Posted July 17, 2013
Let me just start by saying “if and when you have an opportunity to go to one of our sports major events, that happens once a year, and you haven’t gone to it yet in your life, GO.”
Find the money, beg for a ride, get a ticket, call in your babysitter credits and favors, take days off….get out and go. It will be well worth the spectacle and the cost, and no amount of TV can do justice to the full experience you will experience.
Baseball is one of my least favorite sports to follow; the season is way too long, the major markets really have an unfair advantage, and my team almost always blows. And when they don’t blow, they lose to the Yankees in the World Series. But let me tell you, I just spent several days enjoying the All Star Week here in New York City, and quite frankly, using the word “enjoy” doesn’t do the experience justice. Like an idiot, I gave away my passes to the events of the weekend which included some cool stuff at the Javits Center, the softball game, etc…I just didn’t make time. Of course, I was told it was awesome by the lucky ticket recipients.
With a crazy heat wave in NYC this week, and my wife out of town leaving me with my three young boys, I ALMOST CONSIDERED skipping the Home Run Derby and just going to the game Tuesday night. Key word = ALMOST. Fortunately my nanny is bribed easily by Ben, so I was on my way Monday to the Derby in the 90+ heat, on a stalled 7 local, and bazillions of kids asking for autographs and pictures. Guess what, it was all AWESOME.
I settled into my seat, 3rd row behind the National League Dugout, in a box with David Wright’s family (his beautiful fiancé and his brothers who are just as friendly and well behaved as David, and a few other family friends including 1986 Met Howard Johnson). You might be thinking “how did you get there?” As I said earlier, if you have the opportunity for one of these once in a while or even once in a lifetime events, you go. You find a way. Ok, so maybe we have a friend in the owners office with the Mets….maybe. But we still paid, we just got special seats I guess. So you get the point, lots of cool people mingling around, having fun, chatting it up with us and with the players, etc. Good times. And then you forget that you are actually there for an event,; the Home Run Derby.
I hate watching this on TV because Chris Berman just destroys the event. his call of the derby shouldn’t be the event, or the ritual, or what people care about….yet ESPN makes it be. MUTE. The batters now….wow! I watched both batting practices for both teams, yes, even the players not in the contest. The bombs they were hitting were just unbelievable!!! “Wow” shot after “wow” shot. I guess I like home runs? The contest started and fortunately Mike and Mike of ESPN were calling the live play by play, keeping the commentary colorful. The event moved along in a very smooth fashion; we were busy during the commercial breaks. I did not leave my seat from 5Pm to 10:30Pm…not once. I have never been so involved at a baseball event. I watched home run after home run sail out of the park, in the night sky….couldn’t see many of the long shots, as the balls just disappeared. It was unreal!! And the fans were into EVERY shot!! It was an experience that I definitely had never been part of, and that I would definitely recommend. Fortunately for me my night ended with the right decision to take the railroad home and not the subway, as the subway had a fire and didn’t run at all. Chaos.
I couldn’t wait for Tuesday, to get back through the work day and get back out to the stadium (and of course make some dress code adjustments to take care of my heat needs). I had worn a David Wright jersey Monday night in honor of the captain…..no chance I was making that mistake Tuesday. I left work a bit later than I did Monday only because I was in no rush to sit in the heat like the night before. The sun hides behind the stadium walls around 6:45 in our seats, so I thought I would time it to make sure I didn’t bake myself! Funny, I caught the express diamond 7 train at 6PM from Grand Central and was at the stadium 15 minutes later, baking!! As I do before all Mets games, I found my families two “bricks” in the MetsWalk and took the obligatory pictures with them. A full loaded sweet sausage sandwich, large beer, a trip through the clubhouse store, and a handshake from Jerry Seinfeld later (sure we go way back), I found my way to my first Carvel Sundae of the night and headed to my seat. Tonight we were graced with God Bless America singer Marc Anthony, and his billionairess girlfriend sitting next to us. Ahh the J Lo jokes would be obnoxious, but we asked anyway. Great pregame ceremony, including a poorly timed helicopter flyover (which was nice anyway), and it was on to HarveyDay.
Matt Harvey, the superstar young pitching talent from the Mets, got the nod. After aloud ovation in which he probably pooped himself, Matt proceeded to give up a first pitch squib double down the first base line, and then beaned Robinson Cano of the cross town Yankees with a 96 mph off-speed pitch, which 3 pitches later had Cano walking off the field to the ice tub and calling it a night. Guessing Harvey pooped a second time here. Wonderful start. He settled down and took out the next 6 batters he face with 3 or 4 strike outs and few weak, uncomfortably swung on pop ups. LOUD OVATION….probably third poop. We don’t normally have these kid of crowds for the Mets home games…get use to it Matt; either we will get good, or you’ll be signed by the Yankees eventually.
The National League could only muster 3 hits all night, one of which was by David Wright (thank goodness). But as the game progressed, and the American League poured on the hits and runs, we all waited to see when Mariano Rivera would come in. Coach brought him in in the 8th inning, in what was Mo’s original role in the league (set up man), and how he appeared in his first All Star game. Enter Sandman blasted thru CitiFields sound system, and Mo trotted in to one of the loudest ovations I can remember; a great showing of respect by all the fans. They also had him enter the field from the bullpen with NO OTHER PLAYERS on the field. Made his way to the mound, was given the spotlight all to himself, took a good 10 minute ovation, and then called for the ball to begin warm-ups. It was surreal to see this legend in his last appearance like this, a great experience. I was fortunately enough to see his first save of the 2013 season as well, an although that was pretty cool, it couldn’t compare to this. (need to note I also saw the game the Mets schlacked him for a blown save this year during the subway series sweep). 3 up, 3 down…another ovation, some autographs to players on the field, and the Sandman exited. Some Nathan guy pitched the 9th, but who cared?
Overall, the experience was a one of a kind in any sport, and absolutely worth it for all the events, the game, and most of all the storylines with Harvey and Rivera pitching very well. Good stuff.
The Super Bowl will be in NYC this year. Guess what, I’ll find a way and will be there without a doubt. You don’t miss the once in a lifetime opportunities that you come across. You’ll regret it missing it. if you go, you’ll love it.