Sunday, August 13, 2006


Dork Tag Day at Shea

[New York City, Wednesday, August 9]

Let me say, first of all, that I'm honored to spend $5 on a bottle of Snapple in order to help pay Carlos Beltran's salary

Let me also say that it was a beautiful, warm-but-not-too-hot summer evening, tailor made for baseball. Mets ace Pedro Martinez was on the mound, pitched a good game, and the Mets won, 4-3.

DSCN9329 DSCN9320

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Pedro Martinez doing his pre-game stretching routine.
I'm not exactly sure why he stretches his lower lip, though.

And B and I were lucky enough to be attending during the 3-game visit by the San Diego Padres. Piazza, who had been my favorite Met for the previous eight seasons, as he led the team to two League Championship Series and one World Series, parted ways with the Mets after last season and now plays for the Padres. And he's having a bit of a rebound year, bless him.

Out with the old, in with our new favorite Met.

Anyway, a Mets fan necessarily holds his breath wondering whether his ornery Mets-fan colleagues will behave churlishly. This is group, after all, that will mercilessly boo its star players for each and every screwup, no matter how they performed before. I'm sad to say that Mets fans are among the league's nastiest. Would they boo Piazza in the foreign uniform?

As it turns out, everybody was just verklempt. On the first night, Piazza was given a fitting tribute: standing ovations, chants of his name, fans holding signs saying things like "we miss you Mike." There was even a Piazza highlight reel on the Diamondvision. On this night, we turned it into a sort of impromptu "Mike Piazza" night. Again, the standing o's. And this time, he hit a home run in his second at bat. And got a standing o for that. And took a curtain call.

A visiting player getting a standing ovation and taking a curtain call at Shea? It's unthinkable. But Piazza was that good as a Met. We owed him.

In his third at bat, he hit another home run. And got another standing ovation, and another curtain call. It was crazy.

Both home runs were solos -- the Padres only runs, in fact -- and the Mets were winning 4-2, so I guess we all felt we could be gracious. But when Piazza came up for the fourth time, with two runners on, and a chance to put the Padres in the lead with a home run, the fans had had enough. The boos predominated. And Piazza hit a gigantic blast to straightaway center field. Oy vey! Carlos Beltran reeled it in on the edge of the warning track -- the damn thing missed being a three run homer by about 3 feet.

Can you imagine a better game to see in person? Nothing could spoil it. And now for the list of things that didn't spoil it.

Let's start with the flyovers. Shea is famous for its proximity to Laguardia Airport and the fact that numerous flight plans go right over the stadium. You get about two jet flyovers per inning.


Not such a big deal -- you quickly get used to it.

The seats left something to be desired. I signed up for "best available" seats on line, but by the time I had entered my credit card information, they were gone. The next "best available" seats were all the way out in right field, second highest deck.

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Our section: at the very end of the promenade. To our right, nothing but sky.
At least we weren't in the upper (nosebleed) deck. How lonely it is up there.


And then there was the small matter of the foul pole.

Best available seats. Well, there were almost 50,000 fans there.

Next item: the two obnoxious guys sitting in front of us.


At Shea, you have to be prepared to be dissed by someone sitting in your vicinity, and these two obliged by making us feel stupid for having a bit of trouble finding our seats. I could have dealt with the rude behavior had it not been accompanied by this.

I think you know me well enough to know that I would not take a picture of someone's butt crack, let alone post it, unless there was good reason. But this was too much. [Editor's note: on the advice of persons with better taste and judgment than me, the photo of the actual butt crack in question has been removed.] I don't care how big a beer belly he has. He can pull his pants up. Or wear a shirt with shirttails -- tucked in our out, either would do the job. Or even wear boxers, for gosh sakes. There's really no excuse for this look in this day and age.

Then there was the promotion. I don't need to get free stuff at a ball game -- I expect to overpay for absolutely everything, and feel grateful that you're no longer expected to tip the ushers at Shea. But if you're going to have a promotional giveaway, how about something nice? In my life as a fan, I've gotten one or more of the following promotional giveaway items: baseball cap, plastic batting helmet, baseball bat, tote bag, photo, baseball, baseball with a photo on it, bobblehead, t-shirt.

But what is this? An ID card holder with DHL logo lanyard? A damned dork tag? This is not a promotion -- it's an insult.


To sum up: Tickets for two: $96. Italian sausages and drinks for two: $23. Seats behind foul pole: lousy. Flyovers: noisy. Butt crack: gross. Promotional dork tags: insulting. Seeing Mets eke out a win on Piazza Night: on the whole, worth it.

A nice touch: at Shea, you can spot former Mets greats wandering the stands.
Here, Mike Piazza and Tom Seaver.

The crowd of nearly 50,000 included this contingent from the Navy, which stood and sang
a Navy song in unison after the game. I wish they had broadcast it on the PA system.
Oh, and these guys showed a lot of gusto doing "the wave." Really, they were into it.

That game was tremendous to even watch on TV. The ovation for Piazza before his first AB was quite moving.

When he hit it, I thought that ball was out for his thrid homer. Frankly, it would have been OK with me had he done it. With this big a lead, I can afford to be magnanamous.

Word Verification: ncavyzxp. (en-cav-ee-zip): new dental process for filling cavities.
Aging: I'd rather go for the win.

Oscar: Amazing pictures of Pedro's stretching routine! They're not available anywhere else, at any price. I'm surprised no one has commented about them!

ojumb -- a wrong answer for the translation of "jumbo" on the pig-Latin exam.

yeltgglj -- "Yell-tiggle-J": the new character in Hip Hop Winnie the Pooh.
Kudos to the Mets fans on a class display.

I was fortunate enough to see Pedro pitch twice at Fenway and it was an event. posts a weekly column on the top ten promos in the minor leagues. There is usually at least one that I laugh out loud at each week.

The laynard is kind of lame. I have two of them from the 2003 World Series (Marlins, easy to get tickets in a stadium that holds 60K and has about 1,000 season ticket holders) that I'm seriously considering pitching. Who would want that crap?

I went to the Huntsville Stars, Brewers Double AA team, this year and they were giving out real Louisville Sluggers to all the kids. They had six or seven different sizes and the kids could test drive them to see which on they wanted. My cousin and I begged for one they were so awesome.
Amazing pictures of Pedro's stretching routine. The lip stretching comment was very funny!

(I didn't like the butt crack photo, though. YUCK!)
You may find the dork tags and lanyard insulting, but they are absolutely stunning on "Just B".

tzqfinz - "tizzy-queue-Finns" - people from Finland who abhore waiting in line - for anything.
Great post! Thank you for guilding me to it.
And the photos were great also.
Excellent post.

And butt cracks are just. so. wrong.
Well, I guess I was lucky enough to miss the butt crack extravaganza!

WV: yeaencc (yea, an CC) -- the community college that I hope will hire me.
Thanks, all you commenters, I feel much better now.

Brock, doesn't that make you want to borrow a kid for the day, just to get the bat?
They gave us the bats and were very nice about it. We explained it was our first night of a minor league road trip, six games in five days.

The eight year old nephew who is baseball mad ended up getting it for his birthday. I got to meet Lou Brock at the Memphis game and he signed my powder blue throw back jersey. I think I ended up winning.

Though my cousin and travel partner and I used the bat to hit grounders in the parking lot at Nashville.
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