November 2016

All you need to know about the Queens Baseball Convention

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The 2017 Queens Baseball Convention is fast approaching, and now, as we enter the Christmas/Holiday season, tickets are officially on-sale!

What is the Queens Baseball Convention, however? Well, it’s kind of like a Fan Fest, but it’s not an official Fan Fest, as it’s run by passionate fans, which in my experience only makes it better.

The event is being hosed at “Katch Brewery” (cool name huh?) on January 28th, which is located in Astoria, Queens, where I was born. For those un-familiar, it is about one block away from the 30th/Grand Avenue stop on BMT Astoria Line, where the (N) train stops on weekends. Transfers can be made from the (7) train at Queensboro Plaza four stations to the south.

In the past, Mookie Wilson, Wally Backman, Ron Darling and many others have attended. I wrote a review of the 2015 Queens Baseball Convention, which I enjoyed immensely. You can read that review here.

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Getting Wally Backman’s Signature at QBC 15

Tickets aren’t really “cheap” per se, but they are worth the price. Every ticket includes one autograph (Tim Teufel and Bobby Valentine will be there) at the price-point of $35.00. There are some add-ons which can make the ticket more lucrative, like a collector’s pin, a  World Series baseball, a Baseball Card exc.

The tickets can be purchased through the EventBrite portal, which in my experience is very secure, and accepts most major credit/debit card providers. While I assume most people prefer the electronic ticket that can be purchased through the booking portal, there will be limited tickets available for purchase in person if there are any un-sold e-tickets.

Again, the QBC is worth the price of admission and then some, and it’s a great way of seeing the people you interact with on Twitter in person. It’s also nice to see the QBC being hosted in a different venue. The first two years, the event was hosted at Citi Field’s McFadden’s Restaurant, and it was canceled due to the blizzard that we had in January of this year. It’s also a great way of getting to meet new fans, and there is fun for people of all ages. In 2015, the Cyclones mascots were entertaining the younger kids, and there were  plenty of neat retro items that were available for the nostalgic Mets fans.

Tickets can be purchase by clicking this link here, and if you need any more convincing, tweet me @NikoMetsPlus or email me Niko@MetsPlus.com.


Please Note: I was not paid in any way to promote the QBC, I’m just a person who enjoyed the last QBC and wants to spread the word. Additionally, if you have any questions for the guys running the show or have a question that is above my knowledge, I recommend tweeting @Mediagoon, @QBConvention, or visiting Facebook.com/QueensBaseballConvention. 

 

#MetsPlus360 Reflection: Piazza and the Hall Of Fame

Earlier this year, I was invited to a few events for Mike Piazza’s induction into the Hall of Fame. Today, I wanted to explain them a little better, as the coverage of the events when the happened was relativity poor:

The first event was the Farmer’s Museum Reception the night prior to Induction Day.

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In the event, I met Mr.Piazza, and had a good conversation with him about his induction. While it was a thrill for me to talk to him, I got the feeling (which was more than understandable) that he wasn’t really caring about what I was saying in return, as he had heard the same cliche stuff from at least 25 others within a five minute time period. I guess the fact the I cannot really feel what that’s like is what made the moment so special for me.

Additionally, while I enjoyed having some dialogue with him immensely, I couldn’t help but feel like I was in an area that I didn’t belong. Not because I didn’t have proper credentials, but because I hadn’t properly earn the right to be in that area yet. I’ve only experienced that a few times in my life as well, and, it too is a strange feeling.

I did make the most of the time, though. I got to take a photo with Commissioner Robert Manfred, and I got to interact with a lot of different personalities of the game that I respect and look up to.

The second feature was a feature of the Number Retirement Ceremony, where, in chronological order, I went to a hotel I could never afford, get a cool credential, be the first one of the first people in the ballpark, go to a Empire Suite, allow Al Leiter to use the bathroom before me, get ushered on to the field, purchase a The 7 Line “Forever 31” shirt, go back to the suite to watch the game, with Edgardo Alfonso and Cliff Floyd next to me!

