I went to the ballgame last night (8/17). My main purpose was to check out the new Mets stuff, which the Mets say they’ve put up because they’re listening to the fans and, according to David Howard, because they originally underestimated the fans’ attachment to the symbols and history of the Mets. I wonder what methods they used to arrive at their original estimate of how attached we were to this kind of stuff. Anyway, they put up a few things. They say that there is going to be more. There had better be.
I’m not very impressed by what they have put up. There is, first of all, the Hodges, Seaver, Koosman, Grote mural you see at the top of this post. It’s stuck on the side of the Ebbets Excelsior Suites of Excellence under the overhang. The mural even frames a view of a hallway with the doors of some of the suites of Excellence. The hallway kind of spoils the emotion. But at least the mural is something.
What it is is a Nikon ad. That’s what all the new pictures they’ve put up are. They’re Nikon ads. If you go up to the Promenade level, you’ll see little murals of Dykstra, Wilson, and Carter, then Beltran, Wright, Reyes, and Santana, then Staub, Agee, and McGraw, then the ’86 celebration with Lee Mazzilli at the center, then Alfonso, Franco, and Leiter. (Piazza is commemorated over the left field entrance in that smush of black and white sheets that keep the sun off the ramps). At the bottom right of each of these relatively small black-and-white collages is a prominent Nikon insignia, so that it really isn’t clear at all whether or not the Mets have put this up to honor our heritage or Nikon put this up to sell their cameras.
Why black and white, I wonder? Why no familar heart-warming Mets blue and orange anywhere? Why just heart-chilling commercial Citi Bank blue and orange? Why just pictures of a few prominent players? Why no words here or there to explain or identify something to people who may not be old enough to remember any of it? Why nothing interesting or funky to convey a sense of the uniqueness of the Mets’ heritage? Why, once again, so little imagination?
I went into the main gift store in the Robinson rotunda, hoping to check on the progress of the first little book section in a Mets stadium. A month ago, they had Ron Darling’s book, Keith Hernandez and Matt Silverman’s book, Rusty Staub and Phil Pepe’s book, and Alyssa Milano’s book. The little book section was gone, replaced by even more souvenirs. They still had the Alyssa Milano book. I thought of getting a new one because I’ve read my old copy so many times it’s falling apart. But the other books, the supervisor told me, had been sent back to the publisher. I said that was a shame and I hoped they had books in the future. He thanked me for the suggestion with that new eerie Citi Field politeness.
You know, “souvenir” means to remember. People are buying souvenirs at that store by the armload. They are still showing up at the stadium. I saw all these family groups and on people’s backs there were many signs that people had memories (I saw jerseys saying Seaver, Hernandez, Piazza, and Shea) and hopes (there was a couple near me, both wearing Perez shirts, Oliver or Timo?). Isn’t there room in this enormous place with many remaining empty walls and spaces, for a few words? Words in the form of captions and identifications. Words in the form of books? Words for the sake of preserving memories, and for the young, turning other people’s memories into heritage? Or is it the case that people don’t want to read books, or even captions? They just want to look at pictures, but they want the pictures small and to the side and in black-and-white so that it won’t intrude upon the vivid color of the present. Maybe people just want a winning team right now, and that’s all they care about, nothing else. Well they don’t have a winning team right now. Is it too much to ask for words and memories and heritage to take us through these dark moments when there is no winning team, to remind us why we might still want to be paying attention? What a nice time this would be to have a museum or pictures that weren’t ads, or decorations and icons with meaning. If anybody has any doubt about how important words and memories are to Mets fans, let them spend a few minutes watching people reading and finding the inscribed bricks at the entrance to the rotunda. People always care about words, memories, and memorials. Everybody knows that. There’s no excuse for underestimating how much they care.
I’ve said nothing about the game yet. I’ll write about the game tonight.
I’ll be reading at the MetStock event at Two Boots Tavern on the Lower East Side on Tuesday, August 25 at 7. You can read about this terrific event here.
I’ll be reading from my new book The Last Days of Shea which will be in the warehouses tomorrow and in the Amazon and Barnes and Noble warehouses very soon after that and in bookstores very soon after that. If you want to pre-order the book for $11.53 from Amazon, you can do so here and you’ll have it next week. I’ll also have copies for sale at Two Boots and will be happy to inscribe them personally.