Last Tuesday, I had the chance to go down to Coney Island to attend the Brooklyn Cyclones Opening Day.
This experience, which is always a great one, was the first time I was in Brooklyn since 2015, and I was interested in what’s changed over the last two years, and give the fan experience a proper review.
I arrived into Coney Island and immediately turned right onto Surf Avenue, which, in the last five years, has gone through a significant restoration. The sidewalks are cleaner, brighter at night, and a more welcoming atmosphere for families.
The Thunderbolt, which I had seen on my 2015 trip, looked very nice just feet from MCU Park.
Upon arrival, I quickly picked up my tickets (always go for the commemorative ticket stock), and waited on the long rope line, that wrapped around the ticket office three times.
I was surprised to see Metal Detectors at every gate, something you don’t see at Citi Field, but due to the extreme lines, the routed me and anyone without bags to a temporary line with one guy with the Garrett Wands, which took less than five seconds.
The Cyclones, rather impressively, were waiting on the steps of the ballpark to sign autographs from eager fans, a nice touch that you can only see in the Minor Leagues!
There was a spin to win for five dollars, similar to the set up at the Mets Spring Training Facility in Port St. Lucie.
I won a phone charger, which I’m currently putting to good use on my vacation;)
The ballpark was cramped, which is always the case during any stadium’s opening day, so I give them a pass. What I do not give them a pass for was the state of their concessions.
All but a few of the main stands only accepted cash transactions, as their new credit machines weren’t installed in-time. This led to massive confusion for the workers, long lines, and complaints from fans who waited in the lines, only to hear that the credit/debit machine isn’t working.
I must have seen five fans throw a total fit at the employees (which one shouldn’t do, as it isn’t the kid’s fault) for the inability to use a credit card, which is troublesome in the increasingly cashless society we’ve adapted. However, one of the employees I spoke to said the machines would be ready in the not-to-distant future, so, that’s a positive.
I got a traditional meal consisting of Chicken & Fries, with prices slightly lower than at Citi Field.
While not everyone was glued to the game, the Cyclones always to entertainment well, and they’ve changed a few things. First, while King Henry continues to do his thing with charm, the Beach Bums have been re-named the Surf Squad, consisting of both girls and a few guys, and are a step in the right direction in the family-friendly department.
Additionally, a lot of the fans were wearing the giveaway of the day, the t-shirt schedule (a better take on the magnetic schedule that is ubiquitous on Opening Day).
And, as always, the Cyclones looked like an exciting, young bunch. I loved how they were all on the top step of the railing, ready to go at any moment’s notice. I was that mentality carried over to the major leagues.
By and large, the Cyclones are an affordable exciting alternative to Big League baseball. It’s a friendly, welcoming atmosphere, and you can get a field level ticket and an autograph or two for under twenty bucks, which is an amazing deal.
It’s no major leagues, but in the summer time in the minors, it’s the experience that counts, and the Cyclones do that very well.
As you probably know, the Mets have announced that they will extend the protective netting at Citi Field starting July 15th, the first day back from the All-Star Break, when they take on the Colorado Rockies.
While they are extending it past the dugout, they are also extending it down the lines with an eight foot net, the first team in the majors to do so.
As you can see from the renderings, there will be a full net in from the dugouts, and then the wall will decrease to eight feet for the right field lines.
Personally, I detest this extra netting, as when I was young running down to the bottom of the field level in hopes of a ball or a signature was all I ever hoped for. Eventually, I stopped caring about this and took more interest in the actual game, but it’s crazy to think that a tradition that’s lasted centuries is getting ruined for the sake of some people that don’t pay attention to the game.
Is this going to ruin the gameday experience for me? No. However, I fear that this will ruin the experience for younger Mets fans, and might discourage them from coming out to the game. Additionally, I worry that the players might distance themselves more from the fans with an “off limits” approach, as this netting becomes more and more common.
