"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

The New New Places to Play (and Pay)


Over at SI.com, I’ve got a write-up of the two new New York ballparks.


Citi Field is state-of-the-art nostalgia (which brings to mind George Carlin’s old routine about “jumbo shrimp”), an amalgam of similar urban ballparks like Camden Yards, the Ballpark at Arlington and Progressive Field, though its spiritual predecessor is Ebbets Field. The results are appealing but also generic. The creative decisions seem arbitrary, like the nooks and crannies in the outfield wall, which don’t serve any other purpose than to add an eccentricity to the playing field. The older ballparks, like Fenway, had such features because they were conforming to a limited urban footprint, not because they deemed them a source of amusement. It is designed like an urban ballpark even though it is sitting in the middle of a wide-open parking lot (talk to the people in Arlington about that incongruity).

The main entrance takes fans through the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, a grand civic gesture to one of the game’s true pioneers. It is an airy room, with staircases and escalators on each side. The tribute to Robinson is earnest, handsome and impressive. “It feels like social studies homework,” one fan, an intelligent, liberal New Yorker told me. A giant blue number 42 sits in the middle of the room, the ideal photo op. The blue — which the Mets appropriated from the Brooklyn Dodgers, just as they took their orange from the New York Giants — is the only Mets-related aspect of the room.

And there’s the rub. As tremendous as the Robinson Rotunda is, it seems out of place, even indulgent, because of the lack of corresponding Mets tributes. This is not to suggest that the Mets build a similar monument for Tom Seaver. Yet the lack of balance has left many Mets fans grumbling. The Mets have a history worth celebrating, but its invisibility at Citi Field underscores the organization’s inferiority complex. Perhaps it is a great Freudian slip, Fred Wilpon saying that his team is just a poor stand-in for the Brooklyn Dodgers, the team he’d really want to own.

Share: Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via email %PRINT_TEXT


1 Raf   ~  Apr 27, 2009 4:53 pm

Wilpon has never hid his like for the Brooklyn Dodgers, so I can't say that I'm surprised at how Citi turned out.

2 PJ   ~  Apr 27, 2009 5:47 pm

[0] LOL @ your Carlin reference, Alex! Your article was very well written and truly helped someone like me experience those new places from my desktop more than 1,000 miles away!

Couple "jumbo shrimp" with the "outrage" the Mets FO had at Dwight Gooden for writing the version of his baseball autograph on the wall in the bar there, and people have the audacity to wonder why the Mets aren't taken seriously, new ballpark, or not...

I mean, it's not like Gooden was Eddie Gaedel or anything!

Truth be told, he instantly increased the value of that place by doing that, in terms of Mets History! Meanwhile, the FO pines for inclusion with the Dodgers and Giants in the same breath of NL Baseball in NYC?

I for one, am not buying it...

It's like building an A's shrine at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, paying tribute to the title teams from the early 1910's, 1929, 1930, and from Oakland in the 1970's and 1989!

Any such feeble attempts at "Revisionist History" are really quite maddening, indeed!

I mean, what's next there? Pee Wee Reese Day? Willie Mays Day? Roy Campanella Catcher's Mitt Day? Van Lingle Mungo Day? Hell, why not Hank Aaron Day there, too? I'm almost positive that he hit a home run in NY a time or two...

Apparently, there are those who imagine historic significance and/or greatness can rub off on others due to proximity!


I think I'll go stand next to the entrance gate at Isleworth Country Club in Orlando for a couple or three days, in order for Tiger Woods to cure my putting yips via proximity!

On a more dour "Carlinarian" note (sorry again Alex), why hasn't anyone mentioned the distinct probability that 50 years from now, both facilities might be 20 feet under seawater? I hope they at least have the decency to include lifejackets to their season ticket holders by then! That sort of brings new meaning to the Lifebouy ads on the walls of the parks from yesteryear, doesn't it?

: /

3 Mattpat11   ~  Apr 27, 2009 6:03 pm

Wilpon's obsession with the Brooklyn Dodgers has always been kind of funny, but this is surreal.

4 Chyll Will   ~  Apr 27, 2009 7:16 pm

[3] More like sad given that you have a whole generation of Mets fans who weren't even alive to see the last former Brooklyn Dodger play in MLB. I'd say they make up the majority of the fans who even follow the Mets now, if not the paying customers.

5 Max   ~  May 2, 2009 11:44 am

What a fabulous write up, Alex. From the time I started seeing overhead Madden and NBA-Live video game camera angles start to be implemented in sports broadcasts, I knew it would only be a matter of time before video game aesthetics would completely permeate our entertainment experiences.

Since I've never been totally into the nostalgia that major league baseball peddles (or rather, I like my nostalgia a little crooked), I suspect I'll probably enjoy the new ballparks, or at least view the experience with bemusement rather than outrage. But I do genuinely feel for regular fans who have been priced out of what they felt they had access to in the past.

feed Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via email
"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver