CitiField Walls

Luck of Dee Coop

It’s only taken me a week but I took the CitiField “behind the scenes” tour last weekend.  Unlike other stadiums, CitiField has restrictions on when they conduct them.  Like, every single day they have restrictions.  When I go to any other stadium, I can guarantee that I can get in at least twice a day, every day (unless it’s a game day).  CitiField is either feast or famine.  There are like ten on one day, then none for like three weeks.

That’s what happened to me.  In fact, this post could have easily been a “Fuck the Mets and their mothers” post, but it’s not.  In fact, my season ticket sales rep rocks and gets nothing but love in this.

A few weeks ago, I asked my sports gal partner-in-crime Metscellaneous Dee if she was interested in doing a tour.  When she said “YES” before I was even done asking the question (I probably finished with “tour of the bathroom” to be a wise ass), I figured it was a good idea.  The bonus is that when you’re a season ticket holder you get four passes complimentary.  In the past, I’ve never had a problem getting the tour I wanted.  Plus my husband was dying to see the progress on the new walls.  See, he and I have done the tour twice — once before there were restrictions on taking photos in the Mets clubhouses , then once after.  I had asked a friend if she also wanted to go, who was not as big a baseball fan as any of us (but she does root for the Mets when she does, simply because she knows I’ll kick her ass if she doesn’t), so we were set.

Till the booking people screwed up my reservation.

I looked on the website, and it looked as though the only weekend available was the second weekend in March, when we decided to go.  Fear not, I thought, because I never had a problem getting into the tours.  However, I noticed in literally a blink of an eye, none of the tours were available.  I was trying to see if I could book it online, which was my first mistake.  I should have just called.  So when I called the office, they were the blind leading the blind.  This is what happens when you let go of like 50% of your ticket staff and hire college students who don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground.

So I call my rep, who once again comes through in the clutch (when a last minute trip was canceled last year for me, and I had sold my tickets to the weekend’s games, he gave me complimentary tickets.  Like I said – clutch), and he says that because of the demand he can only get two people in.  When I explained that I had not only tried to call but book the appointment online, he said that because of this understaffing, the tours were not updated accordingly.  So basically, I was lucky to get those two spots.

More luck I guess on my side.  Then again, I’m a Mets, Jets and Rangers fan, so there goes that philosophy.  My friend graciously bowed out but wanted to do the tour again in the future, and my husband said, “Well, hey, just bring Dee because I can go anytime.”  So it was just us girls.

That’s cool because girls have more fun.

I do have to say that of the tours I’ve done, this one by far one of the best.  Billy from Oakland, NJ, was our tour guide.  He rocked.  It didn’t feel overly rehearsed or mimed.  The tour is supposed to be an hour but this was well over that one hour mark.

Few things…

We were there Saturday, March 10th.  Typically this time of the year is chilly, especially in Flushing, but again with luck on our side, we had good weather.  The tours were obviously jam packed but my rep did mention that.  I guess because the Mets refuse to have more than TWO TOURS in the month before the season opens, that’s a problem.  I suppose the reason could be of the construction that happened, but the tour goes nowhere near it.  In fact, I was at Camden Yards in the fall for their tour, and we walked right through a construction zone.  Methinks the Mets are just cutting costs and creating a demand.

But if you ask me, one of the few things creating demand is the tour these days.

Moving right along, about those walls…there were no walls to speak of!  Señor Coop wanted to get pics of the walls, so he would have been in for a huge disappointment.  There were corners of the new blue walls.  It looked like the construction was nowhere near completion.  I did hear this week that there was a lot of headway made there  (see The 7 Line‘s photos and videos of it – none of that stuff was up when we were there).  Good, I was getting worried that Habitat for Humanity would have to come in to finish up with some donated Home Depot supplies.

   

I would post more pics, but I have to admit I’m a bit jaded.  I’ve been to CitiField so many times since it’s opened, but I’ve also done the tour.  If there was some great revelation that occurred by me going on this tour maybe.

Oh! I remember.  The Empire Suites level features a large baseball card of a prominent player of each year of the Mets.  In 2010, the player at the start of the season was Jeff Francoeur, but since he was traded late in the season, it became Mike Pelfrey (his last good year, IMO).

 

More irony: Ike Davis was the 2011 candidate.  Who barely played!  Oy.

