Yesterday, I had the joy of bringing my youngest to his first ever Mets game. With this being the second time for me and my family, there are some suggestions I can make to get the most out of the experience:
1. Bring Everything
At Citi Field, you are allowed to bring food and drinks to the game. The caveat with the drinks is they can only be boxed drinks or plastic bottles, no cans. They will say you can only have one bottle per person, but I’ve yet to see them enforce it. In the event they do, it is all the more reason to park close to the ballpark.
Bringing food will limit the chances your child is asking for a hot dog or french fries or ice cream or popcorn . . . . If you don’t have your child asking for these things, you don’t have to deal with saying no to everything. At a minimum, it will limit the chances.
More important than the food is the extra clothes. Make sure you have a change for everything. The weather changes. Things get spilled. Accidents happen. Instead of having a child too hot or too cold, you can switch to pants and you can throw on a sweatshirt. This will also limit the need to go to a souvenir stand, overpay for a sweatshirt, and deal with a child wanting everything in the store.
An important note is the Promenade and the back rows of any level have the wind whipping through making it all the chillier than you’d expect. It’s not quite AT&T Park chilly, but it should give you an idea as to how to prepare.
One other note, get stuff ahead of time. You can get the Oyo figures ahead of time for cheaper. You can get the shirseys cheaper before the game. You can get a whole slew of other stuff as well. Pack it, and just give it to your child at the game instead of dealing with them running around a team store looking for things to buy.
2. Avoid the Big Giveaways
When you have a bobblehead day or gnome day, the crowds and lines outside the ballpark are going to be ridiculous. You’re going to get bumped into, and you’re going to deal with a lot of angry people who are anxious they are not going to get their freebie despite getting to the ballpark hours before the game. Moreover, you don’t want to create excitement for your child over a big giveaway only to not get it.
3. Go On A Sunday
When it is not raining, Family Sundays at Citi Field are great. There is always a giveaway. There are events outside the stadium. There is the Mr. Met’s Kids Club in the center field area with fun things like face painting. While he’s always present before the game at at the second inning, Mr. Met is also a little more prominent in the stands on a Sunday as is Mrs. Met. You can go get your picture with Mr. and Mrs. Met in this area.
You can also do the dunk tank, hit in the batting cages, play video games, and do the tee ball home run derby in this area. Of course, this is all dependent upon the weather. All of these things will be shut down if it is raining. Although, they will let you run around for a bit:
If your child can make it to the end, they also have the opportunity to run the bases after the game. If aren’t a part of the Kid’s Club, you will want to get out there by around the seventh inning as that line gets real long real quick.
4. Buy Tickets Last Minute
While it may take some planning to get your whole family together for the event, if at all possible, you should look to do a game like this at the last minute. Weather is fickle, and kids are all the more so. In the blink of an eye, the weather or a child getting sick can wipe away days, weeks, or even months of planning. On another note, if you wait to the last minute, you increase you chances of getting discounted tickets on Stub Hub, especially in a down season like this one. If at all possible, get your tickets near the bathrooms as this will make the trips to the bathroom for potty or diaper changes less of a walk.
5. Bring Help
It always helps to have grandparents or an aunt and uncle at the game with you, especially if you have more than one child. Instead of having two kids in tow everywhere you go, you can divide and conquer. You can also accomplish this by bringing your spouse as well, but both parents will constantly be running around all game. It’s nice to have a buffer and a break.
Another possible benefit is they will want to spoil them. That could be a souvenir or something like ice cream or cotton candy. Really, any burden you can take off yourself is always good. Also, aunts, uncles, and grandparents are always looking for these opportunities, and this is a good setting for it.
As an aside, don’t bother with the Family Bathrooms. I’ve been doing to games with my oldest for four years now, and I’ve yet to see one of those be accessible.
6. Get There Early
For some children, the biggest issue for baseball games may be the crowds. Getting there early allows you get there and get acclimated before there are too many people at the ballpark. As an aside, it also allows you to get a great parking spot near the ballpark to minimize the walking you have to do with the little ones.
7. Stop at Fan Assistance Immediately
Enter through the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. If you enter through the Rotunda, there are areas for family photos like by the giant 42. Entering through there also makes it easier to stop by Fan Assistance as they are just left of the escalators. At Fan Assistance, you can get passes to the Mamava pods, if you are breastfeeding your child.
At Fan Assistance, you can also sign up for a certificate to commemorate your child’s first game at Citi Field. You can pick them up at the seventh inning, or you can have them mailed home. It will be easier to get them mailed home as it is one less thing to have to worry about on your way out of the ballpark. It’s also one less thing you need to carry.
Fan Assistance also has bags you can get to help you carry things like the giveaways. Really, if you need any help, they can help you.
8. Good Family Photo Spots
As noted earlier, you can stop behind center field to get a family photo with Mr. Met. Admittedly, this can be dicey for a few reasons. First, Mr. Met may not be there if there is rain. You also may have to wait in line, and you may have to deal with your child being afraid of a giant baseball head. With that, you may want to look for other key spots.
