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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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I Want One of Those

All those Met fans you see at Citizens Bank Park? They're either staying with friends in Philly, or they're crazy. Man am I tired.

The inaugural visit by me and Emily to CBP couldn't have gone more swimmingly, however: quick trip down on the Amtrak, cab ride with our friends Jerome and Val (though the cabbie seemed to have no idea there was a baseball stadium in Philadelphia and needed some coaching from a somewhat-amazed Val), and then the park.

If this is truly what New Shea will be like, I'm reporting to Flushing with my sledgehammer first thing tomorrow morning, because it can't come soon enough. No, everything isn't exactly perfect in Philadelphia: That outfield wall is a bit too quirky, they should pipe the radio feed in more places, you can't see the field while strolling the concourses, and the retired numbers are hidden away. But compare this to Shea, where even a happy recap might include something along the lines of “the escalators were broken, the bathrooms were a lake, my seat kept dumping me in the aisle and the lady at the hot-dog concession was moving at the speed of continental drift.” There really is no comparison. Down with the old barn already.

I loved CBP: The sightlines are great, the seats are close, the architecture is interesting without being in your face about it, there are cool statues of Phillie greats (like Mike Schmidt and…um….), you don't have to wait for the bathroom, there are lots of food options (though I'm kind of regretting that cheesesteak as it turns the consistency of concrete somewhere in my innards), the Liberty Bell is cool (though it was ringing far too often), the Diamondvision is sharp…I'm in. I'm all in. The complaint that these retro parks are too samey? When I'm at Shea in the ass end of the loge ducking my head so I can see the arc of a fly ball, warily eyeing the mixture of pigeon urine, Pepsi and rust dripping near my head and wondering what substance has made the concrete simultaneously green and frictionless, I'm not exactly pondering what a downer it would be to look around and think our park reminds me too much like Camden Yards and Citizens Bank and Busch III.

Oh yeah, the game. That porch in left field? It's short. By now I've got enough baseball in me to not stand up in home-run anticipation on balls that drop into the shortstop's mitt, but I kept getting fooled tonight. And Jimmy Rollins flies out — no, wait, that's gone. And on and on and on, as Glavine and Ryan Madson got whiplash and the score mounted.

The crowd was an interesting element: I'd guess 1/5 to 1/4 of the assembled were Met fans, and they were the loud 1/5 to 1/4 — they even got the “Jose!” chant going for Reyes. The Phillie fans accepted these blue- and black- and gray- and orange-clad interlopers among them somewhat grumpily, showing less patience for the Phillies kicking baseballs around the infield, which they did entirely too much of. (OK, the crowd did boo a rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” but it was pretty terrible — this is not a tune that benefits from melisma.) I geared up for the game (black road jersey, Cyclones hat), but refrained from obstreperous rooting except when Wright went deep. You pay your money and you can do what you want, I suppose, but you're still in somebody else's house. If only because you're outnumbered and that City of Brotherly Love stuff has always struck me as one of those deliberately misleading monikers, sorta like Iceland and Greenland, one ought to err on the side of humility. Of course this Gandhi act did me precious little good — on the way out I accepted the high-fives of some tattooed Met fans, and Val reported that a gigantic Phillie fan eyed me all the way up the aisle with bad intent. (Sure, pick on the guy who looks like a blogger and not like a biker.) Steeped in beer and cheesesteak and ice cream and the happy glow of a 9-4 lead, I didn't notice, which was best.

Getting back to NYC at a semi-decent hour, alas, meant we had to leave after the top of the 8th. After which everything immediately started going to hell, with Aaron Heilman giving up a flyout home run to David Dellucci and Billy Wagner seeming nervous to be back under the Philly microscope. But then he escaped via the strike-'em-out/throw-'em-out as we arrived at 30th Street Station. We got on the train as the teams changed up in the mid-9th, and of course there was no signal while the train was in the bowels of the station, and of course the train just sat there, and of course I was going more than slightly insane.

