Archive for June, 2008

Traffic

Friday, June 27th, 2008

I went to the game on Wednesday night.  It was a wonderful game, right after a horrendous game.  At this point, it would be totally banal to try to compare this season, or the last two-thirds of last season, to anything characterized by rapid and random up and down movement,  Let’s just say that, whatever is happening this season, my emotions have leveled out.  I really do feel the way people feel in the middle of roller coaster rides.  I will take whatever they give me.  I accept that I have no power to influence anything.  All I want is not to get sick.

The evening was particularly pleasant because of the company.  And since there were a number of people there who monitor websites and blogs, we had a discussion at one point of the timing of weird spikes in web traffic and the peculiar reasons why some people visit our sites, and the strange ways that search engines bring them.

So I thought I would share some of the things I have learned by looking at my latest report from WebLog Expert Lite (free of course) which analyzes my weblogs from Yahoo Web Hosting. 

Now one thing that your weblog report would permit you to do is say a lot of bullshit things.  It is in fact true that my website (both the metsfanbook.com pages and the associated blog) receive an average of 12,000 hits per day, 10,000 page views a day. and 5000 visitors per day.  But that, as I said, is bullshit.  If you actually look at the report, you see that most of that traffic comes from spambots trying to get onto my comment pages or trying to figure out a way into the guestbook I had to close because of them. 

If you look carefully, honestly, and fairly at the numbers what you actually learn is that about 800 people a day visit my blog, about 70 people a day come to my book page, and about 15 people a day read each of the essays linked to the book page.  These numbers vary widely according to how much Mets news there is (the spambot numbers don’t vary as much because people in Siberia don’t know about Willie being fired).  The traffic after the Willie firing was way above average, as I would have expected from previous experience.  I also get a spike whenever I am mentioned by another blog or appear on a podcast.  I’d love to see what would happen if I ever got an on-air mention or if Mike and the Mad Dog ever decided to make fun of me for my way-too-generous dissing of them in my book.  A Metsblog mention gives me an enormous spike but I get good traffic from a lot of blogs on a regular basis.  I think a lot of people read blogs the way I do, going to a blog and then going to other blogs by clicking on the links on their pages.  It is clear from my WebLog stats that a lot of my readers come to me from Metsblog, FaithandFearinFlushing, Mikes Mets, Hotfoot, Metstradamus, Optimistic Mets Fan, and The Eddie Kranepool Society.  I also get a considerable amount of traffic from sites authored by highly literate women (Pick Me Up, The Good, Bad, and the Ugly, the Mets!, MetsGrrl, YouCan’tScriptBaseball, and MySummerFamily).  I think that the pattern here is that I’m getting the kind of English major contingent among Mets fans.  My audience consists of people who like to read something because of the way it’s written.   Good writing is what all of the above blogs have in common.  As a result, I think you get a really nice gender mix, and as you can see on the comment pages, a lot of people who really have something to say, and are not exclusively interested in the ultimately always inaccurate analysis of the Mets’ unknowable prospects that you can find here and on any other blog. 

The most amusing aspect of the Weblog report are the search terms that bring total strangers to these shores.   People come here looking for Kelly Ripa, kinnahurra, and Sasha Baron Cohen (no relation as far as I know to Gary or Lynn Cohen).  They’re also looking for the Home Run Apple and Cow Bell Man and I am happy to accommodate them.  They steal my images (fine with me, I believe in sharing images).  And sometimes a spambot does get through to a comment page and tells anyone who is still reading a 2006 blog piece on Steve Trachsel that hot xxx chicks who will do anything live right in their area.  Spambots selling drugs at a discount also seem to have found a piece I put up on the Mets of Japan.

What a strange thing this Internet is!  What have I become now that I am a feature of it?  What have the Mets become and what does it mean now to be a Mets fan reading the blogs, with all of these tendrils reaching out into space and touching other Mets fans with laptops in front of ballgames.  I’ll write about this more eventually.  Right now I am trying to sharpen my blogging brains for this (whatever) Subway Series.

