Tonight we’re at Dodger Stadium for the semi-finals of the World Baseball Classic.
So far the Vuvuzela of Victory is successfully singing its sweet, sweet song. The USA is ahead 1-0 after 5 innings.
The view from a warmer, dryer time…
On Monday I posted Day Twelve of my “New York, New York” picture travelogue and hinted that there might be a couple of stories that went along with that part of the day. Yesterday I posted the first of those stories, so why not give you the second one today?
Story The Second
As I mentioned at the end of the post on Monday, we did something we almost never, ever do. We are huge baseball fans and just as a matter of principle and habit we almost never leave a game before the last out. But on that particular day, it had been a long day touring the Intrepid, seeing the Space Shuttle Enterprise, going on that two and a half hour (and then some) tour around Manhattan (I think that they just don’t want to call it a “three-hour tour” for some odd reason), and then enduring the search in the heat and humidity to find a cab. To boot, we were still jet lagged and the game had started about thirty minutes late. When the Diamondbacks scored a run in the top of the eighth to go up 2-0 and the Mets did nothing in the bottom of the eighth, we ditched the ninth inning.
There was another factor, that being our need to find a cab to get back home. Strangers in a strange land, such as we were, and pretty tired and worn out strangers at that.
I had checked with a couple of the ushers at CitiField, who were very helpful about telling us where to find the waiting area for the cabs after the game. I wanted to make sure that we found it without any issues. Given the circumstances, I needed a bit of “easy”, and that vision didn’t involve any long lines and delays.
Out we went, took that last neat picture of the CitiField sign all lit up in the night, and found the line of cabs right where it was supposed to be. No line, no wait, no muss, no fuss. Off we went, back toward Manhattan.
Our driver was chatty and friendly. We learned that he had become a huge Mets fan since moving to the United States and New York City. He had a great grasp of the game and knew his Mets inside and out. Of course, we were listening to the end of the game on the radio as we drove.
Since we hadn’t taken very long at all to get to the cab stand, the game was just getting to the bottom of the ninth inning as we pulled onto the freeway. The Mets were still down 2-0, facing their last chance.
(If you see what’s coming, don’t spoil it for anyone else, okay?)
The Mets got scrappy, getting one guy on with one out when Kelly Johnson hit a home run to tie the game.
See, THIS is why we never leave a game early!
Yeah, yeah, yeah, extenuating circumstances. Tired, long day, jet lagged, blah, blah, blah. Excuse it any way you want, we were still missing all of the excitement.
Remember how I had the picture of “the Big Apple” in the outfield stands and described how it pops up out of its lair when the Mets hit a home run? Remember how I mentioned that we hadn’t seen it pop up? Notice how I didn’t say that it didn’t pop up during our game?
Okay, the game is tied, going to extra innings – and we’ve become totally bogged down in traffic. I don’t know the area so I don’t know the ins and outs and best routes, trusting the cab driver completely, but at some point just past LaGuardia there was a huge backup due to construction on the freeway. We took the first exit to start winding our way through the fine, fine surface streets of Queens. Where there is, of course, even more construction and the midnight traffic jams from hell.
But the ballgame is on, so we’re chatting about it. They go through the tenth. No score. The eleventh. No score.
We finally find our way out of the traffic and onto the entrance to the Queensboro Bridge. (This is now my third trip over the bridge, along with one trip under it earlier in the day, so I’m an old pro and know where I am now.) Listening to the game, we hear Oscar Hernandez lead off the top of the twelfth with a home run to put the Diamondbacks up 3-2. As we get into Manhattan, the Mets fall in the bottom of the twelfth and the game is over.
It’s now pushing midnight, about 23:45, after a long, long day and we’re being dropped off in fairly heavy traffic, across the street from the apartment where we were staying. Which is when I messed up and caused the third story of the day…
Yeah, it’s been a while, almost two months. My bad. Let’s dive back in, shall we?
In summary: New York City had a life of it’s own in my head. In early August 2016, I visited there for the first time. On the first afternoon we visited Central Park and were there for hours, despite the jet lag. Day One started with a tour of the Intrepid and the Space Shuttle Enterprise, followed by the full two and a half hour cruise around Manhattan – south down the Hudson River into the Upper Harbor, up the East River under the “BMW” bridges, past Midtown and the UN, into the Harlem River, back south into the Hudson River, underneath the George Washington Bridge, past Grant’s Tomb., and finally back into port.
Once we got ashore we needed to boogie and get across the city. One thing we always try to do when we travel is to visit the various major league baseball parks. On this night, we had tickets to see the Mets. There’s a story there, but I’ll save it lest this post get so long that it never, ever gets done.
Having never been to New York before, I never got to visit the old Shea Stadium. But CitiField is lovely.
From where we got dropped off by the cab we entered the stadium in a fairly hum-drum entrance (not this one!) down one of the foul lines. Once we found our seats, I wandered off, as is my wont, to see as much of the stadium as I could, bag o’ cameras in hand. That’s when I found the grand, main entrance right behind home plate.
The on-again, off-again rain that had followed us all day (see the pictures from the Intrepid and the cruise around Manhattan) was decidedly on again. We found the tarp to be on the field when we got there, an hour or so before game time.
But it wasn’t too long before the grounds crew came out and started getting the field ready for play. The start of the game was delayed by about thirty minutes, but we did get it in.
Wandering about like this in new and unfamiliar ballparks, I find that the security people and ushers are generally cooperative and polite if you are. Say howdy, let them know it’s your first time here, you’re a tourist from out of town, ask for permission to go down into this section where you don’t have a ticket because you just want to take a couple of pictures, and you’ll be fine.
The big apple (see what they did there?) is a leftover from the Mets’ earlier life at Shea Stadium. It was iconic and got moved to the new stadium, of course. During the game it’s down inside that huge well, but when a Mets batter hits a home run, up pops the Big Apple!
I don’t remember seeing that happen while we were there. Next trip, maybe.
The did eventually get the game in, with the Mets…
…facing the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Given the late start, the full and busy day we had behind us, and the fact that we were both jet lagged still, we did something we almost never do at a baseball game – we left before the end of the game. The Diamondbacks had scored a run in the top of the eighth to go up 2-0, and the Mets had done nothing in the bottom of the eighth. Given that we were going to need to find a cab to get back home on top of everything else, we decided to beat the crowd a little bit and bail.
Which leads us to the second story of the night, which I will share with you…soon.
My son, who was in Chicago when my beloved Cubbies won the World Series, sent copies of the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times from the morning after they had won, as well as a “W” flag and a World Series Cubbies hat.
Do I have a great son, or what?
Looking at them tonight, it occurs to me that it’s yet another reason to absolutely despise what’s happening politically in this country.
As much joy as I had with my beloved Cubbies winning, that joy has been tainted, tarnished, and diminished by the fact that I’m so full of angst and anger.
I just hope we have an opening day next spring so that the Cubbies can get their rings and have that celebration. I really, really hope that the existential crisis that we’re in has passed, or at least let up, to the point where we can enjoy that celebration and rite of spring.
I don’t know that I would bet on it right now. I’ll be so, so happy next April if I can look back on this and laugh at how wrong I was.
I hope. Still.
When I got into the office this morning, the east side of the building had this view:
I believe he was playing air guitar here, some juicy Hendrix riffs.
I’ll be over here checking to see if my heart is healthy enough to stand extra innings in Game Seven after my beloved Cubs blew a three-run lead in the eighth. If you don’t see anything posted tomorrow…