First Impressions of Citi Field

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I made the trek up the East Coast this weekend to see the Mets’ road
spring training lineup take on Josh Johnson and the Marlins. With the
exception of Fernando Martinez’s first hit, double and RBI, there
wasn’t much to crow about as the Marlins won the game handily 7-3.
However, Saturday marked my first chance to catch a game at Citi Field.
So besides telling you that braving the line at Shake Shack is worth
it, here are a couple initial impressions which may or may not be
original thoughts.

1) The Fanwalk is cool: In
2007, fans had an opportunity to purchase engraved bricks with a
customized message that would sit on the plaza outside the entrance to
the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. I had no idea how cool this would be until
I saw it and now I regret not getting one. For a stadium that is
largely a building at this point and not a “Mets” building, the brick
walkway puts a real personal touch on the history of the franchise and
their fans.

2) The Jackie Robinson Rotunda is underwhelming:
I’m all for Jackie Robinson. Aside from Michael Jordan, he was my
favorite person to write a biography about in elementary school. I
completely understand the impact he has had on our game, but the
grandiosity of the rotunda was lost on me. Do you really want the first
thing people see when they walk in a Mets’ ballpark to be a person in a
Dodgers’ uniform? Where’s the Mark Carreon Rotunda? Give me some
history! The whole thing left me feeling cold.

3) Lack of foul territory:
Sure there are the obvious quirks of the fences, cut-outs and all, and
The Pepsi Porch that hangs over the playing field, which is where I
sat, but there is considerably less foul territory here as opposed to
Shea Stadium. It’s one thing to see it on television, but it’s hard to
feel the gravity of it until seeing it in person. For all the talk
about this being a pitchers’ park, opposing batters will certainly get
a few extra swings here. I suppose it counter-balances in some weird
way. As for down the lines, I can’t wait to see a “Bartman moment” in
this place. It’s bound to happen. You know, probably on October 4th
against the Astros with the Phillies and Mets deadlocked in first
place.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.