Citi Field

When There’s No Baseball To Enjoy, Enjoy Citi Field

Since Citi Field opened, I’ve been to a countless number of games. It’s fewer than the games I’ve attended at Shea, but still I’ve attended many games at Citi. Tonight, I made the conscious decision to enjoy the park.

Honestly, I made that decision based for two different reasons. The first was the lineup was Nori AokiJose ReyesAsdrubal Cabrera. Once again, that lineup signals the Mets have completely lost focus on their primary objective, which is to develop and find out about their young players. 

The second was when I entered Citi Field with my son, and he was interviewed by SNY:


From, there it was the usual pre-game routine with him. First, it was the baseball:


Then, it was a visit with Mr. & Mrs. Met


After that, I made it to the starts because I wasn’t going to miss Noah Syndergaard‘s first “start” off the Disabled List. 

It was a glorious return with him hitting 99 MPH on the gun while facing the minimum. Once Daniel Murphy grounded into an inning ending 6-4-3 double play, Syndergaard’s night was over. 

He looked great, and he left the game without issue. It was certainly a highlight.

 From there, the Mets went to Matt Harvey. It was Harvey’s first career relief appearance even if he was really the scheduled starter. 

In Harvey’s first inning of work, he looked like the Harvey of old. The velocity was there. The slider was moving. It was great to watch, but knowing how he’s pitched this year, I knew it was fleeting, so it was time to re-embark and walk around the ballpark starting with the dunk tank 


Going across the Shea Bridge, right above the Home Run Apple’s old location, I spotted something new 

Of course, that made him want a snack, so we continued our tour around the ballpark. 

Before grabbing his snack, we settled on popcorn in a helmet. 


By the way, I’ve found the helmets with the popcorn and nachos to be the best bang for the buck. They’re full of 

After watching a few innings, we ventured back out because he wanted an Amed Rosario shirsey. Even though Yoenis Cespedes is his favorite player, he reminded me he already has a Cespedes shirt. Because I was swept up in the moment, and I had a coupon, I got swept up in the moment 

Rosario shirsey in tow, my son not only wanted to play baseball again, but he was feeling a bit cocky:


By the way, I really appreciate the giant screen in CF that lets parents run around with their kids and still watch the game. By far, this is the most underrated part of Citi Field. 

We were in our seats for the next few innings including the seventh inning stretch. With all the running around and with it being well past my son’s bedtime, he only made it through the ninth. 

He was drifting, and I thought it cruel to have him awoken by fireworks. As I entered the car, I did hear the fireworks start. Unfortunately, it was in the form of a Murphy 10 inning game winning off Jacob Rhame

Overall, I really appreciated going around the park with my son. Citi Field really is a great place to take a kid to a game. It would be even better with a better team or with an organization that cared about developing their young players in times like these. 

Easier to Breastfeed at Citi Field

Back in 2014,  my son was a little over nine months when we went to his first Mets game.  There was a condition precedent for us going to the Mets game – there had to be an area where our son could breastfeed.  I had done my research, and my wife was satisfied with the results of my reasearch.

Unfortunately, the information provided on the various mommy blogs were completely wrong.  There really wasn’t an area to breastfeed at Citi Field.

During that September 14th game, my wife searched high and low for a place to breastfeed.  First, we went to the nurses’ station, which was the recommeded area.  We were turned away.  Next, we tried to go to one of the family rooms you see scattered across the Field Level.  They’re all locked.  We tried speaking the ushers, but they had no idea.  Finally, we made our way back to Fan Assistance where they arranged for my son to be fed in a right field promenade ticket booth while an employee stood outside the door preventing anyone from entering.  This is not an ideal situation, and it really prevents families from bringing their little ones to games.  Fortunately, the Mets have remedied this situation.

Now, the Mets have a Mamava Station located at the Empire Level of Citi Field.  Note, all moms are allowed to use this station regardless of where they are sitting.  All you need to do is to contact guest services, and they will assist you.  Your best bet is probably to to go Fan Assistance the minute you get to the game and figure out how the process works.  In this private booth, mom is able to either breastfeed her child or pump.  I’m assuming it’ll be easier to bring a handpump into Citi Field.  I’d also caution that there only seems to be a USB station and not an outlet listed in the amenities located in the booth.  One thing that is really nice about the booth is that it’s air conditioned so mom can be comfortable while she is breastfeeding the baby.

