But before what became the successful trip to the Deep South, the Mets had the horrible, awful, stinky, putrid, philthy stand closer south at Citizens Bank Park culminating in four losses and rumors of the Phillies stealing signs in the first two games.
I wouldn’t actually want to remember and, therefore, post anything about that nightmarish four-game phiasco had it not been for the fact that there were some kinda neat things about the game which we attended: the Tuesday night game, August 28th:
(1) Tuesday was my daughter’s birthday and we attended the game at her request. "Happy Birthday" was sung to her by–yes, believe it or not–Phillies fans! (I had not ruled out the possibility that fans that are capable of booing their own players for any minor infraction, their own manager, heck–even Santa Claus–might boo a ten-year-old kid in Mets gear celebrating a birthday, but they did not.)
(2) Tuesday also marked the return of my personal favorite, Endy Chavez, and
(3) We had some AMAZING seats!
While we were quite a ways down the left field line, we were only five rows from the field.
This meant we were privy to some neat plays by Pat Burrell and Moises Alou.
It also meant that we were able to witness some old-enough-to-know-better, drunken boors make passes at the Phillies foul ball girl sitting down on the field right in front of us.
The Phillies do truly have some of the worst fans (except the ones near us who did sing "Happy Birthday", of course.)
Additionally, our right-on-the-field seats meant we witnessed first-hand the tomfoolery between the Phillie Phanatic and our players.
But the shenanigans continued.
(Maybe he stole the keys or flipped some switch?)
I still would’ve preferred the smiles that a Mets win would’ve given us, but I’m afraid Ryan Howard took that away from us that night.
And the unfortunate interference call at second on Wednesday, and Billy’s blown save on Thursday…
But now the Phillies have lost their series in Florida and are now four games behind us, so things don’t look SO bad, right?
Let’s just try to rack up a lot more wins and stabilize that bullpen before the Phillies come here in 10 days or so, what do you think?
A better record of my family’s road trip following the Mets can be found in my online photo galleries posted in the side bar to the left of these posts, but before too much time goes by, I did want to just mention a few things about what will have been my final visit to RFK Stadium.
Believe me, I shed no tears upon departing that charmless place. But with the Nationals making a big to-do about their new stadium opening next year in Anaconda, er–AnaCOSTIA, I was well aware that this was my final opportunity to catch any baseball or Presidents’ Races at this locale.
We had terrific seats for both games: a StubHub purchase secured our seats eleven rows behind the Nationals dugout for Saturday night’s game. (Here’s a sweat-drenched Dmitri Young returning from the field to the dugout.) And for Sunday afternoon’s game we had the treat of using my husband’s company’s seats right behind homeplate, with a perfect view of El Duque’s wind-up.
While I love our season tickets in the Mezzanine behind homeplate at Shea, I’ve found that that’s one of the fun things about taking road trips for me: getting to sit in another part of a ballpark to get a different perspective. While I might miss angles–and sometimes even plays–I often see other things that I would not normally see from our regular seats or get a better view of a particular play(s) than the view I have from our regular seats.
While I might prefer our normal vantage point, it’s kinda fun for one game here or there to see things from another viewpoint.
While I’ve seen all of this from a distance and, close-up on television, there’s a certain excitement being right there on the line right on top of the action!
The Mets may have won both of the games we were at, but the Nationals fans were really into it, booing down any chants of "Let’s Go Mets" that got started.
There is definitely some pride there and some fans who desperately want a chance to compete. Maybe with a new stadium, the somewhat limited fanbase the franchise has now will expand and the team will command more interest and respect in this mostly football-centered city.
Whatever the Nationals decide to leave behind at RFK at the end of this season, they simply MUST bring along the four Presidents for the Presidents Races. The size of those guys is so astounding as to be positively surreal and hysterical at the same time.
And maybe–just once before they leave RFK Stadium–Abe, George, and Tom should let poor Teddy Roosevelt win a race just once…poor guy. He’s beginning to give the Rough Riders a bad name.
Life’s been hectic, preparing for my daughter’s return to school and my return to work. I guess that’s the best way to explain the fact that I am only now writing this post on two Met games I went to in Pittsburgh–after the Mets went on to Washington, returned for a home stand, and began another road trip this evening in Philadelphia.
