I attended both exhibition games that Open Citi Field this weekend, games between the Mets and Red Sox. The weather was horrific, but I'm glad I had a chance to witness history.
I was part of a group that got tickets in the left field stands in the top deck. It really didn't look like there would be a game last night, as the forecast was for rain all day. But we got a break in the late afternoon, and the game began on time, at 6:10 PM. (I noticed that the Game at Citi began one hour before the opener at the newest Yankee Stadium. Could there be a reason why the Mets opened the park before the Yankees did on the same day?)
The park wasn't half-filled, as I'm sure many people believed the game wouldn't be played and didn't show. I walked around Citi Field for an hour before the game and I was very impressed with it. It reminds me a lot of Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, and Petco Park in San Diego. I like the two huge scoreboards, especially the one in right field, which reminds me of the old Shea scoreboard a bit (that was always one of the old park's best attributes). I also like the new out of town board in left, as it has the "diamond" included in the scores, as you can now tell how many outs and the runners on base in those games (I could only see it during the second game however.). It's available in a few other new parks, and I'm glad Citi Field is using it too. I am big time scoreboard watcher (even in April) and I like that a lot.
I was sitting in heaven in the left field stands beneath the out of town scoreboard, about five rows from the top of the stadium. Sitting there I could not see the deep fly balls hit to the outfield, so I had to judge by the fans reaction what happened. (There were video screens put up for those fans just above our heads, but most of them weren't working yet.) It was a cold, windy night and I didn't dress for it, wearing my Red Sox jersey and a jacket, so I froze up there.
Dustin Pedroia got the first hit in Citi Field history, a double in the first. J.D. Drew scored the first run in the fourth inning, on a double by Chris Carter. The Mets grabbed the lead, 3-1 by the fifth inning, and when it concluded, the heavens opened up. I was determined that if there was a rain delay, I was calling it a night, and I did. I got home in time to see that the game resumed and caught the last two innings, as the Mets won their first game in their new home, 4-3.
My friend Jere of "A Red Sox Fan From Pinstripe Territory" had an extra ticket to Saturday's game, so I took him up on his offer and went. I dressed a lot more warmly for this game and I'm glad I did. I met up with Jere and his two friends, Marcus and Jim, and we sat about 10 sections over from where I was last night. The seat was in the fourth row and provided a much better view of the field (although the left-field corner was cut off). There was a bigger crowd to this game than to last night.
We took our seats and Oliver Perez couldn't find the plate, walked four and gave up a grand slam to Jed Lowrie, the first homer in the park's two-day history, to put the Red Sox up, 6-0. The Daisuke Matsuzaka Walk Parade was on in the first, as he walked two and loaded the bases in the second, but the Mets did not score. He went four innings, did not allow a run, and got the win. Jason Varitek hit the second home run in the sixth (my friend Adam can't be happy about that) and the Sox coasted to a 9-3 win.
Shortly after Tek's blast, the four of us left our seats and toured the park a bit. I was really impressed with the Bullpen Cafe, where you can view both bullpens up close (about 20 feet away). I am also happy to see the Mets brought back not only the original Home Run Apple, but the skyline they had on the Shea scoreboard (it still has the World Trade Center covered over with the red, white and blue ribbon). We eventually settled into some seats in the field level section behind first base. Just a fabulous view of the game, as there were no ushers stopping anyone to see tickets.
Citi Field sure is a gigantic step up from Shea Stadium. (The most surreal moment for me this weekend was looking out of the subway and seeing Shea gone. Then to see Citi Field right next to where it should have been, in all its glory.) It's not perfect, as the PA system sounded a bit muffled, strange for a new ballpark, and the right field wall is strangly shaped, and you can bet there will be fan interference on balls hit out there, as they can reach out on balls hit in the lower part of the fence. And could someone explain to me, why are there two speakers on the field behind home plate? And why is the wall behind home plate made of brick? Both of these things are recipes for disaster, as some catcher will get hurt slamming into them.
Despite the bad weather, I enjoyed the weekend in Queens. Overall, it felt like the Mets were a home team in a foreign ballpark. Mets fans have a special new ballpark, and after years being stuck at Shea, I hope they appreciate it.