April 2016

WATCH: Last fans grab a Noah Syndergaard gnome

Hello Mets fans, Happy Gnome Day!

A full review of my gnome experience will be published tomorrow morning, but today I wanted to share with you a amateur video shot by yours truly, showcasing the last fans rushing into the Bullpen Gate to grab a gnome.

Matt Harvey is a curious case

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Matt Harvey has been in the Major Leagues since the year 2012. Since his debut, Matt Harvey has been loathed be some, embraced by others, and a few are in the middle.

As for me, I’m in the middle. Sometimes, I hate Harvey and his oversized ego, and sometimes I credit him for being ultra clutch and like his “bulldog” mentality.

The funny thing about Harvey is that statistics always seem to take a back seat when it comes to analysing him. deGrom has crushed Harvey in all major categories since deGrom has come into the league, yet no one seems to think deGrom is the ace, or more importantly, Harvey is the #3 guy.

If statistics don’t ride shotgun when we analyse a player, what else does? Usually, there is clubhouse likability, leadership and overall persona, but in which of these personal categories does Harvey excel in? If anything he seems to perform poorly in all of these categories. For example, he never seems to sit next to his fellow pitchers, seems obsessed with the wild world of nightlife and gossip magazines, and doesn’t seem to put up the numbers to back anything up.

But what do Mets fans (like me occasionally) say? “If there was a 0ne game playoff  to win a World Series, I’d put Harvey on the mound….” 

But why? “Because he’s clutch and doesn’t fall under pressure…” 

Yes, Harvey put on a good Game 5 start in the World Series, but there have been many pressure filled games where he has buckled. And while I cannot complain about his postseason performance, a 3.04 Postseason ERA doesn’t really say “ace” on a World Series team that is supposed to have the best arms the game has ever seen.

Still Harvey is the Dark Knight, the Mets can’t survive without him”

I’m not saying he should be kicked off the team. He’s a good pitcher that preforms very well, but deGrom and Syndergaard are considerably better than him. Take last year for example, deGrom led in hits allowed, earned runs allowed, ERA, ERA+, WHIP, FIP and all other stats that just seem like three letter words that have no meaning, but they define an ace. The only thing Harvey has going are things people suppose are true about him, and some intangibles.

So here is the million dollar question: Is Harvey the ace, and if so, why?

WATCH: Noah Syndergaard Gives Back

Mets pitcher  Noah Syndergaard dropped by a baseball camp for kids to share his experiences at the World Series and what it takes to become a major league pitcher. He shared his experiences with a local FOX affiliate station.

The Plus in MetsPlus: How to travel with guest Zach Honig

Ever since the Mets traded R.A Dickey to the Blue Jays for Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard, I’ve been anxious to visit Toronto to see our old friend. In addition to Dickey, Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas play on the Blue Jays, so it would almost be a mini-reunion. Unfortunately, the Blue Jays play in Toronto, and I’m in New York, which  is just about my limit of where I wouldn’t want to drive and would have to take a plane. Looking at my options, Air Canada, WestJet, American, Delta and United Airlines all have about the same fare, around $200-$250 roundtrip. WestJet and Air Canada frequently do US Fare sales, and I was thinking that since I didn’t have any specific time that I would want to visit, I would sit on the fare for a while, hoping something else would pop up. So, three days later, instead of flying on a small regional jet on American or Air Canada for $230 round trip, I’m going to Toronto, in a lie-flat bed in internationally configured business class, getting lounge access, having the ability to check three bags (which I won’t do on a two-day trip and getting priority everything going through the airport. Now you might be saying, you booked seats in a huge widebody plane for a 90 minute flight, and you are sitting in business class? How much did you pay, $1,000?

Well, I actually only payed $213, that’s right, $213, all thanks to a separate tickets feature available on Google Flights. And all of the credit goes to ThePointsGuy.com, a blog I have been reading for years. In addition to Trip Reports, a premium YouTube show (called TPGtv), and credit card deals, The Points Guy showcases great hidden deals, like this one, which I took advantage of. At the helm of The Points Guy is “The Points Guy”, or Brian Kelly, who has been featured on various major publications like The New York Times, CNBC, and Bloomberg. In addition to Mr.Kelly, or TPG, I communicate with a lot of the writers on “The Points Guy” in addition to aviation fans in general. Two of my favorite Twitter follows are @AirlineFlyer, or Jason Rabionwitz, and @ZachHonig, who is the editorial manager for The Points Guy.

