Recap - Mets 7, Phillies 4
Game 3 of the journey was actually a Mother’s day gift to my friend Diane from her son Luke. Luke’s ‘gift’ was to have me buy tickets for us all to see the game!
It was actually a picture perfect Sunday afternoon for baseball and I was happy to buy the tickets and take the 2 hour drive down the NJ turnpike into the ‘City of Brotherly Love’ to see the Phils take on my beloved Mets. For the game, we all donned our Met gear. Given the ‘unpredictable’ nature of Phillies fans, that was a risky thing to do. But this was a Sunday afternoon Mother’s day crowd, so there were no issues. If it were a Saturday night game however, who knows?
Opened in 2004, Citizens Bank Park (CBP) is located right off I-95 and the AC expressway in part of a sports complex that includes the Eagles home stadium , Lincoln Financial Field and Wachovia Center, home of the 76ers and Flyers. It's all a pretty far hike from downtown Philly surrounded by a sea of concrete and asphalt. The trend of downtown ballparks (Progressive, Comerica, Camden Yards, etc.) has been met with great fan acceptance and neighborhood revitalization, so the fact that they build CBP where they did was a bit surprising and disappointing for many fans.
The park is aesthetically pleasing in and out. There are many statues of former great players outside the park including Mike Schmidt , Steve Carlton and Robin Roberts by the main gates.The flow of fan traffic into the stadium was really easy and the presence of stadium attendants inside the concourse was great. It was nice to see that there were plenty of others wearing Mets colors at the park.
The CBP bullpens are stacked on each other (similar to Baltimore’s Camden Yards). The visitors pen borders along the concourse allowing close interaction with the (not always so friendly or censored) Philly fans.
A feature that I really love in the park is the 40 foot neon Liberty Bell in right field above Ashburn Alley that lights up , ‘swings’ back and forth and rings (pretty loudly) every time a Phillies player hits one out.
The most popular and notable feature of the park is Ashburn Alley, a 600+ foot run from beyond right field to left-center field with an impressive assortment of attractions and eateries. The alley, named after one of the great figures in Phillies history, former great player and broadcaster Richie Ashburn is typically packed with enthused and imbibed fans before and after games. A statue of Ashburn can be found in the alley. Granite markers featuring Phillies All-Stars since the first All-Star Game in 1933 are on display along the alley.
One of the more popular eateries is Bull’s BBQ, named after and often manned by former Phillies slugger Greg “The Bull” Luzinski. While this is a nice addition to the park, it is pretty much a clean rip-off of Boog Powell’s BBQ at Camden Yards. Two other Philadelphia staples have food stands in the alley - Tony Luke’s, home of those legendary roast-pork sandwiches and Geno’s Cheesesteaks. One of the most popular sandwiches in the park is The Schmitter (which you can get at Harry the K’s. Harry the K’s, named after legendary Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas, is a two-tier, full service sit down restaurant where you can enjoy your meal while watching the game. The wait to get a table is typically over an hour for most games though. McFadden’s Restaurant & Saloon is accessible from outside the park and is open year round (including well after the end of the game) and usually attracts a good crowd. One of my favorite treats at CBP is Turkey Hill Graham Slam Ice Cream.
The Phils jumped out to a 2-1 lead but the Mets scored 2 runs in the 5th, 6th and 8th including a Curtis Granderson 2 run shot which was more than enough to get the 40 year old Bartolo Colon his league leading 6th win of the season.
There are so many fun things to do in Philly - Museum Row, The Rocky Steps, Reading Terminal, South Street, the Historic District, The Zoo, etc. - but this was just a day trip for us. We wanted to beat the crowd out the gate and head back up I-76 East over the Ben Franklin Bridge to NJ before it got too crowded.
My first road trip of the year is coming up at the end of the month and I'm really looking forward to it.
Fans - B - Philly fans are not known for their warmth and hospitality (The Eagle fans actually booed Santa Claus and pelted him with snowballs in a game in 1968) but they were actually behaving better than usual. Maybe because of the Sunday matinee and Mother’s Day
Features - B+ - Ashburn Alley, The ‘Liberty Bell’, The Statues, A great team store and of course, The Phanatic
Location – C - Close proximity to town, but not close enough! Skyline is only visible from the upper deck. Stadium, is surrounded by a sea of concrete and asphalt.
Food – B+ - Tony Luke's, Harry The K’s, The Schmiddter and Turkey Hill Graham Slam!
Game - B - Gorgeous weather. The teams all decked out in pink trim for Mother's Day. The ageless Bartolo Colon wins his league leading 6th game for my beloved Mets
Overall Experience – B