The Mets should really be commended for making this addition to Citi Field.  Anything that encourages families to attend Mets games is a good thing.  Anything to helps mothers is an even better thing.  Unfortunately for me, it was about two years too late.

 

My Moment

Growing up all I ever wanted to do was catch for the Mets. We all want to be Hall of Fame players. We all want to win multiple World Series titles. For me, I probably would’ve been alright with just one inning. 

I would’ve settled for my Virgil Sweet moment. No one would have to know it was me. Just to go out there for one inning, lay down the signs, frame the pitch, and throw it back to the pitcher. Go out there and make a mound visit. Just go out there and get the very best out of my pitcher. After the last called strike, walk off the field shaking my hand in pain. No one had to know but me. 

I never did and never will get that chance. There are myriad of reasons why. However, despite what Bud Anderson once told me, I just wasn’t good enough. 

No, Saturday was the closest I was going to get. With Citi Field being re-sodded in the offseason, we couldn’t actually walk onto the field. With that in mind, I made my way over to the bullpens. I found the spot where homeplate was drawn into the turf, and I did what came naturally. 

  
My banged up knees made their typical popping and cracking noises as I got down.  I tried to get as low as my body would let me get now, partially torn Achillies and all. Instinctively, I put that ever so slight extra amount of weight onto my right leg. I did that because it helped me pop out of my squat and put a little extra on my throw to second. Once I got in that position, I stared out at the pitcher’s mound and soaked it all in. 

For that brief moment, my knees stopped hurting. My mind was clear. I was just taking it all in. I finally got my opportunity to get into a catcher’s squat in a major league stadium. 

During the tour, we took many pictures, but there was one I didn’t take. I never asked anyone to take a photo of me behind the plate. I was then reminded again why I have the best wife in the world. She saw me walk over and get down into my crouch. When she saw me “having my moment” as she put it, she made sure to take a few pictures. 

So on Saturday, I got to have my moment. It was probably the last time, I’ll ever have to experience that moment. However, there was another, more important moment. My wife showed me again how much she loves and understands me. Fortunately, Saturday won’t be the last time I get to have that experience.  

Time to Build the Seaver Statue

With the 2016 Hall of Fame class being announced yesterday, it’s hard to believe the Mets will have two Hall of Famers. Understandably and rightfully so, 2016 will be the year for the Mets to honor Mike Piazza. However, it’s high time the Mets also honor Tom Seaver

Depending on your age, you identify the Mets with a particular player. Some will pick Piazza. Younger fans will pick David Wright. Many will pick any one of the players from the 1986 Mets. Part of this is a recency bias. Another part of this is the failure of the Mets organization to forever hold out Tom Seaver, The Franchise, as the Mets singular franchise player. 

Go to other big league stadiums, particularly the new ones. The Yankees have Monument Park. In Monument Park, the Yankees have paid special tribute to five Yankees including Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. The Giants have a statue of Willie Mays. The Phillies have one for Mike Schmidt. The list goes on and on. The Mets?  They only have a special honor for Jackie Robinson

Walk around Citi Field. There’s no special designation for Seaver. Yes, his number is retired. His retired number also hangs on the same wall as Jackie Robinson. There needs to be a Tom Seaver statue. The main reason is all Mets fans need to know who he was. For some reason, Seaver isn’t spoken about in the historical context as he should. Part of the reason could be the team he represents. 

This isn’t an issue of the Mets finances. I’m not mocking the Mets here for not having enough money to purchase a statue. The Mets had the money to build Citi Field. It’s an issue or priorities. They never prioritized honoring Seaver. I still don’t understand why. 

Every Mets fan needs to see Seaver on their way into Citi Field. Kids should be asking their parents and grandparents about Seaver. They should hear stories like I did from my father. Stories about how he was nicknamed The Franchise because he turned the Mets around. They need to hear about “The Imperfect Game.”  They need to hear stories about the Miracle Mets. They should hear about how Seaver used his legs so much while he was pitching he got dirt on his knee. 

