Citizen Bank Ballpark’s Beer Selection

Clearly the Phillies only do one thing right, and that’s beer.  Philadelphia has a great beer scene, and Citizen’s Bank Ballpark is no different.  This list was compiled by the producers of & listing all (well, besides the obvious macro brews) the beers available, and it’s broken down by section.  (Something I probably should do next year with the Citi Field Beer List.


So while I like what the Mets have improved upon in the beer department, they’ve got a long way to go.


Let’s take a quick peek.


Locals: They’ve got Flying Fish, Victory, Prism, Weyerbacher, Yards, Yuengling, Sly Fox, Troegs, and Philadelphia Brewing Company.  I may be missing a few off the list, but that’s quite a bit.


Styles:  If you’ve been paying attention, I’ve been suggesting the Mets need a dark beer.  (They don’t even have Guinness)  CBP isn’t much better.  They’ve got Guinness though, and also 21st Amendment’s Back in Black which is a delicious black IPA but not quite the same as a rich, malty porter.  Baseball is a summer sport, but you can get chilly days early and late if your team hopes to make the playoffs.  Even some summer nights are chilly and could use a darker beer.  The rest of the selection is pretty broad across many styles. IPAs, a couple of Belgians, wheats, summers, even Sam Oktoberfest which is still way too early for but I think should be a staple of September and October baseball, Pilsners, Lagers, Pale Ales, Blondes, and ciders.


Location: I haven’t been to Citizen’s Bank Ballpark since 2007, and the beer was plentiful then, but it looks like now there are craft beers pretty much anywhere you look.  95% of Citi Field’s beer selection is located in 5 spots, but at CBP it looks like you never have to go more than a section or two, or perhaps one level down, to find a craft beer.  That’s refreshingly awesome.

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And The Winner Is..

Mets on a rollConor Coen wins the Mets tickets! Enjoy the game!


And the Mets win the ballgame!


That’s a five game winning streak to put them at 5 games over .500 for the first time since just after the All-Star Break in 2010.  It also puts them inches from first place. (And in solid Wild Card position) It’s a sweep of the defending division champions and not just a sweep but a sweep that including them pitching their two best pitchers.


With the Knicks eliminated that’s one less team for people to distract themselves with and not notice that the Mets might actually be pretty good.  Off days with the Mets on a winning streak are the best type of off days.

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Tonight’s Must-Win Mets Game

Well obviously it’s not a must-win, it’s May 9th and the 31st game of the season!


Still, there’s a certain symbolic worth to winning this game.  It’d be a sweep of the defending division champions.  It’d be beating their second ace pitcher.  It’d be answering a losing streak with a bigger winning streak.


And it’d put the Mets five games above .500, which is somewhere they haven’t been all season, nor all of last season.  They haven’t been five games over .500 since July 19th of 2010.   This was just after the All-Star Break when they rushed Carlos Beltran and Luis Castillo back and got steamrolled by the soon-to-be World Champion San Francisco Giants at the beginning of their run.


The Mets should have a fair shot at this.  Dillon Gee hasn’t quite gotten the results he’d have liked, but he’s getting a lot more swinging strikes than previous years and walking fewer.  This should be a good recipe for retiring the weak-hitting Philadelphia Phillies.  They have Cliff Lee going, but he’s going to be limited returning from injury and the Mets have been beating on the Phillies pen the last two games.


So it’s not a must-win game, but it’s still a game you’d really like to see the Mets get.

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Reversal of Fortunes

I don’t usually do game recaps, and I don’t usually buy into “they would’ve lost this one last year” arguments trying to compare this team to that one.  This game was too much fun not to keep talking about though.


Halladay gave up a hard hit ball to lead off the game that required a great catch to turn into an out, but after that he was pretty steady until the 6th when a tight zone and good patience by Andres Torres with two outs led to a walk.  Nieuwenhuis laced a single into left and that brought up our uncrowned Captain.  David Wright rocketed one down the line that Mayberry misplayed off the side wall and two runs scored to tie the game.  Meanwhile Jon Niese battled some control problems but only allowed those two early runs through five innings.


The Mets would battle and fight through the next couple of innings, having runners on base and not scoring and allowing runners to reach base but not allowing them to score.  Josh Thole may have suffered a concussion, which sucks.


