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 purchase 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.
Members without Premier Status could bid on these exclusive experiences buy using their MileagePlus award miles.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
MetsPlus.com will officially be leaving MLB.com, in two days. And before that happens, I wanted to share with you my Top 5 all-time posts on MetsPlus.com, since we joined MLB.com in April of 2014.
There are a LOT of posts that I’ve written over the past few years that I’m extremely proud of, but after an extensive review and a lot of decision making, I believe I’ve settled on five posts that I’d call my favorite.
Yes, after interviewing some of the games best, doing some amazing things, eating my way through Citi Field was one of my favorite memories. While, the PIG GUY NYC Bacon on the Stick was very memorable, I also enjoyed the Fuku Chicken Sandwich, Box Frites, Keith’s Burger and all the other places that we went around to see.
I might do a Part 3 of Culinary Citi in 2017 if the Mets add some new options to the ballpark fare this Spring.
4. 11 Questions with Branden Wellington (September 2014)
This pick is most likely a sympathy pick, as over the years I have interviewed people a little more well known than Branden Wellington, however, I was amazed by the professionalism and the willingness of the first person I ever interviewed for Mets Plus, and, it was truly an exciting interview. In the interview, Mr.Wellington shares his game day routine, favorite experiences, and on-screen moments.
#3 – NL Wild Card Game Picture Blog (October 2016)
Had the Mets actually won the NL Wild Card game, this would have been considerably higher on the list, maybe even at #1. This was the first time for me doing a personal recap of a game I attended, and I enjoyed it immensely.
Looking back at that game two months later, I realize how amazing that game actually was, and how close the Mets came from playing the Cubs at Wrigley in the NLDS.
#2 – Top 5 Winter Meetings Experiences (December 2016)
You have to give me some credit for putting a Top 5 List in a Top 5, huh?
Well, the Winter Meetings truly was action packed, and there were a lot of moments that were extremely unforgettable. The Trade Show was probably at the top of that, but meeting some of my favorite TV Personalities, speaking to Job Fair candidates, and interviewing a guy that was holding a sign in the lobby. This was truly a memorable and amazing week.
I mean, how can meeting Mike Piazza not be at the top of the list? This is actually two blog posts, the first part was my time in Cooperstown, New York for the induction ceremony, and part two was the actual number retirement, which I enjoyed a little more.
This, without a doubt, is my top Mets related memory of all time.
1) Citi Field Tour Recap (November 2016)
2) Fall & Winter Fest Review (Fall and Winter 2014)
3) 11 Questions with Art Shamsky (November 2014)
Per usual in September, the Mets have been bombarding me with emails and flyers suggesting that I sign-up for a 2018 Mets ticket plan. During the last homestand, while making my way around the ballpark, two ticket reps openly walked up to me and basically pleaded with me to sign up for a plan. Obviously, I have no lack of respect for these reps that are doing their job, but I thought it’s time I address this head on.
At it’s face, buying a Mets ticket plan is a lot like Amazin’ Mets Fan Photo. It’s completely unnecessary, it’s annoying with the emails and in-person requests, and it’s more expensive, and the only real benefit of indulging in the product is to have tangible security that your memory will be in-tact.
Some skeptics still heckle me on Twitter suggesting I’m wrong about this, so here are my responses to some of the common frequently asked questions regarding Mets ticket plans.
Take a look at this years plan breakdown:
This year, I attended 28 games at Citi Field, with the expectation to attend two more in this last homestand, so I’d have attended 30 of the Mets 81 home games. I actually paid out of pocket for about 23 of them with five of those games being freebees (ClubMets, friends, Food Drive, corporate, etc). So, if I were to get a plan, I’d get the 20 game plan.
My favorite section to sit in is 308 or 329, in the Excelsior Box, with would cost anywhere between $26-80 depending on the game. On StubHub, even for the best games, these tickets are routinely available for less than $25, and in most instances (like the Friday game) I can purchase a ticket for $13, far less than the $50 I would be paying up-front.
And more commonly, they are available for dirt cheap:
Even when StubHub fails (which is extremely rare), I can always use one of the Mets many buy one get one deals to drag the price down by 50%, and the only blackout restrictions for those games are Opening Day and the Subway Series.
