Metphistopheles

Fitting In With The Misfits

“Dear Ma,  You might find it hard to believe…But I think I finally found a home.  The weather’s lovely, there’s so much to see, and people who know what I know.  Now I’ve got friends that do want me and take me as I am.  Now I’ve got friends that do love me.  I’m all right with them.  Fittin’ in with the misfits.”

A Man Called E!, “Fitting In With the Misfits”

I know you might find someone like me who talks and drinks like a sailor surprised to find that growing up, I was very much a loner.  I didn’t have many friends and the shit I liked was NOTHING like what anyone else liked.  I was into New Wave and Brit Pop bands way before it was ever cool or emo.  I listened to music no one else was listening to.  I was a baseball fan when girls weren’t supposed to like it.

Instead of encouraging it, I feel that I was made to feel like there was something wrong with me as a result.  Kids thought I was weird and well, I guess I sort of agreed with them.

So I kept to myself mostly.  But being an only child, it wasn’t that difficult, especially an only child of divorced parents where both worked.  I had a lot of downtime for sure.

But the funny thing was, as I got older and met more people, I found that baseball was a connecting fiber for communities of people.  I remember during the Brooklyn Dodgers documentary “Ghosts of Flatbush” that was on HBO a few years ago, Louis Gossett Jr. said that when the Dodgers left Brooklyn, there was nothing to homogeneously identify with being in Brooklyn.  Baseball brought different races, creeds, characters from different parts of Brooklyn together, and nobody questioned it!

My baseball community started small, with my dad and his best friend and their family.  Then it grew when I started going to more games.  Then it blew up really during the era of social media.  I started my blog and met some amazing people, and even got a husband out of it.

But mostly, this was my happy place.  It’s sometimes not easy being a Mets fan.  It was the fans and the people who drew me in.

These days, I rarely go to games alone.  I’ve had no problem doing it, but usually just traveling to the game is a joint effort, with myself and Ed and the bears that usually come in tow.  There were two games recently that I traveled to CitiField all by myself, though, which is odd.  I’m used to traveling on trains and around the city by myself.  So I had my iPod queued up and ready to take the 7 train on Monday night.

I was invited to the game by a friend who was able to get four seats together.  Our friend Ray Stilwell, aka Metphistopheles, was joining us from the north and we got the Grand Poobah of Mets blogging to join us too, Greg Prince from Faith and Fear in Flushing.

You may remember my misadventures with Metphistopheles in May, when I got stranded in Buffalo, and he volunteered to drive me across the border.  To this day, I’m still grateful (though my trip didn’t exactly pan out the way I wanted it to).  Ray doesn’t make it down here all that often, so to take in a game with him is a treat.  Three out of the four of us made to the Hofstra conference in April.  This was the first time we got the band back together since then.

 

(Photo to the right was taken by Sharon Chapman)

The game itself was uneventful.  R.A. Dickey was masterful again, and deserved better from his offense as per usual.  Yet, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a song as I sat there with my friends.  Mostly me banishing Greg to the Caesar’s Club corner (for reasons I won’t disclose here, but it was pretty funny).  We talked about my husband and I almost got divorced over Angel Pagan (he’s Pro-Pagan, I’m Anti-Angel).  Talked about the previous game where our friend Sharon’s son was celebrating a birthday and he got the Carvel gift card they give out in the birthday inning.

On the way to the park that day, I had some time to kill on the train.  And I found an old album (gosh, it’s 20 years old at this point) that I once upon a time had on a cassette tape.  Ouch.  The artist was “A Man Called E!” and the song was “Fitting in the with Misfits.”  It’s interesting listening to that song 20 years after the fact.  At the time in my life, I was very alone.  I was a sophomore in high school.  I never fit in really anywhere.  That song always kind of struck a nerve with me.  I never quite liked it as one of my favorites, but I did like it enough. It was fresh in my mind as I sat at the game Monday.

Mets fans are an interesting lot.  We stick with the team, when sanity could reason that we should not be.  We root for a perfect game each day, knowing that our team is far from perfect.  And yet, CitiField and the Mets is where I belong.

