There is a 2013 MLB All-Star Wine available from Purlieu Wines. This is fine, I’m all for specialized products celebrating the 2013 game at Citi Field. Of course, this product was put together with about as little effort as one could manage. The URL for the site still reads 2012, and it’s just a simple bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon with the game logo on the label. The description doesn’t even mention the Mets, or New York. Additionally, it’s from Napa Valley. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, there are a ton of nice wineries on Long Island that are local and would probably love to sell one of their wines for this event.
And there is no beer. You can specifically tailor a beer to the event and it takes much less time to brew for production than wine. There are dozens of appropriate breweries in New York that could provide something fun. Even Ommegang, the brewery located in the same town as the Hall of Fame, would be a great choice. They brew a special beer for Game of Thrones, I imagine they could spare a couple of barrels for the Midsummer Classic. Think about how neat it would be for the baseball Hall of Fame to feature a collection of bottles from each game?
Regardless, there seems to be no All-Star Beer. Citi Field’s beer selection isn’t horrible, but it has about as many All-Stars as the Mets do. It’s disappointing that the event seems so corporate sometimes it’s hard to get some of this personalization. Never mind that Budweiser is a huge MLB sponsor and would probably do their best to nix any non-Budweiser beer being celebrated anyway.
Whether from jealousy, frustration over media sycophants, or over-exposure to obnoxious fans, it’s easy to be a Yankee hater. With the Subway Series this week, it’s important to maintain the proper amount of hatred. This is sometimes hard to believe, but there are actually good Yankees fans out there, and some of them might even be friends and family.
So it’s always my goal to check my level of Yankee hatred and keep it just below the love of a true fan. Also it should be clearly below your love for the Mets, because honestly if you hate another team more than you love your own, why are you even bothering? Don’t engage the bandwagon fan that just wants to yell “27 rings!” but doesn’t know who David Phelps is, and don’t go out there with the intent to drink too much and try to start “Yankees Suck!” chants at every hit. There’s real actual baseball being played that should provide plenty of opportunity for fans of both sides to needle each other and gloat.
Trash talk can be fun, but it’s always more fun when it’s based on knowledge, reality and this season. If Ike Davis strikes out, then sure, we’ve gotta take it. If Lyle Overbay is slow getting around the bases and gets thrown out, then sure, make a joke about how old the Yankees are. Grumble about the short porch (On Wednesday and Thursday) when someone hits a pop-fly that leaves the yard but be prepared to take it when someone jokes that Daniel Murphy has warning track power because he hits it to the deep part of Citi Field.
What we don’t need is hatred and venom for the sake of hatred and venom. Those rings won 4, 13, or 90 years ago don’t give the Yankees any advantage this season nor does it make them more deserving. Just because Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera were parts of PED infested clubhouses doesn’t mean every other word out of your mouth should be to call them cheaters. Keep it on the game. Joke about how Jeter’s not healing like he used to and his range will be even further diminished, or how the amount of saves Rivera has already, and hence the workload, might be a red flag down the road. Bring up how the Yankees seem to be relying on Andy Pettitte too much and that he hasn’t pitched a full season in ages.
Overall, just keep it civil. We’re all New Yorkers here. You can toss barbs and insults around if you like, but remember it’s a game and it’s supposed to be fun to watch, not an excuse to get angry and yell. Nothing conclusive is ever decided by four games in late May.
Mumbling the old adage “You’re never as good as you look when you’re winning, you’re never as bad as you look when you’re losing” to yourself while remember how the Mets have played over the last couple of weeks is small comfort, as true as it is. I promise you, they WILL score a boatload of runs again, they will start hammering the ball like they did early in the season and they will string good pitching performances into a winning streak.
No, really. They WILL score double digit runs again. Ike Davis WILL have a multi-hit game. Maybe the 11th outfielder is the charm. Lucas Duda WILL hit a home run with people actually on base.
