CitiField hasn’t had a lot of good moments in its short history.
I can think of maybe a handful. Yet in its short history, we haven’t had a defining moment.
No Piazza bringing-baseball-back-to-New-York home run.
No seven-run-deficit-in-8th-inning comebacks versus the Atlanta Braves in the middle of a heated rivalry on Fireworks Night.
No Game 7 of the 1986 World Series to get over.
No Game 6.
No Jerry Koosman leaping into Jerry Grote’s arms.
No Hendu Candu walk off.
Most generations of Mets fans have that defining moment from Shea Stadium. Yet, not from CitiField.
We discussed the games we’d been to. The last game at Shea was a bittersweet memory in 2008. The John Maine game in 2007. The Mets NL East clincher in 2006. Fireworks Night in 2000. Several home openers.
We never met.
I sat in the Mezzanine at Shea Stadium for nearly eight years. I was on the third base side, he was on the first base side.
We never met.
I was on MySpace and Facebook, but gravitated towards Facebook. I had a built-in network of bloggers I was friends with, and was a fixture there pretty quickly. He was a MySpace fixture. We became friends on Facebook, but neither one of us could pinpoint when we became friends. Suddenly, it seemed, we appeared on each others feeds.
We never met.
I had blogged on the Mets for a few years, and it gave me not only an outlet but a new network of people I had never dreamed of meeting. Sure, I went to many Mets games, and I had a close-knit community in the sections I sat. But the new network went to new people, close and far. I was visiting friends on the west coast, and recognized people at games in the midwest. He was distinct. He carried bears around, and took pictures of them and wrote stories on them.
We never met.
You know where we met?
Ironically, it was Build-A-Bear Day, August 1, 2009. I was sitting in the Promenade that day, as was he. He was sweet, a little shy. But we bonded over our new bears.
I wouldn’t say there was love at sight. But we were friends. And three weeks later, I had completed my West Coast road trip, and we attended our first game together.
As irony would have it, that was the 1969 Mets reunion game. That same night, a friend of ours was hosting her son’s bar mitzvah. I had missed the “cut off,” but truth be told, it wasn’t a huge deal. I had met the child once, maybe twice, although later on that very friend who held that bar mitzvah that night later was a witness at our wedding.
We talked more than Mets that night. After all, it was a game against the Phillies, and they kicked our ass as often as we changed our clothes. We talked about comic books and Kevin Smith. I told him a joke about Chase Utley and Taco Bell. He told me there was such a thing as raspberry Pop-Tarts. We also discovered that neither one of us heated up Pop-Tarts. Mine were room temp; his were frozen.
The next day was a Sunday game, and I ended up going at the last minute. He told me to come visit him. So I did, and he had a gift for me.
It was a box of raspberry Pop-Tarts.
Looking back, it was sort of like when Lloyd Dobler gave Diane Court a box of Bavarian pretzels on their first date.
I can’t say that it was love at second sight. But I do know it was sincerity at first sight.
As the season ended in 2009, he asked, “Well, what do you do in the offseason?” That’s the first sign of a baseball fan: you classify the calendar year as “Season/Offseason.” I kind of shrugged and said that I usually just go to the gym more, drink less and go to the movies. I said that I usually go to movies by myself. I wasn’t trying to elicit sympathy, because I actually kind of enjoy it. I still don’t know if it was under the guise of “friends” or a “date” or if he felt bad for me, but he asked me to a movie. It was a zombie flick. I said, hell-to-the-no.
But I realized I could speak my mind with him. I couldn’t do that with a significant other in the past without it blowing up in my face.
As time went on, we spent more time together. As “friends.” I’m not sure where the switch turned on from friends to lovers. But I can tell you when I realized he was a keeper.
In the offseason leading to 2010, I needed to have routine outpatient surgery. My doctor and his staff had prepared me, and I’d be out later that day. He offered to stay with me. I said no. He said he’d be happy to take me back home. I live about 12 blocks from the hospital. I said no, thank you, I would be fine.
Till the nurse on staff said she wouldn’t let me sign my liability forms till I had someone there who agreed to escort me home. A friend, a parent, a relative, anybody.
He had stayed in the waiting room with me, till he was given the okay that I was good to go. I asked him for his work number that I hadn’t yet memorized and apologized for being so stubborn.
I equate that day to the time on Sex and the City, when Miranda needed help after her LASIK surgery, and she kept telling Steve she didn’t want to rescued. “NO RESCUE!” she screamed at him as he tried to get her ready for bed. That was me. I didn’t feel like I needed to be rescued. Till I realized, I could be in a partnership, and be in it together.
I looked at him differently after that.
By Opening Day, we knew we wanted to get married. Four weeks later, we were.
He wore a Mets tie. I wore a blue ring that was also “borrowed.” Our friends and witnesses were Mets fans and we all had one goal that day. After the ceremony, we needed to find the Mets game on a TV somewhere. See, they had a weekday day-game against the Reds in Cincinnati. The Mets lost that day.
Our one year anniversary was celebrated at another weekday day-game, against the San Francisco Giants. He surprised me by getting our names on the scoreboard.
Maybe our marriage isn’t perfect, but whose is?
We make it work, and the crux of our relationship is making each laugh and talking baseball. In my life, as I had relationships with significant others, maybe a piece might have lacked. I was always the bigger sports fan and had to make concessions to not watching games or talking baseball all the time. That’s probably why I became a blog groupie when I did. He understands that it’s not only a part of my life, but that I need someone who is just as passionate about them as I am.
I might not have needed to marry a Ranger or a Jets fan. But I did need someone who was just as devoted to baseball as I was. I was lucky enough to find a guy who loved the Mets just as much as I did.
It takes a special person to be a baseball fan. I’m not talking about a Johnny-Come-Lately person who goes to games occasionally. I’m talking about a fan who lives, breathes and eats baseball, is connected to their teams’ games 162 games a year, from April to September. If your team is lucky enough to make the playoffs, you’re preoccupied till November. Factor in pitchers and catchers and spring training, we’re talking eight months of the year, that there are some kind of game being played. Even when there is no Major League Baseball, you’ve then got hot stove, and trades, and free agency…chances are, from February until December, it’s baseball season for you. And then some.
If you’re lucky enough to have a friend or family who is just as knowledgeable and passionate as you are, baseball is your passion, your religion for lack of a better term. It’s a religion that preoccupies you 365 days of the year, and 366 in a leap year. The only difference between an organized religion and baseball is that we worship 162 games per year.
We get older. We get married. We have kids. At least, that’s what the greatest romance novels of all time have told us. Baseball isn’t supposed to be as “important” as it once was. Yet, in the Mets community, those who are in committed relationships are in just as much as committed relationship with the team as with their significant other. Furthermore, a non-negotiable for many Mets fans is that they find someone who understands, or is as passionate as they are about their team. (And most of all, not a Yankees fan).
I met my Mets soul mate in the summer of 2009. Yet, despite all the commonalities we had over the years, our childhood memories being so similar and centered around baseball, we never met.
We met the Mets, then we met each other.
If you are a couple, and you’re fans, chances are, you’ll understand.