Is that really Gary Cohen?

It might be a blessing in disguise that the trade fell through

This is an article I wrote last year, talking about how the Gomez/Flores deal fell apart.

I think it’s fair to say the Cespedes deal ended up being a much better one for the Mets.

Mets Plus

Yesterday, it was reported by Andy Martino that the Mets have traded Wilmer Flores and Zack Wheeler for Carlos Gomez of the Milwaukee Brewers. I was initially floored that the Mets traded Wheeler, who by all accounts is an ace on 20 out of 30 MLB Teams, and Wilmer Flores, who we have under control for three years after Gomez was scheduled to leave. Then we have Carlos Gomez, who is hated by 30 percent of Baseball players? Why? Watch this video:

And this one….

Let’s watch one more…..

This guy is not a good clubhouse presence, I don’t care how fast he is, a guy that is hard to not call a “punk” is not a guy that  the Mets should be going after. This trade not going through will pay dividends for the Mets in the end, but then again, only time will tell.

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Mets Memories: Flores hits one into the PartyCity Deck

Mets Plus

The date in July 31st, 2015. Two days after Flores was in tears for being traded, the game was tied, the Mets were down in the division, the stage was set….

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The 2016 Mets bore me. Seriously.

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The title says it all. I’m bored watching this team. I don’t know why, but these Mets don’t feel like “the Mets”.

On my last post I talked about how the lineup has gone through a complete turnover since last year. Here is an excerpt from that article:

Next, let’s look at the lineup. Last year d’Arnaud, Duda, Murphy, Flores, Wright, Cespedes, Lagares or Conforto and Granderson, a very “Met” team, were the players we put on the field. Today, besides d’Arnaud, Granderson and Flores, guys like James Loney, Neil Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera, T.J Rivera, Ty Kelly, Justin Ruggiano, Alejandro De Aza and other newbies comprise the team, and there is an overall lack of team chemistry.

And it’s very true, there is no chemistry, and for me, as a viewer, I have no connection to any of these guys. None of these guys, with the exception of Grandy and Flores, are players I love seeing succeed. That doesn’t mean I actively root against Alejandro De Aza when he comes to bat, but, for lack of a better term, there is nothing tangible about these guys.

These players look like MLB players in orange and blue, not Mets players that I want to watch play every single day.

And that doesn’t mean every player has to be homegrown or have a lot of history with us, when Juan Uribe came over last year, I immediately felt like he was a genuinely likable guy, that I got excited for every time he came to the plate.

While having better team chemistry wouldn’t necessarily catapult us to the top of the standings, it would allow for the fanbase to get behind their players. Lately, at least for me, I feel like watching this team isn’t fun, and it’s not enjoyable, even when they win. That’s something I’ve never experienced in my time as a Mets fan.

Hopefully things get better in the future.

I’m already looking ahead to 2017

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I’ve been thinking about the 2016 Mets for a while now, how they will be able to get back on pace, how they are going to be able to grab a postseason slot, how they are going to re-bound for the injuries that have plagued them all year, and I think I’ve finally figured out what to make of the 2016 Mets: A team that just didn’t work out.

No, I haven’t given up all hope yet, they are still 4.5 games back from a Wild Card spot, which makes them mathematically alive and then some, but not any team can come back from that big of a deficit.

Take a look at our rotation, which we were hoping would look like Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and by mid-June, Colon would take a bullpen role as Zack Wheeler returns. Now, with Matz injured and strongly considering season-ending surgery, the rotation looks like Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese and Logan Verrett, with Syndergaard also considering missing time due to bone spurs.

Next, let’s look at the lineup. Last year d’Arnaud, Duda, Murphy, Flores, Wright, Cespedes, Lagares or Conforto and Granderson, a very “Met” team, were the players we put on the field. Today, besides d’Arnaud, Granderson and Flores, guys like James Loney, Neil Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera, T.J Rivera, Ty Kelly, Justin Ruggiano, Alejandro De Aza and other newbies comprise the team, and there is an overall lack of team chemistry.

I think that this year has just been a failure all together, and will go down as one of the low-years in Mets history. Too bad….

 

 

WATCH: Welcome to “Syndergaarden”

Before you hit the play button you should know that this commercial has terrible acting, and the jokes are terrible.

I don’t fly Delta, but they’ve arguably had the best advertisements on the market for a long time, with ads like “Lift,” “No Bag Left Behind,” “Way We Go,” and a personally favorite “On The Road.”

Anyway, this little Delta Dugout spot is nothing amazing, but it’s a good way to waste 88 seconds of your life.

 

The curse of the Blues?

The Mets are a season low four games behind a postseason spot, yet the thing that interests me right now are the Mets uniforms. Well, I’m not a superstitious man, but what I’m about to explain is getting weird, so bare with me.