While traveling and watching a game seem like two different things, you can’r really attend a baseball game if you can’t get around, so I had the honor of bringing on Mr.Honig to answer some of my aviation questions, and even asked him about his stance on the Baseball season. Without further ado, here is my interview with Zach Honig:

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 1) First off, could you give us a brief synopsis about yourself for someone who has never heard of you?

I’m Editor-in-Chief of The Points Guy, the leading travel site for consumers and business travelers who wish to make the post of their credit card/hotel points and frequent-flyer miles.
      2) What is your role in ThePointsGuy.com? What type of content to you frequently publish? (credit card deals, aviation news, trip reports, miscellaneous exc.)
I oversee the site’s editorial content, so all of the articles that appear on thepointsguy.com. We publish a variety of content daily, ranging from travel rewards credit card round-ups to first-class flight reviews.

   3)  What is your airline of choice and why? What “loyalty” to you have with them?

Personally, I fly the most with United. As a United Premier 1K member, I find it relatively easy to score free upgrades, either within 96 hours of departure or using the confirmed upgrade certificates United issues to me each year. I also find that Star Alliance members are fairly generous about releasing award seats, making my United miles especially valuable for free travel.
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United’s MileagePlus, is free and easy to join.

     4) Should you pick a hotel brand based on that brand’s partnerships with airlines (like RewardsPlus with UA and Marriott), or should that not be considered?

Probably not. I’m loyal to Starwood and Hyatt, but because of their own loyalty programs, not their partnerships. That said, you should definitely take advantage of co-branded opportunities when you can. For example, RewardsPlus can be helpful for getting free United Silver status if you’re a Marriott Platinum member.

     5) A lot of Baseball fans, beat writers, bloggers, and personalities make travel accommodations with very little notice, especially in the postseason where one doesn’t know who they are going to play next until the respective series ends. While it is not on their own dime for beat writers and personalities, fans sometimes have to pay uber high prices when booking these last minute trips. Are there any benefits that a fan could use to their advantage when booking these last minute (usually Y fare bucket) fares?

If you’re a top-tier elite member, you can book award tickets and cancel them for free if your team doesn’t make it to the next round, so that could be a good option. Otherwise, always look at flights into nearby cities in addition to your destination. So if you’re attending a game in Houston, look at flights into Austin or San Antonio as well.

     6) Often during Baseball games, I see the team advertising their respective MLB BankAmericard Cash Reward MasterCard, even though I rarely ever see anyone with one, and there is little promotion of them outside of the baseball game on any media platform. Is there a reason that these cards are unpopular, or are they actually worthwhile and have just been flying “under the radar”?

Travel rewards cards, like Chase Sapphire Preferred or Citi ThankYou Premier, generally offer a much higher return if you know how to make the most of your points. Generally, consumers may be more interested in cash-back cards, though, due to their simplicity. I imagine that’s why these cards are often promoted at MLB games.

     7) A lot of my flying is for vacations, to see family, but when I go on trips for my blog, it’s usually to very small cities to the Mets minor league affiliates. (For example, the Mets have affiliates in Binghamton, New York – Kingsport, Virginia – Columbia, South Carolina – St.Lucie, Florida – and similar cities that usually only have five daily flights). How would my strategy be different from a traveler during more popular business routes like New York – Chicago?

If you’re traveling on vacation, you have some flexibility as far as destination and dates, so you’re at an advantage there over business travelers who don’t have flexible schedules or destinations. As for travel to Mets affiliates, these don’t sound like business destinations, so you may be able to find decent fares or award availability. If you can’t, look into alternate airports, instead.
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Traveling to minor league games can be a hassle if there isn’t a nearby major airport.

    8) I’m still under 18, so I’m still ineligible to be a primary cardholder, what can I do to ready myself when I am eligible, and do you think I should wait a little bit to build up my credit score?

Great question!! You can start building credit now as an authorized user on an American Express account. This article posted on The Points Guy explains.

    9) Ok, now I’m going to ask two very personal questions: What is your favorite airport?

