I always enjoyed taking a day off from work in June to attend a Mets afternoon game. The schedule maker hasn't been as kind in recent years in making this event possible. And even though I'm now retired, it's still special when one of these opportunities pops up, like it did yesterday: the Mets versus the defending World Champions Kansas City Royals. And so I went, with wife, son and his friend by my side. After all, the lyrics to Meet the Mets tell me to "bring the kiddies; bring the wife". For what it's worth, the last time I saw the Royals was 40 years ago at Yankee Stadium, when young George Brett was making his mark and the road uniforms were powder-puff blue. But that game is a tale for another time.
The weather in Queens was nearly perfect, maybe a bit hot in the sun. But a gentle breeze and a parade of puffy cumulus clouds kept the sun at bay until our seats were shaded for the afternoon thanks to the small roof at the top of the ballpark. We sat directly above home plate, in the upper deck, although the marketing department for the Mets prefer we call it "the Promenade". The view nearly matched the same one I had 50 years ago for my first game at Shea, as I wrote about several weeks back.
The game was good, featuring starting pitchers Danny Duffy, a southpaw, for the Royals and Noah Syndergaard aka "Thor" for the Mets. The breeze provided a good showcase for Thor's long locks. It was a back and forth affair with the Mets taking the lead in the 4th, the Royals scoring 2 in the top of 5th, the Mets answering with 2 in the bottom of the 5th, the Royals tying it in the 6th, and the Mets going ahead for good in the bottom of the 6th on the first home run of Matt Reynolds' career. Mets closer Jeurys Familia nailed down the victory with a 1-2-3 9th inning, his 24th save in as many tries this season. Three years ago, I saw Familia in his visit to Troy (NY) to pitch one inning for the Brooklyn Cyclones against the Tri City Valleycats, whose stadium is 15 minutes from our home. I always remind folks that this was the turning point of his career. Well, at least in my mind it was.
Despite rush hour traffic that turned a normal three hour trip home into a nearly five-hour marathon, we declared the day a success and hope that the Mets season is back on track.
I have one other thought to share. Citi Field now has been the Mets home for eight seasons. I'm still getting used to it. There is a lot to like: wide concourses, wide aisles, wide seats, and lots of places to get food. We have sat in various sections and levels, seeing games from various angles. The last two games have been in the aforementioned "Promenade". I've concluded that I'd rather be higher up and near home plate then sit in a lower level 400 feet away from home plate in the outfield. Shea Stadium never had this problem. There were narrow concourses, narrow aisles, narrow seats, and fewer places to get food. But there were also fewer outfield seats since the stadium was open-ended, a wide expanse to Queens and beyond. Nearly everyone was seated between the foul lines. And I knew most nooks and crannies of the old place. So I ask myself, will Citi Field ever feel like "home"? I don't know, probably not. But a few more games like yesterday and seats in Section 515 Row 6 would help.