The Not-Yet-Summer Game

In defense of cold weather baseball.
Share |

It's nice to smoke cigarettes in Citi Field. On the upper deck, at the top of the left field ramp, sits one of the finest smoking sections in baseball. While Yankee fans, prevented from lighting up anywhere in the stadium, smoke furtively in bathroom stalls, the Citi Field faithful enjoy a 180-degree view of Manhattan, LaGuardia arrivals and departures, and the flat beige waterscape of Flushing Bay. It's no exaggeration to say there are days when it's nicer to watch the sun set over the Empire State Building than to watch the Mets bumble around the field.

On Sunday afternoon, though, the mood on the smoking deck was sour. It was too windy to light a cigarette; it was too cold to enjoy one. Giving up on her butt halfway through, one forlorn Mets fan shouted, like King Lear raging against the storm on the heath, "What the fuck is happening?"

How cold was the stadium on Sunday? The weatherman says 54 degrees with winds gusting as high as 44 miles-per-hour. To get a sense of how that felt, try this: encase your genitals in ice, dangle them in front of a battery of leafblowers, and see if you feel like watching Lucas Duda stumble after fly balls.

Despite the gale, the upper deck was crowded, because the Mets had spent the week giving away tickets on Twitter. No strings attached—follow @Mets on Twitter, get a ticket to watch the actual Mets play the Marlins. The unpaid crowd got its money's worth. Dressed for a sunny spring day, they found instead that they had joined the Shackleton expedition. Children shivered through plastic hats full of ice cream. Whirlwinds of garbage swirled ghostly across the infield. Pigeons fought to stay aloft. It was baseball in April, and that is what it’s like.

***

Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, a twenty-year-old Cuban defector who was making his first appearance above Class A ball, didn’t seem bothered. This was his Major League debut, and with his mother watching from the stands, Fernandez made the Mets look awful. After five glittering innings, the Marlins pulled him in order to give their bullpen a chance to blow the game, which they did, first slowly and then all at once.

I was, I might as well admit, too cold to notice. Instead, I drank quite a bit of Citi Field coffee, pausing between sips to inspect my hands, cracked and rusty as a three month-old red potato. In the sixth, I went for a hotdog, a simple pleasure that turned out to be a monumental undertaking. Nathan's Famous containers had been whistling past my head all afternoon, and I held tight to keep mine, and my hot dog itself, from joining them.

At the condiment pumps—has baseball any two less evocative words? It’s the opposite of “Cuban defector”—ketchup and mustard streamed out horizontally, flying past my hotdog and onto the floor. As I tried to catch some on my dog, a friend tried to document the phenomenon. Four or five times she screwed up the picture and made me repeat the trick. By the time I gave up on her, the floor was covered in ketchup and my frank looked like a strange, oblong Jackson Pollock painting: Grey Poupon on highly suspect maroon meat tube.

During the stretch, another friend and I hiked to the summit of the now-deserted upper deck, to see if we could get away with smoking a cigarette in the seats. Avoiding the ushers was no problem—they were as numb as everyone else—but lighting up was nearly impossible. As my friend crouched between rows 16 and 17, failing to find shelter from wind that seemed to be coming from every direction, I thought of Jack London's "To Build A Fire," a crushing story of a Yukon traveler who stakes his life on lighting a campfire with his final match. He fails. We failed, too, until we didn’t.

Of course, London’s traveler died, and we just got to enjoy a spectacular Queens vista. Behind us, the skyline; before us, a grim Citi Field view you usually have to wait until September to see: gray skies, flying garbage, and about 37,000 empty seats. The wind at the top of the stadium was so strong that it nearly knocked me back down the stairs. Over and over, as we endured our cigarettes, we asked each other, "What the fuck are we doing here?"

We certainly hadn't come to watch baseball. You can watch baseball at home, complete with highly digressive Keith Hernandez commentary and pitch tracking and Allstate trivia questions. On SNY, there’s even a little graphic sponsored by Cholula hot sauce that comes up whenever a pitcher throws a ball in the upper 90s.

All nice enough, but we come to the ballpark to cut through those distractions, to press our nose right up against a game we love. Most Major League teams don't understand this, or at least are unsure enough of it to assault us with branded stadium promotions, blaring batting music, and endless clamoring for everybody to clap their hands. On a bad day, the din is deafening. On a good day, the canned sound fades away, and the fan gets something that's rare outside of a theater—a chance to lose himself in beautiful meaninglessness.

