Monday, February 15, 2016

Behind enemy lines: My afternoon at the Mets' spring training sendoff

Jon and Lisa,before we were completely frozen.
It wasn't enough that I nearly froze my tuchis off yesterday running in a 10-mile race in single degree temperatures. (Click here to read my race report.) Then I spent another two hours today in the cold -- and snow -- trying to get free Mets tickets. Maybe the cold destroyed my brain cells or something. What the heck was I thinking?

Let me explain. I'm kind of known for being a maven on finding ways to have fun in New York City without spending a lot of money. So when I saw that the Mets were doing a Spring Training Sendoff (the team's version of the Boston Red Sox' Truck Day) on Presidents' Day, I figured it would be a fun thing for Squawker Jon and me to do on my day off. This free event at Citi Field was advertised as offering the following, according to the email the Mets sent out about the day:
  • All fans will receive a voucher for two (2) free tickets to a select April home game 
  • Tour the Press Conference Room, Mets Clubhouse and Dugout 
  • 1969 Met Ed Kranepool will be signing autographs on the Mets Plaza starting at 12 noon 
  • Opportunity to participate in a raffle to win 3 day/2 night all expenses paid trip to Spring Training in Port St. Lucie, FL and other great autographed prizes
Jon looking very pleased
with himself.
Oh, and Mr. and Mrs. Met were going to be there for photo ops. And again, this was all going to be for free. So I figured, let's go see what's what. At the very least, we'll each get two free tickets to Mets games out of it, and since Jon and I attend several Mets games together a year, this would save us some money. So as per the Mets' request that attendees RSVP, I did so for Jon and me.
We headed to Queens separately this morning. I arrived around 11:50 a.m. for the noon event, and Jon got there a few minutes later. I was thinking that the very cold weather, with snow in the forecast, might keep people away. No such luck. The place was a madhouse. They were already out of the tote bags they were handing out *before* the event officially began!

I had heard afterwards from fellow baseball blogger Michael Ganci at the Daily Stache that the team supposedly only expected 500 people, but there were over 6,000 fans there. At least! New York 1 said over 6,500 RSVPed. And that doesn't count the fans who couldn't find a place to park, or got stuck in traffic and gave up.

Just a few of the many people at the sendoff.
Anyhow, I think the Mets' organization's heart was in the right place in wanting to do something for the fans (something my Yankees did NOT do, unless you count having a $150 event with Brian Cashman last week as a fan-friendly event!) So I don't want to trash them, especially since I was a "guest" of sorts in the Mets' house. But this Citi Field event was extremely disorganized. There were a ton of lines, and it was hard to know which line was for which thing. There was a line for the stadium tour, and one for the tickets, one for the inflatable bouncy stuff, and one for the Dunkin Donuts stand. And the lines all seemed to interconnect with each other. Then there were people gathered around the DJ stand, waiting to see if they won the raffle. It was a hot mess. Fortunately, the Mets have some pretty good-natured fans, because things could have gotten ugly. Luckily, almost everybody was well-behaved and pleasant, even when they were frustrated with the lines.

We got on the ticket line, which extended all the way to the parking lot, and waited for two solid hours. And it was COLD! Because the line moved so slowly, it felt just as cold, if not colder, than it did in the race I ran yesterday. We were shuffling like penguins by the end, because our toes were completely frozen!

While we were waiting, I briefly got off the line to see what was what at the Dunkin' Donuts stand (hey, desperate times call for desperate measures!) By that point they had run out of donuts -- thanks in no small part to fans I saw walking away with three or four donuts at once! Bad fans! (They were the exception to the rule of the decency of most fans there.) And by the time we were able to get coffee, it had been out for too long and was undrinkable, in my opinion. (Jon drank his, though.) Also, there were no visible restrooms, which was not good planning.

The DJ at the event said that the Mets were giving away t-shirts as well as ticket vouchers. But by the time we got to the head of the line, both things were gone. So team employees were taking people's email addresses and promised to send them tickets. Apparently, they were doing so on laptops, and it was only when we were finally at the head of the line that somebody thought of walking around with notepads and taking people's email addresses. Like I said, extremely disorganized.

Me thawing out at lunch.
Notice that my nose is still red.
Jon and I were about frozen solid by the time we gave a Mets' employee our email addresses. And we left the event, rather than try to get to see the tours of the ballpark. (Good thing, as it turned out, as they only let so many people in.)

My hands were so cold (even with gloves) that I had a heck of a time opening my bag afterwards to get my Metrocard out! It took me forever to feel warm. I didn't feel back to normal until we went for lunch at Urbanspace Vanderbilt -- this is a new food court near Grand Central Terminal. Freaky thing -- when we got off the 7 train, we saw that there was no power for much of Grand Central! Kind of eerie.

Now that I am cozy and warm at home, I can look back at the day as fun in its own way. Whenever Squawker Jon and I meet up, we always have lots of laughs! Good times! And hopefully, we'll get our ticket vouchers soon. We did get magnetic schedules for our trouble as well.

But I've had it with the cold. Can we end winter already? I'm done with it! Thanks.


Uncle Mike said...

I once waited in line for three and a half hours outside Red Bull Arena, which is right next to the Passaic River, which is wide and lends itself very easily to blasting wind. Why? It was a job fair, right before the stadium opened. I didn't get a job. Perhaps it was my punishment for not liking soccer sooner.

So, all that cold, AND power problems at Grand Central? I hope when you were at Grand Central, you ran into Maude Findlay trying to get back to Tuckahoe, so she could say, "Remember how you rooted for the Mets last October? God got you for that, Lisa!"

jmp said...

At least one of the people who took a pile of donuts made his way over to the line for the clubhouse tours. My wife, kids, and I watched as he rejoined his wife & kids with donuts for each of them. When I asked him where he'd gotten them, prepared to get some for my family, he told me they had just run out. I can't blame the guy for bringing donuts to his equally freezing kids.

Lisa Swan said...

I hear ya, JMP,, and I would normally agree with you but the people I saw carrying the donuts were headed to their cars. And there were no kids with them.

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