Wednesday, April 15, 2015

I've Changed My Mind About The Jackie Robinson Rotunda

When CitiField opened, many fans griped that the stadium did not have enough "Mets" to it. For sure, Mets imagery and even blue and orange were scant.  And a grand entrance dedicated to a man who had never even donned a Mets uniform led many fans to say that owner Fred Wilpon had built a shrine to the Brooklyn Dodgers, instead of the New York Mets.

Over time, CitiField has been "Metsified" - a Mets Hall of Fame was built, the outfield wall was painted blue, and murals were installed, among other things.  The stadium feels much more like the home of the Mets than it did in 2009. But the Jackie Robinson Rotunda lives on.

On Opening Day we entered through that very rotunda.  Usually I like to enter the stadium through the less-crowded Left Field Gate, the "Endy Chavez Rotunda," if you will, but for some reason we chose the main entrance on Opening Day.  I was paying too much attention to grabbing my magnetic schedule and figuring out which escalator to take to our seats to pay much attention to what was around me.  But my seven year old son took notice.  Half way up the escalator he asks me, "Dad, who is that guy in the picture where it says "COMMITMENT"?

"Oh!  That's Jackie Robinson!  He was the first black baseball player in the Major Leagues, and a really great baseball player."

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My son had heard of him.

I didn't give the moment another thought until we got home.  That night he grabbed a book about Jackie Robinson he'd received as a gift some time ago and hadn't bothered to read.  That night he wanted to read it at bedtime.  The story resonated.

That was when I realized the importance of the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, and why Fred Wilpon wanted it to be part of the Mets new home.  Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier 50 years ago, and his legacy will only live on with effort.  My family had a great time at the ballpark on Opening Day, getting to see the Mets win their first home game of 2015.  I had pulled my son out of first grade that day to attend Opening Day.  And even if his teacher isn't a baseball fan, we'll agree my son got an education to go along with the thrills of the afternoon.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

New York Mets Get It Right For 2015 Home Opening Day

CitiField was absolutely electric for Monday afternoon's 2015 Home Opener.  Opening Day is always special to me (I haven't missed one in over 25 years), and this was one of the best.

The weather was perfect and the place was packed with Mets fans, setting up a perfect Opening Day. Let's face it - most of the time these situations do not work out well.  How many times can we think of over the past few decades where the Mets have come up small in the big moments?

I do not remember a buzz ever this strong at CitiField, not even for the first game ever, when Mets fans mostly milled about their new surroundings rather than focusing on the game at hand.  

I pulled my 7 year old son out of school for his first Opening Day, and brought my dad, who had himself taken me to many Opening Days when I was a kid.  My college buddy and perennial Opening Day partner joined us as well.

I drove up from central New Jersey, heeding the Mets' advice to arrive early, and my dad took the LIRR in from the Island.  My college buddy did not get to the park early enough to avoid being sent to Guam to find a spot and parked so far away he had to take a shuttle bus in from the satellite lot.

Despite the monster crowd, we made it through the Jackie Robinson Rotunda lines OK, got patted down and wanded as usual (metal detectors were nowhere in sight), were handed our magnetic schedules, and made it to our seats in time for the Opening Ceremonies.

The pregame ceremonies were a tribute to fallen police officers, featuring a mammoth American flag in center field, a helicopter flyover, and a wonderful rendition of the National Anthem performed by a uniformed officer.

Many people griped about Matt Harvey being held back from the home opener, but Jacob deGrom is electric, and I don't think fans were shorted in any way by having the reigning Rookie Of The Year get the first home start of 2015.

My kid was into the game from start to finish.  He asked me for some ice cream during the 5th inning, and astonishingly I was able to run to Mister Softee and back, retrieving a helmet sundae resplendent with orange and blue sprinkles, only missing a couple batters.  We even made a bathroom run in the 7th without much delay.  And if that weren't enough I was thrilled when a beer vendor walking the aisles had a Brooklyn Summer Ale in his tote.  A legit brew without waiting in line?  Nice.

