Results tagged ‘ MLB ’

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:

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

Asdrubal Cabrera’s Opening Day Status is in Limbo

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One of the key additions to the Mets this season was the signing of credible shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, however, he is the victim of the first injury of the Spring. According to the New York Times, will visit with the Mets’ medical staff and get an injection of platelet-rich plasma to speed healing, General Manager Sandy Alderson said. Cabrera, who agreed to a two-year, $18.75 million contract in the off-season, said he might get a second magnetic resonance imaging test.

Cabrera got injured in yesterday’s Cardinals vs Mets exhibition game, as he was diagnosed with a strained patellar tendon in his left knee after running the bases. He is expected to “remain idle” for two weeks and is questionable for Opening Day.

Mets bringing back Racing Stripes as a Sunday alternate

Mets, swapping Camo for 86 Racing Stripes was the best thing you ever did.

According to the Mets official press release, “The 1986 Mets made an indelible mark on the baseball and New York sports scene, capturing the hearts of fans like few other teams,” said Mets COO Jeff Wilpon. “This 30th anniversary celebration provides our fans a way to re-connect their excitement to the historic achievements of 1986.”

If your itching to buy one, (or to stop reading this post) you can buy one at the MLB.com Fanatics Shop HERE.

Now, this is a great idea that the Mets had. Along with 1986 Weekend and Piazza Weekend, we can finally see the Mets are honoring and commemorating their roots.

The only issue I can see with the racing stripes jerseys are that they are going to look a bit ugly this year, considering MLB is adding a “tucked in” feature to the lower backs of their authentic uniforms, and, as always they have to be 100% authentic, which means the “tuck in” (which fans are dubbing the “diaper”) looks band “un-tucked”. Here’s what it looks like, according to UniWatch.

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Buy and large I love the throwbacks. I might just get one, and you should too. It’s the thirtieth anniversary of the 86 Mets, and hopefully this year we will be raising a World Series trophy, just like the guys did thirty years ago.

 

Column: Trade Travis d’Arnaud and promote Kevin Plawecki

Kevin Plawecki is knocking on the Citi Field door, and the Mets can’t keep the door locked for too much longer. Plawecki tore up AA/AAA in 2014, hitting 11 homeruns and 64 runs batted in. Also, Kevin’s defense in very strong. Travis d’Arnaud struggled to avoid throwing the ball into the outfield.

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Travis d’Arnaud’s 2014 season was a very odd one. He started the season extremely cold. The season was going so bad that he got demoted in May. Luckily, Wally Backman restored confidence and d’Arnaud re-bounded to have a very productive second half. Eventually, one of the catchers are going to go. Which one will it be? While its hard to decide, I bet d’Arnaud will get the boot, but for a hefty price. You could trade Travis and Niese for Castro. But that honestly seems like giving up to much, however if d’Arnaud is the only proven player that we give up, it’s too little. Montero fits the bill as that second guy. Montero is sub-par pitcher with limited major league experience. While no deGrom, Montero will get the Castro deal done.

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Anything going on behind the scenes shortstop related?

As I do on most days, I was reading all of the daily articles from the Mets Bloggers & Reporters, and I read this article by MMO’s Joe D. He reports here, that the Cubs are gaining an additional middle infielder (Tommy LaStella). That seems strange considering the Cubs, have by far the most depth there. Players include: Javier Baez (22), Starlin Castro (25), Addison Russell (21), Kris Bryant (23), and Arismendy Alcantara (24). So, why would the Cubs make this trade?

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Well, La Stella is no Kris Bryant or Jimmy Rollins, but he is a “good addition” to most clubs. The Cubs are in dire need of pitching. And no one has more pitching than the Mets. To put this in perspective, it would be like the Mets trading Matt den Dekker for Ryan Vogelsong. It really doesn’t make sense unless, the Cubs are going out to trade a shortstop. If so, Starlin Castro, is a prime candidate.

