Every December, my friend, Karl, and I excitedly purchase Mets tickets for the upcoming baseball season. The Mets and baseball season are our passion. By the time opening day rolls around in late March, like a couple of 12-year-old boys showing off their first chest (or other) hairs in the gym locker room, we can no longer contain our excitement. However, a couple of weeks ago, I received my yearly reminder letter about purchasing tickets and for the first time ever, I wasn’t excited. The problem is the new stadium.
Though the Mets moved into their new stadium, Citi field, last season, it still doesn’t feel like home to me. Yes, it felt like the old park, Shea Stadium, as the Mets lost (and lost and lost some more) and battled for last place. But other than that, it bore no resemblance to Shea Stadium.
First issue: the name. Unfortunately, the new stadium is named after the Citibank Corporation, not a person or a team. Shea Stadium was named after William Shea. I have no idea who William Shea was other than the guy for which the stadium was named. However, at least he was a person with a nice sounding name. So nice, in fact, that I know several diehard Mets fans who named their child Shea. Who is going to name their child Citi (or bank)? And, if for some god forsaken reason you did, the way these corporations are merging, you’d soon have to change your child’s name to JP Morgan Chase-Citi-Goldman-Sachs-Merrill Lynch-Prudential. Try calling that child for dinner.
Second, and more importantly, Citi Field doesn’t have the memories or the tradition of Shea Stadium. Shea Stadium was home to the Mets for over 40 years. In between the losing, the Mets actually won two World Series there and provided some great theater. Additionally, bands like The Who and The Beatles played there. Not the 60-something Who –now collecting social security and drinking non-alcoholic prune juice cocktails on their 19th reunion tour—but The Who in their heyday. And The Beatles rocked there decades before they had their own version of Rock Band.
Then there are all the personal memories. My father took me to my first baseball game at Shea Stadium nearly 30 years ago. A couple of years ago, I kept the family tradition going by taking both of my kids to their first games at Shea Stadium, too.
I have other fond memories from Shea Stadium, too. I once witnessed a young boy, about 12, take an important step into manhood—or simply become a pervert—by smacking a woman, in her early 20’s, in the rear end. He high-fived his buddy then was abruptly smacked in the face. He learned a valuable lesson about treating women and I had a good laugh watching his head snap back.
The last anecdote aside, maybe it’s unfair to compare Citi Field to the venerable Shea Stadium. Citi Field does have all the bells and whistles a great, new stadium should have. It also has fantastic restaurants and a wiffle ball field where my son hit a home run. (He ran the wrong way around the bases but that’s another story.)
However, the same way I hang onto a ratty, old pair of sneakers, I’m hanging onto Shea Stadium.
“Shea Stadium is gone. I still can’t believe it,” I said to my wife the other day.
“Not surprised. You get separation anxiety when you can’t find the remote control.”
No arguments there. I’m a creature of habit.
Maybe if the Mets win, though, Citi Field will start carving out some memories and traditions of its own. I’ll then proudly change one of my kid’s names to JP Morgan Chase-Citi-Goldman-Sachs-Merrill Lynch-Prudential.
Copyright © 2009, Brad Manzo