Thursday, May 30, 2013

All Aboard!

A transit theme?  I can get on board with that!

Dontrelle Willis, the 2003 National League rookie of the year, is nicknamed "The D-Train," a subway line in New York City.  After nine major league seasons, Willis signed with the Long Island Ducks this spring and a friend and I hope to see him in Islip.  He pitched the Ducks' home opener and has gone 2-1 in five starts, with a 3.71 ERA.

The G train, by contrast, is not named for Mets right-hander Dillon Gee. Nor was Gee on the mound when Byways follower T-Bone saw the Mets lose to the Reds on Monday, May 20.  Pitching that night was Shaun Marcum, earning his fifth loss in as many starts (6.59 ERA, 1.57 WHIP).  Jay Bruce took Marcum deep to lead off the sixth, ultimately the winning run in the game.

Many Brooklyn residents are happy the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) extended G train service to Church Avenue.  T-Bone is among them but on May 20th she would have been better off finding another way home.

Due to planned service changes (that she clearly neglected to check), it took her five trains to get back from Citi Field.  T-Bone transferred from the Number 7 Flushing Line to the G, which was operating overnight in two sections and only as far south as Hoyt-Schermerhorn.  She switched there to the A, her fourth train, took that one stop and changed again to the F.  All told it took her two hours to get home.

Unlike the stations in Chicago, both 161st/Yankee Stadium and and Met-Willets Point acknowledge the respective franchises.  The latter used to be named Willets Point/Shea Stadium but it seems the MTA decided it wasn't going to give Citi ® a freebie when the new ballpark was built.
Photograph by Wally Gobetz used through Creative Commons license.

There are interesting post-game social dynamics on the subway lines that serve Citi Field and Yankee Stadium.  Close to the ballpark, the fans overwhelm the train.  Growing up outside New York, my dad kept a Yankees schedule in the car so he would know when to avoid the Major Deegan.  I bet some regular riders of the D, 4 and 7 trains time their travel to avoid the crowd.  (I apologize to the purists for mentioning dad's C-A-R.)

The dynamic is more than numbers.  The guys (and occasional gal) who have been poundin' beers can be boisterous or bombed, trending towards dozey over the course of the ride. Then there is the existential question, whether or not to exit and wait for the next over-crowded train (or maybe the one after that) to avoid traveling all the way from the Bronx in the same car as the guy who vomited on himself.  His friends think it is all pretty funny.

Game outcome contributes greatly to the mood on the subway.  Whether or not the home team won and how—for example, a late-inning collapse or a laugher—can make the train somber or festive.  T-Bone would not have minded a long ride, she has told me, if she was also riding the buzz.  However, the game she was returning from was the Mets' 25th loss in 42 contests (.405).  Only the Astros and the Marlins (both .289) had a worse record on May 20th.

There has been little for Mets fans to get excited about this season.  Like last year, the one bright spot is a pitcher, in this case Matt Harvey.  (Okay, honorable mention to John Buck's home run production.)  But this is a team that ranks near the bottom (13th or 14th in the National League) in at bats, hits, doubles, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging, earned run average, saves, innings pitched and runs allowed (as of today).

The Mets have been so bad that when I saw T-Bone after last Monday's game, the only thing she had to report was it took her two hours to get home.

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