Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Lost in the shuffle of Monday's good vibes and Collin Cowgill becoming the new Toast of the Town were some problems at Citi Field that might be long forgotten were they not so glaring.

I mentioned, in passing, about the scorecard golf pencil fiasco that I encountered when I arrived at the game, which is one thing in and of itself. It's an annoyance, but who's going to go nuts over a golf pencil (although since I'm on the topic, yesterday's experience was not as bad as getting an unevenly sharpened pencil that will only write when held at a specific angle—something I've experienced more times than I care to remember)?

The larger problem came later, when I was upstairs trying to get something to eat. I initially thought I'd splurge on the Pat LaFrieda steak sandwich as an Opening Day treat, but apparently I wasn't the only one who felt that way, because the line at the new stand in the Promenade was about 5 people away from dissolving into Shake Shack madness. I thought this was OK, because it was new and it was Opening Day, and I figured once we got back to the normal games, the line wouldn't be so jammed up. So, my next attempt was at the new "Nathan's Hot Dogs and Chicken" counter, which replaced Blue Smoke and appears to be no different than any other of the Hot Dog and Burger counters that are dotted all over the Stadium (except they have some wings or other such nonsense). The line wasn't so bad, so I figured I'd give it a shot. I stood there for about 2-3 minutes and noted that there were plenty of people standing at the counter who hadn't moved, while the cashiers were empty. Finally, some indignant gentleman with his son started piping up and yelling for a manager, saying things like, "This shouldn't be happening!" and "You people should be more prepared!"

I realized that this wasn't going to end well, so I abandoned that plan and went to the Sausage Sandwich guy. The line wasn't too long and there certainly appeared to be action going on, so it seemed safe. But even here, things were off. There were about 5 people behind the grill, but only 1 person working a register, and she had to keep calling people down for them to pay, and then stand there waiting for their food. Meanwhile, another woman came around yelling "Cash Only! Cash Only!" which caused a slight culling. But only slight. Because I still ended up standing there for over 5 minutes while everyone fumphered around before I finally got my sausage sandwich, complete with undercooked onions and peppers.

Normally, I chalk up the foibles of the concession staff on Opening Day to "Hey, it's Spring Training for the Concession Stand guys too!" I recall one opener at Shea Stadium where I waited about 4 innings for a Hot Dog vendor to come around. But this was kind of ridiculous. Usually, there's plenty of vendors flying around. But yesterday, there were hardly any. Aside from the above gentleman who stood around blocking my view of home plate in the 5th inning, I don't think I saw many other vendors. A Cracker Jack guy, this Hot Dog guy, that was it. No beer, no souvenirs, no Cotton Candy, no Dippin' Dots, nothing. George went down for a beer at the beginning of the top of the 3rd inning and didn't return until the top of the 4th. Incredulous, he told me his tale of waiting on an endless line because there was only 1 person working the register at the Beers of the World stand. Apparently some of the other people he was on the line with began poking fun at the one guy working the counter, because he was particularly slow. Until they arrived at the counter and noticed that his name tag read "MANAGER."

That about summed it up. It was Opening Day at Citi Field, and, sure, the Mets were aware of that and certainly came prepared to do their job, but the support staff didn't seem to realize that. I know that the Mets are going to be bad, and most nights there won't be much of a crowd. But one day that's guaranteed to be well-attended is Opening Day. Yet the staff seemed barely cognizant of the fact that there were going to be a lot of people at the game. I'm just glad I didn't get hungry later on in the game, because I can't imagine what sort of an experience I would have had trying to find something to eat around the 7th inning. I suspect I might have been limited to peanuts or popcorn. Or, worse...Subway.

My theory, and it may be true, is that the concession workers, which I'm pretty sure are unionized, work at both Citi Field and Yankee Stadium. This is fine, because it's pretty rare that they both play at home, and usually when they do, it's in instances where neither game will sell out or attract an especially large crowd. But this year, both teams had their Opening Day games at the same time, which meant that both stadiums would need a full complement of concession workers, and maybe there just weren't enough to go around (and, of course, the Mets always get the short end of the stick, because everyone likes to put down the Mets).

This theory is sound on paper, but one particular thing blows it up, and it may be the one thing that bothers me the most: Pocket schedules are, perhaps, the most important promotional tool the Mets have. They're small, convenient and can be placed anywhere. Over the course of the season, I usually keep one in just about any place I spend any significant amount of time, including my office, coat pockets, wallets and the like. So, then, why are there NO POCKET SCHEDULES available ANYWHERE IN THE STADIUM on Opening Day? This one is beyond baffling. I used to get multiple pocket schedules every time I would get my tickets in the mail. Not anymore. On the final homestand of the season, they'll be loaded with more pocket schedules than they know what to do with. Who the hell needs a pocket schedule on the last day of the season? But on the one day when it makes the most sense to have tons of them, there's not a one to be found. Why more people don't complain, I don't know. Why heads haven't been rolled over this, I have no clue. Mets Police, consider yourselves alerted about this mockery. The schedule magnet is nice, but it ain't portable (and given everything else that went on, it's a minor miracle that the promotional staff didn't manage to screw that up). Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I want a damn pocket schedule. I can't possibly be the only one who's indignant about this.

Maybe this is just another one of my idiotic ramblings, but I suppose, in some strange way, it's my duty to report on things good and bad. The Mets didn't do much bad on the field on Monday (if just for one day). But everything else at Citi Field needed some work. If only Collin Cowgill could serve food and print schedules, then he'd really be the toast of the town.

No comments: