I made it to Opening Day! This post is a few days late but unfortunately there are just some things that take precedence over barking at the moon.
It was a tremendous experience to be able to be at the first home game at Citibank Field. It was really cool, yet very very surreal to be at a Mets home game in this brand new place. My friends and I just kept saying that over and over again. After going to Shea for so many years, it was just downright bizarre.
I took the old 7 train to the new ballpark, and got jitters the first time I saw the place from the windows of the subway car. The old whatchamacallit with the circular staircase is gone, and the new platform works just fine. SNY was broadcasting from the plaza in front of the promenade, and I am sure the Wilpons were just thrilled that the station the own was broadcasting from the stadium they built, and Bob Raissman was criticizing elements of the ballpark amplified so it was the first voice we heard when arriving "Who plays here, the New York Citis? Where's all the Mets stuff?"
It was a gorgeous evening for a ballgame, and when my friends arrived we hunted around the outside of the Jackie Robinson Rotunda for our bricks. I found mine really quickly and was thrilled at my purchase. Then, we shunned the masses and headed for the Endy Chavez Rotunda at Left Field to go into the ballpark. Thanks MetsGrrl, for the tip!
We mosied around the concourse to find something to eat - I was starving - but first decided to relieve ourselves in the new bathrooms. It was my first time with a waterless urinal - kind of like peeing into a shower drain, I guess is the best comparison I can give you. There were lots of food choices, as we've heard time and again. The line at Shake Shack was crazy an hour before first pitch, so we walked around for a different place to get a burger. Most of the concession stands are specialized - you can get hot dogs at one counter but no burgers. You can get chicken at another, but no hot dogs. So we had to walk around awhile to find the burger stand. Let me tell you, this was the most maddeningly sh*tty experience of the night. Apparently Aramark's claim that all their shortcomings were due to Shea's antiquated facilities were just bogus. They had no idea how to execute these burger transactions. You ordered your food at the counter and then paid at a separate register. There were some hot trays containing burgers that I guess you could self-serve, but none of the items were labeled so you didn't know what was a cheeseburger or what was a "drive-in burger" We stood there forever to give our order, and then even though there seemed to be plenty of food around, it actually took 20 minutes to get the food. They handed out burgers out of order, and no management stepped up to organize what could have been very easily managed into a quick and orderly process. Either this will get better or worse as Aramark either "works out the kinks" or ignores it as the focus shifts away and people just accept the crappy service as expected.
Our seats were out in left field, and yes, we had some blind spots in deep left, but I think people may be making too much of these "obstructed" views. I've only sat in one place so far, of course, and I didn't pay for my tickets, so I'll have to see how the experience plays out after a few more trips. Sunday night I'll get the Upper Deck, I mean Promenade experience and let you know what I think. It was strange to watch a Mets game from the outfield, but the best part was being so close to the giant apple (or tomato as my buddy Tubby called it) when David Wright hit his three run bomb.
Maybe the best part of the experience is if you don't like your seats you can walk around the park and get a better view elsewhere. We watched the last two innings over by the right field foul pole. Different sounds, different view. Mets games are a whole new experience!
What's really great about having the new stadium is, to be honest, is that it's no longer embarrassing! I mean, to take an out of towner to the place where your heart lives, and have it be, well, a dump, kind of hurts the experience. Shea had it's charm, but that charm was in it's history, not it's aesthetics.
Speaking of aesthetics, other than Aramark, the one criticism of the new stadium I have to agree on, is the lack of Mets-ness to the place. There are very few reminders that you're playing at the Mets home stadium! The green seats don't bother me at all, and I'll take Dave Howard at his word that there will be more Mets stuff "rolled out" in time. But the one thing that really annoys me is those black outfield walls. Having black and orange as the dominant backdrop just does not feel right, and I think it's an easy change for the Mets to make. I'm hoping we can get a bit of a groundswell of support going for this change.
All in all, it was a fun experience, even if the play on the field was frustrating. Ryan Church's error, Mike Pelfrey's balk, Duaner Sanchez and Heath Bell's performances, and the final score certainly did not add to the fun of the evening. But cold beer, a good friend, seeing Seaver and Piazza throw out the first pitch, and a freakin cat running on the field of our new home made for quite a fun night indeed.
Can't wait to get back!