As a matter of fact, I’m going to my first ever Mets-Yankee game on Saturday.  I just grabbed tickets for myself and my daughter on StubHub for only $48 each.  Not bad, I think.  So if anybody’s anywhere near Section 34, row C, in Upper Reserved, please feel free to come by and say hello.  
 

 

Fertilizer Factory

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

  

As I pointed out in my previous post, there are people in the New York media who, when they hear an intelligent person (like Rick Peterson or Jerry Manuel)  use what’s called a metaphor, feel that they have to get shovel and sticks and beat it to a pulp before it eats them. 

So Jerry Manuel, in response to a reporter’s question about how booing affects Aaron Heilman, says:  “It’s difficult. It’s painful. But it’s also growth. It’s growth for him. It’s very, very – I’m going to say this, and I hope y’all don’t take this wrong. I know you’re going to run out of here with something crazy on this. It’s very, very fertile ground for growth at Shea Stadium. It’s fertile ground for a team’s growth and development. Sometimes fertile ground has fertilizer. (Laughter in room.) Fertilizer is a good thing. It’s a good thing. You get the greatest results, you get the most beautiful plants, when you put it in that type of fertile soil. That’s what we have the opportunity to do. Don’t y’all take that wrong because I know what you’re going to do with it.”

I mean, how hard is it really for a person competent enough to pay bills and drive a car to figure out that Jerry Manuel, in his colorful and cogent comment about fertilizer at Shea, was not calling Mets fans pieces of shit?   I mean, do we really have to have a discussion about what he meant?  Why would Jerry call Mets fans pieces of shit in this context?  Will there really be calls for him to apologize or, who knows, resign, because he’s like, so outrageous?  Is there actually a newspaper in New York City with so little respect for its readership that it employs a sports columnist (Bart Hubbuch in the Post) who seriously believes that Manuel intended to insult the fans  with this fertilizer remark?  I’ve heard that Craig Carton jumped on this bandwagon too.  Please, someone, reassure me that no one is this dumb, but there are indeed people cynical enough to milk something like this for ratings and readership.

How much more tired can we get of the way in which a loud minority of sports journalists in New York distort reasonable discourse in order to make lucrative trouble?  Why isn’t baseball interesting enough for them?  Can you imagine what these jerks would have done with the kinds of things Casey Stengel used to say?

I tell you, I like the way in which Manuel is just eccentric enough to phrase things with originality and how he’s also canny enough to play around with the smarter reporters by joking about what they’ll make of what he says.  Manuel has already established himself as a more interesting interview subject than Willie.  He has, in less than a week, earned himself a place in the Mets pantheon of characters.  But I have a good feeling about this man.  I have a sense that he may be more like Bobby V than anyone else:  a piece of work, and not exactly careful, but smarter than anyone else in the room.  Let’s hope.
 

Gasping for Air

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

Have you ever had a friend who suffered from severe depression or had a substance abuse problem?  Most people have had this experience.

You know what it’s like.  You love them but you never entirely trust them.  You get giddy with happiness when they have a few good weeks in a row.  You can get so intoxicated with hope that you’ll even get giddy with happiness when they have a couple of good days in a row. 

But then they slide back.  And you feel like an asshole for expecting too much of them.  And you feel contempt for their inability to straighten themselves out, even though you know that it’s not entirely their fault that they can’t.  But part of you feels that it is too their fault that they can’t straighten themselves out.  How difficult can it be?  Don’t they want to get better?

And then you feel guilty for not being sympathetic enough, for not believing in them enough.  You try like hell to cheer them on, to motivate them, and you see time and time again that it really doesn’t make that much difference what you do.  And so you begin to resent them for taking up so much of your precious time.  You give them so much and they give you so little.

You become convinced that they’re basket cases.  But you still love them.  And you never lose hope that they’re going to be all right in the end.  You are entirely sick of them, but you never reach the point where you want them to go away.  You settle into an impossible situation.  You are helpless, unhappy, and hopeful. 

