Thursday, August 14, 2014

Citi Field Is Becoming Nationals Park North

Bryce Harper doesn't wear clown shoes as he rounds the bases at Citi Field.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

On Thursday, the Mets dropped a 4-1 decision to the first place Washington Nationals.  It was New York’s 11th straight loss to Washington at Citi Field, a venue which has in essence served as a second home for the Nats.

It’s not just that the Mets are dropping decisions to the Nationals, it’s how they’re racking up the losses.  Let’s take a look at some of the horrifying numbers.  You might want to keep a barf bag nearby.

  • Washington has celebrated a victory in each of its last 11 games at Citi Field.  That 11-game streak of success is the longest winning streak by any team at the park, including the Mets.  The Mets' longest skein in the ballpark built for them is just nine games, accomplished from April 22 to May 8, 2010.  The Nationals' streak is also the longest of all-time by any road team in the Mets' home venue.  That includes teams that visited all the awful Mets squads that played in the Polo Grounds and Shea Stadium.
  • During the Mets’ eleven-game streak of ineptitude, they have been outscored by the Nationals, 74-21, with seven of the Mets’ 21 runs coming in one game - a 9-7 loss on March 31, 2014.  (Simple math lets us know that the Mets have scored just 14 runs in the other ten games.)  That March 31 game and last night’s 3-2 setback were the only times during the skein that the Mets lost by fewer than three runs.  I guess last night’s game would have to be considered a moral victory for the Mets, even if it was still yet another demoralizing defeat.
  • The Mets haven’t just been stinking up the joint against the Nationals in their last eleven head-to-head matchups at Citi Field.  They’ve actually lost 25 of 29 games versus Washington since September 2011.  In that time period, the Mets have played nine series against the Nats.  They’ve won just one of those series and they’ve been swept six times.  Two of those six sweeps came in four-game series.  In the 29-game stretch, New York has been outscored, 150-66.  That means the Mets have scored eight fewer runs in their last 29 home games against the Nationals than Washington has scored in their last ten versus the Mets. 
  • When Citi Field opened in 2009, the Pepsi Porch overhang was meant to evoke memories of a similar right field overhang at Tiger Stadium.  But the Nats’ bats are bringing back a different kind of Tiger Stadium memory.  Washington has outhomered the Mets, 29-5 during their 11-game rampage at Citi Field, numbers that are reminiscent of the Mets’ lone trip to Tiger Stadium in 1997, when the team hit no home runs and Detroit blasted 14 moon shots off Mets pitchers.  Are we 100% sure that Bobby Higginson isn’t the Nationals’ guest hitting coach when Washington plays in New York?
  • Speaking of long balls, Washington has homered 47 times in their last 29 games at Citi Field.  These home runs have accounted for a total of 72 runs.  Meanwhile, during those same 29 games, the Mets have managed to cross the plate via any means just 66 times (as painfully detailed two paragraphs above).  That means Washington has had a better chance of scoring at Citi Field via the home run than the Mets have had of scoring … period.  The Nationals have also scored 78 runs without the benefit of the ball leaving the park, which is just them throwing salt on the Mets’ open wound. 
  • Finally, in five of their last 15 games at Citi Field, the Nationals have smacked four homers or more.  The Mets, on the other hand, have played a total of 463 games in their home park.  How many times in those 463 contests do you think they’ve produced a four-homer game?  You guessed it.  Five times.  The Nats have done in 15 games what the Mets have struggled to do in nearly 500 affairs.

Before moving to Washington at the conclusion of the 2004 season, the Nationals/Expos franchise played its home games in Montreal.  The Expos played their inaugural game on the road at Shea Stadium in 1969.  Thirty-five years later, Shea Stadium bid adieu to Les Expos, hosting Montreal in the team’s final game before sending them off to our nation’s capital.  But apparently, the Expos/Nationals franchise still thinks of New York as its second home.  How else can one explain the Nationals’ dominance over the Mets at Citi Field in recent years?

Citigroup has the naming rights for the Mets’ home ballpark through the 2028 season.  But if you ask anyone associated with the Washington Nationals, Citi Field has already been re-christened as Nationals Park North.  After all, with 11 straight wins over the Mets in New York - the longest win streak by a road team at the Mets' home ballpark in the history of the franchise - the Nats have proven that they have a distinct road team advantage at Citi Field.

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