Let Edwin Díaz Start Opening Day You Cowards

Let’s get wild, let’s start Edwin Díaz on Opening Day. Kodai Senga of course deserves it, but this is only his second year, and there’s no chance he’s pitching deep into the first game of the year anyway. There’s not some long-tenured Ace cemented in that role, so why not pump up the fans and start the season with some fanfare?  

There’s no reason we can’t cheer just as loud in the second inning for Kodai Senga. There’s no reason you can’t refer to him as the “starting” pitcher after the Opener. There’s no reason you can’t announce Díaz as the Opener and Senga as the Starter in the pre-game lineups and graphics. HYPE IT UP.

Díaz and his trumpets, entrance music and dominating performance might have been the highlight of 2022, and it was sorely missed in 2023. So why not remind us all and get that Timmy Trumpet blaring to start the year–nothing else would get the blood pumping as much as that. Getting an inning of Díaz regardless of the score is good strategy anyway, there’s a day off after that so it’s not like you’re worried about wearing him out early, he hasn’t pitched since late 2022 so why wait to get his return started?

There’s a reasonable chance the Mets bullpen, as a unit, might be pretty good this year, perhaps even the best part of the team. So highlighting that strength to start the year is only fitting. Come out throwing gas. 

This also potentially sets up something that so rarely happens–The first and last pitch of the season could be thrown by the same player.

The Brewery At Citi Field

far shot of the Ebbs Citi Field bar, with a tv above the taps, and a few cans on the bar

I’ve reported on the brewery at Citi Field before, but it’s worth a refresher. The Mikkeller NYC space, owned by Bruce Wilpon and Tomas Larson, was closed early in the pandemic despite Ebbs Brewery, owned by Bruce Wilpon and Tomas Larson, using the space to brew beer. Even as fans returned to Citi Field, and Ebbs beer was present, the space remained closed until Opening Day 2022.

If you remember, the Mikkeller spot, while currently not a great spot to visit when the Mets aren’t home, was a great spot for beer and food. They had a large tap list of Mikkeller beers and also guest beers, with all sorts of great things to try. They made two specialty beers for Citi Field, and a special beer for The 7 Line Army. All those are now gone, as even though the location has now reopened as Ebbs Citi Field.

Our friend Steve Rogers shared this photo of the place before the last game of the first homestand.

Let’s zoom in a bit at that “menu”.

Ebbs Citi Field Menu as of 4/21/2022

Okay, what poorly designed mess of text is that? Why is Watermelon and Mango spelled with a 4? Did they really run out of As? They couldn’t of sprung for a couple more packs of lettering? It’s Ambassador not Abmassador. Those are upside down Vs.

I guess if you’re at a loss of letters you have to abbreviate ,but no one knows HVB means Hudson Valley Brewery without googling Amulet, a sour farmhouse ale. Aval Gold is a cider, Jiant Himacaya is a hard kombucha. And the Interboro is an 11% imperial stout. That’s quite the variety grouped together. Also there are no prices, never mind ABV for anything.

Those numbers after the Ebbs beers are different beers. Ebbs has decided not to name beers, for..reasons. I dare you to figure out the difference between Lager 1 and Lager 3 without a detailed description. Does this mean the bartender has to explain it to literally everyone that’s ordering? Gose 1 has watermelon, which isn’t the standard Gose recipe, so it might be nice to know that?

Ebbs whole aesthetic is this simple “our recipe is just the style and the recipe number” as per their “our story” on their website, which is full of snarky answers and avoiding their own questions. For instance, they’re snarky about what Ebbs means. “It sure does.” they say. Ebbs brand identity was designed by Pentagram, and according to them:

The name “Ebbs” is short, strong and simple, evoking water and New York’s rivers and harbor, as well as Ebbets Field, the home of the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team.

It’s interesting given who owns them and where they started that they’re being coy about the name.

Fountain hard seltzer is also owned by the same people, hence it’s inclusion here. I imagine the “Spritz” option means they’ll water down some wine for you with one of the seltzers.

This also means there are a lot of empty taps. Maybe they’ll expand this by the summer, as things get up and running, but it’s not like Opening Day showing up was a surprise, and they’ve literally operated in this space since 2018. As of 4/21/2022, there have been no additional labels filed with the TTB, which would be required to can more Ebbs beer.

Those prices are cheaper than a beer inside the park, but it’s hard to say I’d actually recommend stopping here instead of just going inside and taking in the park and batting practice. Perhaps if you’re not ready to head home after, it’s good for a nightcap, and hopefully they add some new guest taps going forward.

