Raising a Mets Fan
One surprising thing popped up on my son’s school calendar. It was to wear red, white, and blue for what is being referred to there as Freedom Day. Having lived through the events of 9/11 and dealing with my own fears and loss due to the terrorist attacks, it just struck me as odd that 18 years later, children would wear red, white, and blue to celebrate America. Odd, but good.
What also strikes me as odd is how Major League Baseball continues to not permit the New York Mets to wear the First Responders caps during the games played on 9/11. Ultimately, when we talk about how we get from devastating terrorists attacks to children honoring America, the First Responders caps were an important part of the story.
It meant a lot to New Yorkers to see the New York Mets wear those caps. We all shed a tear as John Franco wore an FDNY cap in honor of his fallen friend as he earned the win in the first game back after the attacks. There was not a dry eye anywhere when Mike Piazza hit that home run off Steve Karsay to win the first game played in New York after 9/11.
Wearing the caps was the brainchild of Todd Zeile. He defied Major League Baseball and encouraged his team to do the same. They all did it playing at Shea Stadium, a place that was a staging ground for the recovery and relief efforts. He had the full support of his manager Bobby Valentine, and yes, his ownership, who have unsuccessfully petitioned Major League Baseball to wear the caps during a game.
What remains odd is how fearful Major League Baseball is that another Mets player will defy them like Zeile once did. In fact, as R.A. Dickey once pointed out, Major League Baseball has threatened severe fines against players who choose to defy them, and they have taken the steps to collect the caps from the dugout and clubhouse after batting practice. This isn’t normal behavior.
In that sense, it’s odd. Across the country, schools are honoring America. Adults are taking time to remember, and some of us still mourn. Meanwhile, Major League Baseball is making sure teams don’t infringe on a licensing deal because somehow allowing the Mets to wear First Responder caps is a bad thing for Major League Baseball and New Era.
Really, in 18 years, it’s just plain shocking no one sat across the table and figured this out. There could have been some sort of happy medium wherein either New Era makes the caps, or that they create a new cap to both honor the fallen while keeping in the spirit of the licensing agreement.
Instead, Major League Baseball will go out of their way to announce the Mets will wear the caps during batting practice, which as we have learned, you are not required to wear officially licensed gear. In their minds, they probably think they are offering a best of both worlds solution. They’re wrong.
The shame of it is as we become further removed from 9/11, the more we move about our everyday lives. In the 18 years since, we have graduated from school, gotten married, and started families. For those of us who remember, we also have to remember work and running a household. Moreover, we have to get our children ready for days like “Freedom Day.”
So in different places in America, we’re mourning and honoring while Major League Baseball is forgetting and enforcing.
Yesterday, I had the joy of bringing my youngest to his first ever Mets game. With this being the second time for me and my family, there are some suggestions I can make to get the most out of the experience:
1. Bring Everything
At Citi Field, you are allowed to bring food and drinks to the game. The caveat with the drinks is they can only be boxed drinks or plastic bottles, no cans. They will say you can only have one bottle per person, but I’ve yet to see them enforce it. In the event they do, it is all the more reason to park close to the ballpark.
Bringing food will limit the chances your child is asking for a hot dog or french fries or ice cream or popcorn . . . . If you don’t have your child asking for these things, you don’t have to deal with saying no to everything. At a minimum, it will limit the chances.
More important than the food is the extra clothes. Make sure you have a change for everything. The weather changes. Things get spilled. Accidents happen. Instead of having a child too hot or too cold, you can switch to pants and you can throw on a sweatshirt. This will also limit the need to go to a souvenir stand, overpay for a sweatshirt, and deal with a child wanting everything in the store.
An important note is the Promenade and the back rows of any level have the wind whipping through making it all the chillier than you’d expect. It’s not quite AT&T Park chilly, but it should give you an idea as to how to prepare.
One other note, get stuff ahead of time. You can get the Oyo figures ahead of time for cheaper. You can get the shirseys cheaper before the game. You can get a whole slew of other stuff as well. Pack it, and just give it to your child at the game instead of dealing with them running around a team store looking for things to buy.
2. Avoid the Big Giveaways
When you have a bobblehead day or gnome day, the crowds and lines outside the ballpark are going to be ridiculous. You’re going to get bumped into, and you’re going to deal with a lot of angry people who are anxious they are not going to get their freebie despite getting to the ballpark hours before the game. Moreover, you don’t want to create excitement for your child over a big giveaway only to not get it.
