Browsing Archive March, 2009

Citi Field: First Look

citi-sign.jpg

The good, the bad, and the ugly of Citi Field, brought to you in pictures. View the photos, read my remarks, and form your own opinion … or wait another two weeks and try to scalp a ticket so you can see the place for yourself.

Thanks to fellow blogger Andrew Vazzano of TheRopolitans, I was able to attend the very first baseball game ever played at Citi Field, between the St. John’s Red Storm and the Georgetown Hoyas.

While there, I took a bunch of pictures to give you an idea of what the new stadium is like. Unfortunately, the day was dreary, with gray skies and a constant mist, so all the photos came out similarly drab and colorless. Since there have been several photo and video “tours” on other blogs, I’ve tried to assemble more esoteric points of interest around the park.

What was most strange about this day was that it is likely the only time the stadium will look so sparse of spectators, despite being a sellout. All 42,000 seats were sold — within 45 minutes of going on sale on the internet — yet the majority of folks were walking around the inner guts of the stadium to check everything out rather than sitting in their seats.

All photos have been published as a series, and this is article number one. More than 20 photos and descriptions are included, to guide you through this virtual tour of Citi Field on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Click the links below this post to navigate through.

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Phillies Fan Booted From Citi Field!

Reed Frazier, the camera operator for St. John’s University’s Office of Athletic Communications, who happens to be a Phillies fan, was asked to leave Citi Field during Sunday’s game — because he was wearing a Phillies jacket.

… I, along with the Office of Athletic Communications, was to help in broadcasting the game online via St. John’s University’s sports website.

The weather was less than desirable; mist was coming down which created a cool dampness outside. We had been advised to wear St. John’s University polo shirts, provided for us, to the game as well as rain proof jackets. Because of this, I wore my Phillies jacket to the field.

… It was after the ceremonial first pitch (John Franco) and the national anthem that I was approached by another co-worker who insisted that I put on the jacket. He informed me that he is a Mets fan and he understands where I am coming from, but that I have to put on the jacket. I told him that in no way did it affect how I was to do my job, therefore I could not justify doing so. I said, “If I was wearing a Mets jacket, would this even be a problem?” He told me everyone had to wear the jackets. I pointed out that two of my fellow student workers were wearing their own jackets. I even offered to compromise by wearing the St. John’s University jacket beneath my Phillies jacket. He dismissed the idea and left.

I returned my attention to my camera. Moments later, the head of the department rumbled up the platform and stood beside me. I looked to my side.

He said, “You have to take off your jacket.”

I replied, “In no way does it affect the job I am doing. It is a nonissue.”

He responded by saying, “It is an issue with the Mets. You can either put on the jacket or leave.”

“Then, I’m leaving.”

I walked over to Paul, shook his hand and told him it was a pleasure to meet him. In doing this, the head of the department reaches from behind and yanks my press pass out of my free hand. I exited the platform and began to walk to the doors to leave. The head of the department followed me.

“Are you really going to do this?”

I replied, “Yes.” Then, I left the building.

If you read the entire article, you can get the gist that this fan was not looking to intentionally tick anyone off, but at the same time wasn’t about to be told what he should or shouldn’t be wearing. I can’t really blame him — especially considering that this was a college game, with no actual Mets players in sight.

There’s a possibility that people were just yanking his chain, and that no Mets official actually insisted that he take off the jacket. Indeed, I’m sure if this creates a storm (pardon the pun … St. John’s Red Storm, get it?), the Mets will say they never did such a thing and someone must have been playing a prank.

In any case the kid was pretty calm and collected about the entire ordeal.

Because I was not informed of the Mets organization’s disapproval of my attire firsthand, I can only speculate if there really was an issue with the Mets, or if it was St. John’s Athletic Department’s last ditch efforts in forcing me to remove my jacket. Every Mets staff member that I spoke with was very pleasant and accommodating. I appreciated their courteousness and lack of judgment.

The fact that I was removed from Citi Field for not removing my jacket is absurd to me. I was working at a NCAA baseball game, not even a Mets game. There should never have been an issue in such a setting. I highly doubt an event similar to this would occur at Citizen’s Bank Park at a Phillies, or a non-Phillies game.

I did not wear the jacket to incite people. By no means am I a confrontational individual. I am proud of my baseball team, just as the Mets fans are of theirs. I would have acted in the same way regardless of my attire. I stood my ground for what I believe in, and did so without anger or hostility.

Hat tip to John Fitzgerald for this story.

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RH Sluggers Available

We know the Mets are not going to add any position players to their roster, but there’s still a major, glaring void — a righthanded-hitting outfielder with home run power. This week, a two players filling that description became available. Let’s take a quick look at them and a few others.

The Sluggers

Gary Sheffield
In a shocking move, the Tigers ate $14M to rid themselves of the surly slugger. Sheffield’s character and clubhouse presence has often come into question, but was generally accepted when he was hitting 35+ homeruns a year. However, injuries and age have affected his performance in the past two years, and many think he’s done. Sheff has looked healthy thus far this year, and he claims his shoulder is fine. His numbers have been terrible this spring, but he’s never been much of a March hitter. His arm issues suggest his future is only as a DH, but who knows? His bat speed is still there, and I think his reputation as a “clubhouse cancer” is overblown. The guy can flat-out hit and is more of a team player than he’s given credit for. Watch the Phillies pick him up.

[UPDATE: about an hour and a half after I wrote that last sentence, an article appeared on Phillies.com reporting “Phillies Release Jenkins; eye Sheff?”]