If you believe in poetic moments and turning points in seasons there was a huge one in the 7th inning.  With two on and one out Hunter Pence grounded to second base where Daniel Murphy flipped to Justin Turner who threw to first.  Shane Victorino slid a good three feet wide of the bag to take out Justin Turner and was ruled out for interference.   You may recall a similar play in late August of 2007.  It was the top of the ninth in Philadelphia with Marlon Anderson on first and Endy Chavez on third with one out and the Phillies leading 3-2.  Shawn Green grounded out to shortstop and Anderson went in hard at second, keeping Rollins from turning the double play and allowing Endy Chavez to tie the game.  Except Anderson was ruled to have interfered on a play much less clear cut than last nights.  Instead the Mets lost that game, got swept in a four game series against the Phillies, and failed to completely bury them in the division.  That one game may have been the difference between the playoffs and what ultimately happened in 2007.  Who knows how things are different from there.  Now the Mets get one of those calls that helps them win a game and go back to three games over .500 and 2.5 games ahead of the last place Philadelphia Phillies.  Is it karma? The universe correcting it’s course back to one that features the Mets establishing a dynasty and perennial playoff team?  Is it the turning point in a season that the Mets were universally picked to finish last but haven’t been under .500 at any point?


Probably not.  It was a great win culminated by Jordany Valdespin collecting his first major league hit in epic fashion with a 3-run home run off one of the game’s best closers.  It instantly became a Mets classic, but it’s still just one win in May.  The Mets will face so many ups and downs and turning points this season that it’ll be near impossible to pinpoint this game in May when it all started going right.  Would the Mets have won this game last year?  Well..maybe.  After all, many people compared this game to the Omir Santos game winning home run off of Papelbon back in 2009.  2009’s team doesn’t seem like one that you’d describe as resilient, having been the first losing season since 2004.


Still, there’s a lot to like about this game.  The Mets hung in there against a tough pitcher.  Jon Niese didn’t let the wheels fall off.  Except for Torres misplay in the first allowing Jimmy Rollins an extra base, they played pretty crisp defense.  They made pitches when they needed to and exploited the Phillies weaknesses.  They took a four game losing streak and responded with a three game, and counting, winning streak.


Is this season going to be a gusty team that fights and scraps to stay above .500?  A scrappy contender that finds a way to get at least a wild card spot?  An overachieving bunch of rookies that show promise but ultimately revert to what they were predicted to be?   It’s too early to tell, but no matter where it winds up it’s going to be a fun ride.

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Putting the Sweep In Perspective

The bats of the New York MetsThe Mets are now 2-1 in series sweeps.  It’s never a good thing when you get swept, and it doesn’t even matter who the opponent is.  Obviously you tend to eye weaker teams with the thought that you’re supposed to get a few free wins off them, but that’s not how baseball works.  The Mets ran into the Astros while they were playing well, with the back of the rotation, with a still struggling Ike Davis, and with a couple of players affected by the flu.  It’d be as foolish to eye these three games and use it as confirmation bias that the Mets are a last place quality team as it would be to take the 3-0 sweep of the Braves as evidence that the Mets will win the division.


So it’s time for the Mets to crawl home and lick their wounds, reassess the fifth spot in the rotation, and maybe the last bullpen spot as well.  Meanwhile the Yankees just lost two of three to the team picked to finish last in their division.  The Phillies and Braves traded bullpen explosions through 11 innings before Chipper Jones made it 15-13, final.  Roy Halladay started that game btw.  Chris Schwinden or Roy Halladay, the result was the same.


Perspective.  Sweeps suck and the Mets have a lot of adjustments to make.  They’ve been knocked to the mat, but they’ve got plenty of time to stand back up and start swinging.  They’ve got a day to dust themselves off and go back on attack mode.  Certainly they could take this blow and keep reeling, but I think the Mets have shown a tendency to bounce back pretty well under Terry Collins. They’re due for some home runs, and hopefully as the weather warms up a little and Ike warms up a little, they’ll start hitting more.  Scoring more, winning more, and hopefully pitching better to boot.  May starts out 0-2, but plenty of time to salvage that.  The six games against the Phillies will be important in distancing themselves from them in the standings so that if and when they get Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Cliff Lee back the Mets have some breathing room.

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The Importance of Adjustments

Citi Field, by CeetarDavid Wright was hitting for three and when he broke his finger it has devastating effects on the Mets lineup.  That’s not to say they can’t win without him, but at the time of the injury he was practically carrying the team and no one else has managed to pick them back up yet.


Regardless of if Wright is back Friday, next Friday, or after a DL stint is irrelevant.  The Mets need to make adjustments and this 50 hour window between games is the perfect opportunity to do it.   Assess the best way to set up the lineup, have guys refocus on the game plan, do their infield drills, and put extra work in scouting the Phillies pitchers.   Those two losses should keep the Mets from getting complacent under a “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality.  It’s broke, so fix it.


