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It Still Hurts to Say Goodbye

Mike SteffanosTuesday, February 17, 2009
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.

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.

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Comments (5)

mike, do you remember after some of the things m.donald grant did, people started saying the m. stood for miser? he did seem to have issues with minorities as i remember. similar to what omar was up against this year, he didn't have the funds from ownership and was taking the heat from the fans for not doing more to help the club. i understand that the ownership was a lot worse under grants time opposed to omars but they both were left to assume responsibility for not doing more to help the club win. many fans are ripping omar for not signing manny. it's the ownership that won't give him the funds to do so. omar said he's set with the outfield situation. do you really believe him? he has to say that. i just wished the ownership would explain to their fans why they are out of funds with all their revenues. you know mike, all we are asking is for honesty. if they don't have the funds tell us not to get excited over a player whom becomes available and can lead us to a possible championship. don't expect us to make a bid because we are broke. i think the majority of the fans would rather hear the truth from the horses mouth than let their g.m. take the hit for something he has no control over. hey you two, cowboy up and maybe you can still retain your loyal fans.

William -- The Mets are going to probably have the second highest payroll in baseball this season, as they did last year. With all due respect, if they can't win spending that much money, it may be time to replace the person spending the money. The payroll is over $140 million. I also think Manny would have brought more negatives to this team than positives.

Over the next few weeks WSBGM's will be breaking down each of the NL East teams' rosters. First on the docket is the infield (outfield, rotation, and bullpen to follow). There's a poll to vote on the best NL East infield following the breakdown of each teams' players.

Link: http://pabaseball.blogspot.com/2009/02/nl-east-infields.html

Give it a link if you like it...thanks.

Mike, can't tell you how many great Shea memories I had with friends. From bat day to doubleheaders (you can't get those anymore) to raindelays and rainouts. As a kid growing up in NY a Met fan it's something to be appreciated. I have some serious fond memories of that place. Like every landmark/icon that has been removed I will truly miss her. It's a special place where "real magic" happened, where heroes were made and "wait til next year" was a common slogan. Sad, it's gone, hopefully Citifield will start a new winning tradition. Thanks for recognizing a piece of NY histry.

A picture that hit home for me was when I saw the row of seats my wife and I had a few rows behind first base being torn down forever. Some place in my mind I was always going to go back for at least one game to sit in those seats again on a nice double date with my wife, and to see that picture of them being torn down It was sad, we both looked at it and with our fingers trying to touch those seats one more time, maybe I could have bought them but it would just not be the same. Looking forward to a game in Citi Field with some good old Met fans around me remembering when a ballpaark was over there!

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