Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Take me out to the ballgame

The Little League baseball season has begun, and my son has moved up to the 9-10 division. Among the challenges he'll face (not including the fact that he is a just-turned-nine-year-old third-grader in a division where the best players are fifth-graders almost two years older): faster and better pitching, stealing (only after the ball crosses the plate and isn't dropped by the catcher) and signs (when I heard the coach describe what an 'indicator' was, I could almost hear my son's brain switching channels to think about something more interesting, like his new Tony Hawk Shred game for the Wii).

Another challenge will be dealing with the reality that his teammates are mostly, if not all, Yankees fans. "Am I the only Mets fan on this team?" I heard Michael exclaim. "I think so, dude," replied one player, resplendent in his Jeter jersey.

It may be tough on him, but I have little sympathy considering I grew up a Mets fan in the seventies, when Lee Mazzilli was our Mickey Mantle and our favorite players were Craig Swan, Doug Flynn and Bruce Boisclair (yes, Bruce Boisclair).

This year's model isn't anywhere close to being that bad, but after another loss Monday night in which a man named Wandy one-hit the Mets for almost seven innings and our setup-man-in-waiting-who-once-threw-a-pitch-100-miles-an-hour balked in a run before allowing a two-run single to quash any chance of a late comeback (and then informed us all that he has a numb middle finger and has had it for a week or so, which certainly hasn't helped), the call has already gone out to start the fire sale.

Seriously. In April. A month that has the Royals and Indians battling for first place, and the Red Sox in last.

But look, the Mets have the worst record in the National League! All hope is lost! Nothing has changed!

I'll tell you one thing that has changed. Ticket prices. They are lowwwwwww.

Which means I will be attending my second game of the season at Citi Field tomorrow (two games in April is a personal record), and I'm bringing my son along. We'll both be wearing Wright jerseys (snow white for me, pinstripes for him) and sitting behind first base in seats that cost me less than half the face value.

There is literally no better time to get tickets, whether you want great seats or not (Promenade tix can be had for $5). So if you want to see a ballgame in person and save some money while doing so, especially if you have a family, get on StubHub NOW.

Seriously, the more the merrier. Because if the Mets are going to snap out if this funk, they're going to have to start winning at home, and they're going to need fans' help.

There was a post on one of the Mets blogs recently slamming the fans at the Nationals series, the writer remarking that Mets fans were among the worst in baseball, or something to that effect. I was at game two of the Rockies series last week and I can tell you while the crowd was sparse, I did not come across any yahoos or recall a lot of home team booing. The fans who were there were mostly die-hards in blue and orange who were there to cheer the Mets on, and were doing so til the end. (Especially that one drunk guy in front of us -- he was having a great time).

So, no, Mets fans are not among the worst. If anything, they're among the best and most loyal, considering the entirety of their history.

True fans support their teams in good times and bad. So while these may be bad times for the Mets, what better time to get behind them? And it's cheaper, too.

For my son's sake, I hope the struggles are short-lived, or at least that the Mets bounce back and play competitive ball for the next two months, while the Little League season is on, so he'll have a team that he can be proud of while talking among the mini-Jeters and A-Rods.

And I hope we catch a foul ball tomorrow. That would be cool.

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