After three frustrating seasons in Citi Field which really had nothing to do with the fences and everything to do with the team, the Mets announced yesterday that they will make major alterations to the fences this winter.
New sections of an outfield wall will stand in front of the deepest and quirkiest parts of the existing walls to create a uniform, eight-foot home run line from corner-to-corner. Howie Rose’s "Great Wall of Flushing" will merely be a backdrop to the new fence in left field, the 415-foot gap in right-center field will be no more, and the unnecessarily odd Mo’s Zone will be eliminated. And to top it all off, the Mets are painting the new fence blue.
The most important thing about the changes is that they will obviously have an impact on the game of baseball as it is played in Citi Field. Home runs will be easier to come by, though no one can really be sure how much easier. Sandy Alderson said a couple months ago that he’d like the park to be middle-of-the-pack in home runs per game, and the announced changes in dimensions make plenty of sense towards achieving that goal. Citi Field should by no means turn into a launching pad for home runs.
To whatever extent hitters benefit, pitchers will suffer the consequences, but the Mets’ pitching staff - whoever that may be on Opening Day - should probably not be alarmed. Allowing another home run or two over the course of a season should not make or break any member of the rotation or the bullpen.
Generally speaking, an added bonus of the new walls is that outfielders will have a chance to rob any close-call home runs from opposing hitters. That may not be an enjoyable thing to watch with Jason Bay and Lucas Duda manning the corners, but Mets fans are obviously familiar with just how exciting it can be to watch someone rob a home run. It’s a part of the game that was virtually non-existent in the first three years at Citi Field.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of the changes to the fence is that we’ll no longer have to endure hearing things like, "Jason Bay would rather play in Beiruit." As James Kannengiesr put it on Twitter, "so will [generic flyball pitcher] no longer be a perfect fit at Citi Field?" I’d imagine the changes in the park will be credited or blamed with some changes in performance, but the constant suggestion that the mere thought of Citi Field is what destroyed the Mets’ power hitters should eventually fade away.
From a fan’s perspective, the installation of new seats in left field is good news, assuming the Mets allow fans to hang out there during batting practice. I’m sure the seats will be priced at a premium - "Left Field Landing Double Platinum" sounds about right - for those who wish to sit there during a game, but if you’re in the mood to yell at Jason Bay all day or just want to feel like you’re sitting on top of the field of play, these will be your new favorite seats.
All in all, it’s a job well done by the Mets. The announced changes will make life easier for hitters but shouldn’t destroy pitchers, and fans who so desperately wanted to see changes in the layout or color of the outfield wall should be satisfied, too, at least for a few minutes.