You don’t have Guaranteed seats for games…..
Can someone tell me why I would want that? I don’t know when I’ll take a vacation in 2018, I don’t know when I’ll get ill, or have to run for a family emergency. Purchasing single game tickets guarantees that you go to games that you want to go to, not games that you feel you have an obligation to go to because you paid for it, even if you are under the weather.
Right, but what about Opening Day and the Postseason, I want those seats confirmed….
I get that, and, yes, Opening Day and the Postseason is far more complex than all the other games, so I think this is where one has to take an educated approach into their decision making. As my friend Jeremy Posner said on Twitter this morning, he would rather splurge on Opening Day than get locked in for the entire season, and I, personally, agree. Typically, you can get into the stadium for $45 on Mets.com or the secondary market, just ten dollars more expensive then a seat in Promenade Outfield with a plan. So, it doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that it’s better to lose out on one game, but then win (price wise) on the rest of them than the other way around.
You didn’t mention the Postseason!
True, that is the one place where plans come in handy. Still, I think that with the allure of the Mets postseason less exciting as it was two years ago, I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s smarter to lock into a plan than playing it day by day. That being said, if the Mets were a winning ball club, I might have more reason to consider a plan….
If I went Single Game, I’d lose my perks….
I do understand this, even if it sounds deranged. I have relatives that hold on to credit cards that are counterintuitive to their financial life only so they can have a card that shows they were members “Since 1992”. So, while it’s completely meaningless to me, I do understand (in the vaguest sense) holding on to a season ticket to show off your seniority as a fan.
Excluding the GCL Mets and other developmental leagues, the Mets have six minor league affiliates, all of which sport different, unique, colors. Those teams are the Las Vegas 51s (AAA), Binghamton Rumble Ponies (AA), St.Lucie Mets (A+), Columbia Fireflies (A), Brooklyn Cyclones (A-) and the Kingsport Mets (R).
And, while we often know that the minor leagues are known for the elaborate get-ups, I believe it’s fair to say that the Mets affiliates have some of the best uniform sets in the minors.
So, today I’m going to rank the Mets affiliates by their uniforms, caps and logos:
6. Binghamton Rumble Ponies (Double-A)
A lot of people love to hate on the re-launch of the Binghamton Mets as the Rumble Ponies, and while it’s at the bottom of my list, I actually quite like the look as a whole. While the name was part of a general fan contest, the name is not without significance. Without going into too much context, Binghamton (and the Tri-Cities in general) was at one time the horse carousel capital of the world, so this Rumble Ponies pays homage to this little known fact.
Unfortunately, the uniforms are not the best in the world, with mostly bland colors, and four completely different caps to match four completely different uniforms. While it’s not a necessity in the minors, I believe that at some of the uniforms should have uniformity.
5. Las Vegas 51s (Triple-A)
Las Vegas is the furthest affiliate from Queens in terms of distance, but is most important in terms of resources. The 51s are in the Pacific Coast League, and their players are often shuffling back and forth between New York and Vegas, so their name is frequently brought up.
It might be because I’m not a fan of Las Vegas or aliens, but the whole 51s brand doesn’t connect with me. I think that their alien cap is the ugliest cap in the minors bar none, but some people like that kind of thing, so I give it a pass. The uniform tops are actually fairly nice, especially the whites with Las Vegas and the red number, but it often feels like a Dodgers look, not a Mets one.
4. Kingsport Mets (Rookie)
The Kingsport Mets are the only Mets affiliate that I’ve never seen play in person. Images and coverage is so scarce, and they play in a stadium that is comparable to a good high school park, but that’s rookie ball in Tennessee, what did you expect?
I do think it’s interesting how their uniform follows the Mets scheme very closely, with the K in place of the famous interlocking NY on their orange and blue caps. Their primary logo is the only thing that looks well, rookie. But again, it is rookie ball.
3. Brooklyn Cyclones (Short Season A)
The Cyclones have one of the strongest brand presences in the entire Minor Leagues, and while it isn’t orange and blue, they pay homage to their older brothers in Queens frequently, and are an all around good club.
