4/12/2005 11:08:00 PM
I had wanted to post on Sunday and Monday but I�m consumed by getting my Little League team ready for the season (Sunday my coaches and I ran a three hour practice, I know those kids slept well that night) but yesterday I put that on the back burner because it was the Mets home opener. First, the local weathermen had me packing like I was going to the Artic to watch this game, luckily we were sitting in the sun for the first five innings, so coats were not needed. By the sixth when the sun shifted and left our section in the shade it became a Candlestick Park experience.
The crowds in the parking lots before the game were in high tailgating mode. The NYPD was in high-ticket writing mode as police officers went around the lots and issued $25 summons for drinking an open container of beer in public. This law was past a few years back by Mayor Rudy Guliani during his crack down on Quality of Life crimes. The $25 bucks is not a big deal but the fact that you cannot mail in the fine but have to appear in court to answer these charges is what hurts. I�ve know guys who had to give up a days pay just to go to see the judge and pay his fine.
The Mets have installed a brand new DiamondVison screen, which was badly needed. The new screen gives a picture that is clear and crisp unlike the previous one that was so blurry and out of focus it gave you the urge to go up there and bang it on it�s side. Under the Lodge seats the team has added matrix boards similar to what you see in the newer indoor arenas. The give you player facts and figures but they are mostly there for advertising purposes. There are finally hot dogs that are not only edible but are very New York as the Mets are selling Nathan�s Hot Dogs exclusively. In fact in the left field and right field corner there are Nathan�s food courts. Make sure you see the loan officer before you go to the concessions stands as the prices are of the Park Avenue variety. Give the Mets credit, as they do not stop people from brining their own food into the stadium as most ballparks do these days. I saw lots of folks with homemade Heros and bags of chips. I can�t go to a game and not have a dog to me it�s un-American not to. A 16oz. Bottle of Miller Lite is $6.75, which makes me happy I gave up drinking. A guy in front of me at a stand saw the beer prices and bitched and moaned so much that I had to turn around and say to him � Chief, It�s not medicine, you don�t NEED to have it� He gave me a dirty look and bought two Millers for a total of $13.50, that same $13.50 would get you a case of Heineken at any beer distributor.
What had stuck with me most of the ride home on the 7 train and SI Ferry was Tom Seaver was introduced along with two marines who are from Queens and served in Iraq and not many people gave The Franchise much of an acknowledgement. I looked around the section I was in (Section 20 in the Upper Deck) and it hit me that most of the people in that section never saw Seaver pitch for the Mets. This June will be 28 years since Sever was traded to the Reds and most of the people in the section were either not born yet or too young to realize how great a player Seaver was and what he meant to the Mets organization. They don�t call him The Franchise for nothing. I then started to think what else has this younger generation of Mets fans missed out on:
The opening of Shea Stadium in 1964.
Seeing Mrs. Payson arriving to her seat next to the Mets dugout like royalty.
Carl Eberhart the Sign Man who sat in field box seats with hundreds of reaction signs for every occasion.
Jerry Koosman just missing out winning Rookie of the Year over Johnny Bench in 1968
1969 World Champion New York Mets
The Black cat running past Leo Durocher and the Cubbies
Every Mets game televised on WOR ch. 9 FOR FREE!!!!
Cursing out Ron Santo when he did his heel clicks after the Cubs would take a game from the Mets
Your New York, New Jersey and Fairfield County Chrysler-Plymouth Dealer.
Banner Day doubleheader.
�Hello again everyone, I�m Lindsay Nelson.
Jane Jarvis and the Thomas Organ.
Buying Mets tickets and local branches of Manufactures-Hanover Bank (I�d go with my father to the one on 13th Ave and 50St in Boro Park Brooklyn)
The souvenir stand just outside the subway at Shea (it�s still there) and buying these blue and orange long trumpet horns that could be heard all the way to Manhattan when used properly.
Friday night games in the mid and late 60�s when the Dodgers or Giants came back to town.
Popcorn that came in a Mr. Met megaphone.
Only having just one home uni (pinstripe with Mets across no number on the front and just a number on the back and no name and the gray uni that is still worn today) and one road uni and one hat (classic royal blue and orange NY)
Mets v Expos for Parc Jarry
Willie Stargell revered by Mets fans
Richie Hebner reviled by Mets fans.
Willie Montenez and his stutter step home run trot
Willie Mays traded to the Mets
Joe Torre manager of the Mets
Gooden and Strawberry hit the scene over 20 years ago.
When Willie Randolph was in the running for Mets manager, my biggest problem with him was I had no idea what kind of style he would have as the manager of a major league club. He had never managed before and all we saw of him was that of waving Highlanders home. Well, after the first seven games we are starting to get an idea of Randolph�s style. I hope Whitey Herzog is getting a glimpse of the �New� Mets because I�m sure they would put a smile on his face. Randolph has gotten the Mets to play very aggressive baseball. Hell, it�s old time National League baseball and I LOVE IT! I love �Little Ball�, stealing, bunting, hit and run and hitting behind runners it�s great fundamental baseball. The double steal with Victor Diaz and Miguel Cairo was stunning. When Jose Reyes gets on first base you can see the opposing pitcher having too much to worry about. Kaz Matsui (more on him in a sec) drag bunt was brought back visions of the1960�s and the style the Dodgers used to play. Sure, there are some trouble spots (the bullpen I know but you tell me, after looking at the box scores of the last week, who doesn�t have bullpen troubles?) but I just feel this is going to be an exciting season for the Mets.
It was interesting to hear the fan reaction to the player introductions yesterday. No question that Petey has captured the hearts of the fans in a way Titan Tom Glavine could only dream about. Petey did not go Fenway yesterday not because of spite against the Old Town Team but because he knew his place was with his team not only because his team is trying right it�s way this early in the season but it�s his teams home opener. Derek Lowe and Dave Roberts went because their teams were off yesterday. No player would ever leave his team when it�s involved in a game to pick up something that could be Fed Ex�ed to them the next day.
Matsui is not liked by the paying customers at Shea I feel because he is a product of the Mets more sizzle than steak approach they seem to take with players. Thank God David Wright has risen above the uber hype the Mets are guilty of doing so many times before.
When the batter backdrop could not go back in position it made realize what it�s like to root for the Mets. First about 10 people most with walkie-talkies came running to see what the problem was. It was then determined that the remedy was to drop the black curtain that was attached to the top of the billboard to be used in situations like this. As a worker let the first curtain drop, water from previous rainstorms that had collected in it, cascaded down on one of the suits with a walkie-talkie. That was good for a big laugh. Then the curtain was so flimsy and unsecured that it fell off the top of the board, which also gave the fans a great belly laugh. Throughout all this I kept looking out at the right-center field where I could see the Home Depot in College Point. I just pictured Freddy Skill Sets running down the store isles looking for the part needed to fix the sign. After about fifteen minutes the Shea Stadium maintenance crew moved the slots by hand. The picture of the day though was of the maitance worker jumping with joy on top of the billboard with glee after he got it fixed.
How about Roger Clemens not being at Shea for the opening day ceremonies. The Astros claim he was held up in Houston due to bad weather. My question is, how did the rest of the team get to NY? And why didn�t he travel with the team? I guess he was just affraid of the reaction he�s get from Mets fans. He�s due to pitch tomorrow so you can run but you can�t hide Roger!