Deep Breath

Monday, June 9th, 2008

I suppose it would be possible to say that the San Diego series was as disheartening as a series can possibly be.  I think it would be more accurate to say that it was as disappointing as a series could be.  But it wasn’t disheartening. 

Look at it this way.  If someone were to tell you two weeks ago that on the West Coast road trip, Maine, Martinez, Pelfrey, Santana, and Perez would give the team 5 excellent starts in a row, and that Carlos Delgado’s batting average would be up to .245, you’d have been very happy, right?  So be happy.

Look, I know, I know.  I know all the counterarguments.  Our team this year can’t seem to do anything consistently.  It is still locked in the peculiar pattern it has been in since last June, in which everything that advances immediately retreats, everything that fires up suddenly calms down, everything that settles into a groove is soon enough on its back in a ditch.   

But listen.  As in the 2000 World Series, every game in San Diego could easily have gone in another direction.  Doesn’t that mean something, at least if there are a hundred games to go?  It’s hard to evaluate a team that loses games like the ones in San Diego.  What can you conclude?  That Wagner, Schoeneweis, and Feliciano aren’t any good?  That is not a legitimate conclusion.  What would a legitimate conclusion look like at this point?

Look, the plain blunt fact of  the matter is this, and yes this can be said after 62 games, yes I will finally say it and you can tell everyone you first heard it here.  Are you sitting down?  This is not a great team. 

But it is not a bad team either.  And if something were to click, something extraordinary could happen.  And I’m increasingly of the belief that clicking is just something that happens or doesn’t happen.  It is a metaphysical accident that happens when there is a break.  I think this team could have a good enough chemistry if a few things broke right.  There are no deep divisions or total assholes.  And I am suspicious of the theory that pre-existing chemistry or big intense meetings or bench-clearing brawls are what pull a team out of a rut. 

What I think is this.  The Mets pitching staff is actually quite good.  Philadelphia is hitting like something I don’t want to go near, but their pitching is still not good and I doubt that their hitting can stay at anything quite like this level.  Florida and Atlanta have, like the Mets and the Phillies, a lot of virtues and a lot of vices. 

No one is running away with this.  It will be close, it could be exciting, and I would be completely shocked if it is not decided on the last day or two of the season.

My money, soul money, is on the Mets because I do think, seriously, that their pitching is good enough to allow them to emerge from this sorry little pack of the barely above average.  Some may tell you that when two or more teams are competing for something, the one that wants it more will win.  I don’t believe that for a minute. 

I think it comes down to the pitching.  And as I take a very big breath and look at the last week, this is what I choose to see.  I see five good to very plausible starters and a bunch of relievers who’ve been having excellent seasons.  I also see a lineup that for all the injuries, puzzles, and inconsistencies should, under normal circumstances, provide enough runs.  I see the kind of material that could cohere with the right kinds of accidents.  There are a hundred games left.  Could this team win the sixty that will get them to the ninety they will probably need?  Maybe. 


 

The Proposal for the Hofstra Conference on the 50th Anniversary of the New York Mets

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

I’ve gotten a number of e-mails and a lot of attention from other blogs with respect to this idea of a conference about the Mets at Hofstra University.  I’m very hopeful that this can happen.  Hofstra has a long history of sponsoring significant conferences, often on topics that have not received as much attention as they deserve in the academic community (e.g. the Babe Ruth conference in 1995 and the Frank Sinatra conference in 1998).   Since there has been so much interest, I’m putting up a slightly condensed version of the proposal that Professor Richard Puerzer and I have submitted.   I will keep everyone posted as things develop.  If it happens, the conference is still a few years off, but as it approaches we will ask the Internet community for ideas about how to make it an enjoyable, interesting, and important experience for everyone.

