Our fourth trip to Shea yesterday, accompanied by some Aussie friends. Our first game in the mezzanine this year, where the shade is plentiful and the breeze is nice. Fun to watch Ollie Perez work, and very nice to see Beltran stroke a couple homers--from the right side, no less, where he has lacked a bit in the power department this year.
Nice free tee shirts, as it says in the title, commemorating the final year at Shea. And since it's been a while since I've been in the house for a full-fledged bullpen meltdown, I guess I was due for one. Heilman was atrocious, I think he threw about four pitches. A gang of three or four others including Schoeneweiss, Ayala and Smith helped the game go into ten innings, but Feliciano failed in spectacular fashion with two no doubt solo home runs to two Astros who hit home runs about once every leap year. Other bullpen meltdowns I've been in the house for: game 7 in 2006 [which I don't have to provide any details for], and a Sunday against the Braves, late September of 2001 - one of the most emotionally draining experiences I've ever had. Armando, of course, was a key melterdowner in that one, and Brian Jordan of the unholy Braves was the Met Killer.
Well, the best thing about yesterday was brilliant weather for the Dyna Met Dash, and my son and his Aussie pal were more than up for the sprint around the infield. My son was so focussed on a need for speed that he didn't even break stride to greet Mr. Met at second base. From the moment we stepped through the center field fence and onto the warning track, he seemed to be gathering his strength, trying out his game face, summoning all his power. And he was fast, easily beating me to home plate where a helpful member of the Mets staff helped corral him for me. I really can't say enough about how much fun this event is and how well it's all handled. They don't let you linger, understandably, since they probably move about 10,000 people through there [at least that's what I heard one field crew member say], but they are extremely nice and generous about it. And, like my son, all business. He was all smiles on the way out, and took his customary nap on the 2 train back to Brooklyn.
The Jewell family is officially 2-2 at Shea this year, and we have at least one more game in our calendar, and a chance to finish with a winning record.
My brother came to town last weekend with his wife and nine year-old daughter. A good time was had by all. My son was so excited to see them, he couldn't sleep the first night, much to everyone's chagrin. But we all had plenty in the tank for the rest of the visit.
First stop, Cheryl's Global Soul on Underhill for brunch and then the Q train to Coney Island where those of us who were tall enough rode the Cyclone (still my favorite roller coaster on earth). Lunch at Nathan's. And lots of rides at Deno's and Astroland. My brother hadn't been to Brooklyn in four years, and he was glad to see that Shoot the Freak is still going strong on the boardwalk. My son had to have an annoying plastic disco scepter thing that plays about five notes of an indecipherable song while flashing rainbow strobe lights. The repeated lines are something like 'Rhythm in the dark,' or 'Children of the corn,' or 'Don't you touch my dog.'
On the way home, the Q was running over the N line. We were waiting on the platform in the big, open-air, Euro-style train station, and there was a train on track 3 whose doors were closed. A voice over the loudspeaker kept asking crew 317 to open the doors on track 3, but nothing was happening. It started calm and then worked itself into a fever, until you thought the guy was going to go apoplectic. Like the old 'It's the plumber, I've come to fix the sink' gag on the Electric Company.
--Crew 317, will you please open the doors to the train on track 3. --Crew 317, we need the doors open on track 3. --Crew 317, open the doors on track 3. Open the doors on track 3! --Crew 317, will you open the doors on track 3???? --Crew 317, am I talking to myself, here? Where are you? Open the doors on track 3!!
We see an MTA guy with a key and he enters the train. Soon enough, the doors open and we take our seats. Ding dong, and the doors close. But we don't move. After about a minute the doors open again, and immediately the voice is back on the loudspeaker: 'TRACK 3!!! NOW you open the doors???? What are you opening the doors for??? WILL YOU GET YOUR TRAIN OUT OF THE STATION ALREADY????'
My 17 years in New York, I've never heard this kind of exchange before. And to be fair, maybe I exaggerate a little for comic effect.