Wily Mo Pena

Pena was placed on waivers by the Nationals on Saturday; any claiming team would assume his $2M contract (which is $200K less than Tim Redding’s). No one is going to claim him, and when he clears, he’ll have the option to report to AAA or become a free agent. If he chooses the latter, why not take a chance? The cost is the MLB minimum salary, and he just turned 27 — the age many hitters begin to mature. Yes, three organizations have given up on him in the past three years, but that had more to do with him being out of options rather than a lack of talent. The guy does a lot of swinging and missing, but he can also mash. The Mets do not have ANY RH hitter in their organization with his raw power.

Other Available Free Agents

Jimmy Gobble
The LOOGY is back out on the market after being released for the second time this spring. He had a terrible season last year — an ERA near 9.00 — but did hold LH hitters to a .200 batting average and a .257 OBP. Plus, he’s never pitched in the National League, which gives him another slight advantage. I like his upside better than Ken Takahashi’s.

Mike Stanton
Another available LOOGY. No thanks.

Paul Bako
A solid “catch and throw” backup catcher, meaning, he can’t hit. Pass.

Marcus Giles
If Luis Castillo didn’t look so good this spring, Giles might have been worth taking a look at. Pass.


Morgan Ensberg

I like Ensberg a lot, love the way he approaches the game, he’s a righthanded hitter who can play multiple positions and once blasted 36 homeruns. However, his offensive production dropped significantly after turning 30 (and after MLB started testing and suspending for PEDs). Pass.

Tyler Walker

He appeared in 56 games for the Giants last year and posted a 4.56 ERA. Pass.

Mike Maroth
He’s a lefty, he’s had past success, and he was lights out against the Mets on one fine June evening two years ago, but he hasn’t been the same since early 2006, thanks to an array of injuries to his arms and legs. Even when he was healthy, he wasn’t especially effective against LH hitters, so he doesn’t figure to have a future as a LOOGY — much less a starter. It may be the end of the road for Maroth, which is too bad, as he was a fun guy to root for. Pass.

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Citi Field: Final Thoughts


(photo from the Bridge and Tunnel Club)

Last spring I appeared on SNY’s MetsWeekly and said that I would not miss Shea Stadium. To me, there was nothing particularly special about the symmetrical, circular, cement structure that was cast from the cookie cutter of multi-use stadiums that became all the rage in the late 1960s and 1970s. And while there are memories of Shea I’ll always cherish, I stand by my original feeling — there’s nothing about Shea Stadium, the structure, that I’ll miss.

My dispassion for Shea was partially due to watching baseball games at Camden Yards, Turner Field, Nationals Park, and other “modern” ballparks. These new parks “got it”, meaning, whoever built them understood how to best connect the fan to the game, and make three hours at the park an enjoyable experience. After visiting a stadium like Camden Yards, I felt jilted upon walking into trash hole that was Shea. As a result, I looked forward to the opening of Citi Field.

Maybe my expectations were too high, because I’ve come away slightly disappointed. In comparison to Shea, it’s no contest — Citi Field is a much nicer place to visit, being new and comfortable and filled with features that place it miles away from Shea. But Shea Stadium was not where I set the bar, it was the other “new” parks (Camden and Turner are both over 10 years old now) — and compared to those, Citi Field falls a little short on delivering to the common fan.

Again, Citi Field is a beautiful park, a wonderful place to watch a ballgame — if you can afford it. I could do without all the Ebbets Field and Dodgers reminders, but the Wilpons’ fascination with Brooklyn doesn’t bother me nearly so much as what I’ll boil down as the “exclusivity” of the place.

I get that the park was built for revenue generation, and to take advantage of the Wall Streeters and corporate flunkies who have money to burn. That’s cool, I’d do the same thing if I was in charge. But there were some details here and there that give me the feeling that the average joe will be visiting a lot less often than he did Shea. In my first experience at Citi Field, the park was hosting a relatively meaningless college game on a cold and rainy Sunday in late March, yet already the pretentiousness of the place was apparent, whether it was the empty seats behind home plate, the glass-walled restaurant in left field, the $10 sandwiches, or the various “members only” clubs that identify seating categories and deny access to simple schmucks like myself.

The great aspect of the many modern ballparks is the ability for fans to enter for a nominal fee and roam around the ballpark, watching the game from various vantage points — both indoors and out. Multiple seating areas and stand-up bars make it easy for the transient fan. Perhaps you can’t get into the special members-only club and sip martinis with a corporate CEO, but at least you have the freedom to roam around, socialize, and take in the game from any of several angles — that’s the equalizer. From what I’ve seen and read, that equalizer may not exist at Citi Field. There’s no “general admission” or “standing room only” tickets listed on Mets.com, and the bleachers have gone the way of the dinosaur and the phone booth. “Promenade Reserved” is the cheapest ticket, ranging from $11-$27 depending on the game (apparently some teams are less “Major League” than others), so I guess that’s the equivalent of cheap nosebleed seats. But is that price low enough to bring in the economically challenged family more than once a year? Or is it the cost of the “experience” at Citi Field high enough to “keep the riff-raff out” ?

Bottom line: Citi Field is a beautiful place to sit and watch a ballgame. My hope is that every Mets fan gets a chance to do so.

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First Base Line

citi field first base line

Following up with the previous post, which mentions the smaller foul area around the park, check out the distance between first base and the photographers pit.

Below is a closeup.

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This is a really minor thing, and neither a negative nor a positive detail, but it’s something that caught my attention. Mostly what I’m wondering is how many times will Carlos Delgado be stampeding into photo lenses and TV cameras chasing after popups. The wall in front of the pit and bordering the fans is a fairly short height, which means a player could both reach over but also get upended. It may take some getting used to.

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