No need for a long, flowery intro. You’re a busy person and you’re probably reading this between subway stops or at a red light anyway. Here are my 10 favorite moments from my first season as a gameday stadium host for the New York Mets.
Honorable mention: any time Jacob deGrom pitched
For the record, this isn’t a list of the top Mets hits or games or on-field moments, necessarily; moreso my personal experiences. But man, any time the Cy Young winner took the mound, I knew I was watching something special…even if the views weren’t always unobstructed.
10. A real Force out
The only thing I love as much as sports is pop culture. And, um, Star Wars is sort of a big deal. Have you heard of it? So when Star Wars Day came to Citi Field and I had the chance to mess around with Stormtroopers and Darth Vader, I had more fun than Luke chugging blue milk. Also, it gave me the perfect picture you see above.
9. Your friendly neighborhood co-host
Another pop culture mashup, perfect for Queens. Not only was working with Spider-Man hilarious (the guy in the suit stayed in character literally the whole time, even when we weren’t on camera. I asked him at one point if he does a lot of events, kids birthdays, etc., and he said “Only if I’m not busy fighting bad guys or dealing with Jonah Jameson!”) (sorry anyone under the age of 10 reading: it wasn’t THE real Spider-Man). But it made me feel like a bonafide celebrity because of the swarms of screaming kids following us around. I met lots of celebrities this season — more on that above and below — but when you think about Spider-Man’s name recognition, I’ve probably never worked with anyone more famous than “him.”
8. Let’s go Orange and blue
Facts: I’ve loved the Mets since birth. I went to college at Syracuse. I love the Orange. This picture almost made my brain explode.
7. Hey you’re that guy!
If you know me, you know I love compliments and attention. So, early in the season riding the 7 home after a game, you can’t imagine how pumped I was when this Australian family on vacation pointed at me and the dad said “Ay yoor that gooy!” Is that how you spell in Australian?
They’d been at the game, recognized me from the big screen, and even the young son asked to take a picture with me. It was just the beginning. I got approached a lot throughout the year by some incredible fans, which made me feel special. None of them were single eligible women, but hey, I’m still thankful for the best fans in baseball caring about me.
6. Dad’s first time
No, not the time he made me.
My Dad’s the one whose family immigrated to Queens in 1974 and fell in love with the Mets. He’s the one who played WFAN during games to my Mom’s belly while she was pregnant with me. He’s the one who drove 2 hours each way to take me to Shea as a kid. He’s the one who let me skip school for games. So for me to be able to return the favor and bring him to his first game with his oldest son as technically part of the team, well…I’m not crying, you’re crying. Dad being Dad, he then hit me up for tickets like 30 more times the rest of the summer. I owed him!
5. I ate. A lot.
One of the segments in our pregame show was called “Let’s Eat.” Before every game, I’d try a new food from a different vendor at Citi Field. If this sounds like a dream, it was. Lobster nachos. Oversized mozzarella sticks. Vegan burgers. Double-beef burgers. Brisket. Churros. Sushi. Do I know what spices elevate arugula or if a lemongrass reduction pairs well with fried chicken? Hell no. But do I know how to eat and eat a lot? Pass the ketchup.
4. He’s Keith Hernandez
As this Instagram post attests, I’ve had a bit of a thing with Keith Hernandez since I was a baby. Probably because he and my Dad look identical with their Latin backgrounds and mustaches. So when I got to meet Keith early in the season in the press box bathroom line, I freaked out a little. And he couldn’t have been a nicer guy. We struck up a mini-friendship* over the summer and when people say don’t meet your heroes, they’re not talking about this guy.
*Mini-friendship = nodding and smiling with a “How are ya?” if we walked past each other in the hallways. He’s not driving me to the airport or anything.
3. The Polar Bear
I was walking in the tunnels under the stadium when Pete Alonso broke the Mets single-season team record for home runs, so that sucked. But when he broke the MLB single-season rookie record for home runs, I was sitting with a family of four getting ready to give them gift cards they’d won between innings on the big screen. We went from hoping Pete would do it to me high-fiving a 13-year-old stranger in about, well, the 5.73 seconds it took for home run No. 53 to land in the seats.
Pete had been such an incredible ambassador for the team all year. I got to meet his parents and they were the most down-to-earth, humble, gobsmacked people at what their son had accomplished. Every time I hosted a segment with a kid and asked who their favorite Mets player was, 95% of the time, it was Alonso (ARV: Jeff McNeil). You could feel Alonso pressing for that record as the season came to a close. You could also feel the elation, pride, and relief once he finally broke it. I’ll be forever grateful I had a seat in the house to watch history and that this guy belongs to us. And I’m totally OK having just the second-best Mets rookie season of 2019.
2. Yada, yada, yada I met Jerry Seinfeld
I mean, what else do I need to say? HE’S JERRY SEINFELD.
Fine, I’ll say this: I’ve worked with other celebs before in a setting where me working with them was a small part of their larger day being pulled in a thousand directions. And, justifiably, they can be in not the best moods by the time they get to me. Jerry — we’re first-name basis — couldn’t have been any different. By the time he co-hosted a fan trivia segment with me, Jer had already:
- Visited the Mets clubhouse pregame
- Watched batting practice
- Done some innings with the Mets booth on SNY
- Taken 10,007 or something photos with fans
- Been stopped to talk by someone nearly every 20 feet
And yet! He couldn’t have been more gracious in talking to me. Not just about planning our segment and how it would work. But about how I was liking the job. What he thought of the team. iPhone photography tips. We even talked about his sneakers. And he treated everyone around us the same way. He was gold, Jerry, gold!
1. Game of the Year
But above all — even above meeting and working with one of the most famous and successful pop culture icons of all time — everything still came back to the baseball. And no night will stick out in my mind from this season more than August 9.
Marcus Stroman made his Citi Field debut and the pregame atmosphere could not have felt more electric. As he walked from the bullpen to the dugout before the game, pumping his arms in the air, jacking up every fan there and yelling things to the sky we’ll never know, it felt like a playoff game in the middle of the summer.
And it didn’t stop there. It was my Dad’s (him again!) birthday and he came to the game, so we got to watch the end of the game together. As in, we endured the Mets falling into a 3-run hole in the 7th and 9th. As in, we lost our minds when they erased that deficit with a 4-run bottom of the 9th. As in, I kinda blacked out when Todd Frazier hit the game-tying homer and whatever happens after a blackout when Michael Conforto walked it off with two outs.
It was win No. 14 of a historic streak during which the boys went 15-1. But it meant so much more. A heartfelt hug with Dad — who was there ON HIS BIRTHDAY. A shared euphoria with 39,602 of my closest friends. Hope. For the team, for the fans, for the future.
The Top 10 of 2020 can’t come soon enough.