The New York Mets' first season at Citi Field led to an outcry among fans, who bemoaned more than the team's on-the-field play while it posted 92 losses.
Although the $800 million ballpark generally received positive reviews for its intimacy compared with the cathedral to excess that rose in the Bronx, the stadium still gnawed at the Flushing faithful. The issue: Citi Field seemed more dedicated to principal owner Fred Wilpon's beloved Brooklyn Dodgers than it did to actual Mets history.
Responding to the negativity, the Mets have made several changes for 2010.
The alterations are highlighted by a Mets Hall of Fame, which greets fans near the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. (Yes, Robinson is a revered baseball pioneer, but he also was a Dodger during his trailblazing career, which spanned from 1947 to 1956. Making an Ebbets Field-style rotunda as the primary entryway and naming it after Robinson did rub some Mets fans the wrong way.)
The Hall of Fame -- which technically existed at Shea Stadium, although it had been in mothballs for years with no new inductees -- includes plaques honoring 21 already enshrined members. Four more entrants, all from the 1986 glory days, will be installed during an Aug. 1 ceremony: Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, then-manager Davey Johnson and then-GM Frank Cashen. Team officials say Gooden's induction is still planned despite his recent arrest for driving under the influence of drugs in New Jersey.
Other features of the Hall of Fame include the 1969 and 1986 World Series trophies, Tom Seaver's 1969 Cy Young Award, Keith Hernandez's 1987 Gold Glove Award and the baseball hit by Mookie Wilson that squirted past Bill Buckner in the 1986 World Series.
Enhancements to the ballpark to make it more Mets-centric also include: the original Home Run Apple from Shea Stadium getting a more prominent residence in front of the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, the renaming of the Ebbets Club as the Champions Club and more pictures of Mets players throughout the stadium.
The players also will feel an impact of stadium changes -- although only modestly. After the Mets hit the fewest home runs in the majors last season, team officials opted to leave the stadium's spacious dimensions intact. Still, they decided to lower the center-field wall directly in front of the newly commissioned Home Run Apple. The wall was lowered from 16 feet to 8 feet.
Also, after widespread complaints from visiting teams last year, the bullpens have been reconfigured. Originally, the visiting relievers had a significantly obstructed view of the field because they were located behind the home bullpen and had to peer through two fences in right-center. Now, the bullpens will be side-by-side.