Monday, November 16, 2009

Our Ballpark

With the absence of any concrete team related news over the last few days, Rational (sometimes) Mets Musings will today turn its attention to our glistening new ballpark, and the unfair abuse it has taken during its first year of existence.

This weekend, it was reported that the bullpens at Citi Field would be renovated for the 2010 season. Instead of one being behind the other, the bullpens will be changed to a side by side setup. Both broadcasters and players of visiting teams complained throughout the season about the location of the visitors pen (which prevented broadcasters from seeing who was warming up, and prevented players from having a quality view of the game that was taking place before them). The renovation of the bullpens follows lots of other adjustments/corrections that were made to the ballpark in-season (some with lots of fanfare, some that no one noticed).

For any Mets fan, Shea Stadium was a place that was filled with memories - a place that shook with anticipation and excitement, and a place that was loved even though it was absent of charm and was lacking in most areas. The ramps were steep, the escalators were usually broken. The corridors were cold and dark, the seats weren't angled properly, and the blue exteroir that was unveiled in the mid 1980's turned to purple after a while. Nevertheless, the ballpark was loved despite its deficiencies - treatment that Citi Field has not received.

What is Citi Field? It's a brand new ballpark that was built for baseball. It is the home of the New York Mets, who wear Blue and Orange. Like its predecessor, it is a distinct pitchers park. The outside of the ballpark is beautiful, and is a nod to the exterior of Ebbets Field. The seats, for the most part, aren't absurdly priced, and are angled toward the field (there are some blind spots, like there are in every ballpark). There are lots of advertisements, a tremendous food selection, a train that lets you off at the entrance of the ballpark, and pictures of past and current players that take up just about half of the left side of the exterior of the ballpark. Sounds nice, right?

Lots of Mets fans (and New Yorkers) chose to ignore everything that was great about Citi Field, and attacked everything they felt was wrong about it. The most deafening screams came from those who claimed the ballpark was a nod to the Dodgers, and nothing more (simply because the rotunda was named after Jackie Robinson). Those people failed to take into consideration that the Mets are descendants of the Dodgers and Giants (we'll get to the other old New York NL team in a second), whose fans are in turn descendants of the fans of those late, great teams. The fans complained because the seats were green (ignoring the fact that when Shea Stadium opened, the seats were pastel colors). They complained that the walls weren't blue, but were the black and orange colors of the old New York Giants (ignoring the fact that the walls were green when Shea Stadium opened). They complained that there were (gasp!) seats where you couldn't see every inch of the playing field. The last complaint is a circumstance of going to a ballgame. There isn't ONE ballpark in Major League Baseball that offers unobstructed seats from every location in the joint.

There were a bunch of issues that the fans complained about, and those issues were addressed. It was noted by season ticket holders that the LED Boards that ran along the Promenade Level were blocking the view for some fans in the first row. The Mets responded by lowering the boards. The fans complained that there weren't enough pictures of Mets greats adorning the ballpark (even though there were pictures ringing the entire outside of the ballpark to go along with the enormous mural that covered the left field entrance, not to mention the silhouettes of great moments in Mets history that were at each main entrance). In turn, the Mets added MORE pictures to the inside of the ballpark. After all of these complaints were addressed, the only thing left to yell about was the fact that there wasn't enough blue and orange throughout the park.

Ballparks, these fans claimed, were filled with the colors of the home team's uniform (even though that claim is false). Without those colors, the fans roared, it's impossible to know whose ballpark they were at (just like the fans in Fenway Park who forget where they are because of all of the green). With the fans and talk show hosts continuing to roar through the offseason, the Mets announced that they would add orange and blue to the bare walls that enclose the staircases at Citi Field. This, they thought, would please the fans. Wrong. The same fans who screamed about the lack of Mets colors at Citi Field are now screaming because they're worried that the staircase walls (that they haven't seen, and have no idea how the Mets will paint them) will look tacky. Plain walls were an indication that the Mets didn't care about their history. Walls that contain orange and blue are tacky. Note to whoever builds the next Mets ballpark in 50 years: Don't build walls.

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