Co-written by "H-Money", the lil lady
Yesterday morning, I ventured into the city to pick my 7-year-old sister up. After first trying a baseball game on in the chilly April-night air of last year, it was time to show her what baseball is all about: those hot, summer afternoon where you can just sit back and watch the action unfold.
I brought her to the front of the train to look out the window. She made me realize (well, not exactly REALIZE) that I sometimes can be more of a child than... well... children, being much more pumped than her to view the train track horizon. All she wanted to do was play with my phone, but having made her leave her electronic device at home, there wasn't a chance she would get it. So, she reluctantly got up from her seat and made the tiny steps to the window with me. There, she was amazed to see the bright-but-sunglassed canvas in front of us.
Like metal ladders taking us up towards the green pastures of the Citi, the train tracks sprawled out in front of us, surrounded by the urban landscape. We marveled at the graffiti plastered across the buildings, pointing out our favorites as we went along the way.
When we reached Willets Point around 11:55, I grabbed her hand as we made our way through the sizable Thursday Afternoon crowd. I did not have tickets yet, so we immediately made our way around the mob at the Rotunda and the ticket booths on the side to head down to the Left Field entrance (for those walk-ups who don't know, there are also ticket booths next this entrance, and they are generally lesser in line length.) Seeing one with only a couple at the window, we made our decision and headed that direction. All of a sudden, a man with 4 upper deck tickets got our attention looking to get 2 off his hands. I said the only cash I had is a 20 dollar bill, which he happily accepted. When I looked into my wallet, I saw a 5 as well and handed him both bills. I figured we were getting such a deal that it was only fair to thank him for the exchange. I probably would have paid at least 40 at the window, and you can't hang onto enough money these days. With an even bigger smile on my face, we were off to see the Knuckleball dance at around 12:06 PM, with plenty of time to see the first pitch.
After quickly grabbing Chicken Tenders and Fries, we found some seats upstairs in the shade to the 3rd base side of home plate and sat as "The Imperial March" wrapped itself up. She had wanted Dip 'N Dots but that required cash, and we did not have time to stop at the ATM. I am no baseball fan who misses the first pitch, no matter whether a little child wants ice cream. Patience, especially in a world of distractions, is a great thing to learn at such an early age. Once we sat, we realized we forgot to fill the water bottle up as well. Oh, well. We'll have to wait till after RA does his 1st inning thing.
The top 2 Marlins' batters flied out fairly softly, and up walked Jose Reyes. The boos poured over our ex, with scattered cheers throughout the crowd. This was my first Citi Field Marlins game this year, and the first chance I had gotten to see a match-up several months in waiting. Ever since Jose signed on the Dotted Fish Line, I had daydreamed of seeing Reyes swing through a knuckleball for a 3rd strike. The first 2 pitches were knuckleballs off the plate. The next 2 pitches Jose swung right through. Here it comes, I thought. Here comes the K. A soft pop fly to Mike Baxter, however, ensued. I'll take the out. Let's go get you some Dip 'N Dots.
I found the ATM and hurried back to a spot in front of stairs where we could watch the game. She tugged on my arm, desperately wanting those Dots as soon as possible. Sorry, you'll have to wait a little more. Step by step, we'll get you those Dip 'Ns. Teaching her patience paid off, as a supervisor in a yellow shirt walked by us and asked how many were in our party. "Just us," I said. "Here. Enjoy," he said as he handed us two color-prints of field seats. I was floored. Thanking him profusely, we waited till the inning was over to make our way downstairs. Mike Baxter made his way on with a 1-out single, and I wondered what Murphy would do in the day's experimental 3rd spot. Other lineups had not been working, and the one laid out for this Mets game intrigued me. In what would become an odd trend of the day, Murph grounded into a double play, cuing us to make our way to some form of ice cream and our new section.
I found a Dip 'N stand in the field level outfield, throwing down dough for some Mint Chip and Cotton Candy flavors. I claimed the mint and she claimed the Cotton Candy. We enjoyed the creamy delights at the right field standing-room-only section, which really has great sight lines. With every batter, we made our way closer to the new view. During that process, the Mets took the lead with a much-needed 2-out RBI single by Josh Thole, plating Ike Davis for the 1-0 lead. Finally, we arrived at 112 on the 1st base side and made our way down to our seats.
The cotton-candy-flavored Dots made her crave the puffy sugar as it passed us in the stands. So, I obliged, since she was being such a good sport this day. I hadn't had that in quite some time, and I have to say, it is rather delicious. Just don't bite into it and let the cotton candy melt on your tongue. Fantastic.
