Monday, April 6, 2009

Review of Citi Field

Although I was fine with Shea Stadium, I really wanted to like Citi Field.

The thing is, I love baseball, and I love the Mets. I love their history, their aura, their persona, their players. I think Jerry Manuel is cool. I loved Daniel Murphy from the first time I saw his perfect left-handed swing and his sharp batting eye. I think Johann Santana is the best pitcher in baseball, and he seems like a nice guy and a real leader. I know that David Wright wants to win, and has it in him to show the Mets the way. Sometimes Jose Reyes is so good it's scary. Last year our pen stunk, and Omar went out and fixed it.

I went to Citi Field Saturday afternoon for a Mets - Red Sox exhibition game. Granted, it was freezing so bad it felt like Shea Stadium. Granted, it was a humdrum exhibition game where Ollie Perez had nothing and the Mets were never in it. Granted, it was a day for the fans to check out the Stadium, and we all did.

There are a few impressive things about Citi Field. One is the large selection of places to eat and drink, positioned EVERYWHERE in the building. There are wide expanses of walking areas behind the seats, and beyond the outfield. There are huge rectangular walk-up bars all over the place. Walking in the "food court" area beyond the outfield was like being at the South Street Seaport. Cool if you are a tourist, kinda OK if you are there for the first time, but not someplace you really want to be.

When I'm at a baseball game, I WANT TO BE AT A BASEBALL GAME!!!!! I don't want to buy a blackened shrimp po-boy on a ciabatta bread for $14.50, with a $9 beer. I want to either bring my sandwich from a deli (made to order), with a bag of chips and some water, OR I want to buy a few expectedly overpriced stadium dogs and a beer, and watch the game. As I walked around the non baseball watching areas of the park (which is most of the usable space), and watched my fellow citizens zombying around, I became convinced that "Idiocracy" is in our future. You've never seen Idiocracy, the Mike Judge movie where a regular guy gets sent into the future due to a failed army experiment? Five hundred years from now, according to this Sci-fi/comedy, every stupid excess of our current society will become the norm, and a normal guy from now will be considered the smartest guy on earth. Here's a few this one we see the President, who is a wrestler guy In the next one the hero gets arrested, and goes to court I think the prosecutor was at Citi Field on Saturday.

OK, so lots to eat, and lots of places to shop. I guess this is important because when you have children, the most important thing is to "buy them stuff". Heaven forbid you watch the game with your child and TALK. On a nice afternoon, you can talk about the strategy of the game, and things you heard about particular players, or opposing players you haven't seen before. And if the game gets slow, you can talk about what a nice day it is, and how nice it is to be at the ballgame.

I've had people tell me that baseball is boring. I guess compared to a dance contest show, or celebrity gossip, or a reality show, it IS boring. Baseball is a game where you fill in the gaps in the action with some lost arts.....conversation and thinking. I used to get annoyed, even at "old fashioned" Shea Stadium when between innings, there was a non-stop barrage of noisy "entertainment" and blatant commercials. Citi Field will be the same, with better technology. I so wish it could just be about the GAME.

I have heard that the Mets do not want to Citi Field to be called a "stadium". They want it referred to as a "park" or a "field". Sorry guys, a park or a field is where you go to play a game, or watch a game, it's not a mega-entertainment center.

As far as the field itself, it looks to me like a pitcher friendly park. The dimensions are long and not uniform, and the fences are high in places. I think they are going for "quirky" and charming. We shall see. In right field there is an overhang, like in the old Detroit stadium. I was surprised that so many seats are in fair territory. There are several levels like this....I hate watching the game from there, but it IS close to the food concourse. Now THERE'S a surprise.

The other reason this will not feel like a park or a field is that most of the seats will be sold to corporations and businesses. This is not a day trip with the kids for most people. The whole experience has very little to do with kids, or baseball for that matter.

All the ill feelings aside, TODAY was opening day. I listened to most of the Met game on the radio, and even snuck out to a bar to watch the last inning on TV. It WAS still baseball, the game was still great. I will read about it in the paper tomorrow, and the season is on.

Spring is here, baseball is happening, and nothing can stop it.