FLUSHING, NY – It’s Monday evening as I start to write this one; while it’s still fresh in what’s left of my mind. I just got done attending yet another New York Mets Opening Day out in Queens. I’ve lost track of how many of these I’ve been to, but I’m guessing the number is somewhere over 20. In that time I’ve seen ticket, beer, and hot dog prices go up in lockstep with player salaries. I listened helplessly as Jane Jarvis’s Hammond Organ was replaced by the worst canned “music” imaginable. And I witnessed players transform from normal Joes to circus strongman freaks and back again. Yet, in many ways, the game and the pageantry of Opening Day haven’t changed. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked… uh… Sorry, got off on a James Earl Jones tangent there. Actually, here are some things that, good and bad, stood out to me this Opening Day.
Giant Cans! Get yer minds outta the gutter, I’m not talking about those cans. I’m talking about the aluminum cylinders that house barley pops, brewdogs, frosty paralyzers, fizzy lifting drinks, bowling steroids… y’know, suds! Anyway, here I thought we were now living in a time when getting pie-eyed at sporting events or elsewhere was frowned upon (at least that’s what my wife keeps telling me), but you wouldn’t know it from beer sales at Citi Field. Not only were lines longer than ever, but it seems that the going size for a can of domestic beer at the ballpark is now 25 ounces. We’re talking a mortar shell filled with liquid comedy. Let’s just say that it’s been a long time since I felt that purchasing a 16 oz beer was a sensible choice.
Roll Reversal. My least favorite moment at this year’s Opening Day was when, during the top of the first inning, a bunch of fans in the center field section began taking roll call of the Mets’ defensive alignment. This was nothing more than a blatant and pathetic ripoff of the New York Yankees Bleacher Creature bit. The orange-clad 7 Line Army distanced themselves from this wanna-be Bomber BS, even though it looked to be coming from among their crew. Whatever the case, let’s hope this ill-advised act is one-and-done and never discussed again.
Food Glorious, Food. I was happy to see that the Mets have yet to become culinary cops and still let fans bring their own vittles into the stadium without a hassle. I walked in with a homemade hero and a bag o’ chips with zero problem. And for those that are among the growing number of gastro schlubs who view the ballpark as a dining destination, the Mets still have it all over the Yanks when it comes to food and drink. This year they added, among other things, bacon s’mores courtesy of Pig Guy while the Yankees rolled out a horrendous new burger slathered with cilantro-ranch dressing. Just when I thought I couldn’t hate them any more.
The Magnet is Back! I got my favorite giveaway on Monday in the form of a Mets magnetic schedule for the 2015 season. It’s simple, sticks to the side of my fridge, and doesn’t fall apart like Kahn’s seat cushion or English Leather Yankees raincoat.
Seventh Inning Retch. The Mets went and did it. They just had to do the 7th-inning “God Bless America” routine, a la the Yankees. I’m wondering whether they did it last night and/or plan on doing it all season long. Anyone at last night’s game wanna chime in on this? Otherwise, I’ll be there again Friday night and see for myself. I seriously hope they don’t continue this nonsense. Seems like attending a baseball game and signing “The National Anthem” should be all of the honoring America needs in one three-hour afternoon or evening. Gimme “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” in the 7th or give me silence.
Other Sights and Sounds. Ran across at least one Paul Blart Mall Cop usher who did his best to keep me off the Excelsior Level, until I foiled his plan by walking around 20 yards to my right. Also couldn’t help noticing that fan participation contests between innings have become an “everyone wins” affair, no matter how poor your hand-eye coordination or grasp of simple Mets trivia. You wanna give kiddies prizes for failing? Fine. But let’s start punishing moron adults again. It’s fun! Finally, it was great hanging out with my brother at yet another Opening Day and good to see friends doing likewise with their brothers, sisters, moms and dads.
Time marches on, but early April always gives me hope. Not necessarily hope that the Mets will transform into a winner, but hope that the team and its fans will continue to embrace some semblance of their combined historic awkwardness, own it, and continue to fly that Flushing freak flag for years to come.
Slink back this way tomorrow for the only person other than me who thinks Bartolo Colon will win 20 this year, Hubit Chakockoff.