When I was a kid, I loved going to Mets games at Shea Stadium. My Summer Family is anarrative of my memories as a young fan and the relationships I've formed as a result of being a Mets and baseball fan.
My dad (Mr. E for those of you who know him) used to have a weekend plan back when I was very young, but it was also a treat for me to go to games during the week. I would leave home right after school, hop in Dad's truck and we'd take the drive from the Jersey Shore all the way to Queens.
Some games, my dad would "let me loose" and I'd walk around the stadium. My favorite places to go were the far reaches in the Loge (where we would sit) and look at the landscapes around. Sure, there's not much to look at in the Iron Triangle, but it was something I could call my own.
I don't know why, but that's how I felt when I was sitting in the non-Coop Coop seats in the Excelsior level for Thursday, June 24 against the Detroit Tigers. It was a Thursday evening game, we got to the game just minutes before the start, and I guess I felt like I was transported back to the late-'80s mostly because I didn't have my cell phone with me.
The night started off as a comedy of errors with my phone brain cramp, but then ended on a note of sweet irony when the Mets could not cap a comeback against the Tigers late in the game. Of course, with a huge visible strikeout by David Wright with the bases loaded (as Will would say, WTF, Davey???), it was probably the only time I wanted to be on Twitter since I knew several Mets fans who would be absolutely murdering Dave for striking out in that type of a situation. Morbid curiosity on my part (though truth be told I did see it coming).
So Senor Coop and I got these seats as a compensation for the rain-shortened game against the Braves in April. The Mets gave us the option to trade them in for one of two series -- against the Padres earlier in the month or the Tigers. We choose three games and we got the 24th. However, we thought we'd get comparable tickets to his Sunday plan, which are in the Promenade.
No, the Mets did us right. We got Excelsior level seats with full access to the Acela, Caesar's and Promenade Clubs.
I'd been to the Caesar's and Promenade Club a few times but never the Acela.
I wasn't sure what to expect, but SC was hungry and we thought maybe we could get a snack at Acela.
Although it reminded me of the old Diamond Club at Shea, they had the grill (which was basically the whole ballpark menu) and the sit-down restaurant, which actually had pretty decent food. I remember the prix-fixe back then was something like $35/person. The Acela is not that bad -- $48/person, but not really what we wanted, especially since I wasn't eating just yet, and SC couldn't eat $48 worth of food if he tried, we just took some pictures and left for the comfort of our seats. Ironically, they our seats were in the same section we sat in during the rain shortened game, when the officials told us to move down to Field and Excelsior.
My favorite part of the Excelsior level are not only the lounge areas (read: air conditioning) but the BAR AREAS. I miss the old Diamond Club, which was so horrifically cheesy (old F-O-C and MSF All-Star Bookie D used to call it the "Bus Depot to Purgatory" which was so true), but it was part of the experience of Shea. They used to serve Mets-themed alcoholic drinks like Boys of Summer or Mets Martinis, which were pretty good for the money. Now it's Absolut Lemonade, Cuervo Margaritas and Bacardi Mojito drinks (notice: all product placements).
Of course, I opted for the DonQ "Home Rum Punch" which is sort of like a hurricane. It was only $2 more than a draft beer. A problem I've had with the mixed drinks, take for example the Absolut Lemonade is that there is more "fruit" or "lemonade" than the "Absolut" or "Rum" or whatever. I don't know, perhaps you are better off with a gin and tonic or something.
The best part of having the mixed drinks right next to your seats is that there's no alcohol abuse. Meaning: you can bring the drinks over to your seats without worrying about people knocking into you or spilling your drink, since you do not have far to walk. In my handy dandy cup holder, I kept my rum punch. One thing I did notice when I went back to CitiField over the weekend is that the rum stand down by World's Fare Market is there is no rum punch on the menu. I believe it's only pina coladas. That's fine but I am no coconut fan, so you'll never get me to buy one of those drinks. Also, I am not even that big of a rummy but I'll tell you what. I would buy the rum punch if it were offered there, just sayin'.
Okay so no more talk about me being a lush and back to the game. As I mentioned earlier, our seats were pretty good.
The Coop season seats are located in the outfield reserved, which are on the same level as the field seats, but you pay probably half the price you would for the seats closer to the infield. Not to mention, I have always thought that the Excelsior level, as Greg from Faith and Fear in Flushing likes to call it the "logezzanine" area, are the most overpriced seats in the park. Save the Left Field Landing and perhaps the Pepsi Porch, you are not getting much bang for your buck except for maybe the club access. However, for a fraction of the cost, you can sit in the outfield reserved and still get club access. It's a bit head-scratching to me. I truly feel like we got these "comped" tickets because they just wanted hineys in them, not necessarily that they wanted us to experience them as ticker plan holders.
