Monday, September 15, 2008

Last call [for us] at Shea

Yesterday was our last regular-season visit to Shea. We are still hoping for a chance to go back in the postseason, but we have two full weeks of baseball season left with a one-game lead over the Phils, so there's no way of knowing the chances yet [so let's go].

Therefore, we approached yesterday's game against the Braves like our last-ever, ever, ever game at Shea Stadium. I wore my favorite, if beaten and battered, torn and tattered, sweaty old royal blue Mets cap. And the day was pretty much a microcosm of the Met fan experience: good starting pitching, big day from David Wright, two run lead going into the ninth, majestic bullpen meltdown, enough of a rally in the bottom of the ninth to get your hopes up, but ultimately falling short. Designed to break your heart, indeed, pally. You know, it don't come easy.

A bittersweet goodbye to Shea. Consolation in the upcoming fourteen games over fourteen days and what should be a wild ride. Consolation in the last ever Mr. Met Dash at Shea, and my son's joy at running the bases. This time he was more determined than ever, and a laughing member of the field crew had to catch him after he crossed home plate because he was making a beeline for the home dugout. I lifted him up and he was panting like a racehorse. Consolation in my son seeing Mr. Met in the second inning, getting a pat on the head from the big fluffy hand. Consolation in seeing the home run apple twice, thanks to Mr. Wright.

We're going to miss Shea. A mess of a ballpark, sure, but ours, and seriously underrated. I saw Springsteen and the E Street Band there in 2003. I was there for game 7 in 2006. A Sunday game against the Braves on September 23, 2001 was one of the most emotionally draining days I've ever had, and was the first time in those days after the towers fell that I remember feeling anything like joy because the ballgame gave us a sense of community that was overpowering and, yes, healing [although it was another heartbreaking bullpen catastrophe. Thanks, Armando]. I liked Shea's wide open feel, the views of the subway and the LIRR out past the bullpen, and for some reason, I grew to love the upper deck best of all, sitting out there free and easy in the breeze with everything laid out below and only sky and jet airliners overhead. In comparison, Yankee Stadium felt claustrophobic to me after I grew to know Shea so well. But there's lots of baseball left, so no need to get sentimental yet. Let's go Mets!

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