Anyway, PNC Park lived up to all of the great things my family and I had heard about it.
- It is small (second smallest, only to Fenway and has an intimate feel to is.
- It has a GORGEOUS view of the beautiful downtown Pittsburgh skyline.
- As with so many of the new "old-fashioned" ball-parks, the architects incorporated elements of older designs. In the case of PNC Park, the lights are imitations of the old "toothbrush lights" of the old Forbes Field. The distinctive black poles and unusual design of these lights catch one’s eye immediately.
- In keeping with the "retro" design and at the same time acknowledging the city’s historic past, the architects made ingenious and artistic use of steel truss work in the design.
- Very well-done tributes–individual statues and video tributes–to members of the Negro Leagues and players from the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords stand at the entrance at the Left Field Gate. There are also large statues outside the park of Roberto Clemente, Honus Wagner, and Willie Stargell.
- Although there are parking lots near the park itself, with its location right on the banks of the Allegheny River and the fact that the nearby Roberto Clemente Bridge is closed to vehicular traffic around and during game times, there is much pedestrian traffic to and from the park itself: a very nice touch for the community itself as well as visitors.
- File under the "Unique and Unusual" Department: the Pierogie Races, i.e., PNC Park’s version of the Sausage Races. For the uninitiated, pierogies are deep-fried polish potato-filled pastas. Just don’t ask me to name the three different characters that race each other at each game (although I’m sure my daughter probably could identify each of them just as she knows every single Major League Baseball mascot.) One is cheese-flavored and one is jalapeno-flavored, I think…
- Although this is a local chain and probably nothing particularly special to the locals to find this at the ballpark, we found it fun to order a bucket of wings from Quaker Steak and Lube–in our choice of Arizona Ranch, Garlic, Hot Sauce, or Atomic sauce. We didn’t risk the nuclear reaction but were nonetheless glad to have been supplied moist towelettes for the clean-up following our consumption of the delicious ranch variety.
- Behind Center Field, former Pirate catcher Manny Sanguillen holds court at a barbecue joint bearing his name. The clouds of smoke that billow up during the game and waft over the outfield (as well as the engaging aroma) would be the only enticement necessary, trust me. But additionally, Manny himself is there for every game–sitting high and mighty in his leather easy chair, Sharpie in hand, poised to sign autographs for those waiting in line for barbecue.
Having been to both Camden Yards and Citzens Bank Park and become familiar with Boog Powell’s and Greg Luzinski’s barbecues in each of those two respective ballparks, I wasn’t surprised to learn of Manny’s place in Pittsburgh’s new park. I also happened upon an article, addressing this phenomenon of former athletes retiring and still enjoying the spotlight…albeit by shedding the helmet and donning an apron.
My mind started racing:
Since the Mets will soon have their own "retro" ballpark, what former Met might we see serving up barbecue sides of beef in Summer 2009 at CitiField Park?
And then it came to me!!
I can see it now: hungry Mets fans lined up, waiting innings at a time, unable to get enough… imploring, begging, "Give me mo’ MO!!"
But will even the most succulent sandwiches, the most lip-smacking sauces make up for all of Mo’s on-field shortcomings? Hmmm.
Yo, I’ll take mine with the [bitter]sweet and sour sauce, Mo.
You’re looking at it. Right here. This is IT!
What you see here is a ball that Carlos Delgado fouled off into the Mezzanine box where I sat–still full of hope and optimism–last night during the bottom of the second inning.
Yes, I was thrilled to have caught the foul…nice little souvenir! And my family was sure proud of me. But, boy, did that hope and optimism that I’d had in the second inning drain away after the bottom of the 7th.
Yes, I did stay, but it was for naught.
Not only did the Mets fail to make up those three runs the Phillies scored (Thank you, Aaron Heilman!), but now another one of our precious few, dwindling outfielders has been hurt. I can’t quite believe this.
As usual, Willie is unflappable, stating that we’ll get through this. It must be this quiet, calm resolve of his that keeps his players so quietly confident.
As much as I love seeing these guys and going out to Shea every night to watch them play during home stands, considering how lousy they’ve been playing at home, I think it might be a good thing to bid them adieu after tonight’s game.
I think parenting books call it "tough love". You tell ’em, Ray!
Love ya, guys…really. Bon voyage!