The Mets are on the road this week, and I got to hang out at Citi Field yesterday. Take a look at the following photo, and then I’ll explain:
Several weeks ago, the sports editor at the Daily News got in touch and asked if I’d contribute to a piece about how to catch baseballs at the Home Run Derby. I thought about saying no — there are certain secrets that I’d rather not share — but ultimately agreed. And here I was.
In the photo above, the young man on the left is a Daily News reporter named John. The guy on the right is a freelance photographer named Alex, who was hired for the day to accompany him. While we waited for the two-person film crew to arrive, I posed for a few photos . . . like this:
Once everyone showed up, we headed to the Hodges gate:
In the photo above, the woman looking back at me is a videographer named Lindsay. The young lady walking just behind her on the right is her assistant Taylor.
On our way to the gate, I stopped to take a quick photo of this:
It’s hard to believe that the All-Star Game is less than a month away. Who’s planning to be there? How about the Home Run Derby? I don’t have tickets yet, but I’ll probably attend both events. BIGS Sunflower Seeds is thinking about sending me, and there’s also a fan who has offered to pay for my Derby ticket in exchange for half the baseballs that I snag.
Anyway, a security guard met us at the Hodges gate . . .
. . . and has us wait inside . . .
. . . for one of the Mets P.R. guys to show up.
Several minutes later, I was holding this:
The P.R. guy, whose name is Ethan, led us inside, and I have to say that it was pretty cool to get a behind-the-scenes look at the stadium. There were construction workers milling about, groundskeepers doing all sorts of weird things to the field, random folks playing softball in the outfield, and so on. Check out the hose that was snaking through the concourse:
It was connected to this pressure washer:
I don’t know if this is interesting to you, but I *loved* seeing all this random crap sitting around. I felt like I was seeing stuff that wasn’t meant to be seen, you know?
Here’s a hose that was coiled up on a table:
In the photo above, did you notice the scaffolding in the left field seats that extends up to the second deck?
Here’s a random jug of something on a staircase:
I should explain my specific purpose for being at Citi Field: the editor wanted me to point out the five best places to catch a home run at the Derby.
I told the crew to head down to the party deck in left field. Here they are from afar . . .
. . . and here’s a photo of them from above:
I think I took more photos/videos of them than they took of me.
While Lindsay set up the camera, I noticed a crater in the warning track in left-center field:
Before long, she was ready to go . . .
. . . so we filmed the first segment.
We had to be careful and constantly look over our shoulders because of the softball players in the left field corner. Take a good look at the following photo, and you’ll see them:
One deep fly ball did indeed land on the party deck. I ran back (away from the LF corner) and nearly caught it, but got blocked by a row of stools, and to make matters worse, it bounced back onto the field so I didn’t even get to give it a toss.
John (the reporter) kindly grabbed my camera while Alex (the photographer) had me posing in various ways. Check it out:
Here’s some advice: don’t sit like that at Citi Field. You can get away with it if the team is on the road, but if you’re there for an actual game, it won’t go over too well with stadium security.
I led the crew through the center field concourse . . .
. . . toward the Shea Bridge:
In the photo above, did you notice that some of the railings are laying flat on the bridge? Look closely and you’ll see some caution tape blocking the far end. The whole thing was blocked off. I have no idea what was happening. Last time I was there, the bridge seemed fine to me. I wonder if this type of work happens all the time at Citi Field or if the Mets are simply redoing everything in preparation for the All-Star Game.
Lindsay came and filmed me . . .
. . . and then we ducked under the tape . . .
. . . and headed to the next spot.
(Actually, I skipped a spot in this entry. If you want to see my pick for the 3rd-best area for catching home runs at the Derby, you’ll have to look for the piece in the Daily News.)
We headed downstairs to the Modell’s Clubhouse . . .
. . . which was cool because I’d never been in there. Here’s the interior . . .
. . . and here’s the exterior:
This was actually my pick for the 5th-best spot. Did you see the gap between the netting and the top of the outfield wall? Home runs drop down there all the time. I’d be surprised if fewer than a dozen end up there during the Derby. Of course, it’ll be crowded as hell, and people will be climbing all over each other to snag them, but hey, that’s not my problem.
We had quite a trek to reach the last (4th-best) spot. We passed by this walkway . . .
. . . and got a peek at the service-level concourse . . .
. . . and continued here . . .
. . . and eventually reached the second deck in the left field corner. Before I show you exactly where we ended up, here’s a photo of a groundskeeper laying down some fresh sod:
Okay, so . . . have you ever seen the Acela Club at Citi Field?
Neither had I.
Devoid of personality.
Typical of stadium clubs.
Of course, sitting behind plexiglass is no way to catch home runs, but have you seen the glorious outdoor terrace? Here’s a look at one small part of it . . .
. . . and here’s the rest:
Balls rarely fly that far during the regular season, but I guarantee that it’ll be within range at the Home Run Derby. Unfortunately, because it’s located down the line, it won’t get *that* much action, but I do expect to see a bunch of balls fly up there.
By the way, are you aware that most of the “best” spots I’ve shown here are inaccessible to normal fans? That’s Citi Field for ya. The only decent areas are premium seating locations that are sold to huge groups at insane prices. If you’re trapped in the regular seats without a cross-aisle or standing room, forget about it. You pretty much have no chance.
On our way out, I took a photo of this sign in the service-level concourse:
Here’s another sign that shows the different types of media credentials . . .
. . . and here’s the visitors’ clubhouse:
I can’t wait ’til July 17th.