Sunday, September 28, 2008

shea stadium (1964 - 2008)

Today was the last day in the life of a vibrant and quirky stadium in Flushing, New York. And a somber day it was. Not only did the stadium see its final game, it saw its team, the New York Mets, lose all hope of making it to the playoffs—on the last day of the regular season, for the second year in a row. Sheesh.

It's been a tumultuous season, to say the least. The Mets suffered through a number of key injuries (most devastatingly to their closer, Billy Wagner); fired their manager in midseason; came back to erase a seven-game deficit in the division; went on to blow a three-game lead that they later earned, and finally, made their fans suffer through a roller coaster last two weeks that undoubtedly left many ulcers in its wake. I gotta say, they performed pretty well considering they were stuck with an extremely subpar bullpen for much of the season. And yet, they lost. Again. Boo.

Perhaps it was fitting to go out this way. The Mets seem to be built on a relatively solid core of players, but they are in need of a spark (or five) get them through to the next level. I kind of feel the same about the Mets' home for the last 44 years. Shea Stadium will always remind me of my youth, in the same way that the Polo Grounds will always stick with my father, who grew up rooting for the New York Giants before they moved to San Francisco. But I ain't no spring chicken, and neither is Shea. The stadium has improved since it opened, especially in the coloration. But a good chunk of the mezzanine seats have a horrible view, while the upper deck—where I'm guessing fans spent most of their time over the years—is downright frigid in the spring and early fall. Also, fans in some of those outer seats can seem far, far away from the action. Worst of all, the interior parts of Shea, including all concession stands, are totally cut off from the field.

Still, it's with a real tear in my eye that I say farewell to good old Shea Stadium. I was lucky enough to have attended three of what the fans voted as Shea's top 10 moments (#2, 6, and 10), and those memories won't soon be forgotten. Of course, I won't soon forget all the other memories of the Mets blowing it, I assure you. The new digs next door look fresh, and they will be home to a whole new set of memories, though. One wish is that the Mets would use the change of venue to bring ball girls back to New York. Growing up, I realized it was a pipe dream to think of playing for the Mets. But they used to have ball girls on the sidelines, and that was a great thing to see. Today, it's all boys all the time, which sucks for all those girls out there who dream diamond dreams.

Anyway, goodbye Shea. We will miss you.

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