New York City loves nothing more than a good rivalry. And everyone here has an opinion about everything.
Is the best food in Queens or Brooklyn? The best art scene uptown or downtown? The best neighborhood the West Village or Jackson Heights?
While we won’t dare to take a side on these existential questions, we’ll never get tired of the way New Yorkers argue over them. Because in New York City, a passionately held opinion is as important as a good slice of pizza.
The same tribal logic applies to NYC’s major-league baseball teams: as a New Yorker, you must decide where your loyalties lie. So is it gonna be the Yankees or the Mets? We’ve turned it over to a die-hard fan of each team to go at it.
The Bronx Bombers will rule forever
Freelance sports writer Dan Keegan is a lifelong baseball fan who has attended games all over the country, usually in New York City, where he lives. While his father was a Yankees fan, Dan is from Washington, DC, and roots for his hometown Washington Nationals.
If you can only attend one Major League Baseball event in New York City, it must be a Yankees game. You can expect far richer baseball history and a better overall experience than at the Mets, not to mention a wider variety of food and drink options before (or after) attending the game.
Baseball history is New York City history, and the New York Yankees live at that intersection. New York is where Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, where Willie Mays patrolled center field, where Lou Gehrig was the luckiest man on the face of the Earth, where Reggie Jackson became Mr October, where Derek Jeter homered in November, where George W Bush threw the first pitch of the World Series after 9/11.
That history comes alive when you attend a game at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, even if its current incarnation is a bit removed from The House That Ruth Built. Open since 2009, it borrows many of the iconic elements of the stadium that played host to Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth Joe DiMaggio, such as the limestone facade, the ivory frieze circling the grandstand and Monument Park.
This last feature is one of two main attractions inside Yankee Stadium where you can take in the franchise’s towering legacy within the world of baseball. This collection of plaques honors Yankee greats (it was actually in the field of play at the old stadium until 1974), and it’s hallowed ground for Yankee partisans. A cherished memory I hold is taking my father to Monument Park in 2008, and witnessing him see the plaque of Joe DiMaggio, his childhood favorite. (Note that Monument Park access closes 45 minutes prior to the start of the game.)
The other is the Yankees Museum, which stays open during every game through the eighth inning. Here, you’ll find a wide variety of franchise memorabilia, including seven (out of the 27) World Series championship trophies won by the Bronx Bombers.
During the game, you can stretch your legs by sampling one of the many appealing concessions (mostly NYC businesses) at the stadium, like Mighty Quinn’s barbecue, Streetbird fried chicken, Sumo Dog and Halal Guys. If you’re more inclined to eat and drink outside, the neighboring blocks offer many more options than the barren area around Citi Field. Yankee Tavern has been open since 1927, and claims Lou Gehrig, Yogi Berra and even Babe Ruth as postgame patrons. Stan’s Sports Bar is the new kid on the block – it opened in 1979 – but is equally venerated. Be warned: these places will be packed wall-to-wall leading up to first pitch. But if you can stand the crowd, these are the bucket-list experiences for any Yankees fan.
If you have to choose between attending one of the two major league games in town, there’s no contest. The Yankees are pretty used to winning – and they win this one hands-down.
Let’s go Mets!
Tim Donnelly is a New York City journalist, failed Little League outfielder and long-suffering Mets fan who enjoys chilling out on lazy summer days at Citi Field. He therefore has mixed emotions about the new pitch clock.
Visitors to the home of the Mets not only enter a parthenon of baseball in New York City. They’re witnessing a monument to the greatness of the sport itself.
Outside the stadium, fans are greeted by a statue of Mets legend Tom Seaver, erected in 2022. Upon entering Citi Field, the Queens ballpark that replaced the dumpy but beloved Shea Stadium in 2009, visitors walk through a majestic space dedicated to one of the sports’ greatest heroes: the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. The area is full of images of the player that broke baseball’s color barrier, a quote of his emblazoned overhead: “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” It doesn’t matter that Robinson never played for the Mets, or in Queens: this august space sets the stage for the love for the game of baseball inherent in attending any Mets game.
Citi Field’s designers took inspiration from the old Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, once one of baseball’s most iconic palaces. That stadium and the Brooklyn Dodgers, for whom Robinson played, are long gone – but the squad’s spirit lives on with the Mets, their National League successor.
Citi’s red-brick exterior, curved front and arched openings are a direct nod to Ebbets. It’s a return to classic form for baseball fans – and a much friendlier experience than the Mets’ crosstown rivals, whose new stadium, which opened the same year, has all the charms of an airport parking garage inside a defunct bank building.
A trip to a Mets game also means going to the center of the center of the world: Queens has earned the nickname the “World’s Borough” for being one of the most diverse places on the entire planet. Adjacent to Citi Field, Flushing Meadows Corona Park twice played home to the World’s Fair, and Mets fans often get here well before first pitch to appreciate the green space, visit the Unisphere and Queens Museum – and maybe buy a sneaky beer from an outdoor vendor. The ballpark also shares a subway stop with the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, home of the US Open, occasionally creating a beautiful mashup of sports fans.
Inside the stadium, the world’s fare is the star. Fans feast on some of New York’s finest cuisine, from Arancini Bros. risotto balls to mac-and-cheese from Greenwich Village’s Murray’s Cheese Shop. Stands sell steak sandwiches from Pat LaFrieda and classic deli-style pastrami on rye. And there’s pizza, of course: traditionalists can nosh on coal-oven slices from Patsy’s, while the adventurous can opt for a Pizza Cupcake. Citi Field also has dedicated stands for gluten-free options and a Vegan City vendor selling plant-based dogs, burgers and nachos. Pair those with a cold craft beer from Brooklyn, Coney Island or the Bronx breweries.
Being a Mets fan is, to be sure, a deeply weird experience – but it means embracing all the chaos and mess of what makes the city great. Yes, the team will forever be the butt of jokes, even with a new billionaire owner willing to spend big bucks on the roster. But this attitude has kept fans humble, appreciative and family-friendly. The team’s spirit is embodied by Mr Met, a beloved baseball creature who is easily the best mascot in MLB (the business-like, mascot-free boys in the Bronx have no such whimsy).
The blue and orange on the Amazins’ uniforms are pulled from the official New York City flag, itself a callback to the Dutch era. Every time Pete Alonso hits another towering dinger to the outfield, fans get to witness the greatest home run celebration of all: a giant apple rising from centerfield. It’s the biggest apple you’ll ever see in the Big Apple.
And you can only get it at a Mets game.