Posted in Baseball, New York Mets

Snowed out

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Only one playin today is this dude!

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The New York Mets were indeed snowed out on Monday, so the New York debut of Gabe Kapler’s Bullpen Follies has to wait until tonight.

Instead, I watched the Houston Astros beat the Baltimore Orioles 6-1 in their home opener. Before the game, the Astros unveiled their 2017 World Series Championship banner (with the help of a leafblower.)

I found it interesting that while the Astros have won seven division championships and three wild card berths, it looked like they only have two banners on display – their 2005 National League pennant and the 2017 World Series one. I think I like the “keeping to essentials” approach.

The Astros are a fun team to watch. Charlie Morton may be the best number five starter in baseball, but as good as their pitching is their hitters are better. At this stage, everyone knows about Jose Altuve… but George Springer is every bit as exciting. Alex Bregman impressed me with his hitting and defense and Marwin Gonzalez impressed with his versatility.

I could easily see the Astros successfully defending their World Series title.

Other odds & ends:

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Posted in Baseball, Baseball Cards, New York Mets

Baseball’s broken economic system & other thoughts

In less than a week, pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to spring training…and there are still around 100 free agents who are looking for a team. Eric Hosmer, Yu Darvish, J.D. Martinez, Jake Arrieta and Mike Moustakas — some of the biggest names to hit the market this winter — are among the players still unsigned. The union is actually going to run a spring training camp for all of the players who are still looking for jobs.

It got to the point where some players are openly talking about the possibility of going on strike and others reportedly considered waiting until Feb. 24th’s mandatory reporting date to show up in spring training camps in a show of solidarity with the unsigned players.

While this off-season’s free agent market has worked out pretty well for the Mets, it’s clear that the the current system is broken. It’s pretty clear that no one is going to give J.D. Martinez the seven-year, $210 million contract he was reportedly looking for back in November. But it’s equally ridiculous that Martinez has only received two offers this winter, and that one of them was for a one-year deal to come back and try again on the free agent market next off-season.

I don’t think we’re looking at collusion, but we are looking at 30 front offices who are tired of getting burned by free agent contracts that make them look bad. Thirty front offices that are increasingly obsessed with young, controllable players to the point where they manipulate player service time to delay free agency and arbitration eligibility. A select group of owners who do not care about winning, at least in the short term.

And that means that even though MLB enjoyed record revenue last year, it’s not translating into more money for the players that we are paying to watch.

Now Martinez should not expect to earn $30 million when he is 37, but Jacob deGrom should be able to expect more than the $7.4 million he will earn this year. And even though he’s one of the most marketable players in baseball, the Yankees could get away with paying Aaron Judge the major league minimum salary.

Brandon Moss is right that players gave away too much in recent bargaining sessions with owners. Here’s hoping that the MLBPA and MLB owners figure out a way to get more of the game’s profits to the game’s younger players without totally turning off fans in the process. Because the current system is broken and is not good for players, fans or even owners in the long run.

Todd Frazier signs with the Mets

Todd-Frazier
A signed Todd Frazier baseball card from my collection

The New York Mets continued their bargain shopping this week, signing third baseman Todd Frazier to a two-year, $17 million contract. I think that Frazier strikes out too much and doesn’t get on base enough, but he’s a definite upgrade over Wilmer Flores and Jose Reyes at the plate and a much better defender. So it’s definitely a win – this hasn’t been a bad offseason for Sandy Alderson’s crew at all.

If they could find a way to add a starting pitcher, I’d feel pretty good about the Mets’ chances to compete for a Wild Card spot. And if they could somehow land Yu Darvish, I’d start dreaming about them challenging the Washington Nationals for a division title.

Bartolo Colon is still playing

Colon
Bartolo Colon

The Texas Rangers signed 44-year-old Bartolo Colon to a minor league contract this week. I’d been hoping for a reunion with the Mets, but as long as gets a major league shot sometime this season I’ve got another year before I have to deal with a reality where all the players are younger than me.

So thank you, Bartolo… I will be rooting for you.