There’s no better place to tell these stories than at the ballpark. It’s where my father told me about them. I hope one day he’ll get to tell my son those stories too. I’d love for my son to see the statute and ask, “Who’s Tom Seaver?”  I’ll just then sit back as my Dad tells him the same stories he told me. 

This is what we’re missing with the Seaver statue. We’re missing the history not only of the Mets, but also baseball. Sure, I look forward to my Dad telling my son about how he grew up a Brooklyn Dodger fan, and Jackie Robinson was his favorite player because he ran pigeon-toed just like my Dad did. It’ll be awesome, but it’s also a problem. My son will ask the Jackie Robinson but not the Tom Seaver question on his way into the ballpark. 

The Mets have been around for 54 years and have developed their own rich history. It’s time to properly honor it with a Seaver statute. Then maybe one day we can have a Piazza statute when I can regale my son and hopefully grandson in the future with stories like the trade bringing him to the Mets, him being the greatest hitting catcher ever, and the post 9/11 homerun. Sure, I’ll relate those stories anyway because they’re great stories. However, I want my son to ask me about them. A statue honoring the Mets Hall of Famers would go a long way in that regard.

It’s time to honor Tom Seaver. It’s time to build him his statue. It’s not just for him, but for all Mets fans. The ones that saw him play and the ones not yet born. The a Mets need to honor their history now and set it in bronze. 

MLB Netting Guidelines

To this day, I will never forget the feeling. I was sitting in the back row of Section 126 with my son on my lap. Yoenis Cespedes stepped up to the plate, and I thought for a moment that it was a bad idea to sit there. 

The thing is when Cespedes gets a hold of one, he gets a hold of one. They are line drive rockets out of the ballpark. After seeing him this season and in the Homerun Derby, can you honestly tell me there is anywhere in the ballpark that is truly safe from a ball off the bat like a player like that?  So I sat there nervously as Cespedes struck out. 

Now, I like that area because bathrooms are nearby, and it’s close to the FanFest section. Also, it’s an area of the park where you shouldn’t have to worry about batted balls. In fact the closest there ever was to a problem was when someone tried to push past me while I was holding my son, while standing in front of my seat, so they could catch a t-shirt from the presumably now defunct Pepsi Patrol.  Note, I may or may not have had a hand in that person not catching the t-shirt. 

In any event, I thought of the Cespedes at bat when MLB announced their new netting guidelines. I thought about how I was nervous that day when in reality there wasn’t any real reason to be. I then remembered why I was nervous. I was actually paying attention to the game. 

First and foremost, let me state that I don’t want to see anyone get hurt at a game. I also do acknowledge that a screaming line drive could harm even the most alert fan.  With that said, I believe the netting guidelines is a cosmetic and unnecessary gesture in response to a public outcry for extended netting.  Why is it unnecessary?  Well because teams like the Mets were already in compliance:

Also, there’s something lost in all of this. There’s a certain level of responsibility when you sit in those seats. The first is you shouldn’t sit there if you’re not going to pay attention. Baseball is an interesting game. You should watch it. If you’re not, in most ballparks, you have terrific club access. If you’re not going to watch the game, why not ignore it from a climate controlled room with a wait staff?  

The next responsibility is you don’t sit kids there. It’s too close. Way too close for their reaction time. Furthermore, kids are always doing a million things at once. They’re eating hot dogs, asking to go to the bathroom, and watching the game. They’re easily distracted, and they’re distracting you. If you have the money to sit in these seats, you have the money to sit pretty much anywhere else. Go sit in the right section with your kids and come back when they’re older. 

I honestly can’t think of a good solution to the batted ball problem than people paying attention and/or sitting in an area where it’s not an issue. The game starts with a warning about batted balls in the stands. Why make it more frequent than that?  Think about it logically?  If the person isn’t paying attention to anybody, why would this announcement reappeared on occasion cause this person to start paying attention?  They’re not going to hear it because they weren’t paying attention in the first place. 

