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You've Got to Know When To Walk-Off...

I got an e-mail from a former colleague (for anonymitys sake, we'll call him "Eric Terrapin") a few days ago lamenting his visit to Citizens Bank Park this past Sunday, particularly a badly timed walk-off of sorts.

"So I take my wife to see Bonds last night...My seat: Section 202, Row 8, Seat 24...The man who caught the (713th home run) ball: Section 202, Row 7, Seat 24...The man who caught it was Carlos, the very nice young man who sat right in front of me...Where was I during Bonds's at-bat in the sixth? I was trying to buy my wife a fleece because she got cold so we were not in our seats and missed a chance to get the ball. As soon as I saw where the ball landed, I knew it was right at our seats."

Naturally Eric Terrapin was a bit perturbed by this course of events (both because he missed history and missed a chance to get rich by obtaining something he could purchase for $8 in a good sporting goods store) and properly so. If you go to a baseball game, you have earned the right to view it in its entirety. There should be no missing of pitches due to scenarios that allegedly require your attention. So I thought I'd offer up an excerpt from the rulebook of baseball attendance I follow in the hopes that I can save future such "fleecings."

Some of you may find this funny, or not so and that's alright. My goal here is to be educational.

METSWALK-OFFS RULE OF ATTIRE:

When you go to a baseball game always bring one extra layer of clothing beyond what you would normally wear under such circumstances. For a night game, bring an extra layer-and-a-half. For example: if the projected temperature is in the low 70s, you'd normally wear nothing beyond normal attire, but for a baseball game, bring along a light jacket (1)and sweatshirt (1/2). If the temp is in the mid 50s, I usually bring my "polar-bear" coat. Casey Stengel described Busch Stadium as holding the heat well. Shea Stadium holds the wind well and you'll appreciate the suggestion once you've sat through an extra-inning night game.

Add an extra half-layer if its a day game and your party includes women who have dressed light with the intention of tanning. This way, when you get that inevitable 7th-inning 15-degree temperature drop, you'll look heroic/chivalric and well-prepared for offering up a fleece.

METSWALK-OFFS RULE OF DINING: I have seen too many fans whose ballpark experience has been ruined by the long lines at the concession stand. While I recommend for most not to eat at the ballpark, or to get to the park allowing for time to eat, I realize this is not always feasible. For those of us who can't tolerate the hot dog or its vendor, I offer up the following advisory. Think of every person ahead of you in line as the equivalent of one batter (children under the age of 12 count as two batters...they're more indecisive in their pickings). If your concession stand line consists of more than three "batters" skip the trip and try again later. This also applies to restroom trips, which brings us to...

METSWALK-OFFS RULE OF BODILY FUNCTION: A properly timed bathroom break is essential to viewing success. Scout out the restroom locations as you walk to your seat, keeping in mind that the nearest restroom may be behind you (like emergency exits on a plane). The best time for such a trip (regardless of whether your purpose is "Number 1" or "Number 2") is in one of two scenarios

a) When a pitcher is a stranded baserunner at the end of an inning. You can usually add 30 seconds on to your standard 2 minute, 15 second between-innings break to allow for time spent walking back to the dugout. If the pitcher is stranded on second base, or the base opposite his dugout, add 45 seconds. If the pitcher is over the age of 35 or weighs more than 210 pounds (thus the walk becomes more of a lumber) add 30 seconds. This of course is applicable only in National League ballparks. Fans at AL games just have to learn to hold it in.

b) Pitching change. However, it is essential to know your relievers. You should have an encyclopedic knowledge of which trot in from the bullpen, and which walk, and of which warm up quickly, and of which kick at the rubber for a good minute-and-a-half.

Additionally, there is the "Jaffe Clause" to this rule, so named after Isaac Jaffe, the character played by Robert Guillaume on the TV show "SportsNight." Isaac was covering the Giants-Dodgers playoff game on October 3, 1951 and when Chuck Dressen yanked Don Newcombe with two outs and two on in the last of the ninth, Isaac was sure he'd have enough time for a quick pit stop because Newcombe's replacement was usually slow to warm up. But Ralph Branca was quickly ready, and when Bobby Thomson hit the "Shot Heard 'Round the World," Isaac was still in the men's room washing his hands.

Now, I'm pro-sanitary so I'm all for the handwashing that cost Jaffe a few extra seconds, but that's not what did him in. The decisionmaking process is what led to Jaffe's downfall.

Thus, the "Jaffe Clause" reads "THOU SHALT NOT ABANDON THY SEAT UNDER ANY WALK-OFF SCENARIO!"

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