March 2017

Mets St.Patrick’s Day Preview

St.Patrick’s Day is tomorrow, which is always fun. The Mets, keeping with their tradition, will wear a special Green uniform set, and they (and some other affiliates) have some pretty cool merchandise for sale for St.Patrick’s Day.

So, I thought today would be a cool day to do a MetsPolice style post, going around the web, taking screenshots, and giving analysis on what’s out there.

First off, speaking about MetsPolice, Shannon Shark the founder, has been tweeting for a while about the old “Mr.O’Met” caps and how the could be perceived as a race issue, which, I didn’t see at first, but starts to make some sense, and I thought that considering that the Mets have gone away from it the last few years, they might have catched on to that, but, according to tomorrow’s gameday promotion, I guess not…..

This is a cool promotion, not something I would wear, but something that is festive and is St.Patrick’s themed.

On the field, the Mets will be sporting these Diamond Era caps:

thumb.aspx-10

These caps are pretty cool, something I would actually consider buying one day if I found it on clearance for under $20 dollars. I kind of like the side patch with the clover, and the darker colored brim.

The uniforms haven’t been announced yet, but I’d assume it’ll be the same thing they usually wear with green everywhere there is blue.

There is also a lot of other miscellaneous green Mets apparel with the green swapped in for the royal blue.

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 9.38.09 PM.png

Aside from that, there is a pretty cool The 7 Line St.Patrick’s Day cap & hoodie combo for a great price. The combo features the Emoji Mr.Met in Hoodie form, with a New Era snapback cap, which for the price point, is a pretty good deal.  Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 9.40.06 PM.png

So that’s St.Patrick’s Day merchandise for 2017. Personally, I would highly recommend saving your money for something a bit better, like Opening Day themed products, or an actual Mets cap that they will wear more than once, but these styles are very good nonetheless.

Happy St.Patrick’s Day, and thanks for reading.

MetsPlus Minors Preview: The 2017 Columbia Fireflies

Today, as we inch closer and closer to Opening Day 2017 (even though the Blizzard makes me think we are still two months away). I wanted to preview the seasons for some of the Mets affiliates, specifically ones that some people might know a little bit less about, but will still root for even if they don’t know the roster by memory. The Columbia Fireflies fit that criteria, and without further ado, here’s a preview of the 2017 Columbia Fireflies season: 
columbia-fireflies-logos

That logo is awesome, isn’t it?

Anyway, I first head of the Columbia Fireflies like most people did, during the announcement that the Savanah Sand Gnats, the previous incarnation of the franchise, was moving out of Savanah after 2015, and after seeing their name, uniform and cap combo, I was hooked, and wanted to see the team and feel the atmosphere up close.

I did so by attending one of their games and speaking to some of their folks last July, which I wrote about on the blog. Noticeably absent, however, were the Mets fans that one typically sees at a Brooklyn Cyclones, Binghamton Mets or even a St.Lucie Mets game.

Not that it is a bad thing, as the attendance was about right for a minor league game, so I was perplexed about what it was about the Fireflies that made them a unique minor league team that appeals to a wide demographic. Being a college town, there were way more than 20 year olds at the Fireflies game I went to, so I decided to get in contact with the Fireflies to ask them some questions.

Brad Shank, the Executive Vice President of the Fireflies was nice enough to answer some of them, from a question on Solar Eclipses, Tebow, to being in the ballpark in the Winter. Here is a condensed transcript:


 

Niko/MetsPlus: What was your favorite part of the Inaugural Season?

Brad Shank: Well, we didn’t really know what to expect, going into it, you have your goals and I think we were really able to hit some of those in a big way, but also some room for improvement down the road. A highlight for me was the July 4th game, in Famously Hot Columbia, with temperatures over 100 degrees, but we still had our largest crowd of the year with over 9,200 people in the ballpark. We were also able to honor four active duty military personnel before the fireworks with them and their families, and they were able to kick off our fireworks.

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 5.44.24 PM.png

Sprint Communications Ballpark on July 4th, 2016

N/MP: I took a look at the Promotional Schedule for 2017, what are some of the highlights this year?

BS: Well, you know, we have some of the classic promotions, like the days of the week promotions, which have started to really kick off down here. Thirsty Thursdays, which includes a happy hour, which, being in a college town, should be pretty popular. As far as the unique promotions, we have some theme nights coming up, the biggest one of the year will be August 21st, a 1:05pm game, only because there will be a total solar eclipse, and Columbia just happens to be right on the path of the total solar eclipse, which will happen just after 2:30. The game will be delayed for five minutes to allow fans and players to enjoy the once in a generation sighting of a total solar eclipse. We will also have a NASA night with an appearance of an astronaut who grew up here in Columbia.

