Field of Blame
QUEENS, NY. - The New York Mets have lost two out of the first three games they have played at Citi Field, their new luxury home ballpark. And to a man, the Met players place the blame for their lackluster defense, poor starting pitching, and lack of timely hitting on a single culprit: Citi Field itself.
"There's something about the place that's not quite right, man," said rightfielder Ryan Church, whose critical misplay of a ball in the first game at Citi Field on Monday night set up the winning run. "When I went back on Rodriguez's ball in the sixth, I thought for sure I had a bead on it. Then I remembered that there's no banner in the Jackie Robinson rotunda showing Jesse Orosco flinging his glove up in the air. After that I had no chance. None."
Lefty reliever Pedro Feliciano - who inexplicably balked home the winning run shortly thereafter - agreed. "I still don't know what happened there, man. One second I'm up 0-2 on Eckstein. Then it occurs to me that there's a Jackie Robinson Rotunda, but there's no Gil Hodges Rotunda. After that, a balk was inevitable, I guess."
Pitcher Mike Pelfrey, who started Monday's game, also blamed the new ballpark for his bizarre tumble off the mound while delivering a pitch in the second inning. "It might've looked like I caught a cleat or something," he said. "Actually, I was in the middle of my wind-up when I realized that Vinny G. from Rego Park was waiting for his food in one of the 2 or 3 places in the whole park where there's no high-definition flat screen TV showing a live feed of the game. It's tough to keep your head in the game after that."
Manager Jerry Manuel, while careful to praise certain aspects of the new park, was similarly concerned. "It's tough, you know," he said. "On the one hand, you've got delicious food and drink, more comfortable seats, a better playing field, superior aesthetics, hi-def TVs, bars and lounges, and state-of-the-art amenities of all kinds. On the other hand, I couldn't find a single picture of Todd Pratt jubilantly rounding second base after his game-winning homer in the 1999 NLDS. No wonder we can't catch a fly ball right now."
Pitcher John Maine, who allowed 5 runs to the Padres in the third inning last night, was thrown by the recent allegations of less-than-perfect sightlines in Citi Field. "I was cruising along there through the first two innings, but then I suddenly realized that Joey from Ronkonkoma up in Section 404 had a somewhat obstructed view of the far right field corner. I couldn't find the strike zone after that."
Third baseman David Wright placed the blame squarely on management's failure to properly honor the team's history. "Look, it's a nice park in a lot of ways," Wright said. "But come on. Apart from the banners running along the outer concourse depicting beloved Met greats from the past, the pictures of Mr. Met welcoming you into the rotunda, the Met logos running up each and every aisle of seats, the old Shea skyline in the centerfield pavilion, the new Home Run Apple, the old Home Run Apple, and the giant "LET'S GO METS" emblazoned on top of the gorgeous hi-def scoreboard, you wouldn't even know the Mets play here at all."
"Why do you think I left 4 guys on base last night?" he added. "It's all I think about."