NEW YORK -- No, not this guy.
Tonight at Shea Stadium, on a night that had me thinking I was back at Wrigley Field on Wednesday (had my jacket collar zipped up over my neck in the 55-degree temperatures, with a biting 14 MPH wind that just happened to be blowing right at my back from the 'best available' seat I'd bought), the Mets and Cardinals played crisp baseball at a crisp pace (two hours and ten minutes, thankyouverymuch!), and the Mets beat the Cardinals 2-0 behind the crisp pitching of Tom Glavine (looking like the Glavine of ten years ago), and two solo homers by Cliff Floyd.
You're welcome -- as I told Jeff and Mark (giving me phone updates from RFK Stadium), I did my part.
I rode John Rocker's favorite train, the #7, from midtown; luckily, getting the rush hour express and arriving about an hour to game time.
Shea Stadium is more than forty years old, and frankly, it's a dump. Although, as my SportsBLOGS colleague Eric Simon from the Mets blog Amazin' Avenue said lovingly, "it's our dump."
They've gussied it up a bit, put some new coats of paint on it, added a few video and other new scoreboards, but you know what? If you put flashy green neon paint on a '64 Chevy, it's still a '64 Chevy.
So I buy this ticket that says "152C, seat 1" on it. The ticket seller told me that it was down the LF line, just off the field. You'd see "C" and think that's the third row, right?
Not by the arcane Shea Stadium seating chart, which had to be designed by someone who was sitting there listening to the planes fly over loudly while he was doing it. See, "C" isn't a row, it's a "box", with four seats in it, and it's surrounded by metal railings -- the sort of railings that were removed from Wrigley Field in 1968. They make you feel uncomfortably closed in, and the system is so confusing I wound up sitting in the wrong seat for three innings, until the correct seat holders showed up, which forced about eight people to move.
This was all done good-naturedly, as if it's something the locals deal with all the time. Frankly, if they took the railings out they could put more seats in, cutting out half the really narrow aisles, plus they could angle the seats actually toward the infield; my seat faced the scoreboard in RF, so I had to sit on an angle the entire game, and half the time my view was blocked by people who... well, I suppose people who were confused about where they were supposed to sit.
Anyway, the bottom line is that "C" is... well, it's about seven rows from the field because the Mets added two "premium" rows in front of the original first row. Add to this the fact that they now have FIVE different priced games (Platinum, Gold, Silver, Regular and Value -- tonight was "Silver"), and you could get a migraine before you even get to your seat.
I was, however, pleasantly surprised at the quality of the food. Since the last time I was at Shea in 2001, they've added some local favorites, in addition to national chains in a food court -- I had a sandwich from Subway, and then, still hungry, I found a cart selling very tasty Italian sausage sandwiches with lots of onions and peppers. All of this was actually fairly reasonably priced, even more so when you consider it's New York, where everything seems higher priced.
Oddly, they will sell you a plastic bottle of pop or beer -- but you cannot keep the cap. Why? I asked. "Because someone might throw the cap at someone else," came the response.
So they'll trust you to not throw a plastic bottle, but not a plastic cap. Weird.
To give you an idea of how programmed we are these days to accept certain norms in baseball, the video board in RF apparently refuses to believe that a pitcher can throw more than 99 pitches in a game. When Glavine threw his 100th pitch in the 8th inning, the pitch count reset to "0".
Glavine threw a great game -- early on, I thought he had no-hitter stuff, and he allowed only two harmless singles until the 7th, when Albert Pujols had the first of his two harmless singles. The game started to fly by when Glavine retired 13 in a row and Jason Marquis retired sixteen Mets in a row.
Glavine might have had a chance to finish if Kaz Matsui hadn't booted an easy double-play ball after a leadoff single. Mets fans really detest their high-priced Japanese 2B bust -- he was booed when introduced, booed louder when he threw a ball into the dugout after Pujols' hit in the 7th, and again when he botched the DP ball.
And then, instead of the blown saves that I've been watching all year, I saw something refreshing. Glavine was taken out, but 40-year-old Roberto Hernandez came in and set the Cardinals down 1-2-3 after that, doing his setup man job (and he was available in the offseason), and then closer Braden Looper shut it down in the 9th, although Pujols had a single. That's how bullpens are supposed to work. You listening, Dusty?
About Cliff Floyd -- the Mets' only runs scored on two monstrous solo HR he hit, one of which hit the scoreboard, the other hitting a Pepsi ad right next to the board.
This performance got Mets fans chanting "MVP", which is a little premature. But I remember when Floyd drew comparisons to Frank Thomas on first coming up to the big leagues, and the only reason he hasn't been able to do this is because he hasn't stayed healthy. This might be the one year he puts up MVP-type numbers.
Meanwhile, Jeff and Mark were calling with updates on the Cubs' 6-3 win over the Nationals, giving them their first three-game winning streak of the season. I received the last update while on the #7 train back to Manhattan, and since many of you saw this game while I only followed it on the Shea scoreboard, I have these brief comments:
- Jason Dubois. Good choice, Dusty. Why'd it take you so long?
- LaTroy Hawkins should be traded for his own good.
- At last, the 12th pitcher is no more -- Sergio Mitre was sent to Iowa (without making an appearance since his recall on Tuesday), and Mike Fontenot was recalled.
Things are good.