Tuesday, May 1, 2012

NYC Citi Field

Coming from DC I was relieved to be in NYC traffic.  Crazy isn’t it?  I think the traffic in DC is so much more unbearable, on highways, than NYC.  I hate all the looping highways of Washington DC.  I was on my way to pick up my friend Melissa from La Guardia airport.  I made it there just as she made her way to the curb.  Me and Melissa have known each other forever.  She will even try to claim that I body slammed her as a little kid.  This did not happen.  We became really good friends when I was deployed to Iraq.  In my downtime I was always online talking to people at home and Melissa was always in an airport or hanging out in a hotel when she worked for Circuit City.  She is the one who gave me the idea for this blog so I was pretty excited that she was coming to experience the Mets game with me. 

We made our way to the hotel which was right next to the airport and tried to figure out what we were going to do next.  We were both down for just about anything but I really wanted to go see the 9-11 memorial.  I had been to the World Trade Center once before.  I visited just before I left for Afghanistan.  When I was there before they were building the memorial so I visited St. Paul’s Chapel.  I was so overwhelmed when I looked around.  I’m not the type of person who likes to show too much emotion but my eyes were filled with tears on that day.  Melissa got tickets to see the memorial on-line and we picked them up a few blocks away from the site.  Being at the site of the World Trade Center is emotional for any American.  I kept saying to Melissa that what happened here is the moment my life changed and I didn’t even know it on that day.  If it wasn’t for the events that say I never would of joined the military and I wouldn’t be writing this blog right now.  Me and Melissa talked about how it has impacted our lives and where we were when it happened.  We didn’t realize it until then but we were in the same class when we got the news.  We were in Mr. Kerry’s American Government class.  We were in a new wing of our high school when the principal came over the PA system and told us what was going on.  Somebody wheeled in a tv and we watched the events of that day unfold. 

After we left the 9-11 Memorial we went to time square and tried to get tickets for The Lion King on Broadway.  The tickets were $200 a piece and we both decided that that was too much money too spend.  I wish I had that extra capitol because I’ve always wanted to see that.  The Lion King was one of my favorite movies as a little kid.  After we left time square we went over to Central Park and walked around for a little bit.  We had both been in NYC several times before but never been into Central Park.  We didn’t venture too far in but we did take the opportunity to take some pictures on the giant boulders where you can see some of the skyscrapers.  We walked a few blocks from Central Park and found McGee’s pub.  McGee’s pub is the bar McLaren’s in the TV show How I Met Your Mother is based off of.  Me and Melissa are huge fans of the show and were excited to go.  Unlike McLaren’s, McGee’s Pub is two stories.  McGee’s isn’t too much like McLaren’s but you can see resemblances.  The bar on the 2nd floor is EXACTLY like the one in the show.  There are also pictures of the HIMYM crew all over.  We had a beer at McGee’s and decided to head back to the hotel to get some rest for the next day.  We made our way back to the subway station near Central Park when we saw a group of street performers dancing.  We watched the show for about 20 minutes.  When they started asking the crowd for money everybody started to leave and we followed suit.  We decided to walk a few blocks back to Times Square and we sat in the bleachers and people watched for a little bit. 

The next day we decided to grab a taxi and head into Manhattan.  We went up to the Empire State Building.  I had been there once before but Melissa hadn’t.  Last time I was up there it was night and limited visibility so I didn’t get to see much.  NYC just seems to go forever and ever.  We spent a long time looking at NYC from all sides of the Empire State building.  After that we decided to head back to the hotel and get ready for the game.  The Mets requested that I wear a button down shirt and some dress pants so I needed that stuff ironed.  I’m really bad at ironing so I had Melissa do it for me.  Seriously!  For the readers that know me and Melissa I got her to iron my clothes.  I think that’s the highlight of our friendship. 