3. Go On A Sunday
When it is not raining, Family Sundays at Citi Field are great. There is always a giveaway. There are events outside the stadium. There is the Mr. Met’s Kids Club in the center field area with fun things like face painting. While he’s always present before the game at at the second inning, Mr. Met is also a little more prominent in the stands on a Sunday as is Mrs. Met. You can go get your picture with Mr. and Mrs. Met in this area.
You can also do the dunk tank, hit in the batting cages, play video games, and do the tee ball home run derby in this area. Of course, this is all dependent upon the weather. All of these things will be shut down if it is raining. Although, they will let you run around for a bit:
If your child can make it to the end, they also have the opportunity to run the bases after the game. If aren’t a part of the Kid’s Club, you will want to get out there by around the seventh inning as that line gets real long real quick.
4. Buy Tickets Last Minute
While it may take some planning to get your whole family together for the event, if at all possible, you should look to do a game like this at the last minute. Weather is fickle, and kids are all the more so. In the blink of an eye, the weather or a child getting sick can wipe away days, weeks, or even months of planning. On another note, if you wait to the last minute, you increase you chances of getting discounted tickets on Stub Hub, especially in a down season like this one. If at all possible, get your tickets near the bathrooms as this will make the trips to the bathroom for potty or diaper changes less of a walk.
5. Bring Help
It always helps to have grandparents or an aunt and uncle at the game with you, especially if you have more than one child. Instead of having two kids in tow everywhere you go, you can divide and conquer. You can also accomplish this by bringing your spouse as well, but both parents will constantly be running around all game. It’s nice to have a buffer and a break.
Another possible benefit is they will want to spoil them. That could be a souvenir or something like ice cream or cotton candy. Really, any burden you can take off yourself is always good. Also, aunts, uncles, and grandparents are always looking for these opportunities, and this is a good setting for it.
As an aside, don’t bother with the Family Bathrooms. I’ve been doing to games with my oldest for four years now, and I’ve yet to see one of those be accessible.
6. Get There Early
For some children, the biggest issue for baseball games may be the crowds. Getting there early allows you get there and get acclimated before there are too many people at the ballpark. As an aside, it also allows you to get a great parking spot near the ballpark to minimize the walking you have to do with the little ones.
7. Stop at Fan Assistance Immediately
Enter through the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. If you enter through the Rotunda, there are areas for family photos like by the giant 42. Entering through there also makes it easier to stop by Fan Assistance as they are just left of the escalators. At Fan Assistance, you can get passes to the Mamava pods, if you are breastfeeding your child.
At Fan Assistance, you can also sign up for a certificate to commemorate your child’s first game at Citi Field. You can pick them up at the seventh inning, or you can have them mailed home. It will be easier to get them mailed home as it is one less thing to have to worry about on your way out of the ballpark. It’s also one less thing you need to carry.
Fan Assistance also has bags you can get to help you carry things like the giveaways. Really, if you need any help, they can help you.
8. Good Family Photo Spots
As noted earlier, you can stop behind center field to get a family photo with Mr. Met. Admittedly, this can be dicey for a few reasons. First, Mr. Met may not be there if there is rain. You also may have to wait in line, and you may have to deal with your child being afraid of a giant baseball head. With that, you may want to look for other key spots.
Now, many people like to stop at the Shea Bridge. Don’t. There’s far too much traffic, and you run the risk of getting bumped into or getting your photos photo bombed.
Instead, just off to the side is the M&M seats. There you have the red and yellow M&Ms holding up Lets Go Mets signs and wearing “foam” fingers. It’s cute and fun, and it is never crowded allowing you to get that great and easy family photo you wanted.
Another spot worth your time is the Nikon photo booth. There they have a giant glove for you to sit in with props like bats and foam fingers. The bonus with the spot is they will email you the photos. Double and triple check they have the correct email address, otherwise, you will be like me without that great photo you wanted so much.
Also, the Home Run Apple outside the stadium is a good spot, but you’re going to have to deal with some form of a line and with people just blatantly ignoring your taking a picture.
9. Know Where To Get Your Free Stuff
To do this, it is easiest to head through the Rotunda, go up the escalator, and proceed left to hit all of the spots. As already mentioned, there is the Fan Assistance area with the certificate, and the Nikon photos are atop the escalator. After those spots, hit up the Designated Drive booth.
