Saturday, March 31, 2018

Queens

On a Fine Start to the Season


Citi Field
Not Shea Stadium, 2018

Saturday, March 31, 2018
St. Louis Cardinals vs. New York Metropolitans
Not Shea Stadium
MLB, National League
Queens, NY
1:05 PM

Outside the Game:

Build-a-Bear Met
The object of much desire

I thought I was starting the day under a bad sign. Thanks to some problems with the company’s site, I was late getting my Lyft to the PATH to go to the game. I felt a little slow the whole drive there, and sure enough, as soon as I got down the stairs, I had just missed the subway to 33rd Street.

And then they announced the delays on the PATH service, no doubt a hold-over from earlier in the week when a rail broke on the line, which made every commute to and from work a nightmare for most of the week. I was prepared to have quite a nice sulk when another 33rd Street train showed up out of nowhere and quickly sent me in the right direction. I got off, just in time to catch an orange train going north, and just again in time to grab the 7 heading east. I began to question if my initial assessment about my luck was not quite correct for today.

Along the way, the 7 train picked up a half-dozen young men who were blitzed off their asses. Thankfully, they were just loud and obnoxious drunk on Saturday morning, and not angry and dangerous drunk on Saturday morning. At every stop, one of them saw fit to hang out of the train doors and scream "All aboard!" before the doors closed.

There was an older Hispanic couple on the train, and in trying to stay out of the drunks’ way, we were huddled together in one corner of the car by the doors. I found out that it was "Build-a-Bear Workshop" free Mets teddy bear giveaway, and that the wife was particularly interested in getting her bear. We both took pictures of the stadium at the approach, and once the doors opened, it was every man for himself to get to the entrance.

There was a huge crowd already lined up for the game over two hours before the start of the game. I had yet to pick up my tickets, so I cut through the crowd to get to the ticket kiosk. I was confronted with a bank of broken or out of service machines, when I found one that was working and was quickly able to get my ticket.

As I was walking to the back of the stadium to see if the lines were shorter at those entrances, I walked right by a new entrance with no line that was opening up just as the gates were opening, and I was one of maybe the first hundred people in the stadium, inside and with my bear before people who had been waiting for over an hour even moved. Luck was definitely at least flirting with me at this point.

The way out was uneventful as well. Large crowds swarmed to the 7 trains, and it was wall-to-wall people on the extra express until the first couple of stations started to bleed passengers from the train. I went straight from the PATH to my car, as I had to go to my parents’ house to prepare the eggs for Easter the next day.

(And on my way home from that, I was trailed by a cop who decided to pull me over right as I was pulling into my garage to point out that I had managed to drive from my parents' house back to Hoboken without my lights on. Seeing my Metropolitan gear, he jokingly let me off with a warning because I was a fan.)

The Stadium & Fans: 

Home to center at Citi Field
Home plate to center field at Not Shea Stadium

 Not Shea Stadium hadn't changed much since last season. The big updates were the addition of a NY lottery "Hit It Here" sign in right-center, the addition of a Citi Community Home Run apple in center field, and the fact that Mr. Met came out way earlier than last year. (He used to come out maybe a half hour or so before game time, and he was out and taking pictures at least an hour before, if not longer.) Also, the digital scoreboard in left field that showed the Manager Challenges next to the out-of-town scoreboard was altered to show the Challenges and the number of mound visits that each team had for the game, as part of the new "pace of play" rules for 2018.

Mr. Met
Mr. Met

Opening Weekend always draws a big crowd, and especially with the Build-a-Bear giveaway, there was a thronging crowd on hand to see Jason deGrom pitch in only the second game of the season. It was your standard NY crowd. In between the selfies, there was a lot of cheering for what was happening on the field.

At the Game with Oogie: 

Shake Shack
First Shack of the Year

There were more pre-teen girls at the game for the teddy bear giveaway than I think I have ever seen at a professional baseball game.

I went and did my run to Shake Shack for the first Shack of the year, and then did my tour of the museum and team store. While I was in line at the store, I ran into the Hispanic couple from the train who were looking for magnets that I had just found. The wife had gotten her teddy bear, so all was fine in the world. In doing my second walk-around, I was surprised to find Mr. Met out so early doing pictures, and then I went up to my seats in the Foxwoods deck, grabbing a Rao's meatball sub in the club area before doing more wandering around.

