Citi Field

2010 Regular Season at thenew Citi Field. Just a year earlier, the New York Yankees would have their own inaugural season in 2009 at the New Yankee Stadium. Going into Citi Field, they were also defending 2009 World Champions after defeating the 2008 World Champion Philadelphia Phillies the previous Fall. It was early in the season. But, just the day before, the New York Mets had a team meeting to stress the “importance of winning.” They would go on to win (8) of the next (11) games: they had momentum on their side. Regardless of what the situation is, when these two teams meet, they play with the utmost urgency. Needless to say, there was a lot at stake here. Constant trash-talking from fans in the stands reminded you of that.

Design of Citi Field includes the main entrance exterior that strongly resembles the old Ebbets Field. The lobby area housed inside is the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. Below is the inscription along the barreled wall.

“I life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” Jackie Robinson.

The original “Home Run Apple” measures (9) feet high and is located just outside of the main entrance of Citi Field. It was replaced by another “Home Run Apple” measuring (18) feet. Twice as tall, it carries on the tradition of popping up beyond centerfield when a Mets player hits a Home Run. Transitions to other the parts of Citi Field are not so smooth. Walking around the park leads to obstructed or blocked views of the field. The major trade off to the Jackie Robinson Rotunda is that the skybox suites or other facilities lined behind home plate do not allow a view of the game as you walk down the hallways in that area; reduced to seeing the game on occasional monitors.

In its (58) year history, the New York Mets have played in five World Series (1969, 1973, 1986, 2000, 2015); winning two of them in 1969 & 1986. Both those teams represent a renaissance era for the organization. The 2021 regular season marks a new beginning for the New York Mets franchise. On November 06, 2020 Associated Press reported that Steve Cohen, CEO of Point72 Asset Management and lifetime Mets fan, closed on a deal to purchase the New York Mets at $2.64 Billion; increasing his financial interest in the New York Mets from 8% to 95%. The Wilpon and Katz families (previous owners) will retain the remaining 5%.

Many changes on the way. But, the biggest game-changer was the recent signing of superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor for a year at $22.5 Million. The plan is to lock him in for the long term (similar to what the L.A. Dodgers did with Mookie Betts). If they do, and with the potential for other signings in the horizon, the New York Mets stand to be a big threat in baseball. “Yes, it is what the Mets fans wanted to see, their team acting like a big-market bully,” wrote Ken Rosenthal in “The Athletic.” For the Mets fandom, its hopefully an end to disfunction within the organization and the start of a new renaissance era.

New York Yankees @ New York Mets

House Built by Ruth

Los Angeles Angels @ New York Yankees.

A visit to the Old Yankee Stadium in 2008, before it was shut down. I missed seeing Crosley Field, Connie Mack Stadium, and Forbes Field. They were before my time. Also, I regret never seeing Tiger Stadium. Growing up in Chicago, I had a few opportunities to go visit and never went. Having a chance to see Yankee Stadium reminded me of the last days of Old Comiskey Park in 1989, the “Baseball Palace of the World,” the epicenter of the Negro Leagues, where Babe Ruth played in the first All Star Game of 1933. I did get to see that old park and appreciated being there those last days before Old Comiskey would close forever. But, seeing this one was priceless, “The House That Ruth Built.”

The Babe and that early Yankee team played here after literally being evicted from the Polo Grounds at the recommendation by the legendary and contentious John McGraw of the New York Giants. Yes, the same John McGraw who refused to play The Boston Americans in 1904, the winners of the American League, a league John McGraw did not accept as formidable opponents. This is the reason there was no World Series that year. In an article written by Don Jensen for Society of Baseball Studies, he explains that Babe Ruth was changing the game in dramatic ways with the Home Run and, at first, John McGraw was not a fan. “The team’s attendance soared as Ruth began hitting home runs out of the Polo Grounds, prompting an enraged McGraw to instruct Stoneham to evict their upstart tenants,” wrote Dan Jensen.

In today’s technology, its hard to fathom the importance of this Stadium in 1923. It was the first of its kind. Before then, baseball was played on fields or in ball barks, no where near the 58,000 seat capacity of Yankee Stadium. Baseball during the 1950’s marked the “Golden Age” in the baseball world, a time when New York City had three Major League Baseball Teams; the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds, the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field, and the New York Yankees here. They were World Champions from 1949 to 1953, a “five peat.” With its decay in the 1970’s, Yankee Stadium became more of a stark contrast to the new cookie-cutter stadiums in nearby cities. The Steinbrenner Group bought the Yankees in 1973 and ushered in renovations for the Stadium and renewal of the Yankee Tradition.

Early baseball history gives us the urban legend of Abner Doubleday in Cooperstown, New York. Then there were the Knickerbocker Clubs of the 1840’s playing those games at Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey. But, the “Cathedral of Baseball” was eventually found in The Bronx, New York. It hosted 37 World Series and Yankees won 26 of them here, a stadium that represents the most post season baseball games ever played in one place, an astounding total of 161. From the trials of the 1920’s, to the Golden Era of the 1950’s, to the rebirth of Championships at the close the 20th Century, any baseball fan can appreciate how many special moments took place here. That’s baseball.