These days most pitchers and catchers are in camp days earlier, and the position players are showing up earlier and earlier too. Thanks to the Mets acquiring a popular training program and moving it to Port St. Lucie, many players have been down there sporadically all winter, working out and getting ready for the season.
What we’re really counting down to when we talk about pitchers and catchers is to the day many of the media and beat writers start covering the team from Spring Training. The day is less about the start of baseball season and more about the start of forced columns about how guys are in the best shape of their lives. It’s basically beat writers taking attendance of all the players walking through the door.
What we’re really looking for is the first game against another opponent. The first game is Wednesday March 4th, and it’s the first game on the radio as well. We’ll get Josh Lewin’s voice, and perhaps Howie Rose’s as well if he can pop over to Florida between Islanders games in Dallas and Nashville, and the sounds of baseball in our ears. That’s when things start getting real, when two teams face off each other and half-heartedly try to get each other out while preparing for the regular season. The first television/SNY broadcast will probably be Friday March 6th against the Tigers.
It’s 20 days until the first Mets Spring Training game.
Greg Prince pointed out that the Mr. Met on the new Mets batting practice cap isn’t wearing his own cap. As i’m a programmer fond of infinite recursion, I took to Photoshop to take care of that.
This isn’t a guide to every last detail of Port St. Lucie, but I’d like to share my observations about watching the Mets down there. Tonight is the first televised broadcast, and also the first audio broadcast.
The most interesting part, in my opinion, is the morning workouts. These occur pretty much every day, even on non-game days, on the fields behind Digital Domain Park. You’ll see the entire camp full of players out there, except ones that may be playing in an away game, doing workouts and drills. Minor and major leaguers in all shades of Mets uniforms wearing all sorts of different numbers. You’ll see guys you’ve never heard of, even if you pay pretty close attention to the minor leagues. They’ll do all sorts of interesting drills and you’ll see the coaches and managers barking orders and instructions. You’ll get an inside look at how players prepare for games and seasons. You’ll see them practice learning the signs and just doing baseball things. Sometimes the minor leaguers will start playing a game near the end of the session, this is normally the time the regular players retreat to Digital Domain Park to prepare for the regular game. Usually you’ll be asked to leave, but sometimes you can catch an inning or two.
You can get autographs if you’re persistent, but during workouts these guys are mostly working so you’ll have to be quick and paying attention to who may have a moment. They’ll have to walk by you to get from field to field, and often this is when they’ll sign. Another good time to get autographs is after games, particularly if it’s an away game and the players are headed back to a bus or their cars if it’s close. When the Mets travel to nearby Jupiter to play the Cardinals or the Marlins, many players drive. Many people looking for autographs wait in the walkway between the players’ exit and their parking lot. This is also a good way to get a look at what cars players drive. Autographs are there to be had, so if that’s your thing you should have no problem. Normal rules apply; if you’re a cute girl or a kid you’ve got the best shot.
Spring Training tickets are often not expensive, and it’s a chance to get seats that are really close that would be virtually impossible to get at a Major League park. The atmosphere is so much more relaxed and casual and it’s a fun time all around. Both years I went I sat first row in front of the Mets bullpen, literally within touching distance of all the pitchers as they warmed up to go in. Close enough that they can here what you’re saying to the people you’re with. There are season ticket holders in Florida, but there are still seats available mere rows behind home plate too. And it’s roughly 10% of the cost of a Major League stadium.
Another fun activity that’s probably more common in places like Port St. Lucie than Tampa Bay is player-spotting out on the town. Most people know about Duffy’s, a chain restaurant with a bowling alley attached down the road from the Spring Training Complex. SNY films some segments there, and it’s a common place for players to hang out too. The Mets do bowling nights on Sunday evenings, so if you want to watch baseball players playing a different sport that’s the perfect time. Port St. Lucie is not a tiny place, but it’s not a city so there are only a limited amount of places to go for a nightlife experience. Another good place is Vine and Barley which is a wine and beer bar down the road. The last time I was down there I ran into Scott Hairston, Justin Turner, and Kai Gronauer, and I’m pretty sure there were one or two players down there I didn’t recognize. Even on a non-baseball front I suggest this place, as it’s got self-serve wine tastings and an excellent beer menu.
The worst part of Spring Training is when you return home. You’re so ready for baseball that it feels wrong that there are no longer games you can attend. Still, it’s great time and a must-do for baseball fans. It’s baseball and warm weather and a great way to start to get excited about the new season. If you’re headed down this year, have a great time and tweet lots of pictures!
