5 Steps to Turning Citi Field into an Intimidating Atmosphere for Opponents
Four teams in Major League Baseball won more games on the road than they did at home over the course of the 2012 season.
Terry Collins' saw his team finish 36-45 at Citi Field, a record that is inexcusable and unacceptable for a team playing in New York.
Despite the fences being moved in prior to the season, the Mets were unable to generate much offense in Queens.
Something needs to be done about the poor play at home or nobody is going to buy tickets, meaning it could be awhile before the franchise climbs out of its financial hole.
Enough of the doom and gloom, though, here are five steps to turning Citi Field into an intimidating atmosphere for opponents.
Make It More Mets
I understand the concept of the Jackie Robinson rotunda. The organization wanted to pay tribute to one of the most influential icons in sports history.
Unfortunately, Robinson never played for the franchise.
It just doesn't make any sense to me. Those leading the design and construction of Citi Field should have used that opportunity to fill the entire stadium with pieces of New York Mets lore, not an eight-foot-tall No. 42.
As usual, fans can blame Fred Wilpon for yet another bad idea. According to the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin, the owner is at fault:
The Mets, who had been in existence for almost a half century, were virtually ignored in their own home. “All the Dodger stuff—that was an error of judgment on my part,” Wilpon told me.
There needs to be more Mets decor, and the Hall of Fame and Museum that serves as a convenient side show to the rotunda isn't enough.
(Side Note: Why are the seats not blue and orange?)
Push the Fences Back
This step may come off as strange, but the New York Mets aren't going to garner the reputation of a home run-hitting team anytime soon.
For now, the organization is going to have to send out high-quality pitchers and hope that the offense can scrape together two or three runs a night.
Josh Hamilton certainly won't be coming to town in free agency this offseason, and no other big-name free agents will be either. It is likely that the Mets are going to field a team nearly identical to the lineup that we saw this season.
Opponents would have a harder time getting themselves into the right mental state if they returned to Flushing to see the fences returned to their original distances.
Is this plausible? Who knows.
Would it help? Yes.
Lower Ticket Prices
Prior to the 2012 season, the average price of a ticket to a New York Mets game bottomed out at $27.24 (via fancostexperience.com).
While that was down nearly five percent from 2011, it was still among the highest in the league. Obviously, it is easy to charge inordinate amounts of money for access to a ballpark when you are a big-market team, but the Mets don't play like a big-market team.
If the organization wants more butts in the seats come Opening Day 2013, it will have to drop ticket prices even lower—at least until the team is watchable.
There is something inherently wrong with charging nearly $30 to watch a team that is near minor-league caliber.
Encourage Fan Rowdiness
The New York Mets need any kind of decided advantage that they can get, and the fans could provide that advantage.
I'm not encouraging anytime type of physical or verbal abuse, but Mets fans need to step their game up when Opening Day 2013 rolls around. This team obviously couldn't help itself this year, so the fans need to act as a third party that comes in and goes crazy for three hours of mediocre baseball.
It's a hard task, I know. Some would rather watch paint dry than Mets baseball, but fan support is crucial to a baseball team's success.
Shea Stadium faithful were there to answer the call in 2006 and 2007, and need to be around during the bad times as well.
You can't blame Mets fans for not going to games toward the end of this season. They can't be blamed for declining to watch a team that scored about once a week at home during the entire second half.
Citi Field has never been rocking like Shea was in 2006, and next year is a great time to start.
No matter what alterations could be made to Citi Field, opposing players aren't going to be afraid to play at the stadium unless the New York Mets get better.
There could be more Mets memorabilia. The fences could be pushed back. Ticket prices could be lower. Rabid fan behavior could be encouraged. But nobody is afraid of the Mets at home or on the road.
Look at the Oakland Raiders for example. Their fans are absolutely bonkers and downright scary, but nobody in the NFL is afraid to play in Oakland because the team just isn't scary.
Throughout the second half of the season, teams came to Citi Field knowing that they had a better chance of winning the series than losing it.
It shouldn't be like that.
The team needs to get better—now—or else we'll be looking at another ugly season in 2013.
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