Sunday In The City–A Lot More Than Baseball

The real suprise and a true show stopper was Katie Finneran playing Marge MacDougall, a sloshed, possibly widodwed, pick-up on Christmas Eve. She was deliciously ditzy in an over-the-top role that could only appear on Broadway!

I’m writing this Monday afternoon. That says a lot about how busy we were Sunday!

Helaine bought tickets to the weekend Phils/Mets series at Citi Field. Originally the Sunday game was scheduled for 1:00 PM. That was before ESPN decided it would be the Sunday night game starting at 8:00 PM.

What was a baseball/motel/baseball plan became baseball/motel/filler/baseball plan. The question was how to fill?

Stef stepped up first. It was she who suggested going to brunch. After a little research (they have the Internet in California) she suggested Max Brenner’s in Union Square, a restaurant none of us had heard of. Max Brenner’s specializes in meals built around chocolate.

We left our motel near LaGuardia/Citi Field, walked to 111 Street and hopped on an inbound #7 train.

The Corona neighborhood where we boarded the train is mostly Hispanic. The train itself was a mini-UN. A woman sat across from us reading a Korean newspaper (with ads for State Farm Insurance and Dodge vans). There were a few groups of young Chinese girls near the door. Spanish was being spoken everywhere. It’s possible we were the only people within eyesight who spoke English as our sole home language.

We headed to Times Square, walked up a level to the downtown platform and took the local to Union Square. The restaurant was just a block away.

Breakfast was delish!

I had Belgian waffles with fresh strawberries, fresh whipped cream, shaved white chocolate and fresh strawberry syrup (plus a white chocolate syrup I never touched, but looked great). Helaine had fresh berry pancakes with blood orange syrup.

We headed out on foot down Broadway then past NYU’s sprawling non-campus to Washington Square Park. The park’s fountain was shooting water skyward and the area was alive with people this cloudy Sunday (and people with dogs).

Washington Square is a beautiful park. It’s the iconic symbol of Greenwich Village–the neighborhood within the city. This is the common meeting area. We even saw one couple get married in the park!

We walked around the Village a little longer, but it was cloudy and threatening. Back to the subway and back to Times Square.

Sunday is matinée day for the theater. We got half price tickets at TKTS for Promises Promises the Neil Simon/Hal David/Burt Bachrach revival starring Sean Hayes and Kristen Chenoweth.

I’ve gotten excellent tickets at TKTS in the past, but this was a summer Sunday and we were there at the very last minute. We sat in heaven, way up in the second mezzanine.

Twenty years ago this would have been a problem. Today Broadway performers are so well miked the sound was great though we were a little far to see facial nuances.

Promises Promises is a great show with songs you already know and a full Broadway orchestra. Kristen Chenoweth was good, but Sean Hayes (Will and Grace) was surprisingly excellent. He’s an OK singer, but an excellent comedic actor in a show which demands just that.

The real suprise and a true show stopper was Katie Finneran playing Marge MacDougall, a sloshed, possibly widowed, pick-up on Christmas Eve. She was deliciously ditzy in an over-the-top role that could only appear on Broadway!

The show broke and we walked through a now soggy Times Square back to the 7 train. It’s astounding how quickly the vendors found umbrellas to sell! Today’s going rate was $5 (pronounced “figh dollar”). I expect the rate is as fluid as the weather.

The train back to Queens was crowded, but surprisingly Mets fans weren’t a large constituency. The 7 allows the central city to unload to the less glamorous neighborhoods along its right-of-way. That’s what took up the bulk of the space.

After a quick change at the motel (and an unexpected courtesy van lift to the stadium) we were back at Citi Field. It was raining, but not heavily enough to delay a nationally televised game. The fans in the stands are second class citizens in this equation.

I want to stop for a minute to say something nice about the Mets: Citi Field and the Citi Field employees.

The stadium itself is very nice. The walking areas are wide. Food is plentiful and actually worth eating! Though Subway has a large billboard in the outfield advertising their $5 foot longs, they’re $7.50 here.

Last night as we walked from our van down a deserted footpath toward the main stadium entrance we passed a young woman casually guarding a VIP entrance. As we came within a few feet she smiled and said, “Enjoy the game.”

It seemed totally spontaneous and genuine. This woman was representative of every Citi Field employee we met! Every single one was friendly, helpful and genuinely glad to see us there… even though we were wearing Phillies shirts.

The fans were equally friendly to us. I suspect they would not receive the same welcome at Citizens Bank Park in Philly. I apologize in advance. It now seems very unfair.

I understand from a Facebook friend the Mets took their blue collar team and, in building a new stadium, priced them out of the park. Judging by the sparse weekend crowd I suspect that’s true and a shame. Unsold seats do no one any good.

Saturday we sat on the first base side in the 400 level. Sunday’s tickets were on the opposite side six rows back in the 300’s. The seats were comfortable and the sight lines very good.

What luck–we were under cover!

This was a great weekend series for two Phillies fans. The Phils won both games (with the help of the floundering Mets who made more errors than runs this weekend).

Our 8:00 PM game wasn’t over until after 11:00 PM. We got home around 1:30 AM. TV friendly isn’t family friendly.

It was a great weekend. I now need a few days off to recuperate.

Phillies Baseball: A Night In Queens

Turning sixty wasn’t all bad. Helaine got me a bunch of gifts which have unfolded over the last month. This weekend it’s the Phils versus the Mets at Citi Field.

I know the neighborhood after all I grew up in Queens, but I’d never stepped inside Citi Field until tonight. I am favorably impressed.

We’re staying at a hotel in Corona (sounds like a dream come true, right?) so the stadium is ten minutes away. You walk up to Roosevelt Avenue then turn left and continue under the Flushing El.

From a distance the stadium looks classic. Lots of earth tones and exposed brick. As you draw closer it looks like the stadium itself is wrapped in an outer building.

We got frisked (yeah, frisked) and had our bags inspected on the way in. The stadium staff could not have been nicer nor smiled more.

We had no hassles while wearing Phillies shirts. Truth is a full quarter of the fans seemed to be Phillies fans. Really Mets fans? This is the best you could do on a Saturday night? There were loads of empty seats. What a shame!

The biggest difference between an old and new ballpark is the availability of food. Citi Field is loaded with food stands many serving specialty items. I bought some sushi and had a lobster roll. Helaine got a hot dog and shake from the Shake Shack.

Our seats were in the 400 level on the first base side and in the first row. It was a great spot to watch the game, not quite as good for photography which demands you stay close to eye level with the action.

The Phils won! It wasn’t pretty as the Mets gave up three costly errors (and we think it should have been four). The final was 4-0.

Chris Velardi and daughters will be glad to know they’re getting the Mets hats they gave away tonight!

Tomorrow’s game was originally scheduled for the afternoon. Thanks to ESPN it won’t start until 8:05. We’ll take advantage of the #7 train and spend some city time before heading back to Citi.