To:  The Hofstra University Cultural Center

From:  Professors Dana Brand and Richard Puerzer

                  We are two Hofstra professors with scholarly and literary credentials in the study and appreciation of the sport of baseball.  Under the auspices of the Hofstra University Cultural Center, we would like to organize and direct a conference to mark the 50th anniversary of the New York Mets, New York’s National League baseball franchise.

                  Like any hugely popular cultural phenomenon, baseball can be considered from many different perspectives.  It is a sport with its own history, rules, requisite skills, economics, architecture, and legal parameters.  It is a social phenomenon, producing an extensive culture of fandom that reflects and often determines regional identity and personality.  It has had a significant impact at important moments in the history of the United States, and in the history of individual cities and regions.  More than any other sport, baseball has an influence on American artistic culture, as it has always attracted the attention of distinguished writers, artists, musicians, and philosophers. 

                At the Hofstra Conference on The New York Mets, we would like to represent all of the different possible perspectives on baseball and we would like to bring them together so that they can communicate with each other.  We would like to involve players, management, fans, journalists, broadcasters, analysts, bloggers, social historians, writers, baseball researchers, artists, and entertainers.  In 1995, the Hofstra Cultural Center hosted a conference that focused on a single baseball player, Babe Ruth.  This conference created a great deal of visibility for Hofstra and is still spoken of with admiration today in baseball scholarly circles.  Our idea is to have a similarly wide-ranging multi-disciplinary conference that would find its focus not in the career of a single colossal ballplayer, but in the fifty-year history of one of baseball’s most popular teams.  To the best of our knowledge there has never been a multi-disciplinary conference on a single baseball team.  We would be breaking new ground.  We would also be creating a great deal of visibility for Hofstra University and we would be contributing to the growth and the legitimacy of a rapidly developing field of study.

                The Mets are an appropriate focus for a Hofstra conference of this nature for several reasons.  The Mets are celebrating their 50th anniversary at some point between 2010 and 2012, depending on when you consider them to have come into existence.  …Hofstra is an appropriate location for a Mets conference because it is located in the Mets heartland.  All demographic studies indicate that Mets fans are in the majority in Nassau, Suffolk, and Queens counties and the team receives the allegiance of roughly half of Brooklyn’s baseball fans.  … Most people who are most actively interested in the Mets live within fifty miles of the Hofstra campus.  Because of the relatively short history of the Mets, most people who have been actively involved in the team are still alive.  The fiftieth anniversary of the franchise will offer an unusual opportunity to have a comprehensive conference on the entire history and culture of a baseball team, including a consideration of its roots in the history of the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants.  It would be impossible to have a similarly comprehensive conference on New York’s other, older franchise.

                Among the sessions we would expect to see at the conference are these:  The Origins of the Mets (how the team was created);  The Roots and Mythology of Mets Fandom (the way in which the fan cultures of the Dodgers and Giants merged in the early sixties, why didn’t these people become Yankees fans when the National League teams left? How has their image and personality changed or remained the same over the years?); The Creation of the Image of the underdog Amazin’ Mets in the Early 1960s; The 1969 Miracle Mets Season:  How it Happened, What it Meant to People, How It Survives as a Cultural Metaphor; The Mets in Subsequent Eras (sessions on the distinctive character, myths, and dynamics of such identifiable Mets eras as 1970-76, 1977-83, 1984-1990, 1991-1996, 1997-2001, 2002-2005, 2006-present); The Mets and Queens; The Mets and Long Island; The Mets and the Yankees; The Mets in Film; The Mets in Literature; The Mets on TV (“Seinfeld” and “Everybody Loves Raymond”); The Mets and the Culture and Politics of New York City; Mets Broadcasting; Mets Journalism; Famous Fans (obscure people who have become famous as Mets fans); Famous Fans (famous people who have made their Mets fandom into an important part of their persona); Integration, Cultural Diversity, and the Mets; The Mets and New York’s Latin Community;  The Defining Moments in the History of the Mets; Mets Controversies; Shea Stadium; Mets Internet Forums; The Mets Blogosphere, etc.  Anyone would be able to apply to make a presentation at the conference or to chair a session, but rigorous standards would be applied to make certain that all sessions were serious and intellectually substantial. 