And then out into the Pennsylvania night, Emily on one earbud and me on the other, and Wagner in trouble. Bad trouble. Except Wright makes a play that has the crowd gasping and the 1210 radio guys howling in disbelief, one I immediately file away as SEE THE MINUTE I GET HOME. (And it was worthy. Wow.) And then a Ryan Howard hit just to make us shudder at imagining a very bad parallel universe in which this game is tied and doom is on second with nobody out, and Aaron Rowand swings at a slider in the dirt, and we're 7 1/2 up, 11 on some other NL East team, and New Shea is a day closer, and all's (W)right with the world.

29 comments to I Want One of Those

  • Anonymous

    As a resident of Philadelphia and an admirer of their new park, let me just say: I don't want one. I want Shea. I want the last stadium in American that looks like it was designed for eleven-year-olds. I want our grand, gaudy, orange and blue toy! I want to watch some games from eight million feet in the air. It's like baseball in the clouds. I want the scrappy, proud, colorful nest that we've called home since long before I was even born. No new stadium, no matter how handsome and tasteful and comfortable, is every gonna feel as Metsy to me.
    Oh well. Time marches on. Just do me a favor and let me know when you're heading over with the sledgehammer so I can at least salvage an ugly orange seat or something. :)

  • Anonymous

    Tonight marked my second trip to CBP this year, the first being “The one where Delgado tied it in the 9th and then Heilman threw it away.” I agree with most of your observations, except about sightlines from the concourse. Yes, if you're in the bowels of the concourse you can't see (on the field, but there are ample TV's so you don't miss a pitch — imagine that?!), but you can totally walk around the stadium without obstructing views from seats and still see the whole game. Also worth noting the bird's-eye bullpen view; we had a great time watching Pedro warm up last time we were there. Like the Diamondvision, but I noticed tonight that what they gain by adding all the info up there they lose in font size. Squinters, unite!
    As a faithful member of the loud 1/4-1/5, I'm proud to have lost my voice. Maybe it's a younger thing, but I'm more excitable on the road than I am at home, especially in a case like tonight where there's many bretheren nearby to back me up. Does that make me a bad houseguest? Doesn't matter, I paid for the ticket just like they did. I scream, I yell, I start LGM chants, and I utter things like “Hit one to the infield, Carlos, that'll score a couple!” (Oddly, he listened.) And by the way, last month and tonight being my first-ever Met road games (outside of that black hole in the Bronx), I notice that there's an implicit unity among Met fans at these games. More random-stranger high-fives during and post-game. More acknowledgement of one another. It's a good feeling. Point of pride: my section started the Jose chanting, for the record.
    From a fellow attendee's standpoint, here's what you missed: Heilman allows single? Harmless. Double? Um. Delucci comes up, and I decide to take that moment to mention last time we were here he tripled off Heilman to start the fateful 9th. 9-7, Billy's getting loose. Willie comes to the mound, and the fans know its coming. Enter Sandman, and the reaction was weaker than I expected. Then I remembered how many Phillies fans left at 9-4 and realized it could've/should've been a lot stronger. Abreu runs him to 3-0 and the Phans can taste it. You know what happens next, though I admittedly had 1 1/2 of my eyes covered when it did. As for the 9th, I can't put into words what we were feeling when that ball went down the line and somehow disappeared into The Man's glove. 3 amazing things about it: Wright's phenominal stop, the perfect throw to Woody, and Woody's flawless turn. Just wow.
    Best line of the night: some Phan sees a Met fan in our section wearing a Straw jersey and launches into a Dar-ryl chant, followed by chants of “jail cell,” “crack whore,” and other lovely things. Our loud response? “Mi-itch Will-iams!” Clap-clap clap-clap-clap. Cheap shot? Maybe, but he totally deserved it.
    Oh, and this nugget from the car on the way home: “Do you realize we saw 8 home runs tonight?”