Thanks to Sharon Chapman for the great photo!

This was us on Monday night.  At some point our Mets fandom and baseball fascination has brought us ridicule from others, but we found each other, in the “lost and found” as A Man Called E! sang about his misfit friends 20 years ago.

Later on that night, I went to go visit a friend of a friend…the infamous Darth Marc, from Metstradamus fame.  Turns out, he and I have a larger connection than Metstradamus…we know a lot of the same Blondie’s gang who hang in the Brooklyn Met Fan forum.  Talk about a bunch of “misfits” right there.  These are the guys who encouraged me to be myself and to blog, and were my very first supporters in the blogosphere.

More irony is when he posted this pic on Facebook, a mutual friend from Blondie’s and Brooklyn Met Fan, IrishMike, commented.  I never knew his last name.  We were only friends in Blondie’s name only.  Regardless, I was surprised to him friends with Darthy, though I dunno, I probably shouldn’t have been.

“Coop’s a brunette, Marc is at a Met game – I don’t know what’s going on. Well the Mets sucked again so there is some normalcy.” – IrishMike

The game sucked balls.  There’s no nice way to put it.  But hanging out with some of the misfits I know makes the games more enjoyable.

I was asked last night on a podcast why I was still watching games.  It has nothing to do with “believing” or thinking something might happen.  It’s not even about being mathematically alive or dead at this point.  But I’ll say this:  I watch because I know in a few months, there will be no baseball.  I may have hockey.  I may have football.  But baseball is my heart and soul and comprises so much of my personality.

I watch because it’s finite.  If you don’t stop and take a look once in a while, you might just miss it.

But on Monday night, I got to hang out with mostly Mets folks (disclaimer: Darth is an “Evil Empire” fan – figuratively and literally.  Or literally and literally.  Whatever).  People who are like me.  People who get it.  “For lost souls don’t know where they’re bound,” as E! once sang.

But we’re only lost when baseball isn’t around.

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Never. Again.

If you ever hear me say “Never. Again,” or write it somewhere, here is the story behind it.

My husband and I frequent this place for brunch, where they sport unlimited brunch cocktails.  About a year ago, there was a flamboyantly funny Russian waiter named Vladimir.  He used to see us during the week and would say, “Come this weekend, I get you drunk.”  Meanwhile, he must have said this to others who would clamor for his section to get their moneys worth of unlimited cocktails.

One weekend, Vlad had to sub for someone as a host.  It was a crazy busy Sunday, so we were surprised to see him up front.  Something told me he didn’t take well to hosting, since customers get all bitchy while waiting (there is also not a big waiting area for this joint either).  When we said good bye to him as we left that day, he made it a point to say in a dramatic fashion, “NEVER.  AGAIN.  Will I fill in for someone.”

Now, when Ed or I say, “Never. Again,” it’s said in a flamboyant Russian faux accent.  Our little nod to Vladimir.

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When I saw the Mets were playing at Rogers Centre this season during interleague, I really wanted to go.  I heard so many nice things about Toronto, and I’d never been to Canada.

Mostly, I just remember what I saw on TV of what was once known as the SkyDome.  I remember watching the 1993 World Series, and the crowd going berserk after Joe Carter’s home run.  I remember seeing the hotel in the outfield and thought it was so cool.  People have told me Toronto is a nice place to visit, and I’d never been.

Since the Mets haven’t been there since 2006, I figured I didn’t want to potentially wait another six years for them to return.

Up to about a week or so before my trip, the only thing I had booked concretely was my flight to Buffalo.  I figured it would be easier to take my brand-loyal JetBlue flight to Buffalo, then figure out a way to cross the border.  I’d had a passport already, so that part was taken care of.  But a few weeks earlier, I had been at the Hofstra conference (which I still owe you all a recap, but this thing called the NHL playoffs has been very distracting in my life).  My friend “Metphistopheles” Ray Stilwell said that if nothing else came up, that we could take a ride together.  Unfortunately some things came up, so I had to find another way to the border.  Megabus to the rescue (or so I thought).