It’s not that the Mets are a collection of bad players, because they’re not. If the Mets were to be disbanded tomorrow, most of the roster would find jobs in the majors on other teams. The problem is they don’t have enough talent across the board to balance out random bad luck and the ups and downs that all players experience. When you have a great player, a couple of good ones, and some decent ones you can win plenty of games..when most things go right. Most things don’t usually go right in baseball all at the same time, and when they don’t the team loses too many games to make up for when things are going good. A couple of players drift over the line from decent to bad for a week or two and the other mediocre players aren’t good enough to make up the deficit.
That’s where the Mets are now. Daniel Murphy and Ruben Tejada have been slumping fiercely, Ike Davis is mired in a ridiculous bad slump and while Duda’s managing to limit the outs he makes by walking a lot he’s not hitting much lately either. There’s only so much David Wright can do with that. Davis will eventually get hot, or someone else will, and the Mets will start scoring runs again. Perhaps they’ll have found another outfielder besides Duda and Baxter that can at least approximate positive value, or Travis d’Arnaud will be ready for the majors and the team will improve. The Mets considered signing Michael Bourn, and while many of us weren’t thrilled with the idea, there’s no doubt that another good hitter would have done wonders for this offense.
So that’s what we have in front of us; watching a struggling team flounder on offense. It’s not fun, not at all. It’s a long season though, and they will be watchable again. It could happen as soon as tonight or take another week, but they WILL draw us back in.
Last night I was lucky to be in the ballpark to see Matt Harvey baffle the White Sox hitters all night long. It was an amazing performance from the start, and a captivating one. I watched the game in awe; whether or not he would get the perfect game was immaterial to his dominance. You knew that he was pitching well enough to get one, and if he didn’t it would be that odd squib or perfectly placed grounder that broke it up. It was precisely that, a perfectly placed ball between third and short off the bat of the speedy Alex Rios that did it.
That didn’t take away from the greatness of it. That’s probably the best game I’ve ever seen in person, and it might just be the best game I ever will see in person and I’m only 31. Last season I saw Dickey spin a masterful one-hitter that had much the same feel as last night’s game in that you just knew the opposition had no chance. I also saw Johan Santana’s 4-hit complete game shutout the start before the no-hitter that was probably his most dominating game of the year. Before that I got to see Santana’s final start of 2008, that gutsy performance to flay the Marlins and keep the Mets playoff hopes alive. That was a great game too, but any of us would’ve taken a 12-10 slug-fest just as easily, the magnitude of the win overshadowed how it was achieved.
Watching Matt Harvey emerge..no, emerge sounds too timid. Watching Matt Harvey burst onto the scene as one of the best pitchers in the game the way he has is a feeling all it’s own. He leads the league in strikeouts and WHIP. He’s given up an average of only four hits per nine innings. He throws in the mid-high 90s with his fastball. He’ll pitch with blood streaming out of his nose. He probably juggles between innings to entertain his teammates and feeds and nurtures the stray cats that live around Citi Field.
Onlookers that remember have started to draw comparisons to Dwight Gooden and how his starts at Shea Stadium were events. Matt Harvey is certainly getting there, and fast. Just look at Twitter and see all the people after the game last night and today planning to be there on Sunday for his next start. As the weather warms up this will become very evident, but it hasn’t yet. Last night’s crowd was sparse and quite for the most part. Everyone got into it as they realized just how dominating he was last night, but for a nice night against a team that few Mets fans have ever seen the crowd was disappointing.
I understand that you feel betrayed by the Mets, or the payroll, or the record, or the Wilpons, or Beltran, but baseball is awesome and every Matt Harvey start, if not every game, is an opportunity to see something wonderful. So instead of muttering under your breath about wasted starts and commenting to me about firing the hitting coach as we watch the bottom of the 10th, enjoy what’s in front of us; a great Matt Harvey performance and a walk-off victory.
Teams slump. The Mets were leading the league in runs per game and suddenly the offense slumped and they started losing. They’re now 6th in runs score in MLB. The Mets are still auditioning center and right fielders with no one standing out, Ruben Tejada and Ike Davis have under performed, and we knew John Buck was not that good.