  • Anonymous

    We aren't all staying with friends or staying in Philly. For those of us in Central NJ, Philly is a much closer and easier drive than Queens (heck – Baltimore is an easier drive than Queens, and while it isn't closer it takes just about as much time. Seriously).
    Philly can be Shea South at times – a lot of Mets fans make the trip.
    The CB (as I like to call it) is nice, but it's not the best of the new parks. If you really want new ballpark envy, check out PNC in Pittsburgh or whatever they're calling Pac Bell in SF these days. (Once we get to the new park in St. Louis in August, my husband and I will be back to having seen games in every current MLB park.)
    Glad that you had fun, and a great game to boot.

  • Anonymous

    I'm glad to hear that CBP is as good as advertised. My family is going to a Phillies/Nationals game there in August (had to settle for that, since the Mets aren't playing any weekend series there), and I'm looking forward to it. We're also going to Camden Yards for O's/White Sox at the end of July because I raved about the place so much to my parents after going to a game there while visiting a friend a couple of weeks ago. It'll be even better this time because there won't be a swarm of Yankee fans being, well, Yankee fans (O's fans should seriously be ashamed of themselves for letting the enemy so thoroughly take over their ballpark).
    Having only been to 2 major league parks other than Shea thus far (Camden and some place in the Bronx where people smoke weed in the upper deck and it takes over an hour to get out of the parking lot), I didn't fully realize how problematic Shea is until I experienced a new retro-style park, where there's plenty to do around the park before the game and the ushers are friendly and there aren't those damn overhangs blocking the view. That being said, I'll miss the old concrete doughnut when it goes, seeing as almost every going-to-a-ballgame memory I have took place there. I'm also glad that the new park won't cave to the trend of teeny-tiny outfield dimensions that make every game into a Home Run Derby.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for mentioning the ushers, forgot to note that people with such employment who let you move down when so many have left already do exist. And they couldn't have been nicer about it.
    My friend and I went over Mets and Philles schedules last night and decided to try to pull off an epic doubleheader: Wednesday, July 26: 12:10 – Cubs @ Mets; 7:10 – D'Backs @ Phils.
    And my long post above makes more sense if you replace Abreu with Utley. Like I said, was watching with half an eye (and a frazzled nervous system).

  • Anonymous

    Yep, I realized that opening was five-boroughs-centric while lying in bed. Getting to Shea must be a huge pain from Jersey. Heck, it can be a pain from Brooklyn….

  • Anonymous

    I've probably been imprinted by memories of the Vet in the early 90s, when I recall a more menacing vibe and Met fans being scarce and quiet. Or maybe I'm just an old bastard.
    The Jose chant was awesome — a point of pride. And yep, I noted the camaraderie and thought it was great. Lots of nods, bill-of-cap touches and high-fives.
    Y'all must have been high-fiving up a storm after the ninth got scary. Yikes!

  • Anonymous

    As a Philly resident who *loves* the fan experience they've created at CBP, I've gotta say – if the ball flies out of New Shea the way it does in Philly, we're going to be enduring a LOT of four-and-a-half hour slugfests over the next few decades, and we'll be going through a LOT of arms.
    Dear HOK Sports and the Wilpons:
    Get. It. Right.
    yours,
    Ryan

  • Anonymous

    Oh, and all of the comments about the ushers are spot-on. They are easily the best ushers I've seen in any big league ballpark I've been to. The last time I was at CBP (before last night) was one of the Milwaukee games at the end of May, and my GF and I sat next to a father with two young children (the oldest must have been about five, the youngest was probably three). Pretty much as soon as we sit down, the father gets up and leaves the children alone. I watched the father leave, and as my eye followed him I caught the distressed look on the usher's face. He didn't say anything to the dad, but he ended up watching those kids like a freaking hawk the entire time they were parentless. I'm guessing that's not part of his official job description, but even if it is it was great to see him do that. I wanted to go up to him and tell him what a great job he did.
    Oh, and why did the dad leave? To go get beer. Two of them. For himself. It was jaw-dropping.

