I don’t believe there will ever be another baseball setting that will ever conjure up the feelings and emotions that build up inside me whenever I walked through the turnstiles at Shea Stadium. For the longest time I used to save my half of the ticket stub that was returned to me by the ticket attendant. To me it was going to be a special day whether the Mets won or lost. I used to write the names of everyone who came with me to the game that day. Mostly it was my closest friends and of course my family. Unfortunately for me, I grew up and stopped saving all those ticket stubs and old memories. Now I wish I had them all back.
Before my very first baseball game at Shea, I knew nothing about the Mets or even about the game itself. When someone would ask me who my favorite ballplayer was I would say Pete Rose because I had an old uncle who loved the game and that’s who his favorite ballplayer was. I guessed that if he was good enough for my uncle, than he was good enough for me too.
It wasn’t long after that, that I absorbed myself with every piece of information I can find about the New York Mets. From now on I was a Mets fan, and I thought if I was going to be a true Mets fan, that I needed to learn everything I can about my new team. It was fun time for me, and the more I learned, the more hooked I became. I would buy books filled with Mets trivia questions, and I started to collect all of their yearbooks as far back as I could afford them. I read each one from cover to cover. I began collecting Mets team sets from Topps and would spend hours just memorizing each players stats and information. I memorized everyone’s uniform numbers and learned how to score a game with a scorecard. I was a complete Mets fanatic in every sense of the word.
It wasn’t long after the start of my Mets journey that the player I used to tell people that I loved as a kid, was now one of the players I liked the least. It may have been the video I saw of Pete Rose and Bud Harrelson going at it behind second base, or maybe seeing Pat Zachary breaking his foot after kicking the dugout steps when he allowed the record breaking hit to Pete Rose at Shea. Whatever it was I don’t know, but my apologies to Uncle Jerry.
When the wrecking ball begins to tear Shea Stadium down after the 2008 season, it will be tearing down a lot more than just concrete and steel. The countless memories and the millions of hopes and dreams that were attached to that magnificent stadium, will never be duplicated again except in our hearts and in the fondest recollections of our minds. Thank God for that.
I have witnessed so many wonderful Mets memories at Shea, and of course there were one or two things I never did see at Shea, that I still hope will happen in 2008. One such wish was to see a pitcher wearing a Mets uniform fire the first no-hitter in franchise history. Maybe one of either Pedro, Maine or Perez, will do us that honor this season.
The other wish, of course, is to see one last magical season in the "house of miracles" before she says goodbye. Just one last shot at baseball’s grandest game, played within the cavernous stadium that was the stage for two other Mets miracles in her illustrious history.
It is with these two hopes and wishes that I intently watch each and every move the Mets make this off season. The way I see it, a pitcher like Johan Santana or Erik Bedard would only increase the odds of making those two wishes come true.
Much has been made about Omar’s recent comments that he is confident in going into the new season with the team as it is currently configured. Forgive me for saying so, but I’m not as confident as Omar is right now. I would have hoped to see more talk from the Mets about Shea’s last hurrah, but there’s nothing doing about that these days.
Last season the team was so confident, that they shouted it from the rooftops for all the world to see and hear. "Our Season Had Come!"
I can hardly wait to hear this year’s slogan. Will it be as bold? Or will it be more subdued, and not oozing with as much confidence?
You see in my opinion, last year’s slogan should have been this year’s slogan. Of course the slogan is only words, but the words could have been backed up with actions. It could have been a rallying call like "Ya Gotta Believe" in 1973.
There’s still plenty of off-season left, well not plenty, but enough for Omar to still pull a rabbit out of his hat and give us some help in securing one last World Series title before Shea Stadium’s appointment with destiny. Now, that is not to much to ask… is it?