A recent New York Times sports article inspires the retelling of a story from opera.
As grateful as I always am to take a vacation, and as much as I love that our family shares a passion for ballgames and the Mets, our family’s tradition of following the Mets for numerous roadtrips each summer is killing me.
With our season ticket package at Citi Field, we are at virtually every home game. But for many summers now, we have taken advantage of the fact that my daughter is not in school nor am I working in the summer and have planned and taken vacations based around Mets away games.
In our various sojourns, we have seen the Mets play at every National League ballpark with the exception of three: AT & T Park, Coors Field, and Busch Stadium. We have also seen the Mets play in several Americal League venues and in Spring Training games at Port St. Lucie. In addition to seeing all those games and ballparks, we have also been to nearby venues: National Parks, art museums, science museums, historical sites, amusement parks, aquariums, zoos and animal parks, beaches, and restaurants featuring regional fare.
We’ve been granted rare access to our favorite players in ballparks having more lenient rules for observing Batting Practice and getting autographs. Due to generally lower ticket prices at other parks compared to Citi Field prices, we have been able to sit in even better seats than we do at Citi Field. Both of those amenities have afforded me the opportunity to shoot photos from some amazing vantage points. The photos I have returned with have become some of our most treasured souvenirs.
Additionally, we’ve had the unexpected pleasure of running into friends (and teachers!) from home in some faraway places. We have made the acquaintance of other Mets fans, and we have met and had conversations wtih members of the media. Last summer, while covering the team for the Daily News, Adam Rubin (who is now a journalist for ESPN-NY) was seated across the aisle from me on our flight from San Diego to Phoenix. In 2007, SNY-TV’s Gary Cohen happened to be seated behind me on our outbound flight from New York to Pittsburgh; we approached him at baggage claim (where this photo was taken.) Both journalists were very personable, and we had the most delightful conversations with each of them!
This all sounds like the makings of dream vacations, right? How lucky am I to see so many Mets games?!
Here’s the problem: for all the delights–both planned and unexpected–neither wins nor a favorable standing in the NL East by the time the planned roadtrip is made is guaranteed. The heartbreak of having to watch terrible losses or a scrappy team that is way out of it–all without the support of an entire stadium of fans with which to commiserate–can be painful or even excruciating.
Last year’s trip: a four-game series in San Diego followed by a three-game series in Arizona late in the season was particularly disappointing baseball-wise with the Mets having so many regulars on the DL and the team being so far out of contention. Maybe paying the big bucks for a small prop plane tour over and into the Grand Canyon was our way of salvaging the trip…for ourselves, if not for the team.
While this season’s pre-All-Star-Game Spector Family Roadtrips–Washington, Baltimore, and Milwaukee–provided some wins and some unique opportunities (such as seeing the rookie Stephen Strasburg in a game in Washington), the final trip, to Los Angeles, was a struggle for the team and, therefore, for me.
Losing three out of four was no fun. Neither was having Dodger fans in our faces during every exit from Dodger Stadium following the game.
The two-day trip to Disneyland prior to the series, scheduled primarily for my daughter’s enjoyment, proved to be the highlight of the trip for me as well. Let’s just say that Dodger Stadium could not be mistaken for the Magic Kingdom in any way . Even our enchanted knuckleballer–the unexpected knight in shining armor of the starting rotation, R.A. Dickey–was not allowed conjure up his deceptive magic for very long, being yanked early in his start there.
Sometime following our return from L.A.–in the midst of one of the games during the frustrating homestand just concluded, perhaps around the time I and other fans found out that Mets ownership declined to take any action prior to the trade deadline–I snapped.
“I think I need a break from these Mets roadtrips,” I told my husband and daughter. “Having to suffer Mets losses–both home and away–are killing me.” .
No doubt, when the 2011 season is announced, I will salivate at potential trips and this low point will be long forgotten. But if we do decide to declare a moratorium on Mets roadtrips, I can think of one immediate benefit (besides not having to suffer losses without the home crowd): seeing those away games on SNY and hearing the great on-air talent of Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling, and Gary Cohen.
I know those guys will always follow the team for me…win or lose.
Royalty stepped onto the pitching mound yesterday afternoon at Citi Field.
I’m sorry to say that I was not referring to our ace pitcher, Johan Santana. His start yesterday was not, um, imperial in the least.
I instead refer to the ceremonial first pitch before yesterday’s game which was thrown by Prince Harry of Wales. His Royal Highness is in town for several days and yesterday was the guest of the Wilpons. Besides having the honor of throwing out the first pitch, he also received coaching from R. A. Dickey as well as a special Mets jersey (number 22 ) with “Wales” on the back.
Hearing from friends seated near us what was going to take place prior to the game, my daughter wondered if he would appear wearing a crown. My husband and I laughed at that thought. “Yes, and flowing red velvet robes.”
With my telephonto lens pointed at the dugout, I recognized his shock of red hair immediately. I was delighted to announce to my daughter that, in fact, the Prince was going to be coming out momentarily, wearing a ratty looking Tshirt and faded grey pants!
I doubt any Mets fan were disappointed by any lack of fanfare or regal robes.
Far more regal than any jewel-encrusted crown was the METS HAT he had donned prior to taking the mound.