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Mets Upcoming Schedule Is Very Nice

this is on my wallThere are always interesting scheduling quirks throughout the season, and the Mets are coming into a nice one starting this Thursday when they have an off day to return home.

 

After that they go three weeks never playing farther away than a weekend trip to Washington. First they play the Phillies at home followed by the home and home with the Yankees. After the trip to Washington they have a day off and another long homestand with the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, and Pirates.

 

Even after that they have a five game series in nearby Philadelphia before they head to Cincinnati and San Francisco.

 

Baseball players are used to odd hours and lots of travel, but the daily grind of travel and weird schedules can still take its toll. The Mets have a rather relaxing couple of weeks of no red-eye flights and no day games after night games in a different city.  It would be nice to see them capitalize on that comfort, especially since they only have eight home games in June.

 

May 7th, 2014 by Ceetar in 2014, Baseball, Mets
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Strong Starts Are Wonderful, But It’s Early Still

photo by Ceetar

The Mets are 12-10, and that’s great. That puts them right in the thick of things and there are a lot of encouraging signs too. The hitting, particularly established veterans like David Wright and Curtis Granderson, haven’t really started hitting yet. That means more offense is to come and that can only help. The Mets are doing it on pitching and defense, which is a great formula when it works, and is refreshing to watch. The Mets aren’t throwing games up the right field line and having soft fly balls drop in for doubles and are instead turning well struck balls into outs.

 

Still, 22 games is a very small sample in the grand scheme of things and this wouldn’t be the first time the Mets got off to a good start.  It’s great to be encouraged, especially with the way the rotation looks and the reinforcements in the minors, but we’ve still got a long way to go. Let’s enjoy this stretch and see if we can even improve on it a little bit playing some lower quality teams than those we’ve seen so far. Whether it’s fleeting or not, let’s enjoy the success we’re seeing and worry about what it means and what the Mets should do about it later on in the season.

April 25th, 2014 by Ceetar in 2014, Mets
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ScoreBig: New Ticket Marketplace

There are always new secondary ticket market places trying to grab a slice of the market, because it’s a huge market. ScoreBig.com is one of those places.

 

It’s run a little like Priceline’s name your own price feature in that you pick a pricing category and then select how much you’re willing to pay. You enter your info and click submit, and the site lets you know if your price is accepted, or if you need to adjust your selections. Simple and easy really.

 

I purchased two tickets to the Saturday Mets game in May featuring the David Wright Canvas Print giveaway and the process was painless. I picked the 4-star section and when my bid was rejected I dropped down to the 3-star section and had success. At each level there is a seating map with the sections represented so you know roughly what type of seats you’re bidding on.

 

My seats ended up being about 20% off face and I suspect I could’ve gotten them for less; the site actually tossed me an additional savings after I successfully had an offer accepted. My advice would be to check the sections against the face value price on mets.com/tickets and make an educated bid.

 

Some quick facts:

 

April 14th, 2014 by Ceetar in Baseball, Citi Field, Mets, Tickets
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Fix The Out Of Town Scoreboard

I’ve been complaining about the out of town scoreboard at Citi Field since 2009, and it’s about time I wrote out my complains in full pictorial glory.

 

Mainly that 0 outs in an inning comes after 2 outs in that inning. Here’s the scoreboard suggesting the Phillies are up with 2 outs in the top of the 6th inning.

Top 6, 2 outs.

If you’re like me you spend a lot of time tracking the other games. I love that, unlike Shea Stadium, we can track the games by out. As it turns out the next Phillies batter made an out and the inning was over. As all baseball fans know the Rangers would now bat in the bottom of the 6th.

bottom 6Now wait just a second. Why are the Phillies up again? There are no outs and the light indicates it’s the top of the inning. If I hadn’t just been watching it, I’d assume that game was in the top half, which we know is not true because a minute ago there were two outs.

