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Andy Ostroy Headshot

Citi Field, Shmiti Field -- I Want Shea Back

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So in just a few short days the New York Mets baseball team will have its first 2009 home game in its brand-new stadium, Citi Field. Though many of my Metsy friends are ecstatic and can't wait to pay the higher ticket prices, I say bah-humbug. I could care less about the new park and have no intention of ever going. Ok, that's me belly-aching today, and I'm sure there'll be a game or two I'm dragged to, but my heart just ain't in it. In fact, I find the whole commercial motivation behind Shea's demise offensive and disheartening.

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For the record, I have been a mad-crazy Mets fan for 40 years ever since Cleon Jones, Tommie Agee, Tom Seaver, Buddy Harrelson, Jerry Koosman and my favorite, No 22, first-baseman Donn Clendenon, were among the "Amazin's" who gave us that miracle season in '69. I never looked back. Which is why I feel tearing down Shea was sacrilegious.

Baseball is America's pastime. It's how and where lifetime memories are made. Memories that include family, friends and co-workers. What's baseball without a strong sense of nostalgia? Will any of us be able to peer across Citi Field and remember their first game with mom and dad? Will any of us be able to spot the seats we sat in the first time we went to a game alone with our teenage pals? Or that great date we were on? Or the night out with the office boys? Or the annual games with our childhood friends? Or when we took our own sons and daughters for their first game? Or what about sitting in a place that saw two incredible World Series Championships? Or where those four kids from Liverpool created musical history? That's what Shea means to me. Citi Field, you say? No thanks.

Yes, baseball is apple pie. It's not sushi or some trendy gourmet Danny Meyer restaurant. It's about enjoying the game, not shopping is some new ritzy store. Baseball is an American tradition for the masses. It's supposed to be where a family of four can spend a glorious summer afternoon without needing an AIG-like bonus. Those days are gone.

Call me crazy, but I like life simple. For me, happiness was a hot dog, a cold beer, sunshine and my Shea memories. I enjoyed the crappy seats, the bad angles, the lousy food, the joy that was orange and blue. All I needed was my Shea and my Mets.

Adding insult to injury, couldn't they have at least kept the name Shea instead of bestowing this honor on some near-bankrupt, TARP-fund-guzzling dinosaur? Citicorp will be shelling out $400 million over 20 years for the right to hang its tarnished shingle over the new stadium. To me, a life-long Mets fan and taxpayer whose money is part of Citi's $45 billion government bailout, it all just stinks.