Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Citi Field, Take Two

So, two games in and I'm 0-for-Citi Field.

In reality, however, the game provided mere scenery for the other nonsense that seemed to go on for me throughout the evening.

I had been fixing to make an attempt to try to get to one of the high-end concessions at Citi Field, and I made a concerted effort to get there early and beat the crowd. I was angling for Shake Shack, since I'd heard so much about it from a number of different sources, but I've never been there myself. El Guapo is a big fan, but he has the advantage of working rather close to the original Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. I, on the other hand, do not and so this was the first time I'd ever really been close to one. And I'd heard more than a few people on varied WFAN shows call in and say that it's the best burger ever. As I've mentioned, I am a big hamburger connoisseur, so I was chomping at the bit to try it for myself.

I got to Citi Field at around 6:15, dropped El Guapo's ticket at Will Call and made a beeline for the Shack. There were plenty of people milling around, but I was hopeful that the line wouldn't be too long.

No such luck. The line had already formed well past the little aisles they set up and had extended back towards Left Field. Maybe I should have just said screw it and gone upstairs. Nooooooo, I figured. I came here for a Shake Shack burger, and by crikey, I'm going to have a Shake Shack burger. So I stood on line. I figured I had plenty of time before the game.

I got on line at about 6:20. The Guap texted me at around 6:35 telling me he was having a beer in the Promenade Club. I was still on line. I said I'd see him around the 5th inning. But I was exaggerating. I was in my seat by around 6:45.

Bottom line: In the words of Samuel L. Jackson, "That IS a Tasty Burger." I'm still on the fence as to whether or not it's worth waiting on line for 25 minutes to get, but it's a damn good burger, far better than the burgers they were serving in the Promenade level. It's got cheese (which I believe you can ask them to leave off), lettuce, tomato and what they refer to as "Shack Sauce," which I believe to be little more than overglorified Russian Dressing. The single shack is small, but substantial for your $5.75. But throw in some fries and a soda and I ended up dropping as much on food as I did on my ticket for the game. C'est la vie, I assume, in this Citi Field day and age. I recommend it and I'd definitely go back, provided you don't mind the inevitable lines that will form there early. When I was leaving, the line was significantly longer than it was when I got there.

El Guapo had been in the Promenade Club, as I'd mentioned. I didn't realize that you could get in simply by having a Promenade level ticket, I thought you needed a Promenade Club ticket. Apparently not. He raved about it, and he also raved about the Sausage and Peppers, which I've yet to have this season (next time, that's what I'm going for). Apparently there's a full bar in the Club, and even a Wing bar. This could prove to be a hidden gem.

In general, we both seem pretty happy with Citi Field. The team, again, is a bit of a problem and there's not much memorable to report about the game, short of things looked OK until Sean Green decided to do his best Aaron Heilman impression. And he really did a spot-on Heilman and screwed up the game good and proper. Once the Mets got behind, I think just about everyone knew that was it for the game, no matter how bad the Marlins bullpen supposedly is. Kudos to Alfredo Amezaga for hot-dogging catching a pop-up at the end of the 7th and further entrenching himself on the list of Marlins Players who need to get a pitch in the ribs at some point.

Some of the problems that I discussed from Opening Night seem to have been rectified. For one, the speakers above the seats were working. They didn't sound especially great (there was some sort of crackle that I tend to associate with a speaker that's been blown out), but at least I could hear the announcements and ambient Ballpark Music they play.

El Guapo reported back to me that there are TVs at the concessions in the Promenade Food court behind home plate. He says they're small, and so there's a very good chance that I missed seeing them on Opening Night. One other thing we noticed is that there were little to no lines there, which is great. I think most people were walking around and getting food at other places. The stadium seemed about half full most of the night, but there were definitely a lot of people who came and walked around rather than sit in their seats and watch the game. That's probably why there was such a lack of lines in the Promenade. I'm not complaining.

The egress problem was better last night as well, though I think that was more a side effect of the Mets being behind and people leaving early. We managed to get out of the stadium pretty quickly down the staircase that's right behind our section. Little to no lines in the men's room once again, which is always nice.

Afterwards, I mused to El Guapo that once the novelty wears off, and it's just people going to the stadium to watch the game, it's going to be pretty good. Those normal, dopey, Tuesday night games with 25,000 people are going to be great, particularly since we're now watching the game in a nice, modern, comfortable ballpark.

Then, came the ride home.

El Guapo, who lives in Brooklyn, and I always take the 7 Express back, without much debate. We ride in the rear car of the train (a little-known fact that you can always get a seat in the rear car). The game ended at 10:25 and he got off at 45th Road and I continued on to Grand Central. I was on pace to be home at around 11:10, until, mysteriously, the train stopped in the tunnel just after passing Vernon/Jackson. And it sat there. There was an announcement of "Train traffic ahead of us." But we continued to sit. And it got to be 11:10. Then 11:15. This was getting ridiculous. People in the car were getting restless. 11:25. Still nothing. All of a sudden, we see someone walking down the tunnel with a flashlight. He walked up to the train and climbed on. We asked him what was going on, but he wasn't very descriptive or helpful. It got to 11:35. People were getting frustrated. Finally, the train started moving, slowly, and kept starting and stopping before finally getting into Grand Central. I don't know what, exactly, the problem was and nobody would say. I have a feeling there was a train stuck ahead of mine, but nonetheless, tacking an un-necessary half hour onto the trip home after an already miserable game wasn't exactly the perfect capper to the evening.

If there's something to take away from this, I suppose it's that you can't blame the Mets for the MTA's problems.

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