May 24, 2014 was a fun day that I had been looking forward to for a while for both baseball and non-baseball reasons. On the baseball front, we were going to see the Mets host the Diamondbacks. I bought the tickets in April when our buddy and former Mariner Ryan Rowland-Smith was in the Diamondbacks pen. But before this series arrived, Ryan was designate for assignment and was pitching in AAA in Buffalo, NY when this weekend rolled around.
That was a bummer. And it made me not really want to go to this game…I would have preferred another game at a different park.
But…the non-baseball reason still had me excited to go to NYC.
The game was scheduled for a 4:10 start. But we packed up the car…
…and were on the road…
…to NYC by 7:30 a.m.
Did you catch those two clues? You see, my boys, baseball and the Mariners…
…aren’t my only interests. I’ve always been very much “into” music. And from the fifth grade and the release of the classic album “Licensed to Ill,” I have been a big fan of the Beastie Boys.
Truth be told, I was a much bigger Beasties fan when I was younger (I prefer harder music these days and am not really into rap anymore). But from fifth grade through college, I listened to the Beastie Boys a ton. In fact, during my sophomore year in college, I hosted an hour long radio show each Monday night called “Beastie Revolution” that featured all Beasties all the time.
Now, you see, Adam “MCA” Yauch of the Beastie Boys died of cancer in 2012. In May 2013, a park in Brooklyn was renamed for him (“Adam Yauch Park”). Since then, I have wanted to visit Adam Yauch Park. And since this past offseason, I have had a very specific idea for our eventual visit to Adam Yauch Park: to remake the cover of the Beastie Boys’ classic album, “Check Your Head.”
So that was the major plan for the morning.
But I decided to make Beasties morning of it. So, on the way to Brooklyn, we had to stop by the corner of Rivington & Ludlow in downtown Manhattan (not Brooklyn) to visit the site of Paul’s Boutique:
The Paul’s Boutique building looks nothing like it used to on the cover of the Beasties’ sophomore album (pictured above to the right). However, if you open up the album cover and unfold the panorama, the intersection is still recognizable due to a few unique features – such as the building diagonal across the intersection and the “Talmud Torah” arched sign above the building two down from Paul’s Boutique.
I did my best to recreate the panorama of the intersection. Here you go:
By the way, I should mention, as we first approached the intersection, I pulled out my Paul’s Boutique CD and held up the booklet inside trying to see if I could match it to the corner. Right then, a random guy walked past us and stopped for a beat, pointed at Paul’s Boutique, and said, “It was right there on that corner,” and then he just kept walking. I thought that was pretty cool.
This was a quick stop. We had bigger plans for the morning.
We hopped back in our car, turned off “Check Your Head,” turned on “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” and headed toward the Brooklyn Bridge.
Now, this might seem odd (or maybe not), but this was the first time I’d ever driven over the Brooklyn Bridge. Every other time I’ve been to Brooklyn, I’ve taken a subway there. Also, this might have been Tim’s (and definitely Kellan’s ) first trip to Brooklyn. Anyway, I found the Brooklyn Bridge to be pretty cool. Great view out toward the Statue of Liberty and it has a cool walkers section in the middle. I recommend it!
It was a pretty quick drive from “Paul’s Boutique” to Adam Yauch Park:
The park is a in great city neighborhood that reminded me a lot of parts of Center City Philadelphia, where I lived during law school.
The park was tiny, jammed into the space between the neighborhood and a freeway on ramp, and (most importantly) really nice. Here’s what it looks like:
The boys played there for a while, but before playing, we got down to business.
Here is the “Check Your Head” album cover:
My original plan was to simply remake it in the same format with each of us playing the park of a different Beastie Boy, but with the “Adam Yauch Park” sign in the background. But, after a lot of internal debate, I decided to cut myself from the picture, and remake the album cover with Tim, Kellan and Adam Yauch.
I brought props. It took some coaching (especially with Kellan) to get the poses right (or as right as Kellan could do for playing the part of a 20-something year old guy).
So here was the initial effort (what I could do “on the street” with no computer work):
I gotta tell you: I loved it. It came out so great I thought maybe I was just done there…leave it at that with the Adam Yauch Park sign hanging above an empty spot where Adam Yauch (or someone playing his role) should have been sitting. Of course, I kept a version of the photo that way so I will always have it. And I still love it just like I took it on the street.
But, when we got home that night (and into the next day), I couldn’t help tinkering and trying out my original plan. So, here is the same photo with “MCA” added in:
Again, I completely loved it! (And still do). I couldn’t get Adam to sit quite right on the curb and still mesh right with Tim – probably because he’s a grown man who was originally sitting next to two other grown men, not 8 and 3 year old boys – but, hey, I forgive myself. I’m not a professional photo editor or anything. The only problem is that his bass guitar case is resting on the curb instead of sitting flat on the street like in the original. But I’m okay with that.
Finally, several days later, I completed my original concept, which due to size constraints, couldn’t include the “Adam Yauch Park” sign:
Not too shabby, eh?
