The inaugural season for Citi Field ends in a few weeks and to say the least it was a very disappointing first year for the Mets new ballpark. At the start of the 2009 season I was hoping that with a new ballpark that had not witness disappointments over the last couple of years the slate would be clean and we could start making new histories for the new ballpark. Unfortunately for us the memories of 2009 will be depressing as we wait for 2010.
The last couple of weeks Mets Weekly, a magazine show that airs on SNY on Saturday’s they have been counting down individual Mets all-time best seasons. They have featured Mike Piazza and his 1999 season as well David Wright’s great 2007 season that is highly under-appreciated by fans and writers given the collapse of 2007 as well as Jose Reyes’ 2006 season. Carlos Beltran, Tom Seaver and Daryl Strawberry are also in the countdown. What these have in common is that Mets Weekly while showing clips of these former and current Mets all-time best seasons at Shea Stadium and I admit seeing all the clips have gotten me nostalgic for Shea Stadium again.
My favorite memory of Shea was Piazza’s homerun on September 21, 2001, 10 days after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. But it’s not just this one memory that makes me miss Shea. It’s the look of the place, the energy that stadium had over the years for players like Seaver, Koosman, Jones, Hernandez, Carter, Gooden, Strawberry, Piazza, etc…
Now Citi Field is beautiful, don’t get me wrong. It’s state of the art, the restaurants are nice, the fan walk is cool and the Jackie Robinson Rotunda is nice to experience but it does not seem like home. To me it just seems like a new ballpark, no matter who plays there. Now I’m not going to go over the lack of Mets history, I only mention it now because I know that it will come up in the comments and in the chat box, I’m talking about some sort of overall feeling I get from the place.
Shea had it’s problems, it was not state of the art, it was not pretty to look at but I sometimes think you can say the same things about the Mets over the years. Even through the bad times it always felt exciting to me. Whether it was filled or if there were only a couple of thousand people there was an energy in that stadium. It was a blue collar place for a blue collar team with mostly blue collar fans.
I don’t know if it’s just that this season has been terrible for the Mets but I don’t feel any emotional attachment to Citi. It’s not for the lack of history either. When I see the clips on Mets Weekly or think back to the games I see I feel happy and a bit sad knowing that we will not see another game at Shea or that we can’t see the stadium anymore since it’s gone. Even while the Mets were playing decent ball you just didn’t get a sense of the energy you would experience at Shea.
Obviously Citi Field doesn’t have the history Shea did as it’s less than one year old. It hasn’t experience the miracle that was ’69. There was no black cat circling an opponents dugout. A Beatle has played at Citi Field but The Beatles did not grace Citi with their beautiful music. Citi has yet to experience a routine ground ball go through the legs of Bill Buckner. Citi Field has not experienced a Robin Ventura grand-slam single. Citi Field has not experience the joy of a Mike Piazza homerun that made people forget the horrors for a few minutes and just smile, something that we had not done in over a week, a homerun that made children and grown ups cry in joy not in terror or sadness.
Memories will be made over the years at Citi, I don’t doubt that but the history of Shea is just part of why I miss that stadium. It was the character that stadium had. The battered old blue outside of the stadium. I miss the Blue and Orange seats, I miss the Blue walls in the outfield, I miss the old scoreboard and the old facade that is now on display above the Shake Shack. I miss the old apple coming up even though we have an apple now at Citi that is new and bigger.
As the deconstruction of Shea Stadium got underway I refused to look at the pictures and the video’s. I didn’t want to acknowledge that the place where my Mets played and I watched them play was going to be a parking lot. It wasn’t until the final piece of Shea Stadium feel that I watched the video. As I much as I didn’t want to see it I felt I had to see it, I thought perhaps that would give me some closure and get me ready to welcome Citi Field. I didn’t experience the closure I was looking for. I felt a little emotional, I could feel tears forming in my eyes but I did say goodbye to Shea that afternoon but I was wishing that it was not goodbye.
Maybe I just don’t like change, maybe I’m just trying to forget this 2009 season but I miss Shea. I hope to one day feel the same way about Citi Field. I want to feel like I’m at home at that park, that it gives me a feeling that the New York Mets are playing there the way Shea does/did. I know there will be some disappointing seasons as well as some good seasons and I hope that the ballpark where the Mets play will help me enjoy the good seasons more and somewhat soothe me when the Mets don’t have a good season but I will always have a spot in my heart for Shea.
Shea was not much to look at but it she was home.