My first trip to Citi on Sunday and it was an amazing game and experience, in large part due to the dimensions of the new park.
Doubles off the immense stretch of high wall between left and center. One of the new features you can expect to see often in Flushing moving forward. Dan Uggla, in the second inning, hit what I thought would have been a homer in most parks, even Fenway, where it would have easily cleared the short wall in dead center field. Citi's Black and Orange Beast isn't nearly as high as the Montser, but it stretches across a much greater portion of the outfield. And could have just as much effect on a game; its a target or an obstacle, an invitation to a double or a barrier to a home run, depending on your perspective.
And at 408' to dead center, Citi is deep! Other than the notches around the left and right foulpoles its not inviting at all to home run hitters. Which may sound less entertaining to AL types, DH lovers or casual fans who dig offense. To me though, winning in Citi demands a strategy that involves all aspects of the game. Pitching, defense, speed, timely hitting and once in a while there is a meaningful home run to cap it all off.
Sunday was case in point. John Maine pitched around Uggla's double that would have been a homer elsewhere, and didn't allow any runs over five. Angel Pagan got a clutch two out hit the other way that hooked into the vast left field corner for an RBI double. Omir Santos and Fernando Martinez were both able to find the Beast for RBI doubles. The game was so exciting, tension behind every pitch (even more so after JJ Putz's 8th inning meltdown), the excitement of K-Rod striking out the side in the ninth, just awesome.
Would the day have been perfect for me if Gary Sheffield's laser beam down the left field line turned right for the game's only home run? I suppose. Seeing every Met on the field contribute to a tight, nip-and-tuck victory was the biggest satisfaction. As it worked out there were two signature moments, David Wrights diving catch to start a double play and Bobby Parnell's strikeout of Jorge Cantu with one out and a man on third…each saved the game for the Mets in stunning fashion.
Let me also say the tacos in centerfield are incredible. Wash it down with an icy cold Brooklyn Sabroso on draft and I was in business; the Mets have arrived with great overall ballpark food and, in those incredible tacos, a challenger for best dish in any park. (I've eaten my way through 19 ballparks so I am qualified to asses the topic.) The combo taco plate features beef, chicken and the spiciest pork this side of Laredo. The pulled pork sandwiches from Blue Smoke were extremely tasty as well. I was glad I gorged before the game because I was glued to my seat for the entire contest!
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Written by Mark Reichman