Results tagged ‘ New York Mets ’
The roadtripping continued on the morning of Monday, August 18, 2008…
Tim and I had been to PNC Park before. My dad had not. This was my Dad’s first view of the inside of the stadium:
As you can tell, we entered the stadium from the CF entrance. After snapping a photo of the field, we headed down to the RF corner and Tim played on the miniture whiffle ball field. There was no BP and no one on the field so we had some time to explore the field.
After a few minutes playing in the kids area, we made our way down the 1B concourse and around to home plate. As you can see (even with the second deck obstructing the skyline view), PNC Park is beautiful and has a spectacular view over the CF-RF stands.
So, here we are behind the Pirates pitchers. Our first thought was, “Who are these guys?”
After a minute or two, Tim and I jumped that railing and stood along the fence along the warning track. Soon after that, someone threw a ball over our heads and directly to my dad. I think it was Matt Capps.
A few seconds later, Matt Capps came over and started signing autographs. My dad tossed his baseball down to us and we got Capps to sign it…
A little bit later, Denny Bautista threw a ball to me and Tim…
We ended up getting a couple autographs on that ball, and a picture with one of the autographers…
Here are the three autographs we got on that ball:
After getting our picture with Beam, we continued our stadium tour. Next stop…
And speaking of that ramp, that was our next move…
While hanging out at the top of the ramp, I noticed messages going by on the skinny screens between the field and second levels. Then I saw a text message number, so I sent in a message to commemorate our trip:
That is the LF/3B entrance. I’m not sure if it has an official name. But it honors various Negro League baseball players. As you can see, the large bats hanging over head list: Harold Tinker, Leroy Matlock, Gus Greenlee and Sam Streeter of the Pittsburgh Crawfords; and Cumberland Posey, Sellers Hall, Vic Harris and Ray Brown of the Homestead Grays.
Back to the tour, we ended up in the upper deck down the RF line. Check out how cool the area looks with those golden bridges. Excellent.
Here is a panaramic view from the RF corner upper deck seats:
Finally, it was game time. We headed to our seats where this was our view of PNC Park from section 139, Row D:
The Mets sent John Maine to the hill to face off against Paul Maholm. The Mets were in first place in the N.L. East and were gearing up for another late season collapse. The Pirates were standing in 5th place, a game up on the Reds and 20.5 back of the Cubs.
Argenis Reyes led the game off with a single and scored the Mets first run with two down in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Carlos Beltran.
The Mets scored again in the fourth inning when David Wright singled, Carlos Beltran doubled and Carlos Delgado hit Wright in with a weak grounder to first base.
All the while, John Maine was stifling the Pirates pitching 1-hit ball. Ultimately, Maine pitched five innings and gave up only 2 hits. I’m not sure why he didn’t come back in the sixth.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Lets see some sights along the way. Look who was standing in front of us in CF…
Around the fourth inning, we decided it was high time we got some ice cream in us. In a surprise move, Tim selected mint chocolate chip instead of his standard chocolate order.
On the way back to our seats, the Pirates Parrot (he probably has a name, but I don’t know it), was standing in the concourse right behind our seats. I asked if we could get our picture with the Parrot:
For some reason, Tim wanted no part of that happy Parrot. Maybe he just wanted to get back to the seats for his ice cream. Actually, Tim generally loves mascots. But he is often intimidated and quiet once he finally gets up close next to a mascot. I guess they are big strange characters for the little guy.
Hey, see that camera man behind the me, Tim and the Parrot? He took note of us as we posed with the Parrot. A couple minutes later, he was all-up-in-our-faces:
After the ice cream, we made a change. We moved to the covered handicap-accessible / standing room walk way below the RF bleachers:
The Mets made a move too. They replaced John Maine with Brian Stokes in the sixth inning. It only took Stokes two batters and eight pitches to blow the save. When Adam LaRoche’s 2-run bomb sailed over the OF fence, John Maine’s solid outing was wiped out.
In the top of the eighth, it was still tied 2-2 when the Pirates brought in Tyle Yates (the same Tyler Yates who autographed our baseball before the game). Yates retired the first two batters, before giving up a single and two walks to load the bases. The Pirates brought in Sean Burnett (yep, the same one who also signed our baseball before the game) to record the third out. With a 1-1 count, Burnett induced an infield pop-up behind 3B by Carlos Delgado. The Pirates escaped the bases loaded jam unscathed.