Tags: autographs, Baseball, duffy's, florida, grapefruit league, mets at duffys, mets bowling night, mets player watching, mets spring training, New York Mets, port st lucie, Spring Training, spring training autographs, spring training workouts, vine and barley
It’s arrived. The day we’ve been counting down towards since the Mets walked off the field last fall. Pitchers and catchers are reporting to Port St. Lucie Florida to Digital Domain Park to being preparing to play baseball.
It’s a time of new beginnings and fresh starts. The Mets begin 2012 with no players injured and everyone preparing together. Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson now have a year of familiarity with the team and the organization and a better sense of what they’re capable of. There are new faces and old ones. Someone here is going to surprise us and have a breakout season. There are going to be long majestic home runs arcing into the sky, diving catches on sinking liners, and curveballs making batters look funny and strike out. Everything you love about baseball starts happening now, as the Mets start to get ready to play some exhibition games in two weeks.
Soon (March 5th, 6pm) the voices of Howie Rose and newly acquired Josh Lewin will drift out over the airwaves, talking about Mets this, and Mets that. The Mets Extra jingle will play and we’ll hear Mets talk and interviews and daily sound bytes from Terry Collins. What could be better? It’s baseball!
What to expect from Optimistic Mets Fan this year? Think of these as my New Year’s Resolutions, because the baseball New Year starts now.
For one, I’ve got a couple of ticket giveaways planned. That should be fun, but I should warn you: I’m probably going to request optimism from you to be eligible.
I plan to work on getting a working database on my own computer so I can tweet and post random stats that amuse me, as well as delve further into the understanding of baseball as a whole.
I also plan to interface with other bloggers better. Whether this is linking them more, guest-writing, or talking on the various radio/podcast type shows out there only time will tell.
And I will continue to blog about beer as it pertains to baseball. I’ll specifically update the Citi Field Beer List, as well as talk about what’s going on in other parks. If you’re a beer fan of a non-NY baseball team and feel like helping me out, drop me an email.
Earlier this year I wrote about how the Mets had paintings of players done and using the profits from selling them to support Florida local Little League. Here’s a couple of those pictures that were on display at Digital Domain Park.
First, check out these two posts I put up last week involving Mets eating dinner and pictures from the St. Patrick’s Day game against the Red Sox and then click below to view more pictures.
Tags: 2011, 2011 spring training, Angel Pagan, back field, Baseball, baseball drills, beer in port st. lucie, beer menu, cory vaughn, d.j. carrasco, David Wright, digital domain park, duffy's, fielding drills, german major leaguers, jenrry mejia, jordany valdespin, Jose Reyes, justin turner, kai gronauer, kirk nieuwenhuis, Mets, mets back field, mets back fields, mets minor leaguers, mets minors, mets spring, mets spring park, mets spring training, mets spring training 2011, New York Mets, port st lucie, port st lucie bars, scott hairston, st patrick's day, st patricks day game, taco in a helmet, tim teufel, twitter, vine and barley, what time does the mets fields open, what to do in port st lucie
After returning from Fort Myers to Port St. Lucie on Thursday, we went to Duffy’s for dinner. One of the waiters there noticed our Mets stuff and mentioned that all the Wilpons were in earlier eating dinner. He said they didn’t tip as well as in years past, but it was still a lot of money.
Halfway through our meal my wife noticed five athletic looking guys walk past us to a table in the back. I recognized Kirk Nieuwenhuis, and I suspect the others were also just returned from the Red Sox game and were getting a late dinner. I think Lucas Duda and Russ Adams were there.
Tags: Baseball, do the mets eat dinner?, duffys port st. lucie, justin turner, kirk nieuwenhuis, lucas duda, Mets, mets dinner, mets duffy's, mets eat, mets player at duffys, mets players, mets spring training, mets spring training 2011, mike nickeas, New York Mets, russ adams, where do the mets eat in port st. lucie?
This picture was taken around 10am on Friday morning. Luis Castillo was still in a Mets uniform and on the practice fields. I wonder what they were talking about..
Shortly after this Twitter was all abuzz about Luis Castillo being released.
Tags: Alderson and Collins discuss Castillo, Luis Castillo, luis castillo being released, Mets, mets practice fields, mets release castillo, mets spring training, mets spring training 2011, New York Mets, releasing castillo, sandy alderson, Spring Training, terry collins
Here are some pictures from the Mets playing the Red Sox at City of Palms Park on St. Patrick’s Day. Full album here.
Tags: boston red sox, city of palms park, green red sox, Mets, mets at red sox, mets green, mets red sox game, New York Mets, nick evans, red sox, red sox game, shamrocks, spring training game, st paddy's day, st patrick's day, st patty's day
Practice post on my phone. Seeing how easy it is to post from my phone for my Spring Training trip next week. I’ll upload my pictures mostly to Twitter so your should follow me there. Also experimenting with my Tumblr.