I gotta say, after visiting Adam Yauch Park, where my boys had a ton of fun climbing around on the play toys and taking that original black-and-white photo of just my boys and the park sign, my day was pretty much made. But, as an added bonus, we still had a baseball game to go to!
We didn’t have time to drive to the upper west side to park and then take the train like we usually do. Instead, we drove straight from Adam Yauch Park to Citi Field. As a bonus, we got to experience two views that we’d never seen before.
First, a cool view of lower Manhattan from Brooklyn:
Second, we drove for 2.4 miles under the 7 train…
…, which was pretty interesting. I’ve really never driven around neighborhoods in Queens. Lots of interesting things to see out there!
We reached the ballpark in plenty of time, which was good we had to go to the Mets fan assistance office to get our tickets printed.
While we were in line at the gates, Kellan practiced his pitching to Tim:
Once we got into the ballpark, we headed down the RF line and then quickly made our way toward section 142 in CF.
When we got down to the front row corner spot, there was already a baseball sitting in the huge gap between the seats and the shortened outfield wall. The Mets were hitting and a few Diamondbacks pitchers were milling about. Fairly soon after we arrived in CF, an groundskeeper came to grab the ball in the gap and he decided to toss it up to Kellan.
Just before the groundskeeper tossed the ball, Brad Ziegler (who was walking from LF to the bullpens) popped through the door in the OF fence and tossed us a ball. Tim was standing right next to me on the right (sort of behind me as I faced Ziegler). When I caught the ball from Ziegler, the groundskeeper refocused his gaze from Kellan to Tim, and Tim made the easy catch on that ball.
Thanks, Brad, and thanks, groundskeeper!
About 20-30 second after we got the balls from Ziegler and the groundskeeper, Josh Edgin…
…(who is the guy on the left) turned around, shouted to get our attention, and tossed us a third baseball, even though Tim and Kellan were both visibly holding balls at the time. Luckily, the second was basically empty other than us at the time.
At the very end of Mets BP (and, as it would turn out, BP in general), Bartolo Colon caught a pop fly. Tim called out to Bartolo, but Bartolo first ignore Tim, who did not include “please” in his request. Then, when Tim called out, “Bartolo, could you please toss me that ball?”, Colon turned around and fired a strike to Tim’s waiting glove:
Gracias, Bartolo! (Or, as Tim later called him, “Barlesto”).
Once the Mets cleared the field, the groundscrew ran out and started taking down the nets, but they left the batting cage in place. As a groundscrew guy wheeled a screen out to the gap in CF, I asked him if the Diamondbacks were not taking BP (which, obviously, seemed to be the case, but why were they leaving the batting cage in place?). He confirmed that BP was finished. So, with a few Diamondbacks starting to appear down the LF line, we decided to relocate to the second just past third base:
It turns out that the Diamondbacks decided to take a full “infield/outfield,” like back in the good old days. It was cool to watch.
Both Martin Prado and Eric Chavez were playing 3B at first. Eventually, a ball trickled by them and came to a rest on the grass behind 3B. A little while later, Chavez headed to the dugout while Prado stayed put at 3B.
I called out to Chavez after his first step toward the dugout, and I pointed toward the ball in the grass behind 3B and then at Tim. That’s all it took:
Soon, another back squibbed by Prado, not more than 5-10 feet behind him. It stayed on the infield dirt and Prado just ignored it.
After the outfielders took fly balls from home plate, they call congregated in CF and Dave McKay fungo’d them a bunch more pop flies and they worked on their throws in to a cutoff man. Gerardo Parra was one of the outfielders taking fly balls from McKay.
When Parra headed toward the dugout, he ran right behind 3B. Prado and that stray ball were still there. I called out to Parra – just like with Chavez – and pointed to Tim. Again, that was all it took. Parra retrieved the ball and tossed it to Tim:
This ball, however, was a little bit more interesting. See Cody Ross (the next player heading toward the dugout behind Parra). He’s watching the ball fly toward Tim’s waiting glove. Well, the ball sailed a little to the right and sunk a bit. Eventually, Tim caught the ball (literally, not exaggeration at all) 1-2 inches in front of Kellan’s face. Had Tim not reached out for the ball, it would have smashed Kellan right in the nose.
Cody Ross got all nervous and jumped a bit as the throw played out. He might have even yelled a bit. They he yelled at Parra “you almost hit that kid in the face!” But Parra was on his way out, he didn’t even realize what Ross was talking about. Luckily, Tim’s got a good glove!
Thanks, Gerardo & Tim! (And thanks to Cody Ross for the concern).
So, all this while, there was another kid, probably 10-12 years old, a few steps to Tim’s left. He was just standing there quietly. I could tell he wanted a ball. I’m not big on giving away baseballs, because I like the personal connection we get with the player who tosses them, plus we’re trying to build a wall of baseballs that needs a bunch more baseballs before we can build it. But I do like to help other kids get their own baseballs. Eventually, it seemed like Dave McKay was the only option left on the field. He was still hitting fungos and he had a big bag of baseballs. I told the kid that his name was “Dave” and that he should ask him for a ball by name when he walked into the dugout.
