Monday, April 03, 2006

Shea It Ain't So

It was an April afternoon if there ever was one. Fans streamed by the hundreds off the beleaguered No. 7 train toward the turnstiles, all proud Queens residents on this day. They came from Flatbush, the Tilden Projects and beyond the Hudson, all to celebrate spring's annual rite of passage. ...

Hampton pitched. Piazza hit one out. New York awakened for another season. And for one day, everything seemed possible at Shea Stadium.

(Quiz time: Are the above paragraphs actual Lupica hackery from Opening Day, 2000 or a knockoff penned by yours truly? The fact you must pause to think about it -- you're pondering it right now, no? -- shows how predictable his stuff has become. No googling allowed).

Onto today's real blog:

The last time I was at Shea Stadium was indeed for Opening Day of the 2000 season. It was a horrific venture into the filthy city.

I filled a styrofoam cooler with ice and arranged a 12-pack of Heineken in its depths with surgical precision. They would be a fine complement to the tailgating planned at Shea, the main portions of which were generously provided by Joe Pendleton and Company.

From Grantham Drive, the cooler and I made our way to Metro Park. At this point, I should have realized the folly of this plan. On this April morning, NJTransit was packed to the gills, making it very difficult to cart the ice-cold Greenies. No doubt, this bulky package annoyed several of my fellow riders.

It got so crowded that I spent the bulk of the ride, including a 30-minute delay outside Newark, with the cooler mashed into my face. At least I had a seat.

Now, if you know anything about styrofoam coolers, you know they are fragile pieces of shit not appropriate for the rigors of heavy-duty transport.

By the time I reached Port Authority, it had cracked down one side. Water leaked from another. We were in sorry shape. Undeterred, I lugged this package through the building down to the No. 7 train platform.

As you can imagine on Opening Day, the No. 7 was even more crowded than the NJTransit. I had a better chance of curing cancer than I did finding a seat. There was nowhere to rest the cooler, which now resembled the decrepit ruins of Rome, so I carried it the entire ride. With every herky-jerky stutter of the subway, the cooler groaned and cracked some more. There were several times I nearly toppled myself.

Finally. Shea Stadium. More than two hours after this trip began, this fine concrete Mecca was in sight. The ordeal was over. And I definitely needed a cold taste.

That's when John Law placed an immediate end to those dreams.

With one foot off the subway, I was a sitting duck for three officers who rushed over to commandeer my precious cargo. "Sorry," John said. "There's no alcohol allowed at tailgates this season. New policy."

"Dude," I protested. "You've got to be fucking kidding me. I just spent two hours with these on my lap on the train from Jersey."

"Sorry," he said again. "I have to confiscate them. You can pick them up tomorrow at 10 a.m. from a police warehouse in the Bronx if you want."

There was paperwork to complete. He added my name and driver's license number to a list now in the hundreds, and the tastes were led away into the back of a semi trailer.

"I'm not going to risk life and limb in the Bronx to go pick up 12 beers, much less drive from Jersey and pay the $7.50 toll for the George Washington," I said, throwing up my hands in defeat.

This cat seemed sympathetic and Irish, and obviously did not enjoy parting people from their tastes. "Why don't you just take them and enjoy the game tonight," I said, referring to that night's NCAA championship game.

"I'm not allowed to do that, but thanks," he said.

Raped and pillaged, I set about finding Joe Pendleton in some far-flung quadrant of the parking lot. This was in an era before cell phones, so it took a while. I felt like Clark Griswold, desperately wandering the Arizona desert.

Thankfully John Law had not yet assaulted Joe Pendleton when I arrived. His contraband was still intact, so I could spill my tale of woe into a cold beverage.

I don't remember anything about the game that day. Did the Mets win or lose? I have no idea. I think it might have rained for a little while. I think I got a good buzz going after a while. But I sure remember getting bent over by Shea Stadium goons enforcing a bullshit rule.

That was the last time I set foot at Shea. I would like go back this summer when I return to Jersey, so if anyone is interested in taking in a tilt, let me know.

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At 12:13 PM, Blogger Dan said...

I don't think you'd be capable of penning such dreck even if you wanted to. So I say it's Lupica, whose twerpy ass I should have kicked at the Final Four in 1996.

At 11:22 PM, Blogger Local Shill said...

I wonder if a certain former Franklin (Somerset) resident has stumbled onto this blog yet. Your relationship with him could become "frosty" as a result of a couple on-the-money remarks.

When is "Squaking VFR" slated to return to the Garden State this summer?

At 6:16 AM, Blogger Dan said...

Perhaps I should sit in on this class at Boston College:

“From Sports Writing to Fiction Writing”
Wednesday, April 19, Gasson 100, 7:30 p.m.

Mike Lupica ’74, began his sports writing career at the independent student newspaper at Boston College, The Heights. In 1977, he became the youngest columnist ever at a New York paper when he joined the Daily News. Lupica has written or cowritten seven nonfiction books on sports and is the author of a series of sports mysteries involving a fictional New York City television reporter. His most recent novels, including Travel Team (2004), are works of young adult fiction about adolescents involved in competitive sports.

At 3:40 AM, Blogger The Girl Who said...

Dude.. A fellow skier and Marah lover? Seems too good to be true..

At 1:03 PM, Blogger Joependleton said...

Cat, for the record, Derek Bell went yard off Donne Wall in the 8th to lift the Mets on a rainy/cold day in Queens.

The key to tailgating at Shea is brining Solo cups and a minivan. Just keep the tastes in the cups, the cups (when not being consumed) in the van and keep a sharp lookout for the man.

If you keep it under wraps, they generally leave you alone.

The worst thing you can do at Shea is to expect to get away with the nonsense that goes on at Giants Stadium.

Let me know when you are coming to home, I'd love to hit a Met tilt with you, especially with Stadium now being planned.


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