The next is assigning security to watch out for people in hazardous areas to find people not paying attention.  The gist is security could warn the person and/or move them to another section. This is a non-starter for me. Because someone is too good to pay attention to a game, a security guard is supposed to be wandering around and watching people.  While this is happening, there’s a game on the field.  The security guard is now at risk. He/she is walking the aisles making sure people are paying attention. Batted ball comes his/her way, and there is is sufficient time to spot the ball and move. 

The other suggestions is the Japanese Leagues netting from foul pole to foul poul.  I don’t like that either. First, one of the charms of being in that area is the ability to get an autograph. That goes out the window. The next problem is you’re preventing players from trying to catch a flyball in the stands. It’s always an exciting play. You’ve now taken it out of the game. 

I’m sure there are other suggestions too. If they’re suitable to the play on the field and the fan experience, I’m all for it. However, none of the ones I’ve heard so far handle that delicate balance. Again, there’s no substitute for sitting there and paying attention. You’re not supposed to text while driving because it’s dangerous. Don’t text while the game is in play. It’s really that simple. 

As for me, I quickly realized my fears were overstated. It happens a lot with parents of young ones. No one hits a ball there. If they ever do, I’ll be prepared because I actually watch the game. 

Goodbye Pepsi Porch

It was announced that Pepsi will no longer be sponsoring the Pepsi Porch at Citi Field. While it’s unclear who called the deal off, it’s a tough blow to Pepsi. 

Just as the Mets were getting good again, the team is primed to have more nationally televised games. It’s possible the Mets will have more postseason games. With the lefty hitters like Lucas Duda and Michael Conforto, we were bound to see the Pepsi Porch a few times over the next couple of years. Instead Pepsi is left with this:

It’s just as well. I’m old enough to remember the days when Pepsi wasn’t offered at Shea. It was RC Cola. As a result, I’ve never associated Pepsi with the Mets. It was always RC Cola, even if I complained to my Dad each time that the soda he got me at the game wasn’t Pepsi. 

Unfortunately, RC Cola has seemingly gone away with other classics like Tab, Jolt, and Snapple Root Beer. Whenever, I see an RC Cola, I make sure to get it even if it’s just to remember those summer nights of my childhood with my Dad, brother, and occasionally my cousin Brian or Uncle Eugene.  The last time I saw RC Cola was in Iceland. During December in Iceland, you really need those memories. 

In any event, I look forward to whatever comes along next. Whatever it will be, I’m sure my son will look back fondly at it one day as a reminder of all the times we spent at the park together. 

Angels in Citi Field

It’s a tough time for the Mets. They gave their all in Game 1, but they lost. They unravelled in Game 2. They’re halfway on their way to losing the World Series. It’s times like these you seemingly only have a hope and a prayer. It’s times like theses you need your guardian angel. The Mets are full in that department. 

In the heavens, Nelson Doubleday sees his Mets suffering. This is the team he rescued from irrelevancy. He once took the helm and ushered in the greatest era of Mets baseball. He knows this team needs his help. 

He knows he can’t do it alone, so he grabs the one man who he knows can gather together the right mix of angels to make this happen. Frank Cashen gives a nod to Mr. Doubleday, and he finds them. He sends them down to Citi Field to help and deliver a message. 

You always start with a winner.  It’s better to have someone who knows how to utilize a young pitching staff. How to bring them to new heights. How to lead them to a championship. He summons Gil Hodges, who under the din of Citi Field is Hodges reaching out to boost morale. 

He summons Yogi Berra. Yogi can’t understand the despair, then again he knows better than anyone it gets late early in New York. The wind swirling into Citi Field reminds us, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” 
For help, Yogi turns to his closer Tug McGraw. Tug is all fired up. He’s been here before with Gil and Yogi. With a loud bang in the concourse in Citi Field you can hear old Tug jumping up and down screaming, “Ya Gotta Believe.” 

Cashen though knows he needs one more. Who better to turn to than the man he last turned to when he was trying to capture a World Series. Gary Carter knows what he’s there to do. You just don’t make the last out. With every crack of the bat, The Kid lets the Mets know they won’t make the last out.  

