September 30, 2008
While most of the country gloats over the fact that the hapless Mets once again failed to reach the post season, ESPN.com's J.R. Moehringer waxes poetic over the final days of Shea Stadium ("named after the Cuban Guerilla leader Che Stadium"):
Shea is often compared to a concrete doughnut, a giant toilet, but seldom to a house of worship. Shea is routinely dismissed as a sin against aesthetics, and telling people you love it is like saying you love a nuclear reactor. Or a landfill. Built during a benighted period in American architecture, named after a lawyer, set virtually alongside the taxiways at LaGuardia, Shea has long been criticized, but recently it has become a laughingstock. Personally, I always found Shea beautiful, in its homely way, but I no longer admit this in public. I can't bear people cocking one eyebrow and saying, "Shea? Really?"Even if you are not a Mets fan but are still a fan of the game, you can probably relate to J.R.'s ruminations about the loss of a beloved home away from home.
All love is indefensible, especially stadium love, which has nothing to do with aesthetics. The first stadium you see is the one you love, end of story. Maybe not see, but enter, since every baseball stadium is a complex delivery mechanism for that first view of its inner pastoral utopia. You leave the hot gritty streets, you walk through the long dark tunnel, you burst forth into that vista of sunlight and cool grass -- that's the moment you become a fan. It's as irrevocable, as seminal, as when you come through that other long dark tunnel, into the arms of a doctor who grabs your ankles and slaps your ass. And you have just as much choice in the matter.
(thanks to reader Sal for the article and pic, and thanks to the mrs. for the t-shirt)