Then they came to the plate and did some work. With three singles and a double, the Pirates scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth. The final blow came on a 2-run double by future-Mariner Jack Wilson.
And so it became do or die time for the Mets…
Not even the great Fernando Tatis could save the day for the Mets…
…Tatis popped out to 1B. Two of the next four batters would reach base, but the other two…wouldn’t. Coming full cirlce, after leading off the game with a single, Argenis Reyes closed out the game with a ground-out to short stop.
As the Pirates celebrated behind us, I snapped one final picture of Tim and my dad before we headed out…
So it was June 2007 by the time Tim’s second MLB game rolled around. Tim was about a year and a half old by this point and he was running around on his own and ready to have some fun at the game.
Unfortunately, Tim’s second game wouldn’t feature the Mariners. Instead, I introduced Tim to the National League and two teams competing for the N.L. East crown, the Phillies and the Mets. Tim’s second game would take place at his second MLB stadium, Citizens Bank Park.
At about 70 miles, Citizens Bank Park is the closest MLB stadium to our home in Berks County, Pennsyvlania. Philadelphia is the closest “big city” to our home. But in a year and a half of life, Tim had not yet visited the city where his parents met back in 1999. So, I decided to take him down early to see a tiny bit of the city before the game.
I had bigger plans, but time was running short before the game. So all we did was visit Rittenhouse Square:
I lived about 5 blocks from Rittenhouse Square when my wife and I met, and I’d walk through the Park everyday on my way here or there. Tim loved running around the Park for a short while. And then we were off to South Philadelphia.
We attended this game with a group of people from my office. Tim was a lucky little guy. His second game was also his second game in a suite! We arrived as the game was beginning, said our hellos, and started doing what you do in suites — we started eating tasty food:
Here is a look at the suite:
To the left, that’s a look from the entry way through the suite. To my left as I took that picture is a kitchenette area featuring various drinks, chips, crackers, dips, cheese trays, etc. And against the wall to the left (off camera) is a large flat screen for those who want to watch the game on TV rather than turning 90 degrees to their right and watching it live.
In the picture to the left, do you see the blue sky and clouds painted on the ceiling? The middle section of the ceiling looks like a nice sunny day and it has a picture of the Philly Phanatic skydiving into the suite. The middle picture is Tim pointing up at the Phanatic. He thought it was really cool.
Above to the right is a view of the field from the suite. When I took that picture, I was still standing in the main “suite” part of the suite. In front of me is a standing counter (actually, it also has tall chairs) and on the other side of the counter are three rows of stadium seating for the folks in the suite.
Here is a panaramic view of the field from the bottom of our three rows of stadium seating (featuring Tim in the bottom right corner):
Tim ran around the suite like crazy and provided comic relief for my colleagues. But after a while, he wanted to explore outside the suite. The main level of suites at Citizens Bank Park has its own concourse (just above the main concourse). Its just a big elevated walkway with access to all of the suites, but no concession stands, etc.
Tim and I exited our suite and he started running down the walkway toward home plate and then around toward LF. I took a video of him running and took the following screen shots from the video clip:
To the left is a view of the suite level concourse. This picture is just foul of third base. The suites and the field are to our right. The banners hanging to the left are hanging above the main concourse and are just inside what I consider to be the stadium’s main entrance (between home and 3B).
Above to the right is a view of the main entrance taken right around that hanging Jimmy Rollins banner shown in the picture to the left. Just to the left of the main entrance is McFadden’s Restaurant & Saloon. Across the street to the right of the picture you can see the Spectrum, which Pearl Jam is closing down this weekend. Click here for a peak inside the Spectrum and see how Pearl Jam tied the World Series and Seattle-connection, Raul Ibanez, into their recent concert.
Back to the game. We reached the end of the suite level concourse and I found someone to take our picture with All-Time Mariners Career Wins Leader, Jamie Moyer:
In 2006, I’d been hoping all season that Moyer would pitch for the Mariners during Tim’s first game, but sadly he was traded before the trade deadline…and before Tim’s big day at the park. If he had to be traded I was happy he went to Philadelphia where Tim and I would still be able to see him pitch.
