Wednesday, January 06, 2010

A Little July at Christmas

On this, tthe official end of the "Twelve Days of Christmas," I've decided to honor our big Christmas gift found under the tree yesterday -- Jason Bay -- his official press conference (where I didn't hear "aboot" or "organ-eye-zation" once...but did see Rod Gilbert present an authentic Rangers jersey to Mr. Bay)...and finally getting around to telling y'all about what I did, just 13 days prior to Christmas, to honor my Mets fandom.

Unfortunately, as I wrote the piece initially, Blogger had other ideas. Stupid bastards ate my post after I had put about an hour of heart, soul and pictures into it.

So I am finally getting to my little piece of July at Christmas, in going on the Mets CitiField Season Ticket Holders Tour. Enjoy.
*Originally started on December 12, 2009, finished on January 6, 2009*
Thermal underwear and shirt? Check.
Thick socks and Ugg Boots? Check.
Puffy North Face coat? Check.
Gloves? Check.
Mets cap? Check.
Camera? Check.

What does this mean folks? It's time for the Behind the Scenes CitiField Tour, open to Season Ticket holders!!

Before I get started on the actual tour, I had gone back-and-forth with renewing my season ticket plan. I needed a partner, Mr. E might not be able to commit to a full season in 2010, and honestly, I feel like the Mets treated their season ticket fan base like one would treat a boil on their backside. You go to ANY other park, you go to any other sports event, and their season ticket holders are treated like VIPs, like they're considered a part of the team. The Mets I felt hadn't done enough in the four years I've been a holder, and thought, what is the payoff here, when I could have a mini-plan and have the same "perks" (which was basically - a big fat bowl of nothin').

However, when I got notice of special benefits this year such as Port St Lucie Special Access, Early Saturday/Sunday access privileges and the piece de resistance, Behind-the-Scenes-Citifield Tour, I had to find a reason to re-up. I found someone to take my Sunday tickets, a partial partner for Saturday games and I'll be willing out the rest. (PS Email me if interested in getting a four-game or five-pack from the Coop, in Section 138 at CitiField.)

One of my partial partners in 2010 will be Professor Ed from Studious Metsimus, so I invited him to tag along and take pics (see his take on CitiField here).

And of course, no tour of CitiField is complete without the Mets Man of the Year (Or Bear of the Year) -- he, himself...JOEY!!! (I think I actually took more photos of Joey than the actual stadium).

We were told to enter the stadium through the "1B VIP" entrance. Here is Joey next to the picture of the man he was named after, Jose-Jose-Jose Reyes, in the entrance hallway, leading to the elevator banks.

It was odd, walking through Flushing at the Willets Point stop on a Saturday afternoon in wintertime. A lot different from a Saturday afternoon with the mini-family reunions I'd have each weekend. The hustle bustle of game day was quickly replaced with a ghost town...the only "hub bub" around was the occasional 7 train on the track and Chop Shop Alley.

I have to say, they really put on the dog for us. Signs everywhere and the tour seemed very well-organized and planned, to get our buy-in (who'da thunk, we'd be y'know the REAL team members of this organization). Here is a sign as to which floor we take (how DARE they not have an elevator operator on staff that day!...just jokes)
And lo and behold, we get to the Caesar's Club, where I basically had one experience with all season during the exhibition games in March. We got to see the World Series trophies. I took a picture with these two kids who were SO excited to do this tour...I think they might have been more excited about the prospect of Mr. Met making an appearance this day, who was hanging out greeting the fans in the Club.

Our first stop was in the control room, which "controls" basically everything from the entrance music, closed-captioning, graphics on CitiVision and the scoreboard and most importantly...the Home Run APPLE!!

Right above is a photo of the monitor that monitors (I keep doing this, don't I) the swings and certain let's say David Wright hits a grand slam in a game or something. The next time he comes up with a bases loaded situation, they might play this clip. Below is a monitor with all the nifty graphics you see at a given time on the CitiVision. KissCam, Carvel advertisements, you name it, it's on here.
But of course, the control room's most important aspect is...(don, don, DON!!)...the HOME RUN APPLE BUTTON!!!!

The two kids who you saw posing in front of the trophies earlier were in charge of the HR Apple duties that Saturday afternoon. How cool! We found out the reason for the 2.5 minute apple "performance anxiety" (after seeing one first-hand over the summer with a back-to-back home run situation). It is supported by hydraulics whereas the "old" apple at Shea was run on a more manual process. You'd think with all the technology out there, they'd have anticipated more "technological" moves, like you know, the old back-to-back home run situations. I digress.

The next stop were the broadcast booths, namely to pay homage to the original "Met" men, Bob Murphy Radio Booth and the Ralph Kiner Television Booth!

This view below only further proves that Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling have the COOLEST JOB on the face of the planet!
I know he'll probably kill me for posting this, but this is such a good pic of Ed and Joey at the TV booth, I couldn't help but posting it!
We were also able to see the view from the Press Box. Given the choice, I say SCREW the club suites and give me a press pass. These are the coolest seats in the park, hands down.

Here's Joey doing his best act of a local sports reporter.
After this sojourn, we went to the Empire level, which houses the aptly-named Empire Suites. I attended a game in April where I sat in one. Certainly luxurious and comfortable. Protection from the elements, whatever they may be. I don't sit there often, though. Let's change that this year!

