Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

9 moments from 2013: More Cowgill!

Collin Cowgill's 2013 Topps Update Chasing History autographed insert baseball card
Collin Cowgill’s 2013 Topps Update Chasing History autographed insert baseball card

During the final nine days of 2013, I’m going to revisit nine memorable baseball moments from the year.

Following an off-season of jokes – including some from the team’s GM – about the Mets’ outfield and cutesy spring training stories about Mets’ players with animal names, I wanted to see the Mets surprise everyone (including me) with a fast start.

On April Fool’s Day, I was sitting in Section 413 to watch the Mets beat the San Diego Padres by 11-2. Collin Cowgill, who had started off as a symbol of the disappointing off-season, put the game out of reach with his seventh inning grand slam and became a hero. He even earned a highlight baseball card from Topps, though it came out months after Cowgill’s time in New York had come to an end.

If Citi Field had had Collin Cowgill t-shirts on Opening Day, I would have bought one. Fortunately, they did not – otherwise, it would probably be hanging unworn next to my Omir Santos one.

You can follow Paul’s Random Baseball Stuff on Facebook or Google+, see my photos on Flickr and Instagram, and follow @PaulsRandomStuf on Twitter, where I talk about about a variety of things in addition to baseball.

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Posted in Autographs, Baseball Cards, Uncategorized

New Mets autograph: Collin Cowgill

Collin Cowgill's 2013 Topps Update Chasing History autographed insert baseball card
Collin Cowgill’s 2013 Topps Update Chasing History autographed insert baseball card

I really wanted to like Collin Cowgill. Sure, Sandy Alderson didn’t pick up any big name outfielders last off-season and the Opening Day lineup of Lucas Duda, Cowgill and Marlon Byrd inspired more apprehension than confidence. But I think most of us wanted them to surprise us and succeed.

On Opening Day, Cowgill obliged. He became the only player in Mets history to hit a grand slam in a season opener that was also his first game with the team. Of course, we probably should have paid attention to the calendar – it was April Fool’s Day after all – and Cowgill’s career numbers. By the time the Mets traded him in June, Cowgill had lost his starting job and was hitting just .180 / .206  / .311 in 23 games.

Cowgill had a bizarre autographed insert card with a badly Photoshopped picture in Topps Series 2 that showed him in a style of uniform he never wore as a Met. This card, commemorating Cowgill’s Opening Day Grand Slam, is likely to be the only one that legitimately depicts him as a Mets player.

Note: If this card appears to have rounded corners, it is an artifact of my blog theme. The actual card has standard 90 degree corners.

Posted in Uncategorized

Two out of three ain’t bad

Shea Family Floral Presentation
Continuing a tradition that dates back to the early years of Mets history, the Shea family presented a floral arrangement to Mets manager Terry Collins before Monday’s game. (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Baseball is back, and the Mets got things off to a fun start with an 11-2 victory on Opening Day and an 8-4 win on Wednesday night. Unfortunately, they couldn’t complete the sweep on Thursday afternoon, but I’ll take a 2-1 start.

Edinson Volquez
San Diego Padres Opening Day starter Edinson Volquez (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Sure, the San Diego Padres aren’t very good – they finished 10 games under .500 last year and are making do without their best player, Chase Headley, who’s on the DL with a fractured finger.

But why let that spoil the fun of watching the Mets play well? Jonathon Niese turned in an ace-like performance on Opening Day and managed two hits to help his cause.

Collin Cowgill earned fans with his Opening Day grand slam and his hustle – he was already closing in on third before the umpires had signaled it was a home run.

Scott Rice
Scott Rice (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Scott Rice finally arrived in the major leagues after 14 years in the minor leagues and stints in independent league baseball with the Long Island Ducks, Newark Bears and York Revolution.

John Buck already has a pair of home runs and is earning praise from Mets pitchers. It’s certainly making it easier to accept Travis d’Arnaud starting the year in the minor leagues, and who knows? Maybe Buck will continue playing well enough to become a legitimate trade chip in July. (And in case you haven’t seen it yet, he’s got a really sweet catcher’s mask.)

Matt Harvey drew admiration from Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price for his performance Wednesday night – seven innings, one hit and 10 strikeouts. How can you ask for much more?

Even Dillon Gee was a hard-luck loser on Thursday – he held the Padres to just one run and pitched into the seventh inning.

