Meet the Mets (Part 1 of 3)

I was on a conference call when I picked up the boys from school; they were bouncing with excitement. We stopped for gas and to grab some drinks to go with their lunch. Knowing I was on a conference call and in no position to withstand his barrage of begging, Alex asked if he could get Mountain Dew. Alex has never had a Mountain Dew before.

I can’t say I’ve ever seen anyone “frolic” before, but that is the only word that can accurately describe what Alex was doing as we headed back to the car.

We got on the road, and the boys were chattering back and forth in between long sips of Mountain Dew. It was hard to hear what they were saying because of the conference call, but I clearly heard Alex say:

“It tastes even better if you shake it up!” Then I heard the hisssssssFWOOSH as his bottle erupted in a 4-foot cloud of green fizz. Alex slammed his mouth over the top of the bottle and frantically sucked in the expanding soda, not wanting to waste a drop.

I got off the call, started to yell at Alex, but soon I was laughing instead. We all were. Damn fool.

90 minutes later we crossed into New York, slid over into Queens, looped around and around the bridge ramps until it rolled us right outside of the gorgeous stadium. We got into lot G (VIP parking), Alex took a desperate 4-minute pee on the curb, and then we headed towards Citi Field and our Mets adventure.

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Our host was a guy named Jonathan, and I’m still trying to understand why we made him so nervous. Maybe he thought I would have to change diapers in the press room or the kids would throw a tantrum and trash the camera equipment.

But fussy or not, he gave us our press passes and hustled us through a wide, clean concrete tunnel and into a lobby filled with press people. He asked us to wait while he got Scott Rice, the player Jack would interview, and in less than a minute had hustled Scott into the room.

Scott Rice was very tall. Jack dug out his questions, got his recorder turned on, and started firing away.

This was definitely Jack’s best interview. He had prepared heavily and had 15 well-thought-out questions. Jack asked them clearly and listened to the answers. But still, ball players are trained to say nothing. In the humble cadence they use in every interview, Scott basically said: “I’m just happy to be here and hope I can help out the team.”

But the magic of the interview was the effect on the room around him. At about the 3rd question, I realized that the room had become suddenly quiet. Look at the people in the background of the photos:

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This little boy interviewing a giant picture had cast a spell on the entire room. People kept slipping into the room to watch and smile. It went really well.

When that was over, Jonathan took us to the pressroom and quickly got the Mets play-by-play announcer, Josh Lewin, in for a quick interview. Jack nailed this one too. Then Jonathan told us that when Sandy Collins (Mets manager) came in for his press conference in 45 minutes, we could sit in the back row.

“By the way, were you planning to stay for the game?” he asked.

I told him we were staying, but that this wasn’t about free tickets at all. I had no problem paying for tickets. He said he’d see if there were any tickets left. But given it was the Mets on a Wednesday night with a 50% chance of rain…I felt pretty good about that. Then Jonathan said he’d be back for the press conference and left.

So…when you find yourself alone in the Mets press room, whatever do you do?

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What we also did with our down time was talk to the camera guy setting up. He was amazed that we had field passes.

“Those get you anywhere. Press Box for free food. On the field for batting practice. You need to check things out.”

Soon it was the press conference. Mets manager Sandy Collins came in with a crowd of reporters. And for the next 15 minutes we got to watch them fire questions at him and listen to him banter back and forth. Jack was captivated and Alex fired off a solid 150 photos at least. Very very cool.

When it was over, Jonathan was back.

“I got you tickets,” he said, “but the gates don’t open until 5:10, so…”

“You need us out?” I finished for him.

“Yeah, sort of.”

I took a final attempt.

“Hey, I noticed these press passes say field access.”

“Oh, those are only supposed to be for people over 18, so I don’t want…”

“That’s cool,” I finished for him again. “What we’ve done already has been amazing. And thank you for the tickets.”

He sent us out to the small reception room and said he’d be back down soon with the tickets. It was 4:15 – which meant we’d kill an hour in the parking lot before we got in. No problem, because this had been awesome. Jack had interviewed a pro player and an announcer, plus we’d sat in on the press conference. Absolutely amazing. Plus we were about to see a game for free.

Sure we were close to getting on the field, but whatever. This was incredible. We’d hit a triple…

I’ll post part 2 tomorrow. But here are a few selects from the zillion photos Alex took.

“Here’s Jack doing his interview with the pitcher.”

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“Here he is with Scott Rice, the pitcher.”

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“This is the other interview.”

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“Press room when we were waiting.”

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“A poster in the press room. I got them all.”

 

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“Here comes the press room guys.”

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“Press conference.”

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“Press conference.”

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“Press conference. I took a lot of ’em.”

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“Jack at the press conference.”

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“Our pass.” Dad note: too bad we didn’t get to take full advantage.

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