 

A couple of minutes later the inning flips and the Rangers come to bat.

bottom of the 6thThis is what it should’ve displayed to begin with. We went from Top six two outs, to Top six no outs, to bottom six no outs. That doesn’t make sense. Flipping the inning marker should be a step in the end of an inning process. Some places do ‘Mid-6′ but Citi Field has no way to portray this, and it’s redundant. If there are no outs and no runners, it makes the first batter has yet to resolve. We don’t know to know whether he’s actually batting yet or not, the out of town scoreboard only needs to show us the result.

 

It seems like a simple fix to my techie mind, but it’s been lingering for more than five seasons and I can’t  be the only one to have noticed.

 

Another thing that I noticed last year was that if there were multiple interleague games, they didn’t all show up. You’ll notice the scoreboard only has room for American and National League with eight games a piece. Every once in a while there are three interleague games with six intraleague games and if all three interleague games are either in the NL or AL, that makes nine games for eight slots and one gets lost, despite the extra room on the other side.

April 9th, 2014 by Ceetar in 2014, Baseball, Citi Field, Mets
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Citi Field’s Beer Selection

photo by CeetarThe Mets, and Aramark, did a great job adding to the selection of craft beers available at Citi Field for the 2014 season. You can check out the Citi Field Beer List for a simple list of what’s available.

 

The main new focus is the two Empire State Craft stands. One is behind home plate in the Promenade Food Court to the left of the clubhouse shop where I believe a cocktail stand used to be.

photo  by Ceetar

This one has four taps, although one is Bud Light, and nine craft bottles from New York breweries. You can check out a chart of the nine new ones here. On tap as of the first home stand was Bronx Pale Ale, Sixpoint Sweet Action, and Blue Point Toasted Lager. (You’ll note the sign is wrong and the cashiers, at the moment, don’t really have a clue. Make sure you get what you ordered)

 

The second Empire State Craft stand is next to Keith’s Grill on the field level out in left field behind section 132. This one doesn’t have taps, but they have the nine New York beers.

 

The existing three craft stands are still open carrying Sixpoint Sweet Action and Crisp, Brooklyn Lager and East India Pale Ale, (and Brooklyn Summer?), the new Goose Island 312 Urban Pale Ale and the other usuals, plus four taps. These are located on the field left in the corners by the foul poles, and on the Promenade Food Court to the right of the clubhouse shop.

 

You can also get Blue Point Toasted Lager at Catch of the Day and the Sixpoint and Brooklyn offerings at the Pat LaFrieda stand in the Promenade Food Court.

 

Overall, this is a very good selection. I enjoyed everything I’ve had so far, particularly the tap of the Bronx Pale Ale. I’m not going to say it’s perfect, or that it’s anywhere close to the best in the majors, (I still miss the specific Brooklyn beers that paired with the center field food stands. They even make bottles of Shackmeister Ale now) but it’s a very very good beer list and a great step up from last year.

 

 

April 4th, 2014 by Ceetar in 2014, Baseball, beer, Citi Field, Mets
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Goose Island Craft Beer Stand

photo by Ceetar

Every year it feels like there’s a new Anheuser Busch-InBev gimmick. One year it was those cups that fill from the bottom. This year it’s a Goose Island booth, that I would wager a guess is in just about every Major League Ballpark.  This stand is in Right Field to the left of the Taste of the City place under the Pepsi Porch.

 

My initial thought was “ooh, will they have some of Goose Island’s other offerings?” which was silly. No. They have the same beers they have in the rest of the park, Goose Island Honkers Ale and Goose Island IPA on tap. I didn’t ask, but the menu on the stand only lists one beer price $12 souvenir cup.

April 3rd, 2014 by Ceetar in 2014, Baseball, beer, Citi Field
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Citi Field Gets A Yellow Card

I noticed this after the top of the 9th inning. Clearly they’re directing..something, but what? Security guys on the field? Cameras? Something else?

photo by Ceetar

They also had a blue card and a red card. I’m sure it’s a standard Red/Yellow/Green-Stop/wait/Go type system, though I don’t know what the  blue is for.

photo by Ceetar

 

April 3rd, 2014 by Ceetar in 2014, Baseball, Citi Field, Mets
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Another Opening Day Arrives

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?