The conference organizers are sufficiently well-connected in the area of baseball research and Mets culture that we are confident that we will be able to attract many of the most distinguished authors, scholars, bloggers, and filmmakers with an interest in this subject to the conference.  We are also confident of our ability to attract major Mets players of the past (this is actually not difficult to do, as we know from connections in Mets internet media) and we are hopeful that we will be able to involve players and individuals currently associated with the Mets (this is more difficult to do, but it may be possible, we will certainly make a serious effort).  We are also hopeful and reasonably confident that we will be able to attract highly visible and important Mets authors, bloggers, and significant celebrity fans. … 

                Parallel to the conference, the organizers also plan to make use of their contacts with the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown and with the Society for American Baseball Research to arrange exhibitions at Hofstra and in other venues.  We also plan to contact the Museum of the City of New York, which recently assembled an extremely successful exhibition regarding “The Glory Days of New York Baseball:  1947-57,” to see if they would be willing to have an exhibition that would run parallel to our conference.

The Hofstra Conference on the New York Mets would be a lot of fun.  It would attract media attention and it would earn the respect of scholars.  It could also become a groundbreaking example of the possibility of integrating diverse perspectives in the study of a significant popular cultural phenomenon.  We would be very grateful if you gave us the chance to get it all together.  Please let us know what you think.  Thank you.

Dana Brand, Professor of English             Richard Puerzer, Professor of Engineering

Dana Brand is the author of Mets Fan (McFarland, 2007), a popular and critically acclaimed collection of literary essays about the many different aspects of Brand’s involvement with the New York Mets as a fan from 1962 to 2007.  He is one of the most prominent Mets bloggers (metsfanbook.com/blog) and is currently completing a forthcoming sequel to Mets Fan entitled The Last Days of Shea.  Brand is a Professor of English and American Literature at Hofstra, where he has taught since 1989.  From 1993-2001, he was the Chair of the English Department.  He has also published a book and numerous articles on topics related to nineteenth and twentieth-century American, English, and French literature, philosophy, and film.  He is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research.
 

Richard Puerzer is an Associate Professor of Engineering and the Chairperson of the Engineering Department at Hofstra University, where he has taught since 1996.  He has researched, presented, and written on a broad array of baseball topics and his work has been published in the journals: Nine, The National Pastime, The Proceedings of the Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture, Spitball, and Fan.  He presented the Spring 2003 Hofstra University Distinguished Faculty Lecture on Engineering and Baseball.  He has also published work in the fields of engineering education and radio frequency identification technology applications.  He is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research.

 

Honoring and Studying the History and Culture of the Mets

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

Readers of this blog might enjoy this interview I did yesterday with Mike Silva at New York Baseball Digest.  It was the lead-in to an interview with Jacob Kanarek, who is publishing a book called “From First to Worst” about the Mets in the Seventies.  Mike and I talked about the Mets in the Seventies, a depressing but interesting topic, and then we talked about the need for the Mets to pay more attention to their own history and fan culture, a topic which, I notice, is getting more and more attention on Mets blogs and forums. 

In my interview with Mike, I mention that I am, along with another Hofstra professor, submitting a proposal for a conference that will commemorate the Fiftieth Anniversary of the New York Mets.  At this conference which will be hosted by Hofstra (pending approval, but the odds are good), we hope to bring together as many current and former Mets, executives, management, journalists, bloggers, fans, and students of the game as possible.  So, even if the Mets don’t start doing more to honor and study the history of the team, some of us can start doing our part.  I certainly hope that the promised museum of the Mets in Citifield will be worthy of the team and will be accessible to the fans. 

This Was the Moment

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

When the rise of the oceans began to slow,

And the planet began to heal.

In the Booth

Sunday, June 1st, 2008

 

There’s the Shea we all know as ordinary fans.  I’ve written about this place many times and I will keep writing about it even when it is only a memory haunting a parking lot.  