After a little roaming around, we returned to the suite and it was time for an important “first” — Tim’s first ice cream at the ballpark (in fact, I think this was also his first ice cream of his life):
As you can see, it wasn’t Tim’s first ice cream helmet (not quite yet). But it started a grand tradition — ice cream at the ballpark — it is a tradition that would just be made better with the introduction of the ice cream helmet on a later date.
Of course, soon after the last picture, I captured another (related) ”first”…
And then there was nothing left to do but get our picture with the field…
The game didn’t go so well for the Phils. They lost 8-3. The star of the game was Mets centerfielder Carlos Beltran who went 4-5 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 3 runs scored. Paul LoDuca and David Wright also hit homeruns for the Mets.
Not much good happened on the Phils’ side of the box score. Ryan Howard was 2-4 with a homerun and 2 runs scored. Carlos Ruiz was also 2-4. But J.A. Happ earned the loss in his major league debut, and his only major league action in 2007.
For a while, I’d been wanting to go back to Citi Field for a second game. We’d gone in April when the Stadium was just two weeks old. I wasn’t a huge fan of it then. It was too crowded and I felt like we couldn’t get anywhere near the field.
Well, a few weeks ago, I found a pair of $25/ticket upper deck tickets on Stub Hub for $3 each. We couldn’t pass it up.
I was excited to see Citi Field again, not only because I knew it would be far less crowded due to the Mets poor performance but, because it would be our first game ever in the month of October. Plus, I was hoping we’d get a ball — our first ever in Queens.
We started out early by driving to New York (or as Tim says “You Nork”) and, as the picture below shows…
…we headed through the Lincoln Tunnel, parked in the Upper West side, hopped on the C-Train at 81st Street, transferred to the 7-Train at 42nd, watched all of the graffiti go by in the rooftops of Queens, and arrived at Citi Field at about 11:40 a.m.
We entered the stadium through the Jackie Robinson Rotunda and headed up the escalator toward LF to see if there would be BP taking place. After getting denied access to the field section behind the 3B dugout, we headed down the line and grabbed a spot on the railing by LF. The Astros were hitting and this was our view:
There were two Astos pitchers shagging balls down in the LF corner and Tim was watching them like a hawk:
In the picture above to the left, the middle guy is Samuel Gervacio and the guy on the right is Wilton Lopez. Lopez was having a grand old time toying with the crowd. On every ball he caught, he faked like he was going to toss into the stands and then he’d turn around with an ear-to-ear smile and throw it in toward the bucket. Eventually, former Astro and current Astros coach Jose Cruz (above to the far left) walked out to LF with his fungo bat.
As by strolled by, I asked him, “Hey, coach, can you fungo a ball up here for my son?” He nodded “yes” and pointed at Tim as if to say, “Is that him?” I nodded, “Yes.”
Meanwhile, Lopez was taunting the crowd with yet another ball. Quitely but very authoritatively, Cruz called out to Lopez and motioned for the ball. Lopez’s face instantly turned from playful-kid to serious-and-respectful. He toss the ball to Cruz without hesitation.
Cruz turned around and tossed me this:
“Thanks, Mr. Cruz!”
Tim was a little upset that he did’t catch it himself. He got bit by the catching bug, I guess, after meeting up with Ryan Rowland-Smith in Toronto the previous weekend.
At this point, Tim was just wearing his socks and his shoes were in my backpack. I told him to put on his shoes so we could head out to the OF and poke around. He wasn’t too interested in his shoes. So, I popped him up on my shoulders and we walked to the LF seats. On our way, I heard, “Hey, Todd!” I looked up and it was Alex K. from “Riveravenue.” We’d met Alex in Chicago at Tim’s 30th MLB team milestone game. We’d exchanged some emails and knew we might run into each other at this game.
As we went over and started chatting with Alex, I heard another voice call out, “Hi Todd and Tim.” It was Joe from “Baseballexperiences.” I’d never met Joe before, but I’d read about him on Zack Hample’s Blog and, through Zack, on his own blog.