This, again, was a surreal moment that I worry I didn’t take enough advantage of, and I highly suggest reading this post.

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Myself completely overwhelmed….

So that’s it. This was essentially just a re-post of two feature stories that were posted four months ago, but I wanted to bring it up again so that I could share a few more details, and share my reflections in public.

Thanks for reading, don’t forget, Winter Meetings coverage starts this Sunday, December 4th. 

Cespedes Signs a Four Year Deal worth $110 Million, and Everyone Loves It

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I spend a good amount of time on my Twitter feed, listening to other Mets fans, bloggers and beat writers talk about the pressing issues. This last month, for example, “Mets Twitter” has been very vocal about The 7 Line Uniform Vote, the loss of Colon, and re-signing Cespedes, and trust me, there are fans out there that tweeted something related to the Mets signing Cespsedes every two hours since he opted-out a month ago.

Before we get into the specifics of the deal, here are some of my favorite tweets after the news broke:

As far as the specifics of the deal, Cespedes has a full no trade clause, and it’s a four year deal with no opt-outs for four seasons, so this truly means we are “all in” on the 2017 season, and we should be serious contenders for the next few years at least.

Cespedes was arguably the biggest bat available on the market, with the possible exception of Jose Bautista, and he will fill the role of “the big, scary, power bat” that most successful teams have, and there is a lot of depth not named Ty Kelly behind him if he gets an injury like he did last year.

2016 MLB Winter Meetings Preview

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Next week, I will be attending the Major League Baseball Winter Meetings for the second consecutive year. Like last year, the venue will be a Gaylord Hotel & Resort, called the Gaylord National Harbor, which is a member of Marriott International. The meetings are being held from December 4th to December 7th in National Harbor, Maryland (around 20 minutes outside of downtown Washington D.C), and I will be present from the 4th to the 6th, and, baring a lockout, which is now a real possibility, thanks to a stall in the collective bargaining agreement discussions, there should be some interesting transactions.

For the Mets, the most interesting transaction should be acquiring the big, Cespedes-like, bat. However, I believe there are many other options out there other than Cesepedes that can fill that void should the Mets turn him and his baggage down. Edwin Encarnacion, Wilson Ramos, Mark Trumbo and former Mets Carlos Beltran, Jose Bautista and Justin Turner should all be on the Mets radar. Some of those names make more sense than others, though. Now that Neil Walker has re-signed with us, it makes no sense to sign a seventh infielder, so that effectively rules out Edwin and Turner.

Another thing I’m looking at is the Washington Nationals, as they are our primary threat. Even though the current team is extremely reminiscent of the team of 2016, I feel confident in our team without Cespedes. However, if the Nationals signed Cespedes, and we would have to face him 18 times during the season, I would then try to hurry up and sign a big bat to even things out. The Nationals always seem to make a big splash during the Winter Meetings, so I would closely monitor their progress if I was in the Mets front office.

The Winter Meetings starts this Sunday, December 4th, keep it posted on MetsPlus.com and @NikoMetsPlus on Twitter for updates live from National Harbor.

A Potential Lockout is Four Days Away….

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As someone who was born it the late 1990s, I have zero memory of the 1994-1995 strike, but baring a late agreement between the MLB Players Association and the owners in the next four days, Major League Baseball will enter a lockout. The first lockout in over 20 years, and considering the topic that is holding up the agreement is the MLB Draft, something that has always been subject to massive controversy, there is a great chance this agreement is not completed by the December 1st deadline, and if that’s the case, there could be some major implications.

First off, the Winter Meetings could be cancelled, or, part of it at least. The MLB Trade Show, Job Fair and other Minor League banquets will probably continue on as planned, but I’d assume that most of the owners and team staff wouldn’t bother attending as there would be no transactions of any kind.

