Even late in the day, when the sun is at its lowest, the shadow cast by the new Yankee Stadium in the Bronx does not reach all the way to Queens. Literally, that is. But make no mistake, when the New York Mets trot out of the dugout on April 13 to play their first game in their own new ballfield, Yankee Stadium will indeed be blotting out the sun that is the New York City media.
Even late in the day, when the sun is at its lowest, the shadow cast by the new Yankee Stadium in the Bronx does not reach all the way to Queens. Literally, that is.
But make no mistake, when the New York Mets trot out of the dugout April 13 to play their first game in their own new ballfield, Yankee Stadium will indeed be blotting out the sun that is the New York City media. It will mark the latest chorus in which the Mets play second fiddle to their more established, more successful, more ... everything crosstown rivals, the New York Yankees.
The two new venues are as different as their tenants. Yankee Stadium is all granite and limestone, a solid monument of a building reflecting the gravitas and sturdiness of the franchise. Even the name speaks of a team that is used to doing things on its own; no corporate sponsor for us, thank you.
The Mets' new park is designed to resemble the late, lamented Ebbets Field, home of the old Brooklyn Dodgers. While the Yankees revel in their history, the Mets are left to appropriate someone else's. And the name? Citi Field. The Mets, with their usual impeccable timing, managed to marry their fortunes to one of the institutions now receiving government bailout funds. There's a good omen for you.
And this figures: The Yankees have a “stadium.” Definition: A large, modern structure, with tiered seating for spectators, used for athletic games. The Mets, a “field.” Definition: Something you find behind an elementary school.
In moving into Citi Field, the Mets tore down their old home, Shea Stadium, to the despair of practically no one. Shea was a venue whose charm lie solely on the field. Sure it hosted some historic moments — the Beatles playing the first concert at a major stadium in 1965 (I wasn't there), the improbable, come-from-behind 10th inning victory in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series (I wasn't there), that streaker in 1974 who eluded security for a full two minutes in the outfield before being brought down when he couldn't scale the centerfield fence (that, I was there for) — but it offered neither comfort nor character.
But now the two teams have new homes. Yankee Stadium (projected cost, $1.6 billion) and Citi Field (projected cost: $850 million). Baseball tradition holds that the annual All-Star Game is often held in a newer stadium, so guess which venue will host this year’s mid-summer classic? (Trick question: It will be Busch Stadium in St. Louis.) The Mets haven’t hosted an All-Star Game since Shea Stadium opened in 1964.
All of of which reinforces my long-held theory that the Mets are the little brother of New York City baseball. Except for brief and all-but-inexplicable aberrations — the "Miracle Mets" of 1969; going from last place to first in the final month of the 1973 season and making the playoffs with a whopping 82-79 won-loss record; that ball rolling through Bill Buckner's legs in the 1986 World Series — the Mets are also-rans.
The Yankees, meanwhile, are the talented eldest son who effortlessly makes the honor roll year after year.
The Yankees build dynasties; the Mets build character. The Yankees have 28 players (not to mention nine managers) in the Hall of Fame; the Mets have one. Yankees fans have chips on their shoulders; Mets fans have ulcers.
Mets fans are loyal, resilient, optimistic, enjoy the excitement of uncertain outcomes and realize that life is not fair — especially to the Mets. Yankee fans are far less complicated: They enjoy the monotony of winning.
So it should come as no surprise that their new homes should reflect their relative stations in Big Apple Baseballdom. The sun shines brightly for the Bronx Bombers. Over at City Field, there's always that shadow.
Contact Daily Messenger managing editor Kevin Frisch at (585) 394-0770/Ext. 257 or by e-mail at email@example.com.