Monday, September 13, 2004

SHOW UP AT SHEA. Went this evening to a Met twi-night double against the Braves, arriving in the seventh inning of game one. Attendance seemed much lower than the reported 21,476 (Shea can hold 55,601); the patrons were gathered in clusters all around the ballpark, responding only weakly to all but the most spectacular events (e.g., the firing of Pepsi T-shirts into the stands). The couple behind me did their own feeble "Let's Go Mets" hand-clap at odd intervals, as if by force of habit; in front of me a couple encouraged their three young children in coordinated cheers, which they delivered with shrill glee, unmindful of the lack of spirit amongst the grown-ups in their section. Some drunk young men were occasionally inspired to bellow ("YUH DON'T BELONG IN THE BIG LEAGUES!"); many serenaded Chipper Jones with his less all-American Christian name; all booed Jae Seo lustily in game two. He seo sucked. He let in five runs and walked the Braves' pitcher. He intentionally walked "Lar-ry" Jones and then gave up a two-run double. All this despite the frenzied thunderstick encouragement of a bunch of Koreans gathered behind a "KING OF THE MOUND" banner in the right field mezzanine.

They've lost 11 of their last 13 games. You live with the Mets long enough and you get used to it. You may complain; the ticket buys you the privilege. (In the Post, a lovely photo recently appeared of two upper deck fans, one with a bag over his head, the other holding triumphantly aloft a sign that read, YA GOTTA BELIEVE -- WE STINK!) In the last days of such seasons, Shea is a desolate and miserable place. We still show up at Shea, though, because this is our team. There are worse qualities than loyalty, and ineptitude isn't one of them. Yankee fans flash their rings; Mets fans regard the fabled '69, '73, and '86 seasons almost as defeated races regard sacred myths, as bulwarks against despair, something to keep our souls alive from September swoon to glorious April, when again anything will be possible. We're kind of Irish. We gather in this grim council flat of a ballpark, with its hideous neon ornaments and aluminum siding and concrete ramps bounded by piano wire, and despite the bloodshed unfolding before us dream that Cuchulain and Michael Collins may someday hoof the mound.

Can't anyone here play this game? Wait'll next year! Ya gotta believe.

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