It may be for three days, but New York is a three-team baseball town again as the Tampa Bay Rays are playing their series against the Yankees at Citi Field, due to Tropicana Field being unavailable due to Hurricane Irma.
It was rather surreal seeing the two American League rivals set up shop at Citi, which is still decked out in Mets colors. It’s almost like if two college teams rented the stadium for the day. You get a bigger crowd, but it just looks out of place.
The crowd – obviously pro-Yankee – filled the lower field level as the upper two decks were closed. That also gave it the collegiate look, or maybe a cynic would say to make the Rays feel right at home.
“You wouldn’t draw up a home game in New York against the Yankees in a wild-card chase,” Rays outfielder Steven Souza Jr. said. “We’re just thankful to have a place to play.”
With an advanced sale of 14,000 tickets sold, the filled lower deck was lively, especially for a makeup game like this. Usually games in “neutral” locations on short notice get very sparse crowds, but this one had the feel of a major league game, even though 99 percent of the crowd were for visitors today.
The Rays, though, are thankful to be able to play the game and gave credit to the Mets for being so accommodating. A music festival this weekend closed the parking lot and a trade show was being set up in the Foxwoods Club, so the Mets could have punted on this and have the Yankees fly to Dodger Stadium – the only other MLB park available – to have these games played.
But they didn’t and New York now has three teams in its five boroughs, which harkens back to the days of the Dodgers and Giants joining the Yankees in our great city.
And if 14,000, $25.00 tickets can be sold on two days’ notice, you need to wonder if the Yankees have their stadium overpriced. Since they moved across the street, New Yankee Stadium was criticized for pricing out the average fan.
Not today, where the skinflint price can get you right behind the dugout. And for an important series too, as the Rays are fighting for one of the Wild Card slots and the Yankees want to keep theirs.
And that’s a good thing, especially today, the 16th anniversary of the events of Sep. 11, 2001. A scheduling adnominally had both the Mets and Yankees on the road for today, which was a shame because of everything baseball did to help heal this city.
This, though corrected the situation. Unfortunately, MLB no longer wears special caps and uniforms on this day, and the Mets no longer don the caps of the first responders.
In the future, you hope something will be done to correct that. However, the left field ramps gave a great view of the Towers of Light.
In the meantime, the home team Rays will be playing in Queens until Wednesday and then they will go home and access the damage of Irma. Early reports say the damage in Tampa is minor, which is something we all can be thankful.