First 2018 Baseball Cards

I bought my first pack of 2018 Topps Series 1 baseball cards this week. Fittingly, a member of the World Series Champion Houston Astros was the top card in the pack. Michael Conforto was my first Met (yay!) while Aaron Judge was my first Yankee (boo!)

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I like this year’s design, but I think I will try to avoid buying more packs and just pick up a Mets team set from eBay.

Minor League Promo of the Week

Thirty years ago this June, my favorite Eddie Murphy movie Coming to America made its theatrical debut. The Fresno Grizzlies will celebrate its anniversary by playing as the Zamunda Lions for one night.

Posted in Baseball, New York Mets

It’s almost time for baseball

We’re less than 24 hours away from the start of the 2017 baseball season… for some reason, the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays get the honor of playing the very first game at 1:10 p.m. The marquee match-up of the day pits the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs against their St. Louis rivals at 8:35 p.m. (I doubt I will manage to stay up to watch the end of it.)

The game I’ve been looking forward to since Madison Bumgarner shut out the Mets last October 5th will happen on Monday as the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets kick off their 2017 campaigns. The Braves will be better as they begin their first year in a new stadium (let’s hope they’re still using it by the time the local taxpayers finish footing the bill.)

Continue reading “It’s almost time for baseball”

Posted in Baseball

We want playoffs

 

sunset
A September Citi Field sunset (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

 

The New York Mets wrapped up their regular season home schedule with a 17-0 rout of the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday. I made it to two of their 81 home contests, my fewest since Citi Field opened.

I’m ok with that, though I wish I’d gone to at least one game on my own so I could wander around the ballpark without annoying anyone else. I have less patience for the travel – going to a game in Queens means I spend almost as much time on trains as I do watching baseball. And I have to admit, the ballpark was easier to get around when there weren’t 30,000+ people there most nights.

Back in April, I think we all had visions of the Mets repeating as National League East champions and going back to the World Series, this time to win it all. The second part of that dream could still happen, but Daniel Murphy is the only one who got to celebrate two consecutive division titles. Continue reading “We want playoffs”

Posted in Baseball

Welcome back, Bartolo

Bartolo Colon pitches against the San Diego Padres at Citi Field on June 13, 2014 (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Bartolo Colon (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

The New York Mets have reportedly reached an agreement with Bartolo Colon on a one-year contract worth $7.25 million.

Colon, who will turn 43 next season, replaces Jonathon Niese in the rotation at the start of the season. When Zack Wheeler is ready to return from Tommy John surgery, Colon will likely move to the bullpen.

In the meantime, we’ll get to enjoy more highlight reel-worthy at-bats and fielding plays…and I’ll get to spend another year watching at least one Mets player who is older than me.

Continue reading “Welcome back, Bartolo”

Posted in Baseball, Baseball Game Reports

Game 162

I planned to go to my last game of the season on Friday, Oct. 1… the first home game since the Mets clinched the National League East division title the week before. While Hurricane Joaquin spared our area, a nor’easter drenched us on Thursday and Friday and that game was rained out.

Because I had to work on Saturday, I wasn’t able to use my tickets for the rescheduled game. (I will have to exchange them for a game next April when I might have the chance to check out a new Mets’ World Series pennant.)

The Mets got a beautiful day for their final regular season game of 2015 on Oct. 4, 2015. (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
The Mets got a beautiful day for their final regular season game of 2015 on Oct. 4, 2015. (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

But I was off on Sunday and was able to score $11 tickets to the Mets’ final regular season game… which became significantly more important to me when I realized I hadn’t been to a game at Citi Field since Chris Heston no-hit the Mets in June. It seemed like a bad way to close out my year at the ballpark. When I saw that Jacob deGrom was scheduled to pitch Sunday, I knew it was meant to be… deGrom started all but one of the Mets games I went to this year, and they won all of those starts.

A lot of people must have had the same idea… or else they bought the tickets back when it seemed like the final series of the year could have playoff implications. Either way, Citi Field was packed. I arrived just after the gates opened, but didn’t get inside until almost 1:30.

