June 10, 2014: Citi Field just before first pitch. Credit: Mollie Galchus

Mets need to change the atmosphere at Citi Field


A baseball team that couldn’t buy a hit with the bases loaded (well, before last night, that is) playing in a city that’s a tourist destination makes for an interesting night at the ballpark.

Before the game last night, the skies were grey and there had been a threat of rain, but the weather cleared up as the night went on. It was a warm, early June night. I always say early June is one of my favorite times to watch a baseball game—it’s warm outside, but you still have the whole summer, and a majority of the season, ahead.

But the attendance at Citi Field last night was abysmal. Even the announced attendance, which is always grossly higher than the actual number of people at the game, was the lowest of the season, at 20,206. Half of the sections in the Promenade level had only one or two groups of people in them. Throughout the game, even the sound of the PA system had an unusual echo, making it difficult to hear, as the sound bounced off the thousands of empty green seats.

I was in section 406, along with Mets fans and some tourists who were learning about baseball as they were watching.

The man sitting in front of me found his seat, clutching a beer in one hand and a New York City map in the other. To my right was a group of people from France. One of them was explaining the game to another, describing what was happening in French with a distinguishable baseball term interspersed in his play-by-play explanation of the game. To my left was another group of people, with one member explaining what was happening to the others. I give a lot of credit to these people trying to learn the game. It was great to see people learning about baseball.

But because a lot of people in my section weren’t familiar with baseball, there was a lot of hopeful cheering when any contact between bat and ball was made. It didn’t even have to be a fly ball to the warning track to get a reaction from the crowd—even weak grounders and foul balls got a reaction from my section. Sometimes I wished I could have been as hopeful as those unfamiliar with the less-than-decent Mets lineup.

The same people who were cheering for every Met, every swing, and every play, took out their cameras to take pictures of the ballpark as a memento from their trip to a baseball game in New York. They took a picture of the scoreboard, of the batter’s box, and of the field to remember the beautiful ballpark they were in. I took out my camera to snap a photo of the empty seats as a way to remember the ridiculous turnout for the game.

I’ve only been following the Mets for a little over two years, and while I haven’t gone through the disappointment of a long string of losing seasons, the recent offense of this year’s team has taught me to not expect much. Last night, I wasn’t expecting fly balls to carry or for a Met to get a hit with anyone on base. One Mets fan a few seats down from me was loudly screaming about the economy for the first four innings. It seemed like Mets fans couldn’t care less about the game.

After striking out twice, Taylor Teagarden’s grand slam woke up everybody watching the game, and made everyone realize that the Mets were bound to bat in some runs.

There was a loud “Let’s Go Brewers!” chant that could be heard throughout the park—not to mention the “Let’s Go Yankees!” chant that started shortly after. Citi Field didn’t feel like Mets fans’ home.

I’m not saying Mets fans should be as hopeful as those in the seats who were watching their first baseball game and didn’t know the team’s awful batting average, or recent history. Last night’s atmosphere at the ballpark made me think of Sandy Alderson and the Mets’ argument that in order to spend money, they need people to go to the ballpark. Well, in order to that, the Mets need to put a decent product on the field.

The Mets won last night, which was good, but the bottom line is that the Mets need to win more. They need to make Citi Field a place where Mets fans want to go to enjoy a warm, almost-summer night, and take in a ballgame.

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