The Mets’ inaugural season at CitiField has mercifully come to an end. It was quite a mixed bag at the new CitiField. The stadium is one thing, and the performance of the Mets at their new home is a story of its own.
The Mets home opener at their spanking new ball park was on Monday April 13th. The Mets were behind, when Wright hit a game tying three run HR. The Mets eventually lost 6-5. Who would have guessed that David’s HR would account for 10% of his total for the season? I was at the next two games; a win on Wednesday and another 6-5 loss on Thursday. Remember Delgado’s first inning three run blast, on a 3-0 pitch from Jake Peavy? One month later Delgado was gone for the season. The baseball gods were frowning upon the Mets.
Shea, especially in the last decade, was a nicer park than people said or wrote. I had seats down the right field line – in a four seat box, so no long row (of 24 seats) to walk through. OK, so I did have to turn my head towards home plate to watch the game. So what if I now have chronic neck pain. My initial reaction was that CitiField was lacking in certain ways. At CitiField, the outfield walls and dimensions were irregular and quirky. Left field had such a high wall, that it seemed impossible to hit home runs over it. Also so many seats had club rights – Delta, Ebbets, Caesars, Excelsior, Sterling, Empire. What does that get you? The right to buy expensive food, but in a private setting away from the commoners. In most clubs, you can’t even see the field, but only watch the game on TV.
As “spring became the summer” (per Neil Diamond), despite the Mets’ weak play, CitiField started to grow on me. Firstly, there is ample parking. Not once did I need to park by the junk yards or shuttle from the Worlds Fair grounds. Entering through the Jackie Robinson Rotunda was special. I enjoyed walking the field level circumference, stopping to watch the game, from different vantage points. The center field area became the place to congregate, get great food, and hang out, while still watching the game.
The problem as it turned out, was the Mets’ play on the field. Among other problems, their lack of home run power was astonishing. We all thought that CitiField was too much of a pitchers’ park, and impossible to hit home runs. But the statistics do not bear this out. At CitiField, the Mets hit 49 home runs, compared to the road teams 81. On the road, the Mets hit 46 home runs, and their home team opponents hit 77. Not only did the Mets hit more home runs at CitiField than on the road, but in total, there were more CitiField homers than on the road homers. That’s 95 Mets home runs vs. 158 opponent home runs. The Mets finished last in home runs in all of baseball. In contrast the SF Giants were next to last, having hit 122 home runs, and the Yankees were first with 244 home runs.
Sounds like it wasn’t the ball park but the players. According to the statistics, CitiField is a fair park, with an advantage to the pitchers. Imagine how many CitiField home runs there would have been, had the Mets batted Jeter, Damon, Texeira, A-Rod, Posada, Matsui, Cano, Swisher, and Melky. Melky’s 13 home runs would have led the Mets.
In conclusion, 2009 at CitiField had some good, but mostly the bad, and ugly. All Mets fans can do is keep faith that in the future there will be many fun, and exciting times at CitiField. And at some point, some winning times.