Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I Coulda Been A Yankees Fan...

Well, today I went to New Shea. It's called Citi-Field for now, but I can guarantee that it will not be called that when the contract is up in a few years. I took the bus from down the street from my house in Atlantic Highlands,NJ. For eleven bucks that took me trouble free to the Port Authority. then a walk to the 7 train that took me straight to Willetts Point, New Shea.

The view from the 7 train was graffiti strewn once we entered Queens. How I hate graffiti. So, when New Shea finally came into view it was like a oasis that beckoned me in. The surrounding area and the parking lot around the entrance was beautifully landscaped.

And what of Old Shea? Well, the remains of Old Shea is in a small pile of concrete and re bar in a corner near the subway entrance. Nothing in that pile suggests the historic blue monstrosity that had been there less than six months ago.

I hope they will mark off the spots where significant moments in Shea history when they finish the parking lot. The spot where Cleon Jones made the last out of the 1969 world Series, The spot where the Mookie Wilson's ball trickled through Bill Buckner's legs in 1986, and the spot where Jimmy Qualls got his single that broke Tom Seaver's perfect game in 1969.

Anyway, New Shea looks great on the outside. Old Shea had the ugly blue walls with the uninspired neon sculptures that replaced the tacky, but endearing blue and orange panels. New Shea has a definitive entrance area and brick work inspired by Ebbets Field with a rotunda dedicated to Jackie Robinson, A guy who never played for the Mets.

Outside, however there are banners outside dedicated to Mets history and players of the past like Tug McGraw, Rusty Staub (circa 1973), Dwight Gooden, and my favorite, Ed Kranepool.

Now, a feature that is in every new ballpark built in the last 15 years is a field level concourse which every ticket holder has access to, I did a walk around to take in the scenery. The field, funny enough doesn't look as good as Old Shea yet. But the shape of it is very interesting and close to the fans. New Shea has a second concourse on the 300 level that almost goes fully around the park. I did that before I sat down to my assigned seat.

Since I'm a cheap bastard, I paid twenty dollars for eleven dollar tickets. That got me a ticket in the very last row in the left field bleachers, Section 537. Wouldn't you know it, but it was an obstructed view, very obstructed. My view was blocked by the rest of the league's scores. If I was at Old Shea, I would have to sit here the whole game if I wanted to see any action.

I sat in my seat for the first inning. By the second batter, I knew I wouldn't be seeing a no-hitter. The Mets were down 2-0 by the time the Mets came up to bat. And by the end of the first inning it was clear to me that New Shea was going to be a triple paradise. One each was hit by the Mets and Marlins.

There are several public gathering areas to enjoy the game at New Shea. My favorite was on the Pepsi Porch near the replica Pepsi-Cola sign. A little acknowledgement of Queens. A great place to enjoy a beer.

Beer, Ah yeah, nothing like an over priced beer to fulfill the ballpark experience and New Shea doesn't disappoint. There are no taps to be had, but one beer stand had a variety of decent brew from around the world. 24 varieties I believe. $7.50 a bottle, Which is less than what I paid once in a bar in Manhattan, so it didn't bother me that much.

What bothered me was that after the Mets came from behind and were winning 3-2 they blew the lead. The bullpen has been good this year and I don't need flashbacks of Aaron Heilman. And yet that's what I saw.

True to form, the Mets weren't clutch. David Wright in particular is driving me nuts striking out when we needed a hit. The Mets had the winning run on second base! They pinched hit Ramon Castro without having anyone ready to bat, it took about three minutes before Santos, another right handed hitting catcher stepped up to the plate to pop up to end the game, what a drag.

Still, I look forward to seeing the ballpark again in two weeks with my co-worker friends. New Shea is great, better than the new Phillie park, not quite as good as the Pittsburgh park. I rate it as good as the Mariners park. Both have three good sides to look at and one bad.

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