All teams slump, good ones, great ones, and horrible ones. It’s too early to say which the Mets are, and it’s certainly silly to take the results of the last week as more meaningful than the first couple just because it fits better with what you expected, but good teams should find a way to win at least some games while they’re slumping. The Phillies are probably not a great team, and getting swept by them is not a good sign. There were plenty of opportunities that the Mets let get away, and while it’s possible to do everything right and still lose, it’s also possible to steal games when you’re struggling.
John Buck, Ike Davis, and a couple of others muffed a couple of foul outs that could’ve been converted. Not all of them led directly to runs, but all the extended innings and extra pitches lead to things like tired arms or more bullpen. Pitchers made a couple of poor pitches on top of poor pitches that led to runs. Perhaps Terry Collins could’ve been more aggressive, or less aggressive, in pitching changes or lineup changes that ended up costing the Mets a better shot at winning. Like most losing streaks, there are a billion second guesses of the players, the manager, and the overall strategy.
Sometimes the bounces go the wrong way, the pitcher you choose has a bad day, or the pitch you guess is simply wrong. Those are the breaks, the notorious 50 games that every team loses and there is nothing you can do about. Teams destined for the playoffs will find ways to minimize the damage while they’re slumping. Sometimes a pitcher will pitch a gem and stifle the opponent enough to steal a win with only a run or two, other times a batter here or there will capitalize on the one bad pitch the opponent throws for a 3-run home run to win the game 3-2 even though the offense only managed three hits. This avoids sweeps and turns 1-2 series losses into 2-1 series wins. When the slump end the team will only have gone 4-6 instead of 2-8 and can use a surge in fortune to get ahead of the competition instead of making up for the ground they lost during the slump.
So far the Mets are not doing this. That’s not to say they can’t. Lucas Duda, Ike Davis, and David Wright are all talented enough to have game-changing at bats even amidst personal or team slumps. Matt Harvey and Jon Niese are talented pitchers, both capable of pitching a gem that wins a game despite slumping offense. Jon Niese came close Sunday, and perhaps Terry Collins should’ve left him in to finish the seventh instead of going to the bullpen to face Ryan Howard. I’m always a fan of having the top players on my team on the mound or at the plate during the critical points in the game, and that was certainly one of them.
It’s early yet, and the teams that win in April are not a lock to get to October. If the Mets are going to grow into a competitor, they’re going to have to find a way to minimize long losing streaks and win some of these games when things aren’t going perfectly.
Follow @Ceetar today while I share my observations and pictures from Opening Day.
Quick bullet point type list of things I”ll be scoping out today because I procrastinated this post and now it’s late.
Trackman thingy. I found this article very interesting, and am going to see if I can find the panel.
New Beer. Is there any new beer, and what is it?
New food. Most of the new food has been previewed some, but I’ll still be checking it out and getting a feel for what’s new.
There’s always new signs and kiosks and advertising. Subtle changes in the way Citi Field operates. I’m always interested in those things, the way the escalators run, how the security is behaving. That sort of thing.
Tailgate and Mets fan friends. Checking in with all the fun fans and bloggers that I rarely see anywhere but at Citi Field. It’s a new season, let’s have some fun!
And of course, most importantly, a Mets win! Let’s go Jon Niese!
You may think the headline is an allusion to the Mets and their long-term plan, and maybe it works that way too, but I’m referring now to the two week period before Opening Day. The newness of Spring Training has faded to the point that just having baseball back is no longer enough. The World Baseball Classic is over. The prospects we really want to keep an eye on are mostly back in minor league camp as the major league guys are now getting most of the playing time in order to get used to the everyday schedule of the regular season. Most of the roster races are just about decided, even if not announced.