There’s also a hidden Shea.  It’s part of the same building and it exists in a tantalizing proximity to the one we know.  We see that it exists but we don’t go there.  We can’t go there.  The players can go there, and the announcers and the reporters.  But the ability to go to these places is what makes them them and us us.  We have the grills in the parking lot.  We have the vistas from the Upper Deck.   We have the long escalators and the echoing exit ramps.  But there’s a hidden world in our midst, a magical place we can’t enter.  This is a part of Shea we can only imagine.  It is also being torn down, and we have never been there.    

On Thursday, I went to the game as a guest of Lynn Cohen, Gary’s wife.  Lynn is a reader of my book and my blog and she contacted me to ask for help assembling a list of reputable bloggers (no jokes, please) to whom she could send a press release about the Gary, Keith, and Ron charitable t-shirt project she’s organized.  To thank me for my help, she invited me to have dinner in the Diamond Club and to watch a game with her and some other people.  Okay, so there I am, on my way to the Diamond Club to meet Lynn at 5.  I am excited.  The Diamond Club, for me, has always been an important part of the hidden Shea.  When I was a kid, I thought that the Diamond Club was probably the most glamorous place on earth.  I was really taken by the idea that there was this exclusive club-like restaurant in the hidden recesses of the stadium where celebrities and reporters and announcers rubbed elbows and ate prime rib and drank martinis.  I imagined it as a swanky nightclub, glittering with lights like a diamond.  I thought it might be like Toots Shor’s, a once-famous restaurant in Manhattan where ballplayers used to hang out together, after they put on their suits for their night on the town.  

Let’s just say that the Diamond Club is not really like this.  It’s a very nice place and the food is genuinely good.  There is a preponderance of casually but decently dressed older men and some very pampered grandchildren.  There’s a great view of the big green field.   But, you know what?  The Diamond Club I imagined when I was a kid still exists in my head.  And it is part of the eternal glamour and mystery of that thin level of Shea that separates the Mezzanine from the Loge.  Ever since I saw my first game at Shea in 1964, I have dreamed of the lives that are lived in that level.  I have imagined great things:  the Mets executive offices, sky boxes like executive suites in Manhattan skyscrapers, the long curved continuous desk where reporters sat jowl to jowl, chomping on their cigars.  In my mind, though, the most glamorous places of all in that horseshoe of wonder would always be the booths:  the little spaces right behind home plate from which the game was broadcast.  I remember how I focused my binoculars in the 1960s and enjoyed the thrill of seeing Lindsey Nelson, Ralph Kiner, and Bob Murphy, in shirtsleeves with ties.  I saw that they were real people.  I saw them talking to each other, suspended above home plate at the exact center of the stadium, like the Emperor Flavian in the Coliseum in Rome.  How many times have I looked at that space, in the navel of Shea.  It may not be quite as sacred as the dugout or the clubhouse, but those are mouseholes, low places from which the players emerge and into which they disappear.  The booths are elevated, they connect the field to the immense world beyond the stadium, where millions watch the Mets in living rooms and listen to them in cars.  The booths are not where it happens, but they are where we all see it from, where we watch and process.  The booths and the men in them are the eyes and mind of this whole thing.  They are awesome, magnificent places, even if they just appear to be tiny little booths.  

I met Lynn, and her son Zach, and Zoe Rice, one of the bloggers I recommended, whom I had met before at my book launch party , in a seat by the window of the real Diamond Club, not the imaginary one.  I had a terrific dinner and a fine time.  Lynn is really something else.  I’d never met her except in e-mails and yet I felt immediately as if I’d known her for a long time.  We have similar backgrounds and many of the ideas and perspectives associated with those backgrounds.  We live somewhat similar lives in the same area of Connecticut, with adolescent children going through a lot of the same bullshit (Zach reminded me a lot of my daughter’s nicer male friends).  We have the same favorite movie theatre and fifties-style diner.  The biggest difference seemed to be that her husband has this incredibly demanding job which required him to be away from home a lot, leaving her with the bulk of the work of the Connecticut parent (driving, being in specific places at specific times to watch specific things).  My wife has a less demanding schedule and we get to go places and do stuff.  Lynn and Gary have to squeeze their vacation into the All-Star break.  