Yesterday, the Mets lost to Arizona by a score of 13 to 5, while wearing their road blue uniforms, with their road alternate caps. I was expecting this selection for yesterday’s game, as Jon Niese was pitching. For those that don’t know, Niese, Harvey and Wheeler tend to select the blue uniforms whenever they have the chance to. Obviously that’s not always the case, Harvey has chosen the traditional home and road uniforms this year, and in 2014, Wheeler only chose the road blues.

Anyway, if you have been following me on Twitter the last few weeks, you may have noticed that I’ve been complaining about the Mets win-loss record while wearing their home or road Blue uniforms, and that’s because it’s the worst win percentage possible: 0%.

2016 regular rotation

The Mets have worn their Home Blues (the uniform all the way to the right) with the home alternate cap (also the right-most cap) four times this season. And if that sounds like light usage you are correct, at this time last year they wore them eleven times.

  • Monday, April 11th, 2016 – Mets 3, Marlins 10, Steven Matz pitching
  • Thursday, May 19th, 2016 – Mets 1, Nationals 9, Matt Harvey pitching
  • Tuesday, July 26th, 2016 – Mets 2, Cardinals 3, Noah Syndergaard pitching
  • Monday, August 1st, 2016 – Mets 5, Yankees 6, Logan Verrett pitching

Before we talk about why this uniform has been worn so infrequently this year, let’s look at the road blues, which is paired with the road alternate cap (both the left-most image on the diagram).

  • Sunday, April 3rd, 2016 – Mets 3, Royals 4, Matt Harvey pitching
  • Saturday, April 16th, 2016 – Mets 5, Indians 7, Matt Harvey pitching
  • Tuesday, June 7th, 2016 – Mets 1, Pirates 3, Steven Matz pitching
  • Thursday, June 23rd, 2016, Mets 3, Braves 4, Matt Harvey pitching
  • Tuesday, June 28th, 2016, Mets 0, Nationals 5, Matt Harvey pitching
  • Wednesday, June 29th, 2016, Mets 2, Nationals 4, Logan Verrett pitching
  • Thursday, August 11th, 2016, Mets 0, D-Backs 9, Jon Niese pitching

Definitely more use for the road blues, but the seven games are nowhere near the twenty-two times they wore them this time last year.

I’m not superstitious, but this is getting slightly strange. September is around the corner, and the Mets are still looking for their first win in one of their blue uniforms. In fact, the last time the Mets won a regular season game in their home or road blues was on Saturday, September 26th of last year, the day they clinched the 2015 NL East pennant.

New York Mets v Cincinnati Reds

So why haven’t we worn them often this year? My only guess is the material of the Mets home and road caps, otherwise known as Diamond Era. The Mets are the only team that have a regular (non-practice) cap made of Diamond Era, and they have two of them. When I covered a Brooklyn Cyclones game last year, some players told me they didn’t like the feel of the Diamond Era for in-game use, and preferred the traditional Authentic Collection caps.

This is pure speculation as to why the Mets haven’t worn them as much as we have in the past, but it’s the most plausible reason. Additionally, the Mets no longer wear their home blues every Friday like they did two years ago, which also limits their usage.

Ultimately, I love the Blue uniforms, and I think if they had the traditional Mets skyline patch on them, and were paired with the Primary Mets cap, the home blue would be one of the best uniforms in baseball, but the Mr.Met patch, and the Diamond Era Alternate seem extremely unnecessary.

 

#50CentFrostySCAM

If you are in New York like me, you know that it’s one of the warmest weeks imaginable right now. Also, my hometown Mets (while not in first place) are still in postseason contention, being only a few games behind a wild card spot as of this writing.

Anyway, as I was driving back to my house yesterday, I noticed everyone on Twitter was tweeting the hashtag #50CentFrostyMLB. And upon closer examination, I came upon these two tweets from Wendy’s and MLB:

When I saw this, three thoughts came into my mind:

  1. Where is the nearest Wendy’s
  2. How will tweeting a picture of a frosty give me free MLB.TV
  3. I’d hate to be the guy that paid full price for MLB.TV yesterday.

So, I followed the official prompts on the official website, which were very easy.

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 11.50.09 AM

So far, this sounds like a great deal. I’m going to Greece in two weeks, and I’d love to have MLB.tv while I’m there, even if the start times are inconvenient. So, I did exactly as MLB asked, I tweeted the picture of the Frosty and am now waiting the 24-48 hours.

This is where things started to get interesting. You know the terms & conditions that most people swipe through and say agree? Well, I felt compelled to read them, as I had nothing else to do, and I came upon this important nugget of information:

Must have a public Twitter or Instagram account. Valid to the first 34,000 fans. Redemption period 8/15 – 8/31. Subscription valid until 10/2/16.

