New York Mets Play in Flushing
"How many angels can stand on the tip of a pin?"
- Thomas Aquinas
As a child, I remember going to watch the New York
Mets play at the fabled Polo Grounds in upper Manhattan
during their second miserable season in 1963. In that
game, Ron Hunt of the Metropolitans beat the Cincinnati
Reds 10-9 on a hotly contested 250-foot foul-ball home
run down the right field line which soared out of the
stadium, landing somewhere near the Harlem River. During
that season the mets would win just 51 games while
losing 111, but on that day I would witness a rare
Even as an eleven-year-old, I still remember watching a
film of Met's manager Casey Stengel berating one player
and complimenting another. He faced rookie hitting phenom
Ed Kranepool and said, "In ten years you got a chance of
turning into a superstar." He then turned to Marvelous Marv
Throneberry and without hesitation, remarked, "And you! In
ten years you got a chance to become 40."
Yesterday, in their final game of the season, I watched in
horror as Mets pitchers give up seven runs in the first
inning to end their chances at post-season play. The game
was over before the first Met even came to up bat, which
diverted even the most devoted fan's thoughts from baseball
to other pursuits.
While watching the contest, I had two odd thoughts.
First, I imagined the founding fathers of that small
Long Island community called Flushing debating among
themselves what name they would give their new home
town. "Shall we call it New Yorkburg or Utopia-land?
Smithville or Jonesville?" No. In their wisdom, they
decided to name the land in which their children lived
after the action of a toilet. Flushing. That was odd
thought number one of mine.
Thought number two was how many cows I could fit into
the stands at Shea Stadium. I'll tell you why I had
this second odd fantasy in a moment.
Shea stadium was filled with 55,000 people which got
me wondering. In the best Abbott and Costello tradition,
Moo's on first. If you've never seen their routine:
Back to the bovines. I calculated that one cow could
occupy the space taken by three seats if she sat still
while drinking her $8 cup of beer. A few thousand cows
could roam the outfield, while thousands more would
stand in foul territory. God bless the miserable tasks
that major league grounds crew might have to perform.
Here's why the imagery of cows and the word flushing
simultaneously came to mind.
Yesterday's New York Times (September 30, 2007) reported
that America is experiencing a 21.7 million-pound meat
recall because people nationwide are coming down with
E. coli disease. Ah, now you see the flushing reference.
Perhaps we could rename the New York Mets home city:
E. coli is caused by a strain of bacterium in the colons
of cows. Imagine that. I understand that if E. coli is in
meat, enough ketchup or steak sauce can mask the taste.
If E. coli is in milk, simply add Ovaltine or chocolate
E. coli bacteria can cause bloody diarrhea and repeated
discomforting toilet visits which results in dehydration.
Take heart. Suffering usually lasts for only 168 hourse
or so, and it ain't pleasant. E. coli infections have
killed infants or the elderly.
Let's get back to Shea Stadium and the cows. The
21.7 million pounds of beef that have been recalled either
came from Paul Bunyan's ox, Babe, or from lots of smaller
cows. One slaughtered cow results in about 750 pounds
of hamburger. We will not count the udder or anus. Those
not-so-prime cuts get to be ground into food for your
dogs and cats.
The math. Divide 21.7 million pounds by 750 pounds
per cow and we arrive at just over 28,000 cows.
Imagine the day that 28,000 cows were slaughtered.
That represents a line of cows about 53 miles long.
If we crammed in two cows per seat, that just might work
to fill Shea Stadium. Of course, some would have to
News of the Mets made page-1 of the Sunday New York
Times while news of the nationwide E-coli meat recall
was buried on page-34 of the Times Metro section. We
New Yorkers do have our priorities, after all.
Eat a burger today and you can get E. coli too. I'll
sign the note for your boss at work or teacher in school,
but it might result in a rather long letter.
With the Mets on the wrong side of their ultimate 8-1 slaughter,
I turned on the New York Jets football game and watched them
play to a very boring 0-0 halftime tie against the Buffalo Bills.
My mind began to wander. How many cows could I fit into a
football stadium? Buffalo stadium would be an ironic place for
cows. Rich's stadium was named for its owner who made his own
fortune by developing Rich's non-dairy coffee creamer.
And then I wondered, what would a Buddhist wonder?
How many cow spirits can fit upon a (baseball) diamond?