It was the bottom of the ninth. The Mets were losing 3-1. The young player from the Dominican Republic stepped up to the plate, a former star in his own country, now playing in the major leagues in America’s largest city. He gripped his bat and whispered a little prayer to Jesus. His team was 25 games out, so there was little external pressure on our young star. All of the demands came from within. It was Hispanic Night at Citifield. Mariachi players strolled through the food court, playing their heartfelt tunes. Young dancers performed traditional Puerto Rican dances on the field moments before the singing of the Star Spangled Banner, the anthem of his adopted country. The singer was a Latina herself, a rising star in the Metropolitan Opera. The sign behind home plate read Los Mets. The crowd was larger than usual for a last place team, as the Spanish speaking baseball fans of the NY Mets came to pay homage to their team, and to pay respect to all of the baseball greats of Hispanic heritage from Roberto Clemente to Keith Hernandez.
The crowd was on their feet as our Latino baseball star swung his mighty bat in preparation for his showdown with the ace pitcher of the Atlanta Braves. There was a fire in the pitcher’s eyes. He was a real southern boy, a redneck, who would sometimes make fun of the “greenbacks” and “burrito boys” who had taken over the major league, wishing a return to a time in baseball when it was dominated by the good ol’ boys.
The count was 3-2. The tying run was on second, as the player had just stolen second base. The momentum was with the Mets. The crowd chanted the player’s name. It didn’t matter it the Mets fan was from Colombia or Cuba or Mexico. Tonight was a night for miracles!
And then he struck out. The Mets lost. The crowd shrugged it off, as it was pretty much expected by the loyal fans, and everyone left for the subway.
Which proves a point about about people. We ARE all the same, despite our cultural differences. Whether a player is English speaking, Spanish speaking, Japanese speaking, white, black, mixed-race, or whoever — whenever he plays with the New York Mets, he sucks.
Yesterday was my first visit to CitiField, the brand new stadium for the Mets. It is the last week of regular season play. I went with my friend Rob. I had some ribs and two beers. The Mets were awful. The park is much more comfortable and sophisticated than Shea Stadium, with many places to hang out and eat. It just seemed a bit corporate for my taste, and this ballpark could have been anywhere. It didn’t read New York or the Mets. Shea Stadium was definitely old and clunky, but it had the cool 1960’s vibe going for it, still there from when the Mets were young. When the Mets sucked at Shea Stadium, it was endearing. When they suck at Citifield, it is depressing.
Rob and I had planned to go to Citifield before the season was over, and this week was our last chance. He told me he was going to buy the tickets. A few hours before the game, Rob called me and said that he bought the tickets online at a site called Stubhub, where ticket holders can sell their unused tickets.
“So how much do I owe you for the ticket?” I asked.
“96 cents. Each ticket was 96 cents. The Mets paid millions of dollars on a new stadium and fancy new players, and you can now get a ticket for the game for 96 cents.”