Last year, I talked about how I'd been ready for Opening Day for about two months before the day came. I think this year, you can double the time and magnify the intensity factor by about 100%.
For the past 2-3 days, I've been hearing the voice of Howie Rose in my head, as he bellows "LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, WELCOME TO CITI FIELD, AND THE START OF THE 2009 NATIONAL LEAGUE BASEBALL SEASON IN NEW YORK!!!" A more beautiful sentence, I don't think I could hear on a day like this.
Over the weekend, Rose was talking about how the Mets should be playing the Pirates today, since the Mets first home game ever was against the Pirates in the Polo Grounds, and their first game at Shea was against the Pirates. I think I may be the only one who sees any symmetry in the Mets playing the Padres tonight. It's fitting for me, because the first Mets game I ever attended at Shea Stadium was against the Padres. And on the 20th Anniversary of my first game ever, the Mets played the Padres, and I was at the game. And now, tonight, the Mets will play the Padres in my first game at Citi Field.
There's going to be a lot to get used to for a lot of people as we open Citi Field tonight, and not just for the players on the field, or the fans getting used to a whole new set of stairs, escalators and food options. For me, it will mean the formation of a new series of pregame superstitions. As I'd mentioned, I would always enter Shea Stadium through the same gate, go up the same escalator, walk around through the Loge and then resume up on the same escalator. Now, I've got to figure out a new way to do things. My tickets specify that I enter through the Jackie Robinson Routunda, which I didn't actually get to see in my maiden voyage last weekend. No doubt, this is the easiest gate to get to, even easier than it was to get to Gate E from the Subway at Shea. You get off the subway and you're right there. The Left Field gate holds some potential as well, but you do have to walk a bit to get there. I may never see the Bullpen gate if things remain equal. Where will the program vendors be? What is the easiest route by escalator to get to my seats in the Promenade level? Will the lines at the JRR be ridiculous? I suppose we'll all find out tonight.
One final thought: With the Construction of Citi Field taking up most of the parking lot, it's obscured my view of the action and I've noticed that we haven't had a good Car Fire for a few years, or at least not one that I've been able to see. I think the Opening Day Car Fire is always a good omen for a new season (and our plans to set our own Car Fire last year on Opening Day were thwarted by better judgement), and though the Parking Lot now exists behind the stadium and not in view of anyone watching the game, it is very easy for me to turn around, look behind me and see the entire lot, thereby getting a clear view of any car fires that may occur. I think we're overdue for one, and it should be in order for tonight.
Happy Opening Day, everyone!!!