But the kid was too shy. Standing next to him, I could hardly hear him call to Dave. So I shouted, “Hey, Dave!!” and I pointed to the kid still standing five feet to Tim’s left. McKay gave us a nod sort of like he was saying, “No problem, but hold on just a sec.”
I told the kid and his dad that I thought McKay was going to toss him a ball so he should keep watching him. McKay walked down into the 3B dugout, set down the bag of balls, and then reached in and pulled three balls out. He tossed the first one high to us. As it sailed our way, I called out to Tim, “Let him catch it! Let him catch it!” But Tim reached up and made the easy grab. Oops…
I told Tim to hand the ball to the kid. McKay then fired the other two balls directly to me one-after-the-other. We all thanked McKay and then the kid and his dad thanked us. I wished the kid could have caught the ball on his own, but oh well. Nothing I can do about it now.
That was it for pre-game. The Diamondbacks cleared the field and we (along with Zack Hample and Rick Gold) headed back out to the CF seats where all the “boys” posed for this picture:
And then Kellan ate a ton of “pirates” (that’s our nickname for a snack Tim and Kellan both enjoy) and he made a mess that amused Zack greatly:
When Kellan was all done eating, he took some picts, including this one of Zack:
We all hung out in CF while the groundscrew readied the field for the game. Check this out:
They are sweeping the grass to make the “NY” logo stand out better.
Just before game time, we grabbed some hot dogs and headed out to the picnic tables behind the bullpens (under Shea Bridge)…
…, which is one of our favorite spots at Citi Field.
After the Mets had taken the field but before first pitch, the Mets sound people blared some Beastie Boys (Sabotage) throughout Citi Field, which seemed like a fitting way to start the game on this day.
And here was the first pitch:
Like at our other game at Citi Field earlier this season, we spent a lot of time at this game in this picnic area. A lot of that time, we were playing catch (including Tim pitching to me):
Some of that time, we were posing for pictures, like this one:
And some of that time, Kellan was playing hand-baseball:
In the third inning, with the Diamondbacks already up 3-0, we decided to head out to CF to play some kids’ games. On our way, we got a panorama from the back of section 141…
…and a picture of the boys in the same spot:
Unfortunately, right after we left the picnic area below Shea Bridge, Curtis Granderson hit a ground rule double into the Diamondbacks’ bullpen. It would have rolled all the way to the back of the bullpen…right to where we had been hanging out moments earlier. Poor timing, I guess.
By the way, that groundrule double made the score 3-1 Diamondsbacks.
The boys had a lot of fun at the kids’ whiffle field:
Both fielding balls…
…and hitting them. Kellan hit several line drives off of the LF fence and Tim hit a couple balls over the wall in LF and CF.
After numerous rounds of hitting in the whiffle field, we got some ice cream and headed back to the bullpen picnic area:
David Wright hit a homerun in the fifth inning to bring the score to 3-2 Diamondbacks. That’s where the score remained into the ninth inning when we headed over toward the umpires’ tunnel.
Addison Reed came in and shut down the Mets in the bottom of the ninth, including former Phillies all-star Bobby Abreu…
…who lined out to short stop (I thought it was going to get in for a hit).
So, in the end, the Diamondbacks won 3-2.
After the game, home plate umpire Jim Reynolds gave baseballs to several kids, including both Tim and Kellan.
And then we got a final picture (taken by Mr. Hample) before leaving the ballpark for the evening:
Check out how nice the Jackie Robinson Rotunda looked on our way out as the sun was low in the sky:
I’d never seen it look like that before. The low pre-setting sun suits the Rotunda well.
We ended up driving into Manhattan and walking around a whole bunch through Central Park. We played some eye spy and wanted to play some baseball, but the sun was down by this point and the fields were chained shut.
So, we headed back up to the upper west side where we parked (after the game) and grabbed some late dinner at Ray’s on 82nd & Columbus:
A fine way to cap off an excellent day of Beastie Boys and baseball. The boys conked out quick in the car…a sure sign that it was a good day.
||2014 Fan Stats
||Teams (Blue Jays, Mets, Phillies, Marlins, Braves, Orioles, Royals, Pirates, Cardinals, Diamondbacks)
||Stadiums (Stade Olympique, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Camden Yards, PNC Park)
||Baseballs (9 Mets, 2* Expos, 7 Phillies, 6 Marlins, 2 Mets, 3 Braves, 6 Umpires, 6 Orioles, 2 Royals, 4 Cardinals, 1 Pirates, 4 Diamondbacks)* Olympic Stadium Staff
||Commemoratives (2013 WBC 1, Angels 50th 2, Dodger Stadium 50th 1, 2011 All-Star, 2012 All-Star, Orioles 60th Anniversary)
||Ice Cream Helmets (Phillies, 2 Orioles, 2 Pirates, 2 Mets)