Here comes Friday, and I spend the night at the airport hotel.  The hotel had a shuttle and I asked the driver if he would still be on duty at around 4:30 am.  He said yes, and that he actually had someone else leaving then.

EVERYONE I asked said the same thing — Megabus is at that location.  There was no other place it would be.

Till it was 5:30 and it didn’t show up.  I kept looking at my schedule, making sure I didn’t mess it up.  Nope.  Buffalo Airport, clear as day.  Having been a fan of buses like Bolt or Mega, I understand that they sometimes piggy back different stops.  Didn’t make much sense to piggy back the bus terminal (about 15 minutes or so away) then the airport, which was out of the way.  No.  It just didn’t show up to my stop.

Before I decided to commit hari kari at the steps of the Buffalo Airport, I decided to vent on Facebook about it.  Here I am, stuck in Buffalo, with a bear, some Crumbs cupcakes for the friends who had already made it across the border, a passport and a ticket to the game in Toronto that afternoon.  The next bus doesn’t leave the airport till around 3 pm.  Two hours after the game.  Not gonna happen.  The next bus scheduled to leave at 8:15 was from the downtown area.  With no one at the switchboard of Megabus, I had no idea if I could even get on it.  Or in any case what the hell happened that they forgot about my stop anyway.

In that time, Metphistopheles said, “Don’t panic, we’ll figure it out.  In the meantime, let’s get some pancakes.”

 

Sometimes, pancakes solve everything.  But not everything: I still needed to get to the border. What sucked is that I had about 2 hours of sleep.  I’m sure it’s elementary getting across the border (and it was no big deal), but since I was functioning on that little sleep, the last thing I wanted to do was rent a car in that situation.  Worry about parking, getting back that night, etc.

I should have just sucked it up and flown Air Canada or whatever to Toronto.  Lesson learned.

So after pancakes, Ray drove me to the downtown terminal…just as the bus was pulling out about 15 minutes ahead of schedule.

So if they’re not showing up to their stops, they’re leaving 15 fucking minutes early.  Got it.

Ray offered once again to take me across the border.  I had confidence I could get back.  After all, the bus depot in Toronto was a *real* one, and not one at an airport terminal.  If I needed rest, I could sleep then.  We got in his car and made it across the border to Canada in a few minutes.

 

Not bad for two folks who met only twice before, and under weird circumstances.

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Turned out, we had a lot in common for people who admire each others thoughts on the Mets, but have only met in person twice.  For instance, Dana Brand brought us together the two times we met: at his life celebration last year and at Hofstra Conference a few weeks ago.  We were both English lit majors a hundred years ago. We’re born storytellers.  Perhaps, unlike Dana whom I actually had the privilege of knowing, I’ll remember to ask Metphistopheles what his favorite book is…but for now, we’ll stick to the game plan.  And that was to get me to Toronto to meet my friends who were already there, and get me to the SkyDome.

I told him the story of Vladimir, in relation to the story about Megabus.  Megabus, from New York City, is pretty reliable and I’ve never had a problem.  For some reason, the trip to Buffalo, the trip FROM Buffalo to Toronto and ultimately back just seemed doomed, especially since my own husband didn’t even want to bother with the trip.  What I do to quench my wanderlust thirst for baseball stadiums.  I suppose in life there are lessons, the lesson here is that anything that early with Megabus…don’t do it.  Unless you are in a large metropolis.

Before I knew it, we were there.  I was only about two hours behind.  Even my friends who were there overnight, who made the trek to the Hockey Hall of Fame, got a late start.  So it was like nothing had really happened, just that I might have gotten a late start myself.

 

I felt mostly bad for Ray, who was very insistent that this type of thing happens, and that he was fine driving back across the border by himself.