  • Anonymous

    Our friend Val, mentioned above, spent her childhood at the Vet and claimed to love it. She was one of the six people actually unhappy when they tore it down. But there she was last night reveling in the new park, which she now brings her boys to. In fact, I haven't heard her wax sentimental about the Vet in ages, although she does claim the hotdogs were better there. You can't have everything, I guess.

  • Anonymous

    Will be making my 3rd trip to CBP on Thursday. I too like the park. The Philly fans, although always vociferous about Mets fans are actually nice on a one on one basis. They will tell you that you have nothing to fear from them, but warn you to never wear your Giants cap into Lincoln Financial next door because they will literally kill you. Even Philly fans are afraid of Eagle fans!
    One other interesting note regarding the ushers….they prevent you from walking back to your seat during an at bat so you don't block the view of the seated patrons. They ask you politely to wait at the top of the steps. Wow! Let's Go Mets!

  • Anonymous

    Best part of CBP, me and 5 friends drove down from North Jersey, so after several beers in the parking lot, start looking for scalpers around the first pitch. Eventually, we talk them down to $60 for the six tickets. They weren't anywhere near eachother, I'm talking like different decks. This would be an issue in Shea — here though we all just staked out a nice spot in Ashburn Alley, right near the beer guys and bathrooms and food, and didn't so much as touch a seat all nighy while having a great view and paying $10 each for a great game..
    Let's Go Mets!

  • Anonymous

    I haven't been to the new park yet. I'm thinking if I do go down, I'll want
    it in writing from Willie Randolph that he won't use Heilman in the game.
    The guy can't seem to get out of that stadium alive.
    Is it just that Aaron is a flyball-out kinda guy in a short-fence park? Or is
    there something more to worry about concerning this formerly lights-out
    young man? He's gotten tagged in 5 of his last 7 appearances
    dating back to Memorial Day weekend, and his ERA has doubled in
    that time, from a delightful 1.98 to an eyebrow-raising 4.11.
    His line since May 27 (inclusive) looks like this:
    7.2 IP, 14H, 10ER, 3BB, 3K
    And you have to go back to mid-May to find an appearance when he
    didn't give up at least one hit.
    What's the deal?
    (And for that matter, is Glavine spent?)

  • Anonymous

    Compare the basic dimensions of CBP with New Shea (excluding nooks, crannies, overhangs)
    CBP – 329-401-330
    New Shea – 335-408-330
    The home-center line will be more nortthward than present Shea. I've heard this is done to account for the winds.
    Seems to be a gaping hole through center at CBP. If that can be filled with structure, it could cut down on the draft.

  • Anonymous

    I got a chance to see CBP for the first time last summer when I went down to cover Live 8 for work. Nice people working there + Rolling Rock at Harry the K's + great sightlines = a great ballpark. If the new Shea is like this, I may take out a loan to get season tickets.
    Alas, it was a Braves-Phillies game I got freebies to, but I was more into exploring what the park had to offer. I am going down in August for a daytime mid-week Mets-Phillies battle. I can't wait.

  • Anonymous

    Metsgeek has an interesting examination of what's wrong with Heilman this morning — I agree with the idea that it's pitch selection.
    I think Glavine's just going through one of those periods where it isn't clicking. Long season and all that.

  • Anonymous

    “High-fiving up a storm”? More like looking up to the sky, then pointing to my heart indicating a lightning-fast pulse. My friend wouldn't get up for the last two-strike clap out of sheer fear he'd me mid-clap when Rowand planted another one on the porch. Sadly, too many of Billy's 9th innings this year have been giving me the feeling John Franco's did: relief. Not an emotion you're supposed to get for 13 million a year.

  • Anonymous

    CBP is too small, just like Wagner. I don't know what we are going to do with him for the next 3 years. I think he has a finger problem that causes his control problems. He was very fragile in Philly and I think he'll break down here too.