Anyone who says there are "no photos" of Mets greats around or rather, "enough photos" clearly does not look hard enough, as the Empire level has cornered that market...yes, I do mean this as a bit of irony, because how many actual fans get the opportunity to attend games here? Here are some photos of Gary Carter and Carlos Beltran!
Onto to the auditorium, which apparently is the ONLY area in the stadium that references the color orange and blue anywhere. As Ed remarked...NO ONE KNOWS THEY'RE THERE. Ha ha. This also is not the area where press conferences are held. That is downstairs, right by the VIP entrance, where we also were able to exit (go figure) this day. Pics on that below.
We also got a great shot of the Rotunda from this area too.

We didn't spend much time in here though. There were other areas (note: more luxury suites to pitch to us) which to attend. We would be departing from the auditorium to land in the Delta 360 SkyClub. Wow is the first word that comes to mind. They did a great job in catering to their higher-end clientele in this room. Which makes me think that Jay the Dawg and I will have to find a means to crash on this season. It will be mine. Oh yes.

From here, we were able to get some great views of other non-Delta SkyClub items. One was the indoor batting practice cages. The other was the actual allowing of us fans ONTO the field, a first for me at CitiField!

I couldn't get a very good shot of the batting cages from inside, due to weird lighting but Joey got a good eyeful. The latter is Ed leading the charge onto the field. Well leading me onto the field anyway.

Anyway...yay! The field.

Who didn't tell the bear he was supposed to keep OFF the warning track? As Solly said when he saw the latter photo, I guess that David Wright's fly balls paid attention to the sign (ZING).

The above photos are all taken from the view of the field. We actually got to go INTO the dugouts and the verboten clubhouse as well.

But here is my fav'rit (as Ed would say) photo from the day. Joey just loves his Aunt Coop here!

Also the player's view of my new section for 2010, Section 138...

Onto the dugout...

What else can I say? It was as super-cool as it looked.
So! What do we have here...

Can I get another hint?
OOOH! We're about to enter the clubhouse, easily the neat-o-est part of the tour. Here's a view from the player's vantage point, when they are about the enter the dugout. (just from whence we came)
Prep for the day's is the line up from the last (and possibly best) game at CitiField in 2009.
Players gather in here to practice hitting...
Running drills (measured out at 90 feet)...

And have the ability to watch videos of that day's pitcher or any kind of instructional video.
As we also found out, the room where the umpires go to view the instant replays are on the OTHER side, the 3B side of the park.

Other cool tidbits on the inside...CitiField "Rules"

We also got to go into the locker room, getting the good vibes of what players do in prep for each game, and where they congregate daily.

We found out the lockers are not assigned yet. So take your pick! Ha ha ha...

An homage to ol' Shea, the neons show up on the rug. Do they sell these anywhere? Not that I would get one...Dad might like one though.
The locker room was empty, signifying the beginning of winter and waiting for spring to come.

The players also have a recreational room that houses such cool items as a pool table, pinball machines, video games and an old school carnival popcorn maker.

The story behind this pool table is that when the Rolling Stones toured Shea Stadium in the late-80s, the band schlepped this pool table with them but didn't feel like bringing it back to the UK. Charlie Samuels (Equipment Manager) decided to reupholster it and give it a more-Mets look.

Apparently, Nelson Figueroa is the Rock Band and Guitar Hero champ, as well as the resident tech nerd. Here are some old school non-technical stuff, like pinball machines.

And the super-industrial sized kitchen in the game room.
Our tour was starting to wind down from here. We got to see the weight room, but our supposed last stop on the tour was going to be the weight room.

Unfortunately some dude named David who plays third base for the team decided it was time for his workout, and they wouldn't let us in.
I tried to get a good shot of him, but I think he was a bit camera-shy for the nutty fans doing the tour that day. I did tell the security dude to pass along birthday wishes for the fellow-December baby, since his bday was the upcoming week.

Our tour winded up shortly afterwards in the press room, which I mentioned earlier. This is where we see Omar Minaya stumbling around with words and Jerry Manuel doing his post-game wrap ups.

There are those kids again!
And these kids again! Coop for GM! Not that I'm into the whole self-promotional thing...

Anyway, we exited through the 1B VIP entrance...which I guess makes it the VIP exit. Joey of course wanted some pizza so we found him some.
I'm sure, being it was Cascarino's and it hasn't been opened in a few months, it must be pretty old. But he was happy.

Lastly, I realized that during the whole season, I hadn't seen where the Shea Stadium markers were. Shocking, I know. I guess I hadn't wanted to acknowledge that it was gone. I've also remarked that since I go to so many games, I usually don't take my time to notice the little things around the park anymore. That will have to change this year. Here is a photo of the old Pitcher's "Plate" at Shea Stadium.
All in all, I may have been discouraged about the team this season, the bumbling management always and even the stadium that I hadn't yet found enough love in my heart to call a "home" yet. Funny thing is, as time goes on, I'm starting to get a little wistful nostalgia relating to the very few games I felt a genuine connection with it. I miss Shea, but this tour was the first time I didn't think of it coming back, that CitiField was our new home and I had to in essence deal with it.

I wish the baseball season could start tomorrow, rather than in less-than-three-months. I am not only excited to sit in a new section, but I'm excited to start a new community of Jason Bay-Watchers over in the left-field reserved sections!


Julie/ said...

Love it; and I'm slightly envious of the tour.

Bear Man said...

Why would that Ed guy kill you for posting those pics? He should be thankful that you let him tag along. If I were him, I'd be eternally grateful.

Dave Wakeman's Blog said...

That was really, really awesome. I was a Supersonics season ticket holder in Seattle and they treated the season ticket holders like gold. I have had partial plans and a full season for the Mets and the same can not be said. But the tour looked pretty great! Too bad D Wright didn't come out to make the visit a little more special.

Solly said...

So jealous.