By Mike Steffanos
On Metsblog I found a link to WCBS880.com's pictures of what is virtually the last piece of Shea Stadium that will be coming down in the next day or so. Far better writers than me have expressed their sentiments about losing an old friend that's been a part of our lives for over 4 decades, but hopefully you'll bear with me if I pen a few words on her passing.
I live a long way away from New York, so I haven't been a close witness to the piece-by-piece dismantling of the old ballpark. I have avoided checking out the countless available images of the ballpark coming down as I find them almost morbidly melancholy. After browsing through the pics on WCBS's site I find myself saddened in a way that I'm sure most of the writers that cover the team couldn't understand.
America is a young country still compared to most of Europe and Asia. Because of that, we don't revere the past all that much. Although there are ongoing efforts to preserve and restore buildings and places of historical significance, many are torn down every year with hardly a tear spilt over their fate.
Even some younger and less sentimental Mets fans tease those of us who bear an attachment to what they view as a hopeless old dump. They don't understand that all of those tacky and somewhat dilapidated pieces that physically comprised the old stadium were repositories of literally thousands of memories of campaigns of the past.
It seems likely that Citi Field -- or whatever they wind up calling it -- will be the home to a much more successful team than poor Shea had. As much as some fans complain about the Wilpons, you should have been around when Linda de Roulet was really trying to do things on the cheap. People who worry about Minaya favoring Latin players, and maybe he does, but M. Donald Grant was an unabashed racist along with lacking any real knowledge of how to build a ballclub.
Even if there are ups and downs in the new park it seems likely there will be more ups almost by default. If someone actually runs the club with a fairly solid plan over the next four decades Citi Field will undoubtedly house many, many more happy memories than the old blue lady with the leaky ceilings it replaces.
I've seen some terrific Mets teams and players over the years and some classic games that are unforgettable. Admittedly, I've seen many more bad teams and mediocre players masquerading as major leaguers, along with memories of heart-breaking losses I only wish I could forget.
For all of that, I wouldn't trade a second of my four decades with this team and the old ballpark. It's not easy to be a Mets fan, but it's rewarding in a way that my friends and neighbors who are Yankees and Red Sox fans will never understand. For most of my life, Shea was the symbol of all that. So laugh if you must, but she will be missed.