C6arEPZWAAAszYL

N/MP: A unique feature of Sprint Communications Ballpark (the home of the Fireflies) is that it is open 365 days a year, which is something I’ve never heard of before. Is there anything behind this? 

BS: It’s a community thing, but, as much as we try to get the word out on that, some people don’t realize that’s an amenity that they can come out and enjoy any time. The idea behind it is that this is a public-private partnership, and I’m sure everyone’s heard the debates over whether public money should be used on athletic venues, or if the ownership should pay for all of it. We are a public private partnership, so as we talked with the city of Columbia, we told them we don’t want this just to be a ballpark, we want this to become community asset. It’s also a marketing tool, as someone who might be doubting the ballpark, we can talk to them and invite them down, being open dawn until dusk. Fans can come out and check things out. Fans can also come out and have lunch, take a run, there are also even boot camps that have been coming down as the developments around us continue to grow.

N/MP: Why should a Mets fan come down to Columbia during an extended weekend to catch a game? 

BS: It’s one of those things where Columbia has a lot going for it. A family can come into town for a weekend, and it will be affordable, which is a big thing. Plenty to do, including a adventure-children’s museum, with a full sized fire truck, and all kinds of things for the kids. We’ve got the state museum, which has a lot of history. A great weekend can be made out of this town. And, for a Met fan, getting to see the stars of tomorrow. We just watched P.J Conlon pitch in the big-league game, and that’s a huge jump. Guys like him, David Thompson, and the other big time prospects that we are expected to have. You also get way more access when you are at a minor league park, so being able to get close, especially on Sunday’s when players sign autographs after the game. It just gives fans to have that access that you wouldn’t be able to have at a big league level.

pj-conlon-2016-tp

P.J Conlon

N/MP: How have the Fireflies been utilizing social media to captivate far away fans? 

BS: The power of social media for us is great. When we went on-sale with individual game tickets, we sold tickets to people in 15 different states, so, the majority of that is through social media. We have a full time employee that focuses on new media, social media, and as we got started with the grassroots campaign, social media was imperative to us. Getting those followers on-board when we were going around the community and selling merchandise after unveiling the logo was huge for us. The other thing being, in a college town, social media is very important for us, as they will go there when looking for something to do for the weekend.

allstargamelogounveil_small_4yvkm6lg

N/MP: Thanks Mr.Shank! Good luck with the All-Star game this year…

BS: Absolutely, it will, it’s going to be huge. Also, while the prospect watchers aren’t really to excited about it, but being in SEC county, people are going crazy asking us about Tebow right now, so we will see; we are ready to go, we’ve purchased some extra #15 jerseys.


Thanks to Brad Shank and Kevin Fitzgerald for their time and the insightful responses. 

 

 

Anyone else hooked on the World Baseball Classic?

 

C6sMWfOWsAEEQni.jpg-large.jpeg

Photo Credit: Michael Baron/MLB.com 

I didn’t watch the 2006 World Baseball Classic, the only thing I remember from the ’09 Classic is Wright’s walk off hit and the US losing in Los Angeles to Japan in the semi-finals, and while I remember the 2013 Classic, and I followed it, it didn’t captivate me, and I was bored by the championship game. This year, however, I have World Baseball Classic Fever.

The first few days is always a little hard to follow, with start times of 10pm and 5am, but when the Latin and American pool games begin, I actually stop watching the Mets Spring Training games, and instead focus in on the World Baseball Classic.

As a Canadian (and an American) I was routing with Canada and America from the outset. Generally, I know Canada isn’t going to advance while the US will, so while I route for Canada, I always go for the US over Canada as I know the Americans will have a better shot moving forward. On Thursday, the Canadians got demolished by the Dominicans, and they then swiped a game from the US, in what is one one the best teams ever assembled.

Seriously though, top to bottom, the Dominican team is like a swiss army knife, with a million tricks. With the exception of Jose Reyes, everyone is a major threat to go deep, and one bad pitcher would ruin the game against them.

This Classic makes me wish the best players from the United States (I’m looking at you, Bumgarner, Trout, Kershaw, Harper) actually played for the US team, and faced this Dominican lineup. How epic would that be?

Anyway, I’m looking forward to this game today, hopefully the US solidifies their spot in San Diego today with a win over Canada, in what will be Ryan Dempster’s last baseball game.

Who’s pitching for the Mets today, Wilk?

A Q&A with Adam Rubin on 15 years covering the Mets, his departure from ESPN and what really happened with Omar Minaya

I subscribe to a lot of newsletters, but one of my favorites is the -30- Letter from Jared Diamond and Mike Vorkonov.

The two, who are former Mets beat writers, sat down with Adam Rubin, longtime Mets reporter (who started covering the team before I was born) and divulged some pretty interesting information about his departure from ESPN and Omar Minaya.

I highly suggest reading this, and subscribing to the newsletter.