Worst of all is that every bump and bruise gets magnified in the lack of much to really talk about. When you’re in a waiting room even back issues of magazines you never pick up otherwise become interesting, and it’s much the same with baseball. Jordany Valdespin’s personality becomes a hot topic. Every comment from Terry Collins or Sandy Alderson that has the least bit of doubt becomes a disaster and is analyzed for double, or even triple, meaning. Every player that skips a start or doesn’t make a bus trip they were supposed to is headed for the disabled list. When other teams make cuts to trim their roster, those guys always look like they’d be a good fit for the Mets. (Although I agree on Ronny Cedeno)
No, really. Relax. Don’t let writers feeling the need to write something, anything, push you into extreme pessimism. It’s 10 days until Opening Day and until then everyone is healing. Even if guys aren’t quite ready by Opening Day, they may be ready less than a week later. It’s a long season. Captain David Wright will recover from his intercostal strain, just like he did last year, and play very well this season. Daniel Murphy will get back on the field. Kirk Nieuwenhuis is playing minor league games, and will be able to join the Mets soon. He’s got a lot to prove, but he’s only 25. Johan Santana will get his arm strength up. It might take a while, but he will. Jeremy Hefner isn’t a bad pitcher in the interim and the Mets have other guys that can pitch in some. Frank Francisco will get healthy and pitch like he has in his career, or he won’t and someone else will get those innings that can do something productive with them.
It’s a long season. Even if the Mets do start out a little injured they won’t stay that way. Guys well get better and other guys will get hurt. Some players will surprise you and become more than adequate replacements when they get their shot to play. Just relax because baseball will be here before you know it and we can stress and worry and fret plenty then.
Sometimes it’s just fun to make some Mets animated gifs.
You can read a full recap at Amazin’ Avenue.
Sandy had spoken earlier about not having been tempted yet to trade some pitching depth for a really good outfielder, or for anything else, but he then rattled off a dozen or so names and talked about the minor league roster crunch and that perhaps he’d be tempted soon. My question was meant to be a followup to that, where I asked, or tried to ask, what would push that temptation to the point that a trade is made?
He responded with a lot of talk about how close they came to making some moves with Bourn or Upton, and talked confidentially about the club, but it did dance around the question a bit. I was trying to figure out what the factor would be that changed his mindset from tempting to need and if part of the temptation might stem from the current plan getting derailed a little bit?
Perhaps if I could’ve asked a followup question I would’ve asked “If the Mets had won 83 games last year instead of what they did, is it more likely you would’ve traded for Upton?” What I was really looking for is if the temptation to trade these players is going to be the result of the team’s success, or is going to drive the team’s success. When does focus shift from making shrewd transactions to needing to acquire the player you want, even if it’s an overpay. Is it only when adding a player like Justin Upton makes the Mets a favorite to make the playoffs, or can it be done simply to make the team better and let other factors, such as long-term success from Zack Wheeler, be what puts them over the top?
Shannon Shark of Metspolice.com has released an eBook entitled Send The Beer Guy.(Hey wait, aren’t I the beer guy?) I haven’t gotten a chance to read it yet, got a library book under the gun, but it’s on deck. I’ve heard it’s good, and Shannon was teasing some of the stories at the Mets Police awards in January.
I’ve joined Jeff Paternostro and Rob Castellano on the Amazin’ Avenue Audio the past two weeks. This week we talked about a whole bunch of stuff, from Sandy’s culpability for the current roster, the catchers, Stub Hub, some Mets prospects, and a bunch of other things. Check it out. If you haven’t been paying attention, I’ve been writing for Amazin’ Avenue a bunch too, so check that out as well.
Opening Day tickets will go on sale next Friday at 10am. There will be various pre-sales earlier in the week as well, and while most games won’t be that high in demand it’s still nice to get your tickets in hand sooner rather than later, especially if you know you want to get to one of the promotion dates such as Banner Day or David Wright Bobblehead Day. Of course, Opening Day tickets will be expensive as well given that it’s one of three premium games. Expect the cheapest seats to be at least $50. Dynamic pricing may make the price spike as tickets go on sale, and certain sections may drop in a couple of days after the initial rush dies down. Last year’s Opening Day was a record crowd though, so if you’re set on Opening Day or the Subway Series, don’t hesitate.
I’ve been kind of quiet this offseason, but baseball season is so close I can smell the Shake Shack so expect more posts, both here and at Amazin’ Avenue, which you can find a link to my posts on the right sidebar. Follow me on Twitter (Follow @Ceetar), and you can find Optimistic Mets Fan on Facebook and Google+ as well. I’ve also been known to post a lot of Mets pictures to Instagram.