Let me be clear - I hate the off-day following Opening Day.
I'd almost rather the Mets didn't open up until the Tuesday, rather than the Monday, because there's all this expectation for the first game.....and then there's a day off before they get going again.
I understand the need for the off-day...if there's a rain out there's a ready-made makeup day built into the schedule; it allows for the staggering of Opening Days around the league...but that doesn't mean I like it any more. (Upon further review, only the Orioles and Rays didn't open Monday or Sunday - that's odd.)
However, this does offer us an opportunity to look at some of the changes in Citi Field for the 2010 season - all of which are changes for the better.
A couple of the changes are not news - we've already discussed them quite a bit before the season. As you can see on my diagram to the left, they are marked "1", "2", and "3".
1 - The left field wall has not just the retired numbers, which you can see in this shot from last year's opener, but now features the championship banners as well. I am 80% sure this change was made before the end of last season - but well after anyone still cared about the Mets, so we'll treat it as new for this year.
2 - The center field wall looks quite different since it was chopped down. Monday was the first time we actually saw the lowered wall in front of the apple.
3 - This one is new. The bullpens were a subject of much consternation by visiting teams last year. Instead of bullpens going directionally from center towards right, with the Mets close to the field and the visitors almost tucked under the center field stands, both bullpens are almost coming towards home plate this year, and the visitors now have better views of the game.
I love a couple of the other changes. The old home run apple, which had been tucked away behind right field in an area that it seemed the Mets didn't know what to do with, is now out front of Citi Field, right near the entrance to the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. Right off of the Rotunda is also the new Mets Hall of Fame and Museum, which is an addition I can't say enough about. I love that it's in the Rotunda, too, because I guess I always envisioned it being in the buildings behind right field, hidden away. This is front and center, much like the Arizona Diamondbacks have as a display at their ballpark. Great move by the Mets. I'll have updated pictures of this in a couple of weeks.
Instead of "Right Field" and "Left Field", the Mets have named their other (read: non-Rotunda) entrances to Citi Field (right, top) after great players, like the "Hodges Gate". I think that's a great nod to their past. (I also need to rail some day about Gil Hodges and the Hall of Fame....but that's another story.)
And finally, I think this is the best touch of all - before the opener, the Mets dedicated the bridge in right field (right, bottom) and named it the "Shea Bridge", with a nice plaque describing the importance of William Shea to Mets history. That was one of the biggest shames of Citi Field replacing Shea Stadium - the name. Now there will be a piece of the Shea name in the new ballpark, and I think it's really appropriate.
So far, a win and good improvements to their beautiful new park. The Mets are batting a thousand in the new season.