Obviously Ike Davis and Lucas Duda need to hit more.  Jason Bay does too, as he represents basically all of the right-handed power in the lineup if Scott Hairston isn’t starting, but if Bay can simply manage to not double up on career-worst years I’ll be happy.  I’ve never really been a big believer in the idea that lefties can’t hit lefties, attributing it more to a small sample size coupled with the inability for players to get enough reps against them.  The Mets lineup is extremely left-handed, so they really need to start hitting to avoid being exploited by LOOGYs.  Maybe the massive amount of lefties the Mets will see, both in Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, and in the relievers teams bring in face the Mets lefty sluggers, will give Duda and Davis, as well as Daniel Murphy, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Josh Thole, the reps against them that they need to get comfortable with release points and different breaks.  Certainly if they could start demonstrating that they can hit lefties, it will keep Terry Collins from putting lesser players from the bench in key spots.


4-2 is still a good start.  The Mets now need to do the work required to win on this road trip, and continue the good start.   Cliff Lee will be tough, but the Mets can hit Vance Worley and they own Cole Hamels.  Then they get three against the Braves again, who they already swept.   David Wright back would have a huge impact on run-scoring, but they have to find ways to win these games with or without him.

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2012 NL East: A Race Down to the Wire

The Phillies and Braves got worse, and the Mets, Nationals and Marlins got better.  This season the NL East could finish with the first place team being less than 15 games ahead of the last place team.  Last year the Marlins finished 30 games behind the Phillies.


The top of the division shapes up to win a few less games, and the bottom of the division will win a few more.  This will bridge the gap between them and bunch everyone up in the middle.   Injuries and other things can affect this of course, but the Mets and the Marlins figure to be falling in the middle somewhere.    Maybe there’s some doubt that some of the bottom teams can win the division or that the Phillies will finish last, but it’s definitely going to be a tighter race this season.


These teams play each other in half the season’s games.  The head to head matchups are going to play a huge role in determining who wins the division this year.  The margin of error this year may be that much less that a good record against teams within the division make up the different between winning and falling short.  Even just an 11-7 record against the Phillies would make up four games in the standings.  If I’m right about the division being bunched up, it’s really going to intensify the rivalries between some of these teams.  That can only be a good thing that leads to teams setting up their rotations so we get more pitching duel matchups.  All five teams will go into September with a lot of games to play against each, meaning most of the NL East teams may still control their own destiny in terms of making the playoffs.


It’s going to be a fun season.

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Biggest Week of Mets Baseball in Years

This next week or two may be the biggest games the Mets have played since the last week of 2008, and they also might be the biggest games they’ll play for years.  The Mets record, as well as the Phillies and Braves, will greatly determine the look of the team going forward this year, and maybe even next year too.

Sandy Alderson has said he would consider trading Carlos Beltran right now a white flag, but if the Mets play poorly over the next two weeks, that white flag is inevitable anyway.   It’s probably not just Carlos Beltran either; The Mets won’t get a ton for guys like Chris Capuano or Jason Isringhausen, but if the chances of contention plummet there will be little reason to keep them.   If they manage to climb closer in the race, the small return from trading those guys won’t be worth gutting the team.  In a way, the Mets could finish a handful of games above or below .500 based on how they do in these next bunch of games.

Either way this season will likely be viewed as a step in the right direction, but if the Mets fall out of it here and restructure the team with next year in mind, the record and excitement levels will fall.   That probably won’t be enough to prompt many to invest in this team, raising projected income and in turn, payroll.  As the memory of the last Mets game fades, we’ll be subjected to more financial news regarding the Picard lawsuit and the Madoff mess.  Their will be speculations about Einhorn’s control, about how much the payroll can possibly go up, and if the Mets will actually field a competitive team.   So the only real news will be mostly doom and gloom again, which won’t help sell tickets.  Just today someone called into WFAN in the brief 20 minutes I had it on proclaiming there is no way the Mets compete for five or six years.

If the Mets climb back into the race and get closer, Sandy Alderson will be more likely to keep players like Beltran, and may even look to add a reliever or someone, especially if the player can be helpful beyond this year too.   Whether or not they can or will win a playoff race is not the point here, the point is that if they stay close and prove that they can play with anyone it suggests that the Mets may not be years from competing.   They could go into the offseason with fans thinking they’re getting close and with the right moves, including resigning Jose Reyes, the Mets could be a very good team next year.  

There’s going to be a lot of stuff to watch with this team this year, and if they remain competitive and winning games they’ll bring in fans to watch versus fans switching gears to what could be a returning NFL season or something else.  Jose Reyes could have a record breaking season, as despite spotting the opposition 11 or more games, he’s still got a commanding lead in base hits.  David Wright will be returning, one of the Mets franchising players who they’ve sorely missed.  Johan Santana may return, and while that’s still up in the air, as is his effectiveness, it will be nice to see him on the mound again.  I would like to be at his first game back if I can at least.

It all starts tonight against the Phillies with your hero in attendence.   The Phillies aren’t taking the Mets seriously, opting to give  Halladay and Lee some extra rest coming off the break and pushing them back until after the weekend.  Facing Vance Worley, Cole Hamels who the Mets routinely beat, and Kyle Kendrick is not a daunting task.  Hopefully the Mets can get a hot start to the second half, while exposing the Phillies pitching depth, and start catching both them and the Braves who are playing the Nationals this weekend.

