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New York Mets fans armed with enthusiasm and tempered hopes for another season poured into Citi Field Monday for Opening Day.
The team finished in fourth place in the National League East and minor upgrades to a roster that won 74 games last season. But fans did not mind the laid back feeling of the afternoon.
“It’s almost like a relaxed season because there is not that much pressure on us,” said David Leslie-Skaller, a 32-year-old Bellerose native. “Expectations, I’m not going to say they are low, they are just not high …. It’s not like, ‘Oh, we got to get back at Philly or we got to take the division.’”
The Mets did grab a win on Opening Day by beating the San Diego Padres 11-2, thanks to a strong start from Jonathon Niese and 13 hits, including a grand slam from newly acquired outfielder Collin Cowgill in front of an announced crowd of 41,053 fans scattered among empty seats throughout the stadium.
“We have guys who are going to hustle,” 55-year-old Bayside resident Ray Stankes said. “They are going to play hard. You hope based on that.”
He was one of close to 900 fans sitting in centerfield all wearing orange T-shirts representing The 7 Line Army, a riff of sorts on the fabled subway from Manhattan to Flushing. Queens native Darren Meenan, who founded The 7 Line T-shirt brand along with other Mets fans, started the group, which sponsors a number of outings to which you can buy tickets online.
The group sang “Happy Birthday” to Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy, who turned 28, each time he got up. Stankes said there is a special feeling being out there.
“It’s about being a Mets fan forever,” he said. “This is what we do. We bond together, good or bad.”
Everyone in the stadium rallied behind the people honored in the opening ceremony. The Mets lined up first responders to Hurricane Sandy from multiple organizations, including the police and fire departments, around the infield grass and put Habitat for Humanity volunteers around a large pink heart in centerfield.
“We honor these heroes and their selfless efforts here on our field,” longtime Mets radio voice Howie Rose said during the ceremony.
One of those people was firefighter and Breezy Point resident Kevin Adams. The 42-year-old helped start a program called Operation Gut and Pump that cleaned out more than 600 homes in Breezy Point after the hurricane hit.
To him it was a moment to appreciate all of those who helped out. Adams enjoyed standing on the field as Mets legend Rusty Staub threw out the first pitch and actress Emmy Rossum, of Showtime’s “Shameless,” along with the Scholars Academy choir, sang the national anthem.
“To be able to go on the field, it’s just a little thank you,” Adams said. “It’s a very nice gesture from the Mets.”
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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