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4 O’Clock Thunder

Here’s one vote for starting more games at 4 o’clock. It’s an outstanding time of day to witness postseason baseball in person.

Golden sunlight bathes Shea in early October between 3 and 4. Or so I just learned. As I sat in gorgeous weather waiting for the festivities to unfold, I marveled at how gol’dang good Queens looked, how the construction in what used to be the parking lot (there’s space for maybe eight cars now) is spreading, how this must have been what it felt like in 1969 while Tommie Agee and Ron Swoboda sprinkled their gloves with pixie dust.

Of course we were the 4 o’clock start, us and the Dodgers — media markets 1 and 2 — because our teams and all teams are the scum of the earth, except for the Yankees who make the world go round. We were instructed by ESPN to scurry in unison to our ratholes after sundown so Captain Fantastic could Lead By Example in prime time. Funny, though: Fox has been so buoyed by Yankee ratings October after October that next year not a single Division Series game will be appear on over-the-air network television. Memo to soulless corporations with no feel for what you’re broadcasting…did it ever occur to you that maybe shoving the ex-dynasty down everybody’s throats for a decade soured America on its erstwhile National Pastime?

Meanwhile, first pitch 4:09 PM, despite the pleasing aesthetic aspects, was an admitted inconvenience for a lot of people with steadier jobs than mine. The three people who made my entrance possible by inviting me to be their fourth all showed up long after the action commenced. I heard tales from other quarters of folks with valuable playoff tickets that seemed to be going wanting as Dodger hour approached; responsibility’s an ugly burden. I half-expected Shea to look like The Ted. It didn’t, not at all. Mets fans will fight their way past deadlines and punchclocks and commutation hassles to see three, five, nine or fifteen innings of heartstopping baseball. I saw no pockets of unoccupied orange, blue, green or — where we were — red.

And was it not poetic media justice that the game the elitists just had to have in that all-important 8:20 slot got RAINED OUT? Steve Somers took one irate call after another from Yankee fen complaining about being forced to endure a delay until 10 PM and then be told to get their 26-ringed asses back to the Bronx by 1 PM the next day. Since we’re all sports consumers, I tried to feel some simpatico for those put out by forces beyond their control.

I didn’t.

Now those magnetic Yankees and the oodles of precious eyeballs they’re alleged to attract will be apart as their ALDS with the Tigers continues in the early afternoon. And we will be in the spotlight dance after 8 o’clock. It will be chillier than it was Wednesday and it will be darker and it will be inconvenient for its own set of reasons. If there’s rain (there’s not supposed to be), well, that will suck, too. But we’re Mets fans. We only complain when we don’t have a game at all.