The -30-

Every week we will run a Q&A with a wonderful reporter to talk about what’s right and wrong with journalism, their interests and random other stuff. Some are friends. Some are just people whose work we really respect. Some cover sports. Some don’t. Hopefully all will be interesting.

This week, it’s with Adam Rubin, a longtime baseball writer and now the assistant athletic director for strategic communications at the New York Institute of Technology. For 15 years, Adam was one of the best beat writers in the country, amassing an enormous following and serving as the primary source of New York Mets news, information and analysis for a generation. Here, we discuss his career on the beat, the circumstances surrounding his departure from ESPN and what he’s doing now. Plus, what really did happen that time with Omar Minaya?

If you want this Q&A delivered in your inbox every…

View original post 4,704 more words

Sad News: Bill Webb, longtime TV Director passes away

08webb-master768

Bill Webb on the right – New York Times

People often say the Mets have the best booth in Baseball, and that is true, but the only reason SNY comes off as a great production is because of the amazing work from the talent that goes un-recognized in the truck behind the scenes.

Long time connoisseur in Baseball directing, Bill Webb, has passed away due to a battle with cancer. Webb directed Mets games on television for over 40 years, and has spent over 17 years directing the World Series nationally.

Webb, who wasn’t scheduled to direct many games this year, will be deeply missed, and the Mets issued a moment of silence prior to today’s Red Sox-Mets game at First Data Field.

Personally, I’ve never met Mr.Webb, but from watching his telecasts over the last 10+ years, I can see and understand why be praise him so much. All of his telecasts bleed the precision and good qualities that come with a sharp mind.

I share my condolences to his entire family.

SNY New Studio Time Lapse

SNY recently began their coverage from Four World Trade Center.

To commemorate the moment, SNY released a time-lapse showing the construction of their secondary set, Studio 31.

This was pretty awesome, and I love how the original floor that was installed re-appears towards the end of the video.

The Mets studio, Studio 41 (named after Tom Terrific) doesn’t have a time lapse video to accompany it, but I’m sure the brick, if it’s real, wasn’t easy to install.

It wasn’t too long ago either when SNY renovated their new studios, which now features shows like Power Lunch and Squawk Box…

#ThePlusInMetsPlus: Redeeming my Miles another way…..

On today’s #ThePlusInMetsPlus, we take a break from the Baseball to talk about Golf. Not to farfetched, right? Well, what does Golf have to do with Frequent Flyer Miles? Read on to find out!


 

Baseball is my favorite sport. Aside from Baseball, I like Hockey, Golf and Tennis, and Football when the time is right.

Last year, I went to the Barclays Black Course in Bethpage, and I’ve been intrigued by the PGA Tour ever since.

This year, through the MileagePlus Exclusives program, I got tickets to the Genesis Open, in Santa Monica, CA, but here’s the catch, I didn’t get any tickets, my Premier Status allowed me to redeem miles for the United Fairway Club, right in front of the 17th Green.

I simply logged into my MileagePlus account on the official MileagePlus Exclusives page, and everything was processed from there.

Screen Shot 2017-03-05 at 5.12.14 PM.png

The VIP treatment started two weeks before the tournament, as I was given the tickets in a huge box via FedEx. The box included the tickets with nice United Airlines lanyards, parking passes, and a separate Calaway Golf “repair kit” with a tee, four golf balls and markers.

unnamed-109

This was a pretty awesome gift and a great omen for the trip!

Fast forward to Genesis Sunday, and the aforementioned parking pass really came in hand. The VIP pass gave us access to the valet lot right behind the 18th Clubhouse, which really helped us get in and out in a flash. The walk down the path was beautiful, with the sun starting to come out of the clouds just as the players started teeing off.

The club was next to the AT&T, Bank Of America and Mercedes-Benz tents. I was welcomed by the representative, given a wrist band and we were off.

unnamed-105

Upon entering, we were given a golf towel by a friendly check-in representative that made us sign photo release forms. There were outlets, flat screen TV’s, air conditioning, leather couches, a full buffet (more on that later) and those advertised views of the 17th Green.

There were three rows of comfortable seats, all overlooking the green with TV monitors showing the replays overhead. There was rain the day before, so there was pressure to finish play before sunset.

unnamed-95

The event lasted from 11am to around 5pm. The catering was pretty good, similar to what you would see at a great airport lounge. There were make-your-own Chicken Sandwiches, Salads, Brisket Mac and Cheese, Toppings, Pickles, breads, all in addition to a fantastic full bar, which served non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages free of charge, I stuck with the cranberry juice, but my parents quite enjoyed the alcoholic selection, which has delivered by the courteous bar tender.

unnamed-94

To start, I had some of the brisket mac & cheese, which was extremely tasty, and probably the most memorable food item on the whole buffet due to it’s uniqueness.

