Here are some photos of Rafael Montero pitching off the Citi Field Mound at last year’s MLB All-Star Futures Game.
The line to get in was really long. You could only pick up tickets at the ticket booths outside the Bullpen Gate and it took us about 20 minutes to do this. We received two vouchers each for beer, and a voucher for our Mets boot, to retrieve on the way out. No glass inside Citi Field. The lines for beer were particularly long, mainly because they sold tickets to more people than should probably stay in the Bullpen Plaza. There was very little in the way of entertainment, just one DJ with a German music playlist. None of the food options were any different than anything you can get in the main area of the park, in fact I don’t even recall what the three or four items for sale were.
And of course, the beer. Ideal would’ve been a handful or two of local seasonal options, with perhaps a tasting glass so you could try many of them. Even just two or three local craft options would’ve been special. Worst case was that they’d simply provide the generic Bud Light and Coors Light options that they provide to groups that buy Party City seats. The Mets went with the barely acceptable option; they provided Oktoberfest beers from Anheuser Busch InBev owned breweries Becks and Spaten. This isn’t horrible; after all, Spaten is a storied brewery and one of the six that’s poured in Munich, but because it’s owned by AB InBev, it’s the easiest possible option they could’ve provided. You also had the option of St. Pauli’s Girl and Bud Light.
I ordered my two beers at once because there was little reason to wait on the line again, and we ended up just heading into the park. The area was open from 5:30 until first pitch, but there was really no reason to stay.
The Mets boot was a nice touch, it’s glass and says Oktoberfest at Citi Field and all, but it’s very cheaply made and one of ours was actually chipped. It’s so obvious that it’s just two simple pieces of glass fused together, and the top of the boot isn’t even rounded like a glass for drinking. It’d probably make a nice vase though.
I like the idea of Oktoberfest at Citi Field, but I don’t know that I’d make a special excuse to come out again next year if there aren’t any real changes.
It’s here. The last weekend of Mets baseball before it slinks off into the off-season of unsubstantiated rumors and financial allusions.
I’ll be at two of the games. Tonight, the Mets are doing their Oktoberfest. I get a cool glass Mets boot stein, which is worth the admission to the event, but I’m not hopeful that they’ll have anything special in terms of beer. There are so many local Oktoberfest beers to choose from, and even some Anheuser-Busch InBev ones like Spaten, but chances are they won’t be specially acquiring beer for a small event on the final Friday of the season. Perhaps if the Mets were to clinch a playoff spot one day, we can rally them to add fall seasonals to the selection. Either way, I’ll write up my thoughts next week.
I’ll be rooting for the Mets. I know that seems to be a contrary opinion these days, as many are obsessing over the Mets losing to get a better and/or protected draft pick. Not me. I root for the Mets to win, and I don’t cherry pick one specific aspect as the only path towards competitiveness. Sure, getting the protected pick makes things easier this offseason, but one pick who may or may not ever play in the majors some years from now is not going to make or break the Mets. Certainly not enough for me to root against the Mets winning. The Mets might not target, or acquire, a free agent that requires sacrificing the pick. Draft picks are a consolation prize, not a goal. It ignores the short term enjoyment for the long term projections, something I never agree with. You can sacrifice the present for the hope of the future endlessly, and never get there. It feels too similar to the idea that you should lose as badly as possible as much as possible until you’re in the best position to get really good, really fast. That seems too much like the Marlins methods for me to like.
Mike Piazza will be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame Sunday, and I’ll be on hand for that too. Maybe the baseball Hall will get around to the same thing next year, but until then we’ll honor him as a Met because he’s one of our greats. They really should be retiring 31 too, and I’m not really sure why they aren’t. (And there’s a case for 15,16 and 17 as well) At least we’ll probably get another chance to honor Piazza next year when he’s inducted and then maybe the Mets have a retired number ceremony.
And then that’s it. The players go home. Citi Field goes dark. We start counting until pitchers and catchers.
