If this isn’t exactly why I created the “Flushing Frivolities” category for, I don’t know what is. All things considered, it was a heck of an Opening Day. Here’s a quick take on some of the minutia I saw throughout:
Home Run Apple: The Mets decided to place the old Shea Stadium apple in the plaza between the subway stairwell and the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, and it looks awesome. It’s the perfect landmark: “meeting at the Apple” should become a staple for Mets fans for years.
McFadden’s: As I understand, the construction crew had to pull an all-nighter to get it ready but, it wasn’t open by noon. We passed by after the game and there was a substantial line to get in (and the bouncers looked like they were having a bit of tough time managing it). We passed on going in, but it looks like a great space. I’m optimistic that once they work the kinks out, it will be a great place to meet up before and after the game.
The New Bullpen Arrangement: This is an underrated improvement. The bullpens are viewable from the Seaver gate. Last year, they were stacked parallel to the picnic area. This year, they are side-by-side (on a slight diagonal), allowing fans to easily see who’s warming up for both teams. Although you can’t see the field from the picnic area, you can watch the starters warm up, which will be particularly cool (I couldn’t do it today because of the prolonged introduction ceremony). As a bonus, the relievers were still visible from our seats in the Promenade level. It’s a small change, but it really adds to the in-game experience.
Promenade Food Options: Adding a Blue Smoke and Box Frites option was a great idea. Of course, I couldn’t be bothered by actually trying the food offerings (I’m a hot dog/peanuts/popcorn kind of guy anyway), but I applaud the Mets for making some of the fancier food options available to the fans who sit in the upper reaches of the stadium. The lines seemed manageable but that might be because the majority of fans didn’t appreciate what was there. I’m sure I’ll try them out later in the season but even if I don’t, I think the 500-level fans will enjoy the new additions.
On another note, the Mets added a Beers Of The World stand in the middle of the promenade. I didn’t sample the fares either, but I have to add this word of caution: it looks like the readily-available domestic beers are overpriced there. All beers cost $7.75, including Bud and Bud Light. The price is the same as the other stands in the area, but Beers Of The World only stocks 12-ounce bottles (as opposed to the bigger 16-ounce cans at other stands). If you prefer premium beers, Beers Of The World is for you. But if you prefer low-brow domestics (like yours truly), you’ll probably be better off going to the other stands. Just an FYI.
Anthem/Opening Ceremony: I had no idea who 4TROOPS was going into the game, but they really did a great job with the anthem. Composed of four veterans from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, they really nailed the National Anthem and God Bless America. There was a nice salute to veterans of the Okinawa campaign, a beautiful field-length American flag presented by veterans of other conflicts, and a flyover by four training jets from Texas. One thing that the Mets have absolutely NAILED over the past few years is their treatment of our veterans, and today was no different.
Player Introductions: Sure enough, Ollie got the biggest boos and David Wright and Johan Santana got the biggest cheers (Jason Bay and K-Rod also got nice receptions). One surprise: the training staff got booed mercilessly, and Charlie Samuels got a nice ovation. Yet more proof that Mets fans can be savvy and display a clever sense of humor. Easily one of the funniest scenes from Opening Day.
Vendors: Our new seats are not vendor-friendly. The Promenade vendors are loath to walk up to our seats. They serve the left and right field sections admirably but take the path of least resistance (in front of the Promenade Club, or whatever it’s called). This is understandable because to service the sections in between, they’d have to walk through the food court in the open plaza behind home plate, an area that offers far fewer sales opportunities. It’s a trade-off: we gained easy access to the restrooms and food court but lost out on hearing the vendors’ trademark sales pitches. It is what it is, but I’ll miss them.
The New Seats: This one’s a bit personal, but I have to document it anyway: I couldn’t be happier with my new seats. Yes, there’s a glass wall that partially obscures my view of home plate, but I can work with it and the other three seats are unobstructed. I was not entirely sure that they would be an improvement and was suitably impressed when they were. My ticket rep (Matt Gulotta) really did an outstanding job and I look forward to watching many more games from my new seats.
The HEEEEEEE STRUCK, HIM, OUUUUUT! Guy: This may be an inside reference limited to folks who sit in and around section 516, but there’s a gentleman who belts out that phrase at the top of his lungs every time a Mets pitcher strikes someone out. He’s still there and I assume he’s still belting out his trademark (I couldn’t quite confirm it because the stands were full). It’s nice to see that some things never change.
Cowbell Man: Same guy, same cowbell, same MO, and I couldn’t be happier. Sure he’s corny, but he’s ours, and I’m not sure how I’d feel if he weren’t there.
Eighth Inning Sing-Along: I don’t want to get ahead of myself because there’s a lot of games left to play, but there was no Sing-Along! Sure, they had a cheesy “Dance Cam” in its place ,but that’s light-years better than listening to that tired “Sweet Caroline” nonsense. Again, I couldn’t be happier.
Ease of Exit: This a tough nut for everyone in the Promenade level. There are only so many stairwells and they inevitably clog up when Citi Field sells out. We used to go down to the SRO in section 109 in the seventh inning to beat the rush and still might choose to go that route, but didn’t go that route for Opening Day and got caught in the crush. There’s no way to avoid it, so we’ll have to deal.