When you sign up, they give you a voucher for a free drink, which may come in handy on a hot day. Now, they put a bracelet on your wrist to indicate you are not drinking. Of course, you can get around that if you really want a drink by taking it off.
As you proceed further down, around Section 121 by the ramps leading out of the ballpark, there is usually a wheel. You and your child can spin the wheel for past promotion items like t-shirts and caps. They will also have Mets baseball cards and signs. Usually in the walk up and just past this, you have those booths where you get free stuff just for signing up for some dumb mailing list or contest. (They’re supposed to check your license to ensure it’s you, but really when you have a couple of kids and a bag on your shoulder, they usually let you go unchecked).
Also as noted prior, you can get face painting and the like in the center field area. One other note is if you take the elevators, the attendant always has Mr. Met stickers on them.
Overall, if you work your way around the ballpark, you will have some free stuff and souvenirs ensuring your child has something to take home with them without you so much as having to reach into your pocket.
10. Just Have Fun
Ultimately, you are there because you are a Mets fan, and you want your children to be one as well. If they need to leave early, leave early. If they want to walk around, walk around. If they need you to plop them on your lap and explain everything to them, do it. Honestly, this is part of the memories and how your child becomes a Mets fan just like you (which may not be a good thing).
Really, there will come a time where you child wants to stay the whole game and they don’t want to do anything but watch the game – just like you. I’m sure when that happens, you will miss the times watching them try to launch homers at the tee-ball field or their wanting to make sure they don’t miss Mr. Met.
For my part, I can tell you when I came home from the game last night, my oldest was all excited to tell all of his friends he got to go to the game, see his favorite player Todd Frazier, and he saw Michael Conforto jump into the stands and hit a homer. We even had to do wash late last night so he could wear his shirt to school.
One of the best ideas Major League Baseball has had in quite a while is Player’s Weekend. It’s a fun way to let fans see a bit of each player’s personality, which is just great marketing.
Really, in the end, baseball does stuff like this to market the game to young fans.
To a certain extent, it does work as I know my son wanted a Noah Syndergaard “Thor” shirsey. As a parent, whenever my son shows the slightest interest in both baseball and the Mets, I try to cultivate it (within reason).
The best I could do is $21.99 plus shipping for a Player’s Weekend hat, which is an absurd price to pay for a specialty hat for a kid.
And no, the off logo shirsey does not really count. If you can recreate the shirsey for the other teams, you could’ve for the Mets.
What makes it all the more absurd is the Mets are wearing the Player’s Weekend uniforms in the Little League Classic.
Basically, they want kids to go see these players, but under no circumstances do they want them to be able to get their favorite player’s shirsey.
There’s not even a personalization option.
This is just bad business, and it’s an unforced error. Ultimately, if you’re going to do promotions like this to partially generate interest from younger fans, allow them to get the shirsey.
Thomas Jefferson survives.
The 2018 Mets season didn’t.
Happy Fourth of July
Yesterday, equipped with his Spider-Man hat and Todd Frazier shirsey, my son played in his first ever t-ball game.
I guess technically it was “scrimmage” at the end of his t-ball camp, but to me, it was his first game, especially when the camp was split into two teams.
Well, top of the first, my speedy lead-off hitter began his baseball career hitting a leadoff homer:
Like many who was born in the 80s, I had a fanny pack. For seasons unbeknownst to us all, it became a thing, and when it soon became a feature of grannies wearing it around their waist to handle their medications or to keep their coins as they pumped money into slot machines, we all realized the horrible mistake we made.
It was at that point, we knew the fanny, soon to be dubbed granny pack, was not cool. It never was.
Fortunately, for nearly two decades, we have all hidden the embarrassing photos, and we have all agreed the fanny pack and the Zubaz or parachute pants which were under them, never happened.
Well, leave it to a Mets team that consistently tries to find new lows to bring them back and inflict the fanny pack on a group of unsuspecting children on a Family Sunday.
I guess, in a larger world view, it should be a teaching point for all of us parents. By having our children become Mets fans, we are really only exposing them to further humiliation, and just when you think things can’t get any worse, they do.
Alright, you screwed up. Despite having 364 days of the year to go out there and get your wife something special to show her just how much you and your children appreciate her, you failed to get that one special thing.
