Posts Tagged ‘Citi Field’

Mets Fans Are Starting to Develop Yankee-Envy

August 13, 2009

As the Mets stumble through a season that most Mets fans would like to forget, their cross-town brethren in the Bronx are building on one to remember. After the Mets squeaked out a win yesterday to avoid being swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Yankees muscled their way to another walk-off win, their eleventh of the season.

As power-deprived as the Mets current lineup is, the Bombers have nine hitters with ten or more home runs. I’m sure at one point in the season the Mets had eight players on the disabled list. Meanwhile, the Yanks now have eight of their position players with at least fifty RBIs. Adding insult to injury, the Yankees are twenty-eight games over five hundred, the Mets eight games under. The Yanks are in first, the Mets are in fourth. The contrasts in the two ball clubs are endless.

The only similarity the two teams share is that they both opened up the 2009 campaign with a new ballpark. The universal goal of making the postseason is now over for one of them. As we enter the final six weeks of the season, the roars of Yankee Stadium have clearly been drowning out the cheers of Citi Field.

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Walk-off Win Allows Castillo to Be King for a Day

April 18, 2009

At times, the most dangerous player on the field might very well be the player with the biggest chip on his shoulder. For a Mets ballclub that has experienced two consecutive seasons in which both have ended in heartbreaking defeat, you might expect there to be plenty of players left with something to prove. One of those players happens to be second baseman Luis Castillo who this season could be seen as having a slight advantage in that department.

At the completion of the 2008 season, Mets fans and the majority of the media decided unanimously that GM Omar Minaya should just cut his losses and send the injury-riddled second baseman on his way, the sooner the better. Even if it meant releasing him and assuring the fans that he never set foot in the Big Apple ever again, something needed to be done. Fortunately Castillo is a man who possesses a thicker skin than most and has shown that he is intelligent enough not to interpret his critic’s discontent as anything but self-motivation.

So Minaya, being the good diplomat that he is, decided to give Luis one more shot at making it in the Big City. Castillo gave his trusting general manager his word that this upcoming season things would be different. This time around, he would prove to his teammates as well as to the fans that he had the stomach to make it in this town. Since the start of this year’s spring training, Minaya has been Castillo’s biggest supporter. He has defended his everyday second baseman by citing his positive attitude and good work ethic and has allowed him to begin anew seventeen pounds lighter. Castillo then vowed that he had put all the disappointments and fat cells behind him. It was obvious that he had one goal in mind; help his team get to the World Series.

As New Yorkers, we all took what he said with a grain of salt and accepted his previous flaws with the hope that he was destined to improve this season. However, during the Mets first five games, Castillo started in just four of them. He began right where he left off by going 1 for 10 with 3 strikeouts. You could almost hear the boo-birds settling into their new home, Citi Field, preparing for his arrival. Then, out of nowhere, something clicked inside the new and improved Castillo. Perhaps it was the proximity to his native homeland or maybe it was the warm sunny skies of South Florida, but whatever it was, it allowed for a perfect 4-for-4 performance. No matter what he accomplished the next day, it would be more than enough for his detractors to warrant another look. With that offensive outburst alone he was now entitled to hang his hat within the squeaking-clean confines of his team’s new ballpark.

Which brings us to last night’s 5-4 win in walk-off fashion, the first of its kind at Citi Field, by none other than, you guessed it, Luis Castillo.

“He wanted to be in that situation, tonight,” Mets manager Jerry Manuel said.

For further reading, you can check out a previous post entitled, Luis Castillo, A Fall From Grace Or Just a Bump in the Road.

Mets Give Fans a Night to Remember

April 15, 2009

It began to settle in late Saturday night, the anticipation and the realization that the first ever Opening Day game at Citi Field would be scheduled as a night game. In all my years as a Mets’ fan, I have never been able to actually watch all the glitz and glamour that goes into a Mets’ home opener. I have never known how it is to cheer on the ceremonial first pitch or take in the formal introductions of all of the Mets current players. Because the game is usually on during the day, I end up missing it because of work. Luckily, the past few seasons I have been able to hover beside a radio with the hope of catching the last two innings of the game. Fortunately for me and countless others who have found themselves in that very same situation, a mundane Monday night was transformed into the ultimate Monday night.

Prior to picking up some last minute items from the grocery store, the festivities had already began to take shape at Citi Field as former Mets Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza graciously emerged from the back of the new stadium’s bullpen. A familiar scene for Seaver who was wearing his iconic #41 jersey and Piazza who was sporting his more recently famous #31. As you recall, last September, the two of them waltzed or more like, swaddled to the tune of My Life by The Beatles until they reached Shea Stadium’s centerfield wall where they both administered their last goodbyes to Flushing’s old ballpark. On Monday night, Seaver was again asked to throw out the historic first pitch and unlike last time, he reared back and threw a strike which he himself declared was “straight down Broadway.” Okay, maybe it was a tad bit off-Broadway but heck, it was a strike.