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Jose Reyes: An Easy Decision

This was originally a comment to a Mets Police post about ripping the Trade Reyes bandaid off, but I decided it deserved a post of it’s own. 

It’s really a simple decision.  Franchise players like Jose Reyes are very valuable, and it’d be especially silly to let him get away for anything but an absolute steal of a package, and even then I’d be reluctant.   This isn’t fantasy baseball; I, and other fans, develop emotional attachment to players and there is value and revenue in that.

Sign Reyes, and you keep a franchise player that the fanbase loves and will define and promote your franchise for, and this isn’t an exaggeration, 60+ years.  Keep one of the best players in the game at a premium position of which there is nothing close available on the market or in the minors. Finish the season at or above .500, regardless of if they can make a playoff push or not.   Have people believing 2012 will be better, that we’re already into year two of the ‘rebuilding’ process and things are good and people are buying season tickets.  The Mets (not the Wilpons) problem is not so much debt is it trying to get the revenue stream back above the level of what a competitive payroll is.  To do this they have to keep people interested in the Mets and coming to the park.  Who’s more interesting than Jose Reyes right now?

Or you can trade him or let him walk away, and finish below .500.  Show people that this is year one of the demolition process before rebuilding starts. Watch no one pay any attention to the Mets all offseason, and no one buy season tickets, or renew season tickets.  2.5million fans this year becomes 1.5million fans next year, and in 2013, and in 2014.. prices come down because no one’s going, revenue drops as a result, less demand on advertising space drops revenue there as well.  SNY becomes the Food Network; sure you’ll flip it on once in a while and see what’s cookin’, but it’s not worth DVRing.  In an age when it’s so very very easy to watch any team in the league, and with the Mets unwatchable, many fans start half-following the Giants or wherever Reyes ends up playing.  If MLB.TV existed when the Mets traded Seaver, how many Mets fans do you think would’ve purchased it to watch him pitch?  In 2013 the Mets sell out the Giants series at Citi with the stands awash of really faded Black Mets 7 shirts. The next series against the Phillies is empty, no one wants to see two bad teams play.  Citi Field feels empty without #7.

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Where Are The Mets Going?

It’s Memorial Day, a day many baseball fans traditionally use to take their first real assessment of the team.  Now suddenly standings start really meaning something, it’s considered okay to scoreboard watch, and most batting averages and rate statistics have at least a reasonable sample in which to infer some judgement on the player beyond a hot or cold start.  (Jose Reyes is batting .335, is the best shortstop in the game and is just plain exciting to watch. Please extend his contract.)

So where are these Mets going?  Right now it certainly doesn’t feel like they’re going very far.  They faced the Phillies and the lesser two of their aces and their rotation filler and outpitched all three of them but lost the series.  The fielding got sloppy in close games and the bullpen picked the worst possible time to struggle.  Still, can you proclaim anything as over in May?  The Phillies were 1-3 against the Mets, one game over .500 and 7 games back on Memorial Day in 2007.  Sure, the Phillies look better than the Mets right now, but you would’ve said the opposite in 2007.  

There is no doubt that the Mets need to play better to have any hope at some sort of reverse 2007 season.  The latest news on Ike Davis and David Wright doesn’t exactly have them returning immediately, but it won’t be too much longer either.  The news on Johan Santana remains good.   If the Mets can find ways to win games without them, and that would include hitting better with RISP and fielding the ball cleanly to not force pitchers to have to get 4 or 5 outs too many times, then they can crawl back to .500 and be poised to add two big bats to help them chase the Phillies.  They still have nine games against them and won’t face them again for over a month.  The Mets play eight of the next 14 games against the Pirates.  It is not unreasonable to expect the Mets to slaughter them, and be able to be above .500 after those 14 games.  Minimize the losing stretches of baseball and maximize the winning ones.  I think two weeks of this losing is enough, it’s time to start another strong run. 

This was a rough weekend for the Mets, but it’s one they can look at and realize that maybe if they field the ball cleanly they win two or three of those games.  No excuses; fix the problems or find players that will. 

One thing that’s starting to concern me is  Terry Collins’ bullpen usage.  (#1 thing fans nipick about a manager right?)  I really like the Mets bullpen, but i do not like their situational guys, and I wish Collins would stop going to them like they’re gold.  These pitchers are not Pedro Feliciano and I would leave Capuano or even Pelfrey in those games.  A lot hinges on Buccholz and Beato.  Both showed a lot of promise and if they can be relied on in those fringe innings between Isringhausen and K-Rod and the starting pitching then Mets will have a lot of chances to win baseball games.

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