Joe introduced himself and said he reads our blog. Its always cool to meet people from MLBlogs. And these guys would turn out to be extremely cool and fun to roam around the stadium with at several points during the day. They were absolutely great with Tim and he couldn’t get enough of them.
We started by chatting and then a picture:
Joe is on the left and Alex is holding Tim on his lap as he reclines on the back of a seat in LF. Note that Tim is holding his shoe. We pulled the old Billy Madison “everyone my age __________, its the coolest!” trick on Tim (we filled in the blank with “wears shoes”), and it worked like a charm. Tim was happy to wear his shoes after seeing that Joe and Alex were also wearing shoes.
Tim then showed off his first Citi Field ball to his new “guys”:
After a few minutes, one of the guys asked if Tim and I wanted to go over to the dugout. I said we couldn’t because we had upper-deck tickets. They both assured us it was no problem. Joe had an extra ticket on him — maybe it was his dad’s, I’m not sure. Anyway, we were up for checking out the restricted area so we followed Joe:
The guy standing a couple sections in front of Joe in the green jacket asked “do you guys have tickets over here?” Joe flashed his ticket and the guy responded, “Yep, you do, head on in, guys.” I think he automatically assumed we all had the right tickets. He didn’t seem too concerned about checking the rest of our tickets, but I showed our loaner ticket anyway.
And that easily, we were behind the dugout where there was hardly anyone in the stands. This was our view:
…and it worked. Alex and Joe both called out, “Hey, Stech,” to Astros bullpen coach Strech Suba (I think he’s the bullpen coach, at least). I think Suba threw three balls over. Tim and I got one. Joe got one. And, I think (but am not positive) that Alex got one as well. A big time assist and thank you to Alex and Joe for that ball.
Tim was looking the other way when Suba threw us the ball. As I caught it, he turned his head to look toward Suba. My glove was above his head and I instantly transferred the ball from my glove to my bare hand and from my bare hand to Tim’s glove. I then erupted with, “Tim, you just caught that ball!” Joe and Alex followed suit with a lot of enthusiasm. Tim was fooled, and was happy to have “caught” another ball himself.
All of a sudden Astros pitcher LaTroy Hawkins was standing right by us (and was photographed by Tim):
Joe and Alex, along with some other people, went over to see if he was autographing. But he announced to everyone in the section that he wasn’t signing. He was chatting with his friends who he doesn’t get to see much because (he said) he doesn’t get to NYC much. He stood there and chatted with some people for a long time.
BP ended and Alex and Joe suggested we head out to the kids’ play area — they were always thinking about what would make the day more fun for Tim.
When we got there, Tim and Alex posed by the fence showing off the auto-repair slums across the street from Citi Field…
We waited through the line for the whiffle ball field. Before hitting, Tim cycled through the OF:
By the way, the auto-slums are just to the left of the 3B line of the whiffle ball field.
Next, Tim had his chance at bat. You only get a couple hits before you round the bases. But Tim loved it:
In the top left, we see Tim taking a hack on the whiffle ball field’s jumbo screen. Top right, two fielders make an effort for the ball but Tim shots it between them for a liner off of the LF wall. Then it was time to round the bases.
Tim loved the whiffle ball field.
Next, we parted ways with Alex and Joe. They went to watch the Astros play catch down the RF line. Tim and I went into the second deck to look down at the field and the home run apple:
Then it was time to grab an ice cream helmet and some seats in section 122 (I still had the ticket Joe gave me — he told me to keep it):
To the left, you see our view of the plate. To the right, Alex took a shot of us as Tim scarfed down his chocolate ice cream with sprinkles. By the way, I just mentioned Alex again. He and Joe saw us in our seats and came and sat by us in the first inning.
This was our field view:
Remember how I said we got $3 tickets because people were disenchanted with the Mets by this point in the season? Well, check out the empty seats to our left and right:
I took my only action shots in the first inning. Miggie Tejada laced this pitch up the middle for a line single to CF:
In the bottom of the first, the third out was made at first. The Astros first basemen (who is that, Berkman?), ran over to the dugout and a cluster of kids gathered in the first row to ask for the third out ball. Alex said, “hold on, I have to run down there.”