Raos' Sub
Second lunch

I settled into my seat on the third-base side of the club level about a half-hour before game time. There was a guy and his girlfriend to my left. He didn't show up in person until the second inning because he was waiting in concession lines, and she was fashionably dressed in cut-up jeans that left her freezing through the entire game. There was a large group of friends to my right who popped in and out throughout the game between beer and concession runs.

The boyfriend to my left was scoring the game, as well as a guy in the row in front of us. It was quite the number of scorers for this day and age. We talked a little about things, and I helped him fill in his card for the plays he missed while getting his date a hot dog at the start of the game.

The Game: 

First pitch
First pitch, Cardinals vs. Metropolitans

 The Metropolitans were hosting the always-feisty St. Louis Cardinals in, thanks to the odd new scheduling debuting in 2018, the second game of the season this cold Saturday.

The Cardinals were certainly cold, as Jason deGrom set them down in order in the first. New York jumped out to an early lead with a leadoff double, a walk, a fielder's choice that eliminated the lead runner, and another double that brought in two runs, raising a 2-0 lead before going in order the rest of the inning. St. Louis only managed a single in the top of the second, while the bottom of the Metropolitans order only got a walk in the bottom of the inning. The Cards went in order again in the third, and New York repeated the feat.

St. Louis finally got something going in the top of the fourth with a leadoff walk, sacrifice bunt, and back-to-back, two-out singles to bring in a run, to cut the lead to 2-1. New York answered back immediately with a leadoff homer in the bottom of the fourth before only scrounging a single for the rest of the inning, but increasing the lead to 3-1. The Cardinals went in order again in the fifth, while the Metropolitans got a one-out home run to left to get a 4-1 advantage. The Cards got a leadoff single to second on an error in the sixth, but then struck out in order to strand the runner, and New York managed to squander back-to-back leadoff singles in their half.

The Cardinals wasted back-to-back leadoff singles of their own in the top of the seventh, while the Mets turned a leadoff single, walk, ground out, and sacrifice fly into another run, for a 5-1 lead. St. Louis cracked a one-out homer to center in the top of the eighth, while New York converted two singles and a double into another insurance run to make their lead 6-2. The defeated Red Birds only got a walk in the top of the ninth, and the Queens faithful went home happy with a 6-2 win to extend the undefeated streak to two games.

The Scorecard:


Cardinals vs. Metropolitans, 03-31-18. Metropolitans win, 6-2.Cardinals vs. Metropolitans, 03-31-18. Metropolitans win, 6-2.
Cardinals vs. Metropolitans, 03/31/18. Metropolitans win, 6-2.

Out of perhaps morbid curiosity, I decided to back and try the Metropolitans’ official scorecard, part of the now $6 program. For those poor fools of you who have read all my previous ramblings about the official card (I know you're out there), you'll recall that the Wilpons have done no right in the last decade or so with the scorecard, except for keeping it the full size of a two-page spread and not putting advertisements on it. It has been a wasteland of smudging background colors on the card area itself, erasable lines, and wasting most of the spread with dark background colors around all the borders, making them unable to be written upon.

So imagine my surprise when I was confronted with the clean, new, scorekeeping-friendly scorecard the Metropolitans had. The background was nearly all pristine white and the print quality was decent enough that it didn't erase away. It was intelligently laid out, had minimal use of color, and plenty of space for scoring. It was almost as though they had designed a scorecard to be actually used for scoring.

That said, there were very few interesting plays to score this game. There was a 5U in the bottom of the first on a ground-out to third with men on first and second, a 4Ut in the bottom of the second on a two-out grounder with a man on first, and an overshift ground-out in the bottom of the third (4o-3). The bottom of the sixth had the weirdest play of the game, a CS 8-5 when a runner tried to go first to third on a single, and there was an infield fly rule in the bottom of the eighth (F-6 IF).

The only now-play scoring of note was thanks to the pitcher batting in the 8 hole, I had to do a lettered skip-down to accommodate everyone in the eighth position as the game went on.

The Accommodations: 
Jersey City, sweet Jersey City

https://www.flickr.com/photos/baseballoogie/sets/72157667319199428

 2018 Stand-Alone