The game was a nail-biter, and the crowd was into it from start to finish.  A 2-0 win capped by a tense Familia save made for a perfect afternoon - one that I will never forget.  Thanks New York Mets.  You did it right this year.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Mejia Suspended: No LOL about Stanozolol for the Mets

Rather than offering a "hot take" on the news that Mets closer Jenrry Mejía has been suspended 80 games for use of a PED, I tried to do a little research on the matter.  And of course, by research, I mean searches on Google and social media.

What did Mejía take and why?

Mejia was caught using Stanozolol, often sold under the brand name Winstrol and commonly called "Winny" among bodybuilders.  Bodybuilders use this drug as part of a cutting cycle.  For bodybuilders, cutting is "A period of time when the primary goal is losing fat, losing weight, getting leaner, or all of the above."  Also from what I can gather, people like this drug because:

  •  it is available as a pill, so if you are averse to needles it is an option
  • it is cheap
  • it has a short "half life" relative to injectables so it clears from your body quickly. ( In other words, it's good if you are trying to avoid detection from drug tests.)
What was Mejía's excuse?
Mejía said he would accept his punishment but claims he "can honestly say I have no idea how a banned substance ended up in my system.” 

Interestingly, three other pitchers were recently also busted for the same drug.  Mariners pitcher David Rollins, Braves minor leaguer Arodys Vizcaino, and Twins pitcher Ervin Santana.  I couldn't locate a quote from Vizcaino, but Ervin Santana said something similar to Mejia:
“I am very disappointed that I tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug,” he said. “I am frustrated that I can’t pinpoint how the substance in question entered my body. … What I can guarantee is I never knowingly took anything illegal to enhance my performance. That’s just not me, never has been and never will.” 
Rollins, on the other hand, did not issue such a denial:

It was a mistake on my part.  It was very bad judgment and I've been regretting it ever since... I just want to apologize to everyone I've disappointed... I don't want to come off as a wrong person and to be labeled a cheater.  It wasn't like that at all.  I deeply regret what I did. "
According to Sports IllustratedRollins attributed the decision to an attempt to relieve soreness he felt in his throwing arm.  Coincidentally, perhaps, just a few days before being suspended, Mejia was placed on the 15 DL with elbow inflammation.

Transplanted ex-Mets pitcher and Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez had two somewhat conflicting takes on Twitter:
"I think it's irresponsible to put something in your body and not consult with your trainers. You can't take that lightly as a player"
"This kid probably didn't know about the medicine. I'm almost sure he doesn't speak English. Players need to go to orientation meeting"
I think it is a bit bananas to insinuate that not speaking English exonerates Mejia in any way, but I did notice that 3 of the 4 pitchers were Latin. Maybe "Minstrel" in Spanish means "jellybean"?

What does this mean for the Mets?

David Wright and other Mets were reportedly seriously frustrated and disappointed in Mejia. Having to find a new closer certainly makes it more of a challenge for the Mets to achieve their postseason aspirations. On the other hand, Parnell will be back soon and many have believed de-facto closer Familia has more upside for the closer role anyway. To me, the worst part of this development is what it means for Montero. With Familia taking the 9th, it means Montero's arm needs to stay in the bullpen for now and can't replace Dillon Gee in the rotation if Gee struggles. Many believe Gee only won the 5th spot in the rotation to better showcase him for a trade. But now and for the foreseeable future, Gee isn't going anywhere. Let's hope the Mets still are.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Opening Day 2015 Recap - A Mets Fan's Guide To Nationals Park

My first post here in ages.  No promises about post frequency going forward, so enjoy this for what it is.

I haven't missed a Mets home opener in about 25 years, but this was my first Opening Day on the road.  I've seen the Mets in DC before, once at RFK and another time at Nationals Park, but this is the first time getting a good seat was ever in doubt.  DC must have sold a lot of sneakers in the offseason for fans to run and catch up to the bandwagon.

The Washington Nationals 2015 Opening Day game vs The Mets was a hot ticket.  Standing Room Only tickets ranged between $80-$100 in the weeks leading up to the game on StubHub and never came down, even an hour before gametime.  My cousin and I wound up buying two separate seats for $70 each from som dude outside the Metro and found a place to sit together in the Uppers.  There are a lot of places to stand and watch the game throughout the park, but for a sold out game you will have a hard time getting a nice view.

