Mets fans brought Citi Field to life this past weekend

By Danny Abriano

For nearly seven seasons, Citi Field was a ballpark without an identity. Fans often went an entire game without sitting in their seats, and the ones who went to their seats were often more attached to their phone than the game on the field. There was no buzz, there was no noise, there was no life. This past weekend, that changed. 

When the Nationals arrived in New York on July 31, the Mets — who had acquired Yoenis Cespedes from the Tigers a few hours earlier — were three games out of first, about to play their first meaningful game in August since 2008. Matt Harvey was on the mound and anticipation was in the air, and the ballpark came to life as Harvey mowed down Washington until the eighth inning.

After the Nats tied the game in the eighth on Friday, people began to leave, perhaps some feeling a loss was inevitable after what the Mets have gone through for the last six seasons. However, when Wilmer Flores‘s game-winning homer cleared the fence in the bottom of the 12th, Citi Field erupted. The first statement — by the fans and the team — had been made.

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I attended the game on Friday but watched from home on Saturday as the same energy that was in the ballpark the night before was again on display. The buzz was back, the roars were back, and the sense that the Mets would win — something that’s an enormous change around these parts — seemed to buoy the fans as the Mets came back from an early 2-0 deficit.

While Friday and Saturday were signs that a fan base that had nothing to cheer about for roughly seven years was back at full throat, Sunday night was the Mets fans’ coming out party.

I arrived at the ballpark about 2 1/2 hours before Sunday’s game to a parking lot that was already filling up, a bar that was jammed, and the sight of Mets owner Fred Wilpon arriving.

On Sunday night, as the Mets were again erasing an early deficit, the crowd went into an absolute frenzy. It was a mix of anticipation, bedlam, screaming, standing, and spur of the moment chanting that had never before been experienced at Citi Field.

With each home run the Mets hit in their three-homer third inning, the ballpark grew more intense, more loud, and got to the point where people in the stands were simply jumping and screaming.

After the Mets took a 5-1 lead, the fans took it up another notch, roaring for every pitch Noah Syndergaard threw and standing (and imploring others to do so) on pretty much every two-strike pitch. It was an amazing thing to be a part of after what the Mets and the fans have gone through since 2008.

I’ve been waiting for Citi Field to feel like Shea Stadium for a long time, and while the atmosphere in the ballpark over the weekend reminded of the atmosphere at Shea, it was a different kind of animal. As if fans who had been pent up for so long were using the weekend as a reason to cheer a team that took over a share of first place and to free themselves from the malaise that had formed in the many years the team had been irrelevant.

It was indeed a playoff atmosphere over the weekend at Citi Field as the fans finally got to experience what it’s like to root for a winner in their new park. New York has always been a National League town and its fans have always been the most loyal. This is what it looks and sounds like when a winning club is on the field.