129 Ways To Get a Life
129 Ways To Get a Life (The Podcast!)
12. "Get Lost at a Ball Game."

12. "Get Lost at a Ball Game."

Notes on the New York Mets.

When I started to tackle 129 Ways to Get a Life this November, “Getting Lost at a Football Game” seemed like an easy activity. In fact, I’d already done it. As an alumni of a university where football Saturday is revered with the same spirit and dedication as that of a God-fearing Christian at Sunday mass, I was no stranger to the sport. And, as an alumni of a university where football Saturday means unleashing thousands of young people (many of whom have been drinking since 6 a.m.) into a stadium where everyone is decked out in maize-and-blue, I was also no stranger to getting lost at such an event. Wandering aimlessly through Michigan Stadium searching for friends who’d disappeared was a seminal part of my college experience. 

Maybe it was the worry of tarnishing collegiate nostalgia with new football memories. Maybe it was sheer laziness and a refusal to take the train to New Jersey, or maybe it was just the inability to get my act together and buy tickets. Whatever the why, all that matters is I didn’t make it to a Giants or a Jets game before the season ended. 

And so, “Get Lost at a Football Game” was relegated to the list of activities I’d do one day. I moved on. There was plenty else to accomplish in the meantime. 

Months passed. Dogs were walked, salsa was danced, fish were gutted. As 129 Ways progressed, I found myself becoming more confident and comfortable than ever before. Every prompt was an opportunity for adventure, and I was sure they all were leading to something big.  

But a few weeks ago, a creeping feeling emerged and then became all consuming: the twisted worry pit of whatamIdoing, whatisthepoint, whywon’tOprahemailback, whatiswrongwithme, howdoesthisend. It was the kind of anxiety which zaps an appetite for days and breaks off perfectly healthy nails. I found myself waiting on multiple maybes, hinging my hopes and heart on a series of situations that could be really great… if they only panned out. 

None of them did. My email to Oprah bounced. Suddenly, I worried I was wasting my energy; that this hard work would not, in fact, pay off. And for the first time since starting 129 Ways, I felt lost. 

Naturally, it was the perfect moment to go to a ball game.

Unfortunately, if Taylor Swift’s relationship with Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce has taught me anything, it’s that the NFL is currently on break. Those players are OUT OF OFFICE; do not disturb! Football is a fall sport and it is spring. 

In need of a pivot I started thinking… football, baseball, tomato, tomahto. What’s the difference, really? At the end of the day, ball is life, regardless of whether you play it with your foot or a bat. 

At least, that’s what I told myself while purchasing two tickets in the nosebleed section for the New York Mets


Though I was raised a Detroit Tigers girl, I like the Mets. Founded in 1961 after the Brooklyn Dodgers made it big and left for LA (the natural circle of life for rising comedians and apparently also baseball teams), the Mets were a replacement meant to fill a void in the MLB’s National League. Born of nostalgia, the team’s colors are an homage to those which came before them: blue for the Dodgers, orange for the Giants. Their name – officially the “New York Metropolitan Baseball Club,” Mets for short – is an ode to their city. Even the inaugural roster was packed with aging baseball stars who probably should’ve turned in their mitts in lieu of another turn ‘round the diamond. 

1962: The Bumbling Beginning - The New York Times
The Mets circa 1962.

Historically, they are not a good team. In fact, the Mets’ first season was a shocking level of bad. In 1962, they set the major league record for the most losses in a season since 1899, with a final tally of 40 - 120. They got better in the ‘80s, and then worse, and then I think better again, and then… look, I can’t take us through the entire lexicon of Mets history.

What matters is that they are not natural winners. 

Feeling like something of a loser myself, I was excited to spend a Sunday in Queens with New York’s most loveable underdogs. 

Whether they’re the best or the worst in the league, there’s a special something in the air at a baseball game. Smells of sweat and sunscreen waft throughout, mixing with the odor of all-beef hot dogs to create a particularly unique stench. Screaming kids, screeching adults, the thwack of bats, airplanes flying overhead, and the bright trumpety tunes which accompany each play. It’s peaceful chaos, evocative of childhood and summer. 

Everyone's a little friendlier at a ball game. I caught that wind from the moment the 7 train pulled up to Mets-Willets Point, the subway station flanked by CitiField on one side and the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on the other. My friend pointed it out as the home of the US Open, to which I replied, “Oh the site of horny tennis?,” a nod to Luca Guadagnino’s steamy drama Challengers, to which the well-meaning but creepy fellow who’d been eavesdropping retorted, “No, the US Open.” 

*For the record, both things can be true. It is the site of the US Open and also tennis is horny. Check Challengers out, now in theaters! 

We made our way off the train, down the stairs, and past hawkers selling cheap tickets and ball caps; a dog in a cowboy hat willing to pose for a picture provided you Venmo’ed his owner, and the giant red Mets Home Run Apple (an homage to “the big apple,” the universal nickname for New York. All city slickers call it this FYI).   

If you’re looking at this you have to Venmo the dog.

We scanned our tickets and walked into CitiField. It was a perfect April day, blissfully sunny, not too humid, a crisp 75 degrees that seemed to whisper summer without yet shoving it down your throat. You know, I do feel like I’m always waxing about the weather in these essays, but it’s an important part of setting the scene. And in this scene, the vibes were good, and the joy was palpable.

