06/07/2010 5:20 PM ET
Megdal: Citi Field will get loud
Recent success shows Mets can have home edge
By Howard Megdal / SNY.tv
Once Citi Field develops its own sense of character and identity, fan support will grow. (AP)

Let's be frank: There haven't been many signature on-field moments at Citi Field quite yet.

But Sunday's 7-6 victory over the Marlins -- due to the dramatic nature of the comeback from five runs down as well as the crowd response -- told a very different tale of what Citi Field can be like in the years ahead.

It never struck me as particularly reasonable to think that somehow Shea Stadium, which did not appear to be infused with any magical acoustic properties, was a venue for Mets fans to make spectacularly menacing for the opposition, while Citi Field was doomed to be a place that sounded like, well, Citi Field in August 2009.

Don't get me wrong: this is no knock on Shea Stadium. I still miss the escalators that didn't always work, the underground tunnels that led to places where I knew people had celebrated every major event of my favorite team. Where I ate a hot dog, someone had once eaten a hot dog and cheered Ray Knight, had cheered Cleon Jones, had even cheered Ron Hunt.

The absence of continuity at Citi Field means the Mets need to build the tradition of the building from scratch.

As someone who remembers all of the meaningless games at Shea Stadium, (and if you are a fan of the team, I'm sure you do, too) it is interesting that others would criticize Citi Field for failing to live up to Shea at its loudest. That cannot be a fair comparison.

I went to Shea Stadium for a doubleheader back in 2002, and saw the Mets set the record for consecutive home losses. For the first game, something like 500 people were in the stands. Yes, it was a weekday afternoon, but the crowd (or lack thereof) made the back page of The Daily News.

And I remember the eerie silence of Shea as I walked out of Game 7 of the National League Championship Series back in 2006, the euphoria of Endy Chavez's catch silenced by the home run from Yadier Molina.

Those were the first sounds silences at season's end that we would later become familiar with in 2007 and 2008.

So those criticisms of Citi Field as too quiet never really worked for me. The venue is one of the things the Mets franchise has done correctly, and now that much of the nonsense surrounding the structure appears to have subsided, perhaps that will be clearer in the years to come.

While the Mets hit more home runs at Citi Field than they did on the road last year -- something that really flew in the face of the arguments to move the fences in -- the team actually has an OPS more than 100 points higher at home this year. In other words, if the team is spooked by the dimensions, they have a funny way of showing it.

Unfortunately, this success, and the corresponding winning at home (to say nothing of the Mets' futility on the road), has led to a different kind of conversation. Jerry Manuel was asked, and weighed in on, the idea that the team is somehow significantly better at Citi Field.

He did, of course. Everyone is eager to determine the difference between the 22-9 Mets of Queens and the 8-18 road warriors.

And why not? If the secret to how the home Mets' play can somehow be unlocked, the team could become similarly dominant on the road, of course. 110 wins could be soon follow.

If this sounds familiar, it should. The 2007 Mets had this problem in reverse, with a 47-34 record on the road, and a 41-40 mark at home. It was even more perplexing, really, since home field advantage is supposed to be a given.

The 2008 Mets solved the problem, dominating at home with a 48-33 record. Alas, the road woes set in, and the team went 41-40 away from Shea.

In other words, there is no magical quality imbued in Citi Field that will carry the Mets for years to come.

But Sunday provided the surest sign yet that when this team, be it this year or someday down the road, plays games as exciting as the classic Robin Ventura grand slam single game, and even Game 6 of the 1986 World Series -- it will get loud. To my daughter, Citi Field will be filled with memories as well. And as an added benefit, Shake Shack, too.

Howard Megdal is a contributor to SNY.tv, MLBTradeRumors.com and the editor of The Perpetual Post. His book, The Baseball Talmud, is available now. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/HowardMegdal.
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