However, the feeling was short-lived as San Diego’s Joey Gerut quickly put the Padres on the scoreboard by recorded the first ever regular season homerun at the Mets new ballpark on only the third pitch of the game. My only option was to crack a smile when Mets starter Mike Pelfrey not only fell off the mound but fell behind the Padres, 4-0. Typical, I said to myself. Apart from the dismal score, it looked to me like all who were in attendance were enjoying themselves and having a great time. SNY’s Gary, Keith, and Ron went about their business as usual. Occasionally, you could sense that perhaps one if not all of them at once had to nudge each other so as to avoid becoming too awestruck from the spectacle which was unfolding before their eyes. “I would love to play at this ballpark,” Hernandez said.

The Mets managed a run in the bottom half of the second inning only to see the Padres get it right back in the top of the fifth allowing the score to continue in San Diego’s favor, 5-1. As a fan, you hope to yourself that a game of this magnitude does not end up this way. Not tonight. It was at this hour of the night that I felt it was time for a break in the action. Plus, I had just realized that I had to move my car to the other side of the street so as not to get a ticket the next day. While inside, I was able to revert back to a familiar place as I listened intently to WFAN’s Howie Rose and pumped my fist as Brian Schneider rumbled around third to score the Mets second run.

Making my way back to my apartment and now in front of the television, David Wright began to make his way towards the plate. With two man on and two out, the count went full. A homerun would tie the score at five. For Wright, he would become the first Met to hit a homerun at Citi Field which would undoubtedly place his feat among other magical Mets moments. At this point, anyone who is reading this knows exactly what happens next; I don’t think I have to go into any great detail. Let’s just say that unfortunately for the Mets, games cannot end in a tie. In this particular case, this one ended with a score of 6-5. Padres win on a balk.

Come to think of it, even though the Mets lost, I will never forget where I was when it all went down.

For Seaver and the Mets, It’s All Water Under the Bridge

April 13, 2009

Following the disappointment of Sunday’s afternoon defeat in the hands of the Florida Marlins, 2-1, the Mets will be heading off to New York in preparation for their first ever Opening Day game at Citi Field. Right-hander Mike Pelfrey has been cast as the starting pitcher for the monumental game against the San Diego Padres that is scheduled for tonight with a 7:10 p.m. start.

Prior to the start of this historical game, the Mets have asked former pitcher Hall of Famer Tom Seaver to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. His battery mate is none other than catcher Mike Piazza who is much beloved by Mets’ fans. Piazza has been credited as the driving force that brought the Mets back to the post-season in 1999 and 2000. Ironically, both Seaver and Piazza were also asked to close out Shea Stadium and were chosen to represent the Mets 44 years at the former ballpark. However, the former pitcher’s relationship was not always so honky-dory with the Mets organization. On June 16, 1977, the front page of the NY Daily News ran the headline, “Seaver to the Reds; Kingman to S.D.” After ten and a half years of quality service, board chairmen M. Donald Grant exercised his authority and shipped out the Mets pitcher nicknamed, “The Franchise,” in the middle of the NY night.

“There are two things Grant said to me that I’ll never forget, but illustrate the kind of person he was and the total ‘plantation’ mentality he had,” Seaver said. “During the labor negotiations, he came up to me in the clubhouse once and said: ‘What are you, some sort of Communist?’ Another time, and I’ve never told anyone this, he said to me: ‘Who do you think you are, joining the Greenwich Country Club?’ It was incomprehensible to him if you didn’t understand his feelings about your station in life.”

The mutual discontent the two men had for each other began when rumors started to surface that Seaver was unhappy with Grant for not opening up his wallet at a time when teams were signing bigger-named players. Seaver felt that if the Mets were to become competitive then they had to be able to spend a little to acquire talented players. Eventually, Grant conjured up the notion that Seaver’s demands were more self-driven and not for the betterment of the team. Leading up to the trade, the press, in particular NY Daily News columnist Dick Young, caught wind of their feud and lambasted Seaver.

“….Nolan Ryan is getting more now than Seaver,” wrote Young, “and that galls Tom because Nancy Seaver and Ruth Ryan are very friendly and Tom Seaver long has treated Nolan Ryan like a little brother.”

“That Young column was the straw that broke the back,” Seaver has said when asked to reflect on the trade years later. “Bringing your family into it with no truth whatsoever to what he wrote. I could not abide that. I had to go.”

Seaver was also quoted by Daily News Mets beat man Jack Lang as saying that “(Grant) put the onus of the trade on me. My unhappiness started with the contract negotiations a year-and-a-half ago… All of a sudden, nine years of performance for the Mets was thrown out the window… They even threatened to trade me if I didn’t sign it, so I signed.”

It has been widely known by Mets people and fans alike that it took Seaver some time to swallow what was a very bitter pill. Prior to his color commentary with Fox Sports NY and WWOR-TV, Seaver had, until recently, refused to attend any Mets-related events. He has always looked back on his time in New York as the most influential of his career and is looking forward to Monday night’s festivities.

“I’m probably more excited about this than the last pitch at Shea Stadium, because of the excitement of the new stadium,” Seaver said. “It’s a new era.”

For further reading, check out The True Story of the Midnight Massacre: How Tom Seaver was run out of town 30 years ago