  • Anonymous

    i've gone to the cit, as my philly friends call it, for a couple of games a year since it opened in 2004.
    i have seen the mets do themselves quite some damage there (felix heredia's last appearance, for example, and john franco's blowup before the allstar game in 04).
    even so, it almost doesn't matter. while the cit is a bit more theme park than ball park, it's still just a very pleasant place to spend an evening. when my kids were younger and bored at a blowout, there were other elements to keep them amused. and yes, the local fans were vastly more amiable to the hordes of incoming metsies than, say, the creatures in the bronx lagoon would be.
    best feature — the visitor's bullpen you can hang over and talk to the pitchers warming up. originally, it was the home team's bullpen, but about two games into the 04 season, the phils changed THAT.
    it ain't camden yards, but it's only a notch or two shy. and it's 100 miles closer. i have made the trip down and back all in the same night several times — it's pretty easy.
    p.s. to the poster who asked what they're calling the giants' park, previously pac bell, sbc and now at&t? to keep it short, just “the phone booth.”

  • Anonymous

    That it is, sadly.

  • Anonymous

    You make an excellent point that struck me also when I was their last year (Trachsel's rough start when Hamulack melted down)–it does seem like an amusement park. The trend in these new “retro” parks is to create additional “entertainment,” as if baseball isn't really enough; you need other things to hold your interest. It seemed to me that there were a lot of people wandering around not even watching the game at some parts.
    That's not to say that it isn't really nice, but it does seem a bit flashy for the sake of flashiness. I really don't like this idea of having retail stores (as if it were a mall) in a stadium either, which I don't think CBP has, and I hope Mets-Park-to-Be-Named-Later doesn't either. Let's keep the focus on baseball and not this vague idea of “entertainment.”
    Oh, by the way, the Phillie's mascot…what the hell is that thing?

  • Anonymous

    The big debate for me is: “Do I take the G to the 7 or the F to the 7?…which is faster/more reliable?” In general, coming home from a night game, you want to steer clear of the G, I've found, because it no longer functions like a real train.

  • Anonymous

    Hold on there, bub.
    Pine away for our vanquished first baseman to your heart's content.
    Bash the Phillies and their ballpark all you want.
    But the Phanatic is a god.

  • Anonymous

    I resent that. I have no problem with the Phanatic. I just don't understand what he(?) is. You should check the spelling of “vanished” as well; I think you added some letters that don't belong there.
    Bub. hehe. Wolverine is quite a character isn't he?

  • Anonymous

    I went down, too, my first CBP experience as well. I have some experience with one of the new ballparks in the West, so it wasn't all foreign to me – but I did notice one thing – every time I got up to let someone out of the row, I automatically reached down to pull my seat up – habit from Shea, but not necessary at CBP where the seats aren't broken.
    The guy next to me was there specifically because he wanted to see Glavine pitch. I felt as though I should personally apologize.

  • Anonymous

    Re: the ushers – I did notice that people were waiting at the top of the stairs but I thought it was them being polite, not the ushers. However, I think it's discretionary and primarily for large groups of people – I usually can time it right but I did come back at least once when the Phillies were up and had no problem getting back to my seat. I did, however, notice that she asked some late-comers who found people in their seats to just take any seat, while she went around to the other side of the section to deal with the problem unobtrusively. I felt like I was at the damn opera.
    And I was next to the section starting the Jose, Jose chants. Good times.

  • Anonymous

    Hell, there are parts of Queens where taking public transportation to/from Shea isn't feasible. And my parents wonder why I chose to stay in Manhattan for the summer…

  • Anonymous

    In hindsight, “banished” might have been the best choice.
    The Phanatic is simply that. I think there's some aardvark in him, with the tongue and all.
    Oh, and he's clearly a he.
    You can tell because his mother, whom I first saw last night, wore a dress and a bonnet.

  • Anonymous

    If you want a real treat, go to Pittsburgh one day. PNC Park is just beautiful – a wonderful place to see baseball.