Skip to Content

The Mets’ Pride Night, As Witnessed By Someone Who Cared A Lot About The NHL Draft

Citi Field scoreboard with NHL Trade Alert graphic on it
Heather Chen/Defector Media

QUEENS, N.Y. — My high school's senior honor nights were always held in the auditorium, and kind of like graduation, it was a whole production. We had to have a rehearsal for it, and every student had an assigned seat on the stage to ensure that we'd be called up at the right time. I don't remember a whole lot from my own senior honor night because, frankly, it was very long and boring. However, I do recall that they sat us in alphabetical order, with all the people at the front of the alphabet sitting, thankfully, near the back of the stage. I say "thankfully" because, concealed behind rows and rows of students, I could safely pull out my phone and watch the Rangers lose to the Hurricanes in overtime in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

If I'm committed to watching a hockey game, I will tune in on my phone from anywhere—school board meetings, frat parties, in line for a Mitski concert, even while covering the Columbia encampment. So when I found out that the Mets' Pride Night was going to be at the same time as the NHL draft, I was, at first, a little conflicted. Would it be wrong to watch one sporting event while actually attending another? On one hand, I wanted to see if anything interesting would happen during the draft. How would I live if I couldn't understand all the jokes in my Twitter feed? On the other hand, I had been casually following the saga of the Gay Grimace Mets, and I needed to experience the phenomenon in person.

Uh, the Gay Grimace Mets, you say? Let me explain. I am not a huge baseball fan, but even I knew that the Mets had a terrible start to their season. Despite having the most expensive roster in the league, it looked like they were en route to more disappointment even by the end of May.

Then, on June 2, the Mets changed their profile picture for Pride Month. Afterwards, they won three straight against the Nationals. Before they knew it, the Mets were winning a lot more than they were losing!

The team even brought out noted queer icon and McDonald's mascot Grimace on June 12 to throw the first pitch at Citi Field. When the Mets took down the Marlins 10-4 that night, the Gay Mets evolved into the Gay Grimace Mets.

As the team continued to find uncharacteristic success, including a big-slugging two-game sweep of the Yankees last week, this internet delusion turned into a corporeal phenomenon—one that I needed to experience for myself. And you know what, I'd bring a portable phone charger and stream the NHL draft at the same time too!

As the first pitch took place at Citi Field, I was pulling out my phone and tapping into the draft, AirPods on noise cancellation mode. Macklin Celebrini went first overall. The Astros hit a home run.

On the jumbotron, Grimace appeared as a celebrity guest, and the crowd went wild. Across the country at the Las Vegas Sphere, Gary Bettman stood underneath a gimmicky display that made it look like the audience was inside of a giant goal. "We have a trade to announce!" he boomed. At the end of the fourth inning, the score was 2-1, Astros.

Then, the Mets put on a video of the viral queer singer Chappell Roan teaching the dance to her song "HOT TO GO!" Around me, some people were on their feet, forming Os and Ts with their hands. Meanwhile, I was trying to tell my friend about Dean Letourneau, the Bruins' pick at 25th overall.

"He's 6-foot-7, but he has good agility," I said.

"That's crazy," she responded. "Are you even watching the game?"

The Mets further treated the gays with three homers, six unanswered runs and a 7-2 victory. While they would stumble the rest of the weekend, the Gay Grimace Mets had a 16-6 June record at the end of Pride Night. But my brain was elsewhere, because the Dallas Stars were about to make their pick at No. 29 overall. As the clock ticked down, infielder Jose Iglesias, who goes by the stage name "Candelita," came out to sing his new song "OMG" while his teammates swarmed around him. My brain felt like it was exploding. The Stars front office took the stage in Las Vegas and announced the team would be taking Emil Hemming, yet another Finnish player for the organization.

Fireworks exploded overhead. A goal horn rang out to indicate that another trade was going to take place. The Flyers were giving their newly acquired 32nd pick to the Oilers.

Some might argue we were never meant to consume sports like this, caught between two worlds but trying to live in both of them at once. But I'll always remember the day that convinced me otherwise. It was my senior year of high school, and I was at a school board meeting, the only spectator in sight. Partway through the agenda, board members started arguing in front of me, trading slight verbal jabs with each other. On my computer, a full line brawl had broken out between the Red Wings and the Wild. It gave me a rush to see this simultaneous clash between the two realities at the same time, each experience heightened by the other. I suppose there are times and places where it might be better to set down your phone. But at a game? A game might be one of the best venues to keep both lines of drama running.

If you liked this blog, please share it! Your referrals help Defector reach new readers, and those new readers always get a few free blogs before encountering our paywall.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter