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.
Simple, yet colorful. Blue and Orange.
On January 10th is the second annual Queens Baseball Convention at McFaddens Citi Field. If you talk to anyone that was there last year, you know that it was generally considered a blast, and this year will be even better. It’s basically the Mets fanfest you’ve always wished the Mets would hold, just held by fans–specifically Shannon and Mediagoon of Metspolice, Darren of The7Line and associated friends.
That includes me. I had a blast last time helping out and chatting with everyone about the Met and Baseball on a cold winter day. There were players, autographs, interesting panels and Mr. Met, and this year will be even better. I’ll be on hand wearing a jersey with ‘Ceetar’ on the back, so I’ll be easy to spot. (Last year I wore a Pagan jersey)
There’s plenty going on, as you can see from the website. My favorites are Josh Lewin being on hand to host the awards session. Mookie Wilson and Wally Backman will be there doing a panel and autographs. Ed Charles will accept the Gil Hodges Unforgettable Fire Award.
The calendar will just have turned and the holidays are in the rear view mirror. We’ll all be missing baseball and here’s a great way to get your fix with fellow fans. There’s even a t-shirt option with your ticket! Why not come out to the park and have a good time?
Baseball is over. We are all sad. It’s been nearly a month since the Mets played though, and that regular routine of baseball has been weened from our schedule already. It feels like ages since they’ve played.
Are the Mets next? Will the Mets at least be in the conversation to be next? Time will tell. The season of half-baked rumors begins now.
The second half of the season is often time for change at ballparks, and Citi Field is no different. There is now a new cider stand located on the field level in the right field corner. Cider is a popular drink, and a growing one in popularity too. I wrote about some of the best ones over at BeerGraphs last year.
Obviously, some of these are macro brews masquerading as well-crafted ciders. The two taps, Johnny Appleseed and Stella Artois Cidre, are not good beer/ciders and are both brewed by large breweries. So is Smith and Forge.
Original Sin is a New York brewery, though technically it’s contract brewed in Florida, and I’ve enjoyed their cider from time to time. Angry Orchard ciders, both the apple ginger and crisp apple, are pretty good, and they’re brewed/owned by Sam Adams.
The most interesting one there though is McKenzie’s Original. McKenzie’s Hard Cider was founded in 2011 in Buffalo so they’re the most authentic New York cider on the list. I’ve never had the original, but I tasted both their Seasonal Reserve (which has the best BAR rating of any cider on BeerGraphs) and their black cherry, both which were delicious. The Seasonal Reserve tastes like apple pie. Delicious apple pie.
You can also find 16oz cans of McKenzie’s Original at the Empire State Beer stands and also Ommegang’s Cooperstown Ale, an American Blonde, that’s new as well.
You’ll notice the Shock Top HoneyCrisp Apple Wheat beer logo on the Cider Stand, but I didn’t actually see that one anywhere so I won’t comment on it.
Really. The best thing the 8-2 homestand did for us was save us from obscurity and create a chance, however slight, that the Mets could compete in the second half. While the Wild Card always remains an option, it’s the division you have to focus on, at least until September.
I’m not suggesting we start a magic number count or anything, but it’s okay to imagine the Mets running off a couple more 8-2 stretches over the next couple of months and thinking about how it could get them back into things. Especially if those winning stretches coincide with the 12 games left against the Nationals and the six games left with the Braves.
Right now the Mets are still chasing a number. They have to get above .500, and then they have to set a pace that gets them as many wins as will likely win the division. That number is currently very variable, and if perhaps the Nationals or Braves are flawed, struggle, or face injuries in the second half it’s an attainable one for the Mets.
The Nationals currently are on an 89 win pace on top of the division. The Mets would have to go 44-23 to reach that. That’s a .657 winning percentage, which would be 106 games over a 162 game schedule. That’s pretty high, although not impossible. Last year the Dodgers were 47-47 and went 45-23 (.662) to win 92 games. In 2012 Oakland finished 48-24 to win 93. Baltimore went 47-25 (.653) to win 93. Every year there is a team or two that plays ridiculously well over the last 60 or 70 games, and sometimes they’re teams that were wallowing around .500 at the All-Star break that no one though were that good. So why not the 2014 Mets?
The math changes if the top NL East team doesn’t win 89, and the Mets have the ability to change that themselves. Let’s say the Mets beat the Nationals in nine of their 13 meetings. Now even if they continue the rate of winning they’ve displayed so far this year in the rest of the non-Mets games, they’ll only win 86. Now the Mets would only need to go 32-22 (.593) in the other games to get to 86 wins. They have less games left against the Braves, but I believe the Nationals are the better team and that Atlanta is more likely to slip to a mid-80s, or lower, win total already.
I personally believe the Nationals and Braves aren’t great, and that it’s possible a mid-80s win total could win the division. There is also always the wild card of injuries, or more injuries than to the Mets, to the teams on top lowering their record.
Obviously good things need to happen for the Mets to play even the 36-31 ball that would get them to .500 and their first non-losing season in what feels like ages. Luckily there are plenty of good things you could see happening. David Wright could play more like he’s played of late and less like the powerless guy he was early on. Travis d’Arnaud really could have turned that corner and continue to hit like a major leaguer. Ruben Tejada needs to continue to get on base. Juan Lagares needs to hit more like he did early on this year, and/or the Mets could find another bat to play left field. The pitching is key, because the Mets seem to have plenty of talented pitchers already and plenty of depth available to them. They’ve got talented young arms they’re using in the bullpen and as a result the bullpen has been very good. If they can continue to pitch as well as they have, it’ll lessen the burden on the weaker offense and allow them to win more games with fewer runs.
Unlike previous years, this Mets team is poised to take a step forward in the second half of the season. It’s still unlikely that the improvement is big enough to step over the Braves and Nationals into October, but it’s not out of the question either.
Remember this? June 14th, 2008. The game would ultimately be rained out and the Texas Rangers would play Slip ‘N Slide on the tarp. Some WFAN callers would then criticize the Mets for not getting out there.
Banner Day is this Sunday, but Banner Day existed back in 1988 as well. Recently my aunt shared with me some photos she took of her banner that year and it’s a great look back at the Mets and Mets fans of 1988.
Can’t go wrong with a crossword.
Click the picture above to head over the MetsPolice where I’ll have more non-familial banners and Shannon will have other Banner Day info.
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.
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.