Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Archive for the ‘Opening Day’ Category

Opening Day Photo Set

Posted by JD on April 6, 2010

I know I bombarded you with Opening Day posts today, but I have one more. While I’m not a real photographer (please see @michaelgbaron, @metsgrrl, or @elisemichelle if you’re looking for real photography), I brought my camera to Citi Field and took a few shots from my seats. I thought I’d share them with you here. Hope you enjoy…


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In Other News

Posted by JD on April 5, 2010

Despite my fascination with the (largely) trivial aspects of Citi Field, the Mets actually played a game today. I think you know where to go if you need a comprehensive recap, but what follows are my thoughts on the Opening Day victory:

1. It was a victory! Personally, I needed a win in the worst way. I still expect this season to be a struggle, but starting off on the Wright foot helped me immeasurably. Speaking of which:

2. David Wright hit a home run in his first at bat at Citi Field for the second consecutive season. And it was an opposite field shot to boot! I couldn’t see it from my seats, but Matt Cerrone mentioned that he smiled from “ear to ear, as he exhaled and ran around the bases.” If the Game Winning RBI still existed, Wright would’ve notched one today as the Marlins could only muster one run in response. Regardless, it had to feel like a monkey was lifted from his shoulders (if only for a little bit). What a great start to the season.

3. Jeff Francoeur walked*. I couldn’t resist the urge to send a sarcastic tweet because of his well-documented aversion to walking. I know better than to think he’ll walk more this season, but for one shining moment, anything was possible. The magic of Opening Day…

*I also don’t want this to get lost: Frenchy had a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning to plate the first insurance run. I rag on him from time to time, but he had a nice game today.

4. Fernando Nieve threw two solid innings of relief. The bullpen is still in a state of flux, but it was nice to see Nieve take another step forward.

5. Johan Santana was Johan Santana. He wasn’t totally lights out, but he was close enough, limiting the Marlins to one run on four hits and two walks, while striking out five in six innings pitched. He’s amazing, and I can’t wait to watch him pitch again on Sunday.

6. Mike Jacobs struggled today. I tweeted a picture of the Topps lineups cards which didn’t include a picture of our clean-up hitter. It was an omen. Jacobs looked awful in his first two at-bats and was only slightly improved in his final two. I don’t want to give you the wrong impression: I’m not saying Jacobs shouldn’t be the cleanup hitter just because there was no picture of him in the Topps lineup. No, I’m saying he shouldn’t be the clean-up hitter because he stinks. I know: it’s only one game. Miniscule sample size, and I don’t mean to dwell on the negatives, but I hope this experiment ends sooner rather than later.

7. Cameron Maybin won’t be saving this box score in his scrapbook. He had an absolutely atrocious game, striking out in his first three at bats and badly misjudging three different fly balls that directly lead to Mets runs. While he didn’t get credited with an error, he just could not get an accurate read off the bat and took poor routes on several occasions. I noticed it in warm-ups when he was struggling with long-tosses from second base, but it got worse from there. It’s a long season and he’s still young, but I’d be very worried if I were the Marlins.

8. Gary Matthews was competent. He went 2-3 and scored two runs but, more importantly, he adjusted well to the difficult Citi center field. Sure, I’d rather have Angel Pagan out there, but GMJ didn’t embarrass himself out there. Today.

I’m sure there were a few other notes I wanted to share, but I’m in a bit of haze after spending the day at the ballpark: there was a lot to process (and most of it was good). It’s only one of 162 games and there will be lots of things to chronicle as we go forward. For now, I’m going to sleep well knowing that the Mets exceeded expectations in the first game of the year. It was a great day, and there’s a lot to build on. Let’s hope they duplicate it when John Maine takes the mound on Wednesday.

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Opening Day Minutia

Posted by JD on April 5, 2010

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.

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Opening Day: Let’s Go Mets!

Posted by JD on April 5, 2010

Not to belabor the point, but Opening Day is finally here. No more guess work, no more speculation. For several reasons that I just don’t feel like addressing anymore, the Mets endured what felt like* one of the longest offseasons in franchise history. For better or worse that’s all behind us now and I’m excited to see how it translates on the field.