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Rogers Centre, aka SkyDome, has a better reputation than it should.  Toronto fans are not polite, their mascot is even worse, and Shea Stadium looks like a Sheik’s palace compared to Rogers Centre.  Okay.  Some of you might think that *anyway* about Shea, that it was a palace and that we loved it and it was great. Throw your nostalgia aside.  Shea was a dump.  It had charm though, and history.  All SkyDome has is Joe Carter.  It’s a slum, certifiably so.  Just with a nice view of the CN Tower.  Oh and do they not believe in escalators?  Not one to be found.  Ramps and elevators.  Really?

When I say their fans are not polite, it’s weird, because if Canadians have one preconception, it’s that they’re usually very nice.  Having never been to Canada, I was looking forward to some north of the border hospitality.  I’ve come to the conclusion that they’re all just really clueless, and have no comedic timing.  My good friends the Dosters were in town, and had the opportunity to attend Friday’s game.  They said that the Toronto fans got SHITTAY, and therefore were belligerent. And they won, the Blue Jays.  No need for that.  Where was this Canadian hospitality we heard so much about?

When I got there on Saturday, I wore my Jonathon Niese jersey (who had gotten rocked the night before with like a gazillion home runs).

“Let’s go Mets, eh?”  No, I’m being serious.  SOMEONE SAID THAT TO ME.

I think it’s honestly just a poor attempt at humor.  But still, Canadians were clueless.  And had no clue.  Did I mention, clueless?

As for the mascot, “Ace,” he’s a Blue Jay.  No, seriously, a blue jay named Ace.  Okay, a few years ago, I have a friend who was in Toronto following her team.  When she waved to Ace, he threatened her with bodily harm.

Yes.  A mascot threatened my friend.  So keeping this in mind, I kinda figured he was a douche.  And he was.  Since I traveled with teddy bear, I usually try to get his pic with the mascot.  Not this one.  I was afraid he might try to rip his head off.  I guess all things considered, he just made me look like I was being photo bombed.  I suppose it could be worse.

 

Canada also has a reputation of being “cheap.”  This was before the exchange rate was like 1.5:1, now it’s more even, like 1:1.  There was really no benefit, to me, dollars wise, for buying something in Canada.  An upper deck seat was around $17.50.  My friends got seats in the lower levels, and said they’d try to stub me down.  As irony would have it, as I ate my pregame poutine, they found a ticket in their section.  I figured by then, someone might have gotten his friends to stub him down.  I wouldn’t try to go to those seats, but when my friends said there was an empty, I went right down.

The usher was kind of a prick.  Yes, I know these aren’t my seats.  But they’ve been empty the whole game, and it’s the 6th inning.  If they come, I’ll move.  But no one was coming.

Yeah, Canadians are polite, my big fat ass.

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Between the lack of cell phone usage (in a stadium owned by a goddamn media company, you’d think wifi would be part of the rigeur there, right?), the debacle getting across the border, Blue Jay fans being idiots, and not being able to sit with my friends, I was eager to get home.  When I found a Red Lobster by the train station, I figured I could get some cheddar bay biscuits and call it a day.  They forgot to bring them to me, and my stuffed mushrooms were awful.

Home, please.  Yet, home wasn’t for a bit.  I still had one more night in Buffalo, and a flight the next morning.  It’s odd, flying to the same state.  I’ve flown half away across the world, and short flights (like from New York to Florida) are no bother for me.  A little over an hour?  Freaked me the fuck out.

Yet, there was a lot to get me across the border that morning, and things fell into place for it to happen.  So thanks to all the powers that be to get me there.  Ray got his care package of cookies that I sent him as a thank you, everyone else made it back home, including me.  Yet, I have a hankering to go back to Buffalo.  I’d like to visit there and have more time, maybe to grab a minor league game or to see the Rangers play the Sabres there.  Maybe a Buffalo Bills game?  I definitely want to make it across the border, too, to get to a hockey game there perhaps, and to go through the Hockey Hall of Fame, which sadly I didn’t have enough time to do.

Rogers Centre? SkyDome? Never.  Again.

And thank you Vladimir.  Wherever you may be.