I’ll always remember the first time I went to a football stadium to see a live game. I don’t know where it was or who was playing, I just remember seeing the pitch and thinking how much smaller it looked in real life, how much closer the players were and that they were real, how green it was, how it sounded (cheering and swearing) and smelt (cigarettes, frying onions, piss). Most of all I just remember being in awe of it all and I’m sure I vowed to go back every week after.
Walking onto the concourse of Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets, I had that same feeling I did when I was a 10-year-old boy: amazement, excitement, wonder; how it’s smaller in real life than on TV, but how impressive the stadium is as it hugs the gleaming emerald outfield; how bright and colourful it is; the hum of chatter, the call of food sellers ‘Hot dogs here!’ and the smell of fresh air and frying food.
It was my first baseball game after being a fan of the sport since university, and I’m there with Matt, the guy who got me into good beer, who also shares my love of baseball and eating and drinking too much. As we walk around the open concourse, past bars and food vendors, the excitement only grows in a sea of fans dressed in white, blue and orange.
|Spot the baseball...|
Our first beer was an odd but easy choice: Rolling Rock. It’s a look back to the uni days when our housemate Jess would bring us cases of Rock from the off-licence her dad ran (she also brought us a 6-foot inflatable Corona bottle...).
The second beer was an easier one: Budweiser (with a hot dog, of course). What is everyone else drinking? What beer is synonymous with America and sports? We had to have one while we were there. And you know what? It was exactly what we wanted while we watched the game: cold and crisp, easy to gulp, not distracting as we sat there like excited boys staring out at the game before us.
As this trip was specifically to see baseball games (as well as to eat and drink New York into a state of famine), we emptied our wallets and paid for shit-hot seats. This meant a great view, plush leather chairs, and, even better, a waiter service for food and drink so we didn’t miss any action (even better still, it meant access to a different bar which included craft beers!).
We ordered beers, going to the bar ourselves to see what was on. I had a Sam Adams Noble Pils and it was excellent; exactly what I wanted and expected, only better.
Then the burgers arrived.
Shake Shack burger have a few locations in America and, more recently, two in the Middle East. One of their outlets is at Citi Field and when we passed it earlier it had a huge line waiting to be served. We’ll get it later, we decided, before we knew about the perks of our expensive ticket purchase.
Juicy meat, oozing cheese and the softest, sweetest bun I’ve ever tasted, melting like candy floss into the warmth within, becoming chewy and working so well with the salty char of the beef and the sharp cut of the condiments. A mouthful of the Noble Pils to follow it down (FABPOW!) while we look around at the bright green playing field and things, I think to myself, don’t get much better than this.
Beer, burgers and baseball. That’s why we went to New York. This moment brought the three Bs together in the perfect way: our first night in NYC, our first baseball game, a great beer and a brilliant burger.
None of these pictures do it any justice...