It perhaps also worth noting that the Citi Field guide on the Mets website is updated to reflect Ebbs being open, though other recent changes have not been added. There was very little promotion of Ebbs going to sudden (re?)open in the space until a few days prior on Instagram.

Thanks again to Steve Rogers for the recon, I’ll head out to Citi Field myself next homestand and will at least walk through the place.

GPT3 Interview With Tom Seaver on Opening Day

photo of Citi Field from the first base promenade, spanning from the LF stands to the RF stands, with a plane flying over head

Bit of a meme in the Machine Learning world this week using an algorithm to mimic a conversation with dead, fictional or imaginary people, so I thought I’d take a spin at interviewing Tom Seaver for Opening Day. Everything after this was either prompt, or if green, generated by OpenAI’s GPT-3.

The following is an interview with Hall of Famer and Mets Legend Tom Seaver. Known as “The Franchise” Seaver led the Mets to their first World Series victory in 1969.

Human: “Hi Tom, Thanks for chatting with me even though you’re dead. Tell me about yourself, how are you doing?”

Tom Seaver: “I’m doing well, thanks for asking. I’m currently enjoying my afterlife in baseball heaven. I’m surrounded by all the greats of the game and we’re all having a great time.”

Human: “Tom Brady tried to trademark ‘Tom Terrific’ a few years back, but was denied because that was and is your nickname. Any thoughts on that?”

Tom Seaver: “I was a little surprised that he would try to trademark my nickname, but I guess he’s just a huge fan. I don’t really have any strong feelings about it one way or the other.”

Human: “The Mets are unveiling a statue of you tomorrow at Opening Day, outside Citi Field. How does this make you feel?”

Tom Seaver: “I’m very honored and humbled by the whole thing. It’s going to be a great day for Mets fans and I’m looking forward to being there in spirit.”

Human: “Any regrets that this wasn’t done while you were still alive?”

Tom Seaver: “No, not at all. I’m just happy that the Mets are finally doing this and that fans will be able to enjoy it for years to come.”

Human: “What are your fondest memories of playing for the Mets, besides the World Series of course?”

Tom Seaver: “There are too many to list, but some of my favorites include pitching at Shea Stadium in front of all the passionate fans and simply being a part of such a great team. Winning the World Series was obviously the icing on the cake.”

Human: “Have you watching any of the games this season? What do you think of the 2022 Mets?”

Tom Seaver: “I’ve been keeping up with them and I think they’re a great team. They have a lot of young talent and they’re definitely capable of making a run at the playoffs. I’m excited to see what they can do.”

Human: “Anybody on the team remind you of yourself a little bit?”

Tom Seaver: “I see a lot of myself in Jacob deGrom. He’s a great pitcher with a lot of potential. I think he has a chance to be one of the best in the game for many years to come.”

Human: “Let’s say you are corporeal for one Mets game, what concession at Citi Field would you eat?”

Tom Seaver: “I’m a big fan of hot dogs, so I would have to go with the Citi Field Classic Dog. It’s a great hot dog and it’s perfect for a ballgame.”

Human: “Thanks for your time Tom. Any last words for Mets fans?”

Tom Seaver: “I just want to say thanks to all the fans for their support over the years. It’s been an honor to be a part of this great organization and I’ll never forget the memories we made together. Let’s Go Mets!”

The Matt Harvey Days Were Fun Weren’t They?

Matt Harvey deserves a tribute video, and an ovation from Mets fans, surely. He literally gave a rib trying to pitch for the Mets, and was a fireballing star for a few years there. Top of the world so to speak. That’s fun.

We’re perhaps making too much of his return here. It’s fun that we’ll get to see him again, but this isn’t aging veteran returning in the sunset of his career, nor is it talented free agent the Mets let get away and is now returning to threaten them. It’s a pitcher that had a few great and powerful years with the Mets, both on and off the field. He pitched our All Star Game, Our last World Series game, and he did so well. Maybe It’s me that’s not making enough of this.

It’s unfair to say Harvey burned bright and faded away, it wasn’t that he flew too close to the sun, or whatever metaphor you want to use. Like so many other pitchers, he was really really good, got hurt because pitching is dangerous, and hasn’t been able to recapture what made him great in the first place.

For Harvey, that’s fastball velocity. Baseball’s a game of inches after all. It’s hard to be the best of the best of the best, and while there are some pitchers that manage to adjust to fading velocity with command, or movement, that’s a different skill. Not all pitchers have them all to the same elite level. It appears Matt Harvey does not quite have it, and without the extra velocity, he’s just too hittable.

