The Unhappiest Man in the World Returns

I ain’t gonna lie: The Opening Night loss really bugged me.

Part of it was because I’ve only gotten the chance to see a few Mets games from beginning to end so far, and they’ve won only one of them.

Part of it was the team’s general lack of urgency, an eerie reminder of recent seasons.

Part of it was battling back from a 4-run deficit, only to see it depart on a petty balk that might have gone unnoticed were it not for that cancerous little midget David Eckstein. (If I hear one more broadcaster call him a “winner”, I will Elvis my TV).

Part of it was I knew it would sour my whole day, despite my best efforts to prevent such meaningless events from negatively affecting my life.

But mostly it was because I knew the media doo-doo storm would be in full poo-flinging swing. I knew that the Mets would be absolutely murdered in today’s papers, on the local sports channels, and by the radio yakkers, all of them spewing forth with absolutely no perspective whatsoever.

I avoided all three outlets like the plague for most of Tuesday, because I knew what they would say, and I knew it would just anger me. Sometimes, getting annoyed can spur you on to do great things, but Tuesday was not such a time. I wanted to coccoon and wait out the media maelstrom until the next game.

wmatthews.jpgBut for reasons I still don’t fully understand, I visited Newsday‘s online site late in the day. I felt drawn there by evil forces I couldn’t resist, like Frodo aching to slip on The One Ring. And while there, I saw a link for a Wallace Matthews article entitled “Citi Field lacks real Mets fans”. And god help me, I clicked and read.

I shouldn’t be mad at Wallace Matthews for this literary abortion of an article. I’ve documented this fact at Scratchbomb enough times: The man lives to eat joy and shit out despair. I knew exactly what he would pen on such an occasion. And yet I read it anyway. I’m at fault here, not Matthews. He’s just doing what comes naturally to him, like a dog eating its own vomit.

For Wallace Matthews, the Mets opening a new stadium with a listless, embarrassing loss is like eight Christmas mornings rolled into one. Except in Matthews’ version, there are no presents under the tree for anyone and he gets to tell all the children in the world that Santa Claus was raped and bludgeoned to death.

With all that said, let’s dive in, shall we?

There used to be a ballpark here, a raucous place where the fans were rowdy, the team was lovable and the game was fun, whether the Mets won or lost.

Wally, I’ve been to a million Mets games over the years, so don’t get revisionist history with me. They lost a lot of those games, and very few of them were fun. Some really sucked. Really, really sucked. Some were overrun with obnoxious, jersey-tugging fans of the other team. Some degenerated into drunken brawls.

In the bad years, Shea had its fair share of dumb, violent mooks who only go out in public to start trouble. In the good years, it had its share of front-running douchetards who don’t know their ass from their elbow when it comes to baseball. In other words, Shea was a lot like every other venue in sports. Don’t pretend it was Grover’s Corners with a baseball diamond in the middle.

As for the team always being lovable, Mr. Matthews, would you care to meet Bobby Bonilla, Bret Saberhagen, and Vince Coleman?

The first game at Troubled Assets Relief Program Field – its official name is a great big bird-flip to everyone in New York not named Wilpon or Katz, and therefore will never appear under my byline – felt a lot like the last one at dear, departed Shea Stadium.

You take a stand, Wally! Never write that evil name under your byline! Sure, this Not Writing A Certain Corporate Name On Your Laptop protest isn’t as effective as campaigning against using public funds for stadium projects. Or lobbying your local Congressperson or City Council member. Or doing anything tangible at all. But at least you can sit on your ass and pretend you got tough with those greedy fatcats!

Some of that had to do with the performance of the home team – with the exception of one moment in the fifth inning, the Mets were as lifeless as their fans – but mostly, it seemed to be a reflection of the clientele.

Case in point: At the end of the sixth inning, with the Mets trailing by a mere single run to the San Diego Padres, who won all of 63 games last season, I saw a friend of mine who had spent more than $100,000 for Mets season tickets this season. He was
heading out the door. “I had enough,” he said.

So your friend’s a rich, spoiled douchebag. Can’t say I’m shocked these are the guys you pal around with, Wally. Do you guys run an Orphan Meat Packing company on the side?

Second case: An inning later, three guys sitting in choice seats in
front of the press box also got up to leave. As they passed in front of the open window before me, you could clearly hear one of them say to his two companions, “Let’s get out of here and get a latte.” True story.

I laughed when I read this story, because it’s so transparently fake. You can write “true story” 800 times at the end of the paragraph, but I’m sorry, this story never fucking happened.

But you have lots of other concrete examples to backup your theory, right, Wally? Nope, just these two isolated, apocryphal incidents witnessed in the most expensive, exclusive seats in the house?