Now, many people like to stop at the Shea Bridge. Don’t. There’s far too much traffic, and you run the risk of getting bumped into or getting your photos photo bombed.
Instead, just off to the side is the M&M seats. There you have the red and yellow M&Ms holding up Lets Go Mets signs and wearing “foam” fingers. It’s cute and fun, and it is never crowded allowing you to get that great and easy family photo you wanted.
Another spot worth your time is the Nikon photo booth. There they have a giant glove for you to sit in with props like bats and foam fingers. The bonus with the spot is they will email you the photos. Double and triple check they have the correct email address, otherwise, you will be like me without that great photo you wanted so much.
Also, the Home Run Apple outside the stadium is a good spot, but you’re going to have to deal with some form of a line and with people just blatantly ignoring your taking a picture.
9. Know Where To Get Your Free Stuff
To do this, it is easiest to head through the Rotunda, go up the escalator, and proceed left to hit all of the spots. As already mentioned, there is the Fan Assistance area with the certificate, and the Nikon photos are atop the escalator. After those spots, hit up the Designated Drive booth.
When you sign up, they give you a voucher for a free drink, which may come in handy on a hot day. Now, they put a bracelet on your wrist to indicate you are not drinking. Of course, you can get around that if you really want a drink by taking it off.
As you proceed further down, around Section 121 by the ramps leading out of the ballpark, there is usually a wheel. You and your child can spin the wheel for past promotion items like t-shirts and caps. They will also have Mets baseball cards and signs. Usually in the walk up and just past this, you have those booths where you get free stuff just for signing up for some dumb mailing list or contest. (They’re supposed to check your license to ensure it’s you, but really when you have a couple of kids and a bag on your shoulder, they usually let you go unchecked).
Also as noted prior, you can get face painting and the like in the center field area. One other note is if you take the elevators, the attendant always has Mr. Met stickers on them.
Overall, if you work your way around the ballpark, you will have some free stuff and souvenirs ensuring your child has something to take home with them without you so much as having to reach into your pocket.
10. Just Have Fun
Ultimately, you are there because you are a Mets fan, and you want your children to be one as well. If they need to leave early, leave early. If they want to walk around, walk around. If they need you to plop them on your lap and explain everything to them, do it. Honestly, this is part of the memories and how your child becomes a Mets fan just like you (which may not be a good thing).
Really, there will come a time where you child wants to stay the whole game and they don’t want to do anything but watch the game – just like you. I’m sure when that happens, you will miss the times watching them try to launch homers at the tee-ball field or their wanting to make sure they don’t miss Mr. Met.
For my part, I can tell you when I came home from the game last night, my oldest was all excited to tell all of his friends he got to go to the game, see his favorite player Todd Frazier, and he saw Michael Conforto jump into the stands and hit a homer. We even had to do wash late last night so he could wear his shirt to school.
Thomas Jefferson survives.
The 2018 Mets season didn’t.
Happy Fourth of July
In my life, there are two offbeat holiday traditions I look forward to each and every year if the calendar permits.
The first is St. Paddy’s Day. To me, there is nothing better than the NCAA Tournament starting on a Thursday St. Paddy’s Day.
That morning begins with me making a soda bread, and if all goes according to plan, and by now it does, I’m in front of the TV as the first tip-off begins with a slice of soda bread fresh from the oven. I then wash that down with a beautiful Guiness.
The other tradition is Easter Sunday baseball.
Find the Easter baskets. Go to mass. Enjoy a lovely brunch. Turn on the Mets game.
My first memory doing this was 1987. I knew it was that year because the Easter Bunny stuffed my Easter basket with those beautiful wood bordered Topps cards.
I remember my uncles gathering around the TV to watch the Mets face off against the Cardinals. I still remember my Nana’s consternation over it. That consternation would ensue for decades.
Thirty-one years later, my ritual was renewed with the Mets again losing to the Cardinals.
Those homers accounted for two of the three Cardinals homers of the day and for two of the three runs Matz allowed in his four innings pitched. Being optimistic, this was a stepping stone for Matz.
Sure, you could point to how he needed 89 pitches to get through four. He walked three and struck out just four. The Cardinals scores in three straight innings off of him. However, lost in that was just how bad CB Bucknor was behind the plate, and how much he squeezed Matz.
The converse was Weaver had the same strike zone, but he didn’t struggle the same way. To be fair, he dealt with a more platoon friendly lineup.
With everyone sputtering around him, there’s no surprise he was left stranded all three times.
Flores would go 0-4 with two strikeouts. He also failed to cash in in a key opportunity. In the first, the Mets didn’t get the early led with Flores striking out with runners on first and second with two out.
After that, DeJong hit a solo shot in the top of the second, and the Cardinals never looked back in their 5-1 win.
