April 2018

LISTEN: Piano Man Sing-A-Long at Citi Field

Mets Return Home; How Important is this Homestand?

Tomorrow, the Mets start a six game homestand against two above five hundred teams, the Atlanta Braves (whom the Mets split a series with in Atlanta last week) and the Colorado Rockies.

The Mets still sit at the top of the National League East, 1.5 games above both the Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies (the Nationals remain 6.0 games back), but both the Braves and Phillies have been hot as of late, whereas the Mets have lost more than they’ve won after their 11-1 start.

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The Mets should be able to win three games out of the six against the Braves and the Rockies, and hopefully take two out of three (or better) in Cincinnati, one of the weakest teams in the National League.

This all leads up to the first crucial series of the season, the May 11-13 series versus the Phillies. Given the relatively easy schedule the Phillies have against the Marlins, Giants and a depleted Giants team, there’s every chance we will have comparable records going into the May 11th game. Because of this, it’s even more crucial for the Mets to grab an extra game this homestand.

Let’s Go Mets!

 

Meaningless Games in September at Citi

This past September, on a cold weekday night, with absolutely no plans, I decided going to the Mets game (by myself) would be a fun activity.

Typically, I don’t go to games by myself, I’ve only gone by myself two or three times in my life, but when I do, I find that I actually really enjoy it. So, I jumped on the secondary market, and found promenade tickets for as low as $2, but decided to “splurge” for a $15 ticket on the Field Level.

I arrived to my favorite sight, no lines and no metal detectors. Instead, I was subject to a quick wand check, and spoke to a friendly security guard.

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As part of Fan Appreciation Weekend, a special scratch & win card and a Citi Rally Towel were given away to all fans. The Mets also advertised some other perks and special appearances (some players even scanned tickets on Saturday), but I didn’t see anything else.

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I then decided to take a quick walk around the field level, just to gauge the atmosphere at the game, and took note of the many food options that I’ve never tried.

While I do like new and unique food options, I pretty much stick to Shake Shack, Chicken & Fries from Nathan’s, and the occasional Fuku Chicken Sandwich or Lobster Roll from Catch of the Day.

So, I decided to try the “Mex Burger” without Avocado from Keith’s Grill. With the $11 burger, you get a bag of Wise chips and a Tootsie Roll, the only place in the entire ballpark that gives you un-advertised “extras” alongside your main.

There were no line’s at Keith’s, and it tasted pretty darn good.

While I had a Field Level ticket, I ate my meal up in the Excelsior Level. The views are far better up there, and you don’t have kids running across the aisle chasing their favorite player for an autograph.

I’m not saying I don’t like that, I was running around cutting people off when I was young too, but I enjoy the Excelsior Level considerably more most of the time.

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I then decided to head back down to the field level for first pitch, where I stayed for the first five innings.

My ticket was located next to a Nationals Fan who was amazed that I was keeping score. Supposedly it’s an extremely rare site at Nationals Park, and he commended me for rooting on the Mets even through the tough times. I countered with the fact that you have to watch the bad baseball to enjoy the good baseball, and he agreed.

I then decided to switch things up and head back to the Excelsior Level, I’ve always found the bathrooms to be considerably more clean in the Excelsior Level, so once I went up there to use them, I decided to stick it out up there for the rest of the game.

One of my favorite non-game moments was the Piano Man sing-along, something that is played during -most- home games at Citi Field during the middle of the eighth inning.

The good news was that after Billy Joel, and after the Mets went down in the bottom of the eighth, we were only three outs away from securing the win versus Washington, and, after three relievers came in, we got the job done!

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So this wasn’t the most important Mets game I’d ever been to, but it was an exciting day with the best fans in baseball, and I’ll look forward to cheering them on two more times before calling it a quits on the 2017 Mets.

Compare and Contrast: Citi Field Right Field Scoreboard

Please note that all pictures used are property of Gary Dunaier, this post would not be possible without his photography, see all of his images and albums here


2009-2011: 

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The first version of the Citi Field Scoreboard was one of the best for simplicities sake. It’s also technically the longest-lasting one, from 2009 until 2011. It features the lineups with respective lineups on the side, followed by the score and count below it. Underneath that was the pitcher’s name and very basic stats. Also present was the time and some unique trivia.

It was rather primitive in terms of graphics and special effects. Whenever a play occurred, the right field board would switch to the live cam of the action. Similarly, whenever a chant took place or something to draw people’s attention, only the top part would “react”, wheras the bottom part would still show the essentials (score, time, count).

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Overall, this is one of my favorite versions of the scoreboard. The only criticism would be not being able to see more pitching notes. As you’ll see later, the layout changed in 2015 to hitters statistics on the centerfield board, and the pitcher’s stats on the centerfield board. 9/10

2012-2013: 

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This is a nice board, don’t get me wrong. There is far more in terms of statistics, and the pitcher’s stats are taken care of. The lineups are still on this board (unlike the score, you have to look to the center field board or the line boards for that), but they are smaller as they are trying to accommodate as many things as possible. Instead of the time in the bottom right corner, we see a “due up” board, which we can find directly above it, so I’m not too fond of that.