 

So here are the obligatory photos of us on the field, and me in the dugout.  If you want to see Dee’s take on it, visit her post.

 

During the tour you see each Mets yearbook since their birth in 1962, and we were able to see the 2012 yearbook cover.  Plus any self-respecting tour ends in the Museum and gift shop.  I purchased an Ike Davis shirt (note to Mets: PLEASE STOCK NIESE SHIRTS IN 2012), and saw the 50th anniversary video — something new in the Museum and Hall of Fame this year.  Howie Rose narrates the video, as well he should, and I was smiling and verklempt at the same time.  I guess that means what I saw was pretty good.

I guess with age, the CitiField tour keeps getting better.  Though there were some things I wanted to see, I got to see a top notch tour with a good friend, and it made me itch for baseball season to start, whether the Mets are world beaters or not.

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I’ll Have Blue Walls For Christmas

It’s official: the dimensions are changing.

I’ve made my position very clear that I don’t like the dimensions changing, especially in the name of making the Mets a more “offensive-friendly” team, or even handicapping the pitching (which the reality is, it doesn’t need any more challenges to being a moderate success…unless they get better pitching…which is another story in and of itself).

As far as the aesthetics of it, I happened to think they did a good job, especially making more seats, which will ultimately drive down the price, or so we hope.  The prices have already come down significantly since the stadium opened in 2009, perhaps we’ll see some people who want to spring for those seats in the Mo Zone or between the outfield reserve or wherever.  Fact is, for this to be a win-win for everyone, the team just needs to play better.  The number of seats increasing or the team hitting more home runs will almost be inversely proportional.

Wow. I think I’ve waited since junior high to say something like that.  I haven’t used that term since Algebra I class, to be sure.

Something that caught my eye is not only the dimensional changes, but the color changes.  See, when CitiField first opened, one of the major complaints was that it was not cognizant of Mets history.  The Jackie Robinson Rotunda was a shrine to a guy who never played for the Mets, and if you dropped a blindfolded Mets fan in the middle of CitiField, and they had no idea where they were, they’d never guess.  It wasn’t just cookie cutter: it had no mention of the quirky history of the Mets.  Certainly, nothing blue and orange, or anything notable besides the team on the field.

The “Great Wall of Flushing” had an orange line, but other than that, the ballpark was a generic black.  I wonder if the Wilpons got a sale from Home Depot for buying it in bulk.  Yet, some people thought that there was not enough blue representation.  I was neutral.  I could honestly care less about the wall color in the back.

But now it’s blue?  And orange?  According to the new schematic, it is.

I’m sure it won’t bother, but of all the things they’re concentrating on, repainting the walls in the back just smacks more of disguising a cake that’s actually full of dog doo.  It’s pretty on the outside, but it covers up something hideous.

Remember 2009?  My friend CharlieH said as he sat up in the Promenade Left Field, that the left fielder was simply a “rumor” from where he sat.  To address the sight line issues, the Mets added some shiny new TVs, probably to distract us from the ugly product that was taking the field each night.

I went to Camden Yards over the weekend to do a tour, and I got to hear a lot about the history of how it was built, and the idea that was put behind it.  The architect studied the old school ballparks and used inspiration from Ebbets Field, Polo Grounds, Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, among others.  The idea was to put the generic in it and make it an overall enjoyable experience for the fans, to make it an interactive experience.

Is painting the walls really necessary?

Look, I said I was Switzerland on it.  I would have been fine if they stayed black, or fine with painting.  I really don’t care.  It just makes me wonder how much of it is to silence the vocal minority, or maybe from doing customer satisfaction surveys, Hell maybe they are reading Metsblog for ideas.  I know it’s flogging a dead horse, but out of all the things they could be concentrating on to make the team actually WIN ballgames, the emphasis on the cover-up seems to be the rigeur du jour.

Candy Coating a Poison Pill

If you listen carefully, you will hear the mumblings and grumblings of several in-the-know folks about the walls at CitiField.  Hell, even our very own Howie Rose calls the wall over in left field the “Great Wall of Flushing.”