Matt Harvey started the All Star Game at Citi Field, which will forever be harkened back to every time or any time we host again. The Mets couldn’t keep 2015 going a few more games, but Harvey’s great performance in that game 5 will forever be remembered, and talked about whenever we make the World Series next.

The Harvey days were fun, and while his return this afternoon is not particularly meaningful, It gives us this time to reflect back and remember those good times. For an inning or two, before Lindor homers for the second time in the bottom of the 2nd and chases him from the game.

The New Mets On Tap Podcast

holding a NEIPA session ale in a Mets plastic cup at citi field up to the scoreboard with the field in the background

I know, I know, everyone has a Mets podcast. This one has at least 86% more beer than the average one though. We try to keep it to like 30 minutes of chat about the Mets, baseball, beer, and wherever that takes us.

It’s called Mets On Tap on all podcast platforms (including, retroactively, ones you ask me to add it to).

Please subscribe and rate (5 David Wright Stars!) and review the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, my mother’s refrigerator, and really just anywhere you can.

You can email us questions, comments, and beer recs at podcast@barleyprose.com

Many Questions Remain About A Safe Opening Day

New York has allowed ballparks to operate at 20% as of Opening Day, so the Mets have released information towards filling that capacity. Of course, they’ve sold roughly 100% of Opening Day tickets already, so now they get to attempt to redistribute those tickets to other games of the next two seasons, and re-sell, probably to season ticket holders, Opening Day and other games through early May (for now). 

The protocol for attending are, not surprisingly, sparse. They’re selling ‘pods’ of tickets, and requiring a negative COVID test or vaccination. That’s a start, but I still have a lot of questions.

  1. The guidelines mention showing proof of a negative test. How recent? And what questions are being asked to gauge potential exposure between that negative test and the day of game?
  1. Will ALL bathrooms be open, to spread out the #1 place fans bunch up? 
  1. How far apart are these pods really? Shouting “Let’s Go Mets” expels particles much farther than six feet, especially because the ground is sloped down in the direction fans shout. If I let out a “yeah!” after a strikeout, in between bites, I could easily send droplets many many rows away. 
  1. Will there be guidelines and exit procedures that properly educate and space apart pods so they don’t all try to get out the same way? The same question going in. Will gate assignments be enforced to limit bottlenecks? Where is proof of vaccination or test happening? Are we bottling up entry with even more paperwork? 
  1. If I come down with symptoms the day AFTER the game, are their tracing protocols in place for me to report that? 
  1. Less important, but still valid, if I come down with symptoms the day before, are you going to give me a hard time about straight-refunding my money? 
  1. What percentage of Citi Field staff is vaccinated? Are you requiring or assisting these employees with getting vaccinated, particularly the ones that will be doing admission or handling food? 

It _should_ be possible to have 8000 or so fans in a wide open outdoor area, with good mask usage and hopefully a large percentage of vaccinated fans. Whether it will be or not remains to be seen, and cases in NY are still holding steady and not really decreasing much, only a few weeks before Opening Day. Hopefully they’ll be extra cautious, everyone will behave and get vaccinated, and we can all find ourselves happily at a baseball game this season. 

Worried About The New Citi Field Brewery

an image of a beer at the old Mikkeller NYC brewery with the decorative pipe of flowing beer to a graphic of a drinker is changed into a question mark

A refresher since most of us haven’t been to Citi Field since 2019 at the most recent–Mikkeller NYC closed, and was replaced by Ebbs Brewery, owned and operated by mostly all the same people. It’s the same, but it’s not. They’re not serving all the interesting variety that Mikkeller did. There has been no word on the tasting room, or Citi Field distribution, things that are sneaking up on us fast. I don’t know if it’s wise to have fans at Citi Field as early as April, but the Mets are certainly selling tickets for it.

So what are we going to get? I think it’s interesting to point out how unresponsive Ebbs has been since the changeover. Maybe the one person that didn’t stick around was the media person. It’s possible that this group decided to branch out and open a second brewery, and always planned on being separate, or even abandoning, the Citi Field/Mikkeller job. If that’s the case, it’s entirely possible that Ebbs is NOT associated with the Mets in any way, and that the lease expired with Mikkeller and now sits vacant. 

I was hoping for Mets themed beers. That’s always my hope. I loved Say Hey Sally and Henry Hops as baseball beers. I loved that Mikkeller brewed a ‘United We Cheers’ beer for the The7Line. What do we have in 2021? Will Ebbs be there? Even sticking to their naming scheme and getting like a #41 IPA and a #31 Stout and a #5 Saison would’ve been at least a nod to the location. Ebbs brewery has submitted zero label requests since this news came out, their last label approval was for Stout No. 1 in August. There’s a chance label approval is just delayed due to Covid, but you’d expect something from a new brewery in that time. 

