As hinted earlier, on Tuesday I attended Star Wars night at Citi Field. There’s no bigger draw for this site than the combination of Mets and Star Wars, the two things I have loved for as long as I can remember. Actually, this is a picture of the two bobbleheads on my desk right now as I type this sentence:
So this was pretty much catnip for me. I drove down to Citi Field last night — Little Brother Flood couldn’t make it, so Papa Flood was dragged along — and attended the game not as a member of the media, but just as a paying fan. I got to the park about an hour before the first pitch, picked up my tickets at the window near the left field gate, and went inside:
Inside Citi Field, two things were immediately apparent. The first was that this was not going to be a heavily attended game. Forty-five minutes before the first pitch, you could count the number of seated fans by hand, and entire sections remained empty through the game. The second was that there wasn’t going to be hundreds of stormtroopers patrolling the stadium as I had hoped. Walking out to the center field plaza past dozens of fans, I saw one kid in a dirty Return of the Jedi t-shirt and a second in a Darth Vader mask, but that was it. Any Imperial presence was being kept to a minimum. I was worried this was going to be lame.
However, our tickets informed us that the bullpen plaza — the open area between the bullpens and the 126th Street tire fire, overlooked by the Shea Bridge — was where we were supposed to pick up our Star Wars/Mets/Stand-up-to-Cancer t-shirts. Down the stairs we went, into our Joseph-Campbellian belly of the whale. The bullpen plaza: You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.
Outfitters of the empire, there are several conveniently located Modell’s Clubhouses on Coruscant.
The bullpen plaza was where the action was. Maybe a hundred or so children of all ages, some in Star Wars costumes, mingled with Imperial Stormtroopers, bounty hunters, Tusken Raiders, rebel pilots, the Dark Lord of the Sith, a Japanese reliever, a fuzzy Kashyyykian smuggler, and a fuzzy bookish knuckleballer in a Mets shirt. The event on the plaza wasn’t necessarily advertised throughout the park, but it was open to anyone who wandered down into a galaxy far, far away. If you were there, you could have come on down. The only real deterrent was the threat of a Mets-Nationals game breaking out later — Hiyo!
The Star Wars/Fight Cancer/Mets t-shirts could be picked up at the table with your ticket (or bartered for a $5 dollar donation to “Stand Up To Cancer,” a charity that co-sponsored the event) and are very confusing, with a Stand Up To Cancer logo, a suggestive image of incestuousness siblings, and a Mets insignia on the sleeve.
There was a lot going, both on the shirt and in the plaza. People shuffling back and forth, posing for pictures with players, mascots and troopers. R.A. Dickey posed briefly with each costumed figure, working through the lineup one by one — as he is wont to do — and saying a quick hello to passing fans. He would feature prominently throughout the night.
The above picture pretty much sums up the entire event. Real security and Imperial security, Mets jerseys, R.A. Dickey, Darth Vader, and a wookie somewhere in the back.
You know what? Maybe this picture sums it up. I wonder what they were talking about. And in what language . . .
Or maybe it’s this picture. Question: Is the term “sand people” considered a slur in the Star Wars universe? Should Luke Skywalker be referring to them as Tusken Raiders, and simply doesn’t because he’s a backwards farmboy? I don’t want to be offending any Tusken Raider readers.
Someone else’s kids!
Dickey made a quick getaway back to the clubhouse after posing for pictures, but Ryota Igarashi and his interpreter Michael Peters hung around for the costume contest. I also don’t believe many fans recognized Igarashi, who was in a sweatshirt and sans cap — it’s surprisingly difficult to identify baseball players without names on the backs of their jerseys. I’ve been in the visiting clubhouse and had to look up pictures on my phone to identify players. Fun fact. So Iggy passed about as unnoticed as Obi-wan on the Death Star.
But yes, there was a costume contest for the younglings, hosted by Mr. Met and some guy with a megaphone. Mr. Megaphone led off with a “Jose Reyes may be going for the batting title, but we’ve got a Wookie of the Year right here” line.
No one laughed. Then Chewbacca mauled him. After everyone was calmed down and the mess was cleaned up, they brought out a new MC to continue the costume contest. There were a dozen children in the contest, a shocking number dressed as characters from the Prequel Trilogy. The contestants presented themselves one by one, and votes were taken by cheers. (This site booed the tasteless children in Prequel costumes.) The three finalists won prizes they would receive on-field during the seventh-inning stretch — Star Wars clocks for second and third place, and a set of all six movies on blu-ray for the particularly adorable Princess Amidala who won the contest.
There was some further photo-posing afterwards — the guy playing Boba Fett rocked it, by the way:
You wouldn’t think that there’s much acting involved there, with the helmet and all, but he threw in enough subtle head turns and subdued movements to own the part. There’s definitely a Boba Fett aura, and he nailed it.
The pre-game festivities broke down after that, with the visitors from another galaxy preparing for the game and fans heading towards their seats. Even this color-coordinated fellow:
We went out to the center field plaza to eat, and discovered along the way that it was also knitting night. Knitting knight? Knitting knite? Knitting knite. So for those keeping score at home, it was Star Wars night, Stand Up To Cancer night, and knitting knite. And Filipino night, too, actually. So if you’re a Filipino Mets fan who also happens to knit, love Star Wars and hate cancer, golly did you miss a game focus-grouped for you.
As for knitting knite, there were blue and orange yards threaded on the edges of the tables in center field, blue and orange knits covering the beams of the Shea Bridge, and a “Let’s Go Mets” sign weaved into the link fence at the top of the upper deck near our seats. Various people knitted throughout the game, too, as I overheard on the broadcast walking past a TV in the upper deck.
Impressive. Most impressive. That must have been quite the change of pace from making mittens for all fourteen of your cats.
During the game itself, ads for the new Star Wars Blu-rays played on the video board, along with trivia questions between innings and clips from the movies after base hits. (Disappointingly, they didn’t use Yoda’s “Control, control, you must learn control!” after a walk. They really should have hired me for this.) The highlight, however, was R.A. Dickey’s acting debut. He first played a disappointed stormtrooper supervisor during one sketch that played on the board between innings:
Actual line: “Those were the droids you were looking for.”
A second video was played twice later in the game, with Dickey being brought before Darth Vader by a pair of stormtroopers. Dickey addressed Vader as his father, then says “join us” as the video cuts to a “Let’s Go Mets” chant. Eight-year-old me exploded in glee.
That’s an AP photo, obviously. I was in the upper deck behind home plate, sitting near a family with three young boys all wearing Star Wars shirts and, help us all, Yankee hats — fans of any and all evil empires, I suppose. At one point, the youngest brother, maybe three, had a lollypop that he let his older brother borrow for a while. The youngling asked for his pop back, they argued, and Dad finally had to step in and order the older son to surrender the candy to his younger brother. The younger brother got his lollypop back, and then immediately pointed and laughed at his now candy-less brother.
Small children are sociopaths.
And that was that for Star Wars night. The game itself was slow and boring, with September bullpens leading to all-you-can-platoon pitching changes, the Mets scratching out just two runs and a ninth inning rally coming up 90 feet short. Jose Reyes pushed ahead towards the batting title and free agency, Bobby Parnell gave up a lead in an inning that wasn’t the ninth, and David Wright sunk back into a cold streak.
But it was a goofy sort of way to spend a weeknight. Baseball and Star Wars are all about children and children’s things and being a child at heart (only hopefully with the capacity for empathy). And if that doesn’t sound appealing to you, well, you’re just a stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking Nerf-herder.
“Who’s scruffy looking?”