As I've been writing about all week, I am loving Citi Field.
Really enjoyed my visit there last week, really can't wait to go back.
But there's a spot inside the park that I feel like the Mets haven't quite figured out what to do with yet. (And there are probably other areas like that that I haven't discovered yet.)
It's the area in the stands located behind the bullpens.
(Yes, I'm aware the Mets swept a doubleheader with the Dodgers, are one of the hottest teams in baseball, winning six straight, and moved into first place in the National League East. Maybe the longer I ignore it here the more it will continue. Just kidding. I'll get back to them tomorrow.)
We sat at the picnic tables in that area and enjoyed some food before the game last week, and we were there when John Maine started warming up, which is the picture you see at left. (Maine looked terrible, incidentally. I thought he'd get rocked. Instead, he left early with an injury. He pitched better before the injury than I expected, considering how bad he looked in his warmups.) But the parenthetical comment speaks to my point - you could really get an up-close look at the pitchers before the game from this spot. The problem is that I don't think many people know about this...or they don't use it because it's so out of the way. I'm not sure what the problem is here, but the area seems underutilized.
Now, this is the area where the old apple used to be kept - it was moved for this season out to in front of the Rotunda entrance to Citi Field. And it was the original spot for the Mets' championship banners...until towards the end of last year the banners were also put on the outfield wall. (I thought they were moved from this spot, but turns out they're still here. Below is a 2009 [left] and 2010 [right] view of the area.)
I think this area is still evolving (rightly so). We walked by twice Friday night and before the game there are tables set up all along the area along the bullpens (which you can see above right)...later that night there were just a couple of tables and the rest were moved (maybe in anticipation of people lining up to see pitchers warming up in the bullpens?). Last year, the area almost looked rented out to a private party, as it looked like there was a catering event set up. The bullpens themselves have changed, going directionally from center field towards home this year (below, right). Last year they were more left field to center field, directionally (below, left).
Now, I don't know how popular this area is. I haven't been back there when Francisco Rodriguez is warming up - maybe it's jumping then. (There are TVs, so even though you can't see the game live from this spot you can see the action on a television.) As far as accessible bullpens, though, Citi Field pales in comparison to the likes of Citizens Bank Park, which lets you walk right over the bullpens.
I suppose it's pretty good that with all the new at Citi Field, for this to be my only complaint right now means the Mets are doing pretty well. It just seems like something that needs improvement.
But based on the way the Mets improved Citi Field from year one to year two...I bet the improvements to this area happen, and when they do, they'll be done well.