The New York Mets gave me four tickets to the game.  I had invited a couple people but most couldn’t make it out to New York.  I decided to invite Tom Grazisoe who I had met through www.baseball-fever.com.  I told him that I had two tickets for him and he could bring an extra person.  I got down to Citi Field and met up with Jared George.  He gave me my tickets and left two for Tom and his daughter Tina.  He brought us into the Delta Sky Club where we would be able to eat as much as we wanted and drink all the pop we could handle.  We still had to pay for alcohol which I didn’t mind a bit.  After showing us the Delta Sky Club he took us to our seats.  I can’t even begin to describe to you how amazing our seats were.  On the 3rd base side I was literally feet from the batters circle.  I felt like I could reach out and touch every single one of the players.  We were also granted access to the field while Batting Practice was going on.  While I was standing there I look over and I see Tommy Lasorda.  Tommy friggin Lasorda, people!!!  He did a few interviews and went over to talk to some people he knew while everybody tried to get a picture with him.  I stood out on the field for a little bit and went back to where my seat was.  The usher who stands there and opens the entrance to the field asked me if I got a picture with Mr. Lasorda and I told him I didn’t want to bother him.  He told me that he had to walk back out that way and I had to get a picture with him.  As Mr. Lasorda made his way off the field I jumped up and asked him if I could get a picture.  He kindly obliged but seemed to have some negative words about people who expected it.  I believe his words were “Of course, see this nice young man knows how to ask.”  Unbelievable. 

I decided to attempt to walk around the park and check it out before it got too busy.  There was a fellow ballpark chaser there by the name of Paul Sanders so I went and chatted with him.  We did the usual talking about my trip and discussing what we thought of other ballparks.  Paul’s family had been season ticket holders forever but when they moved over to Citi Field his family didn’t like the price and the view so they got out.  Paul still attends tons of Mets games a year.  I talked to him for a little while longer but had to get going so I could meet up with Tom and Tina.

Me and Melissa went down and had some food in the Delta Sky Lounge.  We came out and there were two people in our seats.  I didn’t recognize them and the usher asked if I knew them.  I said I did not and he was ready to toss them.  That’s when it occurred to me that it must be Tom and Tina.  It was.  I went over and introduced myself and they were so happy to be in the seats that we had.  They were both Yankees fans but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to watch a game from such amazing seats.  What was awesome about Tom and Tina is they’re not just Yankees fans, they’re baseball fans. 

I was taking park of the Mets “Welcome Home Veteran’s” program.  That meant they gave me these wicked awesome seats and at the end of the third inning I was going to be featured on the jumbo tron.  I was a tad bit nervous.  With two outs left my leg started shaking and I had a huge knot in the pit of my stomach.  After the third out of the inning a camera crew was right on me.  They featured a little video with pictures that I had submitted when requesting to be part of the “Welcome Home Veterans” program.  At the end of the video I stood up and waved at the camera and the crowd went wild.  In my head I was just trying not to look like a fool in front of thousands of people.  They instructed me to turn around and wave to the crowd and they got even louder.  It was such an amazing surreal moment and I was terrified.  I was less scared when my chopper landed in Iraq for the first time.  I turned and waved at the camera for a few more seconds and they turned it off.  Whew the hard part was over.  I had Melissa take a video of it on my phone but I was too nervous to watch it.  Later when I watched it I felt so awkward.  It’s unreal seeing yourself on the jumbo tron.  You know that feeling when you see yourself in a picture and you think you look weird.  Imagine seeing that on a giant TV in front of thousands of people. 

We watched the rest of the game with Tina and Tom talking about anything and everything.  Towards the later innings I kept thinking I did not want this experience to end.  Luckily for me the game went into extra innings.  Unfortunately it didn’t last long as the Mets lost a heartbreaker in the 10th inning.  Jared came back over and we talked for a bit.  He walked us out to the corridor where I met up with Paul Sanders again.  We went in and checked out the museum and called it a night. 

One regret I have about my experience in Citi Field is that I didn’t walk around more and get a real feel for the park.  I was too caught up in my amazing seats to go explore anyplace else.  I have to make it back someday so I can give a true review of the park.  I would like to thank Jared George and the rest of the Mets organization for making such a truly special experience for me. 

I left NYC the following day and headed down to North Carolina to visit some family.  I needed to catch up on some writing and I was excited to see my Aunt, Uncle, and cousin. 

Keep On Smilin- It’s Baseball Season!!

1 comment:

  1. Good stuff as usual RJ! I love that you are clearly savoring each moment of this trip and making the time to interact with people at every opportunity. You are creating memories that will supply you for years to come, and I almost certain this will be the trip of your lifetime when you tell it to your grandchildren. I hope you'll stop by Stadium Journey and rate some of the ballparks you've visited, I'd love to get your perspective...Happy Journeys!