Home Cookin’ Never Tasted So Good
A funny thing happened on the way to the Eastern Division title: The Mets discovered the kryptonite that may derail the Phillies’ season. And the green rock that renders all with super power to mush, lies smack underneath Citi Field.
Suddenly the powerful home run loving Phills routinely squeeze out long fly balls at the Mets’ home park. Normally, they are four-baggers in the friendly confines of Citizens Bank Bandbox.
Have there ever been two divergent ballparks between Division rivals in baseball? One could stage a Woodstock revival, the other hard pressed to park a fleet of Zamboni’s.
Now, Ryan Howard can hit it out of Yellowstone and Chase Utley also has striking power. However, the role players-the ones that always seem to kill the Mets, i.e. Shane Victorino and Jason Werth, can only muster fly balls for putouts at Citi.
Maybe there was a method to the Wilpon’s madness designing this cavernous playground.
When Jose Reyes hits it makes everyone in the organization look like geniuses. Even the beer vendors. Because his strong suit is line drives into the gaps (and the occasional tracer shot like last night) and he can motor all day in the vastness.
He is the Mets catalyst as long as he dons blue and orange. Moreover, line drives his bread ‘n butter.
When watching a game from Philadelphia it’s frustrating when the home team hits a plethora of fly balls that settle into the stands. The Santana thrashing a few Sunday nights ago a prime example. He yielded one legitimate blast, in my opinion, to Howard.
The other “blasts” that evening would’ve been gobbled up by the Citi Field dimensions. Factoring in the warmer weather the past two nights, the ball seemingly has started to carry-especially in the gaps.
The Mets can hold a huge advantage if they learn to tailor their swings-pull for homers, and hit line drives into the gaps. The Merry-go-Round will need regular maintenance.
When the opposition’s approach is pull-happy, and gets frustrated by long outs, that plays right into the Mets hands.
(Now, adding a pitcher or two can only help. R.A. Dickey and his knuckler will befuddle the opposition only so long.)
Then again, Mr. Takashi might be keeper. He keeps the ball down and hits his spots like a master. This, along with the signing of Rod Barajas might keep the heat off Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya, for a week or two!
The much maligned architect of Citi Field just might have earned a bonus after what the Mets did the last two games to Philly. The home cooking never tasted better.
About the Author: Doug Branch
Doug has been sports writing since 1983. He first wrote about the Mets at spring training that year, and his first interviewee was surly catcher Ron Hodges. He currently writes for Mets Inside Pitch, among other magazines published by Scout Publishing-which is owned by Fox Sports. He began following the team during the Wes Westrum era, and redeemed many Borden milk coupons for free Saturday baseball. The night of Tom Seaver's imperfect game against the Cubs, he was in line to buy a ticket when the windows slammed shut and abject disappointment ensued.
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