My Easter Sunday mass experience this year was, in a word, awful. We got to the 12:15 pm mass at about 12:14 pm, knowing we'd be standing for an hour and a half. We squeezed up against the wall somewhere in the general vicinity of our regular seats. Then the fun really started.
I was reminded of the scene from Futurama wherein Robot Santa is checking out who's been naughty, and who's been naughty. "Let's see...mobsters beating up a shopkeeper for protection money - Very naughty. Shopkeepers not paying their protection money - exactly as naughty!" I watched as a middle-aged couple folded a jacket over two empty seats in an already packed house, attempting to save them for other family members, and thought, "That's not right". Then two ladies walked over, asked about the seats, and lifted the jacket up and sat down anyway. Exactly as naughty.
Then, a crowd of about a dozen folks deposited themselves in the aisle in front of me, the Mrs., and our daughter, NostraDenise. It looked like a Sopranos reunion, what with all the black shirts, gold chains, and chest hair. Worse yet, they spent the bulk of the service whispering to each other and wandering in and out of the church, letting the side door slam behind them with each temporary departure. Much of the crowd in general had no idea when to stand, when to sit, when to kneel, or how to get out of the way when the priests and ushers needed to squeeze by.
So why is this scene part of a Mets blog? As usual, my warped mind immediately forged a comparison between this Easter experience and what Mets fans are sure to go through this year at Shea Stadium. We the faithful will probably be surrounded quite often by people who don't know the team, don't know the game, and don't grasp the historical significance of these last 81 (and hopefully, a few more) dates in Flushing. A lot of tickets will be sold this year to those who haven't been to a ball game in years, or ever. Elbow room will be at a premium, and drinks will undoubtedly be spilled. I ordered my tickets for two Giants games -- Wednesday night, July 9th and Thursday afternoon, July 10th - on the very day that single game tickets went on sale. The best I could get was Mezzanine section 12 for the Wednesday night game, and Upper Deck section 10 for the day game (bring on the SPF 500). I'm pretty sure tickets for both games are close to gone today.
On the one hand, I'm happy that Shea will be packed for most of its last season. On the other, I'm resentful, certainly unduly so, that we the faithful will be surrounded by many who don't share our faith as deeply. But who is Easter Sunday mass for? The people who show up every week anyway? Or the ones for whom this might be one of the few chances all year to be exposed to its powerful message? I realized as soon as those cranky thoughts popped into my mind on Sunday that they were thoroughly unjustified.
Those Mets games I went to in 1979, when I bought upper deck tickets and had the section to myself, and went unchallenged as I drifted steadily down to empty box seats behind the dugout by the sixth inning, were fun. But is that the kind of fun we want out of our team? Elbow room? I don't think so. Shea is, and Citi Field will be, there to be filled up. Some of those seats will be filled by people who think Cow Bell Guy is annoying. Some will be filled by the guys who used to sit behind us on Saturdays in '86 and '87, pronouncing truthiness like "Vern Hoscheit -- pound for pound, best assistant coach in baseball". ("Pound for pound"?). Some will be filled by Yankee fans who consider it their obligation to rain on our parade when their boys are out of town. With any luck, though, the vast majority will be true Mets fans, whether casual or diehard.
If those sitting next to you don't share your level of fandom or baseball savvy, be kind. Try not to chew them out for their chowderheadedness. Just smile, shake your head, and drown it all out with a loud and hearty chant of "Let's Go Mets!". There's never a wrong time for that particular sentiment.