One of the biggest drawbacks to these seats though are if you are sitting in the back rows, you have no view of the lineup. The scoreboard is obstructed as well. I know, we are not there to see the CitiVision or the scoreboard, but for someone like Mr. E who likes to keep score, this is a major drawback for me ever wanting to upgrade to this level.
Of course, I probably never will. It's the principle. Of course, I just kept watching the game, which was, I have to admit, a very good view.
It's not a universal view of the field like you can get from the Promenade in the surrounding infield areas, but if you like to chill and watch a game, you can't beat these. Though this was a night game, I can see the allure to these seats. You are out of the sun, the lounges are right there, and there are stores to go into. Take for instance...this one.
I had to chuckle a bit when I saw the outside sign, since Daniel Murphy and Carlos Beltran are still on photo. I should probably also mention that all Daniel Murphy merchandise is discounted and some of Beltran's items are as well, at least in the Mets Clubhouse store by Bryant Park.
Meh, whatever. Anyway, you can see that I am not talking much about the game but rather my experiences at the game. I figured that is more interesting, since the game itself didn't turn out like we would have liked it. I know, the Mets will win some games, they will lose some games. Believing in "home field advantage" though, you'd think I'd get to see a lot more wins. Instead in the two road games I attended, they won (hey, can't complain), but home I've seen way too many losses for my liking. Sure, winning series are just as if not more important than sweeps, since you can't possibly sweep every series in a season. But can't they just sweep one little series when I am in attendance?
I digress. I can't complain about losing one game out of three to the Detroit Tigers, who are a VERY good team. I can't expect Hisanori Takahashi to be dominant in every start (or at the very least, put them in a position to win). I guess I can glean some satisfaction that they could come back late in a game after being put in a hole (but don't get me starter on Johan Santana's start on Saturday).
The game itself might not have been interesting, yet I had some interesting things happen while I was in the seats.
For one, the Pepsi T-Shirt Launch landed, well, right at us during the game. Joey Beatran technically caught it, but since the shirt is much too big, he let me have it.
At one point, I decided to try and find an ever-elusive Jon Niese shirt for my friend Senor Solly out on the West Coast. I didn't find much in that respect, but how can we have tons of Barajas shirts, Davis shirts and no Niese. Hell, there was even a BOBBY PARNELL shirt available, and he was literally pitching his first game back in 2010 that night. Don't get me wrong -- I have no problem with there being those choices there. However, Niese has been our show-stopper all season. I'm sure some fans would like the opportunity to purchase one at the Mets stores on site.
I also found a cutie little Mets shirt wearing polar bear, that I bought for my husband. See, because the Mets failed to get runners in at one point, I became a major bitch about it. Buying this little guy made it up to him.
We named him Ike. I wanted something Arctic-sounding, and we tend to name them after players and Ike could kind of look like "Ice." I thought of naming him Iggy, but I kept coming back to Ike. Now, it's Klondike Bear, which sounds more Arctic-like. Joey doesn't look all too happy about him being there. However, when he found out that he only likes cold drinks and cold food (think iced tea, iced coffee, cold soda and ice cream), Joey could handle his new sibling since they didn't have to share food.
The game itself was a loss, but the night wasn't, I suppose. Another perk of sitting in the Excelsior is that we had "VIP" access, which didn't mean much except we got to choose the special access entrance we wanted. I had gone through the Hodges entrance a little while back for the CitiField tour and a game I had attended in a luxury box (I haven't shared it here yet though). So we chose none other than the Franchise himself, the Seaver entrance.
My thoughts going into the entrance would be I'd flash my ticket around like Wayne and Garth do to get backstage at Alice Cooper's show, I'd get on an elevator. And that's pretty much it. I'm glad that I took the time to view the landscape there because the Mets did Tom Seaver right. Like the Mets Hall of Fame/Museum, I was blown away by the homage paid to George.
No one says "New York Mets" more than George Thomas Seaver. Once again, after seeing this display of affection and admiration for our own, I had to once again feel proud to be a Mets fan. Now I wonder what kind of homage they'd pay Mike Piazza. I have to hope they get that one right too. Since you heard it here first, he'll be in the HOF as a Met. Then, as Mr. E says, it will be more of a man-crush thing going on with Seaver and Piazza. Maybe they can get rid of the Stengel VIP Entrance. Eh, who knows, it's much too soon to discuss this
I've seen much of CitiField and save the Pepsi Porch, I've sat in as many sections I feel that I could have in order to find my happy place here. Once upon a time, I was a wee young Coop, and I'd go to Shea Stadium to night games with my dad, which were a rare treat but a treat nonetheless. And I'd swear that on a clear night, you could see forever. You could see Queens, you could see Long Island, and I would see the bright lights of the big city beckoning me.
I may not exactly have found my happy place at CitiField, not entirely because I do like my new home a lot. But I did feel like I could see forever on Thursday, June 24. The past, the present and the future of the team.
I have to admit, I kinda got giddy with anticipation.