August 01, 2013

Major League Ballpark #34: Citi Field

the view from our seats

I attended a Mets game at Shea Stadium in 2000. Shea was one of the "cookie cutter" ballparks that have altogether fallen out of favor. Citi Field opened in 2009, and I finally got around to it this season. Suffice to say it's a big improvement.

The most striking feature has to be the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, which serves as the main entrance, and is adorned with various quotes and pictures chronicling Robinson's career and values. The main team store and the Mets Museum (which includes the original, creepy Mr. Met costume) are off the rotunda on the lower level. While the rotunda is open to the outside, the enclosed nature of it and much of the lower level give it a very indoor feel. Once you're in the seats, though, that's all gone. The Mets are very big on club areas; our seats gave us access to three of them, but I only visited the Acela Club, which was nice enough but didn't seem like a particularly good place from which to view the game. The bullpen picnic area looked kind of cool though, as it actually adjoins the bullpen through a chain-link fence.

In prepping for this trip I googled "best food at Citi Field" and got a top ten list, which sadly included Shake Shack, Blue Smoke, Box Frites, and that taco place. Nothing against those four per se, but that's the cluster of stands that opened on the Scoreboard Walk in 2001. It annoys me to no end that the Nationals gave concessions in a DC stadium to a New York restaurant group. So I was obligated to skip those and got a Mama's of Corona Italian sub, which was not bad for ballpark food. The LaFrieda steak sandwiches were popular with our group as well--not Philly-style cheesesteaks, but full-on actual slabs of meat on a roll, much like the Lobel's sandwiches at Yankee Stadium.

The game itself was pretty much all New York. Matt Harvey vs. Cliff Lee looked like a great matchup on paper, but only Harvey lived up to the billing: 7 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 10 Ks. Lee did not fare as well, as the home run apple was activated three times and the Mets won 5-0.

I searched every team store in the park for a Bryce Harper All-Star jersey. I was hoping they'd be marked down. No luck on either count. Plenty of Paul Goldschmidt jerseys, though, at full price ($130), if that's your thing. The kids got a stuffed Mr. Met to join their existing menagerie of MLB mascot stuffies. I also got a Dwight Gooden bobblehead, which I'm sending off to a friend who is a genuine Mets fan.

Eight ballparks to go; I am getting to the point where the choices are less obvious and more arbitrary. Denver, Los Angeles, and Detroit are the front-runners for next year. If you live in one of these and you'd like to make a case for why I should come to your city, go ahead.

Home Run Apple.. activate!

More photos at Flickr (search for the tag "New York" if they're not obvious enough). Other random bits of information about the weekend in NYC after the jump.

  • As always, I was envious of the food options in New York City. Not like DC is a culinary wasteland, but especially in the Virginia 'burbs we have a ton of chain restaurants. Sunday night I cut down a random block near my hotel (I think it was 46th between 8th and 9th Avenues) and the whole block was local restaurants. You could eat at a different place every night on that block alone for at least three weeks, probably more. We had--surprise!--Italian food in Hoboken Friday night at Three A's Bar and Grill. Saturday at Chelsea Market we had beer in Mason jars and Australian meat pies.
  • Saturday night: steak, just steak. Also managed to get really good ramen before leaving town Monday, which is hard to find in the DC area.
  • You will be shocked to learn I drank a lot of beer over the weekend. My brother and hit the beer garden at the Standard Hotel and The Blind Tiger. Sunday after the game I went over to Brooklyn with Josh and hit 61 Local and two8two, the latter of which also makes a fine burger.
  • Saturday night after Wolfgang's, we went to Upstairs at the Kimberly Hotel, where I did not drink beer but rather cocktails, and enjoyed the view.
  • A few months ago, Saveur had an issue devoted to donuts, which included a Jane & Michael Stern article listing their 50 best donut shops in America. That was agonizing, because ain't none of them close to DC, but I was pleased to see one of them--Cupcake Cafe, best known for Cupcakes obviously but also supposedly good for donuts--was just a few blocks from my hotel. So Sunday morning I got up and walked over there. You guys have donuts? "We used to," the guy said. "We quit making them, though." Which is a perfectly reasonable thing to do shortly after you've been named one of the top 50 donut shops in America, right? I did, however, make it to Doughnut Plant the next day, and it was every bit as good as awesome as advertised. Also, upon discussing donuts with Josh, he suggested Holey Cream, where they will make you an ice cream sandwich on a donut. I could not pass that up. It was a big sweet mess that I had to eat with a spoon; very good, but not life-changing or anything.

  • I know some people think Foursquare is goofy, but I like it more every day. Tuesday morning they sent me an e-mail with the subject "Welcome back from your trip!" and a rundown of every place I'd checked in while in New York and New Jersey. That sure made it easier to write this recap.

Posted by Carl at 11:11 AM | Comments (0)