That’s fine. You’re a man, and you have experience rushing for these last minute gifts. You know where to get flowers. You can make a reservation at your wife’s favorite restaurant. You know how to handle this. What you may not know to do is some type of craft or something with the kids to make it look you had this all planned and not just you scrambling.
For starters, don’t do breakfast in bed. Just don’t. This is going to create a mess in the kitchen, and it is going to make a mess of the bedroom. The last thing you want to do is spend the rest of Mother’s Day cleaning a kitchen and washing sheets.
Instead, get the kids together and do an easy craft. Really, all you need is a piece of paper, pencil, and a marker.
What you want to do is put your kid’s hands on the piece of paper, and get them to use their pointer fingers, middle fingers, and thumbs to create a heart shape.
You then trace it in pencil, and you go back over it in marker. If your kids can write them names on it, all the better (except if they are too old that this is no longer cute).
If you want bonus points, scan the piece of paper to your computer, save it to Shutterfly/Snapfish, get hit printed out at your local Walgreens or Walmart, and grab a frame from Michaels. At a minimum, this will look like you spent the time and effort to do something special.
More than that, you know you want to do something special for your wife on Mother’s Day. She is great and deserves it. Give her something special to cherish the moment, and then go out and get the flowers, make the reservations, and get that small gift you know she has had her eye on for a while.
There are many spots people congregate to take pictures of either themselves or the group: the Shea Bridge, down by the railing of their section using the field as a backdrop, or behind center field with Mr. Met.
Each of these spots has an issue. You wait in line for Mr. Met. There’s a ton of traffic on the Shea Bridge. You have to fight other people and the ushers to get a picture towards the railing of the section.
This pretty much means if you want to take a picture inside Citi Field, you’re dealing with a hassle. That is unless you are taking your picture with the M&Ms:
As you may be able to tell, this is right before the Shea Bridge, and even with the amount of foot traffic in the area, this side section is largely undisturbed.
This allows you to set up a fun picture without waiting or much of a hassle. That is unless this now catches on . . . .
The other night, my infant son woke up early while I was doing work on the computer. Since I couldn’t put him back down, I offered to let him share his thoughts on the Mets. This is what he had to say about the team:
\’=== NM HHGBV V C VC f b ZZZZZNJASsssssssssssssf8gti8888888888888888888888888888888r77AWEDXTX7777777777777777777776CCC7UXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXCU677UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUHJJUUUU821777777777777777B111212NMND sdddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddx;lerdtloKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKM ZZN
I’m sure many of you will hilariously say this is nothing different than what I already write or that it’s even better than my Mets analysis.
Last night was one of those nights. You were forever going to tell people where you were. For me, I was sitting on my couch with a cranky baby and four year old. Why were they so cranky?
Well, because I’m me, an avid sports fan and idiot, I woke them up to watch the final few minutes of the Virginia-UMBC game. History was being made, and I wanted them to see something that never happened before – a 16 beating a 1. The final score was as startling as the upset itself with UMBC winning 74-54.
As an aside, Ralph Sampson and his UVA teammates can rest assured they are no longer the Cavalier team who is mentioned as the biggest upset of all time in college basketball. No, that 1982 loss by number one ranked Viriginia to Division III Chaminade will fall by the wayside – even if that was the much bigger upset.
But I digress.
Last night was one of those great moments in sports history, and you didn’t want to miss it. I know I didn’t want my boys to miss it.
It’s not too dissimilar when I woke up my oldest to watch the end of Game 7 of the 2016 World Series. What’s funny about that game was instead of tuning in for the ninth, he was tuned into all the hysteria which included a miracle game tying three run homer by Rajai Davis off Aroldis Chapman, a rain delay, and Ben Zobrist‘s game and World Series RBI double.
For the first time in 108 years, the Cubs won the World Series. My son was watching it much like he was last night when a 16 seed beat a 1 seed for the first time in 136 tries (34 years).
It once again shows that the impossible can happen in sports. As a proud parent, it’s just proof positive that everything has been amazing since my son was born.
Speaking of amazing, the one thing he hasn’t seen is the Mets win the World Series.
Who knows? With Mickey Callaway at the helm, maybe things will be different. Maybe Michael Conforto being ahead of schedule is a good thing instead of the typical Mets unnecessarily pushing an injured player to play (see Beltran, Carlos).
Maybe, just maybe that’ll be the case instead of this being the typical Mets. After all, the Cubs have won the World Series and a 16 has beat a 1.
This could be the Mets years. Probably not.