The Islanders first game is next Friday.
The first is the most frustrating, usually coming in the form of a rain date for Opening Day after just one game has been played. This is torture akin to someone giving you a slice of chocolate cake and taking it away after one bite.
Early season off-days are hiccups. You’re still getting the hang of baseball every day, trying to find your rhythm and they go and interrupt it. It’s rather frustrating, and while you might flip on another game to watch, it’s too early in the season for you to know who to be scoreboard watching against, making the emotional investment rather small.
As the weather heats up off-days become less of a hassle. You see the need for players to have a travel day, or a recovery day, to keep everyone fresh. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and a day away from the Mets makes the next game all the more fun.
The ultimate off-day is the All-Star Game. The Mid-Summer Classic occurs near the half point of the season, giving everyone the perfect opportunity to take a breather and assess the situation. With no competitive games on what better way to utilize the time than some celebration of the players that make this game great?
After that off-days become strategic. It’s all about lining up the rotation to match your best guys up against your best competition if you’re competing, or getting guys rest and limiting the workload of young pitchers if you’re not.
Then you come to yesterday. The last off-day of the year. The baseball season is dying, and yesterday was a spooky preview of life without Mets baseball.
Which means tonight’s game might be the highest rated Mets game in September. The appreciation for life that comes just after a near-death experience. A cold night without the Mets that has us clutching to our Travis d’Arnaud‘s and Lucas Dudas.
The final off-day is also a window into the future of our time after baseball. Monday night football is on and the NHL preseason has begun. Many network television shows start debuting in September to start filling your DVR with non-baseball broadcasts.
13 baseball games remain over 13 days. Let’s enjoy every last fleeting moment of Mets baseball, because it won’t be long before we’re counting the days until Spring Training.
Losing to good teams is just as bad as losing to bad teams, it’s just a different bad. The goal of baseball is to be the best, and anytime anyone asserts themselves as better than you it should hurt.
Losing to crappy teams is usually a comedy of errors, or running into the handful of good players the opposition has or the crappier players you’re still forced to play. It’s usually a sloppy affair. Getting so soundly slaughtered by the best teams in the league however is demoralizing because it makes it seem you’re so far away from being good. Even when you play pretty well you can lose pretty soundly.
The Mets, presumably, are trending upwards with young talent, playing .500ish baseball since the break, and looking to finish a place above where they did last year with maybe a better record as well. It’s hard to remember to that when you’re getting so summarily trounced by the Detroit Tigers or the Los Angeles Dodgers.
I’m angry, Mets fans, and for once, it’s not because of the team. I’m angry about fangirls, and gatekeepers. Recently I participated (poorly) in a twitter discussion about the term “fangirl,” and whether it’s ever okay to use it. It’s not, and that was the consensus of the discussion, with a few exceptions. That was my opinion before the conversation started, but it got me thinking.
The idea behind “fangirl” is the possibility a person might like a team or player for the wrong reasons.
Go back and read that sentence again. People are appointing themselves arbiters of what the right reasons are for rooting for the Mets. This doesn’t just apply to “fangirl,” of course. The idea a fan hasn’t been loyal enough through the bad years when a team is good, or isn’t knowledgeable about a team’s history, or the stats (or even names!) of current players, is small minded.
Wil Wheaton touched on this topic recently, more eloquently than I, where he writes he’s “a little baffled that we need to keep having this conversation” in regard to the need for people be a gatekeeper for things we love. In particular interest is this comment, where the commenter writes of her husband belittling her Red Sox fandom, but his stance has softened. She writes, “It’s a maturity issue. The immature guys who have this behavior, it makes them feel superior to be gatekeepers.” There are plenty of other good points in the comments, and I suggest, contrary to conventional wisdom, you read the comments.
Furthermore, we should be embracing these fans, for two reasons. Firstly, the finances. Do you think that other team regularly has $200M payrolls because the loyal fans are buying tickets? Or because only people who care about Jeter’s WAR bought his jersey? If people want to jump on the Mets’ bandwagon because they’re winning (or will be soon), or if people buy Harvey or Wright jerseys because Harvey and Wright are sexy, then good, it’s all the better for the Mets and their fans.