Secondly, we might see more un-signed players heading into Spring Training, especially if the lockout continues through New Year’s Day. This could be troublesome, as free agency always seems to slow down towards the end of the offseason.

Additionally, if an agreement can’t be reached during the winter, then the worst case scenario would occur, a delay in the MLB Season, or Spring Training. However, I personally believe that it’s way to early to possibly speculate about having an abbreviated schedule, as the strike hasn’t even begun yet, but it is a scary thought that could potentially happen.

Citi Field FallFest 2014 Review

I hope everyone is enjoying their Thanksgiving weekend. Tomorrow is one week to the day from the start of the Winter Meetings, and before Fall leaves us, I wanted to share an old post from a few years ago. This articles shares my experience at the Citi Field Fall Fest, which was hosted by Metropolitan Hospitality, and they did a great job!

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The Inaugural Citi Field FallFest was held yesterday at the grand home of the Mets. The festivities took place in the outfield concourse by the Shea Bridge. While the event opened at 12pm, I got there at around 12:20. I first went to the Mets Food Drive, where I donated 10 non-perishable items and received a voucher for a future April game (awesome!). 2 other things happened at the Team Store, first I got my first real photo with Mr.Met. I’ve seen him walk down the aisles before, but when everyone asks him for photos, he just sticks his arm out as if saying “Your Awesome”, but then just continues down the aisle. I guess Mets PR, decided to do this because he’s on a strict schedule and is probably very busy. Anyway, here’s the photo:

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Next, I purchased this awesome sweater, which combined with my long hair will make…

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Happy Thanksgiving!

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Thanksgiving is tomorrow in the United States, and like they do most years, the Mets did something to attempt to give back to the local community, and it’s called Mets Giving.

Basically, T.J Rivera, Sandy Alderson and other Mets staff went around Queens distributing    turkeys and other Thanksgiving goodies to families that cannot otherwise afford a proper Thanksgiving meal. For more information and pictures, you can click here.

Also, I’m currently running a Mike Piazza patch cap giveaway for Thanksgiving, and if you are interested and have a Twitter Account, retweet this tweet.

If you have any Thanksgiving story that you’d like to know, feel free to share it down below, if not, have a fantastic Thanksgiving to you and your entire family, and Let’s Go Mets.

Mets Booth staying as is, Cohen staying with SNY

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Here’s some good news, Gary Cohen, the longtime radio voice turned TV announcer of the Mets has announced that he has reached an agreement for a multi-year deal to keep him in the booth for the considerable future. While this is something every Met fan expected to see happen soon enough, it’s great to see that we don’t have to worry about Cohen and the Mets parting ways any time soon.

I had the honor of meeting Mr.Cohen a few years ago in Chicago, and he was just as he seems on TV, and those are the types of people I want to see stay with the organization in some capacity.

This move means the Mets will have the same TV Broadcasting team for 12 straight seasons, and again, I don’t think anyone is complaining…

UniformLineup.com Mets July 2016 Uniform Recap

We are still trying to get all of the uniform recaps in for the months of 2016, and now, in November, here is the July recap!


 

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Here is a breakdown of the Mets July uniforms:

  • Home White Pinstripes: 12 games out of 17. (5-7 record) Paired with Primary cap.
  • Blue Home Alternate: 1 game out of 17. (0-1 record) Paired with Home Alt cap.
  • 1986 Throwback Alt: 3 games out of 17 (2-1 record) Paired with throwback cap.
  • Road Grey: 8 games out of 9 ( 5-3 record) paired with Primary cap.
  • Road Blue Alternate: 0 games out of 9 (NOT WORN) paired with road alternate cap.
  • **Special** Racing Stripe Road: 1 game out of 9 (0-1 record)
  • **Special** July 4th Home: 1 game out of 17 (1-0 record)

    And here is a breakdown of the Mets July Caps:

    • Primary Mets cap:  20 games out of 26 (10-10 record)
    • Road Alternate cap: 0 games out of 26 (NOT WORN)
    • Home Alternate cap: 1 game out of 26 (0-1 record)
    • Original Mets Throwback cap: 3 games out of 26 (2-1 record)
    • Special Caps: 2 games out of 26 (1-1 record)

#ThePlusInMetsPlus: Flying in BusinessFirst on United from ZRH-EWR

Before I get into this review, I wanted to touch on a few things:

A) Yes, this is a full-fledged Baseball blog, but as I’ve stated in the past, I want to switch things up, especially now that the season is over.