Ebbs website is not rich with information, but it does claim that they were originally brewed at Citi Field and are now brewed in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. That is evidence on the second idea, that they’re NOT associated with Citi Field any longer, or else why not continue brewing there? Did Bruce Wilpon kill the Mikkeller NYC deal himself, as a way to branch off to do Ebbs? This seems absurd, given that the Wilpon family owns the rights to develop the vacant lots across from Citi Field, which will theoretically be both boosted and a boost to a brewery nearby. 

Given what I’m seeing from Ebbs, this could ultimately be a boon. I loved the Mikkeller spot, and the selection, but what Ebbs is offering us is a pale comparison. This opens up a spot for someone else more interesting to come in, presumably already setup for a brewery? Or did they cannibalize it and move it to Brooklyn? From a beer standpoint, It’s certainly a difficult time to establish a presence, but I can’t imagine dropping a huge name brand, moving from an up and running location to a new one, and no longer having any physical, or ownership, connection to Citi Field is going to help things. Never mind that they’re only brewing nondescript beers. I get the idea between brewing stylistically pure beers is something that has some intrinsic value but I’m not sure how cutting all these ties and then brewing specifically non instagrammable beers is something that’s going to work. 

Mikkeller NYC was at least reasonably active on social media, but they often wouldn’t give details about their in-season schedule until almost the last minute, so it may be that we won’t know until some fan that doesn’t even remember it closed wanders around the building on Opening Day, and finds the answer. It’s also possible that there are no fans Opening Day, due to the pandemic, or that a limited 10% crowd doesn’t prompt whoever owns that space to open up. 

I’ve reached out to Ebbs but their email doesn’t work and so far they’ve been non-responsive on social media, so we remain in the dark. 

Meet The New Citi Field Brewery, Same As The Old Citi Field Brewery

Mikkeller NYC closed, in part because of the pandemic and no fans at Citi Field. That was sad, it was a great place to get great beer attached to Citi Field, and they had some baseball themed beers. It was neat! All, perhaps, is not lost. Hat tip to Metspolice for ‘scooping’ me on this.

The brewery is dead, long live the brewery. It didn’t take long for someone to announce they were moving into that space. Fountain Beverages owned EBBS Brewery, just opened up in Brooklyn, will be brewing in that location. Who are they? Let’s see, they’re owned by Bruce Wilpon and..wait, yes. That Bruce Wilpon, of you know, the Wilpons. The one that owned part of Mikkeller NYC. He’s taking a lot, if not all, of the people that worked on Mikkeller with him to EBBS. If you peep their LinkedIn pages, most of them have already been working there! KGRLogic on Twitter noted the obvious inference to Ebbets Field that I missed, which makes me roll my eyes but maybe it’s the perfect name for a ‘Brooklyn’ brewery that is actually in Queens?

There is no brewer listed there yet. Richard Saunders, who was listed as the Head Brewer at Mikkeller from Dec 2017 through October of 2020 is in the role of Director of Strategy & Product Innovation for both Fountain and EBBS. He’s been there five months now, which is roughly when they launched. I suspect this is a very similar position, and I imagine the brewers are the same. In fact, I’d wager a ton that all of EBBS beers were brewed in Mikkeller NYC. 

I have no idea what these means for baseball-themed beers, presence INSIDE Citi Field, or the selection of beers that will change at the location. I don’t know if this was actually a “woe is us, pandemic is hard on business” story, or if it’s a small part of a branding change around the Wilpons specifically. Worth remembering who has the rights (Wilpon) to develop the area around Citi Field, from which this brewery will be directly adjacent too, and likely immensely profitable as a result of.  I’m not sure Mikkel Borg Bjergsø was even ever officially part of the ownership group of the NYC location, and I’m wondering if this was some sort of licensing agreement expiration. Mikkel also has a twin brother named Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø who owns Evil Twin, and there’s some narrative around a feud between them and both wanting to open NYC locations. Evil Twin is opening a second taproom in Dumbo next year.

So, the beers. Well, Fountain has a line of hard seltzer and CBD water. It’s hard not to imagine that stuff flooding Citi Field. EBBS beers are..plain. They’re described as beers you want to drink, and

They are what they are.

With names to match.

Only a style and recipe number.