I knew the subscription did not continue into the Postseason, that’s why it said:

“WANT A FREE MLB.TV PREMIUM SUBSCRIPTION FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE 2016 REGULAR SEASON?”

And I also knew the redemption period and part about having a public twitter account, because it left a note on Step 3:

 (note: accounts must be public – private accounts are not eligible)

But valid only to the first 34,000 fans? First off, fans is not the word they should be using, it’s not a ballpark promotion, but while we are talking about ballpark promotions, try imagining this at a ballpark promotion. Say there were 100,000 “fans” trying to get something (there would be more trying to get the free MLB.tv through the #50CentFrostyMLB promo, but it’s easier to work with a rounder number).

Now, let’s say those 100,000 fans were promised a bobblehead, but whoops, once you did everything they asked, purchase a ticket, go to the game (which is similar to going out of my way to go to a  Wendy’s and purchase a Frosty) they tell you, we actually can only give this to the first 34,000 of you, even though we don’t say it out right… Sorry!

There is a reason teams come out and tell you that only so many fans can get this promotion, because it’s the most fair way of carrying out a promotion, and it’s more clear cut. I’d expect things like having a public twitter account or having to follow a certain account be the things that get buried.

Luckily, this is a fairly small deal, it was 95 degrees, and I enjoyed the Frosty immensely, and I only gave up 50 cents on something I still might get and even if I do probably won’t use that often.

However, a mega corporation like MLB should not use the techniques that sound like they are selling points to an informercial. While this “scheme” of sorts has been around for a while, not telling you how many people are eligible is not only poor for the consumer, it’s poor for the company. While I did go to Wendy’s, it was not without some reservations of going out of my way to find a Wendy’s. If I had known that only 34,000 people were going to get one, my “snagging a good deal” instinct would have made me run as fast as I could and purchase Frosty’s for my entire family.

Just look at how the wording changes from initial promo to terms & conditions:

Promo: 50¢ Frosty is here! Tweet a pic w/ for a free subscription to !

Terms: fans get the opportunity to win a free subscription to MLB.TV Premium

Words like “opportunity” and “win” that make this seem like a lottery start to pop up all over the place. Again, nothing new, these tricks have been around for decades, it’s just very low on MLB’s part.

Do you have any thoughts on the promotion? Share them in the comments or tweet me @NikoMetsPlus!

 

Watch: Mets Clinch 2000 Wild Card Birth 


Armando Benitez strikes out Keith Lockhart of the Atlanta Braves, to clinch the National League  Wild Card spot, sixteen years ago.

MetsPlus360: Mike Piazza’s #31 Retirement

As most of you know by now, Mike Piazza was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame a few weeks ago, and on the 30th of July, the Mets decided to commemorate this special year by retiring his famous #31.

For me, the day started with a lot of un-knowns, I knew it was going to be a pretty special experience, but I had no idea what to expect, and I didn’t know where I was going to be sitting. The reasoning behind this is complicated, but I had a hunch this was going to be one of the most memorable days of my life, and I was correct.

Upon arriving at Grand Central, we quickly got in a cab (which is a rarity for me, I never take cabs) to the Plaza Athenee Hotel, some five-star hotel that I would probably never stay at (because I’m a hotel loyalist) but can respect.

Niko Goutakolis with piazza lanyard 730

We quickly checked-in, not to the hotel, but to a reception desk staffed by Mets employees. They quickly gave us a lanyard, and a bottle of FIJI Water,which made no sense in my opinion, (the water not the lanyard) and Mike Piazza arrived. I had taken a picture of him at his reception the week earlier, so I just said, “Hi” “congratulations” but didn’t ask him for another photo, as I thought that would be obnoxious. Anyway, with the lanyard in hand, it was time to move on to the next stage of the day, getting to Citi Field.

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I’ve been to Citi Field countless times, and everyone of those times I’ve taken the Subway. I love the subway, always have since I was a child, and frankly it’s the quickest way to get to and from midtown manhattan. Unfortunately, my streak was going to end, as ground transportation was going to be our mode of transport from the hotel to the field.

There were two modes of transportation, the first was a black Chevy Suburban (for Mike, and I mean just Mike) and the second was a coach bus, kind of like a luxury greyhound bus, for his family, friends, colleagues exc.

The characters on the bus were clearly from more exorbitant walks of life, and while I’m typically not nosy, I couldn’t help but overhear some of the conversations. They ranged from what time they want the Private Jet to pick them up to take them to Florida, to if Citi Field (or Mets Stadium, as they called it) is in the Bronx. It’s quite a departure from the questions I ask myself from my apartment, but there are plenty of areas of interest that I know nothing about, so I didn’t really get upset.

