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.
Metspolice and The7Line have announced a plan to host something they’re calling The Queens Baseball Convention, which is basically an excuse to get together and celebrate baseball in Queens in a FanFest type environment. Metspolice invited people out to a bar last winter and gave away awards in a silly “Let’s get together and talk Mets” thing that was a lot of fun, so trumping it with this endeavor should be a blast.
Check it out while I try to fight off exhaustion from All-Star festivities to get some recap posts and pictures up.
They got this fence up REALLY fast in my opinion. Must have practiced.
Here’s team USA starter Noah Syndergaard warming up before the game.
I created a little side game when I went to the All-Star Game in 2006, and it’s applicable at all of them. Whether you’re at FanFest or at the events at Citi Field, try to find a representation of all 30 Major League teams.
In 2006 I found all but the Colorado Rockies. I suspect with this being New York, there’s a fair shot finding all 30 should be easy, with bonus points for the Montreal Expos.
Keep in mind it can be a little tricky, because often times those fans will have bought an All-Star Jersey and you’ll have to try to remember what team Castro or Crain belong to. (Astros and White Sox respectively in that case)
So go forth and find all the baseball fans from across the country enjoying the festivities!
Two more games with Pittsburgh that overlap with a full slate of Citi Field All-Star Week events. It’s going to be a blast. I’m going to all three events (And have been stuck with an extra ticket strip to them if you’re interested..) and am trying to work out how to enjoy FanFest. You can read about my previous experience at the 2006 All-Star Game here.
My fanFest tickets are for Monday and Tuesday, and I have to work, so I’m only getting 40 minutes at FanFest on Monday so that’l be a crazy whirlwind.
I will be attending the Parade/All-Star Game Red Carpet Show of players down 42nd street on Tuesday though, so keep an eye out on Twitter and here for some pictures of that. I passed over a sign on the ground yesterday that said it’d be on 42nd between 6th and 3rd avenues. Looks like it starts at 1pm, but I’ll have to figure out when Harvey and Wright are going to be passing by to time my lunch break correctly.
Sunday is the Futures game and it runs up against the Mets game, but I’ll have to miss one game to see future Mets Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero, and Brandon Nimmo. I’ve never been to a futures game, am I supposed to root for one team over another? Am I allowed to boo Yankees and NL East prospects? I’m picking the U.S. to beat the World 9-5.
After that it’s the Celebrity Softball game, which should be good silly fun at least. You want predictions? Both Darryl Strawberry and Mike Piazza will homer. Rickey Henderson will steal a base.
Monday is the Home Run Derby. I know people have mixed feelings about a skills competition, and I do feel like it takes way too long, but there really is nothing like watching MLB stars absolutely crush baseballs live and in person. I considered standing, but there really isn’t any good spot to stand at Citi Field in home run territory. The bridge is probably the best and I’m sure it’ll be absolutely packed. I bet some lefties will hit it onto the Pepsi Porch concourse, but standers aren’t being allowed up there without a ticket. I’m predicting David Wright will launch a home run that will smack into the glass of the Acela club. Remember, the better David Wright does, the cheaper tickets are for the Phillies series next weekend.
The actual All-Star Game is Tuesday night. The beer selection is broken down here. The game in it of itself is basically a parade of All-Stars, and while I don’t really care who wins, I will enjoy watching my favorite players on the field playing a great sport. I’ll pick the National League to win 15-4. Why not?
Then comes what is perhaps the worst two days for sports because there is absolutely no games.