We also go to the to sit in the sun. To eat hotdogs with mustard without having to catch the mustard in mid-air. To scream and yell and get drunk and spit obscenities at athletes who are too rich to care and too far from the cheap seats to hear us. None of this was possible on Sunday afternoon, and at the end of the eighth, the Mets still losing, I let my friends talk me into leaving. Of course, the Mets rallied—showing joy that did not match the rest of the afternoon—but as I stumbled on to the 7 train, I felt like I hadn't seen any baseball at all.

This has happened twice before: once because R.A. Dickey threw a complete-game shutout so quickly that it seemed to end before I took my seat, the other because of a pregaming miscalculation that saw me black out on the subway ride to the ballpark. I have a picture from the blackout game, showing me with half a sandwich hanging out of my mouth, a big dumb grin on my face. Clearly, you don't need sobriety to have a good time, but you do need something—a picture, a bruise, a hangover—to help you remember.

Those fans who stuck around for the bottom of the ninth, I understand. They got what they were praying for. When I'm not shivering uncontrollably, I count myself among those who choose to bear witness to this lost team. But if I wasn't going to go the distance on Sunday, why did it take me so long to leave? Some experiences require the ballpark. You can watch baseball on TV, sure. But to smoke a cigarette with the skyline at your back, and a nearly-empty stadium at your feet, the players tiny and alive so far down, playing baseball that counts? For that, you have to go to Citi Field.

And when it’s that cold, when your friends want to go and the Mets aren’t hitting and it’s still April, with so many sweeter, warmer afternoons ahead, you have to go home. Or at least I did. There was a die-hard sitting behind us in section 534 who thought otherwise. His daughters were huddled on his lap, sobbing for Daddy to take them home. "We'll go, sweetheart," he promised as we left. "As soon as the Mets score a few runs."

Images courtesy of Nate Jones.


Share |

Comments

This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I love seeing blog that understand the value of providing a quality resource for free. hampton bay

Liked every bit of your blog post.Much thanks again. Awesome. Im happy for the article post. Awesome. Really liked this blog article.Much thanks again. Significantly obliged.
homecoming dresses

This is a great inspiring article.I am pretty much pleased with your good work.You put really helpful information. Keep it up. denturist toronto

Higgins noted the UW System graduates all students, regardless of gender, at much higher rates than even a few decades ago. lingerie dress

This is a great inspiring article.I am pretty much pleased with your good work.You put really helpful information. Keep it up. สล็อตออนไลน์ได้เงินจริง

carpet protection Awesome blog. I enjoyed reading your articles. This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work!

Excellent and very exciting site. Love to watch. Keep Rocking. B&B direttamente sul mare toscana

decent bLog! its intriguing. much thanks to you for sharing.... Denver Window Tint

Much thanks to you so much Love your web journal.. Mr and Mrs Leads

Good focuses you composed here..Great stuff...I think you've made some genuinely intriguing points.Keep up the great work. https://viral-market.com/39-become-popular-on-instagram

This is exceptionally intriguing substance! I have altogether appreciated perusing your focuses and have arrived at the conclusion that you are ideal about a significant number of them. You are extraordinary.
essay writing services

Once I thought about things like: why such information is for free here? Because when you write a book then at least on selling a book you get a percentage. Thank you and good luck on informing people more about it… download subway surfers for pc

Young women enter college more prepared, with higher grades and class ranks. Electronic Contract Manufacturing Services

I really appreciate the kind of topics you post here. Thanks for sharing us a great information that is actually helpful. Good day! amazing selling machine

Positive site, where did u concoct the data on this posting? I'm satisfied I found it however, sick be returning soon to figure out what extra posts you incorporate. legal steroids for sale

I have perused your web journal it is exceptionally useful for me. I need to express profound gratitude to you. I have bookmark your site for future redesigns. male enhancement pills at gnc

"If we are talking about the latest craze all over the world, what you are going to say? Fidget Spinner and Fidget Toy? Yes! Oh well, you can't believe it. In just 2 months, it has craze the world! First, you can see these Fidget Spinners everywhere with kids and teens in every classroom and school. Shortly they quickly invaded offices and became the favorite hand toys of adults.

