Shea Stadium looked resplendent on its last opening day ever. And Citi Field, the 21st century version of Shea next door, looks ready for business now.
But the 2008 Mets are playing like they should be torn down and rebuilt.
I was at Opening Day today, Upper Deck, section 22, with my dad (thanks again) to witness both the great tributes to Shea, the man and the stadium, and the gritless – and sometimes witless - play of our New York Mets.
I arrived early today and took a stroll around Citi Field. The new ballpark is really nifty. I took a bunch of photos I will post separately.
The parking lots were hopping with tailgaters too. I walked around a bit and ended up by Gate A, where the SNY pre-game show was set up for an el fresco broadcast. Suddenly, Darryl Strawberry appeared on the set to greet Lee Mazzilli and do a quick interview. He then stuck around for 15 minutes or more shaking hands and signing autographs (and getting offered the current right field or first base jobs from fans with no actual authority to honor these proposals). Darryl was very cool. Here is one photo. I will post more later...
I finally went into Shea just before the ceremonies were to start. Oddly, there were no scorecards on sale at any stands before or during the game. Instant collectibles or printer error? We don't know.
The video tribute to William Shea was great; I hope it gets an airing on SNY. The Shea family (at least 20 folks) were on the field for the tribute and two grandsons unveiled the new "SHEA" logo, displayed along with the retired Mets numbers in left field. I will get a picture of that later...we couldn't see too well from today's seats.
Overall, the Mets did a worthy job remembering William Shea's legacy today. They also said that the retired numbers and the SHEA logo will be relocated to Citi Field. Nice job.
As for the game itself...
Oliver Perez gave us 5.2 innings of decent pitching. He really has only 2 speeds: on and off. When he is on, he made Phillies look foolish. When he is off (lacking concentration, under pressure), Perez can't find the strike zone. After about 95 pitches and 6 straight balls, Joe Smith came in to a first and third situation and proceeded to walk the first hitter he faced before inducing a pop-up to end the jam.
The dudly duo of Sosa and Schoeneweis combined to squander the lead in the 7th. A passed ball by Schneider and a Reyes error on a sure second out did not help. The Mets would go on to lose 5-2.
Highlights: Delgado's two hits were welcome. Nice to see a home run. Even better to see him drop a single into left field (yes, left field). The Mets did hit the ball hard a few times; credit new Phils center fielder Shane Victorino with at least two amazing catches, including a collision catch with the right-fielder while tracking down a Wright liner.
Speaking of hitting it hard, there was no shortage of drunken brawls throughout the stadium today. Phillie fans were getting abused but Met fans also turned on each other (I witnessed one near-battle in the bathroom over an alleged line cutting). The cops and security had their hands full all day.
Afterwards, I made it home in time to help coach my 7 year old’s Little League practice. That team looks like it might have a good year.
We'll be back at Shea Stadium Wednesday for our first game of the season in Loge13. More photos coming…