Results tagged ‘ Mets ’

Top 5 All-Time Posts on MetsPlus

mets-plus-2015-logo

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.

#5: Culinary Citi, Parts 1 and 2 (May 2016)

saucepig66655

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)

screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-3-55-59-pm

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)

unnamed-611

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.

#1 Piazza Induction & Number Retirement (July 2016) 

 

screen-shot-2016-07-31-at-12-33-30-pm

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.

Honorable Mentions:

1) Citi Field Tour Recap (November 2016)

2) Fall & Winter Fest Review (Fall and Winter 2014) 

3) 11 Questions with Art Shamsky (November 2014) 

 

Is There any Scenario Where Terry Collins Should Stay in 2018?

19105335-mmmain

Yesterday, Baseball analyst Jon Heyman wrote an article on the Fan Rag Sports Blog entitled “The Tea Leaves Don’t Look Good for Terry Collins”, where he elaborates on the fact that most of the organization and fanbase likes Terry, however, all signs are indicating that the Mets will not renew his contract, even though there is no direct evidence.

Despite the cryptic wording, I think that Heyman is correct in that Collins will not come back in 2018. While Collins will leave a lasting impression on Mets fans for years to come, it’s no secret his managerial regime is become awfully tired. Even if it’s just psychological, there is the feeling emulating from the clubhouse that he is on the way out, and keeping him around for any longer would seem to prevent the Mets from “turning the new leaf” that they want to do as quickly as possible before their window of opportunity closes.

On the flip side, though, while it would make sense to remove Collins as quickly as possible to get the players aquatinted with a new manager, I believe Collins, who took the Mets to the world series and consecutive postseasons, has earned the right to finish out his year, and that’s why nothing is confirmable from the front office.

Either way, I’d like to thank Terry for his guidance and taking the team to their fifth National League championship, despite the shortcomings, everyone can agree that Terry was a favorite in the clubhouse and in the organization, and his work is appreciated.

My Thoughts on the Jay Bruce “Fiasco”

image

In the last 48 hours, even with the Mets out of any feasible playoff contention, the Mets Twitter-sphere was in total chaos, after it was disclosed that Jay Bruce was traded to Cleveland for single-A prospect Ryder Ryan; a relief pitcher who played third base in college.

There were also rumors that the Yankees were interested in Bruce, offering two prospects, but weren’t willing to eat up the entire $5 million owed to Bruce. In the immediate aftermath, most called out the Wilpons for being cheap (which usually happens whenever the Mets make a controversial move) and some came to the team’s defense, citing the unknown factor in the Yankees deal, and the fact that it’s $5 million dollars that can be invested elsewhere.

Even Nelson Figueroa, the Mets pre and post game host, defended the team by saying:

At it’s face, Mr.Figueroa has a point, even though he does make some bold implications, like how the five million could be used for one year of deGrom, Conforto and Syndergaard, which is absurd, as you couldn’t sign those types of controlled players for $5 million, and even if you did have organizational guys that were coming up, they wouldn’t be held up by the $5 million on the owners’ tab due to keeping Bruce.

Another issue was the fact that had the Mets held on to Bruce until the end of the year and offered him a qualifying offer, they would have received a 3-4th round draft pick had he declined, which would have been a little bit more promising than Ryder Ryan, who, along with his low draft status, has had poor statistics in his professional career.

I know that some people don’t want to call out the front office on this deal by calling it a salary dump, because that implies you think the owners aren’t thinking out for the team, but this is as close to the definition of a salary dump as it can get. I’m not the guy to rant non-stop on Twitter about the Wilpons being cheap, but it’s no secret that the fat cats upstairs (in any organization) have deep, deep pockets, and I’ve always thought the Mets owners are a little too inadequate in this regard, and this fiasco does not help their case.

In any case, Bruce is gone, and, while I don’t think we will see him back in the Orange and Blue, he was a real leader in the clubhouse, and I think all the Mets will miss his professionalism and dedication to the team. Best of luck in Ohio.

New York Mets 2017 Walk-Up Songs (Second-Half)

Courtesy of Sports Intros.

How many Mets Blogs are out there?

Screen Shot 2017-08-01 at 2.21.56 PM

Yesterday, I read an interesting column on the history of print and web based journalism, and how written mediums are quickly getting replaced by multi-media tactics.

I knew this was prevalent in our society, but it’s becoming increasingly more clear nowadays when top-tier writers like Ken Rosenthal are linking to their Facebook to express their opinion.

However, the most shocking moment for me was when Matthew Cerrone, the king of Mets Blogs, talked about sharing and interlining content with other blogs during his book signing. He explained that he doesn’t do that nearly as much because “There aren’t many left”. Those words echoed to the back of the Barnes & Noble, and reverberated off the skulls of the blogger in me, now curious, unsure if my pursuit of become a more regular writer is something that won’t be available for me in 10-20 years, when I’m older.

It was a perfect bit of dialogue that captures how the media world is changing day by day. What used to be expressed in a 100 word blog post can now be just as easily described in a 100 character tweet, but it wasn’t always this way, oh no. When I was younger, I remember just how many Mets sites were out there, so many, that I thought (and still do) that the Mets have the most passionate and well-educated fans anywhere in the league. There were so many, that Mets360, made a comprehensive list of all the Mets related sites out there. He came up with over 25 and listed even more that were once considerably active that still share some Mets information.