B) This post is not endorsed or paid for by United Airlines or the Star Alliance Network.


 

September 6th, 2016 / UA 135 ZRH-EWR / B767 Seat 1K


On September 6th, 2016, my family flew on United’s International Business Class product, known as “BusinessFirst” from Zurich Airport to Newark Liberty International Airport, in  standard B/E Aerospace Diamond seats. The scheduled boarding time was 9:20am, but before we even got to the airport, we had a major problem. Because of the Brussels Bombings earlier in the year, the local police set up a roadblock in the beginning of the departures ramp (sorry, no pictures) and, of course, our kind and innocent Nigerian Uber driver was pulled over for over ten minutes.

While this sounds like an issue, we moved on from that quickly, as we were very excited for our first trip in an international business class, but that was quickly shot down after we saw the situation at check-in. There were three different Check-In areas, there was the Premier Access Check-In, which we had access to, but the line was unusually long, with over 6 persons in line. There was the Self Check-In tag and drop, which looked like an unorganized mess, and an Additional Services desk, which is the basic Full Service desk, and considering it only had two persons in front of the desk, we chose the Additional Services desk.

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United’s Check-In Desk at Zurich

The first thing that surprised me was the fact the employees at the desks weren’t wearing the blue and yellow ties that United employees typically wear. Upon closer examination, these employees were workers of “Swissport,” an equivalent of the Red Coats that we have here (or, generic workers that work for the airport and not the airline). In true red coat style, these workers were robotic, and while they were asking “essential security questions” they didn’t seem to process anything that we said, and to a certain extent it ruined my airport experience.

The airport itself was nice, however, and like all of the international flights, we had to take an underground train (similar to Denver’s train) to go to the E Pier.

Unfortunately, the flight was boarding, so their was no time to visit the “Aspire Lounge”, and frankly, it received poor reviews anyway so it wasn’t a huge loss.

The gate, E56, was very hectic, and they checked the passports one more time. Luckily, I got to hold on to my boarding pass to keep it as a souvenir.

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Gate area wasn’t pleasant….

We boarded through Group 1, and I quickly recognized the crew as the same crew that was waiting for a shuttle at the Renaissance Hotel earlier in the morning. They seemed nice, and we boarding through door 2L. The cabin looked nice and clean, and the amenity kit and blankets were already waiting for us on the seats.

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I liked how the amenities were waiting for us at the seat. My only previous experience, on TAM, the pillows, kits and blankets were stowed in the overheads, and there weren’t enough for the entire cabin. Having them on the seat eliminates that problem.

The Menu had a sleek look that I enjoyed. Executive chef Jerry McLoughlin was on the cover:

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Nice look for the menus

The menu was a five course meal, with two appetizers, a choice of four entrees, and a cheese course and desert.

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A chilled salmon appetizer and a salad to start

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Four Main Course options and the finishing touches…

Now would probably be a good time to talk about the service, which was iffy. On my way to Europe the week prior, the entire flight crew distributed flawless service, and I was in Economy. On this flight, the service wasn’t bad at all, but every time I wanted to chat with one of the flight attendants, they always seemed like they had somewhere to be. That doesn’t mean they didn’t comply and give me a rude response, but it wasn’t overly pleasant either.

Annie, the purser working our side introduced herself by name, and said hello to us by our last names, which was professional. She explained to us how the system works, and offered us pre-departure drinks. I enjoyed some ice water while my mother enjoyed a mimosa.

