Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Burgh Ball, Such as It Is, in Queens

The Pirates had their yearly away series against the Mets this weekend, and actually for the first time I dropped in to watch them play, along with Sarah and Stu. There were a few Pirates fans around, although none of us had a lot to cheer for -- this was Saturday, so we saw Paul Malholm get shellacked for seven runs over five innings. Maholm managed to hit a home run in one of his at bats, a lofting fly ball that must have just barely cleared the right field fence. (We couldn't see that corner of the field from our seats in the right field Promenade, the high-altitude section. This way we also managed to miss Brandon Moss sliding more or less towards a shallower fly ball that subsequently bounced past him for a triple.) That was the Pirates' only run, and really the only glimmer of anything good that happened to them on an overcast and muggy day. Also, I'm not sure what possessed them to match black jerseys with gray pants, but they need to not do that. I'm almost completely fashion-blind and even I know not to do that.

Tiny baseball!
For those of you scoring at home, the Pirates have spun that promising 11–7 start through an evening-out at 12–12 and on towards a projected finish of something like 12–150. Hey, there's always next year. Or seventeen next years from now.

Citi Field doesn't impress me that much (although the Post Gazette's Dejan Kovacevic loves it) -- it seems like a larger, more corporate version of the new wave of old-style parks. There's not a lot of character; the air-conditioned rotunda you enter into feels like an airport; there's no view of anything in particular past the stadium (mostly that's the same old situation in Flushing, Queens, though); the obligatory outfield-wall notch looks more arbitrary than distinctive. There's a very bland-looking sign underneath the jumbotron reading "Let's Go Mets" in a similar font to the Citibank logo. (Citibank! Like the Mets, they've got a metropolitan name, a building in Queens, and a decent chance of collapsing before the end of baseball season.) It's probably a lot better down from the nosebleed seats, where you don't hear the crack of the bat on the ball, unless Carlos Beltran happens to slug a 440-foot line drive off of Paul Malholm. And I think it would look good lit up at night. The park looks great from the outside, though, all bricks and beams.
Mmmmm, knishes.
Seriously, make your own sardonic joke.
We'd driven down (borrowing a car from one of Sarah's friends) and so afterwards we drove up the Grand Central Parkway into Astoria and the old neighborhood, enjoying the improving evening by admiring the Hell Gate Bridge at Astoria Park and having a really excellent dinner at Agnanti, one of the fine Greek eateries (and the only one with sidewalk seating right adjacent to the park): good tatziki, fresh pita, salmon-stuffed grape leaves, excellent octopus. And we took the pleasanter-than-95 Hutchinson Parkway on the way home, with Sarah reading a couple of chapters out of a charming Japanese novelette the title of which eludes me. So all and all it turned out to be an excellent day. That might be all the Burgh Ball I get this season, though.

The Triboro, the less scenic of Astoria Park's two bridges. But good company!


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