Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Smile, You're At The Ballpark

Those were some words of wisdom from a Shea worker who did not think I looked excited enough to be at opening day. He didn't need to worry because I was of course ecstatic to finally be back at Shea and to experience my first ever opening day. Some Yankee fan tried to start with me on my way to the 7 but I just brushed it right off. (Seriously, why do they think that's OK? I hate the Yankees but I don't go harassing random fans on the street). It was the most people I'd ever seen going into Shea, a complete sea of blue and orange. I realized how much I missed that place over thewinter. It felt so great to be running up those ramps again, with all the familiar smells and sounds. And there's nothing more beautiful than that first sight of that green grass when walk out to your seat.
It made me a little sad to see the new dugout roof just say Home of the Mets after I'd gotten so used to it saying NL East Champions.

William Shea's family was on hand for the unveiling of his name on the retired numbers wall and the Shea Stadium countdown in the outfield. They had some good video montages of the great moments in Shea's history playing throughout the game. With everything bad people have had to say about Shea I'm glad to see the Mets are paying it the respect it deserves in its final season. Growing up it never mattered how it stacked up to other stadiums, it was home. Seeing the countdown on the wall and Citi Field towering in the background it just reminds you to really take in every moment at Shea this year. Knowing it was the very last opening day in this place with so much history made it even more special to be a part of.

Pregame introductions were insane. We were booing every random strength trainer for the Phillies like they were our arch enemy. (I think those guys probably secretly enjoy it, I mean when does anyone ever pay that much attention to them). That smug little Cole Hamels had to get all snarky and tip his cap at the crowd when we booed him. Then Brett Myers had to outdo him, and of course Jimmy Rollins had to put on the most obnoxious fan taunting display of all. Thanks, Phillies, for working so hard to make me hate you. I think we might need to start some sort of heckling spring training, because the fan jeers needed some work. The guy behind us yelled "Boo You" through all nine innings.

And then came the Mets. The cheering was loud for Willie and all the coaches but the most love went to Hojo. Everyone went nuts for Endy Chavez, Carlos Muniz got some blank stares and Nelson Figueroa looked maybe the happiest to be there. Then the got to Johan Santana and you couldn't even hear his name over the roar of the crowd. It might have been the longest ovation I've ever been part of. I wish I got a picture of his smile. He beamed and waved to the crowd and just looked humbled by the whole thing. It was one of those Mets moments I'll always remember getting to welcome Johan to New York. And then after we cheered for an eternity, they announced Scott Schoeneweis. Did they really need to announce him after Santana? That's just not right. I know he had a bad year last year, but people didn't need to boo him so viciously, it was opening day. He kind of laughed it off and Johan leaned over and hugged him which made me feel a little better about it. The whole crowd was on their feet screaming for all the starters, with some MVP chants going for David Wright, but we saved our biggest cheers for Oliver Perez. Once the Mets are out there in front of the home crowd the season finally starts to feel real.

My bag, made by Brooklyn and signed by Fernando Martinez

Carlos Delgado hit a monster home run in the second and we got to see the home run apple's first appearance of the year. They should have had ten more runs because Jamie Moyer is 100 years old, but he held them to two. Oliver Perez shut the Phillies out into the sixth, when after two walks and a balk he was taken out for Joe Smith.
He just looks so sad and dejected leaving the game.

Then the bullpen pretty much fell apart. Scott Schoeneweiss did nothing to help his case with the Shea crowd giving up two runs to tie up the game. Jorge Sosa came in and let another run score up a run and in the eighth Aaron Heilman let up two more to make the score 5-2. The crowd quickly deflated and soon people were piling out which is all kinds of depressing to me. I mean, it was opening day. Even if the bullpen's a mess and the offense can't seem to put together a rally, you stay through nine innings. When we're down by three in the ninth you believe there will be a walkoff. Come on, people.
I wish the Mets were never gonna make me cry.

After the final out was recorded to make things even worse they played Billy Joel. That is the last thing I need to be subjected to after a tough loss. They used to play Coldplay after losses. Now every time I hear Coldplay I get sad inside, so I don't know which is worse. The subway entrance was an absolute mess, it took a year just to get to the stairs. If we had won it might not have been so bad, but standing in a mob of Mets fans after a loss to the Phillies is a pretty miserable experience. Of course it would have been great to win the home opener, but it was not the end of the world that we didn't. I actually heard someone yell 'maybe next year' to their friend. Now I know we all got burned pretty bad last year, and right now the losses are feeling pretty reminiscent of the collapse, but it is still only April. It is not time to panic. The Mets are a good team, they're going to turn it around. The beautiful thing about baseball is up until the very end you get to say 'We'll get em tomorrow.' There is another game tonight, another 156 chances to set things right. Remember that we are Mets fans and out creed is 'Ya Gotta Believe', not 'Ya Gotta Give Up All Hope At The First Sign of Trouble.'
It's going to be OK.

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