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After takeoff, meal orders were taken, and an initial drink service, along with a ramekin of warm nuts were provided. The nuts consisted of cocktail peanuts, cashews and almonds.

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At this time, I started to look at the entertainment selection, which was expansive, but the audio jack wasn’t working properly on my system, so the entertainment wasn’t as nice as I had hoped.

Before the first course, which was the, Chilled Appetizer, or a peppered smoked salmon dish, the bread basket was taken around the cabin, and it was well stocked with mini-baguettes, pretzel rolls, multigrain and garlic bread.

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Also on the plate were small little salt and pepper shakers, and butter.

The first, course or the salmon, was very impressive. I was a little worried when I saw seafood as the first thing that came into my mouth, but it tasted super fresh, and paired well with lemon and the pretzel roll. I also had a cran-apple to drink.

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I ate the salmon and was pleased, unfortunately, the salad was slightly less-impressive.

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There were two choices when it came to vinaigrette for the salad, a regular balsamic and a “passion berry”. I choose the passion berry and instantly regretted it. The salad tasted fresh and sharp, but the dressing was meant for something completely different, and they didn’t add up well together.

After this, the main course was presented. I got my first choice, the Tenderloin of Beef.

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The tenderloin was actually pretty tasty, and while my parents gave it a mixed reaction, I devoured the meat, and the chive mashed potatoes hit the spot. The vegetables weren’t necessary, as they tasted like something you’d get in a good economy class meal.

To be honest, the meal could have stopped here, and there were two courses remaining. The next course was probably the best course, which was the International Cheese Selection.

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The cheese was served with champagne grapes and port for the adults.

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Since this was prepared live from a cart, the presentation was slightly messy, but the taste was exceptional. The grapes seemed to be european and were perfectly chilled.

After the cheese course, Ice Cream Sundaes were served.

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I enjoyed all of the toppings, which made it a very enjoyable treat. There was nothing disappointing about this part of the meal!

After this service (which lasted over two hours), the cabin was dimmed, and water bottles were distributed.

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I then watched a movie, and relaxed for about two hours. Unfortunately, I didn’t sleep much, not because it wasn’t comfortable, but I was too excited to sleep for more than an hour.

So, I went to the galley in the rear to see what the situation was. There was a light  selection of snacks, chips and around five hours into the flight, hot cookies were distributed and placed into the back.

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I took an apple, some chips and a Lilly O’Brien brownie.

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I then watched an episode of Brain Games, which was very good, and a great way to burn time.

At this point, we were close to the Canadian coastline.

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Mid-Flight Selfie

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I didn’t really feel like eating any more but there were two choices for pre-arrival, a chilled chicken or a cheese and cold cuts. I chose the chicken, and unlike the first service which was served in courses, this was a rushed service served less than an hour prior to landing.

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Grilled Chicken with a Asian Cabbage Slaw, side of fruit and chocolate truffles

The side sauce was surprisingly very good, and the chicken being chilled made it better, especially when you consider this was kind of a wake-up meal. I enjoyed a pretzel roll on the side and the fruit was pleasing, but didn’t really fit in.

After that, Annie and Carlos, the other premium cabin supervisor, thanked us for the service, cleared our plates and we defended for the Newark area.

Verdict:

Overall, there were a lot of good things about the experience. The food was good, the ambience was second to none, and it succeeded my expectations. However, there were a lot of things that could have been done differently to improve service.

First off, I would have appreciated more pro-efficant re-fills on drinks. No, they didn’t keep the glass empty for more than two minutes, but I had to ask for “more” of something at least five times, which made me feel un-comfortable and as if I was overstepping my bounds by asking for too much. That shouldn’t be the case in any premium cabin.

Would I fly BusinessFrst again? Yes, but considering it’s being phased out for Polaris in about two weeks, I don’t think I’ll have the opportunity.