- Faith and Fear in Flushing - http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

Clean Slate Stadium

Jack Fisher throws one to Jesse Gonder

Forty-five seasons commence

Ryan Church hits one to Cameron Maybin

Forty-five seasons conclude

Mike Pelfrey throws one to Brian Schneider

We've only just begun

***

“I obviously have great memories of Shea on the field and in the clubhouse, but this is quite an upgrade,” David Wright told reporters [1] before the first exhibition game at Citi Field on April 3. “And I think it’s good for us mentally, too, to get a clean slate. There’s a lot of energy and excitement surrounding the new field and with that comes a new attitude where we can put the last couple of years aside and focus on this year.”

This year is already in focus, but considering the home season is only now at hand, there's one last chance to reflect on there where we used to stand without any other structure obstructing our view. So many images from the final week in the life of Shea Stadium stay with me…

There's too many Cubs fans.

There's the threat of rain.

There's rain.

There's a broken bat that bats a ball after the ball has broken the bat of Johan Santana.

There's Johan Santana coming back three days later and missing bats altogether.

There's invigorating cameos from Robinson Cancel and Ramon Martinez.

There's quiet disappearance for Damion Easley.

There's Pedro Martinez dramatically exiting.

There's Jose Reyes scoring.

There's Daniel Murphy standing on third.

There's David Wright not doing anything about it.

There's an evening in the picnic area that goes from sublime to ant-covered.

There's a Carlos Delgado grand slam going to waste.

There's Marlins crawling under our skin.

There's Carlos Beltran homering.

There's Wes Helms and Dan Uggla doing the same.

There's that damn bullpen gate.

There's booing and shrieking and laughing and crying.

There's Shea Stadium, its final bows. A 3-4 week. A win shy of continuation. A benediction for the ages. A sweet-sorrow parting. Those images will fade but they will never fully dissolve. I'd say the same for the 36 seasons I went to Shea.

But now, the next place.

Bring on Citi Field. Bring on that clean slate David Wright has been talking up. Bring on the now. What's past is past. The past endures, but in a spot set a little further back from where it sat before. It's not first row center anymore. No point pretending that it is.

The single most undeniable fact of Met life in 2009 is, as of this evening, our team plays its home games at Citi Field. I like watching our team play. Hence, I now greet the opening of Citi Field with nothing but enthusiasm. I count the hours until it transforms from the subject of speculation to a matter of record. I can't wait for the list of all-time Mets home parks to total three because it means our team is playing ball and has last licks, just as it did at the Polo Grounds, just as it did at Shea Stadium. I'm psyched to be going to my first Citi Field game that counts this Thursday. I expect I'll be taking plenty of mental notes all season regarding what's great and what's not — but mostly, I'm going to be watching our team play baseball. Ultimately, that's what Citi Field is for.

I can't promise, given my tendencies, that I won't occasionally backslide into Shea nostalgia, but I'm otherwise turning in my well-worn sentimental-indignation card. I spent the past three seasons praising and preserving the memory of Shea Stadium so it wouldn't evaporate into dust without a proper bon voyage. I bemoaned the impending arrival of its successor for reasons both genuinely heartfelt and probably petty. I didn't want Shea to vanish without expressing my appreciation for what it meant to me, what it meant to all of us. Consider it expressed. There is nothing left for this Mets fan and Friday Night Lights viewer to do except embrace Citi Field in the most Metsian way possible — clear eyes, full heart, hope we don't lose.

C'mon Big Pelf. Let's Go Mets.

Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets is available from Amazon [2], Barnes & Noble [3] or a bookstore near you. Keep in touch and join the discussion on Facebook [4].