I threw myself a birthday party on Saturday afternoon, and everyone who showed up asked, “So what have you done so far on your special day?” And for once I had a really good answer: “I spent the morning flushing a toilet at the Mets’ new stadium.”
Here’s the deal: When you’re opening a big building — like, say, a stadium in Queens — you have to check the plumbing under “game conditions,” as it were. That basically means you have to get a few hundred people to flush all the toilets at once. There’s nothing particularly unique about this (the Yankees did it for their new stadium back on February 28th), except the Mets’ stadium has the distinction of being located in Flushing, which added a bit of ironic resonance to the proceedings. The 300 volunteer flushers were comprised of the plumbing contractor’s staff and their families. As for me, a reader tipped me off on this one a few weeks ago, and I was able to convince the contractor to let me come along as an “incognito plumber.”
All of which explains how I found myself kibitzing with a bunch of plumbers inside a 20-stall women’s bathroom located off the right field corner of the field-level concourse. The main thing I learned as we waited for the flushing test to commence was that plumbers don’t use the word “toilet”; instead, they say, “bowl” (as in, “I hear they got over 300 bowls in this stadium” or “Holy shit, 20 bowls in one bathroom!”).
Eventually, a guy on the P.A. gave us instructions on precisely when to flush. Over the course of about 10 minutes, I flushed this
toilet bowl about 20 times. There was some random chuckling along the way, because the sound of flushing is sort of inherently humorous, and then we were told that the test was over and that the plumbing system had passed with flying colors, prompting a lot of cheering and high fives. (Sorry, ladies, I didn’t test out the tampon machine, but I assume it was shipshape.)
The whole thing was a hoot. Everyone was given a T-shirt (mine’s going straight to eBay), and afterward they served us burgers, dogs, and fries at one of the concession stands. Not a bad start to my birthday, right?
As for the stadium itself, it’s nice enough. Some parts of it are still wrapped in plastic, under construction, or unfinished (I assume the right-hand half of that banner will be installed shortly), but here are some rough impressions and observations:
• The sightlines are very, very good.
• Here’s what the out of town scoreboard looks like.
• Guess who’s providing all the ATMs.
• Odd combination of elements here. I love the old Pepsi script, natch, but it doesn’t pair well with the new Pepsi globe.
• The best thing about the new stadium, from my perspective, is its location. Bear with me here while I explain: Shea was situated such that it was surrounded by parking lots and Roosevelt Ave., which has an elevated subway that pretty much seals off any visual access to the surrounding neighborhood. In other words, Shea was completely isolated in its own little space, largely cut off from the surrounding community. But as you can see in that satellite photo, the new stadium is in Shea’s old parking lot, which means it’s right on 126th St. — and 126th St. is the western edge of the Iron Triangle, a glorious mess of auto salvage shops, muffler shops, tire shops, and so on, most of them housed in rusting Quonset huts. It’s a gritty but vibrant scene, which of course means it can’t be allowed to exist next to the Wilpons’ new toy, so the city is in the process of condemning and redeveloping the Triangle. This will eventually result in dozens of businesses being forced to close, but for now the Triangle is still going strong. So when the Wilpons look across the street from their shiny new stadium, this is what they see, and I bet it bugs the shit out of them. Or at least I hope it does — serves them right.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Faaaaaascinating story from Jeremy Brahm, who reports: “Swedish swimmer Therese Alshammar broke the world record in the 50-meter butterfly last Tuesday. However, she was soon stripped of the record because she wore two swimsuits. The second swimsuit was a ‘modesty suit,’ but the event took place in Australia, which has a prohibiting a second suit because it may provide extra buoyancy in the pool.” … Did you know Venezuelan prex Hugo Chavez threw out the first pitch at a 1999 Mets game? Go ahead and make the obvious joke about him being a lefty (with thanks to Morris Levin). … Little piece about Nyjer Morgan’s stirrups here. … Wimberly! More on Uni Watch’s new favorite player here. … New white football pants for Hawaii. Here’s a closer look. … Decent page devoted to Red Sox uni numbers here (with thanks to Ilana Hardesty). … What the hell is this uniform? It’s from a 1979 SI article about what football would be like in the year 2000. Hilarious stuff. To read the article, go here, click on “View This Issue,” and click ahead to page 48 (nice find by Ian Nichols). … Odd tagging error discovered by Peter Kaszczak, who ordered a 1994 Pirates cap from Dugout Memories and found a Phillies logo on the label. … The Nuggets will be wearing green uniforms on April 2nd and 4th — not for an Irish-themed promotion, but as part of an NBA environmental-awareness initiative. … The Lions are retiring Corey Smith’s number for one season (with thanks to Alan Borock). … Attention Matt Powers: Here’s a class you should be teaching (with thanks to Ryan S. Rearick). … Serious color-on-color game: Auburn vs. Tulsa (with thanks to Jeff McClendon). … Ieasia Walker, who plays on the Copiague High School girls’ hoops team, likes to wear striped socks (with thanks to Vince Alongi). … A snowstorm broke out during a recent soccer game in Japan, so they had to switch from the regular silver ball to a high-visibility orange ball (as reported by Jeremy Brahm). … Carlos Gomez wore an advertising tattoo and some very glittery trunks for his heavyweight title bout against Vitali Klitschko on Saturday night. Anyone know why the ref wore a black armband? … You’ve got to be kidding me. … Steve K. found this 1974 Giants media guide on eBay. “The weird thing is that it has the discofied ‘NY’ logo that wasn’t introduced as the team’s official logo until 1975,” he says. “And to boot, it has a red/blue combo, which I’ve never seen before.” … Now that‘s an NOB (with thanks to Chris Salove). … The four Oakland policemen who were killed over the weekend may be memorialized on the A’s uniforms when the regular season starts, and Chisox skipper Ozzie Guillen wore “OPD” on his cap (for Oakland Police Dept.) for yesterday’s A’s/Sox spring training game. Details here (with thanks to Brinke Guthrie). … Jim Pericotti attended the New England Game Worn Hockey Jersey Expo on Saturday and photographed some good stuff, including a Thomas Pöck UMass jersey, complete with umlaut (something the Rangers didn’t bother to include), the Bruins’ wonderful 50th-anniversary patch (here’s a closer look), and Eddie Shore’s Springfield Indians coaching jacket. “I’m also sending some close-ups of my Ice Cats jersey,” says Jim. “The numbers are styled with ‘claw mark’ notches, but what’s interesting is the material used. The white and teal layers are tackle twill, but the darker blue middle layer is some type of shiny plastic. I’ve never seen that material before used on a jersey, so maybe someone can shed some light on it.” Anyone..? … Good view of Dave Maloney’s FNOB here with thanks to Casey Wurzbach). … Excellent view of the Celtics’ Reggie Lewis memorial band from 1993-94 here. The black-on-black number always made it very hard to see the “35″ unless the light was hitting it just right (big thanks to Nick Tavares).