FLUSHING, NY – This past Sunday I made my first pilgrimage of the year to that nervous hospital known as CitiField or, as Mets fans call it, group therapy. It all started at the Marble Hill Metro North Station where I met up with my brother, who would be attending his third game of the six-game opening home-stand, making him one of the most hardcore Mets fans around. Prior to meeting him, I was starving so I hoped to pick up an Egg McMuffin on the run. But, unbeknownst to me, Mickey D’s stops serving breakfast before 11 on Sundays. When did this happen??? I’d been out of the McDonald’s loop for almost a decade until Cheesy Bruin convinced me to have an Egg McMuffin this past summer reasoning, “How bad can you f**k up breakfast?” He was right. Anyway, I met my big bro and boarded the train on an empty stomach. Luckily he brought me a 25 ounce beer to fill my gut. Crisis, averted.
We got to Grand Central in 20 minutes and boarded the 7 train out to Flushing. Speaking of Flushing, our car smelled like someone had used it as a restroom. And sticking with that topic, I was actually glad I hadn’t got that Egg sammich, because I was starting to feel like I might have to drop a Lucas Duda at Shea Shack, if you catch my drift. Luckily, that crisis was averted as well. Anyway, disembarking at Willets Point it was fun seeing a sign on the westbound platform that still read Shea Stadium. Just surprised it wasn’t preceded by “Mayor Abe Beame welcomes you to…”
Just off the subway stairs we were greeted by some girls handing out handbills for free drinks at McFadden’s Bar, located in the stadium behind the outfield. We also saw that guy who dresses up his dog in Mets gear and collects money from people who want their pictures taken with him. Am I the only one sick of this guy? Big bro bought the two cheapest tickets available, 15 bucks a pop, and we decided we’d watch the game in the sunshine from the Pepsi Porch in right. But first we’d cash in on those free drinks. McFadden’s was okay and the beers were cold. We polished ’em off and decided to grab another couple to take inside. Problem was, the guy taking tickets at the entry point from McFadden’s into the stadium said we weren’t allowed to bring them in. When I suggested that they might want in invest in some “No Alcohol Beyond this Point” signs to avoid confusion, he shrugged his shoulders and gave me a “Whaddaya want from me?” look. At that moment I felt like I was looking at the next Mets GM.
Inside the stadium, as we headed to our perch on the Pepsi Porch, we were stopped in our tracks by someone who informed us that we couldn’t stand up there on this day unless we brought a dog with us. Apparently it was something called “Bark in the Park Day” at Citi. After getting a supervisor, he said we could go on the Porch but only if we got back in line a signed a waiver. I don’t know why they were being so careful. I’ve been out there dozens of times and seen dogs in every corner of the park, including the field of play. I was starting to get fairly pissed until another stadium employee gave us tickets for the lower level where we could still be in the sun and get close to the action. Finally, a positive.
As for the game, the Mets scored an early run and Jon Niese kept it close as long as he could, but the Mets ended up losing 2-1. It was a “been there, done that” kind of game for Mets fans: decent pitching, zero offense, and eight strikeouts. The place was more than half empty on a beautiful day. You could hear every cheer and heckle. Most of mine were words of encouragement for Daniel Murphy as well as a fair share of negative comments about Mike Francesa. Oh, and I ponied up $6.50 for a hot dog. Six-f**king-fifty! Jesus. Before leaving I had the pleasure of meeting a well-dressed gentleman by the name of Frank Carrado, who informed me that he was the Mayor of Long Island City. Nice guy. LIC is lucky to have him as their leader.
Back on the 7 platform, it took upwards of 15 minutes for a subway to come, as a gaggle of MTA construction guys made believe they were doing track work. Seriously, must have been at least 10 to 15 guys sunning themselves on the platform with no trains in sight. Your tax dollars at work. De Blasio!!! The 7 eventually arrived and we made it home unscathed.
In retrospect, the day included all of the hiccups I’ve come to expect from “The Mets Experience:” low fan turnout, befuddled employees on and off the field, dogs aplenty, and an epic journey to take in mediocrity. The Magic is back. In fact, it never left.