Two months ago I was at Shea Stadium watching the Mets play the Marlins. We got there in time to watch the pre -game ceremonies honoring Tom Glavine for becoming the latest 300 game winner. Tom Seaver, looking amazingly youthful , was there as was Rod Gilbert, the N.Y Ranger great. The speeches were short and sweet , the mood was up-beat and the spectators were happy as the Mets went on to beat the Marlins and increase their division lead to three games. At that time the Yankees were 6 or 7 games out of first. Yesterday, the Mets lost 8-1, as Glavine gave up seven runs in the first inning, and were bumped out of the playoffs; meanwhile, the Yankees were resting their regulars having already qualified as the wild card for the post season. Who wuudda thunk ?
But this post is not about the Mets or the Yankees . It’s about what I felt that day at Shea. As I sat there I understood once again why America is about baseball , not football or basketball. Sitting there in the golden sunlight, watching the players running down flyballs, pirouetting to make a double play , uncoiling from their stance to send the ball rocketing into the stands, I found myself completely in the moment. I watched them go through their paces on the green, green grass and the dirt of the infield as, overhead, the jets from nearby Laguardia Airport,streaked off to far destinations their vapor trails slicing the cloudless blue sky. In the stands, fathers watched kids excitedly waving their cherished baseball gloves hoping against hope that a ball would be hit their way and that they would catch it. I took this all in and forgot about the sweat trickling down my neck, the salty overpriced hotdogs, the beer in the plastic bottles. I forgot about the economy, Iraq, George Bush, the traffic and everything else. For a few hours, it was only the sun, the grass, the outdoors and families having a good time.
Football and basketball have their own adherents and , yes, I’ll admit they can be more exciting. However, baseball is played by people closer to average size, the game has a rhthym of it’s own and it’s outdoorsy setting and the wholesome family audience are unbeatable. That’s why it is , and will always remain, America’s game.
I feel for my nephew, the Mets fan. I’m happy the Yankees are still in it. Their pitching is still shaky and they are facing a rejuvenated Cleveland Indians Team come Wednesday. It’s going to be tough, but one can always hope. Go Yankees !