However, the times have changed a lot since then, some new blogs popped up, and some older blogs disappeared, so I wanted to start a list to see how many Mets Blogs exist actively that share Mets information.

To qualify, I think a blog should at least have written five posts in the year 2017 and one post in the last 3 months, additionally 50% of the content be related to something Orange & Blue. That’s it.

So here is the list, feel free to add to it if you’d like by commenting below or tweeting @NikoMetsPlus. I’m actually curious to find the exact number of active sites left.


 


Simply put, I’m amazed. There are just about 25 sites that are active (most of which were started in the Shea Stadium days) and there are plenty more that I probably couldn’t find on my own.

While I’m pretty active on the Mets online-sphere, I didn’t know of a good chunk of these blogs until I composed this list.

It’s awesome to see how many websites share different types of information, and not just the lineups and recaps. Articles on unique baseball cards, the bullpen cart, uniform alterations, their podcasts, unique interviews, and all the other stuff one can’t get from a quick social media post is what makes the Mets blog network stronger than ever.

It’ll be interesting to see this list evolve over the coming years; and if there are any blogs left out, again, feel free to comment or tweet me, so I can add it. This list should be a place where one can discover new Mets sites and connect and network with their authors.

 

Citi Field netting could be further expanded to the Foul Poles

mets_put_up_more_protective_netting_at_citi_field

This is absurdity at it’s best.

Shannon Shark of MetsPolice.com, shared this New York Times article that came out yesterday over the state of protective netting at New York stadiums.

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 proposed every year that never come to surface, but the idea of netting extending to the foul poles is so preposterous.

Even the folks that support protective netting, who say that there are little kids and the elderly that do not have a quick reaction time, I’m curious, why not sit in the 25 sections along the field level that now have netting? And, also, who’s reaction time is so slow that they can’t get out of the way of a ball that travels 330 feet?

I’ve never been in support in any additional netting, and while, sure, I feel terrible for the occasional child that isn’t paying attention in the first row, this overkill is 100% linked to the increase in distractions prevalent in modern ballparks and advances in modern technology.

Don’t get me wrong, I check my Twitter feed and email several times during a game, but when I sat in a box seat behind the dugout, I was locked in to the action when the game was being played. And, if, you do want to be casual at the game and go for the experience instead of the game (which is fine, in my opinion) that’s what outfield seats, the Excelsior and Promenade levels, and seats behind home plate are for.

Even before the netting, over 80% of the ballpark seats were safe from ballpark netting, and those 15-20% behind the dugouts were subjecting themselves, which has always been prominently displayed as a disclaimer on Mets.com when purchasing those tickets.

When I used to go to Shea Stadium as a kid in those famous orange box seats, I remember the usher telling us that we should pay attention, as the ball comes fast, and that we might have a chance to get a ball. And, you know what? I payed attention, and I loved the game of baseball from that moment on.

Last week, I sat in similar seats when the Rockies were in town, and I felt totally distanced from the game, like I wasn’t a part of the action. I could reach out and grab a ball, and while that’s not important for me, I’m sure the younger kids in attendance, who will be adult Mets fans in no time, might not have the same connection with the game as my generation did when I grew up.

So, Councilman Espinal, I understand your concerns for safety, but at some point there has to be a line. Sure, safety is paramount, but we don’t go to the game to be safe, we go to have fun, root on your team, eat ballpark fare, play games, be with the family etc. People that care about safety have options readily in place. This isn’t an airport or an automobile, this is a ballpark.

My fear with the 2017 New York Mets

MLB: World Series-Kansas City Royals at New York Mets

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.

Citi Field Facts, Figures and Thoughts

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:

unnamed

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.

mets_02_469x327

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.

19572008513_efb86964f0_b

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.

Last summer, MLB sent me to Citi Field to do a “Culinary Citi” feature. (Well, two actually…. I like ballpark food) And, I completely understand why people feel this way.

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.)

chophouse_275x193

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

citi-field-home-opener-2016-e1460144372469

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:

cmz0fc5xaaa0ydw

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.

My 2017 Club Mets Credentials have Arrived

Last year, I talked about the benefits of Club Mets, in my first year of being a member.

Ultimately, I cam to the conclusion that you are basically paying $19 dollars for two promenade tickets and a plastic novelty card, which, I believed was a good evaluation.

I also took criticism to the fact that they weren’t giving out Press Notes, but they did so after Memorial Day, so that became a non-issue.

And, while a lot of the other benefits were garbage, like “exclusive prices” and “members only forum”, which never surfaced, the tickets are worth more than $19 dollars, so I jumped at the opportunity to renew last January, and today the kit came in the mail.

The kit came in a regular envelope, with little fanfare, but was addressed to me correctly, which is better than what happened last year.

unnamed-110

Inside there were surprisingly few contents, just a basic leaflet informing me of the basic benefits, and a glued on membership card, which has a blue, basic design this year, with “Club” in a university style font, which I quite like.

unnamed-111

On the back of the card is the url that I had to go to for the ticket redemption, and, for the most part, it wasn’t much of a hassle.

Overall, this is a good membership, but has little perks. Stuff like priority security and space available seat upgrades would give this membership a higher yield, even if it was at a  more expensive price point. For $19 dollars, however, the Club Mets membership is a no-brainer.