They do have a lot of them nights, some of which cause a one-day name change, with names like the “Brooklyn Slices” and the “Coney Island Franks”. All around, this is good fun, and a good brand to root for.
2. St Lucie Mets (Single A)
The St.Lucie Mets often fly under the radar, but their 2013 re-design really screams Mets in Florida, or “Tropical Neon Mets” which is what I think the Minor Leagues should be, a switch-up of the big club. They are relatively simplistic, with only two caps and three uniforms, and it is very warm and inviting.
Until last year, this was my favorite uniform set and brand of any of the Mets affiliates, but after the Sand Gnats left Savannah, it was Glow Time…..
1. Columbia Fireflies (Single A)
Yes! The Columbia Fireflies are my pick as my best overall affiliate in terms of appearance. First, look at the primary logo, and tell me that isn’t pure genius. Perhaps the best part is the use of neon green and grey, two colors that are almost never used in any minor league city. They have four uniforms and three caps, all of which glow in the dark. For a sport deprived of new unique brands, the Fireflies one is a very, very strong one, even if you wouldn’t suspect they were the Mets affiliate.
So that’s my list. Yes, I’m a sucker for the glow of the Fireflies green uniform, but overall, there are no bad designs in the Mets minors, and there are plenty of bad designs around MiLB. Do you have a different list, share it with me @NikoMetsPlus or leave your thoughts in the comments below!
To end 2017 on the worst note possible, the Nationals won the NL East. The year that some predicted would be the best year in Mets history had turned into one of the absolute worst, and Daniel Murphy and the Nationals will be heading into the postseason with the National League East crown over their heads.
This obviously comes at no surprise, as it has been evident since May that the Mets weren’t up to the challenge, and the Nationals, while not perfect, had no issues claiming the title.
This has been a really tough year to be a Mets fan, one of the worst years I can remember. However, we have to go out there, root on the Mets, and go through these down periods if we want to enjoy the good times. That’s baseball, if it was predictable, we wouldn’t watch. So go out there and root on the Mets this last homestand, or root from your couch. It’ll be a long winter ahead of us, and over hald a year until we see the Mets play exhibition games in Port St. Lucie.
It’s time to throw 2017 out the window, and get behind #Mets2018.
This is absurdity at it’s best.
In brief, the article talks about how Terry Collins and Jay Bruce support their employers decision (shocker), and how the Yankees have balked at the idea, as even preliminary discussions have prompted Yankees fans to write in and complain.
However, one very interesting point is this little excerpt that Shannon highlights on his blog, which has my head spinning:
As significant a move as the Mets have made with the additional screens, it does not meet what City Councilman Rafael Espinal is asking for in a bill that would require both the Mets and Yankees to extend protective netting all the way to each foul pole.
Now, we should all remember that there are hundreds of bills that are…
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For the first time in a while, there is quite a bit of Blue!
Here is a breakdown of the Mets August uniforms:
- Home White Pinstripes: 11 games out of 14. Paired with Primary cap.
- Blue Home Alternate: 3 game out of 14. Paired with Home Alt cap.
- Road Grey: 9 games out of 16 paired with Primary cap.
- Road Blue Alternate: 3 games out of 16 paired with road alternate cap.
- **Special** Players Weekend: 4 games out of 16
And here is a breakdown of the Mets July Caps:
- Primary Mets cap: 20 games out of 30
- Home Alternate cap: 3 games out of 25
- Road Alternate cap: 3 games out of 25
- ** Special ** Caps: 4 games out of 25
Nori, or Norichika, Aoki is probably the definition of a journeyman. Since he came over from Japan in 2012, he has played for six different teams, and now, starting this afternoon, he will be a New York Met.
Aoki is a career 285 hitter, with with 33 home runs and 93 stolen bases. More importantly, he is a contact hitter that doesn’t strikeout, and doesn’t go for the long ball, something that the Mets could use dearly.
One might be wondering why the Mets are signing a journeyman, well, as MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, points out, Aoki still has a year of team control, so this is mainly a move for 2018:
Welcome aboard, Mr.Aoki! Looking forward to seeing your style of play.
