I admit it. I wasn't very fired up at all for Opening Day yesterday. It took me until I got to 111th Street on the 7 train, and saw Citi Field rise up in the distance before I felt anything resembling the excitement and anticipation that comes with Opening Day. But once I got there, got off the train into the new Apple Garden, met El Guapo and made my way inside Citi Field, I was glad to be there, and glad to be back.
And, as it appears, the Mets were pretty glad to be back as well.
It didn't necessarily appear that way at the outset, when all the new that seemed to be promised appeared to me to be a whole lot of status quo. I wanted to see the new Hall of Fame, however that was thwarted by a lengthy line that neither the Guap or I wanted to navigate. So, upstairs we went, to be greeted by this:
A new lineup board, with a pretty paltry looking lineup. El Guapo didn't even realize that there were lineup boards last season, primarily because they were completely hidden from view. We walked around to the Outfield, where we saw a little more new:
This was the kind of new I could get behind. However, some things, like the lineup at Shake Shack, hadn't changed. Eager for a bite, I opted for my favorite post from last season, the Taqueria, where, to my dismay, I encountered problems that harkened back to the days of Shea. First, I stood around at a register for a few minutes while the cashier was unable to get the register to work. Then, after waiting a few minutes more, I was given a box of tacos that I would later discover did not include any sauce. I thought the support staff at Citi Field would be better prepared for a large crowd, but I see I was mistaken. Nonetheless, the tacos are still pretty damn good, sauce or no sauce. Thank you once again, Danny Meyer.
Upstairs we went, for some more new here:
The reconfigured bullpens, and, much to my delight here:
...where I noticed that Blue Smoke, another gem, was now available in the Promenade, conveniently close to my seats.
where, to my displeasure, I saw that the Mets had skimped on the Opening Day bunting, putting up the paltry 3-ring bunting as opposed to the much more exciting and traditional 5-ring bunting.
Nonetheless, Howie Rose came across the PA system and the Opening Day ceremonies were underway...
...beginning with the presentation of the Good Luck wreath to Jerry Manuel, prompting a slew of under-the-breath "you'll need all the luck you can get" remarks.
Then came the introductions. The Marlins, who everyone knows I'm no fan of, were roundly booed, the loudest jeers reserved for Hanley Ramirez, who became the first player I've ever seen start styling during the Opening Day handshakes. This MFer tipped his cap and then took about 5 minutes going down the line of teammates.
Then again, he wasn't as roundly booed as the Mets training staff was. Or Oliver Perez. Or, for that matter, Jerry Manuel and Luis Castillo. A few people were a little off-put by this, but even I joined in the booing, particularly of Perez and Manuel. There's a few ways to look at this. I choose to see it this way: The fans aren't booing and saying "We don't like you, go away." By booing, the fans are saying to these guys, "It's not acceptable that you have continued to perform as you have the past couple of seasons, and if you don't shape up, this is going to continue. So get your acts together." I even tried to start a "LEARN TO PITCH!!" chant for Perez, but it didn't materialize. But I digress.
Some video, as a bonus:
Unfortunately, my camera cuts off video after 3 minutes, which happened to coincide with the introduction of Johan Santana.
The flyover, which is almost akin to the blowing of the Shofar as far as Opening Day is concerned...
Darryl Strawberry throwing out the first pitch...
And, finally, the Mets take the field, accompanied to some new entrance music...
And Welcome to the 2010 Season!
And, really, I don't think the game could have gone much better for the Mets. Santana's pitching is enough to warm anyone's heart, but David Wright came up and smoked a HR in his first at bat, and that really set the tone for the game. It was as though Wright, by hitting that HR, basically said to everyone, "Look, chill out. We got this one." And they did.
Jason Bay, whose mere presence just appears to make this team look more professional, chipped in with a key triple, the Mets took advantage of the Marlins basically abandoning all aspects of fundamental baseball, and by the end, the outcome was never in much doubt. That was like 2009 as well. The only difference was that last year, the outcome never went in the Mets favor. But yesterday, it did. And on a picture perfect day, you couldn't have drawn up a better result for the Mets.
Bay's At Bat music was the same every time he came to the plate. I surmised that it might be Pearl Jam, and I was correct. However, Bay was not the winner of the Cool At-Bat Music award. Gary Matthews, Jr. was a strong contender with this choice, but the clear winner of the day was Frank Catalanotto, who appeared once as a pinch-hitter and his choice of entrance music was so popular, it had everyone singing along with it. So, by a landslide, Frank Catalanotto wins the Cool AB Music award for the season.
The award for Lamest AB music, by the way, did not go to Jeff Francoeur and his mishmash of country music, but to David Wright, for this particular atrocity.
161 to go. I know they're not all going to go like yesterday, but, man, it sure would be nice, wouldn't it?