Newark… I know that sounds silly, but it’s only a 20-min drive from my home in NYC (without traffic in the early mornings, when I prefer to fly). I can also fly pretty much anywhere I need to from Newark, and the fares are decent, with many sales.
   10) I can’t do this interview without asking you…. any predictions for the World Series?
You’re going to kill me, but I’m not much of a baseball fan. I guess I should be rooting for the Yankees or Mets?
Let’s just assume that Zach didn’t answer the last question that way, and make sure to follow him on twitter and read his The Points Guy content. Thanks again to Zach for answering some of our questions, and we wish him the best on the rest of his journeys!

@Mets Lineups for 4/25

MetsMemories: 7/9/89, Robin Williams catches ball in the booth

This is a very cool Mets Memory, especially with Keith frequently complaining about the lack of foul balls making it to the Citi Field booth.

Anyway, in this video, while chatting with Billy Crystal in the Mets broadcast booth, Robin Williams snares a foul ball. This is a very fun memory. Share your #MetsMemories on Twitter with @NikoMetsPlus.

SNY’s “Beat the Booth” is back for 2016!

If you ever thought that you knew more about the Mets than any other person  around you, this is your chance!

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SNY is auditioning individuals or teams of two via an easy online video process, all to win 5,000 on SNY’s game show “Beat the Booth. SNY is looking for fans who can demonstrate extensive knowledge of Mets history to compete in a game-show-style television program, and it only takes a few minutes to be considered for the live in-studio audition for Beat the Booth with Gary and Howie.

You can sign up here, or receive additional details here.

Here are some general rules before you sign up:

  • Competitors may compete individually or as a team of two
  • Individuals or both team members must be present at all auditions and during the actual show taping (if selected)
  • Competitors must be eighteen (18) years of age or older on June 14th, 2016
  • Competitors may only audition once, and competitors may not share questions with other competitors who plan to audition.

Good luck!

Listen to MetsPolice.com’s podcast on AltSportsTalk:

#LinksAboutHim: Lucas Duda

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In what seems to be an annual tradition, Lucas Duda has hit a super hot streak, with multiple extra base hits, home runs, and long, taxing at bats. Let’s see what the press & bloggers have been saying about Duda:

  • NJ.com has a video of Duda’s preformance, includng his mammoth homeruns in last night’s ballgame.
  • For The Win, an affiliate of the international media outlet USA Today, talks about Duda in this post.
  • Joe Giglo of NJ.com predicted Duda’s hot streak
  • Amazin’ Avenue explains how the shift has affected Duda’s at bats.

A little more about the Mets new Single-A affiliate, Columbia Fireflies

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If you haven’t noticed already, the Savannah Sand Gnats are no more, the organization itself relocated to Columbia, South Carolina, leaving historic Grayson Stadium, and changing their name to the “Columbia Fireflies”.

The Fireflies play their home games in the newly built Sprint Communications Ballpark, which holds around 7,500 fans. Sprint Communications Ballpark also has a old-fashioned theme, with a brick backstop and replica seats.

One of the best things about the Columbia Fireflies are their uniforms, which have a glow-in-the-dark theme, with neon colors. It’s truly very creative, without over doing it, like some MiLB teams tend to do these years.

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 The Fireflies have a homewhite, a short sleeve road gray, a very cool yellow alternate which is used frequently, and a navy blue alternate that is used during batting practice and maybe a few games. Ultimately, this is a very professional look for a new team, with the Yellow jersey being the stand-out. Even the white and grey uniforms don’t look bad.

As far as the fans, attendance has been very strong in the first month, the first game in Sprint Communications drew over 9,000 spectators. While this is typical of an inaugural season, the Fireflies do a great job with their promotions and community outreach. The Fireflies have a fantastic social media team, especially on Twitter. You can follow the Fireflies on Twitter @ColaFireflies. As I mentioned earlier the promotions that they have are also top-notch and family friendly. Tickets normally cost around $10, or $2 on Two Dollar Tuesdays. (a fare price for a single A team), in comparison, Brooklyn Cyclones tickets usually start at $15. Some interesting promotions the Fireflies have are postgame fireworks, postgame autographs, Star Wars night, and Christmas in July. NOt quite the Brooklyn Cyclones, but still very family friendly.  If you have a chance to get down to Columbia this year, a Fireflies game sounds like a great time.

Let me know on Twitter @NikoMetsPlus if any of you have attended a Fireflies game, I’m interested to hear your experiences.