When the golfers made there way to the 17th hole, I made myself a delicious Chicken Breast Sandwich, with some toppings, accompanied by a thirst quenching Cranberry Juice.

This truly felt like a VIP experience, and something that should cost way more MileagePlus miles. Comparing it to something that I understand, a suite at Citi Field, which doesn’t come with any food, starts from $5,000 per game, so this was an incredible deal.

Here are some more candids from the day:

We were encouraged to share the experience on social media using #MPExclusives, which I did throughout the day.

unnamed-96

Towards the end, I had some of the dessert, thinking the culinary part of the day was over, but no, it was time for the snacks!

This time there was Seasonal Fruit, Chips, Mini Hot Dogs etc. which I continued to enjoy.

We might have just had the luck of the draw, but the weather was fantastic, and the fact that there was an overhang protecting us from direct sun was a huge plus. After the last group of players (Perez, Johnson and Triangle) finished playing, I said goodbye to the staff at the United Fairway Club, who were very nice and super friendly, and even gave us a few more towels before we left.

We then “followed” Johnson up the 18th Green and saw him finishing the tournament off with a great putt.

unnamed-91

Overall, this whole event was superb, and United did a great job putting it together. I would highly recommend doing something like this if you have a stash of United MileagePlus Miles that you aren’t utilizing.

Thanks to United Airlines and the Genesis Open for being amazing hosts and offering great hospitality.

SNY to move into new Studios Starting Tomorrow

I don’t know why this is the first time I’m hearing about this, but this is news.

SNY will be moving out of their longtime home in Rockefeller Center to move into 4 World Trade Center, effective tomorrow, with GEICO SportsNite being the first show to air out of the new home.

studio-41_sny_mets-2

According to Steve Raab, the president of SNY, this $50 million dollar facility will offer state of the art amenities for the broadcasters and fans watching in. The studio pictured, above, Studio 41 (named after the Franchise, Tom Seaver) is supposed to represent the inside of the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, and will be devoted to Mets news more or less. Studio 31 will also be named after a Met, Mike Piazza, but will host other shows, like SportsNite, in addition to baseball content.

sny

There will also be a third set, Studio 42, for Breaking News and specialty reports with panoramic views of the East River.

Unlike the midtown studios however, the new SNY setup will not be on the ground level, so fans won’t be able to “go behind the set” like they are now. Steve Raab does say that this isn’t even a flaw, and that it will be a considerable improvement over the old setup. “As we began to look at prospective new locations, the downtown area and 4 World Trade Center topped our list,” “We immediately felt the neighborhood’s vibrancy, envisioned the space’s potential and, after careful planning and execution over the past year, we are thrilled with the final results. We look forward to tomorrow night’s first broadcast and the start of an exciting new chapter at SNY.”

One other interesting fact is that the old SNY studios seem to be converting into MSNBC/CNBC studios, as some of the daytime programing has already begun to switch over.

#MetsPlus360: Day 2 in Spring Training

I spent two days down in Spring Training last weekend, and, like it always is, it was a thrilling time.

There is no other time one can pay $15 and sit five feet from the Mets bullpen, dugout or home plate.

As I arrived into the ballpark, got my tickets, I was again waived through the “special” lane which has no metal detectors, which again, makes me wonder why there are these security procedures in place at all. It makes it no sense to install a security system only to waive 25% of the fans through the reduced-security lane.

I arrived earlier this time, so I had a chance to check out the team store, and, well, there was some interesting things in there…

We had seats in section 201, which is a great seat on a warm day, as it is in the shade and has a nice breeze.

Like the previous day, we didn’t come to Tradition Field to sit in our seats the entire day, so we moved around. The first thing we did is play the “prize wheel” located behind the Tiki Bar.

During the regular season, I frequently win magnetic schedules leftover from Opening Day. However, I miraculously won the “Grand Prize” which is two Postseason caps, which was pretty awesome.

unnamed-1

We then got lunch, which, once again was Sonny’s BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich (I did look around the stadium, but nothing else looked as appetizing…)  which we enjoyed out on the left field picnic tables, also out by the Tiki Bar.

unnamed-2

It was nice to sit there, but, as anyone who was spent time there knows, the view of the game is not perfect from the picnic tables and is slightly mis-aligned, and I was hoping to soak in some of the florida sun, so I did the un-orthodox thing and decided to sit right in front of the Astros bullpen. Completely un-conventional, yes, but gave me a unique perspective.

unnamed-3

(That’s Michael Feliz, not Neftali, in the picture)

Other than that the game was relatively quiet. Tom Gorzelany blew the save in the ninth inning, but the fans seemed contempt and excited about the 2017 New York Mets.

My stay in Port St. Lucie was short but I definitely felt the excitement that is surrounding this 2017 team. At the end of the day, making the postseason is paramount and is what is most important, but if the pieces click, this team is capable of so much more.