I have a rotator cuff injury on my right shoulder, and the discomfort has made me grouchy and depressed. Earlier this week, on Yom Kippur eve, I didn’t feel like going to temple, so I did the next best thing —
Yes, I went to a NY Mets game on Yom Kippur eve.
Is this sacrilegious? Of course. Even Sandy Koufax didn’t PLAY on Yom Kippur.
But in many ways, coming to CitiField and watching a terrible team eliminated from the playoffs three months ago, get routed by the Pittsburgh Pirates, was a potentially more painful experience to atone for your sins than attending a religious service in a modern, comfortable, air-conditioned synagogue.
During the endless game, the evening air caressed my skin, and my mind drifted off into deep thoughts. I thought about the Holiest day in the Jewish year.
“What is the meaning of life,” I asked myself.
I also had other, more secular questions. Like —
1) What ever happened to the Wave? Why did everyone stop doing it at sporting events? Did it run its course, like the Macarena?
2) What do outfielders think about during the game? I played in the outfield during Little League; it was boring. I frequently prayed to God that the ball didn’t come towards me, fearful I would drop the ball. I always dropped the ball. I was also scared of the ball hitting me in the head and splitting my skull open like a watermelon. Perhaps professional outfielders, standing alone, isolated from the others, also think about God. In their freshly-laundered white uniforms, they appeared as much a sign of purity as the white cloth that covered the Torah.
3) During the fifth inning, the “kissing cam” appeared on the giant screen. Couples were picked out and urged to kiss. But how do the Mets cameramen know who is a couple and who isn’t? If I went to a Mets game with my female boss, would I be obligated to give her a French kiss? Do gays and lesbians get pissed off that they are never chosen for the kissing cam at the Mets game? I hope there is a lawsuit. There should be no kissing in baseball.
Throughout the evening, the Mets Organization used all sorts of gimmicks to keep us amused during a boring game. Imagine how many more Jews would go to High Holiday services if there were trivial contests, a Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee Cup mascot shlepping through the aisles, and sexy girls shooting “free” t-shirts out of scary bazooka air-guns.
During the seventh inning, a cute girl in a Mets jacket roamed into our section, trying to rev us up, even though the Mets were getting their ass kicked by the Pittsburgh Pirates. She was carrying a large pile of — what seemed to me — dish rags for the kitchen.
But they weren’t dish rags. They were “rally towels.”
“Rally towels! Rally towels!” she screamed. I’m giving away free rally towels!”
Some kids in our section screamed in excitement.
“Over here! Over here!” yelled a little boy behind me.
“How naive is youth,” I thought, as she threw a towel at the boy. AS IF the rally towels would ever help the Mets win this game.
Just then, the Rally Towel girl turned her penetrating eyes towards me. It was like she could “feel” my sarcasm in the air.
“Hey, you with the glasses?” she yelled. “Why aren’t you cheering for the Mets tonight? C’mon, let’s HEAR IT?! Let’s go Mets! Let’s go Mets! Do you want a rally towel?”
“No, thanks,” I said, suddenly wishing I had gone to temple for Yom Kippur. I was also hungry, the only one in CitiField fasting.
“Sure you want a rally towel!” she said. “You gotta have a rally towel!”
She grabbed a towel from the top of her pile and tossed it at me. Her aim was as accurate as any ace pitcher. Out of instinct, I raised by right arm to catch the towel. Memories of Little League came alive, and I was back in the outfield. It was my big chance to redeem myself for missing the ball during that big game, causing our team to lose the Playoffs.
My arm shot back. The t-shirt flew into my hand. I caught it! I was redeemed! I also threw back my shoulder, and the pain was so intense in my rotator cuff that my cry reached the infield, my vision went black, and this became the first Yom Kippur where I felt as if I met God.