The advanced stats are also nice, but if you were sitting up in the Promenade, they were incredibly hard to see, which wasn’t the best. After the first at bat, however, the board’s advanced metrics became much more useful.

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After two years, this board was once again, revamped. If you would add the time and a small score, then this board is a ten.  8/10

2014: 

This board was the last of the “old boards” before the center and right field boards got reconfigured in 2015. This was the last year of the “soft-retro” look, before the board tried to look sleek and modern.

Before the game started, the board accomplished to show both the lineups, and the pitching probables. The score also returned to the right field board, this time above everything.

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One oddity about this board was how the team name doubled as the lineups and the team name for the scoreboard. It was somewhat odd not to see the “NYM” or “Mets” to the left of the line score, and just the opposing team’s logo.

The time returned, this time in a old fashioned way, accompanied by the temperature, which, for some reason, only appeared in 2014 and for a portion of 2015 on the center field board. Please bring that back!

During the game, everything was the same sans the middle, now showing the hitters stats. Additionally, the diamond team logo doubled as a “who’s on base” board, as seen by yellow circles.

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Pitch count and a small advertisement for a future game is below the hitters notes. Essentially, this is a more refined version of the original board, with everything a little more clear. This is probably the best board we’ve seen. 9.5/10

2015 (April/May):

If 2014 was the best right field board Citi Field had ever seen, get ready to see the worst. So bad, they had to overhaul it three homestands into the season. This one is so bad, that I have to show it to you first before saying anything else.

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First, some backstory. During this design, the Mets decided to make two boards act in tandem as one. Essentially, they assumed that a fan would be able to see the centerfield scoreboard and the right field scoreboard all the time, so you would only see the lineup from the team that’s batting on the centerfield board, while the fielding team’s lineup and pitching stats were presented on the right field board. Gone is the time, temp, line score, batting stats and both lineups. The unused space in this configuration is enough to drive one up the wall, but the most egregious problem of all was the fact that there was no score on the right field board (which far more people can see compared to the centerfield board).

Hold up, Niko, you said you liked the 2012-13 board, which didn’t have the score….”

Well, yes, I did, because in 2012, the score was always available on the line board, and on the centerfield board, since the board wasn’t enlarged, they kept the bottom portion dedicated for the score. In 2015, that wasn’t possible, given the size of the board, so you were left without the score during Let’s Go Mets chants, games, and sing-a-longs. Here’s a comparison of the center field boards:

 

 

Ultimately, this 2015 board was an abomination. Thankfully, it was modified in May. 2/10

2015 (May-November):

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This board keeps everything from the April 2015 board, but enlarges the lineup, adds the score and count, and you also get a little “at bat – due up” sign for those that can’t see the centerfield board. This was really just a stop gap measure, only meant to save face until another overhaul in 2016. 6.5/10

2016-2018:

Technically, these are three different boards, but they have the exact same layout, just with slightly different graphics, so I’ll review them as one.

The one carry over from 2015 was the pitcher stats in right field board, with no space left over to show any hitting stats outside of the lineup (something the original board was able to accomplish). On Opening Day, for some reason, career hitting stats was shown for Met ballplayers, but not for the opposing team.

2016:

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2017:

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2018:

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It’s nice to see the line board back full time, and the time makes a return. And, while I wish the Mets.com sign was replaced by the temperature, this is a pretty nice board.

The board is always showing this throughout the game. No more cut-aways, live game feeds, or chants on this board. Between innings, the pitcher disappears in favor of a Mets skyline logo.

2017 was probably the lesser of the three in terms of how refined it was, as the lineups began to disappear during any bullpen move, or when anyone was warming up. 8/10.


So, that’s the history of the Citi Field right field boards. While one might think the differences are few and far between, the scoreboard is a huge resource for anyone who keeps score, or for those that watch the game intensely. It’s interesting to see it evolve and change over time, and I look forward to seeing it improve in the future.

 

Mets Finally Break Out The Blues!

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It was a nice streak, but all good things come to an end.

After twenty games of exclusively wearing the home white pinstripes and the road grays,  the Mets have dipped into the clubhouse locker and broken out the road grays (at starter Zack Wheeler’s request), featuring the skyline patch on the sleeve, and grey lettering with the orange background.

These uniform tops debuted in 2013, with the road alternate cap following in 2015.

In 2014, the road blue was worn more often than the road gray, but they’ve been used less and less each subsequent year.

Alex Anthony Update: Is This why Alex was “Dismissed”?

Mets Plus

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Most Mets fans will agree that the last seven days have been pretty good in Mets-land. Mickey Callaway is pushing all the right buttons, the bullpen has been fantastic, and the Mets are in first place, with a nice 5-1 record.