As he left our row, Berkman launched the ball over all of the kids. It was like it was in slow motion. Alex left us at the perfect time. It was like he was a wide receiver being led by a deep bomb. He and the ball converged just as it reached head level. And then he ran back up showing off the third out ball:
After the second inning, Tim was getting restless. I asked him if he wanted to go see the Pepsi Porch in RF (second deck)…where I told him he could see the train passing back-and-forth. He did.
On the way, we stopped by the Jackie Robinson Rotunda to get pictures with the big 42 (Tim took the picture of me and the 42):
Here is a panaramic view from the bridge leading out to the Pepsi Porch:
Here was the view from the top:
We continued touring around the upper deck. I decided to head back to the home plate area of the upper deck. On the way, I took a panaramic view into the stadium from the back side of the upper deck concourse:
See all of the glass on the second deck across the stadium — behind the LF foul pole? That’s a restaurant. I asked Alex and Joe if they’d ever gone there. One of their dad’s had been and wasn’t impressed. There is a deck at the bottom of the restaurant (outside the glass), but apparently they won’t let people out on the deck because they made the railing too short and fear that people will fall into the field level.
Back to the tour. Here is the view from the upper deck behind home plate:
Due to the Sterling Club and suites that close-off the main concourse from the field behind home plate, and the railings and ushers that keep the commoners from getting into the seats behind home plate, this is the best view most people will ever get from behing home plate at Citi Field.
As you approach Citi Field from the subway, you will notice that the upper deck seating behind home plate is set way back from the front of the Jackie Robinson Rotunda entrance. Well, in the upper deck there is a huge circular concourse area above the Rotunda and behind home plate. The ground has a huge baseball design built into it, which I thought looked nice. Along the outside of the concourse (the outer edge of the Rotunda roof), there are food stands, a team store (one of at least 3-4 at Citi Field). In the middle, there are standing tables where you can stand, eat your food and watch the game on yet another jumbo screen — this one hanging from the back of the upper deck seats:
I gotta admit, that’s pretty cool. They have a similar picnic area behind home plate and above the main enterance at Safeco Field, but people up there have no clue what is going on with the game. Nice touch, Mets. They have another one of these jumbo screens on the back of the CF scoreboard for the parents standing in the play area with their kids.
Speaking of CF, that was our next stop. This is the view from the concourse in deep CF:
With that, our touring was concluded and Tim wanted to take some hacks in the soft toss cage. There are two cages. One for little kids with soft toss or a batting tee (depending on the kid’s choice). The second has a slow pitching machine. Here is Tim in the soft toss cage:
Right after Tim hit in the cage, the rain started to pour down. It was the end of the fifth inning (an official game), and the umps called for a rain delay.
Tim and I trudged around in our rain gear until we eventually found ourselves back in the Rotunda. Tim saw some teenagers climb half-way up the “2″ in Jackie Robinson’s big blue “42.” Tim wanted to do it too, but (a) it was too high and (b) dad was having none of it. By this time, it was about 2:30 or 3:00 pm, and Tim was ridiculously tired (no nap) and he lost it when he wasn’t allowed the scale the wet, slippery and tall 42.
As I tried to calm him down a bit, Alex and Joe found us. They tried their best to cheer him up but he was whiney and crying up a storm. Then, Alex asked him, “Tim do you want to go upstairs and play catch?” Instantly, Tim’s crying stopped on a dime. “Yes!!!,” he responded. “Ahh, HA!,” I said to Alex and Joe, “you’ve witnessed some of Tim’s classic fake crying!” One of them asked, “You were faking it, Tim?!” Tim responded, “well, I was a little sad.” Classic Tim, the actor!
We had time to kill. So next, we went and looked at all of the “game used” stuff the Mets had for sale in the field level concourse.
After looking at that stuff for a bit, Alex and Joe asked if we want to go into the Sterling Club. Now, the Sterling Club is the ultra-exclusive and pricey luxury club level area for all of the people with the big railed-off cushy seats behind home plate. Alex’s dad had got tickets somehow. After paying $3 per ticket, how could I pass up an opportunity for Tim and I to see the Sterling Club.
Joe and Alex entered the club. Safely inside, Alex passed off his ticket to Joe and came and passed it off to me. Joe then re-entered on his own. Tim and I strolled around a minute in the Rotunda and then headed up the Sterling Club escalator and into the club.
