it’s hot out here. If I hadn’t worn sunscreen I’d already be dead.

12:19 pm: Greg is outside waiting for our pal Matt, a superlative baseball writer and good guy. We’re not sitting together but will briefly meet up so new Lost Mets can be handed over.

12:20 pm: Greg calls to establish when we’re meeting. We can’t hear each other. I tell him bottom of the fifth at the Shea Bridge, he thinks I said bottom of the sixth. Sitcom misunderstandings a definite possibility. But how to fix? “Bottom of the fifth,” I say. “Five. Like David Wright [5].” This is immediately clear. Problem solved.

12:21 pm: I am patting myself on the back quite a bit today.

12:22 pm: The Padres look like the Mets did the day before — lackadaisical defense and a distinct lack of pep in step. It’s 4-0 Mets. DeGrom must have the vapors. Poor Greg and Matt are missing all this.

12:24 pm: Not for the first time, it occurs to me that seeing a game in the park and watching it at home are completely different. I can’t really see the action on deGrom’s pitches, or anything about them — just the hitters’ reactions. Later, the talk will be all about what a great slider deGrom had and how he threw it nine times in a row at one stretch. I would have been keenly attuned to that watching SNY, but here I basically have no idea. This isn’t to bash being in the park, just to note it’s a different experience. You’re there for the vibe of the crowd, the sense of momentum and whether the fans get into it or not. A crowd can feel like it’s lifting a team up or slapping it down. And you’re there in case something extraordinary happens, so you can say you were.

12:29 pm: The Promenade is filled with patches of solid, highlighter-intensity colors marking the domain of each summer camp. Bright pink, bright green, solid red, electric blue. The kids in right field are wearing shirts the same color as the Citi Field vendors.

12:45 pm: My section is the domain of a group in orange shirts. (Not the 7 line.) Their interest in the game would be kindly described as fitful. Their ability to find their seats can’t be kindly described at all. But you know what? I’m at a baseball game on a summer afternoon. I can make this work.

12:53 pm: Idly try to figure out how far I am from home plate. I’d guess 485 feet. Probably safe from a home run, unless Pete Alonso [6] or Franmil Reyes [7] is at the plate. And even then.

1:30ish pm: Game is speeding along. DeGrom looks unhittable. Mets have done nothing since their initial four-run outburst. I’m sweating.

2:00ish pm: Meet Greg and Matt on Shea Bridge. Greg has a tote bag in deference to Citi Field’s absurd new prohibition on backpacks. Briefly discuss why backpacks are a problem. Perhaps ISIS has weaponized zippers? Greg with a tote bag looks off to me — it’s like I’ve given Chewbacca’s bowcaster to my Luke Skywalker action figure. Decide to keep this comparison to myself.

2:11 pm: Look for ice cream. Too hot for beer, so buy a Coke. That’s $12. The guy running the ice cream machine says, semi-apologetically, that it’s coming out like a milkshake. I tell him that’s the way I like it anyway. Still, why is it the norm that something is broken/not ready at every Citi Field point of contact with the customer?

2:15 pm: Total up fees, food and subway and this outing is costing me $60, even with a $6 ticket. And I’m by myself. If you’re a couple with two kids who want to eat crap and hit the souvenir store and you’re paying full freight even in the Promenade, well, it’s a lot.

2:18 pm: Not broken — the woman checking tickets for my section. She’s great — enforcing the between ABs rule, but remembering who’s in her section so she doesn’t need to check them twice, being nice to kids, chatting amiably with people who want to.

3:00ish pm: The Mets have played some solid defense in this game. Two nifty plays by Amed Rosario [8], a nice running catch by Juan Lagares [9].

3:11 pm: Guy standing behind me is one of those Very Special People who’s given to conspiratorial thinking with zero evidence and whose normal speaking voice can be heard 200 feet away. If you’re at a game and find one of these guys, look immediately in front or behind him and you’ll undoubtedly find me, my father-in-law, or both of us. It’s our special superpower. Someone please take it away from us.

