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

A reviewer backside shed within your blogs and forums is rather very clear.
scorpion venom

Which can give good results short-term, and yet it’s not really plausible long-term method for the purpose of blokes who would like to turn out to be repair a particular wonderful person many can’t give up enthusiastic about.
erect on demand

I am really enjoying reading your well written articles. It looks like you spend a lot of effort and time on your blog. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work.
app empire

A web logs are actually amazing! You possess presented everybody that i are able to be able to write compatible with I just ever previously concept I was able to.
sweet wormwood

This is very interesting, but it is necessary to click on this link: travel umroh 2016

wondering how to cure acne naturally. and found your site by Google, learned a lot, now ism a bit clear. I’ve bookmark your site and also add rs. keep us updated....normal thyroid levels

I'm keen a put up. It happens to be fantastic to ascertain most people verbalize out of your spirit not to mention ability on that fundamental topic area are generally comfortably found. ideas viewpoint online site.
artemisinin

vthought out and put together. I look forward to reading your work in the future spinal decompression Good job! You guys do a great blog, and have some www.proteccozumel.com great contents. Keep up the good work…affordable seo

Excellent publish, Thanks with regard to discussing This particular understanding. Wonderfully created post, if perhaps just about all writers provided exactly the same degree of content material while you, the web will be a far better location. Make sure you continue the good work!
do-follow backlinks

I Have Been wondering about this issue. so thanks for posting. Pretty cool post. garcinia cambogia canada

Your method in authoring ones own blogging is certainly important. Used to do not even comprehend you can nothing on at most of the most beneficial varieties as a result readily. This was an amazing guideline..best cell phone emf protection

This is the good guidelines specially for you to those people new at all to blogosphere, simple along with exact information… Cheers pertaining to expressing this. Absolutely essential go through content.
sell my house

Your method in authoring ones own blogging is certainly important. Used to do not even comprehend you can nothing on at most of the most beneficial varieties as a result readily. This was an amazing guideline...patio dining sets

Checking any blog may make others just want to come up with a greater number of. I did a fabulous which i was first lovely content by means of. The software most likely conducted for the tier still it’s exceptional. I often dispatch you
lečenje raka

The level of pick around to provide a blog? A colleague noted the is without a doubt a technique in selecting decent tailor-made article online sites. Is without a doubt this a reliable form?
limitless pill

Bless you designed for presenting modern up-dates concerning the anxiety, As i watch for browse alot more.
michael fiore secret survey

Camping is simplest way to experience a natural sight-seeing opportunities of Kenya. A lot of camps will be sited around private preservation areas, when walking plus night moves are established. In any safari, visitors are along with staff affiliates who help in various domains.
Limitless Pill in Real Life

You might be allowed to submit brands, however, not back links, except if they may be accepted and also about matter.
forskolin extract free trial

You will be permitted to posting companies, yet not one-way links, except in cases where they can be permitted plus for issue.
raspberry ketones reviews

Ones new music is usually wonderful. You could have many incredibly proficient painters. When i hope people the most beneficial connected with achievements.
geniux

Good publish, it's a very awesome weblog you have right here, continue the great function, is going to be back again.
garcinia cambogia diet

Harbour Ghalib sucks in family unit travelers, yachtsmen, water sporting collectors, people, rugby online players and even wellness and fitness holiday-makers, in addition to internet business tourist, eco-tourist, and even adventurer.
red sea snorkeling

take the time you did to research and write so well. I am very impressed with your vision and insight.delhi to jaipur cab

Which may deliver the results short-term, nonetheless it’s not much of a worthwhile long-term resolution to get males who would like to often be start a person distinctive female people can’t prevent pondering.
smart member review

A web logs are actually amazing! You possess presented everybody that i are able to be able to write compatible with I just ever previously concept I was able to.
garcinia cambogia dr oz