The lighting in there wasn’t friendly to my camera, all of my pictures came out blurry somehow. But he is some of what we saw:
In the top left, there is a ridiculously fancy looking restaurant, which looked out of place (and was totally empty) at a ballpark. See the red arrow in top middle of the restaurant? Its pointing to floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the visitors’ practice batting cage, which are pictured at the top right. For perspective, the restaurant is to the left as you enter the Sterling Club and it is located roughly behind the 3B dugout. As you view them in both of the top pictures, the field is to the left of the restuaurant and the visitors’ batting cage.
At the bottom left, there is a fancy bar (and Joe’s head). For perspective, the restaurant is behind me as I took that picture and home plate is behind the left side of the bar.
In the bottom right, we are sitting in a little nook in the far opposite side of the Sterling Club next to a bunch of windows overlookign the Mets batting cages (they have two cages, the visitors have only one). For perspective, the Mets (1B side) dugout is just behind and to the right of me as I took this picture.
At this end of the Sterling Club, there is another fancy bar. This one is more of a lounge style bar. The bar is across the back wall (opposite the field) and the rest of the room has scattered seating.
In that picture, we are drinking delicious FREE MILKSHAKES. It was the best chocolate milk shake I’d had in a long time.
Here is the view from the cushy Sterling Club seating behind home plate:
This lasted about 10 minutes before an usher shut us down.
Next, we decided to go check out the old home run apple from Shea Stadium. It is behind the bullpens in deep, deep, deep right CF. On our walk out there, it started to rain hard again. Here is a picture of Tim, Alex and a little girl staying dry under the top hat:
After spending some time by the bullpens and in the RF concourse (where Tim clanked Cow Bell Man’s cowbell, Tim and Joe ran several races and Alex and Joe swung Tim around by his feet and hands), the rain stopped!
We headed toward the 3B dugout just in time to witness the removal of the tarp:
Tim and I decided to hang out in LF. Almost everyone else decided to sit in the infield. As a result, if anyone was going to hit a homerun to LF, there would be great odds that we would collect our first ever home run ball. Check out how empty the OF was (heck, check out the whole stadium!):
In the top of the 9th inning (with the Mets winning), we moved to the infield and sat by the tunnel where we knew the umpires would leave the field after the game. Here was the excellent view:
Although we’d already got two balls on the day (our first ever in Queens), I wanted to get a ball from the umpire because it would be a commemorative Citi Field inaugural season ball — this would be our last and best opportunity to get one of those balls. Soon, Alex and Joe both turned up. They had the same idea.
Tim was ready to catch a foul ball (below to left)…
After chatting with Alex and Joe a little bit more, we said our good-byes (we’ll be keeping our eye out for those guys next season) and Tim and I headed to the 7-Train platform.
On the way out, I took the following night-time photo of Citi Field:
And that’s the story of our final national league game of the season. After this game, I have a much better feeling about Citi Field. I still don’t like the closed-off concourse behind home plate or the design of the standing room areas (no standing counters), but we had a great day in Queens. The following day, we’d be in Baltimore for the final game of the season.
Season Fan Stats:
32 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
1 Ken Griffey, Jr. Homerun (Career Homerun No. 624, August 23, 2009 in Cleveland)
13 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, HHH Metrodome, Miller Park, U.S. Cellular, “Jacobs” Field, and Rogers Centre)
25 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Royals, White Sox, Blue Jays, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals, Marlins, Pirates, Astros, and Brewers — and sort of the Giants)
27 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (5), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees (2), Twins, Cubs, Brewers, White Sox, Indians, and Blue Jays (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
35 Baseballs (20 Mariners, 3 Astros, 2 Rangers, 2 Umpire, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Royals, 1 Indians, Yankees/Orioles 1)
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09)
6 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Jeremy Guthrie, Ryan Perry)
5 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Jason Phillips, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
10 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose, Orioles Bird, Slider (Indians), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats), 4 Running Sausages (Brewers) – Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)
On Sunday, April 25th, Tim and I took to the road at 9am for another baseball adventure: our first trip to the Mets’ new home, Citi Field. We live about two hours from Manhattan. Tim is a huge fan of trains so we drove to the upper west side and parked at 84 & Amsterdam, where my friend, Davlynn, used to live. From there, we walked over to Central Park West and down three blocks where we caught the A Train at to Times Square where we walked a bit underground and eventually caught the 7 Train to Shea…I mean, Citi Field.
