I bought the four tickets to see our New York Mets play the Cincinnati Reds online two months ago, so my dear wife Karen, my great friend and bowling teammate Steve Vicik Jr. and his wife Kristen were sort of excited when our Saturday in June finally rolled around.
Rain in the forecast for the 4 p.m. start time in Flushing, Queens.
We had been following it since Friday, and texting back and forth.
At 7 a.m. Saturday we saw the 50 percent chance of shower had fallen to 40 percent, with an hour-window decrease to 30 percent actually, before a rise back up and then the dreaded thunderstorms word appearing at 7 p.m.
But Matt Harvey, the Dark Knight will be pitching for our Mets, perhaps the coolest one of all our great young throwers. Certainly, with a big fastball and great nickname and greater determination in this season coming back from Tommy John surgery to his pitching arm, a must-see.
Pick you guys up at 9:30 a.m. sharp, look for my Chevy Cruze, my old-school Garmin is loaded with the directions to Shea Stadium. Hell, they build Citi Field in my beloved Shea’s parking lot. My 10-year-old virtual map routes will be close enough, right?
Yes, it rained down 81 and across 380 and 80 and the GW and RFK bridges, but my bossy GPS lady got us to the parking lot two hours before game time. With a minimum amount of stress and confusion on my part, I must say. (Oh, that will come on the trip back. Hello, Westside Highway and Midtown Manhattan!)
The prepaid parking coupon I clicked for $22 got us waved up quite close to the stadium. And it wasn’t raining. Sweet.
We wandered around the Mets Museum and Store, and I took many pictures.
The Mets folks do it right. At some spots — the No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson, the Brooklyn Dodger who broke the Major League color barrier, for instance — they station a friendly employee who asks if you’d like to hand over your iPhone 6 to have your photo taken. Yes, please. Now can you please turn it sideways for landscape?
In fact, we packed so much into our five hours at Citi Field, that I have enough for a week’s worth of photos and stories.
Friends, rain, cool stadium, rain, planes. Life down there is something.
I wanted to see where our seats were, first row in the promenade. That’s a fancy word for what we used to call the upper deck back in the day. But the bottom level of the upper deck, because from the concourse, we walked down steps to get to our seats, down the right-field line. Other folks had to walk up a flight to get to theirs.
I quick-stepped to the right to grab a shot of my Mets’ two World Series championship banners flying proudly, from 1969 and 1986. Bring us our third, fellas!
The view was stunning. I never get over the jolt I feel from my initial sight of the green, green grass against the dark brown infield dirt.
Yes, it raining a bit. But the tarp was off. I could tell by the pre-game activity that this baby would start on time. Kristen picked us all up yellow rain ponchos where she works. We pulled them on.
Now we concentrate on baseball.
Harvey was hot in the top of the first, Reds down one-two-three.
He lost a bit of his command each inning thereafter, as it rained harder. But the man has guts. That and good defense kept the Reds off the board through the first four innings.
And complementing the Dark Knight was the bat of Curtis Granderson, the only hot Met at the plate of late. Our left fielder not only made a gem of a catch in the top of the first, but he smoked a double. And the next time up, he homered, his team-leading 13th of the season, to give the Mets a 1-0 lead.
We cheered, and hoped it would be enough. In rain games, 4 1/2 innings is official if the home team is leading.
Alas, it was not to be. The Reds scored one off of Harvey in the top of the fifth to square it 1-1.
Karen and I sighed, a couple of wet Mets fans, and decided to take a walk to stretch our legs and check out other vantage points perhaps under ledges for a bit.
We got back to our seats and the Mets had a rally going, loading the bases. But we couldn’t get the winning run home in the bottom of the sixth, and the umpires had felt enough of the constant rain. They called the grounds crew out to cover the infield with the tarp.
My dear wife Karen and I climbed those stairs and found seats under that overhang. Steve and Kristen said they were taking a walk. Many fans left. We watched years worth of Mets Yearbook on the big center-field video screen, a monster with high-definition quality worthy of any living room.
We waited more than a half-hour. Our friends trudged up the stairs. The rain continued. We made it to our car conveniently near the stadium by 7 p.m.
Bossy Garmin and I were confused trying to find the RFK Bridge. We were in Midtown Manhattan traffic when Steve got the news on his phone that the game had officially been suspended. Karen took over driving in Pennsylvania, and pulled us into our driveway around 12:40 a.m. We’ll turn on the TV at 1 this afternoon to watch our game resume in the top of seventh. Weather permitting.
At 8:47 p.m. yesterday, I noticed this morning, I had received this email alert from Mets.com that included this nice note:
“As a thank you to fans attending today’s game, the Mets are inviting ticket holders to exchange their tickets marked “Saturday, June 27 – Game 39″ for a ticket – in alternate locations, subject to availability – to tomorrow’s games and postgame concert only.”
We are not thinking of driving back, but thank you very much, Mets.
Tomorrow: Good friends
Tuesday: Mets Museum
How long have you sat out in the rain for a sporting event? Have you ever been lost but not lost following your GPS? What’s your favorite picture and why?