By the seventh inning, there were wide swatches of empty seats, especially in the high-rent district behind home plate.

Again, Wally, you’re talking about the most exclusive seats in the stadium. For an event like this, those seats are gonna be filled with empty suit jerkoffs who want to be at A Happening. These guys wouldn’t have stuck around for the whole game if it was a 1-0 pitcher’s duel between Sandy Koufax and Zombie Walter Johnson.

…[T]he Mets, and Mike Pelfrey, set the tone early when the third pitch thrown in the new park came down in the rightfield seats off the bat of the Padres’ Jody Gerut.

The place was barely one minute old and already the first boos were heard. Unfortunately, they were not the last.

Wait, you just said the crowd was lifeless. Last I checked, lifeless crowds don’t boo, because they don’t care. So I think you might be contradicting…

Instead of a jubilant opening night at a new ballpark in the heart of New York City, it seemed more like a dismal closing night on Broadway. Even the best news of the night – the out-of-town scoreboard flashing the Yankees getting filleted, 9-0, after two innings by the Tampa Bay Rays – was met with one big shrug.

Wow, now I’m really confused. The crowd was lifeless, except when it booed, but then it was lifeless again when you noticed something on the out-of-town scoreboard that maybe all fans in the stadium didn’t notice because they were watching a baseball game.

Ugh, my puzzler hurts. I feel like my brain has turned into luke warm tomato soup with mushy saltines floating in it. This must be what it’s like in Wally’s head all the time.

I guess that’s how he’s able to blast the Mets for “cutting out” blue-collar fans today, even though he blasted them for being cheapskates last winter when they wouldn’t trade for Santana. (I don’t recall a retraction for that column, either.)

Here’s the thing, Wally. Unlike Shea, CitiField has things in it that fans actually want to check out. People want to walk around in it, as opposed to Shea, where fans dreaded every excursion beyond the stands. So those empty seats you saw probably belonged to fans who were walking the grounds and taking everything in.

Say you have a friend who’s sitting in another section or another level. You can’t just plop down next to him at a sold-out game. But you can go meet him in the concession area, sit your beers on a convenient countertop near the seat railings, and shoot the breeze for a while. You can do this because was the stadium was designed to let you do this and still be able to watch the game.

As I’ve noted, you can stand anywhere–anywhere–on the field level concourse and get a fantastic view of game. And the views from the higher levels ain’t bad, either. I imagine that many, many people took advantage of this feature during their first trip to the new stadium. That may have led to the appearance of empty seats, but not necessarily an empty stadium.

[T]he people the Mets, and the Yankees, have chosen to eliminate from their new ballparks are precisely the people they need to bring the places to life.

But those people, and the park that welcomed them with open arms, are both gone, and the Mets have no idea how much they’re going to miss them.

I hate you so much, you stupid, stupid man.

Shea never welcomed anyone with open arms. I have wonderful memories of games I saw at Shea, but actually going to games there was an unmitigated hassle from beginning to end. Always.

People always say Shea was a dump. I agree, with a caveat. It was a dump, but it didn’t have to be a dump–it was just treated like one. The Wilpons let it fall into disrepair, and the customer service staff were allowed to treat the fans like bag ladies.

If CitiField has done nothing else good (and I think it has), it’s forced Met management to change its whole attitude toward the people who line their pockets. The CitiField experience is miles better than Shea. Light years better. Astronomical-measurement-of-your-choice better. For one thing, when you go to CitiField, you’re not treated like you showed up at a distant relative’s house at 4 in the morning and asked to borrow a hundred bucks.

But what’s even worse than the fact that I read this article is that doing so nudged me to listen to The Sports Pope on the way home from work, god help me, to get the general fan consensus on the new stadium.

All I heard was caller after caller whining about this, that, and the other thing. The bathroom lines were long! I couldn’t get outta the leftfield gate! My topping station wasn’t properly manned! It was like a First World Problems Bitch-a-thon.

I hope most fans who called were confusing their anger over a crappy Mets performance with their stadium experience. Because anyone who wants to complain about CitiField after 45 years of Shea must be as twisted as Wallace Matthews. The kinda people who aren’t happy with anything, ever.

Mind you, this type of person makes up a significant portion of the tri-state area population. Certain NYers work in Whining the way other artists work in marble or clay. I guess that’s why Wallace Matthews writes for a major newspaper rather than being locked up in an institution for his (and our own) good. He must appeal to that segment of the populace that’s not happy unless it’s miserable.

Wally, if you’re nostalgic for 7 dollar cups of foam and sub-DMV level cheer from your concessioneers, by all means, invent a time machine and go back to Shea.

Then go back another 600 years. I think the Dark Ages are perfectly suited to your temperament. And if they’re not, maybe you’ll contract the plague and die, you fucking canker.