One thing that really struck me was how curious Lynn was about the world that fans like me and Zoe know and take for granted.  For all that her life is like mine, Lynn lives, on a daily basis, in the world of the ring between the Mezannine and the Loge.  She has said to me that she’d love to just walk around the parking lot and get a sense of the flavor of the tailgate parties.  She likes to read the blogs and used to read the mets.com board until it started to upset her and Gary asked her why she was doing that to herself.  So I told her about such kinder, gentler, more reliably smarter forums as thehappyrecap.com and grandslamsingle.com.  She has this great curiosity about the world of the fan.  In a way, it’s as glamorous to her as her world is to me.  And this Gary, Keith, and Ron charitable t-shirt project that she’s gotten together seems to be, in part, an effort to connect the worlds.  It makes her part of what we have.  It gives us a chance to be part of Gary, Keith, and Ron’s humanity.  At the core of this whole Mets thing are people, real people you’d actually want to know.  At the center of all of this is a noble, festive human enterprise that is not ruined by the whiny anger or crassness or greed that sometimes seems to have taken over everything.  

After dinner, we went to our seats in the Loge behind home plate, where we were joined by Gary and Lynn’s neighbor Steve, a diehard Mets fan and weary veteran of the same Connecticut highways.  The game, as you already know, was inspiring and so was the positive and hopeful crowd.  Cow Bell Man came by wearing one of the Gary, Keith, and Ron t-shirts and he stopped to tell Lynn about how much he admired and respected Gary.  After seventh-inning stretch, Lynn flashed her pass and took us up through the Diamond Club bar into a narrow hallway leading to the SNY suite, which was like a hotel room with a lot of free food lying around.  We watched the rest of the game from seats suspended from this hotel room with a couple of guys whom Lynn explained were sponsors or prospective sponsors.   There were TVs up in this hotel room and when Post Game Live was over, we walked down the narrow hallway back to the Diamond Club bar where Zoe and I and Zack sat down at a table right by the entrance to the hallway.  Lynn disappeared for a minute or two and then waved to us to follow her.  We went back into the hallway and turned right into an even smaller hallway.  We then stepped down into a little place with a view out to the field where there was a desk and some guys with headphones picking stuff up.  There too were Lynn’s husband, and two big men around my age who were unmistakeably Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez.  

I was in the booth.  

As those who know my book, and particularly my chapter on meeting Tom Seaver know, my instinct in a situation like this is to retreat into respectful silence.  My existence was briefly, but pleasantly and politely acknowledged.  More outgoing and better prepared Zoe had a camera and got pictures.  We were introduced as bloggers who had helped with the t-shirt project.  I stood without a camera and just felt the incandescence of a reality that was really just down a hallway from the one in which I lived.  My brain received impressions that will never get less distinct than they are right now.  How small and ordinary the booth was.  It was a workplace, and here were the guys who worked in it, with their eternally familiar voices.  But they were not voices or projections.  The men I met in that booth were real.  They were human beings.  That is obvious, but you know it is not.  The booth was not a shrine with infinite depths.  The only depths it had were in time, not in space.  I thought of Murph.  I thought of all the years this tiny space has played a role in my life.  How much has happened here.  How much has been viewed and seen and felt by so many.  How soon this will be just airspace above a parking space.   

Zoe and I went down the elevator with the Cohen family, Gary wheeling his stuff like airplane luggage.  We stepped out of the stadium and Gary was greeted by fans, including Cow-Bell Man, who obviously knew that this is where he always came out.  I said goodbye to Gary, Lynn, and Zach and walked with Zoe to the subway and then to my car, with which I would, like the Cohens, drive over the Whitestone Bridge and home to Connecticut.