Thursday, May 14, 2009

Stadium Tour Hits New Shea

When I graduated from college in May of '84, I had an idea. If I hit 2-3 major league ballparks, I could see all of them in about a decade. I never, never expected the massive rebuild of big league playgrounds. Yesterday, I visited my 45th, adjacent to the site of my first, the parking lot which was once Shea Stadium.

Passing the inlaid plaques that noted the previous spots of Shea's home plate, pitching rubber and bases, it seemed as if Citi Field held great promise. It is a great place to watch a game, even from my right field upper deck seat. The food, according to Ron Darling, is the best in baseball, but I couldn't verify that. I did have a Nathan's hot dog and a Gabila's knish, both yummy, but one can never sample all the wares, from brick oven pizza to Mexican. It smelled good, though.

Here's my problem with the park, and why I left feeling quite negative about it. Tom Seaver has said that he never understood why the Mets always tried to compete on history with the Yankees. It's no contest - the Yankees ARE baseball history. However, as Seaver pointed out, the Mets have their own unique heritage, with two World Series wins and the best comic losers in a game filled with characters.

Citi Field is remarkably a nearly no-Mets zone. The stadium is built to replicate Ebbets Field and the majestic Jackie Robinson Rotunda, though a lovely and fitting tribute to the man, is Dodger central, with pictures of Brooklyn moments past. There's even an Ebbets Level. Come on!

When the Mets started in 1962, the infant franchise had, by necessity, to rest on the laurels of New York's National League past, the recently fled Dodgers and Giants. Not now, though, not now, almost 50 years later. The Dodgers have their own stadium. I believe it's called Dodger Stadium.

At Citi, the outfield walls are black and orange, recalling the New York Giants. So what is present to remind fans of the Mets' history? Some black and white photos on the outside of the park and, during the game, a short clip on Seaver's near-perfect game from 1969, and some Cliff Floyd highlight from 2005. Hell, even the Mariners have a Seattle baseball museum at Safeco and that franchise has done virtually nothing over their 30 plus years.

It's a shame, really, because Mets fans love this team and would truly enjoy even a small nod to their memories. I'm not saying their should be a statue of George Theodore, but it couldn't hurt to embrace the high and low moments of the last four decades.

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