Sure, I guess. They’re plain white cans with black lettering. Throwback to 70s/80s era generic brands. Things like IPA #7. Some of the beers on their site do have small pictures on them, which seem to be simple and reminiscent of Mikkeller’s style. Are these re-branded Mikkeller beers? One, a Watermelon Gose, is also a beer that Mikkeller makes, though I’m not sure they did in NY. They’re hardly the only one, it’s a common pairing.

They’ve only got basic styles now, IPA, Stout, Gose, Lager, etc. I don’t know if that’s intentional, or just a start. Mikkeller certainly did plenty of weird experimental stuff, like this 4% session IPA called ‘It Was Professor Plum’ with blueberries, plum, and hibiscus. It feels weird to go from getting creative, to just nailing basics, but let’s see how it goes now that the whole space is officially theirs.

I’m sure there’s more drama to come here. I don’t know Fountain’s lease situation, the ownership of the building is changing hands as we know. Is Steve Cohen going to keep Aramark? Is he going to change the agreements in place? Does he like beer? Will he do construction so there’s an entrance/exit to the brewery from inside the stadium? Will he commission Mets beers and actually let them all into the park? I’m not hopeful on most of those, but it’ll be interesting to see. The limited social media that exists from them has a small undertone of sarcasm and levity to it that I think is promising at least.

Now, wear your masks, get your shots, and let’s kick this pandemic to the curb so we can actually GO to the brewery and the park.

Jackie Robinson Rotunda

Google Images stitched together a few photos I took for a nice panorama of the Rotunda that I took on Opening Day. Get’s Jackie’s quote right there at the top too. Figured it was worth a post today.

Jackie Robinson Rotunda on Opening Day 2019 at Citi Field

The Beer I Saw At Citi Field in 2019

I went in through the center field gate, as I had been at Mikkeller, and headed out to center field. Big Apple Brews, the Anheuser-Busch/Inbev owned kiosk out in center field and behind home plate on the Promenade, has been going downhill for years.

Before we get to the good stuff, I actually went back and checked 2009, and perhaps saying it’s only gone downhill is overstating it a bit. Big Apple Brews was probably never good, just good as it compared to Shea Stadium. A giant island of coolers in the middle of the outfield is a pretty cool concept, and a nice addition to a stadium, but the actual beer inside appears to always have been a little lacking, even by 2009 standards, but hey, a dark beer!

Big Apple Brews in 2009

This is still just a broad listing of ABI, or ABI distributed, beers, complete with typos. Calling it Harbin Larger does seem prescient to 2019 where there are a lot of larger container beers. This picture was from April 16th, which was the third game of the opening series, not including the exhibition games against the Red Sox, so perhaps they got some editing later in the season.

Larger beers. That seems to be the theme here. Some token ABI craft, the Blue Point Mosaic IPA is not bad, and then a lot of 25oz offering. Obviously, beer geeks like myself are not the prime audience for this. For the rest of the population, being able to drink Blue Point Toasted Lager, or Kona Longboard, or Goose Island Urban Wheat is actually pretty nice.

Remember, just because you can order two 25oz Bud Light Lemon Teas at once, pound them, and come back, doesn’t mean you should.

Hang on a moment, Bud Light Lemon Tea? Do I even want to ask what that is? Moving on..I walked down to the Empire State Craft stand, in it’s usual spot. That’s the center field side of the left field corner. There’s also one just to the third base side of the Promenade plaza (or ‘Piazza’?) behind home plate.

These are the real options. These are the beers you’re going to gravitate to if you’re not just taking the best you can find within a bathroom break of your section. Baseball stadiums have really gotten on the New England Juicy IPA trend. I know Long Island City Beer Company’s Higher Burnin’ has been available in previous years, and it’s pretty good. This one’s fruity and nicely balanced. Interboro’s Premiere is an excellent beer, trending a little danker. Mikkeller’s Henry Hops is a happy baseball beer, and a real reliable IPA that you can get and drink all over the ballpark.

The new one to me was Five Boroughs Tiny Juicy IPA. I hadn’t heard much about them, but I was pleasantly surprised by this beer. It’s juicy, it’s got good mouthfeel, but also good flavor and enough bitterness to really round it out. It’s pretty much the definition of crushable at 4.2%. A great beer to just drink all day at the ballpark, provided you don’t mind paying nearly $12 for a small beer over and over again anyway.

There are some other tidbits around the park, there are actually a few taps if you search for them, but we’ll stop here. Get out to Citi Field and enjoy a beer or two. Overall there are some nice beers. There are some high-quality beers. There’s not a ton of variety though. Simple lagers, juicy IPAs, with maybe some slight variation here and there.