Unfortunately, this is the kind of thing that is nearly impossible to protest, as these nets prevent injuries and enhance safety, which is the number one priority.
This Past Weekend, I had the chance to visit Atlanta, Georgia for a family obligation. Lucky for us, the Mets were playing at SunTrust that very weekend. So, I attended the Saturday and Sunday matinee games, and got to see the Mets take down the Braves twice, and visit a brand new ballpark.
I was staying at the Renaissance Waverly Hotel, which was within “walking distance” to the hotel, but it was quite a hike.
First, I had to traverse through a parking lot, up a staircase, and then cross over the main highway. Only then would I be able to cross the “ballpark bridge”.
After crossing the bridge, I entered the parking lot to the “Battery”, or the ballpark village.
The Battery itself was very nice, with restaurants and shops like Yard House, Sweet Pete’s, Haggen Dazs, Live! and even a theater called the Coca-Cola ROXY.
There was also plenty of live music, attractions and large signage that reminded me of the ballpark village in St.Louis.
While the battery was an interesting attraction for sure, the baseball field felt secondary, and the fans seemed to be happy and in a festive mood out there even when the Braves lost.
I mean, just look how Sun Trust Park is listed on the Battery’s website, like it’s “just another attraction”.
Unlike Citi Field and it’s hand wands, the security at SunTrust Park featured metal detectors, which I still believe is overkill, but what can you do.
From the moment I waked in, something seemed very off. Unlike the rotunda at Citi Field, or the open air concourse in San Francisco, there was nothing “grand” at any of the entrances at SunTrust Park.
Additionally all of the concourses at SunTrustPark seemed very metallic and factory like, and did not resemble a new ballpark.
One positive note of SunTrust Park was the concessions and their prices. Unlike the Mets and their $5.75 water, the Braves only charge $3 bucks for water, and $5 dollars for beer.
That’s right, The Mets charge more for water than the Braves charge for beer.
On the First Day, I had a Pulled Pork combo from Smokey Q’s BBQ, which came with Mac & Cheese and a Dill Pickle. The Pork was very fresh, and was superior to the BBQ at Blue Smoke.
On the second day, I tried a burger from 1871 Grill. It was very filling, and tasted like any other ballpark burger.
The stadium itself didn’t have any “amazing” views, like Citi Field, but the Battery was in view beyond the Right Field wall.
While I didn’t eat at any clubs or restaurants at SunTrust Park, the Chop House and Below The Chop, both sponsored by Coors Light, looked like a popular place for fans to hang out and watch the game.
The scoreboard was fairly pitiful, with no line boards for the majority of the game from either the main centerfield board or the left field board.
As a visiting fan, I tried to be respectful of the Braves traditions, so while I didn’t partake in the Tomahawk Chop, I did take note of it, and thought it was pretty catchy, at least in the beginning.
Overall, the Mets won, and it was a interesting look at a different ballpark. There were plenty of nice touches, like the organ, the lack of ads, and the good food, but buy and large, Citi Field provides a better gameday experience.
Baseball is coming back as an Olympic Sport for the 2020 Olympics, which will be held in Tokyo, Japan, the biggest city in the world.
Baseball is not a new olympic sport, however. The last appearance Baseball had in the Olympics was in 2008, in Beijing. Unfortunately, if things stand like they are today, the best players playing will be college prospects and other amateurs.
Rob Manfred issued this statement on the decision:
“Baseball and softball are global sports that belong in the Olympics,” said Manfred. “We are grateful to the IOC Executive Board, the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee and the World Baseball Softball Confederation for their collective efforts, which will allow fans throughout the world to again enjoy baseball and softball on the Olympic stage.” – Rob Manfred
While this is good news, all of us would like to see the best players in the game play, just like basketball, hockey, soccer and tennis. While many say this will never happen, upon looking at the calendar, it can be done if MLB wants to manipulate their schedule.