Ahh, there is no finer way to see Queens than by elevated coach:
The view was decidedly better when we arrived at Willets Point and followed the well-marked route toward “Mets Baseball” (all three of these pictures are taken from the subway platform):
Without even asking, a nice guy offered to take our photo in front of the new stadium:
Next, we headed to an automated kiosk where our online purchased tickets were printed up and spit out at us. It was time to enter the stadium. So we headed to the Jackie Robinson Rotunda.
I have mixed thoughts on the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. It is a nice looking, and quite grand, entrance. There are interesting photos and nice quotes of Jackie Robinson on the walls. And, he certainly is a man worth honoring. It just seems a little odd to me that the Mets made the rotunda such a focal point of their new stadium when Jackie Robinson was neither a Met nor did he play for a team located in Queens.
So it was time to check out the field. Here is our first view of the field:
Shea Stadium, like most of the old stadiums, didn’t have a lot of unique features (or, well, at least intentionally unique features). What it did have, however, was the famous home run apple, which reminds the spectators that they are in the big apple each time a Met player hit a home run (Note: in the 5-7 games I saw at Shea, I do not believe a Met ever hit a home run). So, I wanted to check out the classic apple and its updated replacement. The old apple is now resting in a somewhat unceremonious corner of a picnic-ish area behind the bullpen and under the main concourse (pictured below on the right). The new apple is much larger and is in CF. Interestingly, they ditched the top hat for the new apple:
Going to games with Tim, two things are very important to me: (i) the snacks available at the park and the (ii) quality of the standing room areas. In these two important areas, I give Citi Field a thumbs up and a thumbs down, respectively. Check out this picture and then I will explain my thinking:
I will take them in reverse order. My thumbs down for the standing room factor is really more a thumbs at a downward 45 degree angle. Its not terrible. In fact, there is a lot of standing room available. However, I rank from the perspective of a father and 3-year-old son watching a game. At Safeco Field and Citizens Bank Park (and I would assume others), there are standing room areas with counters looping the field. They are great for Tim to sit on while he eats his ice cream helmet and I watch the game, and because there are no dividers people cram in and lot of people can have front row standing areas (for example, see my pictures from last weekend during the 8th and 9th innings of the Phillies come-from-behind win against the Padres).
At Citi Field, instead of counters they just have railings with drink holders spaced about 3 feet apart. In the picture of Tim with his lollipop above, you can see a drink holder next to the lady-in-red’s hip. Not kid friendly. Also, Tim bashed his head on one of the rails while goofing around toward the end of the game. Now, instead of counters throughout the stadium, some of the standing room area in RF has tall, wobbly green metal tables. There aren’t many of them and they are set back behind the railing. So, you are (at least) in the second row of standing room. Plus, the wobbling is never good when you have a 3-year-old eating chocolate ice cream with sprinkles out of a helmet sitting on top of the structure. Finally, because of the spacing of the cup holders, only one person stands every three feet and tons of prime front-row-standing room is squandered. Poor design choice in my somewhat experienced Standing Room Only opinion. This is all made even worse by the fact that security seeks out any kids sitting on their father’s shoulders (where Tim spends tons of time at every game) and makes the kids get down. Therefore, at the standing room areas, there is virtually no way (other than on the few tall wobbly tables) for a 3 year old to see the game from most standing room areas. Again, poor planning.
As for the food, prices were pretty much in line with other stadiums, unlike what I have heard about new Yankee Stadium. I also found it interesting that the menu boards have the price and calories for all food items. We had Nathan’s Famous hot dogs, which were good. Tim had his usual ice cream helmet, and a lollipop from a little “Market” that is set back in the RF corner. With respect to the helmet, the Mets should be commended for providing this classic ball park treat, with sprinkles and hot fudge no less (we passed on the hot fudge). However, I was disappointed (and at the same time somewhat amused) that the Mets logo on Tim’s helmet was added on top of the “Shea Stadium 1964-2008″ logo. Obviously, they are using left over helmets from last season with an amateur cosmetic f”ix”:
I’ll blame this on the Wilpon family losing money in the Madoff ponzi scheme and I’ll forgive them for it. Again, it was somewhat amusing, so not all bad.
