“It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer… the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.”
I got my newly renamed “Sunday-Plus” plan invoice last week. At least they realize it was a total farce to call these plans “Sunday”, “Saturday”, etc. Since the “Plus” part is still in the equation for these ticket plans, my one year trial run of a ticket plan at Citifield goes bye-bye. There’s a lot of things I wasn’t happy with these new plans as compared to the pure “Sunday” plans at Shea – my seats comparatively speaking, the weekday games, lack of playoff options….. I cannot think of one reason to continue to have a ticket plan. Not one! Oh wait, my tickets went down by $5 per seat! Hmmm, no, that’s not a reason to keep them either really. And so…..bye bye Sunday Plus ticket plan.
After the last Mets game on Sunday, I pretty much declared that the baseball season was dead to me and I really wouldn’t pay much attention to the playoffs. Well…
A bunch of my friends are going to Al-Yankzeera tonight for the playoffs, and when I was deciding what to wear this morning, my Twins sweatshirt that I had bought at their Spring Training Stadium was screaming out to me: WEAR ME WEAR ME. So I did. Now I am partisan and cheering for the Twins, at least for this series with that “other” NY team who-shall-not-be-named.
I got into my car after volleyball practice and was about to turn on WFAN to listen to the game, and then I realized….THERE IS NO GAME.
Despite that, as soon as I got home and walked in the door, I was about to go put on SNY to watch the game and….nope can’t do that EITHER.
There’s not going to be any playoff-watching in my house. I have shows on the DVR to catch up on instead. It’s going to be a long, cold winter…
When I was up at my Cooperstown jaunt, a woman that was also on the trip was sweet enough to give me her baseball bracelet. I told her I would wear it to Citifield now and forever, except when the Rangers come into town during those AL-NL times because, well, I can give the Rangers the luck. Anyway, I’ve worn this bracelet for my last two Sundays at Citifield and the Mets have won both times. Where was this bracelet in May or June?!
It seems that today the 80s called. Instead of the players’ usual at-bat music we were treated to a flashback to the 80s and had those songs playing instead. What a blast from the past.
I have a new favorite food at Citifield: the corn on the cob from the Taqueria. I don’t think anything there is better. Seriously. Corn on the cob w/ mayo, cayenne pepper, and cotillo cheese…divine.
We had a giveaway today – I don’t remember this being on the schedule even in August. I’m guessing they need more things to keep people coming to the game. There was a good amount of people there – more than I would’ve thought would’ve been there – but the crowd did thin out as the game went on. It seemed as if more people were cheering for the Jets updates than the game.
It looked super good for a win today. John Maine was back and took a no hitter into the 5th (I believe). The Mets scored 2 runs late in the game to have a 6-0 lead. But then it all started to go downhill quickly in the 9th. The Nats scored 2 runs, had runners on 1st and 2nd, and then in comes K-Rod (with a image of his bobblehead bobbing again on the big screen, haha) to shut it down and get the Metsies a win.
My personal record this year is 5-6 at Citifield. I have tickets to one more game, where hopefully I’ll be at .500 for the year. You bet that bracelet will be on my arm!
An aside – last night I watched the Mets Weekly episode from two weeks ago which just happened to be a recap of the 1969 World Series 40th Anniversary Celebration. There was a lil’ segment on Nolan Ryan – crazy as that was airing as I was on the bus about to go PLAY with Nolan Ryan. ;)
So about that bus – we drove from Albany out to Cooperstown and watched the 1999 HOF Induction Ceremony video. All morning it had been raining and the weather forecasters on the Albany stations had said the farther west you’d go, the better chance you’d have of staying dry in the afternoon. We didn’t quite know where we were going to end up. Turns out that Doubleday Field was “unplayable” thanks to all the rain, so we went over to an indoor sports complex and were going to play Indoor Wiffleball. No one was really keen on playing inside, and at the time it was just overcast so we convinced everyone that mattered that we were all willing to play outside, even if it meant playing in the rain. The infield on the baseball field there also had big huge puddles, so the keepers of the complex ended up putting down some bases on the soccer field and that’s where we played our softball game.
Despite it being a not-so-nice weather day, everyone had a lot of fun playing and chit-chatting. I think the SWA team had practiced or something because they killed us. Oh well. Apparently that is the way it seems to go every year. I didn’t get a hit, but I did hit a ball into RF that if we would’ve been playing “for real” probably would’ve been a hit. Since we were just playing on a big open field, we had everyone come in to play the outfield instead of sitting people out, so there could be 6, 7, or even 8 people out there at any given time. My “hit” to the outfield was picked up by one of these extra people and I got thrown out at 1st. Lame. I wasn’t running all out fast because the grass was wet (I don’t need to bust something up in a “for fun” game) and it was hard to see where the bases were since they were covered by grass. That is my story and I’m sticking to it.
In the top of the 7th, a total downpour occurred and we called it quits with the SWA team winning by something like 145 to 3. (Not really, but it felt that way!) We had time to get some things autographed (I got my gameday jersey signed, personalized to me) and were being stalked by guys who had followed our bus all the way from Albany. When we’d leave the gym, they were coming up to us throwing things in our face “Can you get this signed for me?”. Um, no, especially since you are just going to throw it up on eBay for tons o’ cash money anyway and not appreciate it. They must’ve had a lookout outside too because they took Nolan Ryan out a side exit and all of a sudden all the guys that had been inside were tearing out over to his car. It would not be the last we’d see of these guys.
