Quite the evening at Citi Field last night. This post may start to ramble for a while so if you want to stay for the full ride I suggest you make a trip to the rest room, grab some coffee and get a comfortable chair.
Last night was another installment of Mets Bloggers Gone Wild at Citi Field. In this episode, which by the way, SNY is making a huge mistake not taping our blogger outings at Citi Field. The reaction of me and my fellow bloggers in arms when we gain access to areas of the ball park we never thought in a million years we’d enter is priceless. I know for myself I feel like a 5 year old again and I’m at some old relatives home and my mother grabbing me by my arm imploring me to not to touch anything and mind my manners.
At the last bloggers gathering, we were invited to listen to Terry Collins pre-game press conference and we were given access to be on the field during batting practice. As the main streamers sat in the Mets dugout, Shannon Forde, the Director of Media Relations (and all around sweetheart who sets up these events) told our group we could sit in the dugout as well. What? Say that again? So into the Mets dugout we went. As hard as I tried to stay out of people’s way, I felt an arm on my shoulder and voice saying “excuse me” the arm belonged to Daniel Murphy, the shoulder was mine. I apologized for being in the way (“Oh sorry Daniel”) and Murph patted my back and said “not a problem”. So just when you think that was a best day ever, you have a day like yesterday.
My day at Citi Field started off with the bad news about David Wright and his stress fracture in his back. I arrived a bit earlier than expected and as I waited to get my credential, Shannon saw me and invited me to sit in on the Wright press conference. I told you she’s a sweetheart. As Wright spoke about the MRI and then revealed he had a stress fracture in his back from the play in April involving Carlos Lee, I wanted to yell out “oh shit” and kick the chair in front of me but I had to remember that in these situations I can’t be a fanboy. It was interesting watching the media taking notes and asking questions nice and calm, while all Mets fans receiving this news were freaking out.
As I waited for the rest of the blogger-ratzi to arrive, Caryn Rose, Kerel Cooper, Mike Silva, Matthew Artus, Rob Castellano and Ceetar, I sat near Jay Horowitz who was on his phone spreading the word that Wright was going for a second opinion on his back and relaying the successful surgeries of pitchers Chris Young and Jenry Mejia . As Horowitz got off the phone, he let out a sigh and looked over at me with a smile and said hello. I almost did one of those look over the shoulders and then point at myself as to say “you talking to me” and with a “hiya Jay, busy day eh”? he replied shaking his head “that’s for sure”
When the other bloggers arrived, we were set to start out tour of the new food products available at Citi Field and of the clubs in the ballpark.
I’ve been a critic of some of the food stands and the emphasis that is put on what to eat at the ballpark, but after meeting Scott Kleckner, Resident District Manager, Sports & Entertainment for Aramark, I have to switch my position. The enthusiasm that Kleckner has for the food concessions and clubs reminds me of how Terry Collins talks about his team. I still would rather sit in the stands at a ball game on a warm summer night with a hot dog and drink and from talking to Kelckner, he not only understands folks like me, he respects that fan mindset and wants you to be able to go to any concession stand and get the best hot dog and drink that you could possibly have. He puts his degree in Hospitality and Management to excellent use. Kleckner is proud of the quality of the food and the amenities of the clubs at Citi Field, and he should be.
Kleckner and his staff brought us around to different concessions to try some of the new food items available at Citi Field. We first went to Catch of the Day stand to sample Popcorn Shrimp and Shrimp Po’Boy ‘s. I’m not a big seafood eater but I loved the Popcorn Shrimp. The shrimp had a nice breading and wasn’t overly greasy (that was the one thing with the fried food we tried it never had a greasy taste) from there we moved to Keith’s Grill to sample the Mex Burger. This burger was put together by Keith Hernandez and consists of a Brooklyn Burger, cheddar and jack cheese, bacon, guacamole, chipotle aioli and jalapenos. That’s a spicy burger. I’m not much for spicy food so I favor the Gold Glove burger myself, which has cheese ,bacon lettuce, tomato, ketchup on one side of the roll and mustard on the other . My one problem with Keith’s Grill is they make the burgers one at time which is great but they need to add another Keith’s Grill somewhere else in the ball park. During the last home stand, my wife waited 30 minutes on the line to get four burgers; on her behalf I field a protest with Mr. Kleckner.
We then went over to Cascarino’s Pizza. This is my least favorite concession, the pizza is good (we sampled the thin Sicilian with fresh mozzarella) but I just have a tough time paying over 6 bucks for a slice. We also tried a new fried chicken sandwich at Blue Smoke which was good but a little too much on the mayo but then again any mayo is too much for me. I hate mayonnaise.
We then went to what I feel is the best new concession to taste the Hot Pastrami. WOW!!! The meat is hand carved nice and thin and very tender and seasoned to perfection. The pastrami may move ahead of the turkey and mozzarella at Mama’s of Corona as my food at choice at Citi Field.
After stuffing ourselves at the concessions we moved on to the clubs. As I say I’m not one for the stadium clubs but again I loved Scott Kleckner’s enthusiasm and passion for the product the staff puts out. Kleckner raved about the eggplant parmigiana hero in the Delta 360 Club. It was outstanding. The eggplant was just how I like it, sliced thin, seasoned and breaded nicely and not tough or stringy or mushy, and the tomato sauce had nice flavor not acidy, the roll was nice and crusty as well. You were right Scott that is a hell of a sandwich.
After all that noshing, we were set to watch the game. Shannon then informed us that we, the bloggers could sit in the press box. Yes you read that right, we, the bloggers were invited to sit in the Citi Field press box during a real live Major League game. Talk about an awkward feeling. It’s nowhere near Jackie Robinson breaking the color line I know, but never in my wildest imagination did I think I would go from a non-pants wearing , basement dwelling lunatic ranting about his favorite baseball team to having a seat in not just a Major League press box but the Citi Field press box. We all handled ourselves correctly, no cheering in the press box and when we spoke to each other it was in hushed tones as people were working. We got a few stares but the box wasn’t very crowded. The best part for me were all the stat sheet handouts they have, it reminded me of when Sal “Red Light” Messina did color on NY Ranger games on radio, he’d always slip me the media notes for the game, class all the way was Red Light.
So the state of baseball reporting survived an invasion of Mets bloggers sitting in their Ivory Tower. The bedrock of Manhattan didn’t shift, the Atlantic Ocean didn’t erupt and flood Coney Island and Jay Horowitz didn’t suffer a nervous breakdown. Now if one of the beat writers would have come over and put his arm around us, like Pee Wee Reese did to Robinson, the night would have been complete.