From Minor League Baseball to a Major League Adventure

Yesterday, the Worcester Tornadoes played an 11:05am game in Newark against the Bears. It was hot. It was humid. It was tough. But it was tougher on the Bears’ pitching staff, which allowed 14 runs when all was said and done. (Although winning isn’t everything in Minor League Baseball, it certainly makes things easier.)

The Mets' (Relatively) New Home

I was happy to get a night off, even if it wasn’t an entire day without calling baseball. I got a chance to catch up with one of my closest friends with a trip into New York City, which we thought would conclude with a Mets-Marlins makeup game. I even got to meet up with another BU buddy who works at the stadium now. Getting to Citi Field wasn’t a problem at all. Leaving it wasn’t, either. Getting to my friend’s car after the fact though, “therein [laid] the rub.”

Not a Bad View for $13 Seats

The Florida Marlins pulled out a victory (for what it’s worth to this post), with Mike Stanton’s 2-RBI double giving Clay Hensley & Co. enough support, despite a bases-loaded rally for the Metropolitans in the ninth. It was my first trip to Citi Field, and I really enjoyed the atmosphere.

The whole time I was within the confines of Flushing’s park, I felt at home. I’ve never really had any feelings (rooting for or mocking) for the Mets, but I now have a lot of respect for the quality of their game day presentation and overall fan experience.

Those are (pretty sharp-looking) life-size Topps Cards portraying the Mets' lineup in the distance.

I didn’t get that many photos out of my trip, since I didn’t feel like battling rain drops for prime photos. I enjoy taking photos, but I’m nothing compared to my girlfriend in that department. As a result, I battled my flash (and blurry images) just about as much.

If I’m able to fit another Mets home game into my future though, you won’t hear me complaining. In fact, I highly suggest a journey to Mets Mecca for any real baseball fan. After seeing both Yankees Stadiums, Fenway Park, Camden Yards, Le Stade Olympique and many ballparks for other levels of ball, it’s fair to say Citi Field is among my favorites.

After the game finished, my friend and I headed home via a handful of transportation options available (and necessary) for us. We took the 7 Express Train into Manhattan, then jumped on the PATH to hit Newark Penn Station. (For those of you not familiar with the local public traveling choices, both Newark and New York have Penn Stations.) From there, we took the Newark Light Rail to the Washington Street stop, which was a few hundred feet from the parking garage we were destined for.

Earlier in the day, my friend and the parking attendant had a miscommunication, which ended with the assumption that we could get into the locked garage at any time to drive home. With the ticket my friend had, that wasn’t the case, and we found out the hard way.

We arrived to the garage a little before midnight, only to find that only monthly parking pass holders had access after 11pm. There was no one present to tell us, but we found out pretty quickly when no one answered the posted help line, and the ticket didn’t unlock any of the three receptors we waved it on/past about 50 times.

After deciding breaking into the lot wasn’t the best thing to do, we headed back for the Light Rail (about 20 minutes after we got off.) We sat in the tunnel for a solid ten minutes before noticing the schedule posted didn’t contain any trips between 12 and 5am. Ready to literally run to the stop we needed down the street to pick up a different train, we saw a bus that just so happened to be headed for Newark Penn. With a $2 fare and only a $5 to give, we explained the extra dollar charge really didn’t matter (no change available). We just had to get the heck to Newark Penn.

During this process, we had been looking up the different times of trains back to my friend’s house in the Raritan Valley (of New Jersey), figuring we’d come back for the car in the morning. We noticed there was a 12:35 train headed in the right direction. Just after we arrived at Newark Penn Station for the second time, we noticed that the train was a discharge-only stop, meaning our chances of getting on the train were about as good as the Mets building a time machine, going back to earlier in the day and defeating the Marlins.

Dodging a creepy dude that kept asking us if we needed a taxi, we resorted to our last (and luckily most effective) option: calling my friend’s dad to pick us up, even though it was about 12:45 in the morning.

We waited for his dad to come in a bar inhabited by some pretty interesting creatures, where we bought collectively the “Most Expensive Sprite & Poland Spring Water Bottle Ever” (as voted by Nick Gagalis). It was $7.50 for both of them, which is pretty crazy for a place outside of a sporting event or concert, and without alcohol.

By the time we gulped those down, our ride arrived. For some strange reason, the front section (and as a result the main entrance) of Newark Penn was blocked from the inside and outside, so we exited via the creepy back door, amid some more characters and a pair of female police officers standing by.

Getting in the car was probably the easiest and somehow most rewarding moment of the day, knowing we weren’t going to be in a questionable area. Plus, it was nice to sit down for the first time in a few hours during what was probably the hottest & most humid day so far this summer. We ended up driving by Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium, which was the fourth time all day I passed it, each time in a different vehicle.

I slept on the pull-out couch at my friend’s place, and we did what anyone else would do the next morning: we used the exact same modes of transportation we were blocked from to get to where we needed to go.

My friend paid double for parking, since he was technically there for two days, then gave me a ride to the team hotel about 20 minutes away.

As much as I wanted to let my roommate, a Tornadoes outfielder, wonder what possibly would have kept me out for almost 24 hours, I did what I do oh-so many times every single summer night of my life: I recapped what just happened. The difference was, I was actively involved this time around.

It’s safe to say my meal money (provided by the team for each game one is on the road) went to a good cause: a trip to a park I’d never visited before. I never guessed the rest of it would go toward a subway safari.

*****

Have you ever scrambled around to catch a series of trains, buses, planes, camels or any other method of transportation? I’d love to hear your story in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!

P.S. If you’ve made it through this whole post, congratulations. You read my longest (and longest-winded) blog post ever. If I had a prize to give out, it would be all yours. (I’d offer my business card and a free chance to meet me, but I don’t think those cut it.)

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One comment on “From Minor League Baseball to a Major League Adventure

  1. Joe Hadley
    July 19, 2011 at 7:15 pm #

    Nick you have some very interesting stories.
    Look forward to seeing you again in NH someday soon.

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