<!--StartFragment-->Mets management is reaching out to its core constituency more aggressively than I can remember in the quarter century I've been a season ticket holder. Last week, I was among one of the first groups invited to a season ticket holder Behind the Scenes Tour, and I thought I'd give you a photographic representation of same.But first, here's a shot of the bullpens, which are being re-oriented perpendicular to center field so both have a view of the action. No other changes are planned for the outfield wall â€“ no lowering, moving in or repainting is planned.
We then got to pose with the 1969 and 1986 World Series trophies (I'm on the right, my friend Colin in the porkpie hat on the left). We also hung a bit with Mr. Met, whose silent gestulating reminded us of Harpo Marx. With an expressive thumbs-up, he agreed he could use an air conditioner or a fan inside to cool his head inside his huge baseball head. We took a picture with â€“ him? There could have been a woman in there, I guess â€“ but as a grown up person it's a little embarrassing.
We started the actual tour on the press level, visiting the scoreboard control room â€“ everything displayed on all the scoreboards is controlled from this room. Of most interest to me is how they know the type of pitch and the speed; controllers study the pitchers so they know what pitches he throws and can then tell what pitch is thrown while the pitch speed is completely automated.
The young lad in the second picture is pushing the button that raises the home run apple in center field. The whole cycle takes 28 seconds, but they're working on speeding up the process in case by some miracle the Mets hit more back-to-back homers.We also got to visit the SNY broadcast booth named for Ralph Kiner and peaked into a couple of other broadcast booths and the lengthy press room. Behind all these facilities is the press dining room, and our guide painted a word picture of seeing Peter Gammons chowing down while chatting with Keith Hernandez. And, yes, the press has to pay for its grub.There's an auditorium overlooking the first base side of the Jackie Robinson Rotunda used for corporate gatherings and team meetings. It's available for rent, if you're interested.
We toured some luxury suites â€“ all they needed was a bed and a shower in the bathroom and I could have moved in â€“ a couple were larger than my Manhattan apartment.We then went down to the field, got to see ourselves on the video board as we wandered around the warning track in front of the Mets' dugout, then hungout in the dugout. I got a photo of myself faking a call to the bullpen, which I now consider nearly as embarrassing as my picture with Mr. Met.At the end of the dugout are the steps down to a hallway running track where pinch runners warm up, adjacent to the indoor batting cages when pinch hitters can warm up.
Just down the hall is the copious and comfy Mets' locker room. Off the locker room is the Mets game room, complete with pool tables with blue felt and what must be distracting Mets logos in the middle, flat screen HDTVs and Rock Band instruments; apparently Nelson Figueroa is quite the rock star. I can't shake the nagging feeling about how these literally plush surroundings may have introduced a degree of complacency. I kept flashing back to the scenes toward the end of Pride of Yankees
, the scene in the spartan concrete locker room filled with high school-like lockers and short three-legged stools. I've been in the locker room at old Yankee Stadium and seen Gehrig's and Ruth's lockers at the HoF in Cooperstown, and the movie depiction isn't far off. Maybe the Mets need the creature comforts removed like in Major League
to fuel some righteous indignation and re-stoke their competitive fires â€“ even if it requires voodoo.
Across the hall is sickbay (considering the misfortunes of last season, "trainer's room" seems an inadequate appelation), which seemed oddly vacant considering the action it must have seen. The beds are on the left side, the desk with the meds on the right where windows provide a view of the enormous weight room.
On the wall between sickbay and the weight room is a framed blueprint of CitiField signed by all the players. Oliver Perez's John Hancock elicited the most comments, none of them complimentary and few printable.
Our final stop was the press conference room; since we've all seen the Omar Minaya-Adam Rubin footage from there, I see no reason to post the hokey photo of me addressing a non-existent press corps. More photo embarrassment avoided.Upon entry to the stadium, we all got bright orange wristbands, which granted us a 25 percent discount at the Mets' store. Colin bought one of the new jerseys, a David Wright model. I like their look. A lot. I should have taken pictures of them and didn't think of it. Brain fart.My thanks to Mets management, regardless of their reasons, for giving us a glimpse behind the scenes.<!--EndFragment-->