Hurricane forces Mets to postpone 2 games
Linda Denman walked up to Citi Field and right away noticed something different - new 4-foot-high steel flood gates, running along one entire side of the ballpark.
''I said, 'They're getting ready,''' she said Friday night.
With Hurricane Irene bearing down on the metro area, Major League Baseball was taking no chances, either. The games between the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets scheduled for Saturday and Sunday were postponed, rescheduled as a single-admission doubleheader on Sept. 8 beginning at 4:10 p.m.
''It's not something to mess with,'' Mets manager Terry Collins said.
Collins, in fact, planned to get in his car Saturday morning and drive west. Destination, unknown.
''I'm getting out,'' he said.
The Mets aren't scheduled to play again until Monday, when they host a doubleheader against Florida. The Braves were set to fly back to Atlanta after Friday night's game, and were off until Tuesday night's home game against Washington.
Several of the Mets checked into whether they could actually ride out the storm inside Citi Field, staying at the stadium during the weekend. The team decided against that, and said it would find hotel rooms for any players who needed them.
Pitcher Dillon Gee and catcher Josh Thole planned to spend the next couple of days in Binghamton, in upstate New York. Thole's wife is from that area, where the Mets have their Double-A affiliate.
''If it was just me, I'd stay,'' Gee said. ''But my wife is scared, so we're leaving.''
Catcher Mike Nickeas is currently staying at a hotel in Times Square, and was considering his options.
''We're not in an evacuation zone, so we'll see,'' he said. ''I'm sure they'll tell us what we should do.''
Before Friday night's game, a note was posted on the center-field video board telling fans about the weekend postponements.
The Braves hold a big lead in the NL wild-card race and speedy center fielder Michael Bourn knew how he'd spend the next few days.
''Getting rest is always a good thing,'' he said. ''I'm just going to take it easy and relax.''
Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez planned to hold a workout at Turner Field, probably on Sunday. Having three straight days off at this point in the season, he said, was unusual.
''People think, 'Oh, it's the All-Star break. But you kind of prepare for that,'' he said. ''This is different.''
Different, just like those flood gates that workmen were still assembling at Citi Field as gametime approached. As music played inside the park during batting practice, the sounds of drills whirred outside.
Even though the New York Yankees were scheduled to play this weekend in Baltimore, they made a change in the Bronx. They announced the ticket office at Yankee Stadium would be closed during the weekend.
With Flushing Bay only a few long fly balls from Citi Field, the Mets were taking precautions to protect against any possible storm surge.
The flood gates come in seven separate panels and were being put in place for the first time at the 3-year-old park. They stood up against the stadium's outer wall, running the whole length of the right-field side, across the street from a row of auto body shops.
Gregory Denman, from Fair Lawn, N.J., came to the game wearing his Mets hat and a Tom Seaver team jersey. He had tickets for Sunday's postponed game, and figured he'd redeem them for something next season.
At first, he didn't notice the new flood gates. ''It's interesting,'' he said, studying them more closely.
His wife, Linda, spotted them quickly.
''I think that's smart,'' she said.