With that being said, there was an apparent difference in the ballpark experience, with backup PA announcer Rob Rush calling the players up to the plate, instead of Alex Anthony, the longtime voice of the Mets who was recently dismissed. And, while we didn’t know too much regarding the circumstance of his firing, Bob’s Blitz is now reporting that an inside joke, done behind closed doors, is the reason for his dismissal, according to a close friend of Craig Carton, host of the Carton & Friends radio show:

“A friend of mine who is close with the Mets tells me that he (Alex) was…

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WATCH: Get Serenaded by Billy Joel

I filmed the following clip in yesterday’s 11-5 victory over the Washington Nationals. It was one of the few times the Mets played the full version of Piano Man.

Five Arms in the Eighth

We were going to the top of the eighth inning at Citi Field, with the Mets up, 6 to 1. Victory was so imminent you could taste it. Jacob deGrom, the ace of the Mets staff, had completely out-dueled the Nationals all day, and was poised to be the first Mets pitcher to make it into the eighth inning this season.

The small but mighty fan base was jumping up and down, both to stay warm, and to cheer on the Mets.

First up was Moises Sierra. After a few pitches, Sierra knocks one back up the middle, past Rosario, and the lead off man was on. I glance over at Callaway, and see a turning in the bullpen. It’s Lugo, who had been warming up the inning prior. deGrom is allowed to stay in, and after a full-count battle, strikes Michael Taylor out, swinging.

All right, we all said.

Next up was Trea Turner. deGrom quickly gets him to two strikes, but struggles to put him away, after yet another battle, this time taking deGrom over 100 pitchers.

Like with Sierra, deGrom losses him to a ground ball up the middle. Next up in Howie Kendrick, the man who deGrom had punched out three times prior, but first a pitching change.

Five unsuccessful pitching changes later, and the Mets are behind, 7-6, and they never came back.

So who’s to blame for this? Well, there were many miscues by many people, and yes, the Mets are still way ahead in the standings, but it’s frustrating.

First off, let’s talk about deGrom, who pitched as good as he has all season.

Jacob looked primed to get through the eighth, and maybe even the ninth, but fell victim to long at bats and soft hits. None of the hits were frozen ropes off the wall, though, and he could have very well faced Kendrick.

Furthermore, while the bullpen has been good early on, it was downright painful yesterday. Lugo had no grip of the ball, and Robles, Ramos and Familia looked lost. The only one with some Guts was Blevins, who threw a filthy curveball to Harper, before falling to a ground ball single.

The game ended right then and there, when the Nationals took the lead, and everyone in attendance had this bad taste in their mouth, as if they couldn’t comprehend what had happened, and wanted to go home.

Let’s hope this game wasn’t a bad omen…..

Last Chance! Purchase Limited-Time ToppsNOW Cards

Last year we discussed the exciting new partnership between Noah Syndergaard and Topps, as he became the ambassador for ToppsNOW, the limited time card from Topps that is only available for 24 hours, and then it is gone, forever.

Well, for the next half hour, one can buy two Mets cards from the thrilling Sunday walk-off win versus the Brewers. Noah Syndergaard’s masterpiece and Wilmer’s Walk Off are both available (I purchased the latter).

For those that collect cards, like me, I’ve noticed that the value of a ToppsNOW card carries quite heavy weight against traditional cards, so if you trade with your friends, these cards are worthwhile.

Did anyone else purchase these ToppsNOW cards? Do you have a greater collection of ToppsNOW cards? 

New Food Options at Citi Field: Lil Sweet Chick (Chicken & Waffles)

At the beginning of the year, in the “What’s New At Citi Field for 2018” event, the Mets unveiled some new food options for Citi Field.

As someone who likes ballpark food, I was looking forward to trying some of the new options from each of the vendors that premiered this April.

Getting There:

First up was Lil Sweet Chick. To get to Lil Sweet Chick, unfortunately, you can’t be sitting in the cheap seats. At the bare minimum, you need access to the Promenade Club. If you don’t have that, then you’ll be left in the dark, or trust someone with access with your money.

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The Choices: 

Lil’ Sweet Chick  has three options for food, the Traditional Chicken Sandwich, the Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich and the “signature” Chicken & Waffles.

I decided to purchase the Chicken & Waffles, which set me back $13. It came with only two breaded pieces of chicken, two waffles, a heap of butter, and real maple syrup.

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The Review: 

At first glance, I knew that the butter was unnecessary and poorly placed. Even when I took it off, a whole bunch of it had melted over the first waffle. The chicken, while tasty and better then the regular chicken fingers at other ballpark stands, was rather small, and considering there was only two, I was left wanting more.

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The Waffles were fine, but nothing better than what I get from a Hilton Garden Inn, which isn’t saying much. The Maple Syrup was a noticeable improvement over generic “breakfast syrup” which I was dreading.

The Verdict:

I ate the whole dish, but would I go back for more? No. I’ll steer clear of this dish.

The main issue with this dish is that it isn’t ballpark food. While it looks nice and is tasty, it’s small and incredibly hard to eat, not to mention the lines and location are incredibly inconvenient.

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4 out of 10