Baseball was back at Citi Field yesterday after what seemed like an especially long winter, especially considering the events of the 2009 Mets season.
Mets fans were out in full force and, surprisingly enough, there was a celebratory atmosphere at the ballpark.
The ballpark itself seemed to sparkle while showing off some tweaks and improvements. When David Wright deposited a Josh Johnson pitch into the right field seats, I swear I could almost feel the building letting out a sigh of relief.
It was as if Citi Field itself was feeling some of the impossible pressure to live up to the history of its departed predecessor lifting off of its concrete shoulders.
There were great moments like this all day; from the comical booing of the training staff, to the completely unnecessary booing of Oliver Perez. (I mean honestly, who boos an opening day introduction?) But despite all the new faces and great moments, there was clearly one star who shined brighter than all others on this day.
I am speaking, of course, about the eight inch plastic Home Run Apple replica that was given out to the first 25,000 fans to enter the ballpark.
It seemed innocent enough when I was handed one of these souvenirs as I entered the park.
It was nice enough. It looked like the Citi Field apple and even came with a bonus feature; as it turns out, the apple is also a bank.
I put the apple away in my bag and went on with my Opening Day business as usual. I really hadn’t expected to even think about it again until I was home later that evening, and then it happened.
I don’t recall the exact inning but somewhere around the middle of the game, sometime around 6-1 perhaps, as the fans attention began to drift from the game, I heard the first, “Do you want your apple?”
That was all it took.
The 20,000 or so fans who arrived too late to get an apple were now engaged with the 25,000 that did in the largest episode of Pawn Stars ever recorded.
Soon there were classic lines flying all around me. Lines like “Offer that kid ten bucks for his apple. Ten bucks is like a hundred dollars to a kid.” And “No offer him twenty. That’s like a thousand dollars to them.”
Sometimes I think we sell kids short. It got to the point where if you had one of these apples, you would have been wise to keep it tucked away unless you wanted to be bombarded with constant offers.
Don’t get me wrong, it was all in good fun. At no point did I see any of this get ugly, though at one point someone in my section tripped and fell a couple of rows and while the stadium security was making sure he was okay, I could swear I heard someone say, “Check if he has an apple”. I probably imagined that.
The Mets might be on to something with this. Mets fans get on them all the time for this or that, but apparently, they found a winner with this little knick knack.
If people go this crazy for plastic apples, they should do these every Monday. I’d even be willing to bet that they could get eBay to sponsor the giveaway apples, being as most of these apples are heading there anyway.
At last check, these little guys were going for $30-$40 on eBay. My ticket cost $27.
As I left Citi Field, I was glad to be free of all the apple related trade offers. At least until I reached the parking lot where I was greeted by a disheveled man holding a cardboard sign which of course read:
WILL BUY METS APPLES.
Yup, baseball is back in New York!