Last Sunday I went to my very first baseball game at Citi Field in Queens, New York City! Before I left work in Sydney, my very kind colleagues had chipped in for a ticket to see the New York Mets vs the Milwaukee Brewers as my leaving gift. I thought I’d share some observations & pics here so that everyone back at home can see what the experience was like 🙂
Pretty much everything I knew about baseball up until this point, I’d learnt either from The Simpsons or from the baseball game on Wii Sports. I’d never even seen a match on TV before. Well, I did actually play a bit of softball in year 7 but it is a different game and I can barely remember a thing about it – so I will admit to being a true baseball virgin as I made my way along the crowded #7 subway line headed to Mets – Willets Point station.
I arrived at the stadium around 1pm along with many thousands of Mets supporters (I didn’t see a single Brewers fan all day) and we all queued for quite some time to get through security. Unlike most attractions I’d been to in NYC so far, there was no annoying X-Ray scanner here – just a simple bag search and a pat-down.
As soon as I got in I was chased by a woman who threw a free Mets 31 t-shirt at me! I wasn’t expecting a free shirt and apparently I walked right past her as she was handing them out at the entrance.
It took a while to find my seat – it was up four flights of stairs accessible only at the other end of the stadium, but I was presented with this awesome view once I got there:
The mayor of NYC, Michael Bloomburg, had just begun a pre-match presentation, inducting a charming fellow named Mike Piazza into the Mets Hall Of Fame. I had no idea who he was but he seemed well-loved by the crowd.
After a short speech, Bloomberg proclaimed the 29th of September 2013 to be “Mike Piazza Day.” Oh, how the crowd cheered!
A bloke called John Franco came up to the podium and said a few words, followed by a few others who all beamed about ol’ mate Piazza. Bloomberg came back to present the award, which Piazza received to a standing ovation:
He thanked The Mets. People cheered.
He thanked God. More people cheered.
He thanked Fonzie, and then he thanked his agent because if it wasn’t for him, he might have ended up playing for the The Dodgers. People cheered again.
He thanked Fred & Jeff. People booed. Poor Fred & Jeff 🙁
He was very emotional when he thanked his dad. That brought the biggest cheer from the crowd. He thanked the rest of his family and promised to teach his young son how to hit – “the rest is up to him,” he said. That got a laugh.
After the presentation he took part in the Ceremonial First Throw, which was caught by the current Mets captain, David Wright:
The ticket holder of the day then appeared on camera – a lass named Bonnie who had been a Mets member since 2006. She had the honour of saying “Play ball!” into the microphone – and so the game began.
The Mets started on the field with the Brewers batting. After merely five minutes, three Brewers players at the pitch and not a single hit of the ball, the teams changed sides – what the…? So soon? Did someone call time out? I had no idea what was going on.
It took me a few innings to realise there are three outs per frame, two frames per innings, and that not every innings results in runs.
The first run was scored 20 minutes into the game by the Mets. I was sure he was out because the ball reached home base before he did, but apparently he made it in time.
In the next innings, one of the Brewers made a successful dash from first to second as the pitcher was about to deliver the ball to the batter. Sneaky little bugger. I didn’t know they were allowed to do that.
It was around this time I noticed there were no sponsor logos painted on the field, which made a pleasant change from Australian sporting fields that are plastered with corporate emblems at awkward angles so that they look good on TV.
At the fourth innings there was a massive cheer when a Brewers player at third base ran home & got caught out. Sucker.
Some people came out between an innings to rake the field. Interesting.
There was a deliberation about another Brewers guy who safely made it to first base, but the crowd didn’t agree. Lots of boos.
The crowd made an unexpected cheer when #5 David Wright was called up to bat – and then I remembered he was the team captain who caught the Ceremonial First Throw earlier in the proceedings.
In between one of the innings they showed 1800 Kiss Cam on the video screen. A roaming camera focused on couples in the crowd and the idea was that they’d see themselves on the screen and kiss. The most heartwarming kiss was from an elderly couple probably in their 70’s, it got a big “Awwwww” from the audience. Such a cute idea 🙂
The Hot Dog
During the 5th innings I decided to go for a walk and buy some food. But first I went to the bathroom to change into my free Mets 31 shirt, which I now realised was in honour of Mike Piazza’s Hall of Fame induction.
I made my way to the bar and ordered a hot dog & large Budweiser (with souvenir plastic cup).
While my order was being prepared, a guy who had just been served came back to the counter and asked the assistant if he could have an empty cup for dipping sauce. The guy at the counter wouldn’t give him one and said he’d have to pay $1.50 if he wanted the empty cup … “That completely puts me off the Mets, man!” he jeered back in frustration as he cuplessly walked away. Haha.
With hands full of beer and sausage I climbed over everyone to get back to my seat, eager to try my first proper Nathan’s Famous New York hot dog – and what better place to try but the baseball! But hang on… I opened my container and all I got was a bread roll and a sausage, what’s going on here? There was no sauce / mustard / onions, nothing!
I learnt the hard way that you have to put your own bloody condiments on the hot dog at the condiments stand. I couldn’t be bothered climbing back over everyone and proceeded to eat the most miserable looking hot dog I’d ever had in my life.
Good singing, bad Mexican Waves & the result
Around two thirds into the game we were all asked to stand and remove out hats for a rendition of God Bless America, sung by a young police officer. It was quite a humbling moment to be amongst thousands of patriotic Americans singing their praises at the top of their lungs.
Then some people dressed as chickens came out onto the field and got everyone to sing Let’s Go Out To The Ball Game.
I could hear a lot of cheering in the grandstand above me and looking up we could make out the beginnings of a Mexican Wave. They attempted to start it twice, but both times it didn’t even last a quarter of the stadium until it fizzled out. Americans might rule at singing patriotic songs in harmonic unison, but they suck at Mexican Waves.
At the eighth innings the Mets pitcher suspected another sneaky Brewer was about to make his way from first to second base unannounced, so he threw the ball to his teammate on first to scare him – but he missed the catch and let the Brewers guy complete his run to second with ease!
There hadn’t been a run scored since the fourth innings. It was 2-1 to the Brewers and being nearly 3 hours in, the game was starting to get a little slow and uneventful to be honest.
But the biggest moment of excitement was yet to come. In the second frame of the eighth innings, the Mets batter hit a short ball which was overthrown by the Brewers catcher to first – the Mets guy who was on first at the time made it all the way to home, hurrah!
That was followed straight afterwards by another perfectly angled shot, resulting in yet another Mets run.
At 3-2 to the Mets, the Brewers were unsuccessful batters in the ninth innings and the game was called.
The Mets won and we all went home happy!
What sport should I see next?
The baseball was (surprisingly) a heap of fun. While I’ll never be a sports aficionado, I am pretty keen on at least seeing one match of every major sport while I’m based in North America. In my last few months in Sydney I managed to see a live match of AFL, NRL and Association Football, so I’ll try my best to continue the trend while I’m running hot.
So what should I see next?
Or something else entirely?
Feel freeI to leave a comment below – I await your suggestions 🙂
And better luck in the playoffs next year, Mets!