Getting there took longer than I expected, but we did arrive at around 4:30 pm. We were promptly taken up to the Empire Suites (219 and 220) and that’s when things started to get crazy. While it was amazing to be honest, I had other priorities that night, because in half an hour, The 7 Line’s ballpark kiosk was going to open for business, and on sale that night was the event shirt, nicknamed “Forever 31”, that The 7 Line Army was going to wear that night. So, I slipped out of the suite, and took an elevator down to the field level.

 

Finally, things were returning to normal, I quickly dashed through the concourse, and then realized I didn’t have to dash, because the ballpark gates were still closed. This was kind of weird for me, because I saw things I’ve never seen, like the employees going through meetings and pre-game checks.

They were also prepping the scoreboard for the ceremonies, they were playing portions of the song “Home Sweet Home” by Motley Crue over and over again, which made no sense to me (until the ceremonies started). When the gates opened, there were was a massive rush to The 7 Line Kiosk, and while there was a very small delay in the opening of the Kiosk, it did eventually open up, and I was very happy to see that they had my size available.

After that I calmly walked back to the suite levels, and was slightly disappointed to see that the tarp was going to be on the field during the ceremonies:

screen shot of mike piazza cholula

Luckily this event was drizzle or shine, so the event went on. Al of sudden, we were told to evacuate the suite, and everyone else seemed to know where we were going but me, I mean, I had an idea, but it sounded preposterous so I didn’t suggest it out loud.

Do you guys know those big freight elevators with the big NY logo on them? Well that’s where we were put for about five minutes, and frankly it was like a sauna, but how could I complain? Something amazing was about to happen… But first a bit of backstory. Before leaving the suite, the suite attendant told me “Wait!”… “The Milkshakes just arrived”. Now, I’m trying to eat more healthy this year, milkshakes are not something I indulge in regularly, but these weren’t regular Mister Softee shakes, these were Shake Shack Milkshakes. The suite attendant, who was very pleasant, told me take one with me for the road, and I did, and I enjoyed it in the sauna err elevator. However, once I finished it, I needed to get rid of it, and I mean I needed to get rid of it, as we were about to go ON THE FIELD. Yes, I was about to go on the field 20 minutes before game time to hear #31 speak.

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There were NO garbage disposals in the tunnel, but there was a restroom, but it was occupied. Just when it sounded like the person in front of me was going to open the door, Al Lieter, yes, Al Lieter showed up. He asked me if I was waiting on the restroom, I said “Yes, but you can go first.” After that the Shake Shack cup was the least of my concerns. Here’s why: Have you ever spoken to a Baseball legend up close? It’s almost like the words don’t come out of your mouth and then you question everything you say after. Anyway, Lieter thanked me after he came out and after disposing of the cup, we were ushered on to the field.

It was raining, the dirt was getting everyone’s shoes dirty, but I didn’t care in the slightest.  The actual Mets were right there less than 20 feet away in actual pinstripes! I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Then, “Home Sweet Home” started playing again, and before I knew it, Piazza’s number #31 was hanging in left field. Obviously, the speech was cut short due to weather, but it was very nice, and I thought the first pitch was cool.

Then, it was time to go back to the (cue terrible pun) saunavator, and back into the suite for game time. The suite had free Piazza signed hats, Piazza pins and programs that anyone in the suite could take. The food was pretty good and consisted of a taste of Citi Field, Papa Rosso, Shake Shack, Nathan’s, Dan and John’s, Mister Softee, and Mama’s of Corona products were available in the suite, in addition to a complimentary full service bar.

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I pulled out one of the commemorative programs and started keeping score, however, of the 80 people in the suite, maybe 10 or 15 were actually watching the game. Piazza’s father was one of the few diligently paying attention.

The game was pretty terrible. It was slow moving, and once the Mets gave up the lead, they never had a chance to come back.

During the fifth inning, I walked around a little bit, and I bumped into Cliff Floyd, a Mets outfielder that mentored David Wright while he was coming up. He was very nice to me, and we had a small conversation about his job at the MLB Network.

Then during the sixth inning, people started to leave, and by the seventh inning, there was an announcement for “last call” to ride the buses. While I understand that the pre-game festivities were the primary reason the people in the suite came out, I found it rather ridiculous. We declined the bus, and in fact we were the only ones in entire suite to decline a ride. So, we had the entire suite to ourselves for the last three innings.

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As the the game wrapped up, we munched on some of the last remaining deserts, and the game wrapped up. Here is the final score courtesy of Citi Vision:

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So now I have to address the elephant in the story. How the hell did I get these privileges? Well, I can’t really answer that, but it was just being lucky and having good connections. These are things I never get to do, and I’ll be lucky if I ever sit in the Field Level again let alone the Empire level suites. To the people that made this night possible, thank you. To everyone involved in the planning of this event, thank you. To the Piazza family, I would REALLY like to thank you, and congratulate you.

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