A cool feature of Nationals Park is The Fairgrounds, outside the Centerfield gate.  This is essentially a giant lot barricaded off by containers.  I mean, actual containers like off a cargo ship, between which where they sell beer and food and hundreds of fans can congregate before a game.  On this particular day there was also a band playing.

Security lines an hour before gametime were not awful, even with new metal detectors.  We went right in through the centerfield entrance.

We were handed a metal tin on the way in, which is I guess good for storing cookies or something, but I handed it to a lady in exchange for taking this picture.  I guess I should have looked at the photo first. Serves as a reminder that just because a lady is walking around with an SLR doesn't mean she knows how to use it.

Beer selection was solid.  Found a Pilsner 1864 out in the Fairgrounds, a Flying Dog in some vendor's bucket on the concourse, and a special exclusive Samuel Adams Nats Tenth Anniversary IPA at a stand in center field.

Pro tip:  on a warm day find a seat down the left field line and you won't bake.  On a cold day find a seat down the first base side and get more sun.

By now you know that Colon and Schrreerzzerrr locked into a fierce pitching duel for most of the game, but Lucas Duda and TdA delivered the big hits to deliver a Mets 3-1 Opening Day win.  Most ironic part of the day was that Ian Desmond, a shortstop that the Mets (and especially Mets fans) coveted in the offseason made a big error that cost the Nats the game, while Wilmer Flores played quite nicely at the position he won by default.

If you have the chance to visit Washington DC while the Mets are in town, you should definitely do so.  The park consists of friendly confines and nice sightlines with few obstructed views.  the family made it back to Central New Jersey in a few short hours, but there are more than enough attractions in DC to make a weekend out of it as well.

Lets Go Mets!

Had a nice meal at Ben's Chili.  Ordered the "half smoke all the way"
for I think $9 and it was quite tasty.

Did you know that Gary Carter is honored at Nationals Park?  Classy move, DC, Classy.

Pro tip #2: Buy your sunblock and condoms before heading to the park.  
Despite the giant sign there is no Walgreens here.

Late in the game a horrific plume of black smoke appeared in the distance.  
Turned out it was a styrofoam factory on fire and no one was hurt, 
unless you count the ozone layer, perhaps.


Sunday, January 06, 2013

Top V Albums of 2012

I agonized way too long over this year's list.  Hope you will check out some new music after reading it!

5. Norah Jones - Little Broken HeartsI am very manly and so I am not supposed to admit I really enjoyed the 2012 release from the same woman who gave us "Don't Know Why," but I really did, and I think if you love music you'll like it too. Part of me thinks I will wake up one day and hate this album and regret the loquacious stream of hyperbole I want to write about this release, so how about I just slot it in at #5, tell you to buy the album and leave it at that?

4. Gaslight Anthem – Handwritten:
Admittedly it is hard for me *not* to like a New Jersey punk band that is influenced by Tom Petty and Matthew Ryan, loves Pearl Jam and is often compared to Bruce Springsteen, but Gaslight brings the goods in their own right. If you have the chance to catch them live, you NEED to, but in lieu of that, blasting this album will make for an acceptable substitute. This album’s only flaw is its sequencing: The first few times I listened I thought the songs kind of ran into each other, but when I put the album on shuffle on my iPod, the diversity of the songs really seems to shine. If I ever meet Brian Fallon, it is something I can talk to him about, along with our favorite tracks on Southern Accents and whether Matt Cameron or Jack Irons is Pearl Jam's best drummer…

3. Heartless Bastards – Arrow:
I almost always have music playing at low levels in my office, and this year when people asked me about a song that was playing, most of the time it was Heartless Bastards. Their 2009 album, Mountain, was fantastic, and this album is completely different yet still fantastic. I don’t know why they don’t get more attention – this band led by singer/guitarist Erika Wennerstrom makes flat-out outstanding rock music. She is Jimmy Page and Robert Plant in one person, without the bombast. If the music doesn’t move you, get your pulse checked - there is something wrong with you.

