Friday, November 19, 2010

The green seats. We sat up in red.
Bud Selig has announced that there will be another change in baseball soon, an additional wild card position in the play-offs. It must be good to be Bud Selig, a small god in a small cosmos where grass is very green and hot dogs, although sold for a king's ransom, are extra delicious and a cold beer washing them down must be what heaven is like.

When I was a little girl, my world was Shea Stadium.  Attending my first baseball game when I was 11, I arrived on the No. 7 not unlike an early immigrant approaching New York Harbor, craning to catch sight of the Statue of Liberty. I'd been fashioned into a Met fan by my grandpa and uncle whose reactions I'd learned to mimic while watching a game on our black and white TV. There was great rage, complete disgust and, only rarely, true elation. So, on my first visit, my heart was aflutter as I emerged from the beer-soaked, concrete innards of Shea to see the shockingly green expanse of the field for the first time. I think, for a baseball fan, that first moment of seeing the field open up before you in all its' verdant glory, is a memorable one.

Gil Hodges managed then. And my heroes' names--Tommy Agee, Cleon Jones, Bud Harrelson, Jery Koosman, Don Clendenon--still evoke a nostalgic mist when I recall their postures at the plate or on the mound. My mother, eternally in mourning for the departed Brooklyn Dodgers, and I would eat a big breakfast before setting out for Shea so we weren't tempted by the treats that even then were so expensive that I didn't eat a hot dog at a ballpark until I was an adult.

I still haven't visited Citifield because I am still mad at it. I still can't fathom why a perfectly good stadium would be exchanged for a new, snappier but less historically impressive stadium--- it has yet to witness anything truly great or spiritual.

I will miss the smells of Shea-- beer, pee, a whiff of cotton candy as a pink tuft is passed down my row to the kid on the end. I will miss the sounds--the organ, the voice of Bob Murphy on the radio in the lap of the guy a few seats over and my own heart beating as a ball sails over the wall for a home-run. I will miss how you could be cool in the shade yet looking just one or two rows ahead at people still roasting in the sunshine. Will it smell,  sound and feel like that in Citifield? Maybe. Will it mean the same to me? Nah.

Fall is a funny time to be thinking baseball. But there's something in the air today. And with Mr. Selig's recent fiddling with the sport, I am inevitably lead to thoughts of simpler days. The game has become so much more complicated with its rules and categories. I burrow deeper into my sweatshirt as the almost-winter chill reminds me that baseball is still many months away. Maybe this spring,
I will forgive Citifield for existing.

Until then, I thank you all for reading--and reacting--this week. Have a wonderful weekend.  See you right back here on Monday!

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