First Data Field, the spring training home of the New York Mets, was fired up this past Wednesday. The Yankees were in town and they gave the Mets a needed boost in the arm attendance wise as there were plenty of open seats the past week or so with teams like the Nationals and Tigers visiting.
On Tuesday, the Mets ticket office was selling standing room only seats. I have been going to games in St. Lucie since 2005 and I have never seen this practice. Capacity is 7,160, the announced crowd on Wednesday was 7,429.
My group was out in full force nice and early tailgating for the big game. Vic the Stick was in charge of the sandwiches, Coouch and the Doc made up their famous vodka punch, Jay Bird brought his charming self and I brought the cooler of beers and the tickets.
Have you ever noticed what is missing from our youth today? They do not have nicknames. Where I grew up in the suburbs of NYC we never referred to each other by our given names, always nicknames. We drove our parents and teachers crazy. These kids today do not know what they are missing.
The crowd was more in favor of the Mets but there were plenty of Yankee fans. The local Bomber faithful from the Treasure Coast and Broward County, 40 minutes south, were well represented. There were plenty of Derek Jeter and Aaron Judge jerseys and T-shirts.
I loved it when a couple in their late twenties asked me to take their picture. They live in Westchester, NY and were visiting family. She wore a team Yankees jersey and had on a Yankees cap while her husband had a David Wright jersey to go with his Mets cap.
A fella sitting in front of us covered all his bases. He had on an orange Mets T-shirt with a Yankees hat. We kidded him and he told us he was a big baseball fan and liked both teams.
My buddy Pablo, the vendor who sells hot pretzels from an open grill (and who I stop by to see at least once a game), greeted me with a fist bump and said, “ Today I’m going to make some real money, best day of the year so far.”
I was not surprised but still a little disappointed when I saw the Yankees had only two projected starters in their lineup, Brett Gardner and Brandon Drury. Tampa, the Yanks spring training home, is three and half hours away by bus. Unfortunately that distance on a bus has become an acceptable excuse for most top tier players to pass on making the trip. They stay behind and workout in the home facility that day.
This practice has become all too common and is just another example of teams dissing fans. Granted it is not their home fans but, no matter, they’re still baseball fans.
Maybe Tony Clark, the MLB Players Association Executive Director, should stop whining about the slow free agent signings this spring and help make the game more fan friendly.
Since I brought up this issue of free agent signings let me give you my two cents. If the agents/players were more realistic in their demands for money and contract terms based on these players past and projected productivity they would be signed by now.
By the way the Yankees came from behind in the late innings to win the game, 11-4.
Jay Bird (remember he didn’t bring anything to the tailgate) was buying drinks and appetizers after the game. Our practice is that once the starters of the game are replaced with players with numbers in the sixty to eighty range we leave which is usually around the 5th or 6th inning no matter what team is in town.
Teams and players make their choices, they have their rituals to best serve their needs, but let’s not forget, so do us fans.
Featured Photo: usatoday.com