Big picture, the Mets have nothing to worry about here. It was just one loss in a series they not only played well, but they took two of three. If the Mets play this way, and they’re doing places this year.
And as an aside, it was fun to share one of my favorite traditions with my two boys.
The other night, my infant son woke up early while I was doing work on the computer. Since I couldn’t put him back down, I offered to let him share his thoughts on the Mets. This is what he had to say about the team:
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I’m sure many of you will hilariously say this is nothing different than what I already write or that it’s even better than my Mets analysis.
Last night was one of those nights. You were forever going to tell people where you were. For me, I was sitting on my couch with a cranky baby and four year old. Why were they so cranky?
Well, because I’m me, an avid sports fan and idiot, I woke them up to watch the final few minutes of the Virginia-UMBC game. History was being made, and I wanted them to see something that never happened before – a 16 beating a 1. The final score was as startling as the upset itself with UMBC winning 74-54.
As an aside, Ralph Sampson and his UVA teammates can rest assured they are no longer the Cavalier team who is mentioned as the biggest upset of all time in college basketball. No, that 1982 loss by number one ranked Viriginia to Division III Chaminade will fall by the wayside – even if that was the much bigger upset.
But I digress.
Last night was one of those great moments in sports history, and you didn’t want to miss it. I know I didn’t want my boys to miss it.
It’s not too dissimilar when I woke up my oldest to watch the end of Game 7 of the 2016 World Series. What’s funny about that game was instead of tuning in for the ninth, he was tuned into all the hysteria which included a miracle game tying three run homer by Rajai Davis off Aroldis Chapman, a rain delay, and Ben Zobrist‘s game and World Series RBI double.
For the first time in 108 years, the Cubs won the World Series. My son was watching it much like he was last night when a 16 seed beat a 1 seed for the first time in 136 tries (34 years).
It once again shows that the impossible can happen in sports. As a proud parent, it’s just proof positive that everything has been amazing since my son was born.
Speaking of amazing, the one thing he hasn’t seen is the Mets win the World Series.
Who knows? With Mickey Callaway at the helm, maybe things will be different. Maybe Michael Conforto being ahead of schedule is a good thing instead of the typical Mets unnecessarily pushing an injured player to play (see Beltran, Carlos).
Maybe, just maybe that’ll be the case instead of this being the typical Mets. After all, the Cubs have won the World Series and a 16 has beat a 1.
This could be the Mets years. Probably not.
That was awesome, and for some reason, I think this will be one of those “Where were you moments?”
Thanks to my youngest being a month old, I was up with him with that epic five point eighth end which all but assured the Gold.
And I was up at 4:08 A.M. when the US won their first Olympic Gold in curling!
When your children are newborn, the only way they can truly communicate is crying.
Full diaper? Cry
Want attention? Cry
Bored, upset, angry, happy? Cry, cry, cry cry.
Point is there are many reasons why a baby cries. As parents, there are just so many things you can do to help.
Change the baby. Feed the baby. Give the baby a pacifier. Bounce the baby on your knee. Hold the baby. Rock the baby.
Sometimes it helps. Sometimes it doesn’t.
And when it doesn’t, you find yourself running through the gamut as the baby gets more and more upset. That’s when the cries grow louder and louder and seemingly more and more pained.
To avoid all of that, I have one suggestion. When your baby begins crying or looks to get to that point, quickly put on some music. At a minimum, the hope is that it soothes the baby. Maybe, it will even be exactly what your baby wanted all along.
The easiest way to handle the situation is to have a song ready to go on your phone. Whether it is itunes or You Tube, be ready to quickly turn the song on.
If you are looking for a song to pick, I will say Lou Christie’s Lightnin Strikes worked for both of my sons. Hopefully, it will for you as well:
Like many Mets fans, I was irritated about how last offseason was handled.
They brought back a team who was not good enough to win the Wild Card Game expecting them to both stay healthy and win a World Series.
The Mets postseason chances ended in injuries culminating in a 70-92 record.
Even better, Sandy Alderson completely botched the fire sale. The Mets traded Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson, Addison Reed, and Neil Walker for a group of Minor League right-handed relieves. Oh, and sweet, sweet salary relief.
The plan of action would’ve been acceptable had the team opted to reinvest that money in the team. Well, not only did the Mets opt not to reinvest that money, they decided to hold onto more of it.
How do I respond to this?
I know why. It’s because if the shared experiences. I want to be able to enjoy the rare times the Mets are relevant with my sons.
Hell, I’d love to do that with my Dad as well. However, with the way this team is being operated from a financial and personnel standpoint, it seems like that’s becoming less and less of a possibility.
Sadly, the Wilpons don’t care about my story or other fans stories. They don’t have to because they’re making money anyway. They don’t have to because fans like me keep coming back for more, and even worse, we begin the process of indoctrinating our children at a young age.
So yes, I’m to blame why the Wilpons get away with operating the Mets this way. However, only the Wilpons themselves are to blame for choosing to operate the team this way.