This game was painful. It feels stupid to be writing about it four days after the fact, and quite frankly, I’d rather not even have to think about it. But the story must be told–and I apologize in advance for making it brief…
I went to the game with Clif and Gail. Remember them? They were my Watch With Zack clients five days earlier. This second game with them wasn’t an official Watch With Zack outing. They had an extra ticket (and bleacher access). I’d been planning to go anyway (and had enjoyed their company), so when they invited me to tag along, I gladly accepted.
Gail parked the car at Shea at around 10am and then hurried over to GATE C to hold a spot at the front of the line. Clif and I wandered and got some good looks at the construction of Citi Field.
Shea opened at 10:40am, and when we ran inside, this is what we saw:
It was an appetizer of pain. The field was set up for batting practice, but there weren’t any players in sight. I headed down to the front row of the Marlins’ dugout. Head groundskeeper Pete Flynn walked by. I asked him if the teams were planning to hit, and thankfully he nodded.
Fifteen minutes later, a few Mets players trickled out of the first base dugout and began playing catch. I ran over and barely found a space in the first row as Ruben Gotay finished throwing. I asked him for the ball in Spanish. He flipped it high in the air right to me. I reached up for the easy catch. Clif gave me a high-five, and we headed out to right field. He got two balls thrown to him along the foul line, just short of the DreamSeats, and I got two more tossed up to me in the Loge. The first came from Lastings Milledge and required a bit of running on my part. The ball sailed over my head and landed in a tunnel, and I chased it 30 feet into the empty concourse. The second ball (which was one of the oldest balls I’d snagged all year) came from bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello, and I had to reach way over the ledge to make the grab.
When the bleachers opened at 11:40am, there was only half an hour left of BP. Clif (aka “goislanders4” to those who read the comments) got one more ball, and I’ll let him be the one to share the details. I ended up snagging two more. The first was tossed by Brett Carroll, and the second–my fifth and final ball of the day–was a homer that landed in a crowded patch of benches.
Clif and Gail and I hung out in the bleachers for the first few innings.
Clif and I ran around the Loge until the seventh inning stretch.
Then we all snuck down to the Marlins’ dugout.
I was hoping to snag some bonus items, and I was in a great spot to do so, but it wasn’t meant to be. After the final out, someone on the Marlins tossed a cap into the crowd, and I managed to get my hand on it for a split-second before someone else snatched it away. I was furious, and to make matters worse, Fredi Gonzalez gave the lineup cards to the guy in the “VERGA” jersey after telling me earlier that he keeps them.
Let’s not even go into detail about the game itself. Tom Glavine gave up SEVEN runs in the top of the first inning, and it was practically over before it started.
• 311 balls in 39 games this season = 7.97 balls per game.
• 494 consecutive games with at least one ball
• 321 consecutive games at Shea Stadium with at least one ball
• 3,272 total balls
• 1 very long winter for Mets fans