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Same Time, Next Year

Tuesday night in August means Chasin Time at Citi Field for the Princes. For the Chasins, it means Prince Time. It’s a good time for all every year for five years suddenly, as time lives up to its reputation and flies. Stephanie and I have been meeting up with erstwhile Bar Mitzvah boy [1]/sharp-eyed sleepover correspondent [2] Ryder Chasin and his dad, Rob, for a game once a year every year at roughly the same spot on the calendar ever since the season after Ryder “became a man”. We no longer need to use quotes where that designation is concerned. Ryder’s closing in on 18 and stands about a month away from commencing his freshman term at Northwestern University. Our boy is a man in full. I continue to bask in my ability to say, “I knew him when…”

Getting to see Ryder and Rob at Citi Field this Tuesday night in August was a delight. Getting into otherwise lightly attended Citi Field on this Tuesday night in August with them, however, was a chore. Not because tickets were scarce (they weren’t) or because the weather was inclement (the Sharknado-level floods [3] came later). Our temporary obstacle to entry was the security guy I led our innocent little party toward. That dude unleashed a storm of overofficious arrogance upon our unsuspecting asses.

I used to know exactly whose station to submit my bag to, but the guy I liked won a customer-engagement award and apparently got promoted. In his place this Tuesday night was a handsy fellow who felt compelled to search every nook and cranny of my belongings, diving right into my unopened bottle of water, declaring it open and therefore a safety hazard before dramatically discarding it into the trash. My argument — that the water was never opened (I know I never opened it) — proved uncompelling to someone who thought a golf shirt emblazoned with a logo elevated him to the status of Secretary of Homeland Obnoxiousness.

Hey Mets: It’s August. You’re out of it. Few of us are showing up. This might be the moment to remember you should treat the remnants of your public with kid gloves rather than an iron fist.

Having been heroically stripped of my dangerous hydration supply, Citi Field was once again safe for civilized people and the Washington Nationals, lack of overlap between the two groups notwithstanding. To be fair, maybe I’m reading the security guy’s intent all wrong. Maybe he wasn’t just being a jerk on a by-the-book power trip. Maybe he was telling us that the way the Mets were going to be whupped by Washington, we’d need something stronger than a bottle of water to get us through the night.

Once we made it past the turnstile and up the escalator (and I managed to calm down), Ryder and I immersed ourselves in a full-scale Mets-oriented walk & talk that would’ve made Aaron Sorkin proud. Rob and Stephanie perhaps talked about things, too, but we couldn’t hear them because they walked slower, like adults. This happens every August. Whatever our respective ages, Ryder and I tend to act like excited kids who haven’t seen each other in a long time. We sort of scurry off ahead on our own steam, oblivious to everybody else. I’m a little surprised we didn’t start flipping baseball cards right there in the middle of the Shea Bridge.

Eventually we put on the brakes and reassembled as a foursome. The question regarding “who’s hungry?” yielded unanimity. Shake Shack’s lines of legend appeared to be held up outside by security. The most popular concession in the Western Hemisphere was accessible as accessible could be. We leisurely ordered a mess of food and it was presented to us with uncommon friendliness and flair. Ryder thought the Shake Shack guy would’ve made a fine hibachi chef. I would have reassigned him to the security table.

We took our burger bounty up to the Caesars Club to eat like humans. As we continued to swap baseball stories and such, the monitors showed in-game host Branden (who had stood practically next to Ryder and me just a few minutes earlier without describing to us his favorite holidays) standing on a tarp-covered field. Then there was a wide shot of the field with no tarp. Hard to tell from the unideally situated Casears Club what was actually going on, except that out in the parking lot it wasn’t raining. We had Shake Shack, so this would have been a good time to get the wetness over with. (Better yet, send the security guy into the clouds and have him confiscate their water.)

The game started on time, a treat for the hundreds of us on hand. Rafael Montero [4] joined us, another treat, in that none of had ever seen Rafael Montero pitch in person. Now we’ve seen him pitch, albeit batting practice. In truth, he looked good for several innings, just not enough of them and not to the exclusion of the innings where Washington definitively cracked his code. Montero’s day will come, hopefully before next August.

Montero was replaced by Carlos Torres [5], who, it was speculated later, might have been tipping his pitches [6]. Here was the tell: Torres showed his face, the Nationals knew home run balls were coming.

We could have done without the Nationals intruding on our annual evening. During past Tuesday nights in August, we’d seen either the Rockies or the Padres and had watched the Mets succeed against each of them. Last night they played each other, which struck us as unnecessarily conspiratorial. We never have success against the Nationals at Citi Field, I tend to keep forgetting, and I keep showing up to see the Mets play them. I’ve seen the Mets play and lose to Washington eight consecutive games. I guess I shouldn’t plan to come see the Mets win against them…or to experience the ballpark staff’s courtesy in action.

So the Mets got clobbered [7] by the same team that always clobbers them at Citi Field. So it eventually rained enough to cause an inevitable delay, never mind the drenching of the latter stages of a sad 7-1 final. So Stephanie went off in search of one of those iced coffee drinks one of the Met sponsors is always promoting and when she dared to ask for a fountain beverage as well — the dispenser was in easy reach of the person who deigned to hand her the coffee in exchange for cash — she was told to get on another line if she wanted to purchase a different liquid item. So the people who run Citi Field don’t ascribe to the notion that if you can’t put a consistent product on the field you should at least make everything else about going there as pleasant as possible.

I won’t quite excuse all that with a “so what?” but, well, so what? The Chasins and the Princes spent nine innings together under cover of Excelsior, watching what game there was to watch, catching up on how life had been transpiring and cheering every hopeful Montero strikeout — scored with calligrapher-quality K’s by Ryder — along with the single sacrifice fly that produced the lone Met run. We even made a cameo on CitiVision (the game was almost over and the camera operator had clearly run out of subjects). We like it better when we get together and the Mets win. We like it next best when we get together and the Mets participate. And that much they did.

As we were headed toward the Rotunda, there was one more Citi Field employee who gained our attention. He was pointing to the stairs and repeating to the departing dozens, “That’s the way out. The way out is over there.” Not implicit in his exhortation to get rid of us was any semblance of “thanks for coming,” let alone, “come back again.”

But we will. It wouldn’t be a Tuesday night in August without us.