Two stadiums in one day: A New York baseball adventure
Believe it or not, some cities have more than one Major League team. We know, it's bananas.
Our two New York-based Real-Time Correspondents, Matt Latimer (who usually covers the Yankees) and Andrew Harts (our man with the Mets) decided to bathe themselves in baseball nirvana on Thursday: two stadiums, two games, two boroughs -- all in one day. This is their story.
Game 1: Dodgers vs. Mets at Citi Field
Comin' to your Citi
Matt: Grabbed my morning essentials (coffee and a bagel) and I'm officially ready to embark on a day filled with New York baseball.
It wouldn't be NYC without traffic, and of course I sat in bumper-to-bumper on the George Washington Bridge. All clear from there and the ride in on Grand Central Parkway was smooth.
When I got to the park, I was disappointed to see that no batting practice was taking place. Pretty standard for a day game after a night game, but still not the greatest news.
Andrew: It's a beautiful Thursday morning in Queens without a cloud in the sky, as I can see Flushing Meadows Park from my apartment in Woodside. Living by the 7 train has its perks, and one is that it only takes about 20 minutes to get to Citi Field. Time to rack up some serious subway miles today.
I arrived at Citi Field a little before 11 a.m. It's always a good sign when there are no major winds blowing and the sky is clear for a ballgame. The iconic facade around the stadium takes any ballpark fanatic -- or old-time Dodgers fan -- back to 55 Sullivan Place in Brooklyn. Citi pays homage to the Mets' New York predecessors by referencing Ebbets Field's exterior and the green seats from the Polo Grounds.
I also personally love the tibute they payed Shea Stadium by keeping the home run apple beyond the blue and orange wall in center field. There's also the Pepsi Porch, a tip of the cap to the iconic Pepsi Cola sign that sat along the East River. As someone who grew up in Queens, it's nice to see those subtle elements in the current park.
The fan perspective
Matt: The fans here at Citi Field seem to enjoy a more laid back environment than at Yankee Stadium. One fan sporting a Yankees jersey said he finds it easier to park, tailgate and find a good seat at Citi. He enjoys the friendliness of the ballpark and says he comes to Mets games often despite his Yankees allegiance.
A Mets superfan named Vernon (AKA "Koooler") commented that "Yankee Stadium is just Yankee Stadium. Citi Field is a place to enjoy. It's really for family, and fun baseball.".
Let's do lunch
Andrew: The food options at Citi Field are almost endless. I'm pretty sure you could come to all 81 Mets home games this year and still not eat everything in the ballpark.
Two Boots Pizza and Pat LaFrieda's steak sandwiches are great, but those aren't even the highlights here. The eats to beat are found at Shake Shack in center field.
Lines are lengthy, but Brittany Zigrosser of Bay Port was among many fans who said that it's worth the wait for a Shack Burger, a vanilla shake and a beer.
Time for a Mets history lesson
Andrew: The Mets do a nice job of incorporating their Mets Hall of Fame into the team museum at Citi. Of course you can learn about all the great Amazin' players, but the real star is Mr. Met's original 1962 costume.
Oh right, the game
Jeremy Hefner and Hyun-Jin Ryu dueled for seven innings and Ike Davis' ninth-inning solo shot added late drama, but the Dodgers beat the Mets, 3-2.
Game 2: Blue Jays vs. Yankees at Yankee Stadium
On to the next borough
Andrew: Anyone can drive from Queens to the Bronx, but taking the train from Willets Point to 161st Street is a different experience. Knowing that these are some of the same railways that once took fans to Shea and the old Yankee Stadium is definitely cool, and nobody should take New York's public transportation for granted -- especially during weekday rush hour.
Once you arrive at Yankee Stadium, there's no mistaking who plays here. Although it's technically not the same ballpark that Ruth, Dimaggio and Berra once roamed, the Yankees aren't shy about acknowledging their former greats. That begins with the grand pageantry of the Great Hall.
Matt: After the 45-minute subway ride, I finally arrived at the ballpark in the Bronx. After catching most of Blue Jays batting practice, it's time to check out what what the Yankees do best: history.
The "Great Hall" is an open concourse lined with tall banners of Yankee greats.What better way for fans to enter the park than seeing Lou Gehrig and Mickey Mantle? The Hall is filled with vendors ranging from Yankees perfume to chicken parm sandwiches but is still extremely convenient to navigate.
The fan perspective, part II
Matt: The Yankee Stadium atmosphere is what makes fans love this place. Large, raucus crowds make for a great stadium experience.
This park is a Yankee fan's dream. You can't walk five feet without seeing something related Babe Rurh, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra ... you get the point. Of course, Monument Park and the Yankees Museum are always popular attractions at the Stadium.
Fans here are passionate, and Yankee Stadium caters to what they want. Bald Vinny Milano, leader of the Bleacher Creatures, lives for the Bronx vibe: "The atmosphere here is absolutely electric, whether we're playing the Blue Jays on a Thursday night or its the World Series in October."
Andrew: The iconic Bleacher Creatures out in right field are the heartbeat of Yankee Stadium. Manny and Juan, the two fans who were at Citi Field earlier, also came along to Yankee Stadium and decided to sit with the Creatures. Juan -- still sporting his Mets gear -- was smart to keep a low profile and even admitted to enjoying the experience at his second game of the day. Unsurprisingly, both he and Manny stood by their respective home parks after taking in both experiences.
Andrew: Like Citi Field, Yankee Stadim has a plethora of food options. But the overwhelming favorite here is the Lobel's steak sandwich. The sandwich stand has it's own chop shop right next door so you can see exactly where your meat is coming from. While the line can be just as lengthy as Citi Field's Shake Shack, it's well worth the wait.
A little more history
Andrew: The New York Yankees Museum, although smaller than the Mets version at Citi, certainly packs a punch. With Thurman Munson's original locker from the old Yankee Stadium and the Yankees' last seven championship trophies on display, it's certainly a sight to see.
The museum also includes game-used memorabilia from some of baseball's most iconic players, including Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. It's a must-hit stop for not just Yankee fans, but for baseball fans in general.
Plaques mark the spot
Andrew: Having a piece of the old stadium frieze in a public park near the new ballyard is a great way for the Yankees to recognize what once stood on that hallowed ground. There are also various plaques indicating signature moments in the old Yankee Stadium's history.
Citi Field uses the iconic home run apple from Shea Stadium as a landmark for nostalgic fans, and the Mets also have plaques marking the location of where each each base once rested on the Shea infield.
A win for the home team
Hiroki Kuroda buckled down after a shaky start and the Yanks got the long ball working before handing the ball to Mariano Rivera in a 5-3 win over the Blue Jays.
Matt: After another long subway ride, I finally arrived back at Citi Field to get my car and drive home. I was able to see both New York ballparks in one day and see the history of both legendary franchises -- not to mention two great ballgames. What a day.
Andrew: Although it was a long day, it was certainly a memorable one. I thought Citi Field came across as a more fan-friendly environment with a more intimate feel. But Yankee Stadium has a very grand feel to it -- much more pomp and circumstance.
Both parks have ample personality, with the Bleacher Creatures doing Roll Call and the Mets' honoring their legacy in Queens.
Whether you're a Yankees fan, a Mets fan or just a fan of baseball both parks are true Major League gems.