Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Farewell Letter to Shea Stadium

Dear Shea Stadium,

For the third year in a row you have become the sight of another demoralizing, down right soul crushing end of the New York Mets season. In a way this may have been the worst yet.

Having the terminally light hitting Yadier Molina and, the living embodiment of baseball mediocrity itself, Jeff Suppan power the barely over .500 Cardinals over a far more talented Mets team in game 7 was bitter. The protracted month long agony and pain of suffering one of the biggest collapses in MLB history, ending with an embarrassing 8-1 blow out by the Marlins on the final day and missing the playoffs was even worse. However, somehow this year for me seemed to top that previous low. At least in the previous year it was a complete free fall by every aspect of the team from hitting to pitching. It was a fairly forgone conclusion by the time Tom Glavine was pulled after allowing his 7th run of the first inning. This year, on the other hand, hurt more because the idea of the Mets pulling it out in the end seemed so much more possible.

The team wasn't competing against a team like the Phillies, whose complimentary surge ahead in the opposite direction of the Mets day by day further rubbed salt in the wounds. This year was a race to the bottom with the reeling Brewers of who could flop less in the final month. There was also the benefit of the universal law of averages and karma; there couldn't have been any way the season would have end on the last day to the same team under the same circumstances. In fact things were actually going fairly well until around an inning or so before the end of the season when Wes Helms hit that go ahead homer. It was also right around that time the Brewers tagged Bob Howry (you know the guy whom the Mets couldn't hit to bring home Dan Murphy from third with no outs in the bottom of the ninth a few games back?) for the 2 go ahead runs in their 8th. So for 161 and 7/9 games I actually thought the Mets could succeed. Unlike last year when I turned the TV off in disgust after the first inning, I painfully held out hope and watched in dire silence like everyone else until the final out. That's one of the reasons why this was the worst yet.

The other reason is that this terrible, gloomy affair will be my final image of Shea Stadium baseball.

For my entire baseball fan life I have watched all but three or so baseball games with you. I know you didn't get much of a send off, considering all the excessive pageantry people gave to that other stadium across town. However, I want you to know that it'll take a good long while before watching a baseball game will feel right without sitting in an uncomfortable, rickety orange chair, surrounded by concrete, in a perfectly symmetrical, cookie-cutter, mutli-purpose, semi-doughnut.

If you ask me I don't really understand what the big push for a stadium was all about. I was perfectly content with watching perennially disappointing Mets baseball in our current set up until all the outside blue paint fades away. You're a perfectly fine stadium for watching a ball game. It's not like chunks of you were falling off a la the Kingdome or you were slowly sinking into the ground or infested with rats, or built on top on an Indian burial ground. Sure your once futuristic architecture and features have become outdated in that sort of Logan's Run like manner but there's nothing really wrong with that in my book. In fact, I suspect in about fifty years or so that look will be cool again and there'll be a whole new wave of stadiums opting for that "Retro" 60s-70s cookie cutter stadium look.

Unfortunately, though, the unrelenting parade of human progress marches on with no regard for the hurt feelings of a plain, unassuming, middle aged, stadium. Come next September I'll be watching the latest collapse in that gaudy, faux-nostalgic, corporate licensed, modern monstrosity and you will most likely make up the auxiliary parking lot. All I want so say is that you were a fine stadium and despite the relatively smaller amount of classic moments and history, for me it was always a special occasion when I made it out. At least we'll have the old stubs and the memories.

Your faithful patron,

P.S. My one optimistic hope for CitiField is that they find a way to eliminate or at least significantly reduce that burning peanut smell that hits you right as you step in front of the main gates.

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