With that Cashen’s work is done. He’s assembled a group of greats, a group of legends, a group of angels. They’ll be there tonight to guide the Mets to victory. They didn’t let the Mets lose without a fight before, and they won’t let it happen this time either. They’re watching over the Mets. 

We all know what’s leading the Mets to victory tonight even if our human eyes will never see the hands that brought those Mets runs home. 

I’m Glad Citi Field Doesn’t Have a Retractable Roof

As you may or may not know, the original plans for Citi Field included a retractable roof like the one in Toronto and Houston. I thought about that as I sat in the cold on Saturday. 

It meant I was cold. It meant I couldn’t bring my son with me. It meant that the Mets would’ve lost a big aspect of their homefield advantage. This is a team built on pitching as good Mets teams traditionally have. In the cold October weather, that advantage becomes even greater because the ball doesn’t travel as far. If the Mets had a retractable roof, part of that advantage would’ve been taken away. 

Major League Baseball controls whether the roof is open or closed in the postseason. In these playoffs, they closed the roof on a 54 degree day with no threat of rain. They play in worse weather in April. They play in words weather in important September games. They played in worse weather for Games One and Two of the NLCS. 

The ultimate purpose of the dome is to prevent rain outs and delays. If teams want to close the dome for their fans’ comfort, it’s their prerogative for 162 games. A team makes the playoffs and all of a sudden MLB takes control. What’s the point of earning homefield advantage if a large part of it is taken from you. 

So yes, I was disappointed I had to leave my son home. I’m still hoping I can take him to the World Series.  I’m still hoping I can watch the Mets win the World Series with him. Citi Field not having a retractable roof will help that. 

The Crowd Was Great Last Night

There were many disappointments last night. Clayton Kershaw was dominant. Steven Matz couldn’t limit the damage. The Mets couldn’t get the big hit. 

However, one thing that wasn’t disappointing was the crowd. They brought it yesterday. Yes, I saw on Twitter that the crowd was better on Monday. However, it’s easy to be rambunctious when the final score is 13-4. What’s hard is to continue to cheer when you’re down 3-0 and 3-1 to the best pitcher in baseball who brought his A game. 

Throughout the game, the fans tried a number of impromptu “Lets Go Mets” chants. Anytime the potential tying run reached base, the crowd went wild. It was a good crowd. It’s hard to sit through an excruciating game like that and still be there for your team. The crowd was great last night. Was it the best crowd I’ve ever sat in?  No, but it was still a great crowd. 

I was proud to call myself a Mets fan yesterday. 

Citi Field of Dreams

When it first opened, I hated Citi Field. I hated the Dodger aura. I hated the sight lines. I hated the dimensions. I hated the green seats and black walks. I hated that it wasn’t Shea. 

Shea was where I went to my first Mets game. It’s where 1969 and 1986 happened. I saw great games there. I was there for Pratt’s All Folks, the Grand Slam Single, and the Jones’ one-hitter. The one thing I remember was how loud that place got. I remember how it shook. I remember after a huge win high giving and hugging people in the stands and on the ramps. I remember those loud “LETS GO METS” chants on this ramps. As funny as it sounds, I may miss those ramps most of all. 

This past year my opinion on Citi Field has started to change. There’s more Mets stuff all over the place. The walls are blue. The dimensions are finally right. I liken it to when you move in to your home.  At first, the place is empty and strange. However, over time, you make it your own. It may never have the nostalgia of the place you grew up, but this home has memories. 

My memories truly began this year. It’s where I brought my son to his first game. Its where Wilmer Flores cried because he thought he was leaving. It’s where he hit a walk-off homerun to celebrate the fact he was still a Met. It’s now where the Mets play the 2015 NLDS. 

With all due respect to No-han and the All Star Game, the Citi Field story starts tonight.  Shea had the aforementioned moments. It had the catches in the 1969 World Series. I had the Buckner play. Tonight we may find out what the postseason play that defines Citi Field will be. 

With a win today and tomorrow, this formerly despised ballpark will start to become beloved. It will become Mets fans’ Citi Field of Dreams.