Mets fans pack Citi Field with Amazin optimism

By Joseph Staszewski

There was talk of playoffs among Mets fans as the team opened the 2015 season at Citi Field.

The Amazin’s faithful are buying into the idea their team can return to the post season for the first time since it reached the National League Championship Series in 2006. Ozone Park native Mike Palermo, who now lives in Southold, said his young son, Stephen, has only known the Mets to be a losing team. There is reason to believe that will change.

“We have a lot more in the way of expectations this year,” said Palermo. “We feel that they have the horses. They should make a wild card.”

The regular season record crowd of 43,947 was another reason to buy into that. They were treated to a gorgeous 60-degree day and a 2-0 Mets win over the Phillies at Citi Field Monday afternoon. It only continues to fuel fans belief in the organization.

“I’m probably more optimistic about this one than past years,” said Astoria native Jeff Frediani. “It seems like the team is better, more excitement.”

The victory came after the opening ceremonies where the Mets honored NYPD Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, who were shot in their patrol car last December, with a moment of silence. Their families, joined by Mayor Bill de Blasio, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. De Blasio was booed heavily by the sell out crowd.

“It was nice to have them here,” Mets starter Jacob deGrom said.

Fans were given plenty more to cheer about after that. DeGrom, last year’s NL Rookie of the Year, tossed 6.1 scoreless innings and Juan Lagares and Travis d’Arnaud each drove in runs.

Barbara Mundy of Middle Village has been going to Mets games since she was 12 years old when the team played at the Polo Grounds. The team’s pitching has her excited about what is to come this year.

“They have really good pitching, so everybody is hopeful,” Mundy said.

The Mets came into the game off a .500 road trip to start the year, which included a series win over the Washington Nationals, the defending NL East champions. Playing well against Washington, which the Mets struggled mightily with last year, and having the crosstown Yankees off to a slow start has fans believing the tide could turn in their club’s favor.

“The Yankees are not looking so hot so it’s a good year to be a Mets fan I hope,” said Long Island City resident Jon Pollack.

It’s also another good year to eat at Citi Field. The ballpark, which also saw its right centerfield fence moved in for a second time, offers new menu items. Pat LaFrieda added a meatball hero. There are flat bread sandwiches by Chef Josh Capon and bacon on a stick at Pig Guy NYC among others. Bayside resident Gina Katsoulaski, who got tickets for her birthday from her brother Anthony, was excited by the additional choices.

“I love bacon,” Katsoulaski said. “I’ll eat bacon any day of the week.”

The Mets are hoping to draw fans back to Citi Field with more than tasty treats. The Amazins feel their play will continue to produce large crowds in Flushing. The Mets have talked about making the playoffs and know its fans are hungry to see the chatter backed up.

“Our fan base said, ‘OK we are going to come and see it,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “Today I think was a big step forward for us. I hope the guys enjoyed it because we hope to fill this place again. This summer for sure.”

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