A couple more notes about the food picture above. I understand from Zack Hample’s blog that the skyline above the CF food stands is from the top of the old scoreboard at Shea…I’ve just checked my own picts from last season, by golly, Zack is right (I’m not posting a picture, you’ll have to trust me…or Zack…on this one).
Speaking of the old scoreboard, here is the new scoreboard from front and back. The “front” picture is taken from a bridge in the RCF area. I’m not sure what the point of the bridge is. It was crowded with standing room only people the whole game. One feature that I really liked about the back of the scoreboard is that is had a smaller big screen in it. So, when your kid(s) are playing back behind the scoreboard (where they have videos, two batting cages and a full whiffle-ball stadium complete with jumbo-tron screen), you can still see the game on the back-of-the-scoreboard screen (in this picture you can see that Omir Santos was batting in the bottom of the first):
As we usually do, we circled all around the inside of the stadium. Here is a panoramic view from the third-base side:
We even decided to head up to our actual seats (for the first time in 3 games this season). Here is the view from Section 526, Row 9, Seats 14-15, where we sat for one inning and ate our hot dogs:
See how the second level juts out straight up from the Mets on-deck circle? It juts out like that on the 3B side as well. All of the lower level seats between the “just” are sectioned off with rails. I imagine that security is tight to get in there. Plus, those people are the only people who can ever get a view from behind the plate at field level. The concourse behind home plate is a tunnel set back from the stands. Its dark and offers no view of the field whatsoever. This was a terrible idea. If during the game you want to walk from the 1B side of the stadium to the 3B side on the main level concourse, you’re gonna miss a minute or two of action while you walk the long closed off concourse to the other side.
With the bad, of course, comes the good. Note that in this picture you can see a large airplane coming in to land at LaGuardia, the airport is really close to the stadium. At Shea, you could hear 747s flying over head all game long. At Citi Field, I saw tons of airplanes coming in to land, but I didn’t hear a single one. I’m not sure why that is.
Another plus about the stadium (from our perspective) was that you can see the 7 Train going back-and-forth from the 500 level (probably from below as well). Tim loved that. In fact, he is pointing to the 7 Train in the hot dog picture above. Here is what he was pointing at:
While in our assigned seats, I took this picture of Jose Reyes taking a pitch (a strike I believe) – the ball is right next to his front leg in this picture:
We then went down below and took a couple more pictures of batters while we circled the stadium again. Here is Omir Santos about to pop this pitch up to 2B (the ball is circled in red):
Here is former Mariner Jeremy Reed flying out to LF. He has already hit the ball, which I have again circled in red:
That concludes my game pictures. Not that I cared really, but the Mets won 8-2. Then, the real fun began. It was kids run the bases day! After waiting through a HUGE line outside the stadium, we snaked in by the bullpen:
We were led onto the warning track in RF/CF:
We duplicated our Progressive Field picture from last year down the RF foul line:
(Note, extremely low wall, perfect for robbing home runs). Tim then sprinted toward the infield:
Then he stepped on first and bolted for second:
Touching second safely, he made the turn for third and then home. He then decided he wanted to do it again (not allowed) and he dashed down the first base line and into the infield grass (not allowed) before this lady caught him:
She escorted him to home plate, where he wanted to stay for a while:
Eventually, I ran out and grabbed Tim (and touched home myself). I then snapped this picture of us at the visitors’ dugout:
…and this additional picture showing the unique layout of the dugout. Then he walked through underbelly of the stadium and headed outside down the leftfield line where I took one last picture of the exterior of the stadium because I wanted to capture this image of Darryl Strawberry in the Mets collage:
And then, another fine day of baseball and another fine stadium under our belts, we began the long, slow process of commuting home…and stopping for Ray’s pizza in Manhattan.
Season Fan Stats:
3 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field)
6 Teams (Orioles, Rays, Phillies, Padres, Mets, Nationals)
2 Ice Cream helmet
3 Awesome Days of Baseball