One of the most popular questions I get on a daily basis from Mets fans is what to do at Citi Field. While most fans live in New York, a lot of fans live outside of the Metropolitan area or simply do not have the time or the means to visit. So, I decided I would write a small post, a beginner’s guide of sorts, with some brief history, facts & figures, and my personal opinion on the stadium that is turning eight years old this April.
The first thing I will say about Citi Field is how every fan has a different opinion on the stadium. Some fans hate the stadium, citing a plethora of Dodgers references, and some fans love the stadium, stating that it’s family friendly activities make it a great experience for a Sunday afternoon.
This is a trend among stadiums in the 2000s, starting with Oriole Park in Camden Yards, is the movement of “Retro Modern” stadiums, something Citi Field follows to a tee, where a stadium will look rustic and display heritage on the outside, but look pristine on the inside with all of the modern amenities.
One of the biggest examples of this is the facade, known as the Jackie Robinson Rotunda:
Like the title suggests, this rotunda, designed by POPULOUS (or HOK Sport like many call it), is designed after the history of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Some of Jackie Robinson’s best quotes and pictures are adorned inside a replica of the Dodgers fifth and most popular stadium, Ebbits Field.
So why is this entrance criticized so heavily? Well, Citi Field is the home of the Mets, not the Dodgers. When you walk into Citi Field, a lot of Mets fans would have preferred statues of Tom Seaver and Keith Hernandez, even the press has written about it at length.
And while the Mets haven’t added statues yet, they did listen in 2010, when, one year after the ballpark’s first game, they opened a “Mets Hall of Fame and Museum” with commemorative plaques, jerseys and even the World Series trophy.
Another tactic the Mets have done to try to make the outside more Mets centric is the addition of fanwalk bricks, which is very cool to see in practice, as I’d much rather see quotes from Mets fans than Geico advertisements, but is very costly for the fan.
Moving inside the stadium, we see another new ballpark trend. Team Stores. Two, to be exact, less than 50 steps from the entrance. This no-frills tactic, where you don’t pay much on a ticket, but are forced to pay a lot for merchandise and concessions is a truly brilliant move. If you are a fan that wants to watch the game and nothing else, you can buy a ticket for $6 dollars, and enjoy the game. If you want to have fun with your family, you can enjoy all of the concessions and fun games at Fan Fest (currently called Send In The Clowns Fan Fest, but that always changes….) like dunk tank, a fast pitch game and event virtual simulator. Additionally, young fans can run the bases after Sunday Home Games (known as the Mr.Met Dash), which is extremely fun for the little ones, and is another example of how teams are becoming more accessible and interested in “opening up” their stadium. Ten or twenty years ago, when ballparks were considered “sacred” a post game dash would never be allowed.
Another ballpark staple is food, and Citi Field doesn’t disappoint there. The New York Post and other newspapers have often called Citi Field the best stadium in the world as far as eats, and I don’t disagree.
From Blue Smoke to Fuku to PRESSED, to Taqueria to Shake Shack (where people will miss 3 innings of a game just to get a milkshake) there are nearly infinite options for dining. Fans that want an elevated dining experience can dine at the Porsche Grille with excellent stadium views or the Pat La Frieda Chop House (again, it’s officially called the Pat La Frieda Chop House presented by Delta Airlines, but, I fly United, so I don’t mention that.)
While the food at Pat La Frieda’s looks good, I kind of question the idea of an indoor steakhouse at a Baseball field, but, I digress.
The actual baseball field has evolved as well (and yes, it’s very ironic that we have made it so far in a ballpark review without actually talking about the field), in 2009 the left field wall and parts of the right field walls was 16 feet high, which is double the size of a standard fence, eight feet high. Another criticism in the wall was the color of the wall.
The above picture was taken in 2009. The black wall, a reversal from the Blue wall from the Mets previous home, Shea Stadium, was met with a lot of condemnation. In fact, the only similarity between the fields were the orange flag poles, something unique to the Mets. Because of that, the Mets have changed the dimensions of Citi Field three times, in 2010, 2012 and in 2015.
Today, the wall is Blue, and has two interesting areas in the space between the old fences and the new fences, both of which offer un-parralled views of the stadium, come with free food and drinks, and come with a hefty price tag.
