Living the Mets Dream, for a Weekend
I’m standing in my kitchen the other evening pouring myself a bowl of Corn Pops (my favorite) and prattling excitedly to my wife, “So when I was talking to Sandy Alderson earlier …” and I stop mid-sentence staring at the cereal box. She looked at me reading my mind. “You realize what you just said?” She asked. “I know,” I replied. “I should pinch myself.” Earlier in the day I wanted to do a lot worse than pinch myself.
The day started off on a sour note. I had my weekend MMO press credential clipped to my tie as I walked up to Target Field to see the Mets take on the Twins. I arrived on time for the pregame press conference only to be confronted by a big no-nonsense Security Guard at the entrance to the Met clubhouse. I explained to him that I was with Metsmerized Online, that I had a press credential. Didn’t matter. My credential included a field pass and access to the press box but not the clubhouse. “See, right there,” he said pointing to my card. “But I got in last night,” I said. “Terry Collins said we should be back at 11:45.” He just shrugged his shoulders. I felt like I did in the third grade when I couldn’t go on the field trip to the zoo because I forgot to get my permission slip.
I decided to walk out onto the field and calm down. Watching the groundskeepers on this frosty April morning prepare the field was about as soothing an image as I could ask for under the circumstances. I’d take it in stride and do what I could outside of attending the press briefing I thought. I went back up to the press box and started sorting through some pictures and chatting with some of the Minnesota press corps. They were about as nice a group of guys as you could assemble. Maybe they knew I’d been left out and were trying to cheer me up, or, maybe it was a Minnesota thing. People in Minnesota sure can be nice. I saw that the Mets had gone back out to the field and figured I’d head out and take some photos.
I went down the elevator into the bowels of Target Field (sub level -2!) with food prep people and racks and racks of cotton candy lining the long circular corridor … I turned down a door marked “Field Access” and walked up beside the Met dugout.
I could see David Wright signing some autographs, Justin Turner clowning around with his bright red beard, different groups of players stretching. Eventually one of the conditioning coaches came out and guided the majority of the team in what looked like some sort of abbreviated stretching routine. It reminded me of boot camp only the salary here was probably a little better.
At that point I notice Sandy Alderson walk up from the dugout. He looked around and started up a conversation with Jay Horwitz. I thought here’s my chance, go up and ask for an interview. I paced around awkwardly and finally just walked over and introduced myself and my affiliation with MMO, and asked Sandy if he could answer some questions.
Amazingly, he agreed, which took me completely off guard – I was expecting him to say “Sorry, no time.” I’d gone into this way too quickly. My mind went blank. He looked at me, waiting. “Hmm lets see,” I said, trying to stall. C’mon brain, DO something, THINK … a question, ANY question. I was about to blurt out “So how about this weather?” when all of my many Mets related questions came flooding back. It’s a good thing too because I think Sandy was about to walk away, most likely thinking they’re missing one at the funny farm.
I held up my handy iTouch video recorder and began. My first question was about the Stanton rumors which he responded to by cutting me off with a simple emphatic, “No.” No? I thought? That’s it? No to what, the question, or did he reconsider granting the interview? Another awkward pause. Fortunately I gathered my senses and asked for clarification. When it was all said and done he’d graciously answered every question. What a great guy I thought as I walked away. I couldn’t wait to watch the replay when I looked down at my recording device and noticed … I hadn’t pressed the record button.
I felt dizzy, the stadium was spinning around me as the blood rose to my head and I started to sweat. I went up and down the steps searching for the video in vain but it was not there, it would never be there. I wanted to punch myself in the face 26 times and then I wanted to bang my head against the concrete wall another 17 times or so until I’d pass out, but I didn’t because the security guards were eying me suspiciously by then. Maybe I could find an out of the way empty room where I could scream for about 10 minutes. I couldn’t believe it. My one chance and I’d blown it spectacularly.
I dragged my sorry self back up to the press box running the interview over in my head. Maybe I could go back and ask him for another interview? HA! He’d really think I was crazy. “Excuse me sir, but I forgot to press this big red button the first time, could we do the whole thing over again?” Yeah, not happening. The day was turning into a nightmare, with my luck Harvey would get shelled and blow his elbow out.
I went back up with the same dejected look on my face that I had after I’d missed the press briefing.They must have thought jeez why are these Mets people so sad? I told a couple of the guys about the video and, surprisingly, they said “yeah, it happens.” Which made me feel quite a bit better. “Get it down on paper.” They said. So I did.
By the time I was done the game was about to start and I thought the written interview and commentary afterwards wasn’t half bad. There were a lot more people around by then and there was a buzz in the air. I got up to use the rest room and turned a corner too quick nearly running into Keith Hernandez. I looked up and thought, wow, it’s Keith Hernandez … look like you belong Matt look like you belong … I nodded my head in greeting and he looked at me suspiciously, like he knew what I was up to or something (I swear I’m not making that up) … I think maybe he was messing with me. Keith is an interesting guy … he should run for Mayor.
The day turned out to be a pretty good day after all. Harvey was again unbelievable, pitching a no-hitter through six and two-thirds innings. The Mets won 4 – 2. Jay Horwitz talked to the uptight security guard and got me into the post game briefing, and the Mets had saved me yet again from my own foolishness.
About the Author: Matthew Balasis
I’ve been a Met fan since August 1969 when a fire resulted in the Red Cross placing my family on the 6th floor of a building in Willets Point. I could see Shea from our balcony and I knew something big was going on. I followed them through the dark years and the resurgence of the 80’s only (sadly) to miss the fall of 86 because I was in Boot Camp. I've been serving penance ever since in Minnesota where I'm an SLP. I've written a lot about the Mets in an effort to share with my kids (and anyone else who might listen), a sporting tradition that made much of my childhood worthwhile. Follow me on twitter: https://twitter.com/MatthewBalasis
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