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Here is Castro’s annual salary through 2019:
2014 $5,000,000
2015 $6,000,000
2016 $7,000,000
2017 $9,000,000
2018 $10,000,000
2019 $11,000,000
I never thought I’d say this, but that’s a bargain for a high-end slugger. The Mets should aggressively go after Castro. The return? Niese and Montero would be sufficient. And with the Niese-Collins feud, I’m not sure the Mets want to hang on to Jon. Montero is an add-on. Why? Click here!

More random thoughts on Cuddyer, deGrom and the Shortstop situation

What a great day to be a Mets Fan. The Mets signed Michael Cuddyer yesterday, to a 2 year 21 Million dollar deal. The Mets had to give away a 1st Round draft pick to sign Cuddyer. The good news is that this means the Mets finally realize that the future is now. This is really good news…. Cuddyer is not a huge signing. But anytime the Mets go out of their conservative shell, you know something is positive. Cuddyer will play Right Field, and Grandy will patrol Left. This is because Cuddyer has only played 11 Games there all time.

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Also, if you listened to the Mets conference call today, you heard all of this “friendship” talk between David Wright and Michael Cuddyer. I have one problem with this: Cuddyer said he followed Wright’s high school career while he was in pro ball. Since they are 4 years apart, why would a professional baseball player follow a freshman’s baseball career? Very few pro athletes can be predicted in 9th Grade. Also, why would you even read an article on a 9th Grade Baseball team let alone focus on one player? The answer? He didn’t, and I bet you have already figured that out. Now, why am I cherry-picking Cuddyer’s statements? I want to see how he responded to the media on his first presser. It was a very “underwhelming” press conference, but still worth listening.

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deGrom has had a very good long weekend as well. Getting married and winning the Rookie of the Year? Quite a good Double Play, a pitcher’s best friend. deGrom deserved the ROY, he was considerably better than Hamilton, and those 8 strikeouts to start a game put him over the top.
The Shortsop situation is in flux at the moment. And the Mets should remain quiet until the Winter Meetings. Close shop for a bit, and come back later and turn on the Hot Stove. Speaking of which, is a very “interesting” show on MLB Network.

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Day at the Game: Metropolitan Baseball Classic 2014

Today I went to see the action at the 2nd Annual Metropolitan Baseball Classic. The participants were 8 college level academy teams. Team Elite went home with their 2nd championship (REPEAT!) over CBA.

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Me and my dad went to the game and got front row seats for a Lincoln! One of the most interesting things about the game was the cool shades that formed from dawn to dusk. It would be generous to say that there were 500 people in the crowd, but it didn’t matter, 1 concession open, 1 bathroom open but hard core baseball and I must say, the players were very good.

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The Classic should have been better promoted, I was very happily surprised with what I witnessed. I hope to go back next year! Here are some extra photos that I took of the champions.

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Eric Young Jr needs to lead off for the rest of the year

After 2 clutch RBI doubles that sealed a huge 3-2 win in a must win game, I realized that EYjr needs to be at the top of the Mets lineup on a daily basis. I’m going to avoid the numbers for this post, because Young brings something extra to every single game, if its his aggressiveness, to taking the extra base to just getting on with a walk, he brings excitement and ignites the team. Eric Young made his Mets debut one day to tommorow, and ever since, I have been impressed with his production.

Baseball BlogKids April 2014

Welcome to a new feature of Pepper! As some of you know I was recently named the “Youth Blogger Outreach Guy” of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. These kids write some very impressive articles! So, like my chapter president William Tasker from Flagrant Fan does with his “linkfest” , I will be doing a monthly ” BlogKids Whiparound” post! Lets get started:

Devan from Cover Those Bases composed this great post on the latest about Pineda and Pine Tar in Baseball.

Side of Natitude’s own Will has an interesting idea on what to do with the Nats 5th Starter.

Are you an Indians Fan? Well check out The Tribe Bulletin!

BBA’s youngest member, Matt Eisner is previewing the Padres-Nats series!

Matt Nadel covers the 1981 strike in this post

Well, that’s all! Tweet Pepper @NikoMLB for any questions!