*I say “felt like” because we’ve been through plenty of “long offseasons” before. You know the drill: the team stinks, the team makes changes, the fans analyze and over-analyze each move, much disagreement, argument, name-calling, and teeth-gnashing ensue, the team fields a roster that may or may not be better than the previous seasons’, and we enter the new season with question marks galore. If this feels familiar, it’s because it IS familiar. I really think 1987 might be the last time we DIDN’T go through this cycle, but I can’t be sure because I was 10 at the time and Al Gore hadn’t invented the inter-webs yet, so what do I know? But I digress (and not for the last time).

Actually, I’m excited for several reasons:

I’m excited to see the offseason improvements to Citi Field. I’ll be arriving early, leaving plenty of time to see the Home Run Apple, the new banners, the additions to the fanwalk, McFadden’s, and the museum. All of these upgrades should have been included when the park opened, but at least they’re there now. I’m going to do my best to drink it all in before the game starts.

I’m excited to see the sight-lines from my new seats. After much hand-wringing, my group decided to move out of our digs in section 518* for the promised land of section 513. We struggled with it for a few weeks before succumbing to the sales pitch our (very helpful) ticket rep gave us. For me personally, it was a necessity. I don’t like to publicize personal issues (and I still don’t really want to get into it), but we had a real conflict with the person seated next to us. While I’m sure she’s actually very nice in real life, we just could not peacefully coexist on a permanent basis. So, we temporarily crossed the aisle into section 517 before our rep persuaded us to move down a few aisles (and over a few sections). Now we’re in uncharted territory, a group of four seats perched above the entry gate to 513. I trust that we’ll be happy with the move, but not without some trepidation. For better or worse, it’s the dawn of a new day.

*Of course I struggled with the name of this blog (and my Twitter account) for a long time. It boiled down to inertia and sheer laziness: I just couldn’t bring myself to relaunch. A complete inability to come up with a catchy name contributed mightily. Damn my lack of creativity.

I’m excited to see the player introductions. Sure, I don’t agree with some of the roster moves (the inclusions of Jenrry Mejia, GMJ, and Mike Jacobs in particular) and I’m disappointed that two of my favorite players, Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes, won’t be able to join us. But I still get a kick out of watching the Shea Citi-faithful great their team. Who will get the loudest cheers,* who will get the biggest jeers,** and how will they respond? I know it’s trivial, but it’s the kind of minutia I revel in.

*I suspect it will be David Wright and Johan Santana.

**I’ll be shocked if Oliver Perez doesn’t trump Luis Castillo, though I’ll be cheering for both. Sue me. GMJ? TBD.

I’m excited to see the in-game presentation. I’m a card-carrying dork and I love the little things: the songs played for each player when they come to the mound/plate, the between-inning gimmicks (Jumbotron spots, the Kiss Cam, fan text messages…you name it), the vendors hawking various goods in their unique styles, all of the minutia and gewgaws that separate the in-stadium experience from watching on TV. Will the Mets have an eighth-inning sign along? Will it be the insufferable “Sweet Caroline”? Will I still be able to boo if I lose my voice singing “Lazy Mary”? It’s all part of the spectacle that is Opening Day.

By the way, if you haven’t already, take a minute to click on that last link: it’s the final seventh inning stretch at Shea Stadium. If that doesn’t fire you up a bit, then maybe, just maybe, you’re a little too jaded (and thank you ebaseballparks for capturing that moment).

Most of all, I’m excited to watch meaningful baseball again. Our Mets make for a curious underdog: sporting one of the highest payrolls in baseball, they have several clearly-identifiable weaknesses that prohibit even the most optimistic Mets fan from declaring them pennant-contenders. To say they have some issues to overcome is to put it nicely, but stranger things have happened. The journey starts today. A lot of things of will happen over the next six months. There will be highs and lows and we’ll cheer and boo and be elated and get crushed, all in turn. It’s sure to be a rollercoaster, one which may well go careening off the rails, but we’ll be there through it all, loving and hating our team with all the passion we can muster. That’s the beauty of being a Mets fan, and I can’t wait to begin anew.

For one brief, shining moment, every team’s record is the same: 0-0. But that all changes as soon as Johan Santana takes the mound at Citi Field. Let’s all be sure to enjoy the day, and Let’s Go Mets!

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