2. The Shins – Port of Morrow:
I don’t know what the title of this album means, and for that matter I can’t even really tell you what any of the songs on this album are really about. I can only tell you The Shins make truly interesting, gripping music. In the vein of Arcade Fire, The Shins craft four-minute sonic masterpieces of melody with the ability to change the listener’s mindset. After a tough day, strapping headphones on and listening to Port of Morrow is like staring into the Grand Canyon to reframe your perspective. Guaranteed de-stressor.

1. Jack White – Blunderbuss:
Rolling Stone can write as many articles as they wish putting soulless poseur John Mayer in the same category as the likes of Eric Clapton et al, but I know that the true Guitar God of today's era is Jack White. No matter how many times I listen, this album never disappoints. Head out on a long drive with the CD on repeat and this disc will continue to surprise you, even when you get all the way through and it repeats from Track 1. I can’t say I don’t miss Meg White’s underappreciated influence, but this album is just killer. If I suddenly found myself on my death bed tomorrow, never getting to see Jack White perform live might be one of my biggest regrets.

So, that's the list.
And now for some Honorable Mentions:

Chuck Prophet – Temple Beautiful:
Leaving Chuck off my Official Top V was the toughest decision I made about the list.  Temple Beautiful is a concept album of sorts – all the songs are about San Francisco.  It works, and Chuck Prophet doesn’t get near the attention he should.  The standout song on this album is “Willie Mays is Up At Bat,” but the entire album is solid and interesting.

Counting Crows – Underwater Sunshine:
I love Adam Duritz songwriting and usually don’t like the bands he endorses (Counting Crows opening acts are almost always snoozers), so on paper this album concept sounds like a dud: covers of mostly obscure songs from really obscure bands.  However, it really, really works.  Adam and the entire band sound energized by the material and make almost all the songs sound like Counting Crows originals.  I’m hoping the creative exercise propels them to make a killer disc of original songs soon.   

The Hives – Lex Hives:
A tight release from a terrific live act.  The Hives don’t necessarily stretch themselves here, but it is an earnest pop punk effort and if you work out to this record you are guaranteed to break your personal records. Or at least literally break the inferior CDs in your collection for rocking less than the Hives do.

Neil Young With Crazy Horse – Psychedelic Pill: 
I inexplicably missed this release when it came out in the spring, but it popped up on so many year-end best-of lists that I went and got it.  I’ve listened to it about a half dozen times now and holy crap it is good.  I’ve never taken a psychedelic pill but it seems to me locking yourself in a dark room with this music playing on repeat would give you a pretty good high and make you think about the world in a new way.

The Wallflowers – Glad All Over:
I am really impressed with this release from Jakob Dylan’s band.  There are enough songs that hearken back to The Wallflowers glory days of the late 1990’s yet enough creativity and risk taking that keep the album fresh and interesting.  Not everything works but I have a feeling over the next five years there is a chance I may be listening to as much of this album as any in my Official Top V Albums.

Alejandro Escovedo – Big Station:
I probably shouldn’t admit this, but  just discovered 61 year old underground legend Escovedo this year.  His 14th solo album, Big Station is the best Tom Petty-sounding album that Tom Petty didn’t make this year, and I look forward to uncovering the rest of the Mexican American storyteller’s catalog as time goes on.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Great News For Out-Of Market / Transplanted Mets Fans!

Hey, hopefully by now you have joined me at The Mets Police, but I wanted to make sure I passed along this great news for out-of-market baseball fans.

Starting in 2014, Fox Saturday Baseball games will no longer be blacked out of

I watch all the games via ROKU or AppleTV, so this is great news.  I may never go back to cable or satellite again.

When the streaming is bad, it is really, really frustrating, but when it works it works great, and it works most of the time.  In 2012 the quality was much better than in years past and the service was much more consistent.

Credit: Eric Fisher Twitter: @ericfisherSBJ

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Meet Me At Mets Police

Starting today, I'll be a contributor to my favorite blog about the Mets, Mets Police!  Hope to see you there.

By the way, The team that plays in D.C. will finish above .500 this season, so I won't be able to call them The Expos anymore, but I cn ilmake fun of them for sealing their logo from Walgreens.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Top V Albums of 2010

And here are my favorite albums of 2010.  