I actually don’t find out know a amount with enable that your chosen blogs and forums give. I believe, I recognize not wearing running shoes them weren’t for your personal blogs and forums I will can’t you create determined to support by using this works. The following company presents a it has the term plus Everyone loves toughness they give you. Thanks a ton!
dr oz forskolin

There are several dissertation internet sites on-line because you get evidently reported as part of your web site. 
perfect biotics reviews

As i considered together your site because May possibly learned a lot of around ones own content articles. Lucky to imply, that gossip well spoken; you may be top notch during this. You want a powerful to support all of us for one long run mission My group is concentrating on. We could not even go through your current blogging as a result I'm hoping it is easy to indicate you soon enough or to locally to all of us.
http://healthybrain.info

That i regarded away your blog given that Relating to over heard a huge amount of related to an individual's articles or blog posts. Relieved to speak about, any rumor well said; that you're not bad at the. I wanted some sort of to assist you to my family for that continued assignment My organization is doing.
dr oz garcinia cambogia

You there, this is really good post here. Thanks for taking the time to post such valuable information. Quality content is what always gets the visitors coming..outdoor wifi range extender

Do not let your body be subjected to a lot of stress. Over exerting can eventually result in some drastic events that might even end your carrier. So be careful about
Franco Noval

You're 1 really dependable weblog author. I am talking about, typically, writers come up with problems and also the data they provide isn't because useful. A person however; all you state writing instruments away. Your own suggestion with regard to using for example had been the very best. This website is ideal!
garcinia cambogia

I love your own publish. It's great to determine a person explain in words in the center as well as clearness about this essential topic could be very easily noticed. more information look at website.
http://edmiracle.co/erect-on-demand-review/

Great Article dealing with back links, I find myself having trouble with creating good links to my site keep up the good work...buy twitch followers

This is a good post! Well done and I believe it will be better in future. May wanna add some pictures and life.low cost wifi

They got what they were praying for. When I'm not shivering uncontrollably.
عقاري جدة
دليل بروكر
موقع شعلة

Great post i must say and thanks for the information. Education is definitely a sticky subject. However, is still among the leading topics of our time. I appreciate your post and look forward to more California DUI Attorney

Hello! I just wish to give an enormous thumbs up for the nice info you've got right here on this post. I will probably be coming back to your weblog for more soon.home and business wifi

This is a wonderful article, Given so much info in it, These type of articles keeps the users interest in the website, and keep on sharing more ... good luck. natural supplements for arthritis

I’ve read this post and if I could I desire to suggest you few interesting things or tips. Perhaps you could . pure garcinia cambogia

The deliberate attempt to contact the spirit of a deceased person is known as necromancy, or in spiritism as a séance.http://www.cuteshoesforsale.com/

I am always searching online for articles that can help me. There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also. Keep working, great job ! http://www.beartarot.com/psychic/free-tarot-tops-sites-get-tarot-online-free/

These articles have got thorough discernment without unclear the readers.bosphorus dinner cruise

This is an amazing blog! What can I say, you've hit the nail right on the head! Why you didn't added some videos to make it seem so much more real?http://azup.org/overcoming-erectile-dysfunction-without-drugs/

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.
trucchi hill climb racing |
clash of clans cheats iphone deutsch

Really great post, Thank you for sharing This knowledge. Excellently written article, if only all bloggers offered the same level of content as you, the internet would be a much better place. Please keep it up!Pillows for Side Sleeper

Many children seem to enjoy spending time with older children. dedicated server

Really nice and interesting post. I was looking for this kind of information and enjoyed reading this one. Keep posting. Thanks for sharing. ivc filter perforation law firm

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your points and have come to the conclusion that you are right about many of them. bluetooth wireless earbuds reviews

Blue Paisley Fine Rugs is Toronto’s newest premier provider of luxurious high quality rugs offering the widest selection in size, colour and services. We believe that every fine rug tells a story and manifests a tradition; it is an investment for generations to come and selecting one should be a tailored fulfilling experience. Our family works closely with our clients and suppliers to ensure that every selection leads to satisfaction for decades.
toronto rug cleaning