200 Miles From the Citi

April 26, 2010 6:17 AM

Back To Citi Field


So you saw Citi Field on ESPN last night, and were struck by how beautiful the ballpark looks.  (You even got a look at a lot of the green seats, as the already low attendance wasn't helped by bad weather - but that's a story for another day.)

You're trying to decide if it's worth a trip to New York (or Queens, if you're already there) to see the park.

Well, you've come to the right place.

All week I'll be laying out for you the elements that set Citi Field apart.

But I warn you - my opinion is biased.

I love the place.

If you're a long-time reader, maybe you're a little confused.  Wasn't I down on the place during its inaugural year?

Let me remind you - I was never really down on it - it just didn't feel like home yet.  Now it's starting to.

Last year was also a very anxious experience.  I've been thinking a lot about it, and I think it equates well to a scenario where you find out you're going to move.  You know the place you'll be moving to is way better than the home you live in now, but you have no control over the amenities.  The things that are important to you could be overlooked by the people choosing your new home.

That's how I felt about Citi Field.  Shea Stadium may not have been anything special to you, but I spent a lot of time there.  It felt like home.  I knew my way around.  I knew what was there.  Now, there's a beautiful new space that I know nothing about and which I want to be wonderful, but I played no role in making wonderful.  So last year was a lot of, "Is this place wonderful?"  And in some ways it was, but in other ways there were gaps. This year some of those gaps have been filled.

The first 'filling' is the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum, which is such a long time coming.  I'll write about that tomorrow - but for now know that I loved it.

That one's obvious - the less-obvious touches are things like banners surrounding the exterior of the park that feature current and former Mets, and even the naming of a few gates after the likes of Tom Seaver, Casey Stengel, and Gil Hodges.  The exterior of the park is now home to the old home run apple, which has been moved from a tucked-away place to perhaps the most prominent spot on the lot, which you can see in the picture above to the left.  (I'll have more about the tucked-away spot later in the week.)  But, pictured below are a few of the exterior improvements.  To be honest, the one all the way on the left might have been there last year and I just didn't notice it.  Not only do the Mets have the 'Fanwalk' (for a pretty obscene amount of money you could put your own brick in the walkway leading to an entrance, with a message on the brick), but within most of the groupings of the bricks is a great moment in Mets history.  Pictured is Endy Chavez's catch in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS.  Next to that (and not far away in real life) is the Hodges gate, which was called something different last year - I'm not even sure what, but something dealing with its location in the building.  And finally, you see a string of banners hanging from lampposts outside the park below on the right - pictured are Roger McDowell and Edgardo Alfonzo - I also saw Ron Darling, Keith Hernandez, Dwight Gooden, and Howard's a nod to the Mets' past that fans felt was really missing in the park's inaugural year.  (And I'm pretty sure these weren't there last year, but I could be wrong.)
And finally, I can't tell you how great it is that the Mets recognized the name 'Shea' in their new park (besides just the retired name on the wall, which I also like).  Earlier this season they anointed the bridge beyond the right-center field wall as "Shea Bridge", and I think that's a great touch.

I leave you with the name that's on the bridge itself, followed by the plaque that recognizes William Shea and his role in Mets history.

*Tomorrow I'll talk about the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum, and some of what is featured in it.  I have one complaint about the park - I feel there is one area that the Mets just don't know what to do with, and I think it has a chance to be pretty good.  That will come later in the week.

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