Another thing that Citi Field improved on with the new fences was their capacity, which is technically 41,922, but is actually over 42,000 when you consider club level seating. The record attendance was the sole All-Star Game that the Mets hosted in 2013. In that mid-summer classic, 45,186 went through the turnstiles, which included a lot of standing room tickets, something the ballpark was meant to include.
Another feature of the stadium that is ultra fan-friendly (and great for fans like me that still keep score in a old fashioned scorebook) are these new ginormous Daktronics boards:
These boards feature all of the statistics one could ever want, from batting average to WAR+, and yes, that is a baseball term.
Off the field, Citi Field hosts a lot of events through their Metropolitan Hospitality Division. A corporation that is owned by the Mets, and one that I’ve had the privilege of collaborating with in the past.
Some of these events include Tours, the Bacon + Beer Classic, The Color Run, various concerts and most notably the Meadows Concert, which, while it might have been fun for spectators, created quite a problem for the Queens Ballpark Company, which is the company that owns Citi Field; and my hunch is the Meadows will be canned or re-located after this upcoming year.
Simply put, Metropolitan Hospitality does everything, from a birthday party to a lacrosse tournament, which, while un-conventional for a baseball stadium, is better than having the stadium stay closed all winter.
So, we’ve touched on all the elements of Citi Field. Most everything is positive, and all of the negatives have been rectified, but here’s the interesting thing. I personally wish Citi Field wasn’t built.
I know, I know, that’s crazy, but I’ll explain.
Citi Field is infamous for being funded with $615 Million Dollars in Public Subsidies, and is privately owned. Furthermore, New Yorkers don’t have any attachment to something that they payed for, something that is very different from a lot of privately owned stadiums.
Citi Field was made without the fans input, and the owners paid for that. Attendance was very low the first few years, despite good transportation options with un-limited parking, the New York City Subway and the Long Island Rail Road. Many people were outraged by the lack of “Mets” in the ballpark, instead featuring nods to the Brooklyn Dodgers, the favorite team of Mets owner Fred Wilpon when he was a child.
Additionally, many people took objection to the naming rights deal, which was given to CitiCorp for $20 million dollars per year, the first major sports team in New York to have such a deal. T-Shirts were made reading “I’m Calling It Shea!”, and were worn by popular figures, like Jonathan Lethem, during occupy Wall Street.
Yes, Citi Field has grown on me, and has grown on many other fans, and I do realize that some children, teenagers and even adults need alternate forms of entertainment during a baseball game, citing the game is too slow, but there was something nice about Shea Stadium, a classic ballpark and a real marvel of it’s time.
It was no beauty, but with a renovation, I think it could have been a better solution. At the end of the day, however, Citi Field is a beautiful ballpark, and, you don’t even have to like baseball to attend a game, but wether or not that’s a good thing is something that has been bothering me ever since I walked into Citi Field for the first time in April of 2009. Unfortunately for me, owners have a different question nowadays: Wether or not an amenity is profitable.
I constantly get emails from the Mets and their affiliates about their promotions. This morning, in typical fashion, I got one of those MLB.com Shop emails entitled “Start Early On Your Mets Autumn Attire!”, which was interesting to me
considering I don’t know who would want to wear Mets gear after this season considering the Mets aren’t exactly in the playoff hunt and there isn’t any fall-specific gear to sell if there isn’t a postseason.
So, I was curious as to what the Mets were selling exactly. The thumbnail images on the email were less than inspiring:
So, the low profile version of the on-field cap is fall attire?
After clicking the link, things only got more inconspicuous. Five out of the first six “items” were winter items like knit caps and “winter” classified jackets. Additionally, all of the supposed new styles have been around for several weeks/months at least, so it’s hard to call them “new”.
Now, one is probably wondering at this point: What is the importance of this? Who cares about an email that we all get wether we want to or not?
Well, typically I’m in that boat; thinking that the emails are unavoidable and that I should just deal with them. However, I believe if they made the emails of substance and not just click bait to sell merchandise, I would into my email subscription, but this universal trend of mis-leading emails isn’t going to go away any time.