Citi's top threats leave memories behind
Reynolds and Dunn shift to American League, but dents remain
NEW YORK -- Amid the bone-chilling winds that swirled in Flushing on Monday, and despite the planes taking off from LaGuardia Airport, the voice of Citi Field could be heard, sighing and whispering its gratitude. The Big Citi is safer now. The danger -- most of it, anyway -- has passed.
Come April, the Mets' home probably won't be quite so much on guard as it has been for most of its first two seasons. Unless Ike Davis returns next season with a mightier swing that produces home runs of smaller arc, there will be little that will cause the big place to duck or even flinch. The players who have landed the most powerful blows on Citi's chin and to its midsection have moved on or been transferred. Now, they're the worries of Citi's cousins Fenway, Safeco, Yankee and that Twin Cities toddler, Target.
First, Carlos Delgado limped away, and the folks who often inhabit the Pepsi Porch and its neighborhoods felt instantly safer, though somewhat disappointed.
Then, the White Sox swooped in last week and removed dangerous slugger Adam Dunn from the Nationals' arsenal. As a result, the folks who prefer seats near the Shea Bridge can breathe a tad easier now. Jayson Werth is a pretty good player, and he has legit power. But he hardly poses the threat to man, woman and scoreboard posed by Dunn's left-handed Paul Bunyon swing. Anyway, Werth's swing imperils those seated beyond in left and left-center. Dunn could hit one off the end of the bat and reach those seats.
And now it's the mightier O's who have done a favor for Citi, not to mention the Mets' too many right-handed staff. The Orioles have acquired via trade the ungodly power of Reynolds; and for nothing more than two relievers and a Double-A nuclear reactor.
You will recall that Delgado, Dunn and Reynolds have hit the longest home runs in Citi Field's brief existence, Delgado wearing the home whites and Dunn and Reynolds as visitors. Others have done some damage. Davis demonstrated uncommon power in his rookie season, but his best shots had loft. They were not the shortest distance between two points -- the batter's box and point of splashdown. They didn't have that unmistakable Sheffield-Piazza-Kingman sound, and they were not so likely to bruise an empty seat or a pair of hands foolishly placed in their paths.
Mets pitchers will still have to deal with Ryan Howard more often than they'd prefer, but Howard's Citizens Bank Bandbox swing often launches lazy-looking flies beyond left-center that are not so much a threat to spectators and Citi's pride as what Reynolds and Dunn have done.
Other sluggers who have remained in the National League could do what Dunn did. Prince Fielder has forklift power. And Mike Stanton of the Marlins has a Dunn body -- 6-foot-5, 235 pounds -- and can lift small buildings. Moreover, there's no telling when the schedule makers will have the Orioles or White Sox back in the Citi for some Interleague swings by Reynolds and Dunn. The visits may be merely three games, but Reynolds hit four home runs in his first 10 AB's at Citi when the Mets hosted the D-backs in 2009.
A refresher is provided here for those who might have missed the mightiest of the mighty anti-Mets missiles.
The Mets hadn't even given the bridge a name on April 16, 2009, when Delgado christened it and applied a borrowed imprint on the structure -- g-i-l-e-S d-u-B. He took Jake Peavy way out in the first inning of the third game at Citi. Why teammates concluded Citi would be home run-stingy had nothing to do with that drive that the website hittrackeronline.com determined traveled 445 feet.
Of course the trackers can't tell us the time lapse between contact and contact, and that's what made it so stunning.
Dunn hit his rocket against Johan Santana on May 27 that year. Amazing that the box score lists it as merely one home run. It, too, traveled rather quickly -- 2.51 New York milliseconds, give or take. In my experience, home runs hit against left-handed pitchers by left-handed hitters are most likely to travel to the outer reaches of ballparks or beyond. (See Darryl Strawberry versus Ken Dayley, St. Louis, Oct. 1, 1985.)
(Oh, the website put the distance of the home run at 447 feet, but I'm guessing that they're kinda guessing. When I'm retired, I'll read how they calculate.)
And then, there was Reynolds' home run. David Wright's buddy hit it against Brian Stokes in the ninth inning of the Mets' Aug. 1, 2009, game against the D-backs. It reached the second deck, but not that far from center field. To ask for another 15-20 feet in elevation would be tantamount to asking Yao Ming to grow. But hit 20 feet higher, that ball leaves the park, something we're not likely to see in that area. Hittracker listed Reynolds' shot as 462 feet. I gave it a "Holy Hondo" with a tip of the hat to the other Howard, Frank.
Ya see, I don't care for measured or estimated distances. That's why I appreciated Shea. Kingman's best shots disappeared into the dark and allowed the imagination to take over. That was better than 471.6 feet. Not everything in the game needs to be quantified. "Long," "really long" and "holy crap, did you see that?" long will do for me.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.