We were far enough down for the sun to drape us, which was enjoyable for a little while. After some time, though, it was rather hot. So, we started pouring water on each other's heads, being conscious of others around us. The cool water felt sooo good as it ran down our hairs and our backs. Nothin' like it on a warm, humid summer day.
As the top of the 4th began, she said to me she wanted to see a ball go into the stands. Basically right after that, Carlos Lee hit it a ball a long way to left-center. We all took a deep breath, but Andres Torres settled under it for the out. I said to her that had it gone, I would have blamed her 'cause she said she wanted to see it. "Hahah, I'm just kidding...But seriously..." The next batter, Justin Ruggiano, sent it into the party deck in left-center. Tie game. "Ya see?" She clarified to me, though, that she meant she wanted a ball hit to her in the stands. "Aaaaah. Well, fine. I won't blame you."
David Wright got things started in the bottom of the 4th. He sent a high pop-up to shallow left field, making its way towards the foul line. Reyes went back on the ball and had a play, but lost it in the Flushing Sun at the last second. Wright was safe on 2nd with no out, and the crowd, myself included, loved how blinding our skies were to our former shortstop. In what is typical recent-Mets fashion, the next 2 batters went down with a Runner In Scoring Position. In what has been typical 2012 New York Mets fashion, however, Andres Torres began a fantastic trend for him this day, singling the go-ahead run. After a walk to Josh Thole, solid-hitting RA Dickey had a chance to help his own cause with 2 on, but unfortunately hit it hard right to the center fielder.
We decided to move up a little to the shady part of 112. Making our way to the last row, the breeze now felt perfect without the heat of the sun beating down on us. We settled into these seats for most of the rest of the day. As foul ball after foul ball made its way around the stands, she moaned a little bit about not getting one. Wanting to pacify her expectations, I explained that odds of her actually catching one were very slim. She might, but chances are she won't. She quieted down a little bit, and I had to repeat the routine when she didn't receive a Pepsi T-shirt-Toss Tee.
It seemed that every inning, RA had to face Jose with a runner on 3rd a 2 out. I was still looking for the knuckleball strikeout, but I gladly accepted each of his groundouts in those situations. Dickey was cruising after that but we were still looking for some insurance. The bottom of the 5th began with 2 on and no out, with Daniel Murphy up trying not to ground into his 3rd double play of the day. He instead flied out to left, and left it up to David Wright to ground into the double play this time. Eesh.
Finally, with 2 out in the 6th, Andres Torres hit a high fly ball down the right field line. It settled into the corner porch, and I stood up cheering for the 3rd Met run of the day. My sister smiled as she finally got to see the Apple.
Around the 8th inning, after the Mets had gotten some much-needed tack-on runs, I got a text from my mom that she saw a status update from my cousin's ex-wife stating she was at the Mets game (they are amicable so this is not taboo.) I hit her up and it turned out she was basically in the exact same spot we were but on the 3rd base side. She hadn't seen my sis in years and I knew she would get a kick at how big she had gotten. At the end of the 8th, we ventured towards her direction. The green-shirted "usher" had us wait for her to meet us at the top of the section, so we stood while Andres Torres was batting with a runner on. He hit another shot down towards right field, and it hit off the top of the wall, bouncing back in for a run-scoring triple. Collins exited the dugout claiming to the umpire that it was a home run and that it should be reviewed. For the 2nd straight lil sis Citi Field appearance, a play was under review. We saw on the screen, though, that it had hit the top of the orange line before bouncing back in, making it fairly certain they wouldn't overturn the call. Our former cousin-in-law greeted us just as the umps were exiting and signaling Torres to stay at 3rd (sis is 1-1 in those instances.) She was floored by how big my sis had gotten. The "usher" then let us down into the section, and we caught up as the Mets tacked another one on. RA arrived at bat and us Met fans gave him a thunderous ovation, pumped for The Knuckler to head back out there for the complete game.
It is always such a thrill to be there as your pitcher attempts to finish the job, the crowd getting into every single pitch leading up to the finale. He first struck out Carlos Lee, got Ruggiano to fly out and then shut down the idea of getting Dobbed by striking Greg Dobbs out in 4 pitches. In typical RA Dickey fashion, the game was over in 2 hours and 37 minutes. We said goodbye to our ex-cousin-in-law and ventured back towards the city.
Finding seats for her to look out the window, she eventually sat down, laying her head on my side and falling asleep as they Local 7 trekked on.
I love the summer, I love my sister, and I love the 2012 New York Mets.
LET'S. GO. METS.