Friends took my son Andrew, Sue and I to a Philadelphia Phillies game. The scope of their kindness and generosity even included taking a third kid.
The Phillies stadium, Citizens Bank Park, is a leader in the new wave of beautiful, State-of-the-Art ball fields. From the minute you push your way through the turnstile onto the concourse level, you can't help but be impressed with the roominess, cleanliness and friendly enthusiasm. The field itself has tremendous sight-lines to view the action...plus the aesthetic value of garden-greenery in center field not only serves as a batters eye (to help see the incoming pitch) but also adds to the flavor of the "park"theme.
We were a party of eight. Our hosts, "die-hard" Phillie fans all wore Phillie shirts, and provided my son and the other kid with one too. That left my wife and I in "street clothes." She of course is the ultimate waffler, and to be "politically correct," root, root, rooted for the home team. Me, I'm a Mets a fan. And these days the Mets and Phillies are clawing it out in a tight pennant race...ergo, I am not going to turn my back on my team...even for one night.
The Phillies opponent that night were the Washington Nationals (or as I like to say to my brother-in-law...the Washington Sharons). Coming into that night the Nationals, the worst team by far in the league, had lost twelve straight games. Although Washington seemed overwhelmed by the Fightin' Phils, it was a close game and a see-saw battle to the end.
It seemed that of the 41,500+ in attendance, I was the only person rooting for the Nationals. This especially pissed-off our host's elder son as well as everyone in our party. I got myself into deeper hot water when the out of town scoreboard posted the Yankee's getting shellacked in Toronto, 14-0. At that point, the friend that also came with us threw down his Phillie fan facade and voiced his displeasure in my joy of the Yankees getting pounded.
My happiness only got better as the Phillies had great opportunities to at least tie the game in the 8th and 9th but failed. Then with the pleasure of the Nationals win still warm in my loins, the scoreboard lit up the fact that the Mets eked out a run in the ninth inning and won their game too.
Later I reflected that the Mets home field, Shea Stadium and Yankee Stadium are both closing after this year. To be consistent with the trend in major league baseball, they are building new ballparks for the 2009 season.
Shea Stadium was opened in 1964. The Mets had played two seasons at the dilapidated Polo Grounds in upper Manhattan, (if you watch the history channel as frequently as I do, then you'd also know that it was build by ancient Egyptians). The Polo Grounds had been the home field for the Giants before they moved to San Francisco for the 1958 season. I attended two games in the Polo Grounds in 1963. I remember it being a rickety old place with an unpaved parking lot and trough-like urinals which...considering the "falling-in factor" were acutely intimidating to eight year old me . Nevertheless, I never developed any particular love affair with its replacement, Shea Stadium.
MONSTOSITY a.k.a. POLO GROUNDS CIRCA 1958
On the other hand, I have a funny memory from the only saw game I saw, in the hated rival ballpark, Yankee Stadium. When I was ten...there were two class trips. One was to a Mets game and the other was to a Yankees game. I was friendly with this chubby, bookworm kid of Eastern European refugee parents. Actually, I'm not using his name, so I can write that he was actually a fat nerd with an annoying social habits.
At that point, the two-year old roots of my Mets inferiority-complex were already well-entrenched. So when the school trip to the Mets game came along, it was bothering me that this heavy-set genius with the social graces of a sink...was rooting for the Pirates.
He might have been book-smart but he was as naive as they come. I easily conned him into rooting for the Mets by saying...if you root for the Mets now...I'll root for the Yanks when we go to that game. Well, he did and probably had an intrical part in the Mets winning that day.
At the Yankee game, I was agreeable and kept a low-profile all the way through the national anthem.
Once the game started, I became a one-man, super-charged Baltimore Oriole fan. My friend whined his protested, "You said..."
To which I countered, "I lied!"
I was and still am confident that it was me and me alone that catapulted the Orioles to the win that day. As for my friend...we kind of stopped hanging together after that.