3:13 pm: Conspiracy Guy is blaming Mets for piping in fake crowd noise, oblivious to the hard-to-miss fact that there are 3,500 summer campers in the top deck and they are taking MAKE SOME NOISE very seriously.

3:16 pm: Jesus, imagine having this genius show up to be your plumber, crossing guard, etc. Cue the ominous music.

3:17 pm: On the other hand, he’s at the park for a Thursday matinee. Maybe he doesn’t have a job.

3:18 pm: On the other other hand, I’m also at the park for a Thursday matinee. Could what I do be described as a job? Decide not to pat myself on the back for this run of thought.

3:30ish pm: DeGrom deParts having done excellent work, and with run support to boot. Padres look somnambulant. Still, if any bullpen could blow it, it’s ours.

3:33 pm: I really want to see a Alonso homer. Try to remember if I’ve been in the park for one before. I’m not sure and this makes me feel like a bad fan.

3:39 pm: Edwin Diaz [10] enters, to a combination of vaguely ironic applause and semi-hostile muttering. You can blame Brodie Von Whatshisname for a lot, but that trade turning out as poorly as it has (so far) was pretty unexpected.

3:41 pm: Diaz is hit on the big toe by a line drive, with the sound clearly audible to me in the next county, and limps off the field. Uh-oh.

3:42 pm: Luis Avilan [11]‘s music is “The Man Comes Around,” by Johnny Cash. It’s a vaguely apocalyptic song full of Biblical imagery, and strange to hear in a ballpark. Good to hear, or too odd a choice? I’ll need to think about that one.

3:43 pm: Muse that if Diaz’s toe is broken Seth Lugo [12] would become the Mets’ closer, which could help my fantasy team. Immediately feel bad about thinking this and chastise myself.

3:46 pm: Hunter Renfroe [13] hits a foul ball to the first row of the Promenade. Booing follows. Guy in front row must have dropped it into section below.

3:47 pm: Hunter Renfroe hits a foul ball to the first row of the Promenade. Mad cheering follows. What the heck?

3:49 pm: Avilan sets down the remaining Padres with ease. Mets win [14]. Not a particularly memorable game — no scoring after the first inning, no memorable plays or excitement — but a fun day in the park.

3:50 pm: I normally walk out through the rotunda but decide not to today in hopes of not getting caught in a crush of summer campers.

3:51 pm: I am already out of the Bullpen gate and on the street. One more back pat for my favorite person.

3:52 pm: Hey, is this the street they renamed Seaver Way? The chop shops are either gone or inert and blocked with chain-link fencing, but nothing else is happening yet. Ah well, give it time. I’m not going anywhere.

3:55 pm: No express 7. Wrong time of day. Still evidence that Bill de Blasio hates me, the Mets, the idea that there can be good in the world, etc.

4:11 pm: Twitter provides: Turns out the guy who dropped the Renfroe foul ball was wearing a Yankees hat. Was jeered at, removed the offending headgear, and Renfroe hit the very next pitch to him, except this time he caught it. Baseball is so wonderful.

5:32 pm: Greg emails. Wants to know if typo on the revised ’69 Donn Clendenon [15] card I sent him (METS branding and photo) was intentional. Uh-oh.

5:33 pm: Wait a minute, the back of the revised Clendenon card is 99% the same as the original ’69 Topps card. Ask about typo.

5:36 pm: Greg reports Donn is referred to as Don on the back of the card. Look at my own cards. It’s Topps’ error, made when Greg was a small boy and I was a very small boy. Whew.

5:41 pm: Hmm, should I have fixed the Donn/Don typo? It’s authentic, yet the idea of a custom card is to turn back the hands of time and get things “right.”

6:33 pm: Hmm, should I have fixed the Donn/Don typo?

9:11 pm: Hmm, should I have fixed the Donn/Don typo?

2:55 am: Hmm, should I have fixed the Donn/Don typo?