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Ballpark review: Citi Field (and some other random thoughts)
The first of many ballpark reviews, with some other random thoughts on writing, me, and this newsletter added in at the end.
Everybody loves a ballpark review, so let’s talk about Citi Field, home of the New York Mets.
Let’s also talk about some random writing thoughts and, well, this new adventure of mine.
This is a free newsletter today.
Yes, I am one of those people that has set the personal goal of attending at least one game at every Major League Baseball stadium. Cliche? Yes. Corny. Probably. But also fun? Absolutely.
At this point I am about halfway through the list. I still need to get out west, but I have done a great job at hitting the East Coast and Midwest so far. I recently had a chance to head back to Citi Field in New York to catch a Mets game against the Atlanta Braves. It was my third trip* to Citi Field and it just further confirmed my initial assessment of the place on my previous visits: It is a fantastic stadium, and very close to the top of my list so far.
(*It should have been my fourth trip, but back in 2012 I turned down a ticket to a game because it looked like it was going to rain and the game might get cancelled; it was not only played, but Johan Santana pitched the first no-hitter in Mets history that night. But that is another story for another day).
Everything about the place is fantastic, from the stadium itself, to the food, to the atmosphere to how easy it is to get to and from there (I can hear New Yorkers already screaming at me for that comment, but I do not care). I am not willing to put it at the absolute top of my list, but it is easily in my top-five and almost certainly in my top-three.
Getting there: 8.5/10
People that live in New York and have to deal with it every single day might have a very different opinion of this, but as a visitor this has always been a breeze for me. Mainly because I am not used to living in a city that has this sort of public transportation and rapid transit to move you around.
In two of my visits to Citi Field I have taken the Subway (7 Train, toward Queens — Willets Point stop) and in another I took an Uber from Brooklyn.
The subway is definitely my preferred option, because even though it gets crowded and you are probably going to be crammed into a train car like a pack of sardines for a bit it is by far the fastest, easiest, and cheapest way (in my brief experiences) to get there.
If you are staying in Manhattan (and if you are visiting New York you probably are) it is about a 35-40 minute ride (if all goes according to plan) from midtown. I give this such high marks because my usual ballpark experience at home is having to leave *hours* before game starts, driving for about an hour drive in miserable stop and start traffic, finding a place to park (and paying for it), and then having probably at minimum a 1/2 mile to mile walk to get to the stadium. It is time confusing, expensive, and needlessly complicated and frustrating. It probably adds 2-3 hours to the game-day experience and probably an additional $20-30 given gas and parking.
For all of the Subway’s flaws, it gets you that fast, cheap ($2.75 each way), and drops you off right in front of the stadium. You could leave Manhattan for a 7:10 game at 6 and be there with time to spare.
New Yorkers might have a different view of their transportation system, but I am coming to you as a random doofus that is simply visiting, and based on other experiences in other cities without that sort of public transit this is fucking easy.
This is also a small sample size experience, but I have also found entering Citi Field once you arrive to be fairly easy, especially when compared to another baseball stadium that happens to be in the same city. I have found Yankee stadium to be a royal pain in the ass to enter at the gates (terrible), while Citi Field seems to keep things moving a little easier, even at the main home plate entrance and even just minutes before the first pitch and even with a fairly large crowd. The game I was at had 38,000 people in attendance, I arrived at the main gate at 6:55 for a 7:10 first pitch, and was in the stadium, in my seat, before the first pitch.
I can not even do that at PNC Park in Pittsburgh for a similar sized crowd.
This is where Citi Field really kicks the shit out of most stadiums. The food here is DYNAMITE, even in the cheap seats in the upper level.
The food concourse behind home plate in the upper deck has just about everything you could possibly want.
Giant gourmet soft pretzels. Patsy’s pizza. Shake Shack. The best grilled Italian sausage I have ever had at a stadium. A pretty wide selection of beer and mixed drinks.
None of it is cheap, but you are also at a baseball game in New York City. That is to be expected. But the quality? As good as I have found in any stadium in any city.
Sight lines: 8/10
Honestly not sure there is a bad seat in this place. I have sat in the lower level, down the left field line in the upper deck, behind first base in the upper deck, and everything gives you a pretty clear view of the field.
The open concourses on both the top and lower level are also huge wins. This should be a standard in every new stadium that is ever built, and I can not believe it took as long as it did for these to become a thing. You can pretty much always see what is going on in the game.
Atmosphere, vibes, and general feel: 7/10
Yeah, this is a subjective category, but you know it when you are sitting there.
It certainly helps that the Mets are good, but I have also been here when they have not been good, and there is always a good atmosphere in the stands. The game is not background noise for people to just get hammered (though that does happen) or conduct some business meeting with clients. People are invested and hang on every pitch. It can be a pretty lively and raucous crowd.
I have also found that people are generally receptive to talking to you about the game even if you are not with them. I have been here by myself on two of my three trips and found myself having a blast with the people around me. It goes back to what I have always thought about New Yorkers: They are not the mean, surly people they are portrayed to be. They are typically just indifferent to your existence in the city and see you as an obstacle between point A and point B. There is a difference between those two things.
But in a setting like this? Cool as hell.
I do wish the stadium tapped into Mets history a little more, and the between innings entertainment is pretty generic.
I do love the big apple in center field though.
If you ever find yourself in New York during baseball season and the Mets are home, make it a point to add this to your list.
There will be more ballpark reviews ahead.
So let’s switch gears a little bit and talk about this and my writing at the moment.
As you may know, a couple of weeks ago NBC sports pulled the plug on its Pro Hockey Talk website and seems to be in the process of reshaping its entire sports content to …. I guess do the same with every sport? Whatever, it is what it is.
I still have my freelance gigs with PensBurgh and Yardbarker, and in the coming weeks have a couple of additional freelance spots on the horizon that will have me writing about some football. That is more than okay with me because it is something different and a little bit of a change of pace.
I also have this, which has been a pretty important breakthrough for me personally because it has helped me do two things.
The first is that your subscriptions have given me a little bit of a cushion to keep writing and help me through a shit situation. I am eternally grateful to everybody that has subscribed and give this a chance. It is my goal to make it worth your investment so you do not feel your time or money has been wasted.
Given that it is the middle of the hockey offseason right now (the literal dog days of the offseason) I am still continuing with the 32 teams in 32 days, but have some ideas for more regular content and features when the season actually starts again.
While I have mixed in other sports stuff (and will continue to do so) and have the Pittsburgh Sports subsection here, hockey will still be my primary focus.
The other thing this has done has helped me recapture my passion for writing.
I have to admit, at points over the past two years, and especially over the past year, there was a part of me that was getting a little burnt out with this. There was a part of me that wondered how long I could do this or how much longer I wanted to do this. That was scary in its own way because after doing this for 14 years I have no idea what a Plan B would even look like.
But ever since I have started doing this newsletter I have felt more, for lack of a better word, free. Free to be myself, free to write what I want, free to use the word fuck or bullshit if the situation may call for it. Free to write a ballpark review if I want.
It has just made me happier, even though my current situation is less than ideal, and it has made me remember why I love doing this.
So with all of that out of the way, time for some feedback.
If you are a subscriber, what have you liked so far? What have you not liked? Is there anything specific you would like to read or have provided?
If you are not a subscriber and are checking out this free one, is there anything that would maybe inspire you to subscribe? Something you would like to see? Or read? Or anything, really.
Respond in the comments. Send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Find me on Twitter (@agretz).
Let me know.
Thank you again for reading, both here and in every other internet stop I have had over the years (and ahead).