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)
Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

Prospecting’s foggy crystal ball

Bryce Harper's 2011 South Atlantic League's Top Prospects baseball card
Bryce Harper’s 2011 South Atlantic League Top Prospects baseball card

When I went to the Lakewood BlueClaws game on Monday night, I stopped in the team store and picked up some baseball cards. I’ll get back to the 2014 South Atlantic League Top Prospects set at some point, but I’m not enough of a “prospects guy” to recognize any of the names other than the players from the Mets & Yankees’ farm systems.

But they also had a few sets left from 2011 that were on clearance for $3, and three years later some of those guys are household names (as long as your household includes baseball fans.)

Bryce Harper. Manny Machado. Jurickson Profar. Marcell Ozuna. Christian Yelich.

These are guys I know.

(There’s also Tanner Bushue, Jiovanni Mier, Peter Tago and the like… maybe one day I’ll know who they are, but that day is not today.)

That’s part of what makes Minor League Baseball fun… on any given night, you may be getting an early look at one of baseball’s superstars. And while some players (like Harper) are anointed before they sign their first pro contract, other guys are surprises. Jose Bautista was selected in the Rule 5 draft, waived, and traded three times before he finally became a star in Toronto at age 29.

Continue reading “Prospecting’s foggy crystal ball”

Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

Blood clots, blowouts and Bryce Harper’s gold shoes…

Tuesday morning, Tony LaRussa‘s All-Star Game snub of R.A. Dickey still seemed like the biggest story around the Mets’ pitching staff…. at least until word broke that Dillon Gee was hospitalized after having surgery for a blood clot in his right shoulder.

Dillon Gee’s 2011 Allen & Ginter baseball card

Mets manager Terry Collins told the NY Post that he was “very, very worried about” Gee, and thanks to Toby Hyde’s research on other pitchers with blood clots, it’s easy to see why. Adam Rubin spoke to a medical expert who attempted to explain the medical issues involved, and I’m also worried for Gee. I’m glad the doctors were able to catch it before it became a more severe problem, and I hope that Gee is able to make a full recovery.

Gee’s trip to the disabled list offers Collins a chance to give Miguel Batista more innings, and that’s exactly what he plans to do. Better to run the 41-year-old poet out there for a spot start or two than to force Matt Harvey to the majors before he’s ready, I suppose.

There was an actual game Tuesday night amid all the hoopla in Kansas City. (To hear some columnists, not to mention Bud Selig and player’s union head Michael Weiner, you’d think it was a “let’s gang up on Robinson Cano” festival. While I don’t support the people who made nasty comments to Cano’s family, I hardly think anyone needs a reason to boo a Yankee – and leaving the home team player out of the home run derby can’t have seemed like a good idea to anyone other than Cano.)

Continue reading “Blood clots, blowouts and Bryce Harper’s gold shoes…”

Posted in New York Mets, Uncategorized

Preview: 2011 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects

Due out this week – just ahead of Thanksgiving – is another Bowman release relying on Bryce Harper cards to drive sales. Unless you have great luck, you’re probably not going to find a Harper autograph in the packs that you open, so let’s focus on what else Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects offers.

As you’d expect, it contains the first fully-licensed cards of many of 2011’s top draft picks. For the New York Mets, this means cards of outfielder Brandon Nimmo (1st round), pitcher Michael Fullmer (1st supplemental), pitcher Tyler Pill (4th), outfielder Joe Tuschak (6th), and pitcher Matt Budgell (10th). Both Nimmo and Fullmer are included as part of the autograph checklist as well.

Unfortunately, while the Mets are well represented, none of the top four picks in the draft are listed on the set checklist. The absence of Seattle pitcher Danny Hultzen could be particularly notable next spring if he takes advantage of his chance to make the Mariners’ rotation.

The other component of the set is 110 major league rookie prospects, most of whom have been featured in other 2011 Topps products.

Hobby boxes are going for around $60, and promise one autographed card and the chance at a bonus autograph of a player from the USA Baseball 16U team. There are 24 packs per box, with 7 cards per pack: 2 Bowman cards, 2 Bowman Chrome cards, 2 Future and/or USA Baseball cards, and 1 parallel card.

With the holidays coming up, I don’t have money to be wasting on a box… but I’m somewhat tempted. I will try to pick up the Mets cards, though. Do you plan to collect the 2011 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects set?

Continue reading “Preview: 2011 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects”

Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

Saturday night’s celebrity boxing bust & Arizona Fall League Rising Stars

Lenny Dykstra's 1994 Post Cereal card (from my collection)

I hope that no one bought last night’s pay-per-view celebrity boxing event to see the Lenny Dykstra vs. Jose Canseco bout, because it never happened. According to Philly.com writer Dan Gross, Dykstra either pulled out of the fight at the last minute or was never really scheduled to take part in the first place. So we have yet another bizarre story…

Instead of worrying about boxing matches involving former baseball players, I watched the Arizona Fall League’s Rising Stars Game on MLB Network. It was my first look at 2010 #1 draft pick Bryce Harper and 2011 #1 draft pick Gerrit Cole. Neither impressed.

Cole started the game for the AFL East team and got rocked. He gave up two long home runs among four hits and a walk. He didn’t make it out of the first inning, allowing five runs to take the loss. Harper didn’t fare much better. He played the whole game as the designated hitter for the AFL East team. He went 0-for-2, striking out twice, with a walk and a sacrifice fly in his other two plate appearances. Continue reading “Saturday night’s celebrity boxing bust & Arizona Fall League Rising Stars”