Brands and Businesses are quickly catching up this new hot trend for their marketing purposes, like event promotions, conference gifts, corporate gifts, trade show giveaways, promotional gift items with those customized, logo Fidget Spinners as the best promotional products today!" Custom Fidget Spinner

I discovered your this post while hunting down data about web journal related exploration ... It's a decent post .. continue posting and overhauling data. phen375 review

A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing us. womens italian clothes

It is perfect time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I’ve read this post and if I could I desire to suggest you few interesting things or tips. Perhaps you could write next articles referring to this article. I want to read more things about it! cheap d&g sunglasses

It is an incredible site.. The Design looks great.. Continue working like that!. Buy Male Extra

Pleasant Informative Blog having decent sharing.. buy noocube

Thanks a lot for sharing us about this update. Hope you will not get tired on making posts as informative as this. Anabolic Alternative

Pleasant to be going by your web journal once more, it has been months for me. Well this article i've been sat tight for so long. I require this article to finish my task in the school, and it has same theme with your article. Much obliged, incredible offer. crazy bulk review

Much obliged for a superb offer. Your article has demonstrated your diligent work and experience you must this field. Splendid .i cherish it perusing. ultimatenutritionz

Awesome web journal you have here. You"ll find me taking a gander at your stuff regularly. Spared! women's health

Much obliged for this incredible post, i discover it exceptionally fascinating and extremely well thoroughly considered and set up together. I anticipate perusing your work later on. mens health

Good composed article. It will be strong to any individual who uses it, including me. Continue doing what you are doing – can'r hold up to peruse more posts. top diet pills

Much thanks to you a cluster for offering this to every one of us you really acknowledge what you are discussing! Bookmarked. It would be ideal if you additionally look for exhortation from my site =). We could have a hyperlink change contract between us! movers in falls Church va

This is the kind of data I've long been attempting to discover. Much thanks to you for composing this data. Garcinia Cambogia for weight loss

I am overwhelmed by your post with such a nice topic. Usually I visit your blogs and get updated through the information you include but today’s blog would be the most appreciable. amazing selling machine

This article is an engaging abundance of useful information that is intriguing and elegantly composed. I recognize your diligent work on this and thank you for this data. You have what it takes to get consideration. escort beirut

through, one forlorn Mets fan shouted, like King Lear raging against the storm on the heath, "What the fuck is happening?" Streaming Media

Main product is an email newsletter and email marketing platform with built-in content for professional service firms, including accounting firms, estate planning law firms, payroll providers, PEOs (Professional Employer Organizations), employee benefits firms, human resource consultants and health care professionals. (Industries overview can be found at http://industrynewsletters.com/industrynewsletters-overview/industries-served/.) email marketing platform

Great site! I genuinely cherish how it is simple on my eyes it is. I am considering how I may be told at whatever point another post has been made. I have subscribed to your RSS which may do the trap? Have an extraordinary day! beirut escorts

I was searching such type of post for many days .Very accurate and informative. Love this writer . You are doing great job man. voyance tarot

Its me Brayden Ben a professional and well experienced Designer.There are many designer more experienced then me , but now i am here to provide you the real design service I will design your name with real stones and give you high quality image , Unique and professional and no one will copy your design because its all Hand Made. design name with stones

I like it a lot. I can feel that you paid much attention for those articles, as all of them make sense and are very useful. 24 hour plumber london

Much obliged to you for some other enlightening online journal. Where else might I be able to understand that kind of data written in such a perfect means? I have a mission that I'm a few seconds ago taking a shot at, and I have been at the post for such data. personalised shirts

woah. Loving this article. This simplicity, this way of writing. Best piece of writing. :) stay blessed. Loftplan

WE PROVIDE HIGH TRUST FLOW AND CITATION FLOW BLOG COMMENTS BACKLINKS WITH ON DA PA Are Citation and Trust flow metrics really a necessary statistic?There was a time when SEO was at a nascent stage and primary metrics such as Google Page Rank mattered a lot in SEO. Today, SEO has advanced far beyond the domain of Page Rank and as such, secondary metrics such as trust flow, domain authority, citation flow, etc., have taken over Google Page Rank in terms of importance as far as ranking in Google is concerned. citation flow

More often than not I don't make remarks on sites, yet I'd like to say this article truly constrained me to do as such. Truly decent post! tattoo supply

It's not my very first time to visit this blog; I’m visiting this daily and acquire superb info from here day by day. accessories

I figure that they having a ton of fun to peruse this post,they might take a decent site to make an information,thanks for sharing it to me. http://sattamatkaoc.mobi/

I am happy you take pride in what you compose. This makes you stand way out from numerous different authors that push ineffectively composed substance. free walking tour Stockholm

Thanks for your post. I’ve been thinking about writing a very comparable post over the last couple of weeks, I’ll probably keep it short and sweet and link to this instead if thats cool. Thanks.
Advertainment

The information you have posted is very useful. The sites you have referred was good.
Real Estate Investment News

Check out this video. Very funny. But also a great idea. Knowunder

I really appreciate the kind of topics you post here. Thanks for sharing us a great information that is actually helpful. Good day!
hvac repair

Do you express gratefulness to people, when they share or tweet your articles? free twitter followers | clash of clans hack