And I should say, as a disclaimer, that I have never been to Shea Stadium. Merely I have driven past it on the expressway, but I've admired its squatty toadlike construction, pointed it out to my fractious sons as a sign that the car trip is almost over, and pondered what it would be like to get off at this mysterious exit and wander around Queens, that unknown land. In a way, just driving past old Shea Stadium has fulfilled a certain baseball satisfaction: the slow, mysterious mind-wandering that makes up 90 percent of every baseball game.
My favorite way to experience baseball is during a Sunday afternoon day game in late summer, when I'm canning or pickling. I turn on the kitchen radio and spend several hours in the company of bushels of vegetables and Red Sox radio announcers Joe and Dave, who in between play-by-plays discuss the fielding prowess of the fans at various parks, recall taxi rides they have taken, reveal that the Dominican players are usually victorious at dugout dominoes tournaments, and so on. I find all this to be vital information and frequently forget to pay attention to the score.
According to the Kimmelman article, Dana Brand is the "Proust of Mets bloggers," which is an exciting title to be sure. I, too, would like to be the Proust of something. The title evokes a pleasant wordy sadness, which is probably exactly the right state of mind for a Mets blogger, seeing as the Mets are so often dreadful. But also Proust allows his attention to wander in and around his subject, and that is a fitting attitude for a watcher of baseball. Kimmelman says:
Baseball doesn't take up all of your mental space as you watch it. It takes up a degree of it, and you're free, the rest of the time, to experiment with thoughts you might not ordinarily have. Brand writes well about this. He mentions in an earlier book called Mets Fans the Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami, who described how he decided to become a novelist while sitting in the stands of a game between the Yakult Swallows and the Hiroshima Carp. Someone hit a double and Murakami thought, I should be a writer. The non sequitur of that decision conveys the state of associative openness--akin, as Brand notes, to what we may experience while traveling--that baseball inspires.
A major problem with these "Bad New Ballparks," however, is that they apply a facade of quaintness over what is really the goal of time-killing consumption: buy this, eat this, buy this, eat this, react to this loud preprogrammed crowd noise, buy this, eat this. . . . There is precious little chance to decide to become a writer.
But I wish I could watch a slow game between the Yakult Swallows and the Hiroshima Carp. Something good would be bound to happen.