Secondly, new fans are great. My goddaughter, age 6, loves the Mets. She doesn’t remember Jesse Orosco on his knees, fists raised to the heavens like I do. But she also doesn’t remember Kenny Rogers walking in the winning run, Beltran caught looking, consecutive collapses, or any number of things that may have jaded me as a Mets fan. She doesn’t know the infield fly rule, and I’m pretty sure she doesn’t care. She may learn of some of these things in time. She may not. Part of me hopes she doesn’t, that she keeps her child-like love of the game.
What she does know is how much fun it can be to gather with a few thousand strangers and cheer for the same thing. And that’s the only way I judge whether you’re a Mets’ fan or not: are you cheering for the Mets?
Pitcher wins mean next to nothing. They’re a factor of the offense, defense, the opposing pitcher and often times the bullpen. The best way to accumulate wins as a pitcher is to play on a team that scores a billion runs. That team is not the Mets.
The Mets are 13-12 in Matt Harvey starts. He has nine wins and four losses, which is actually a pretty good percentage. The Mets are then four and eight after he leaves the game, suggesting that they are a team with a really good player and aren’t as good when he leaves the game. Additionally, they’ve been playing without their best hitter and best reliever for a couple of weeks now, the guys they’d need most in those post-Harvey innings. The Mets don’t score runs, and when they do they often do it in bunches. That is why they don’t win more Matt Harvey games. The less runs you score as a team, the less likely those runs are going to be scored for your ace. This is especially true when you’re trying to build a cushion of runs to preserve a lead with the bullpen pitching at least two innings for even the best of starters in the league, of which Matt Harvey is one.
The Mets won 52% of Matt Harvey’s starts so far this year and 44.3% of their games otherwise. Over 162 games that means they’d win 84 games if Harvey started everyday, and just 72 if he wasn’t on the team. That’s quite a difference, in fact it’s 17% better. Just for a reference point 17% better than a .500 team would get you to nearly 95 wins.
Of course, there’s a lot of randomness and luck in there because the Mets score runs independent of who they’re starting, so running into a lot of weak starters on one day, or a hitter happening to have a great day another can greatly skew these results, which is why a pitcher’s record mean so little. If Daniel Murphy gets hot and goes four for five with two home runs one day, that has nothing to do with how well Matt Harvey is pitching. There is no rhyme or reason to which batters happen to hit well on a given day, and it’s just luck if it happens on one pitcher’s starting day more than another’s. It’s safe to say the Mets aren’t quite wasting Matt Harvey starts, because he is making them much better. He’s helping them win games they’d have no business winning otherwise given how many runs they scored. In some ways, if they scored six or seven runs on a day Harvey started that could more be considered wasting his start, because they’d rarely need so many to cover what he gives up to the opposing team.
You can compare 2013 to 1973 all you want, but the only real similarities are that it’s 40 years later. The Mets miracle run in ’73 got a lot of help from the rest of the teams in the division; something that’s not happening this year. Right now the Braves are too far ahead for the division so that’s out. There are only three teams that they’d need to beat out for the Wild Card, but while the Nationals are catchable, they’d need the Diamondbacks to go 24-25 and the Reds to top that with 19-29 just to force a tie and that’s only if the Mets were able to able to go 30-20 to get to 82 wins.
Those things aren’t impossible, but they’re so unlikely it’s not something you can even dare hope for in early August. So what should we hope for?
Second place isn’t much, but it’s a step up over the last couple of seasons. If the Mets can finish strong, and there’s no reason to think they can’t, they can stay ahead of the Phillies and catch the Nationals who are only two wins ahead. It won’t be easy, as both teams do have some talent and equal ability to finish strong, but it’s something to shoot for. Any measure of improvement in the standings is a good sign.