Even I, who had spent the better part of the last week on the couch wallowing, felt my spirits lift as I settled into my seat. There was a shift. Okay, maybe it was the five flights of stairs we had to climb to get to the nosebleeds, but life seemed a little lighter in section 507, row 8, seat 11.

The snacks we consumed cost more than my ticket, and I got carded after ordering a beer so oddly that the concession man, Edgar, “had no choice but to ask for an ID.” I guess when he asks you, “What kind,” it’s not a good idea to reply, “Oh, there are different ones?” 

I put my ID back in my wallet and said farewell to Edgar, who had already moved on to the next, more competent customer. Beer and hot dog in hand, it was then that I thought about pretending to get lost – literally. About playing the fool, re-animating the bright-eyed 18-year-old girl who once roved around Michigan Stadium searching for her friends. But the thing is, that girl grew up, and also CitiField has fantastic signage. It would actually be very hard for one to lose their way at this particular stadium. 

And I didn’t really want to pretend. I kind of just wanted to be. 

So I took my $17 souvenir cup of Corona (a kind of beer) and found my way to my seat. My friend and I enjoyed a relatively uneventful game. The Mets won 4 - 2.

Later that night, I was back on the couch, curled up with a cup of tea, when I remembered a meme of the Sex and the City ladies at a Yankee game. Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) is smoking a cigarette and drinking a beer, stilettoed heels up on the seat in front of her, nonplussed glare across her face. 

“Miranda was a huge fan of the Yankees. I was a huge fan of being anywhere you could smoke and drink at two in the afternoon without judgment.”

I decided to watch the episode. And surprisingly, Carrie and I were not in totally dissimilar positions. Both having a general bad time, we had dragged ourselves (technically Miranda dragged Carrie, whatever) to a baseball game in the hopes of snapping out of the funk. 

Our stories deviate from there. In SATC, a beer-drunk Carrie, still reeling from her breakup with Mr. Big, chain smokes cigarettes in the stadium and wanders around in a heavy fur coat. She doesn’t have the slightest interest in baseball. She uses her press pass to hang outside of the team locker room, where she meets the hot “new Yankee” and promptly invites him to accompany her to the Dolce & Gabbana party that Friday. 

And that’s just not a realistic situation for me, because I don’t have a Dolce & Gabbana party on the calendar for at least a month. 

After watching, I wondered if I’d squandered my time at CitiField. Should I have taken more risks? Tried to have an adventure, pushed the limits a little bit? Yes, CitiField has incredible signage, but surely I could have found a way to get lost and end up in a VIP box or something. In Anne Hathaway’s new age gap romcom, The Idea of You, she plays a 40-year-old woman who wanders into a Harry Styles dupe’s dressing room thinking it’s the bathroom at Coachella, and then they fall in love. And movies never lie, right? These things happen. 

Come on. Those things simply do not. The bar for “a good day at a ball game or concert” cannot be set by a glossy fanfic romance or a TV show with a flawed antihero whose life I’m not sure I’d strive to emulate. (Sorry, Carrie stans). Those are fantasies, and they’re fun as hell, but they are not real. 

Here’s something real: in When Harry Met Sally, a depressed Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) attends a New York Giants game, where he laments to his friend Jess (Bruno Kirby) about his impending divorce. The men are bundled in their fall finest and Harry’s sob story is continuously and comically interrupted by the crowd as the footballers run their plays. “I’m having the worst time of my life.” The crowd cheers. “My wife left and I’m miserable.” Everyone jumps to their feet to do the wave. “It was all a lie.” The Giants score! 

Harry and Jess at the game, seconds before the crowd starts to do the wave.

Here is something else real: the New York Mets are not the best team in the league. They have lost a lot of games. They work hard, they train, they put their best foot forward, and it’s not always enough. Sometimes their efforts don’t pay off. But they keep playing.

The Mets are not pretentious or prestigious. They’re goofy; their mascot is a married baseballhead couple named “Mr. and Mrs. Met.” They live in the shadow of the Yankees, forever second best to the world’s most valuable baseball franchise. 

People love them anyway. Fans find joy in rooting for their fighters to succeed. And yeah, when the team loses, it sucks. Everyone goes home with nothing but deflated foam fingers and a nasty farmer’s tan. But when the team wins? It’s electric. 

This sentiment applies to any team and any sport. Football, tennis, baseball, good, bad, pro, amateur. It doesn’t really matter. Because even if only for a few hours, everyone is cheering for something bigger than themselves. You get lost in the game – at the game – together. 

Going to a Mets game didn’t solve any of my problems. But it gave a reason to celebrate, to laugh, to shout. It made me stop feeling sorry for myself, as it’s literally illegal to cry at a ball game (see: A League of Their Own). And most importantly, it reminded me that even after a week of strike-outs, it isn’t the end of the season. There will be more games. And eventually, hopefully, the wins will come. 

So maybe I went to the game lost and found some necessary perspective: the Mets mentality. 

At the end of the day, ball is life! And that’s really all that matters.

Thank you for reading 129 Ways To Get a Life. This post is public so feel free to share it.


129 Ways To Get a Life
129 Ways To Get a Life (The Podcast!)
A series in which a 20-something exclusively follows the advice of a dating column published in 1958 to explore modern love and life.