On one hand, I can understand the venom.  Home runs have dropped off noticeably for the Mets in the time since CitiField opened, and in the design, our owners went for the “quirk” factor and not “realistic helpful” factor.  On the other, if there were low walls, the dimensions were any shorter causing a MORE homer friendly scenario, we’d hear all about how “CitiField is a little league park” or “bandbox” (similar to the refrains we hear about Citizens Bank Park and Yankee Stadium).

You can’t win, but you get what you deserve too, Fred.

Yet, on my weekly podcast, we’ve had some really passionate debate about moving the dimensions at CitiField, redistributing the field (moving home plate and playing field up a few feet), among other things.  I can’t say that I disagree with thinking that SOMETHING needs to change, but the items I feel passionately about are the Great Wall…there’s no reason why it should be so difficult to hit a home run to that side of the field (nor should it be so difficult to try to “stop” a home run from being hit).  The Mo’s Zone is the bane of my existence. There aren’t things that I think will compromise the integrity of the playing field, and won’t make a bandbox or make it prohibitve.

Sandy Alderson on last night’s game broadcast suggested that not only will changes be potentially made at CitiField, that they won’t be “subtle.”  Translation,they should be drastic.  The cheers could be heard ’round the Twitterverse.

I guess I have to ask this question: is this just candy-coating a poison pill?

Keep in mind, I am just looking at home runs hit at CitiField against Mets pitchers (starters or otherwise).  In 2011, Mets pitchers have given up 54 home runs; in 2010, 47 home runs; and in 2009, growing pains to the new park led to the Mets pitchers giving up 81 round-trippers.  Conversely, the Mets’ pitchers have given up 84 HRs on the road this year, 88 HRs on the road in 2010 and 77 away in 2009.  The disparity really wasn’t that great in 2009, but they were giving up way too many home runs in 2009.  Clearly, they’re giving up fewer home runs at home.  Compared to Shea, 2008 and 2009 numbers were VERY similar: 79 home runs at home, 84 on the road.

We could theoretically argue that the home run factor or lack thereof for the Mets has almost HELPED Mets pitching.

But the question isn’t so much what the pitchers are doing and how the hitters are faring.  How many times have we seen what would be home runs at other parks (and not even bandboxes) that aren’t even close at CitiField, or those infamous 400 foot outs in the Mo’s Zone.  Yeah, you know what, that pisses me off too.  But the Mets’ offense has had THREE YEARS to get used to the dimensions at this place and learn to play to its strengths.

In 2008, Mets hitters had 95 home runs at home, with 77 on the road.  Compared to 2009, they had 49 at home, and 46 on the road.  Due to the nature of the injury-ridden and horrific season in 2009, we could throw that stats out as an anomaly and call it a day (or a year, in this case).  Mets hitters had 63 home runs at home in 2010 and 65 on the road, and finally in 2011, with a few days left in the season, 45 home runs at home, 57 on the road.

Throw out the home run factor for the Mets offense. In 2011, with eight games left, the hitting line has been relatively uniform at home and on the road.  At home, hitters have ..263/.336/.390; on the road, .267/.335/.393.  Compare to 2010, .255/.326/.393 at home, and .243/.304/.373 on the road.  Who says the Mets have a problem hitting at home!  Okay, fine it’s all relative, but the point is all we’ve heard is how detrimental CitiField is to the team, and their stats bear out lower on the road.

Of course, at the end of the day, it’s all about wins and losses at home.  There’s been a distinct home field disadvantage.  CitiField was built for the mantra of “speed, pitching and defense.”  Speed and defense have clearly been lacking in the Mets, but the pitching has been relatively uniform.  I know, there have been inconsistencies but fact is, the dimensions of CitiField have been favorable to the Mets pitching.  In 2011, averages against are .254/.333/.376 and on the road, .274/.341/.376.  Mets pitchers in 2010: at home, .243/.318/.350 and on the road, .276/.342/.437.

It’s clear to me the problem lies in lack of offense, especially in situational hitting.  Unfortunately, that cannot be “taught” and is a favorable argument to saber folks about it being a crapshoot.  Want to know what I think is a crapshoot?  Tinkering with the dimensions and walls at CitiField.   We need better PLAYERS to hit in the park, and the only thing tinkering will do is mess with the pitching progress, and have the other teams hit more home runs as well.

Moving in the dimensions will only silence the vocal minority, when the reality is, a candy-coated poison pill will still kill you in the end.