Travis d’Arnaud was laying on the couch with his cell phone. Jeurys Familia and Jose Valverde were play fighting and chatting in Spanish. Just another day in the New York Mets clubhouse for them, but a surreal experience for me.
I had a press pass to Citi Field on April 19 and went in dress shoes for the first time. Journalists are not allowed to wear Mets gear, and being professional wasn’t easy for me as a fan. When I saw Zack Wheeler sitting by his locker I wanted to run over and tell him 2014 is his year.
David Wright was signing autographs and I wanted one too. Matt Harvey had an orange Batman logo on his locker, and I was hoping that he was preparing for his next start. Then reality punched me in the gut.
The clubhouse was relaxed four hours before the night game against the Atlanta Braves. Once a player talks to one reporter, however, the rest of the press follows like a herd.
I suddenly felt guilty for all of the time I have spent on Twitter venting about the Mets. There’s no way I’d say any of that to any of their faces. I fondly looked at every player, trying to remind myself that I am there as a writer, not a fan.
Adam Rubin looked sharp in his suit. Before then, I was only familiar with him from Twitter and his articles. The players approach him like a teammate. I wish I had that level of rapport. I also wished I could speak Japanese and join the small-yet-devoted cluster of Japanese media solely there for Daisuke Matsuzaka.
But the clubhouse was somber after the 7-5 Mets loss. Jose Valverde must’ve left in a hurry. Curtis Granderson talked to the press but he was glum, not playful like he was about seven hours prior. Some players didn’t want to talk and others were already gone.
I left Citi Field around 11 P.M., roughly eight hours after I arrived. It was an exhausting day for me but my mind was awake. I can’t imagine how drained the players were, but they’re used to it.
The 7 train was empty on my way home compared to the end-of-game rush. I reflected on how vast the ballpark truly was when was standing on the dirt. Now I have more sympathy for all of those long fly balls that die at the warning track.
I wanted to step to the plate and pretend I was Wright, but I wasn’t allowed to step on the grass.