Joe Benigno was ticking me off.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. I love Joe & Evan and listen to their midday show on WFAN to get my Mets news almost every day. But when he reads that Anthony’s coal-fired pizza commercial and I’m thirteen hundred miles from New York, I get frustrated. Especially when I’m one of the few Italians living in the Deep South and the only option is Pizza Hut.
Welcome to the world of a telecommuting Mets fan. Live by digital technology; die of chain restaurants.
Alas, it’s better than the old days. Back in 1984 I was a rookie TV reporter in Virginia surviving on phone call updates from Dad, a regular supply of week-old New York Posts via snail mail, and conversations with my boss who was also a die-hard. You think giving up chocolate for Lent is tough? Try moving away and going cold turkey on baseball before technology became the street pusher for my Mets addiction. At one point the withdrawal was so bad my boss and I took a news car up to the top of a mountain one night in an effort to pick up a radio broadcast. Bob Murphy’s voice intermittently segued in and out of a country music station, but Murph accompanied by Patsy Cline was better than nothing. Talk about crazy.
Then, the satellite and digital gods smiled on us. The neighbors hated the ten-foot satellite dish on my roof. Hey, buddy, I got your subdivision covenants right here.
Now, despite the lack of a mom-and-pop pizza joint within 500 miles of me, displaced Mets fans can at least get by. I read the New York papers on my laptop, listen to Big Apple radio on the ‘net, watch the games via the dish. Can’t get my best friend on the phone during a game? No problem. I can add my sarcasm to Evan Roberts’s Twitter feed and vent about the Wilpons with other fans. It’s a seat in the digital upper deck, surrounded by those real die-hards who will talk about the Mets with anyone.
Of course, as is always the case with technology, it’s not a perfect world. There’s the dreaded “rain fade” on the satellite (something that never happened back in the days of the rooftop antenna) that seems to pop up at the most inopportune times. The Internet can be really unreliable and for some reason will switch to a Nashville sports station without warning, leaving me with a twangy discussion about the Tennessee Titans. And then there’s the blackout problem.
Oh, you think because I live so far away I don’t have to worry about that? Most times I don’t. But when the Mets play the Braves, who have jurisdiction in this area, I’m stuck with the cornpone Atlanta announcers. David Wright might hit one 450 feet but you’ll hear, “the wind is really blowing out tonight.” Climate change obviously caused the Mets to win. Who knew? You can always call up a buddy back home, have him place his phone by the TV to get the Mets broadcast, and mute the sound on your flat screen.
Still, it’s never quite the same as being in the old neighborhood. I can’t get in the car on a whim and go to tonight’s game. But until some geek comes up with a real-life Star Trek transporter to get me to Citi Field, I can survive.
I’d even settle for someone beaming me one of those pizzas.