Random Thoughts From an Afternoon at Citi Field

As a baseball writer who went to a baseball game, I should probably write about actual baseball events.

I could talk about the Mets gaining a modicum of revenge against the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday afternoon, winning a World Series rematch by a final score of 4-3. I could write about Matt Reynolds—whose name elicited a sigh when I saw the starting lineup—hitting his first career home run to break the tie. Or I could discuss the terror of seeing Alejandro De Aza warm up in center field before the inning and frantically searching my phone for news on Yoenis Cespedes.

Nah, I do enough of that. Instead, I’ll reflect on my first Citi Field experience of the year through the stadium rituals and happenings that don’t translate to TV. I’m sick of writing introductions by now, so let’s just get into these unnecessary words.

 

The Kiss Cam is Still a Thing?

After the Kiss Cam controversy that unfolded last year, I was surprised when it reared its useless head. I feel like this is such a pointless thing that one person complaining would be enough for them to realize it’s not worth the hassle.

Nope, they’re still pressuring people to engage in an intimate, personal moment on a giant screen in front of 35,000 people. Other than maybe a creepily close brother and sister who are getting bad ideas from the Lannister twins and realizing everyone would just assume they’re a couple so no harm no foul, who does this serve?

The weirdest part: There’s such an easy solution to all of the Kiss Cam’s problems. Make it a Hug Cam.

The camera crew no longer has to find a man and a woman—same-sex partners are only featured for the overplayed “Look at those two guys on the other team. We put them on the Kiss Cam, so that means they’re gay!” gag that caused trouble in the first place—and hope they’re not related.

We’ll never have to watch a woman burst out laughing in a way that makes you want to jump in front of the 7 train in embarrassment on the poor dude’s behalf. Instead of recoiling over the transfer of cooties, children can participate. And that’s the whole point of pretty much every other between-innings diversion.

There you go, every ballpark in America. I somehow just became the least likely hug endorser ever. (Don’t mistake this as an invitation to hug me.)

 

No Way, Jose

On the morning drive to the train station, I listened to Loudmouth Sports Radio Pundits 1 and 2 discuss the previous night’s game. Addressing rumors of a possible reunion, Mets fans showed their support for Jose Reyes by nostalgically chanting “Jose, Jose Jose Jose.” I dreaded the same happening this game.

Jose Reyes was probably the most exciting Met of my lifetime. He’s the best shortstop in franchise history. I don’t want him back.

Last October, he was arrested in Hawaii for allegedly assaulting his wife in a hotel room and shoving her into a glass balcony door. Although he was charged with domestic violence and scheduled for a trial around the start of the season, the case was dropped when his wife refused to cooperate.

Those “Jose” chants I feared never came, but I saw something which shook me far more. A boy, who seemed around 10-12 years old, sported a Reyes shirt.

I wondered if he knew of Reyes’ domestic-violence charges, or if he’d even know what that means. Were his parents scared of shattering his naiveté, or did they not care?

It was annoying enough when a 20-something bro proudly pointed to his Reyes jersey on the Titan Tron. This kid, however, didn’t buy the Reyes shirt. He didn’t dig it out of his closet. He didn’t weigh the pros and cons and knowingly decide that the shortstop served his 50-game suspension and everyone deserves a second chance.

He was a toddler back when others gushed over Reyes’ frenetic energy and passion on the baseball field. Hell, he might have just been wearing a hand-me-down of a player he doesn’t know. That kid probably had no idea that I looked at the name donning his back in disgust. Maybe he figured out when a protester pleaded with fans exiting Citi Field to sign his petition against signing Reyes.

It wasn’t a completely bad day for shirts; the “Big Sexy” Colon jersey and Bill Murray Tune Squad uniform helped save the day. But now more than anything, I wish the Mets passed on Reyes—reports on Saturday morning have a reunion looking like a done deal—so I would never see another young boy representing him with the same team logo I wear.

 

Play Us a Less Depressing Song, Piano Man

Did I leave Citi Field liking Danza Kuduro more than Piano Man?

Let’s back up. I have nothing against Billy Joel. Piano Man is a fine song, but did whoever chose it actually know the lyrics? Do this sound tonally appropriate for a summer afternoon of watching grown men play with balls and sticks?

And the waitress is practicing politics
As the businessmen slowly get stoned
Yes, they’re sharing a drink they call loneliness
But it’s better than drinkin’ alone

Play ball!

Citi Field had made Piano Man its eighth-inning routine, but the final frame features a more cheerful tradition. When Danza Kuduro blasted from the loudspeakers and Jeurys Familia bolted from the bullpen, the crowd collectively went bonkers.

I looked up the lyrics translated to English, and yeah, a 12-year-old could have wrote it. Who cares? The Mets are winning, and they’re now calling upon their best reliever to cement their victory, which he did.

Just as importantly, the upbeat tempo fits the fiery pitcher perfectly. Noah Syndergaard using it would be weird, and the Game of Thrones theme wouldn’t work as well for Familia. It’s not Mariano Rivera trotting out to Enter Sandman (neither the song nor closer holds up), but it incites an equally fuzzy feeling in the heart of Mets fans.

You know a theme song works when the person and music become forever intertwined. Google Jeurys Familia, and the first thing that pops up is “Jeurys Familia song.” If I ever hear that song in another setting, I’ll immediate turn to the nearest door and commend Terry Collins for finally removing me from the game.

If I’m driving alone playing with the radio, I’d probably rather come across Piano Man. While I’m at a baseball game trying to believe that the Mets will stop killing me—based on the Reyes news, I guess not—maybe play another song.

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