What Mets fans have missed most about the Citi Field experience

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 11: General view as Matt Harvey #33 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch in the fourth inning against the Colorado Rockies on August 11, 2015 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 11: General view as Matt Harvey #33 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch in the fourth inning against the Colorado Rockies on August 11, 2015 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Like all MLB fanbases, New York Mets fans were unable to attend games in their home ballpark during the 2020 regular season. I normally attend at least a few games a year, and even though the team underperformed in 2020, I still wish I could have been there to cheer them on when they walked off the New York Yankees, scored 14 runs off of the Philadelphia Phillies, or paid tribute to Tom Seaver the day after his passing.

Devoted Mets fans will tell you that the joy of attending a game at Citi Field is not just about watching the action between the lines. Attending a baseball game at your home ballpark is a personal ritual, with everyone in attendance experiencing the same game from different perspectives and routines. The little things that make our home ballpark feel like “home” often have nothing to do with how the game is going.

Recently, I put out a question on Twitter and asked, “Mets fans, what underrated aspect of the Citi Field experience are you most looking forward to when you return to the stadium?” I got a wide array of responses, which generally fell into a few common buckets. Here is a brief summary of what Mets fans on Twitter miss most about going to Citi Field, and what they’re looking forward to when fans are allowed back in the park.

The first glimpse of the Mets ballpark as you step off the LIRR or the 7 train

Even if you’ve traveled the world and seen beautiful scenery and exquisite views elsewhere, there is nothing quite as delightfully breathtaking as that first sight of Citi Field when you arrive at the stadium for a game. I always make a point of gazing at Citi Field for as long as possible when I happen to pass it in a car or train on non-game days.

The first glimpse of the stadium always gives me chills because it reminds me that once the first inning starts, anything can happen. There is always a chance at any game that the fans in attendance could witness history, jubilantly celebrate a comeback, or have their hearts torn in half by a backbreaking loss. That uncertainty before the game is a huge adrenaline rush, and part of what I’m most looking forward to about returning to Citi Field.

Hearing “Meet the Mets” over the PA system as you wait to get into the stadium

No matter what time Mets fans arrive at the stadium, they’ll likely have to wait on some sort of line to get through security and go inside. However, a lot of people on Twitter mentioned that this wait is one of the things they miss most about going to games. While waiting to go inside, find your seat, and make a beeline for the Shake Shack line, the Flushing Faithful can always count on hearing “Meet the Mets” cheerfully greeting us over the loudspeakers as we approach the ballpark. Bonus points if you know the exact part of the song with the trombone and always do the “air trombone” at the appropriate time.

That wait outside the stadium is also marked by Howie Rose announcing the stadium safety guidelines and code of conduct over the loudspeakers. We all know the rules by now, but it’s nice to have Rose’s friendly voice gently remind us that backpacks are no longer allowed inside and we can only bring in sealed water bottles.

The food: Shake Shack, sausage and pepper sandwiches, and so much more

Citi Field has a plethora of quality food options, which dominated the replies on Twitter. Shake Shack is always a popular choice, though if you get on line at the wrong time during the game, you might miss a couple of innings. The sausage and pepper sandwiches were another prevailing choice, as were the Nathan’s chicken tenders and fries (my personal favorite) and the Pat LaFrieda steak sandwiches. Maybe it’s just in my head, but I have always felt that food just tastes better at the ballpark. The excitement in the air gives everything from fries to pretzels an extra zest.

I would like to offer a brief moment of silence for Keith’s Grill, which was a food stand at Citi Field until the 2019 season. Its presence gave us this fantastic moment of its namesake, Keith Hernandez, showing the folks at home the “good fundies” of burger-making. Perhaps Keith’s Grill, like the Flushing Faithful, will make its triumphant return to the ballpark in 2021.

Hanging out on Shea Bridge during the game, even if you bought tickets for actual seats

I have never done this myself, but a lot of people responded saying that they love watching most or all of the game from Shea Bridge. It does give you a great vantage point of the entire field from straightaway center field, though if you like looking at the scoreboard regularly during the game, you’ll be out of luck there. Shea Bridge is named after Bill Shea, the New York City lawyer who was instrumental in bringing National League baseball back to New York and, of course, became the namesake for Shea Stadium.

As a close game rolls on, I would imagine that baseball superstitions take over and anyone who casually strolled over to Shea Bridge earlier in the game stays put to help the Mets’ chances. At some point in the future, I plan to cross this off my Mets bucket list and watch a game from Shea Bridge.

Getting irrationally invested in the between-innings entertainment

Whether it’s the kids hitting wiffle balls out of the “park,” the kid running from left field to third base and “stealing the base,” the clap-along to Lazy Mary during the 7th inning stretch, or the cap shuffle game, the Mets have a lot of memorable in-game entertainment that, like it or not, imprints upon all Mets fans who regularly go to games. It’s all part of the charm of the ballpark experience. Rather than looking at our phones when the on-field action pauses, it’s a lot more fun to stay completely present and engaged in everything happening on the Jumbotrons and around the stadium.

Having not gone to a game in a couple of years, I have a feeling that the next time I attend a game at Citi Field, I might just turn off my phone entirely and soak up every glorious second of the ballpark atmosphere, including the fun between-innings games.

Rocking out to “New York Groove” while leaving your seats after a Mets win

I am still partial to the days when “Takin’ Care of Business” by Bachman-Turner Overdrive was the Mets’ “hype song” after wins, but “New York Groove” by Ace Frehley is fun, too. It’s a lot more fun to hear that song after a game than to sadly hang your head to “New York State of Mind” by Billy Joel, which always blares poignantly throughout the stadium after a loss.

Much like I permanently associate certain players with their walk-up songs, such as Ike Davis and “Start Me Up,” there are certain other songs that will always be “Mets songs” to me. “Takin’ Care of Business” and “New York Groove” are at the top of that list.

Fans chanting “Let’s Go Mets!” all the way out of the stadium after a win

This is definitely the #1 thing I miss most about going to Citi Field, besides actually watching the games. One of my most vivid memories from attending the Michael Conforto walk-off game in 2019 was the incredible electricity from the crowd, which led to extended “Let’s Go Mets” chants all the way down the stairs, out of the stadium, across the boardwalk, and onto the train platforms after the game. As is tradition, “Yankees Suck” chants inexplicably broke out as well. No, the Yankees had nothing to do with that game. Yes, it was all in good fun.

When Mets fans get excited about something, their energy is strong enough to power New York City. I cannot wait to cheer for my favorite Mets players in person again, but I also can’t wait to feel the electrifying enthusiasm from my fellow Mets fans. There is no more rejuvenating feeling than celebrating a Mets walk-off win with loved ones and total strangers and yelling “Let’s Go Mets” at the top of your lungs for the next 15 minutes. That, my friends, is what LFGM is all about.

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While looking through all of the replies to this tweet while writing this article, I teared up. There is just so much I never fully appreciated about going to Citi Field before the pandemic shut that all down. I have daydreamed so much about what it will be like to actually watch the Mets play in person again, but I am also reminded that every single aspect of the ballpark experience is precious and should be fully appreciated once fans are back in the stands.