Getting to .500 is another possible goal. They’d need to go 29-21 to do so. They’re 28-22 over their last 50 games, so that’s certainly doable too. Especially if Ike Davis continues to hit, and the rotation continues to dominate like it has. I think this is a bigger goal than just getting second place, because it says more about the Mets and less about the rest of the division. It also won’t happen if the Mets have a bad week or two where things fall apart, but perhaps the Mets of May, of Rick Ankiel and Collin Cowgill, are behind us.
Development. It’s clear the Mets have been evaluating guys all year, and while keeping Omar Quintanilla up instead of Ruben Tejeda makes little sense, the time they’re giving players like Eric Young Jr and Juan Lagares to really showcase what they can do is telling. Zack Wheeler is here now and starting to settle in, and Jenrry Mejia has looked good too. Jon Niese will return this weekend to prove that he can pitch with the slight tear in his shoulder and it’s creating a log-jam that necessitates a 6-man rotation. Travis d’Arnaud was just promoted to Triple-A Las Vegas and will probably make his Major League debut before too much longer. Wilmer Flores and Josh Satin are getting some playing time to prove they’re big league players.
Indeed the future is bright. The playoffs aren’t a realistic possibility this year, but have patience because things are certainly looking up.
If you pay attention to these things you may have noticed that the Craft Beer Dugouts at Citi Field no longer have Blue Point, Sierra Nevada, or Magic Hat cans. This is a big blow that the addition of Brooklyn East India Pale Ale or Sixpoint Bengali Tiger cannot erase.
A discussion on craft beer broke out on Twitter, which let to this revelation by BluePointShane who works for Blue Point Brewery.
@brew_york to be fair, Citi has been very reasonable to work with. Cans must be 16oz, blue point, sierra pale, magic, abita, oskar all 12oz
— shane byrnes (@BluePointShane) July 23, 2013
I sorta get it; Having to deal with different size cans and hence the option for different size cups can be a layer of complexity Aramark and the Mets want to avoid in a ballpark where speed of sale is important. However, due to green initiatives you’re just handed the can of beer anyway and only get a cup if you ask. The Mets haven’t even raised the prices on the 16oz cans, charging the same as the 12oz bottles in Big Apple Brews. This year though they’ve raised the price on the Craft Beer Dugout taps to $12. I’m sure you’re getting at least 16oz of beer with these, and maybe a little more, but that’s a decent hike.
When Citi Field first opening there were four unique beers at the four food stands out in center field that created a base level of awesome beer. Since they’ve allowed Big Beer to price those options out of Citi Field, we’ve been stuck with these half measures. They’re nice measures for sure, but it’s an opening move that needs to be followed up by creative and innovative options for the Mets to get even to a league average beer selection.
For one, there are no dark beers. While dark beers are often less desirable in the summer, there’s still a demand for some bocks, brown ales, or even stouts and porters. You get cold nights in April and even some September nights can be chilly. Some darker styles would get enjoyed by many Mets fans even in the summer.
There is only one truly craft tap; Blue Point Toasted Lager at Catch of the Day. You can get a couple of others if you can get to the Excelsior level, and even more in the Delta Club, but there are so many good local breweries that would fit in great from Brooklyn, Sixpoint and Blue Point to more Ommegang. Singlecut, a new Queens brewery, would be a great fit as well. If the Mets need a way to offload the unused beer at the end of the year, perhaps they can work out something with McFaddens.
The Mets and Aramark are making progress in that they seem to at least recognize the desire for good craft beer at Citi Field, but they have a long way to go before there is a real selection of said beer.
And I’m right back out to Citi Field tonight and tomorrow. Here’s my rundown of the All-Star Game, with pictures!
My second actually. This is what I wrote about going to the game in 2006. I bought the tickets in Spring Training on a whim thinking maybe I could turn a little bit of a profit reselling them, but it wasn’t easy to resell a standing room only strip of tickets so the Sunday before we drove over to Pittsburgh.