Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: NY Mets

Yom Kippur, the NY Mets, and the Rally Towel

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.

The NY Mets vs. My Feet

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On Tuesday, I went to see the Mets play the Atlanta Braves. Since the Mets are 25 games out of first place, long-ago eliminated from winning their division, I was able to get a ticket for 96 cents on StubHub. The Mets lost the game 3-1.

The next day, I wrote a post about the Mets. As if their loss to the Braves and the 96 cent ticket price weren’t humiliation enough, my post was the least read post in six months, with half the amount of readers than the DAY BEFORE, and comments that mostly talked about my beautiful “family” in the photo, and the lovely video of my “daughter.” I had to beg on Twitter for people to comment on the post because it was so embarrassing, especially after Robert, the friend who I went with to the game, sent me an email, wondering if the low amount of comments was because my readers hated his guts.  I told him it was not because of him.  It was because of the Mets.

Had the Mets hit a new low?

As an experiment to see if the Mets have indeed reached their lowest depths, I would like to see if I can create more interest with a photo of my feet than yesterday’s post about the Mets?  Can my feet beat the New York Mets?

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Let’s Go Mets!

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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.

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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.

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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.”

“What?”

“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.”

Next year!

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