Never, ever, under any circumstances, take a free ticket to a baseball game unless you're absolutely sure you can handle the weirdness that will occur. Not that I can't, mind you, but it was a maxim I had put completely out of my mind until it came roaring at me with the force of a point blank shotgun blast.
It started innocently enough outside while I waited outside Gate C, stoned on resin and the good weather. Staring into nowhere, I heard, "Hey, nice shirt," and found the man complimenting me was some Wall Street type, button-up shirt, slicked back hair and sunglasses. A real important type. It's all very normal until you realize this is what was on my shirt:
Not five minutes after that, I saw a child walk past me wearing a knee-length Shaun Taylor jersey and a faux-hawk mullet. This was no accidental fashion accident, this was a premeditated statement, I could tell by the lovingly combed down back of the mullet. The question of how what appeared to be a seven-year-old was wandering alone wasn't necessary, because the hairstyle alone indicated a great level of neglect from the child's parents.
X finally showed up and we walked in to Shea. Going up the ramp to the mezzanine, we came across a mass meeting of vendors getting their assigned sections. The last vendor was given his assignment, and just as we passed, they put their hands together in the middle of a circle. "Let's go out there and sell tonight!" one of them yelled. "GOOOOOO VENDORS!" they replied in unison and threw their hands up. Just ignore it, I thought, it isn't real.
Things got more normal when we got to our seats, if normal means an Oliver Perez start that frequently involves putting your head in your hands. Ollie escaped the first inning by giving up just one run, but the mood of the crowd was already turning ugly. It only got worse in the top of the second, though the JumboTron informed us that international disappointment Kenji Johjima stole home earlier this year. "Ah, yet another way Johjima is like Jackie Robinson," I said.
X was incredulous. "Name one other way Johjima is like Jackie Robinson."
"Never mind that, there's a game going on," I muttered. "Pay attention." This was terrible advice, because the second inning was even worse than the first, and the third inning even worse than the second. Booing had become the norm and the ugly vibes of the crowd had increased to the point where they were almost physically visible. Perez was booed coming off the mound, he was booed when he couldn't get a sac bunt down and then booed when he did get it down.
In what became an absolutely toxic mixture, the crowd began turning stupid too. The KissCam featured an equal number of kissing/no-kissing and the "Dancing With the Fans" promotion produced a participant who couldn't dance. The mass stupidity crested with a Springer-esque "Jerry, Jerry!" chant after Jerry Manuel let the home plate ump know he wouldn't be invited to dinner at the Manuel house anytime soon. "Ah, what great fans we are," X observed. "We don't want a manager with baseball smarts, we just want a guy who's gonna yell every now and then." I couldn't argue with him, I was too busy screaming that Manuel should have ripped that fascist ump's head off with his bare hands.
Then there were the people who didn't realize standing in the aisle deprived other fans of their view of the massacre on the field. Having the seats right next to the tunnel allowed me to see just what kind of people did this, and in the midst of translating the crowd's catcalls, one woman turned to me with eyes full of fear, but I was past the point of sympathy. Right before we left, some dead-eyed hick stood directly in front of us for a picture of him standing in front of the field at his big city baseball adventure. "Hey man, you gonna move?" I asked. No reply.
"Hey, guy," X tried.
"Come on buddy, hurry it up," I said, hoping desperately he would just burst into flames right there. The hick just smiled broadly and either didn't hear or just ignored us, until he had his picture, then ambled away back to the farm. We decided to get out while we could, since there was no guarantee there wouldn't be a riot following a 10-0 defeat at the hands of the worst team in baseball.