Before I had a daughter, I liked to hit the weekday matinee games at Shea Stadium. It was usually less crowded in the clubhouse, and easier to get more time with players I was profiling. I liked the energy, which was usually enhanced by either the school kids during spring or campers in the summer. It was a pleasure; I think I’ve attended every single Weather Appreciation Day.
With a daughter now who enjoys baseball, but also, at two years old, needs her sleep, getting her to the ballpark is usually an afternoon affair. With my wife working all day (yes, if you think teachers get summers off, you probably don’t know any good teachers), I thought the time and weather was perfect for a daddy/daughter ballgame. Fortunately, I am also blessed with a little girl so eager to go see the Mets play that she volunteered for early naptime, something which has happened as often as a Mets no-hitter.
The experience itself was as lovely as it has been throughout 2012. The Mets have clearly worked hard at improving what was once an inexplicably adversarial relationship between stadium employees and fans, and it shows.
We sat along first base, under cover to protect her from the sun. The Mets added a fruit cup to their delivery menu- serious kudos, for both idea and delicious execution- so I didn’t have to feel guilty about what I fed my daughter while we watched. The crowd was sparse, as it often is for these midday afternoon matchups. (Most people don’t have the flexibility to take a random Thursday off; I feel very fortunate, I assure you.)
There’s a lot written here about what the Mets have going against them right now, and it is substantial. What they have going for them is not only a world-class ballpark, but the baseball experience itself.
My daughter thrilled to Andres Torres’ home run. It didn’t matter that he is a non-tender candidate. She joined in the standing ovation for R.A. Dickey in the ninth inning, contract extension or no. She happily recognized David Wright, Ike Davis, Daniel Murphy, Ruben Tejada, even Mike Baxter, from seeing them on television with me all year.
She eagerly chanted “Let’s go Mets!” whenever prompted, and even, it must be said, pretty often as we drove home. The game allowed ample time for me to discuss the intricacies of the game we watched, or about anything else she wanted. The Mets won; even in non-playoff years like this one, they’ll do that plenty. Even in 100-loss seasons, there are 62 victories, and this is no 100-loss season.
I don’t know when the New York Mets are going to be good again. I suspect it will take a while, longer than many of the optimists believe. I hope I am wrong.
But I do know when it will feel like unadulterated pleasure to go to a Mets game with my daughter. That would be yesterday, now, and always.