Don’t Let the Door Hit You on the Way Out

February 2, 2009

This past Saturday, Mets fans gathered outside a dilapidated Shea Stadium to pay homage to an edifice that gave them so much in return. “These are the real Mets fans,” twenty-five year-old Chris Swann said. “Its 25 degrees and we’re standing out here, I’m loving it. I’m cold and I’m smiling.” Swann successfully organized the crowd of 100 people through various fan blogs and Facebook pages. The small congregation swapped stories of Mets lore, old and new. Fathers played catch with their sons. Older fans recalled the first year the stadium opened and younger fans tried their hardest to put a positive spin on Game 7 of the 2006 National League Championship Series.

It’s no secret that many Mets fans disagree with the demolition of the forty-four year old stadium. However, this is one Mets fan that is anxious to see it go. I, too, have fond memories of my father loading up the beach cooler with soft drinks and snacks during the summer months and enjoying the sun-soaked rays of Shea’s Field level seats. I can recall enduring the brisk April air that accompanied me while atop the Upper Deck at the start of a new baseball season. During the month of September, I have reeled in the comfort of the dark green seats of the Mezzanine. Adjacent to the Mets bullpen, my friends and I would throw down crumpled pieces of paper to the Mets relievers in hopes they would sign them and throw them back up to us. And, as I enjoyed a beer and a hot dog in a sea of Loge-blue seats, I was always on the lookout for any incoming foul balls. To top it all off, I have even participated in my share of the “Wave” and of course, July fourth-fireworks displays.

Experiencing all these great moments, you may ask yourself why I am so quick to let them go. I will tell you why. With respect to the last several times I have been able to visit Shea, my experience has been less than desirable. I will explain. A friend of mine was unable to take advantage of a couple of tickets he had. He offered them to me and since they were Loge seats, I thought, hey, great.

Leading up to the game, I had envisioned myself tracking a Carlos Delgado blast which would start at home plate and end by slamming into the scoreboard. Maybe, I would be lucky enough to witness a dazzling grab by Mets centerfielder Carlos Beltran. No chance. The seats were, in fact, located in the Loge section. That much is true. However, they were situated underneath an overhang from a section of the Mezzanine. Not only was there no circulating air but the only players I was able track were the pitcher, the batter, and the catcher. Everything else was covered by this obtrusive section of the ballpark that made you wish you were at home watching the game on your 19” TV.

One of the improvements guaranteed by those who built the new Mets ballpark was that all who would attend would receive a good sightline to the action on the field. I have a feeling the makers of Citi Field sat in my previous seats and could not help but ask themselves, “Who would want to watch the game from here?”

Another case in point, I unknowingly redeemed my tickets from a rained out game for a section of the Upper Deck that was parallel to the outfield grass. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this section of the ballpark, these seats are also parallel to the Diamond Vision screen. I understand some of you may be thinking to yourself, how someone could be unable to view a humongous television screen that is perched for all to see. Honestly, while the rest of the fans were smiling and laughing at various couples smooching during the “Kiss Cam “segment, my wife and I were sitting in our seats with blank stares on our faces wondering what the hell was going on. Not to mention the fact that any ball hit towards the left-field wall allowed for the leftfielder to suddenly disappear and force us to scratch our heads awaiting the outcome.

As I call for the demise of Shea Stadium, it should not be seen as a reduction of my allegiance to my favorite team. Like President Barack Obama, it’s time for a change. For those of you who stood atop a pile of gravel and dirt on a chilly Saturday afternoon hoping to get one last snapshot of the stadium that you grew to know and love, I commend you.

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