Posted in Baseball Cards, New York Mets, Odds & ends

I’m pretty sure Travis Taijeron stopped being a Met before I got his only Mets baseball card….

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Posted in Baseball, Odds & ends, Star Trek

San Francisco Giants like sci-fi

The San Francisco Giants have been organizing some amazing sci-fi promo nights. In September, they gave out a baseball-themed BB-8 Pop for Star Wars night.

Next season, they’re planning a Star Trek night on Friday, August 31st when they host the New York Mets. Fans who purchase a special event ticket will get a San Francisco Giants cap featuring the Star Trek Starfleet Command badge, and the team is encouraging people to come to the game in Star Trek costumes.

If I win a lottery jackpot between now & then, you’ll know where to find me on August. 31st.

(On a slightly more realistic note, the New York Mets are giving away a Mr. Met Star Wars Bobblehead to the first 15,000 fans at their Saturday, May 19th game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. I have a much better shot of making it to that one…)

Posted in Baseball, New York Mets

‘Tis the season

Baseball’s annual general managers meetings were held last week in Phoenix, Ariz. and the Winter Meetings will be taking place in Orlando, Fla. in a few weeks.

And until there is actual news, baseball columnists and beat reporters will be reporting on assorted rumors and preliminary discussions.

For example:

Ignore these stories unless you are bored or your job requires you to keep track of such things.

(I don’t really like the idea of Ian Kinsler playing second base for the Mets next year, if you’re curious. Sure, he’d be a defensive upgrade over Wilmer Flores… but Kinsler will be 36 next season and had a comparable on-base percentage and worse slugging percentage than Flores in 2017. Plus Kinsler will cost $11 million plus whatever players and/or prospects are needed to acquire him.)

Posted in Odds & ends

Gaming Log: Fate/Grand Order – Gudaguda Honoji

Fate/Grand Order is a mobile phone game based in the universe created by TYPE-MOON’s Fate/Stay Night visual novel more than a decade ago.

In the game, you are an inexperienced mage recruited to help stop the destruction of the world. You do this by summoning servants – heroic spirits summoned into one of seven classes to do battle at their master’s behest. I’m not going to try to figure out how much time I’ve spend playing it since it was released in English this summer – I’d really rather not know.

My normal team includes Altria (King Arthur Pendragon re-imagined as a young woman), Irish mythological hero Cú Chulainn, and a couple other characters who are original to the Fate universe.

This month, the game has been running an event called Gudaguda Honnouji, based around an obscure gag manga that was originally published online before the game was released.

Honestly, I thought it was going to suck since many of the manga’s jokes just sailed right past me or just weren’t  funny in the first place. But I’ve gotta compliment the Fate/Grand Order localization staff – they made Gudaguda Honnouji work, even if you’re not very familiar with the Japanese historical references that are a big part of the event storyline.

They poked fun at common tropes of the Fate universe, like the series’ tendency to genderbend historical and legendary characters.

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They broke the fourth wall and teased us about the Christmas event we’re looking forward to (though I hope Christmas Mephisto is never, ever a thing….)

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They brought in old fansub memes.

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In short, it was fun.

Gudaguda Honnouji introduced two new servants to Fate/Grand Order: Oda Nobunaga and Okita Souji, both very loosely based on Japanese historical figures. Everyone had a chance to get Nobu just by playing through the event. Okita had to be summoned from event pool, and the odds were very much against doing that.

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I wasn’t able to pull Okita, though I didn’t do all that badly. I used 54 Saint Quartz (the game’s summoning currency) and two or three summoning tickets. I got two more copies of Emiya Shirou and another copy of Lancelot, which let me make two of my better servants a little bit stronger, and I got a couple of craft essence cards that made playing the event a little bit easier.

With a couple of days to go, I’m less than 100,000 Honnouji Points away from clearing the event rewards ladder, and I’ve gotten most of the items from the event shop that I really wanted. That let me fully ascend Cú Chulainn, Medusa, Ushiwakamaru, Hans Christian Anderson and Oda Nobunaga, as well as ascending Atalante, Medea, Lancelot, Julius Ceasar and Cursed Arm Hassan at least one stage. And I probably have time to get materials for one or two more servants before the event ends.

