by Matthew Kastel
As Americans return to stadiums with hope and joy at baseball's Opening Day, it's worth remembering that stadiums have been the sites of absurd moments of political theater and dire human rights abuses.
If the Mets still called Shea Stadium home, Major League Baseball probably wouldn't let them host next week's All-Star Game, one of the sport's premier events.Taken at its best, Shea stood as a nostalgic remnant from a kooky bygone era by the time the Mets vacated the old place following the 2008 season. Most people probably didn't read that much into it: They just referred to it as a dump.But dismissing Shea Stadium as nothing more than an ugly blue semicircle surrounded by a sea of auto-part shops—and it certainly fit that description at the end—ignores the building's influential role in ballpark history.When the All-Star Game last came to Flushing in 1964, the three-month-old Shea represented a bold vision of the future. It just so happens that "the future" became "the past" far quicker than anybody imagined....