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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Frankie goes to Flushing




On Tuesday, June 22, I had the privilege to journey to Citi Field, home of the New York Mets. The stadium is in its' second year in existence and it was my first time seeing it in person. I had been to the previous home of the team, Shea Stadium, a handful of times.

Like most fans, I cherished Shea Stadium and my opinion of the new stadium was that it paled in comparison to the memory of Shea. Each experience there was enchanting and I expected this trip to be nice, but not as exciting as previous ones. This experienced proved to be no less enchanting. It far exceeded any expectations I had formed prior to my visit.

For me, a fan who lives farther away from the action than most fans, the opportunity to immerse myself in the atmosphere is a rare occasion. It is, for me, comparable to a catholic journeying to the Vatican. It is an infrequent event, therefore it is an event that holds extraordinary expectations.

As I approached the stadium, it resembled, to me, a cathedral more than a baseball stadium. With this inspiration in mind, I recalled a line from the movie Bull Durham, "I believe in the church of baseball". It was at this point that I decided that, regardless of the outcome of the day, I was in my church and I would enjoy the sermon.

I was in my element among fellow Mets brethren. It was truly a religious experience. Upon walking into the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, I was in awe. From the moment I saw the gigantic number 42 in his honor, through viewing all of the pictures, quotes and mementos of a legend, I found myself lost in the humility of greatness.

My next experience was nearly indescribable. I found myself entirely submerged into nearly 50 years of history. I was standing in the Mets museum, surrounded by artifacts and items I had only seen in pictures or television. I repeatedly had to wake myself from the hypnotic euphoria of the experience.

I found myself reliving memory after glorious memory from my childhood. Overwhelmed by the magnitude of the history, it was all I could do to prevent being swept away with emotion. After touring the museum, I lost myself, and more money than I intended, in the Mets gift shop.

I have never and probably may never see so many New York Mets logos in one place in my lifetime again. Living deep in southern New Jersey, as with most of the country, Mets apparel i not readily available. I swam from aisle to aisle of collectible nostalgia and Mets inspired keepsakes.

When I finally arrived in the seat I would be residing in for the duration of the experience, I was moved. The ambiance, vantage point and overall warmth of the stadium left me dumbfounded and silent. I was captured by the atmosphere and the excitement of the live experience.

First the national anthem was belted out beautifully, followed by the ceremonial first pitch by my favorite sitcom actor, Kevin James. This was followed by two and a half solid innings, in which the Mets held an advantage. By the bottom of the third inning however, mother nature responded.

Despite a monsoon which led to a rain delay of nearly an hour, my spirits were not dampened. During the delay, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet fellow Daily Stache writer and blogger, Tom Greenhalgh. After a wonderful conversation, and a rare photo-op with Tom, the game resumed.

Despite the attempt of the opponent of the day, the Detroit Tigers, the Mets never allowed the weather to slow them down. They exploded for eight runs in that third inning that lasted more than an hour. As the game developed, so did the crowd's interest and the player's felt it. At one point, center fielder Angel Pagan waived to our section after fans there repeatedly called out for him.

In the sixth inning, I was graced with the presence of another fellow writer and genius, Ash Marshall of the Bleacher Report. He had been there to interview some players for a series of articles he was working on. The team, meanwhile, continued to roll. They went on to win that night 14-6, behind a 4 hit performance from Angel Pagan, who fell just a home run shy of hitting for the cycle.

Many of the fans had left before the end of the game. The rain delay and abnormal explosion of offense in a ballpark with a pitcher friendly reputation led to a late evening for all. Still, I couldn't help but to feel like the majority of the fans there didn't appreciate the evening to its' fullest.

Perhaps many of us take it for granted that the team is right there and so is their stadium. However, that realization did not escape me. As a fan who has to travel a few hours to see my team play at home, I was just humbled to be a part of the overall experience. As I left, I finally felt, as a Mets fan, that I was home for the first time since Shea was demolished.

I left vowing to return. I vowed that I would once again meet with my brethren. I would reunite with my family and relish the unity and warmth in our cathedral, our sanctuary, our home that is Citi Field. The home of our New York Mets.



For more pics from my day at the ball park, scroll down to the bottom of the page. Thank you.

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