There were people everywhere in the gift shops, mostly focused on picking out playoff souvenirs. Last year, I was able to find bargains and bought deGrom and Travis d’Arnaud shirseys. Sunday, everything was full price, so I just picked up a 2015 NL East Champs pin for my collection. I met up with my friend Vinny, who was purchasing a pin and pennant, and we wandered around the ballpark for a while.

The New York Mets wasted no time in hanging a 2015 National League East Division Champions banner at Citi Field (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
The New York Mets wasted no time in hanging a 2015 National League East Division Champions banner at Citi Field (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

We stopped to take pictures of the new NL East pennant the Mets are flying below the American flag. I was really happy to see it. I will be even happier if it is gone next April, replaced by a World Series pennant.

Yoenis Cespedes waits in the on-deck circle (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Yoenis Cespedes waits in the on-deck circle (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Like nearly every game I’ve been to at Citi Field, there was no particular significance to Game 162 of the 2015 season. But it was still nice to get one more afternoon at a ballpark, watching a baseball game with a friend.

Jacob deGrom pitched four hitless innings against the Washington Nationals on Oct. 4, 2015 (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Jacob deGrom pitched four hitless innings against the Washington Nationals on Oct. 4, 2015 (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

And for a little while, we got to wonder if we might see something more. DeGrom pitched four innings without allowing a hit before he departed, having reached his pitch target for the afternoon. Bartolo Colon kept the no-hitter going through five. Logan Verrett did his part in the sixth. And we started trying to remember if any team had ever thrown a “revenge no-hitter” against the team that had no-hit them in their previous game.

Bartolo Colon pitched an inning in relief against the Washington Nationals on Oct. 4, 2015. If Mets rookie Steven Matz is healthy, Colon will work out of the bullpen in the playoffs. (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Bartolo Colon pitched an inning in relief against the Washington Nationals on Oct. 4, 2015. If Mets rookie Steven Matz is healthy, Colon will work out of the bullpen in the playoffs. (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Vinny was livid when Jon Niese came in for the seventh. He was sure that Niese would give up the Nationals’ first hit. I was less concerned about that possibility than the idea that we could be watching a repeat of the final game of 2010, which didn’t end until Oliver Perez walked in the winning run in the 14th inning.

As it turned out, Vinny was prophetic. Clint Robinson hit a hard smash to shortstop that deflected off of Ruben Tejada on its way to right field with two outs in the seventh. That chased Niese and brought in Addison Reed to finish out the inning.

It’s probably for the best. Terry Collins used seven pitchers on Sunday – Howie Rose and Gary Cohen would probably even have trouble remembering all of them a few years down the line if they needed to tell the story of the second no-hitter in franchise history.

In the eighth inning, we got word that Ichiro Suzuki was pitching against the Philadelphia Phillies in the Miami Marlins’ final game of 2015. I’m sorry I didn’t get to see it.

Curtis Granderson takes a lead off first base after leading off the Mets' last regular season game with a single on Oct. 4, 2015. (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Curtis Granderson takes a lead off first base after leading off the Mets’ last regular season game with a single on Oct. 4, 2015. (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

But Curtis Granderson wanted to make sure we got to watch the Mets earn their 90th win – fulfilling Sandy Alderson‘s pre-season prediction that was once a source of bitter laughter. He hit a solo home run off of Nationals reliever Blake Treinen.

Jeurys Familia earned his 43rd save on Oct. 4, 2015, tying a Mets team record held by Armando Benitez (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Jeurys Familia earned his 43rd save on Oct. 4, 2015, tying a Mets team record held by Armando Benitez (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Despite a 9th inning double from Bryce Harper, Jeurys Familia was able to wrap up his franchise record-tying 43rd save and put the 2015 regular season in the books.

For the first time in nine years, the Mets will keep playing after Game 162. Vinny will have at least one more baseball game to watch at Citi Field this year. I will be watching the playoffs on TV.

That’s ok. For all of its frustrations and disappointments, this season has been a gift. The Mets made us believe again.

Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper waits for the results of a replay review after his ninth inning double off of Mets reliever Jeurys Familia on Oct. 4, 2015 (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper waits for the results of a replay review after his ninth inning double off of Mets reliever Jeurys Familia on Oct. 4, 2015 (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)