Now the real trick is to start collecting experience cards to level up my servants to their newly raised caps before the next event comes along.

Posted in Baseball, Trenton Thunder

More netting

The Trenton Thunder are the latest area baseball team to add netting to protect more fans from being hit by foul balls and broken bats.

I think I went to around a dozen games this year where I sat in field level seats. I remember three occasions where I wasn’t sitting behind netting: a game in York, Pa., a game in Kissimmee, Fla., and a game in Trenton.

I’ve gotten used to the nets… I tend to not notice them when I’m watching the game, but they do make it much harder to take photos of game action. For the most part, I know I can leave my camera home these days.

The nets also limit the spots where you can try for autographs before a game… less of a big deal in at MLB facilities where the odds were already against you. We’ll see how it impacts things in minor league facilities. My guess? It won’t have that much of an effect.

In exchange for those inconveniences, we’re safer as we watch the game. Sure, you’ve got people that argue that if you just pay attention, you’ll be able to get out of the way of foul balls.

Watch where professional baseball players have their family members sit at games – they will almost always be behind the net. There’s a reason for that – those line drive foul balls come in really fast.

I’d guess it’s just a matter of time before expanded netting becomes universal at professional ballparks…. and eventually we’ll wonder why it wasn’t there all along.

Posted in Baseball, New York Mets

Bittersweet baseball

There’s been a variety of news since the end of baseball season. The Mets have a new manager and coaching staff, and will soon have a new and expanded training staff.

They’ve retained a couple of players and let some others go.

And I really haven’t had a lot to say about it.

I’d never heard of Mickey Callaway until news broke that the Mets had chosen him as their next manager – I hope he does a good job. Likewise, I’m not sure how much of a role coaches really play in the success of a Major League Baseball team or how good the guys the Mets hired are at doing their jobs, but I wish them well.

But I did want to mention a couple of news items I saw tonight.

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David Wright (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Mets captain David Wright will be inducted into the Arizona Fall League Hall of Fame tomorrow night in a pregame ceremony in Scottsdale, Ariz. Wright played for the Peoria Saguaros in 2003 just months before making his big league debut.

I’m sure there will be another pregame Hall of Fame induction ceremony for Wright sometime within the next few years, as the Mets honor one of the best players in team history.

Before injuries cost Wright the last three years and will likely make 2014 the last full season of his career, it seemed like we’d be talking about his chances of being enshrined in Cooperstown one day. Now the only talk is about whether Wright can return to a Major League Baseball field or if he should retire.

It’s a bittersweet honor, to be sure.

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Carlos Beltran (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Speaking of Mets greats who inspire bittersweet memories, Carlos Beltran announced his retirement this week after finally winning a World Series ring with the Houston Astros. But apparently he’s not ready to walk away from the game just yet — he’d like to manage somewhere down the road.

Hey, if Callaway doesn’t work out, maybe Beltran can have another chance to win a ring with the Mets.

Posted in Odds & ends

Enough

Today, more than two dozen people were killed by a gunman who opened fire inside a small Texas church. Last week, another man mowed down eight people in lower Manhattan before crashing his truck. Last month, more than 50 lives ended when a gunman took aim at people attending a concert in Las Vegas.

It’s getting harder and harder to feel safe.

I don’t know what we can do about that. Not really.

We can and we should pray for the victims and the families who now have one or more empty places at their tables.

We may be able to pray for forgiveness for the perpetrators of these acts of violence. (I’m not sure I’m a good enough person to do that, but maybe some of you might be.)

We can and we should pray for our world.

But we should not let “thoughts and prayers” become an empty platitude.

Presbyterian Mission Agency theologian Charles Willey writes:

A shallow practice of extending “thoughts and prayers” with no self-reflection and no commitment to action is no prayer at all. Embodied, emboldened thoughts and prayers is a powerful movement that follows Jesus Christ in aligning ourselves with God’s concern for all people.

If you’re in a position to do something for the victims of these crimes, help them.

If you can be an advocate against violence in your community, be a peacemaker.

And if you can’t do any of that, at least spend time with the people that you care about and make sure that they know you love them.