By my estimation, 17 days would need to be set aside for the Olympics. The season would have to start on Friday, March 27th, and end on Wednesday, October 7th (nothing crazy, just a few more days than what you see on each end). This would give you 12 extra days. Next, the Thursday of the All-Star Game could be a gameday, which would be the 13th game. Finally, you could trim off four more off-days (or end the season on Sunday, October 9th)
This would only delay the World Series by three days (compared to last years end), and, instead of watching no names, you could watch the best players in the game.
Obviously, this is pure speculation, and there is no concrete evidence that this is a remote possibility. However, the collective bargaining agreement is up this year, and if there was a time to discuss it, now is the time.
Dominic Smith talked about what he’s doing to prepare for his anticipated big league debut, on the SNY show Mets Insider.
The Mets are heading into Texas to play a two game series with the Rangers, and for the first time in a while, I actually enjoyed Monday’s off day. Call me crazy, but there was something enjoyable about not watching four hours of disappointment and realization that this team that was destined to get to the World Series is a 24-31 team with a 15% chance at a Wild Card.
Sure, not every team that is built to win pulls through, but in the two short months of the Major League Baseball season, one can’t help but feel the lifeless atmosphere that surrounds this team. There is little chemistry, anything that can go wrong seemingly is going wrong, and despite the upcoming remedies in Seth Lugo and Steven Matz for the rotation, and Yoenis Cespedes in the lineup, there is this odd feeling that’s being emitted from the ballclub that none of these players will be the solution.
And in early June, two weeks away from my high school graduation, my greatest fear is creeping closer and closer, one that hasn’t prevailed since 2009, which, in all of it’s simple glory, is boredom.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post called the Mets “suckers”, talk radio is ripping the team to shreds, and frankly, I don’t want to listen to all of the negativity. Unfortunately, one of the key obligations of being a true fan is listening to it. I have to be there at Citi Field watching Neil Ramirez give up run after run, but the passion is being drained.
When watching the game changes from the enjoyable part of the day to an obligation simply because you’re a fan, the passion thins out considerably. And, I’m not saying bad baseball is always un-enjoyable. Every Met team from 2010-2014 finished in the bottom of the NL East but the storylines and likability of the players and the idea that the players are devoted to making things better made you want to stick around and commit to the players in return.
The 2017 Mets, at least so far, have not evoked a similar reaction to me. Every story line is depressing, players are putting themselves before the team, and there is a lack of leadership that is so evident.
So, sure, promote Amed Rosario, promote Dominic Smith and add the injured reinforcements, but unless something major changes to create a new culture, fans are going to change the channel real quick, if they haven’t already.
Hurry up, Mets, the sun is setting fast.
UniformLineup.com has come through once again for a recap of the Mets May uniform recap, filled with plenty of special event jerseys.
Here is a breakdown of the Mets May uniforms:
- Home White Pinstripes: 13 games out of 28. (8-5 record) Paired with Primary cap.
- Blue Home Alternate: 0 game out of 28. (NOT WORN) Paired with Home Alt cap.
- Road Grey: 5 games out of 28 (3-2 record) paired with Primary cap.
- Road Blue Alternate: 3 games out of 28 (0-3 record) paired with road alternate cap.
- **Special** Mothers Day Road: 2 game out of 28 (0-2 record)
- **Special** Memorial Day Road/Home: 3 game out of 28 (2-1 record)
And here is a breakdown of the Mets April Caps:
- Primary Mets cap: 19 games out of 28 (11-8 record)
- Home Alternate cap: 0 games out of 28 (NOT WORN)
- Road Alternate cap: 3 games out of 28 (0-3 record)
- ** Special ** Caps: 5 games out of 28 (2-3 record)
Yesterday I attended the Brewers Mets game at Citi Field, and decided to do some filming. This was more of satirical look at the game, but I intend to do more (serious) filming in the future, if this is something that you enjoy. Take a look: