Children cheer me up sometimes. And I say this as a human being who thinks that sometimes children get shoved down our throats and exploited for the good of select adults. Take the Little League World Series when some of the announcers take every opportunity to slather on about sportsmanship and what not. I'm all for sportsmanship. I'm pro sportsmanship. But when we get stuff like "the pitch is ball one but it's not about what the umpire calls, it's about sportsmanship" I want to reach through the television screen, grab somebody and say "Look, if this was really about sportsmanship, you wouldn't be putting children on television for Little League qualifying games, and then telling … wait, preaching to us … that it's all about sportsmanship." Stop it. You're sponsored by Kellogg's. It's not all about sportsmanship.
That said, I like children. And they were there when I need them most on Thursday. I walked to Citi Field for the finale to the Phillies/Mets series today after hearing about trouble on the 7 train. So screw it, I walked. It was a fine walk to a ballgame … and a bad day at a ballpark is better than a good day anywhere else, right? But it still rankled me to walk on the boardwalk between Flushing Meadow Park and the 7 train, and seeing everybody headed to the tennis tournament, and me and one other guy going the other way to Citi Field. (And I could only assume that the other guy was also going to the Mets game because he was wearing a Gary Carter shirt, but I couldn't be sure … it might have just been me.)
Then I saw a fan in the stands wearing a Chase Utley jersey over a 7 Line t-shirt. Seriously.
And the game was wonderful, with Carlos Torres setting down the Phillies like dogs and the Mets scoring 11 runs for him (a feat they probably could have never achieved if the planned starter, Matt Harvey, was on the field.) But even late, as Andrew Brown hit a tack on home run in the eighth, the reaction was probably the most tepid I've ever experienced to a home team home run. It depressed me. Nobody was into it. There's few things worse than loud blaring music after a home run and no cheering to go along with it. None.
And then the ninth inning came with Jimmy Rollins on to pinch hit. I booed … loudly. Three kids in the front row gazed up at me in wonder. I then yelled "HEY JIMMY, YOU'RE A BIG MOUTH!" The children ate it up! "Maybe he'll do it again", they said amongst themselves. I heard this and obliged.
"SWING THE BAT, BIG MOUTH!!!"
They … looooooooooooooooooved it. "Again! Again!" They said. And this was when I taught them a valuable lesson in picking your spots, and leaving them wanting more. After Rollins flied out to right, I gave the kids what they wanted. "GRAB SOME BENCH, BIG MOUTH!!!!" Uproarious laughter and smiles followed.
So let us review: The Mets defeated the Phillies 11-3, and I have successfully sparked our next generation of hecklers. And I'd do it again. Because it's all about sportsmanship … especially when Jimmy Rollins is at bat.