It feels the Mets are a more serious team this year. Serious doesn’t create wins, but I’m still excited about the start of this season, like every other season.
For a couple of days we can put aside season projections, depth arguments, and roster assignments in favor of actually watching baseball games and just enjoying the break of a curveball, the crack of the bat and the diving run savings abilities of Juan Lagares.
It’s a time for celebration, no matter where you’re watching the game. Whether it’s at home, or on the radio, or sneakily tracking it while at work. For me, I’ll be at Citi Field taking pictures of beer selection, new displays, and baseball players playing baseball. It’ll be a great time.
Where are you watching?
Yesterday the Mets released some of the new beers that will be available at Citi Field this year, and tweeted this picture.
These are nine beers from New York breweries of various quality, and luckily, various styles. They’ll be available at two Empire State Beer Stands; one on the field level near section 132 and the LF exit, and one in the Promenade food court. First, let me talk about what I like about this.
Nine new beers is great, provided this is in addition to and not a replacement to beers that were already present like Sixpoint Bengali Tiger and Sweet Action. I’ve had some of these and enjoyed them, and am excited to try others. I’m glad to finally see a dark beer, even if a black IPA isn’t quite a porter or stout, as well as some very drinkable IPAs. I love that there is a Kölsch in the mix because it’s a great summer style for drinking in hot weather. These nine beers added to the list will definitely make it so I actually have to consider what beer to get at Citi Field.
It’s not perfect though. I’m not thrilled with the Anheuser Busch-InBev connection to baseball in all stadiums and how they dominate the market, but their ownership of Goose Island now Blue Point Brewing Company is a great way to get those quality beers to my glass. I really like Toxic Sludge and the already present Toasted Lager. Ommegang is brewed in Cooperstown, making it a brewery that really should be a staple at every ballpark. I won’t go into the contract brewing debate here, which for now encompasses Queens Brewery and Original Sin, but it is something to think about.
My concern is what is, and what might be, missing. I’ll be sad if Sixpoint was displaced as Bengali Tiger is better than any of these beers, and the announced location of the Empire Beer Stand is also the location of last year’s Craft Beer Dugout where Sixpoint was served. The list is also missing a couple of notable New York breweries, though I”m sure there are business reasons for some of it. It’s not easy to negotiate things like this and I admittedly have no idea what goes into it. The decision to stick to bottles and cans bothers me a little, because there are some great breweries that are draft only. Singlecut Beersmiths, brewed in Astoria, is one of those although they’ve recently started canning. As is Greenpoint Brewing Company. There’s also Ithaca Brewing Company, Saranac Brewing Company and many more.
I’m not going to stop campaigning for a true stout or porter, and I’d like to add Saison as a style that’d be perfect for a baseball park. Still, I’m quite excited to get to Opening Day on Monday and explore and try some of these new beers. Below is a table compiled via BeerGraphs’ leaderboards detailing the nine new beers and their Beer Above Replacement values. None of these are world beaters by any stretch, but their is some quality there.
|Southern Tier Brewing Company||IPA||American IPA||2.075|
|Brewery Ommegang||Ommegang Witte||Witbier||3.258|
|The Bronx Brewery||Bronx Pale Ale||American Pale Ale||1.806|
|Blue Point Brewing Company||Toxic Sludge||Black IPA / Cascadian Dark Ale||-0.232|
|Original Sin||Original Sin Hard Cider||Cider||-0.364|
|Blue Point Brewing Company||White IPA||American IPA||-1.088|
|Captain Lawrence Brewing Company||Captain’s Kölsch||Kölsch||1.138|
|Queens Brewery||Lager||American Amber / Red Lager||-0.320|
|Coney Island Brewing Company||Seas the Day||Imperial / Double Pilsner|
It’s always fun to be able to chat about baseball in the middle of winter. There were autograph signings, mascots, panels with bloggers and Mets execs, great walk-off wins with Mark Simon who writes some great stuff for ESPN New York, an a host of other things. Trivia games, dunk tanks, and podcasts galore.
Here’s some pictures.
I’ve been lazy in posting about..well, about much of anything lately, but there have been some interesting developments on the Mets front regarding beer, and the beer available to us in 2014 when we go to a Mets game.
First off, about two months ago I had a chance to ask the Mets new VP Lou DePaoli, the one involved with tickets, marketing, and sponsorships, a question. I asked him about beer events like Oktoberfest, and about craft beer in general. The response was very enlightening.
He didn’t expect to see anything much more in depth than what we saw at Oktoberfest last year. Events, for better or worse, are not likely to become all out affairs. No 30 beer tastings type events, at least not by the Mets. An independent could probably organize it as a group outing fairly easily. That segued into a response about the beer in general, and DePaoli’s response suggested he understands what craft beer is all about. He also dropped a “Big Beer” reference too about the selection and availability, which only adds fuel to the fire about AB InBev doing sneaky things to push craft beer out.
However, the good news is DePaoli also referenced something he did in other cities before this, such as Pittsburgh, called beer passports. The funny thing is the way it’s described in Pittsburgh is precisely what he seemed to imply we wouldn’t be getting with Oktoberfest type events.
“BEER SAMPLING of great local craft beers for 90 minutes in Club 3000 starting when the gates open (5:35 p.m.) and concluding at the start of the game”
So yeah, that’d be great. The Pirates featured at least Tröegs, a great local brewery, and Bells, a great brewery in general, at one of their events, and something similar at Citi Field would be awesome. Another year mentions Erie Brewing, Flying Dog, Church Beer Works, Victory, Tröegs and East End. They’ve been doing this since at least 2009, and frequently they’d have beer passport nights several times a season. The Mets already have a relationship with Sixpoint, Blue Point, and Brooklyn breweries inside Citi Field, so expanding this shouldn’t be hard. They also have an Ommegang brew inside the Delta Club. Ommegang, which is brewed in Cooperstown, is a brewery that should be inside all 30 stadiums almost by MLB rule.
But wait, there’s more! Shane Byrnes, who works for Blue Point Brewery, tweeted this:
Thank you ARAMARK and @Mets for meeting today! Look forward to a great season and the best craft beer selection at any of NYC stadiums!
— shane byrnes (@BluePointShane) December 19, 2013
Well, that sounds promising. Also a subtle dig at other stadiums, which I appreciate as well. I’m excited to see what we’ve got this year, both on the field and in the beer cooler.
I’ve been writing a bunch about beer over at BeerGraphs, and you should definitely check it out.
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.
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?
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.
They got this fence up REALLY fast in my opinion. Must have practiced.