Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Citi Field Review

OK, let's get this out of the way, right off the bat. I will not, under any circumstances, compare Yankee Stadium to Citi Field. They are apples and oranges. Yankees Stadium is vast; a stadium befitting the Evil Empire. Citi Field is much more quaint, in that "retro ballpark" style that has been the rage since Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore opened in 1992.

So with that said, it's fair to compare Citi Field to Camden Yards, PNC Park (Pittsburgh), Citizen Bank Ballpark (Philadelphia), Progressive Field in Cleveland, and so on (San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Cincinnati, Houston, Arlington, etc). Specifically, I've been in or around Camden Yards, Progressive Field, and PNC Park.

Citi Field would come in fourth in that group.

It's a nice place - there's no doubt about it, and I'll go watch a game there anytime. And I should mention that it was thanks to my extended family from the radio networks (Business Talk and Lifestyle) and Spongetech that I was able to attend.

We had a suite for the evening, and it was great. I can't say enough about the staff - literally every person I talked to was polite and professional. The gentleman who tended to our room was super-attentive. The fridge stayed well-stocked with soda and water (sorry, no alcohol unless you went and bought some). The food was so-so - dogs, burgers, and chicken, with potato salad. There were desserts also. The chocolate chip cookie seemed a little hard, and I've had better tiramisu.

The suite was comfortable - every bit like ones that I've been in in Fishkill and Bridgeport, but more luxurious, with leather seats and outdoor seating with overhead heaters.

The picture at top is from the left field seats in the upper deck. My cousin Kris sat there earlier in the season and he wanted to show me the perspective. People have complained about the obstructed views in the Bronx, and these are equally bad. The left and center fielders are just rumors.

So here we are, in the famed Jackie Robinson Rotunda. Apparently this massive 42 is a photo stop. I especially enjoyed the Mets fans who lined up to have their picture taken, pulling on their Mets logos with pride.

Because, of course, Robinson played for the Mets, right? He broke the color barrier with the Amazin's, no?

That would be no. I see Junior Gilliam, Pee Wee Reese, Chuck Dressen, Duke Snider, and Jackie Robinson - Dodgers all. Snider (The "Duke of Flatbush", Brooklyn) played for the Mets in the Polo Manhattan.

It's all very confusing.

Anyway, having now seen the Rotunda, I can tell you that my blood boiled, and I would have been equally angry if I was a Mets fan (and I did hear some comments from them). What in the name of Ed Kranepool does this have to do with the Mets?

So yeah, it's a really bad job by the Wilpons. Robinson played his entire career for the Dodgers and refused a trade to the Giants. Leave the social impact to be built at Dodger Stadium.

Of course, it's bad enough that this is supposed to be Ebbets Field. Old Giants fans must be thrilled.

The bullpen entrance was by far my favorite part of Citi Field.

I loved the inclusion of this bridge. New Yorker's know all too well that bridges (and tunnels) play a large part of almost any commute. This area was also the one part of the park that said "home of the Mets"

Love it or not (I think it goes along with the Mets cheesy minor league image), the apple is part of their deal. This is the one that was at Shea Stadium - they've installed a new one in center field.

Staying on point, it's Mr. Met. Still, what's not to like about Mr. Met?

You want more cheese? How about the old neon and flashing lights from the top of the old Shea scoreboard?


Yet that's the Mets for ya. They can't come up with their own singalong song (they use "Sweet Caroline" and while it's painful to hear Red Sox fans warble it, at least they sing with some conviction). The Mets also shoot off T-shirts from cannons. These are things I expect to see and hear at a Renegades game, and further proliferates the notion that the team does not have an identity.

Beyond the center field scoreboard, there's a concourse area with games - mostly aimed at kids. That's a really nice touch, though you might see much of the game in person if you're a parent.

On the field, I saw just how bad the Washington Nationals really are. The Mets fielded a team without Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes (now on the DL) and they still cruised to a 6-1 win. Gary Sheffield lined a home run to left.

You might think this bothered me, but really, why? I got to visit a nice new ballpark, be with good friends and my cousin, share some laughs, have some dinner, and what else? Oh yeah, meet Straw!

For the record, when I walked over, Darryl took note of my Steelers jacket (he's a Cowboys fan) and I made sure to tell him that I am a BIG Yankees fan, and how much I enjoyed watching him play in the Bronx. He told me he enjoyed his time there.

Some were horrified that I would say such a thing. My cousin thought it was appropriate. It's not like we're talking about a guy who had a cup of coffee with the Bombers.

Oh, and I wore the Steelers jacket because my other option was a Yankees one. Not that I didn't represent...I had a Yankees Universe T-shirt on underneath!

Finally, I got to see the press box area. I glanced into the working media section (those are the beat writers and electronic reporters). I also got a view of one of the radio press boxes. While nice (and better than most places I've ever worked in), it looked smaller than the booth we used at Fenway Park last August.

So to wrap up, I'm not bashing Citi Field - honestly. I like it. It's clean, it's well-maintained, the staff is very professional, and once they build some history, it will really be the home of the Mets. Right now, it could be the home of anybody. It just needs an identity.

Amazing that the Mets really don't have much of a history, considering they've existed since 1962. Of course, I think they do have a history, but shame on the Wilpons for thinking otherwise.

If you have a chance to go, but all means do so. You'll enjoy the experience, but I'm not sure it's any better than any of the other places that I mentioned. I'd still rather go to Baltimore, walk in via Eutaw Street, grab some Boog's Bar-B-Q, and take in an Orioles game, despite their stupid national anthem tradition (OH!).

But that's for another time.

No comments: