I picked my son up from school this afternoon for a visit to the dentist. He was unenthused. “Sorry,” I said. “Nobody likes the dentist.”
We walked to the car. He spotted the envelope on his seat, with EMMETT written in pencil. “What’s that for?” he wondered aloud.
“Lemme ask you a question,” I said. “If you had a choice of going to the dentist or doing something else, what would you pick?”
“I guess it depends what the other thing is,” he (wisely) replied.
I told him to open the envelope. He did so. Silence. Confused silence. He saw two of these …
“There’s no dentist!” I told him. “We’re going to Dodgers-Mets, Game 5! Right now!”
“Really?” he said.
“Really!” he said.
I brought along his Met hat, and wore mine. We exited the school parking lot at 1:05. The game was scheduled to start at 5:07, but Los Angeles traffic freaks me out. So we left crazy early, and arrived crazy early. Which was terrific, because we sat, chatted, ate fries, wandered, watched BP, face-timed Grandpa, wandered some more, played with the gigantic bobblehead, worried aloud about Zach Greinke, agreed the Mets would probably lose, returned to our seats. Orel Hershiser threw out the first pitch, which allowed me to tell Emmett about Orel Hershiser. The Kirk Gibson highlights played, which allowed me to tell Emmett about Kirk Gibson. I paid $5 for a program, because the boy loves keeping score. I dig watching this as much as the game itself—his little fingers etching 5-4-3 and 3-1 with a pencil into tiny boxes. Priceless.
I thought there would be a solid showing of Met fans. No. I’d say, of the 44,276 people in attendance, .000005 percent identified as New York loyalists. Which wasn’t a big deal when people were sober. But as the innings passed, and the beers flowed, we started to hear it. A man behind us snarled, “Fuck New York!” When his girlfriend said, “Joe, there’s a little boy sitting there” I tried to defuse any tension by saying, “Eh, he hears worse from me.” When Emmett and I walked the steps to use the bathroom, a soft chant of, “Mets suck! Mets suck!” began, and turned louder and louder. When I told Emmett that was for us, he smiled. “Really?” he said.
“Yup,” I replied.
There were highs and lows. Jacob deGrom struggled early on, and we were convinced the Dodgers would win 12-0. But the Dodger Dog tasted delicious. But the guy in front of us was obnoxious. But I let Emmett have a rare root beer. But the line for the urinal took forever. But the Mets were feisty. But the Dodgers seemed prepared to explode. But they didn’t. But they could. But Daniel Murphy! And deGrom! And Jeurys Familia! And that final out! That fabulous final out—when everyone in the stadium was standing, and the sound after Howie Kendrick struck out reminded me of air escaping a balloon. Pffffffffffftttttttt …
As we walked through the concourse to the exit, an ocean of blue-and-white clad Dodger fans passed. Many looked as if they wanted to jump over the railing. A few had genuine anger scribbled across their faces—like, “You’re wearing a Met hat, and I want to break off your nose.” One guy—wearing a Clayton Kershaw jersey—tapped me on the shoulder. “Congrats,” he said. “Good luck in the next round.” Emmett heard the words and smiled. He liked that.
Through it all, I kept looking at my son, who was having one of the great times of his young life. I thought much about experiences, and how life flies by. I thought about how I would never forget this day, and how he would never forget this day.
The tickets cost $80 a pop.
They were worth $80,000.