March 31st, 2014 by Ceetar in 2014, Baseball, Citi Field, Mets
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New Beers At Citi Field

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.

Brewery Beer Style BAR
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

March 27th, 2014 by Ceetar in 2014, Baseball, beer, Citi Field, Mets
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The Mets Could Win MORE Than 90 Games

An offhand and private statement by Mets GM Sandy Alderson suggested that he thought the Mets could, and perhaps should, win 90 games this season. The Mets online community being what it is, this was met mostly with derision and jokes. It’s an old meme: Mets do something and some segment of the fanbase mocks and criticizes it. Sure, 90 games is a big jump from last season and the Mets really haven’t made that many changes.  However, the Mets do have the talent to win that many..or more.

 

90 wins certainly isn’t likely, but Spring Training is for dreaming. You can imagine all your players staying healthy and producing like they’re capable of. They’ll come through with clutch hits at opportune times, they’ll flash dazzling breaking balls past opposing hitters at critical junctures of the game, and every home run they give up will come in a game in which the Mets are already up by enough runs that it barely makes a dent. Travis d’Arnaud will win rookie of the year. Zack Wheeler will win the Cy Young. Lagares will get the Gold Glove denied to him last year. David Wright will finally win that MVP he’s just missed a couple of times. If everybody plays to the best of their ability the Mets will win a ton of games.

 

Most of these things are possible, but they’re improbable. Perhaps more good things happen than bad and the Mets do in fact look much improved. Maybe they’re on pace for 82 or 83 wins, a marginal but impressive improvement. That does leave the door open for midseason improvement via trade. A lot also depends on just how good, or how lucky, the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves are. If they’re on pace for disappointing seasons the division title might not even need 90 wins and a key series against either of them can swing the standings significantly.

Time for baseball

The biggest, and less obvious, reason the Mets might be a fair tick better than last year’s version has to do with those things that might go wrong. The Mets have a lot more depth this year, and a lot more answers for when things go wrong.  The Mets brought in two legitimate outfielders to pair with the defensive prowess of Juan Lagares and if Lagares doesn’t improve with the bat they at least have the serviceable if unremarkable Eric Young Jr around as well. There will be no Rick Ankiels or Collin Cowgills clogging up the lineup and the outfield this year. They’ve got more depth than they know what to do with at first base so that if Ike Davis struggles he’ll have an extremely short leash.

 

They’ve got a host of interesting players who can step in at various places around the diamond and not embarrass themselves. This means no automatic outs and no month long stretches where you watch rallies continually die at the hands of what’s essentially roster filler. With the exception of shortstop, depending on if you believe Wilmer Flores can at least hack it there as a backup, the Mets will likely have players on the roster that can help out in some way at various positions. This should help keep one or two players having horrific seasons from sinking the team for weeks at a time and provide fewer stretches where the Mets score only a handful of runs a week.

 

All this is without mentioning the pitching and defense. Both outfielders the Mets brought in are above average defenders which adds additional value and the Mets main area of minor league strength is pitching. If you slot in Jenrry Mejia as the 5th starter, the Mets have serviceable veteran major leaguers in Dice-K Matsuzaka, John Lannan and a couple of others making a somewhat gooey bridge to Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard who might still need a few weeks or months in Triple-A. Those are just some of the pitchers waiting to make a difference with this team this year.

 

So while 90 or more wins is not the most likely scenario, it’s hardly a crazy one. There is enough talent and potential on this team that we can root for to succeed that could get the Mets to a very competitive place. Maybe it all ultimately doesn’t quite come together for 2014, but there should at least be stretches where you can squint and sort of make out a competitive baseball team at Citi Field.

March 11th, 2014 by Ceetar in 2014, Baseball, Mets
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