1. Black Keys - Brothers
2. The Hold Steady - Heaven is Whenever 
3. Mumford & Sons - Sigh No More
4. The Gaslight Anthem - American Slang
5. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

Also loved:
Girl Talk - All Day
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Mojo

Friday, August 27, 2010

Crazy Thoughts

Omar said this week he thinks Ollie Perez can bounce back. How can he possibly bounce back if he doesn't pitch?

Some have speculated that the Mets consider trading Jose Reyes. If you are going to break up "the core," wouldn't it make more sense to trade the more-replaceable David Wright? I am not saying either one should be traded, but honestly, isn't it easier to find a third baseman who does what Wright does than a shortstop with Jose's abilities?
I edited this because on second thought i realized I was insane.
OK, that is all. Except: Hire Bobby V.

Thank you.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bobby V is out there for the taking.

I am excited to go to Sunday's Mets Hall Of Fame Day and see Darryl and Doc and Davey and Cashen go into the Mets Hall Of Fame.  It will be nice to remember a team of winners.  It has been a long time!  I have actually enjoyed this season more than any other in many years, primarily because I had no optimism whatsoever going into it.

Yesterday's win was great and all that, but in conversing with my buddy for our plans on Sunday, I got all fired up about the state of the Mets.

On Opening Day I said that if they were going to implode, I hoped the Mets would implode early so they could fire Jerry Manuel and hire Bobby Valentine.  My opinion still stands, even though the word is that these players 'love' playing for Jerry.   I don't really care what a .500 ball club loves.  Every year ownership and Omar say the on-field performance is 'unacceptable' but they never follow through and do anything except give out more bad contracts.  Willie should have been fired earlier, Ollie should have been released, players should be benched when they suck.  That's how you show losing is unacceptable:  Consequences.  It is unfathomable to me how this team can have great homegrown players like Wright Reyes, Ike Davis and Mike Pelfrey and Jon Niese and still have no idea how to build around them. 

The idea that the Mets are cheap is silly.  The Mets do spend money, but that doesn't mean the lousy  performance isn't ownership and Omar's fault. It is their fault because they never stick to a plan.  They just throw money at the problem.  They brag about how much money they spend while really they should be embarrassed.  Their teams play like a $65MM payroll, and that is actually an insult to the Devil Rays

I feel bad for Luis Castillo because the guys busts his ass out there and everyone hates him because Omar gave him a  bad contract.  As if that's Luis' fault.  He's a slap singles hitter with so-so defense and bad knees, that's what he's been and that's what he was when we signed him, and he had no business getting a four year deal, but what was he supposed to do, turn it down?

Meanwhile, Bobby V doesn't take any sh*t.  He said Todd Hundley was partying too much, he said he had losers in the clubhouse, and he got Benny Agbayani to play like an all-star.  Enough said.

Hire Bobby V, trade Jason Bay and K-Rod, find someone to take Beltran before his bum knees go out again, and find a new GM too.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Joseaaaaaye, jose jose jose... Pelfrey... Pelfrey

The Mets win two in a row, on the backs of Jose and Big Pelf! I have almost no optimism, but I still can enjoy the hell out of a Mets win! In fact, maybe I am enjoying it more, now that the burden of hope is lifted. Maybe I should have tried lowering my expectations sooner!

Igarashi strains hamstring - how does this play out?

So Igarashi tweaked his hammy tonight. Who wants to bet against this chain of events:

-Igarashi is declared day to day

-after about 5 days of playing shorthanded, we're told he could be ready for action tomorrow.

-make that tomorrow.

-Igarashi is seen warming up but does not enter the game

-the next day, Jerry Manuel says Igarashi is ready to play. An hour later, he goes on the 15 day DL.

-After about two weeks, we hear he is due back by the weekend.

-he's due back by the next homestand.

-sometime this weekend.

-season ending surgery.

tools for transplanted baseball fans

If you re an out of market baseball fan, you need to get yourself an subscription and a roku player. The subscription is about $120 and the roku about $100. The roku is primarily used to stream netflix movuies to your TV, but starting this season you ll be able to stream mlb games in broadcast quality (or better). Plus if you re away from a tv you can listen to the radio broadcast for any game, any time, home or away. A much better deal than the directv extra innings package, and in fact, you don t need any tv service at all! Love it!