Monday, September 24, 2012

Let's Go, Mets...or Something

It's been more than three years since Elliot's last trip to a professional baseball game, so I figured he was ready to try again (the last time he shrieked in terror every time the crowd cheered). But we live in New York now, and that means testing my loyalties as a Giants fan.

We decided to venture to Citi Field rather than Yankee Stadium because it was a shorter subway ride and easier to get cheap tickets ($15 apiece). And even though I don't root for any New York sports franchises, I think we'd all agree that the Mets are more palatable than the Yankees.

So on the day the Giants clinched the division, Elliot and I wound up in Queens watching the two lowest-ranked teams in the NL East (the Mets vs. the Marlins).

Even if the game didn't have much at stake, Citi Field is a nice place to visit. The stadium is a beautiful brick building, in the mold of AT&T Park and Baltimore's Camden Yards. Not surprisingly, Citi Field was designed by Populous, the architectural firm that has seemingly created every sports venue in the past 15 years.

The park is a short walk from the 7 train. The added bonus for Elliot was getting to visit a part of Queens called Flushing.

"Flushing...just like a toilet," I said.
"That's a funny name, Daddy."
"Yes. Yes, it is."

You enter Citi Field through the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, the defining architectural feature of the park. It's hard to argue with any tribute to Jackie Robinson, though I wonder about the Mets laying claim to him (a guy from Southern California who played in Brooklyn).

Of course, the Mets were created to heal New York's broken heart after losing the Dodgers and Giants at once. In fact, the Mets' blue-and-orange color scheme is a composite of the colors used by the California expat teams.

It's like in "Jurassic Park," where they created the velociraptor by mixing in frog DNA. Okay, it's nothing like that. But the Mets are in essence a crazy melding of the Giants and Dodgers, and so I guess Jackie Robinson is in their DNA too.

We had seats way up in the Promenade level. But thanks to Citi Field's relatively small capacity (about 45,000), all the park's seats seem decent. In that respect, it's just like AT&T Park.

I won't say as much for the views. In San Francisco, you can see the water and the East Bay hills in the distance. Here's the Citi Field view.

The park also is situated near LaGuardia airport, and a deafening airplane would fly overhead EVERY...FIVE...MINUTES. Do people know about this?

At one point the police evacuated our section because someone smashed a light bulb on the ground. (Was a Jewish wedding under way?)  It's hard to imagine the entire area needed to be cleared, but I guess with today's fluorescent bulbs you can't be too safe. Who brings a light bulb to a game anyway? Is this a New York thing?

We found new seats and ate a Carvel ice cream in a miniature batting helmet, another thing you don't see in California (the Carvel ice cream at least).

During the seventh-inning stretch, I was surprised that they didn't play "God Bless America." I thought this had become a staple of post-9/11 baseball. (Certainly that was the case in San Francisco.) Maybe the Mets are allowed to stop doing it because they're in New York. Is it like Nixon going to China?

One thing Elliot loved was the Home Run Apple. When the Mets get a home run, this giant apple pops out from center field.

We were lucky enough to see a couple home runs early in the game, so Elliot assumed the Home Run Apple was going to make regular appearances. Every time the crowd cheered, he looked intently at the spot where the apple emerges. When it didn't come, he'd ask, "Why are they cheering? There's no apple," as if the apple was the main source of entertainment. Maybe it was.

Fortunately, there was a replica of the apple in the parking lot and Elliot got to take his picture in front of it.

As we walked back to the subway, I asked if he wanted to see Yankee Stadium next time.

"Is that in Queens?"
"Why not?"
"Because everything in the world can't be in Queens."

Another sentence I never thought I'd say.