Saturday, April 9, 2011


On Beginnings

Citi Field
Not Shea Stadium, 2011
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Not Shea Stadium
MLB, National League
Queens, NY
7:10 PM

Outside of the Game:
I try to go to my first game of the season as early as possible, so I can still convince myself that the Mets are still in it, or at least, not unavoidably out of it.

The game this day was an odd 7:10 PM Saturday start they were calling "Opening Night," in what I assume to be some brilliant new marketing scheme. Regardless, it left me with most of the day to set up my gardening shop for the year and catch a quality nap before heading out to the stadium. The train ride out was of little consequence, except that I shared a 7 train with a father taking his son to what I assume to be his first game, and the amount of enthusiasm the kid had was nothing short of infectious. Well, nearly. I envied him not knowing the pain that Mets' boosterism would have for his future. Everything was still fun and new.

I, on the other hand, knew better.

After the game, the happy crowd funneled in a somewhat orderly manner back to the train. I got lucky with all my transfers and got home at a reasonable hour to finish up my scorecard and hit the sack.

The Stadium & Fans:
The Old Professor
My favorite thing
Brain trust that they are, the Mets management decided to try out something new this year, one presumes to spur season ticket purchase. Normally, the gates all open two and half hours before the game, and especially in the early season, the die-hards such as myself arrive even earlier than that, as we want to get as much of the baseball experience in before the Mets ultimately disappoint us on the field over the course of a season.

The ownership instituted a new policy so that only season ticket holders could get in two and half hours before game time, and everyone else would have to wait until two hours before the game. This policy was unsurprisingly ill-publicized, and, from the stadium staff we talked to, sprung on them within a few days of opening day as well. What’s better than a stupid policy that is going to do nothing but piss off your most devoted fans? A stupid policy that is going to piss off your stadium personnel as well as your most devoted fans.

Mr. Met
Crazed gunman

And as it was windy and cold as the sun went down, and we were left listening to the same repeating PA announcement playing over and over again, the crowd was major-league pissed by the time the gates opened, and not without reason.

Not Shea itself remains Not Shea, even if it was decked out pretty for the fake “Opening Night” festivities. It is still a pale second-string to the new park across the river, but it is mine nevertheless.

At the Game with Oogie:
Future unwritten

I got a ticket on the Caesar Club Bronze level for my first game of the year, spending more money on that one ticket than I did for my entire family to see a spring training game the month before. I took the opportunity to poke my head into all the tony special areas of the stadium with my new camera, such as the Acela Club.

From my seat, I was able to use that new camera’s super optical zoom to get plenty of good shots of the various broadcast booths and the home dugout, and that was a lot more fun than it should have been.

It was an excellent seat for the game, and an unlikely excellent game to watch, so I have little to complain about for my night’s work.

The Game:
First pitch, Nationals vs. Metropolitans
First pitch, Nationals vs. Metropolitans

Unlike most early season Metropolitans games I go to, this one was a victory for the home team, as well as being a virtual replay of the spring training game I saw the month previous, with Capuano taking the mound against the Nationals.

The Nationals went in order in the first, but the Mets did not. Reyes walked and stole second, then was stranded through two outs before a Beltran homer to left brought both of them in, giving the Mets and early 2-0 lead. Not be outdone, at the top of the second, the Nationals strung together two one-out singles before a three-run shot brought them home, making it 3-2 Nats.

The steam seemed out of the Mets, who went down in order the next two innings. The Nationals mounted a one-out threat that came to nothing in the third, and went down in order themselves in the fourth. But the Nats had a first-pitch, lead-off homer in the fifth to make it 4-2, but some scattered hits did nothing more. The Mets managed just a double in the bottom of the fifth.

Capuano got the Nats in order in the sixth, and then the Mets bats came alive, or at least the Nationals defense fell apart. A lead-off walk was followed by an easy fly to left that was dropped unceremoniously, leaving runners on second and third with no outs. Just to make sure they reminded their fans who they were watching, the next batter struck out. However, Ike Davis (looking very Jesus-y in his scoreboard picture) drilled a triple to left-center, clearing the bases and chasing the Nationals pitcher. Another single came after to bring him home, and still another single left it first and third with one out. But the runners were going on a three-two count, and the inning ended with an inglorious strike out-throw out double play, with the Mets in the lead, 6-4.

The Nats went in order in the seventh, and the Mets managed only a walk. New to the game, Parnell gave up a single and walk before striking out the next two batters in the eighth, when he was yanked for K-Rod, who got the last ground out in the eighth. The Mets tacked on some insurance in their half, when the inning started with a hit batsman and a single. Another hit batsman followed, and then a grounder to short led to a controversial interference call on the runner on second, leaving it first and third with one out. After a strikeout, Reyes came up and smacked a double to left center, bringing in two runs, before Pagan flew out to center to end the inning with the Mets up, 8-4.

K-Rod, as his wont, led off the top of the ninth with two walks just to make it interesting. Then he got a 6-4-3 double play and a strikeout to end the game on a happy note.

The Scorecard:
Nationals vs. Metropolitans, 04-09-11. Metropolitans win, 8-4.
Nationals vs. Metropolitans, 04/09/11. Metropolitans win, 8-4.

Once again, the people at the helm of the Metropolitan baseball club have seen fit to put their scorecard (part of the $5 program) on a solid blue background, as they did at the start of last season, thus rendering it at least 75% less useful than it would otherwise be if one could write on the entire thing.

There were two points of interest, scoring-wise. One was the interference call against Ike Davis in the eighth, which was the first one I’ve recorded, I think. The other was Francisco Rodriguez’s first major league at bat in that same eighth. He unsurprisingly struck out on five pitches, but at least he was swinging. He even made contact, fouling one pitch off. It seems the sort of thing for which one would get patted on the head.

The Accommodations:
Simply Hoboken 

2011 Stand-Alone Trip