Later that night, we hit the next item on my brother's agenda: Pizza at Grimaldi's, the venerable brick oven joint under the Brooklyn Bridge. My brother, sister-in-law, and niece are a little surprised to see the length of the line to go in , but they're game, and we wait about an hour and a quarter, listening to the Met game on my transistor radio. And we're glad we got on line, because that is some truly delicious pizza. I haven't been there in several years, and had forgotten how good it is.
The next morning my brother and I have a relaxing run in Prospect Park. When we get back I scramble a dozen eggs, cook some turkey bacon, toast, and oatmeal, and we all load up for that day's big activity: final game of the Mets/Marlins series at Shea.
It is Billy Wagner Bobblehead Day at Shea, and we all get one. It's a pretty good likeness. Captures Billy's sleepy-eyed alpaca farmer look. It was an awful game. The Mets could do nothing, the Marlins continued their dominance of Mike Pelfrey, and they cancelled the Dyna Mets Dash. Booooooo. Still, for my brother, I hope, it was worth it (a day in the ballpark is always worth it, if you ask me). I have two older brothers, and even though we grew up in the midwest, one was always a Met fan, the other a Yankee fan. The Yankee fan, to his credit, has followed them through good and bad for forty years. The Met fan, the brother who visited, had never been to Shea, so at least we were able to do that, but I wish I could have taken him down on the field for the dash. He left with his bobbleheads, a couple souvenir ice cream cup batting helmets, and a few more commemorative, deluxe, plastic soda cups. My son annoyed his cousin by taking up the 'En-dy Cha-vez' chant and continuing it long after Chavez's at-bat was over. Long after the Mets' at-bat was over.
We rounded out the weekend with dinner at Teddy's, where the borough president also happened to be dining. Teddy and his staff are always kind to my son, and it was nice to introduce them to my brother and his family, too.
Goodbyes are tough the next morning, especially for my son and my niece, but hopefully they'll make it back soon, and we'll see their new place in Cleveland soon, too. Thanks, bro.
'Ninotchka' was on tv the other night. I first saw the Ernst Lubitsch film 'Ninotchka' during my first summer in New York, the summer of 1992. I was a student in Pratt Institute's MFA program, and as such, I enjoyed the benefits of membership to the Museum of Modern Art, the chief benefit being free admission whenever the museum was open.
So on hot summer days it was great, one of the cheapest ways to enjoy air conditioning -- the price of a couple subway tokens and a slice for lunch. Besides the Matisses, Pollocks, de Koonings, Cezannes, Seurats, Picassos, Mondrians, and the rest, The Modern also has movies. Free movies for money-challenged grad student. An even better way to escape the summer heat.
I found myself at the Modern one afternoon when 'Ninotchka' was playing. I knew nothing about it. I'd heard of Greta Garbo, at least, but had never seen one of her movies. The blurb in the museum guide said this was the one where 'Garbo laughs!' Good enough for me. I found a seat in the auditorium, which was filling with a mix of older movie fans and young students like me.
First things first, I loved the movie for the same reasons everybody does -- funny, sophisticated, satirical, elegant, sparkling. And then there's Garbo. What I really remember most clearly about watching it that first time, was not the movie, but the reaction of the moviegoers when Garbo came on screen for the first time. The three Soviet envoys are at the train station in Paris looking for the new emissary from the USSR. They expect a man. But it is Greta Garbo. She stands stiffly, in drab Soviet clothes, with a plain hat, but of course the camera holds on her for a couple beats, a shot of her stern but luminous face. And the New York crowd applauds. Long and hard, the crowd applauds. For an actress in a movie! An actress who's dead! (An actress, it must be said, who was a New Yorker herself.) And the crowd applauds as if this is the Zeigfeld Theatre and we have Garbo up on stage alive and in the flesh and doing a buck and wing. Well, I've never forgotten that moment to this day. New York is a lot of things, one of which is a pretty damn serious movie town.