Friday, August 17, 2012
I Yearn for Citi to Shake like Shea
Whenever my Father comes with my friends and I to Mets games, he opts to park in a $5 lot that's a 10 minute walk to the ballpark along Roosevelt Avenue. He'll park there, meet us in McFadden's before the game, and we'll walk back with him after the game is over. As we were walking along Roosevelt Avenue last Saturday night, after the Mets had been trounced by the Braves, I remembered that I had taken that same walk after the game on October 19th, 2006. That night was of course Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS (seen in the picture above). A night where I went straight from work to the ballpark, and sat in the Upper Deck between third base and left field while I waited for the game to start.
As the stadium began to fill, a palpable buzz rose up. In the moments before the game began, the scene had turned into a frenzy, a kind of madness even. It was incredible. It was deafening. People were screaming, jumping up and down, and waving towels (although I don't like the use of rally towels, preferring to let my hands generate noise, it was quite a sight on October 19th, 2006), all in anticipation of what we hoped would be the Mets winning the National League Pennant. We all know how that game turned out. Endy Chavez made the greatest catch I've ever seen, and I'm pretty sure I blacked out during the insanity that ensued afterwards - the hugging of strangers, screams of amazemenet, and feeling of the Upper Deck shaking - so badly, in fact, that my Father nearly left the section because he thought it was going to collapse. I told him at the time that if it did, I'd go down with it. The Upper Deck didn't collapse, Reyes' rope in the 9th didn't fall in, and Carlos Beltran was felled by a pitch no one could've hit. After two more years of contention but ultimate disappointment, Shea Stadium met the wrecking ball. And since then, save for the last out of Johan Santana's no hitter, Citi Field has felt empy - even when it's full.
Now, it's important to point out that I'm comparing extremes. There were times at Shea during the summer of 2006 when I would be aggravated at the lack of fan noise. However, I had a Saturday plan back then, and the lack of noise could be partly attributed to the many families who were in attendance. Still, even though Shea Stadium was lacking in amenities and devoid of light in the concourses, it was a place where Mets fans felt united. It was a place where you couldn't hear yourself think during big moments, when the crowd would engulf you.
I love Citi Field itself. I love how it looks, the wide open concourses, the seats being closer to the field, and much more. However, I hate how it sounds. The feeling of detachment between the fans and the game is disturbing. I understand that Citi Field has been the home of a non-contending ballclub during the second half of each season since it opened. However, that doesn't excuse fans from making absolutely no noise during the first haf of each of those seasons. It doesn't excuse the fact that when I clap with two strikes, I feel like I'm doing something wrong. It doesn't excuse the fact that when I stand up during a big moment, people around me look at me like I'm insane - their seering eyes demanding me to sit down.
I suppose the indifference and silence at Citi Field is due to a multitude of reasons: People are content to hang out instead of focusing on the game, to walk around and BS with eachother. Some are unhappy with ownership, and all are unhappy with how the last four seasons have spiraled downhill after the All-Star break. Still, that doesn't make my feeling of detatchment when attending a Mets game acceptable.
I miss Shea Stadium. I miss the Mets playing meaningful games in September and October. Most of all, I miss the feeling of unity that used to wash over me every time I walked into Shea - whether it was as a 9 year old who watched Sid Fernandez from the Mezzanine in September of 1993, or as a 22 year old who was there for most of the Playoff games during October of 2006. I miss being able to clap without feeling odd, or being able to stand without those around me wondering why.
No one knows when the Mets will play their next meaningful September and October games. There could be a miracle this year, it could happen next year, or the year after. I just hope that when those games roll around, it won't be noiseless indifference that fills Citi Field. I hope that those in attendance realize the tradition that its fans are supposed to be upholding - the tradition of being a raucous, supportive home crowd. A crowd that hangs on every pitch, and fills the ballpark with a palpable buzz.
While I was taking that walk along Roosevelt avenue after the game last Saturday night, I realized something else. I had more of an empty feeling that night than I did when I was taking the same walk in the rain sometime around 11:30 PM on October 19th, 2006, minutes after the Mets' season had ended. Back then I had been a part of an amazing experience, even though it ended in agony. Last Saturday, I had simply been one of 25,000 people in an emotionless ballpark, experiencing nothing special at all. I yearn for that to change, for Citi to erupt like Shea. Whenever it is that the Mets finally break through, the fans of this team have to realize that it's us who have the power to do that. That we need to stop walking around, get to our seats, and whip the place into a frenzy.