This weekend’s games against the Miani Marlins may tells us a little bit more about the 2013 New York Mets. While the quality of competition isn’t going to improve much, the Mets will have to rely on the back half of the starting rotation. Jeremy Hefner and Aaron Laffey aren’t exactly Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman (or even Harvey and Niese), but we might as well embrace them.

https://twitter.com/RudyonRadio/status/320005794210926592

Sure, I’d be more excited about Zack Wheeler getting the ball on Sunday than watching Laffey, but let’s root for him instead of getting frustrated. Hopefully the Mets offense will look more like it did on Monday and Wednesday than it did Thursday afternoon.

If you want to see more of my Opening Day photos, head over to my Flickr account.

Posted in New York Mets, Uncategorized

Silly spring training stories at their finest: possible origin of Collin Cowgill’s name

We’re around halfway through spring training, and that means sports writers are filing weird & wacky stories that are hitting print.

Signed Collin Cowgill 2010 Topps Pro Debut baseball card from my collection
Signed Collin Cowgill 2010 Topps Pro Debut baseball card from my collection

Over the weekend, Jared Diamond wrote about the six Mets players who have last names that sound like the name of an animal for the Wall Street Journal. The paper spoke with Donna Lillian, a professor at Appalachian State University and the president of the American Name Society, who offered this possible origin for Collin Cowgill‘s name:

Cowgill is a bit more complicated. Lillian said the name probably derives from a village in England called Cowgill, which may take its name because it was a place where cattle grazed. In Middle English, the word cowgill translated roughly to “cow gully.”

When told of his potential ancestry in England’s famed cow gullies, Cowgill said: “You’d have to have a lot of time on your hands to come up with that.”

If you didn’t see it, click through and read the full article – the quotes from some of the players and the “baseball card” mockups are amusing.

Posted in Baseball, Baseball Scorekeeping, Uncategorized

Put it in the books: Mets win 1st game of the spring

The first New York Mets game of 2013 is over, and the Mets won 5-3.

It’s the first time I’ve watched the Mets play since the Miami Marlins defeated them 4-3 on October 2nd, 2012, the game where Adam Greenberg finally got his major league at-bat.

Today was more fun. Ruben Tejada hit a wind-aided home run off of Stephen Strasburg. Zack Wheeler got to make his unofficial New York Mets debut. Collin Cowgill made a nice catch, hit a double and scored from second base on an error by Washington first baseman Micah Owings. Bobby Parnell kind of looked like a closer.

Sure, it’s just one game… and a Grapefruit League game at that. But this season is going to be about enjoying things where we find them.

I always keep a scorecard for the first baseball game that I watch each year, even if it is a spring training game on SNY.

ST-Game-1-ScorecardA

ST-Game-1-ScorecardB

I suspect I’ll end up scoring a few more games this spring as I continue to tweak my scorecard design. (I lost the original file for the scorecard I’ve been using for the last few seasons, so I’m taking advantage of the opportunity to revise it for 2013.)

I’m still concerned that having only two spaces per batting order slot will be a problem, but I like having more room to write player names.

I definitely need to clean up the “Game Notes” section some more, and I’m not happy with the way the running totals blend with the inning totals at the bottom of the page.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Thoughts on Collin Cowgill, Frank Francisco & other Mets items

Signed Collin Cowgill 2010 Topps Pro Debut baseball card from my collection
Signed Collin Cowgill 2010 Topps Pro Debut baseball card from my collection

The Mets acquired outfielder Collin Cowgill from the Oakland Athletics for minor league infielder Jefry Marte on Tuesday. I’ve got a vague memory of seeing him play against the Mets last year when he was with the Arizona Diamondbacks, but I remember Cowgill more for his unusual name than his playing ability.

In very limited major league playing time, Cowgill has good numbers against left-handed pitching and he has played centerfield. That probably sets him up as a platoon partner with Kirk Nieuwenhuis next year, but I guess we’ll find out during spring training.

Marte was another Omar Minaya-era international free agent who doesn’t have a real position. He’ll probably blossom in the Oakland farm system, but we’ll never hear about it since no one ever pays any attention to the A’s unless they’re beating their favorite team.

Continue reading “Thoughts on Collin Cowgill, Frank Francisco & other Mets items”