We had a short amount of time at the hotel to clean up and look nice before we were back on the bus going to the HOF. Outside there was one of the autograph-seekers from the afternoon trying to look inconspicuous but instead looked terribly shady. We were taken to the Baseball Experience movie room where we watched the movie, and then everyone got to read their essays that won them this trip. We laughed, we cried, we were nostalgic.
Then we went down to the Plaque Gallery where it was all ours for the night. They had tables set up in the middle and a buffet down at the far end. There’s a window looking into the Gallery and people kept standing at it, watching us in the Fishbowl, until security would come and tell them to get a move-on. It wasn’t long before more people would come by and hover. It was amusing. I enjoyed this part much more than the game (one because I was dry and warm!) mainly because we got to hear a lot of Nolan Ryan’s stories from back-in-the-day and from now. Like which person would he most want to pitch to today (Pujols and Ichiro if you’re keeping count). One of the SWA guys also did an interview for the podcast “Red Belly Radio” so keep checking out their podcast site for that (when I checked yesterday it still wasn’t up).
I’m working on getting my photos up online (still), so here’s another preview photo – me up at bat against Nolan Ryan (who pitched for both teams).
This is the first of (at least) three installments of my weekend experience that only words could buy.
It all started back on a July day when I was looking for flights for my annual fall trip to Florida with my friends. On the Southwest site, I noticed a little box on the front page yelling at me: “Play Ball with Nolan Ryan”. Instead of going to search for flights, I ended up clicking the box to view the contest page. After reading the contest description and all, I thought to myself “I want to do that!” and I immediately knew the direction I wanted my contest entry to take. (Contest entry: Write a 150 word or less essay on why you should be picked to play. Entries judged on creativity, humor, uniqueness, etc. Go play softball at Cooperstown against a team of Southwest employees with Nolan Ryan pitching for both teams.)
Despite knowing what I wanted to write about, it wasn’t coming easy at first. The first draft was a dud. It was unique for sure, but not incredibly creative or humorous at that. My second draft was getting there. After some tweaks I had a winning essay for sure. I knew I did. I mean, how could the mysterious “they” not like it? Before I submitted it for good on the website, I was reading it one more time when one word popped out which immediately brought to mind another stroke of genius, and then I was golden. I was winning this contest. I knew that besides coming up with all the requirements, I had to inject some of Southwest’s “corporate culture” into it, but at the same time it had to have a flow and make sense. One of my friends suggested changing “love” to “LUV” (stock ticker, advertising) and I thought “How could I miss that obvious one?” Haha. My stroke of genius mentioned above came from reading the word “reward” in my essay. Well their frequent flyer program is “Rapid Rewards” and I only made the connection after letting the essay sit for the weekend without reading it at all, so in went a reference to “RAPID-ly REWARD-ing” me. Finally, the flight attendants like to sing songs with new words, and since this was a (soft)ball game, new words to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” were absolutely on tap. Perfection.
The other reason I knew this contest was meant for me was the fact that Cooperstown kept popping up into my life in July. A friend of mine got engaged early July and planned to have her wedding in Cooperstown next year. The current edition of Rachael Ray Magazine had Cooperstown as a featured destination. This contest was the third reference to it in one month!
The rules had said winners would find out if they’d won “on or about July 29”. When July 29 came and went I was not happy. What happened to my perfection? July 30…July 31…I wasn’t winning. I get home on August 5 and check my email and there is an email waiting for me with the subject line I had been waiting for. WINNER! I won! Well, I wasn’t an official winner yet, that didn’t come until I got my paperwork in, but Cooperstown, NY here I was coming!
SWA doesn’t fly direct to Albany from either Islip or LaGuardia so I actually had to leave New York to come back to New York! The popular question other winners asked me up there was if I drove. In theory flying (even with connecting to BWI) would take about the same time to drive. Notice I say “in theory”. There was a bunch of weather delays at BWI on Friday that if you would’ve started the clock from the time I left my house in the morning to the time I got to the hotel in Albany, I could’ve driven to Albany and back in the same amount of time. Oh well. Weather isn’t something anyone can control and the flight was free so no complaining. There were a lot of winners on the flight from BWI-ALB. I kept overhearing people’s conversations with “Nolan Ryan” creeping in a lot.
Eventually we are at the hotel, and we all got a (Southwest) backpack (the ergonomical kind) that was full of swag – a game jersey, a hat, credentials (we’re official!), two blow-up Southwest planes, and some pamphlets on Cooperstown. The only thing missing was peanuts (I kid!).
That night we had dinner at a local restaurant and we got to meet the people who had arrived (some were still in transit). The largest contingent was from Texas, which is a given since SWA headquarters are there and Nolan Ryan is a Texan and all. Otherwise there were a few people from California, and one from Florida, Kansas, North Carolina, & Virginia. I think that covers everyone.
Pretty soon it would be time for bed. We were leaving to Cooperstown for the game in the morning, and the weather forecast was not looking good…
Stay tuned for Part Two – The Game. To leave you wanting more until then, here is a photo of me & my team “The Flyers”. I’m standing at the right.