03.30.08

The New York Times’ Expert Panel Disses Shea. Repeatedly.

Posted in Baseball, New York, New York at 8:47 pm by

“It’s a dump,” says SNY’s Gary Cohen. “But it’s our dump”.  WFAN’s Howie Rose puts the Mets’ ballpark in further perspective : œIt™s dilapidated and obsolete, sure, but I could say the same thing about the apartment where I grew up.”  The big difference being, Rose only had to risk seeing Frank Howard naked occasionally in his family’s apartment. The New York Times’ Ben Shpigel on the pending closure of the only venue I know that’s hosted both Survival Research Laboratories and Dave Kingman, Shea Stadium.

By any objective standard, Shea is bleak and outdated. It has not aged, shall we say, gracefully, its imperfections and architectural shortcomings growing more prominent over the years, particularly as glorious baseball-only parks have sprouted around the country. Those flaws are now magnified by Citi Field, the Mets™ new home in 2009, whose beatific presence beyond Shea™s right-center-field fence prompted Ron Darling, the SportsNet New York analyst and former Met, to make this comparison: œIt™s like driving a VW bus with a Maserati in the lot.

Ron Hunt said he was particularly fond of Banner Day, now defunct, when fans marched onto the field carrying signs with often-witty slogans. His favorite? One pointing out that the Mets would be in first place if the standings were looked at upside down. Al Jackson, a pitcher on the 1964 team, said he memorized flight schedules in and out of La Guardia Airport and could tell what time it was based on which planes were flying overhead.

Darling said: œThose planes just let you know that you™re not in Norfolk or Memphis or New Orleans or wherever. This is New York City, where everyone flies into. Everyone™s flying in and out of the city that you have the privilege of playing in. That™s never been lost on me.

Even in its heyday, Shea would never win best in show in an architectural competition ” Fredric Bell, the executive director of the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects, said the stadium looked as if it had been designed on an Etch A Sketch. But when it opened a few days before the 1964 World™s Fair next door, it stood tall as a symbol of the future and a monument to progress.

œThere™s no redeeming architectural value in Shea, Bell said bluntly. œIt looks like it was built in a hurry. It™s a temporary structure that has outlasted its usefulness. It™s an expansion stadium for an expansion team and a replacement stadium for a replacement team. If Yankee Stadium is like visiting the Metropolitan Museum, then Shea is like a visit to the dentist™s chair.

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