Notes from the Shea
Made a pair of trips out to Shea Stadium this weekend in the hopes of tracking down AWOL Braves infielder Willy Aybar. That mission was not successful, but fear not – Vladimir Guerrero is on the case. Though we temporarily failed at finding the estranged Brave, we did succeed at making a number of observations from one of the most miserably outdated ballparks in America. Here’s what we saw:
The people who operate replays in Major League stadiums are ridiculous. We’ve said this before, but it bears reiteration: Baseball stadiums across America rarely, if ever, show a replay of an impressive play by an opposing player. Nor do they ever show a replay of an opposing player’s home run or extra base hit.
The theory behind this must be that they believe fans are going to storm the field and angrily rip up all the sod if they show the visiting team succeeding, but the simple fact is that baseball fans want to see impressive plays, no matter who made them. If someone from the other team makes a great catch, we want to applaud. If the opposing first baseman hits a 440-foot homer, we want to see how bad of a hanging slider our pitcher threw to serve it up.
The Mets replay operators showed a momentary flash of understanding this concept when they re-ran a spectacular John Smoltz barehanded pickup and throw to first to get Tom Glavine, but on the whole they missed the point entirely.
On one occasion, they even showed a Carlos Beltran routine catch but failed to show the part of the play that followed, where Beltran threw a laser to third that kept the Braves baserunner from advancing. We understand that there are probably mandates about showing too much of the visiting team (and we still think this is ridiculous), but showing the wrong part of remarkable plays by the home team is simply inexcusable.
Those t-shirts they blast at the crowd in between innings are positively awful. Not only are they size XXXXL, but they feel like they’re made of finely-woven Brillo Pad. Honestly, they're only a slight bit softer than shark skin, yet people are practically hurling themselves off the mezzanine to haul them in. We wouldn't pick up one of those dish cloths if it landed in our lap. Actually, we would pick one up if it landed in our lap. And then we'd throw it back on the field like it was a home run ball at Wrigley.
In between innings, they put amusing things up on the big screen (even if they're amusing for all the wrong reasons). For instance, according to “Snapple Mets Real Facts,” Carlos Delgado’s favorite game is dominos. Which is odd, because we would have guessed his favorite game is baseball.
They also at one point displayed the “Delta Dental Smile Cam,” and chose to pick out a kid with possibly the worst set of human teeth since the conclusion of the Paleozoic Era. Either this is some cruel joke by the camera operator, or they intend for the Delta Dental Smile Cam to be a kind of orthodontic intervention device which is used to publicly shame certain individuals into scheduling appointments to have their ghastly teeth fixed.
David Wright is having trouble hitting for power. But more importantly, his cleats look incredibly stupid. From the loge level (one above field level), they look like a pair of oversized Nike Shox running shoes that somehow made their way onto the discount rack at TJ Maxx. Picture the brightest white laces you can possibly imagine, and then shield your eyes from them. At least we think those were shoelaces – it’s possible they were actually just a blinding white stripe streaking down the top of the shoe, but that might even be worse.
In any case, it’s truly a ghastly look. And for a guy who’s struggling to find his power stroke, we might suggest throwing those kicks into the nearest dumpster and explaining away all troubles by saying, “It’s gotta be the shoes.”
If you thought the ushers at Turner Field were worthless, we present to you: The ushers at Shea. Of course, we’re assuming that the two ushers in our section of the stadium were representative of the entire population of ushers at the stadium. (There’s nothing wrong with that logic, right?)
In any case, these two (a man and a woman, combined age of at least 130) spent virtually the entire game sitting one row behind us watching the game while hordes of people hemorrhaged the aisle they were supposed to be regulating, blocking the view of home plate for tens if not fifteens of fans sitting in our section.
We will, however, give them credit for some reasonably entertaining banter over the course of the game. In the 8th inning, when the Mets sent up David Newhan to pinch hit, the female usher exclaimed “Where is Endy? I don’t understand this.” She was referring to Endy Chavez, whom she apparently likes very much. She was also sitting down, completely ignoring any usher-like duties at this juncture of the game as the people of Section 17 regulated against renegade aisle-loiterers on our own.
And -- it should be added – she referred to David Newhan as “David Nunez.”
Though her finest name alteration – this one intentional – was when she referred to the Mets left fielder as “Moishe Alou.”
Did we mention that these ushers were old? Ahh, yes, we did. But seriously – if you’re having trouble grasping exactly how old, consider this:
The female usher at one point talked about how she saw Jackie Robinson play at Ebbets Field. To which the ancient male usher responded,
“By the way, that time he stole second off Yogi Berra – he was out.” He then went on to say how the media doesn’t want to put it in the papers that Jackie was out stealing second that one time.
Yeah, it’s a real hot-button topic among sports pundits these days. Can’t believe that they're censoring it out of the papers. It's possible that they're not writing about it because at this point there are more important things to talk about.
Or, perhaps, they're not writing about that time that Jackie stole second off Yogi Berra because the memorable play in question was actually the time that Jackie Robinson stole home, not second. Which is probably why the guy sitting behind us is an usher and not a baseball historian.
But then again, he might as well have been a baseball historian for all the usher-related work he was doing.
And before we go, one last thought…
Braves 9, Mets 6. For those keeping track, that makes four wins, two losses for the (first-place) Braves against the Mets this year.
Sorry, Mets fans (and the rest of the baseball world that can't stand that annoying team from Atlanta): The Braves are back.
Thank you for coming to Shea Stadium. Please get home safely.