Posted in Baseball

There IS tying in baseball

For the first time since the Kansas City Royals defeated the Mets on November 1st last year, I was able to watch them play a baseball game today.

Sure, the stakes were much lower…today’s contest was just an exhibition, which was allowed to end as a 4-4 tie. And some of the players on the field at the end of today’s game will finish their professional careers with the same number of major league at bats as me.

But it was baseball, and especially for a few moments while we watched Dilson Herrera turn a wind-blown fly ball into an inside-the-park home run, it was magical.

Today wasn’t all fun and games in Mets-land. (Terry Collins says that “fun time” is over, anyway, though better bloggers than me disagree.)

Jacob deGrom refused to sign an autograph on his 2016 contract.Though he will still make more money this year than most Mets fans, deGrom rightly feels that the Mets’ $607,000 doesn’t reflect his value to the team. He’s hardly the first pre-arbitration player to go down this road, and definitely won’t be the last.

And even before today’s Mets game was over, the story was largely forgotten… thanks to an interview Jenrry Mejia gave to the New York Times.

The-Truth-Is-Out-ThereWe all wanted to know how Mejia could get suspended not once, not twice, but three times in less than a year for failing drug tests for steroids.Well, Mejia gave us an answer today… though it sounds like something for Agents Mulder and Scully to investigate.

Mejia said that baseball officials told him that if he appealed the punishment for the second doping offense, “they will find a way to find a third positive,” Mejia, who is from the Dominican Republic, said through an interpreter. “I felt there was a conspiracy against me. I feel that they were trying to find something to bring me down in my career.”

Maybe those who didn’t think A-Rod‘s case was handled fairly, or those who still believe Ryan Braun‘s original claims of innocence can find a shred of credibility in Mejia’s allegations.

The best I can do is ask: Wouldn’t Mejia be smart enough to come up with something better if he was just going to make up a story? (Of course, we’re talking about somebody who is barred from practicing his chosen profession for failing three separate drug tests…)

But really, even if you do believe Major League Baseball had an axe to grind against A-Rod…how is a player on Mejia’s level even worth planning a conspiracy against? Outside of the New York area, how many people had even heard of him prior to his “lifetime” ban?

For the record, a spokesperson for Major League Baseball denied Mejia’s allegations. However, the former pitcher has retained a labor lawyer and appears to be keeping his options open. It would be interesting to find out if Mejia has any evidence to support his assertions.

But enough of the ugly side of baseball. Spring training is well underway, Opening Day is less than a month away and a new season lies ahead of us. Let’s try to enjoy it.

 

Posted in Autographs, New York Mets

Spring Fever

David Wright's 2015 Topps Spring Fever baseball card
David Wright’s 2015 Topps Spring Fever baseball card

Topps released checklist information for this year’s Spring Fever promotion today. It’s a way to help participating retailers move more Series One baseball cards – if you spend $20 between February 10th and February 21st, you’ll get a redemption card for a free five-card pack of Spring Fever cards, which can be redeemed between February 22 and February 29.

This will be the first time players like Zack Greinke, David Price and Todd Frazier are pictured with their new teams.

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Posted in Autographs, Baseball, Uncategorized

Checking in

Remember this Daily News cover on the eve of the Subway Series? Those were good times.
Remember this Daily News cover on the eve of the Subway Series? Those were good times.

One fifth of the 2015 baseball season has already gone by, All-Star voting has been underway for weeks and we’ve seen historical milestones reached, even if some people would prefer to ignore them.

The Mets had an 11-game winning streak, which included an undefeated 10-game home stand to open the season. They’re still in first place, but that success is a distant memory. Injuries have led to a lineup that’s featured Kirk Nieuwenhuis and his .088 as the starting center fielder and shortstop Wilmer Flores batting fifth… it’s turned out about as well as you’d expect.

Factor in an overworked bullpen which has also been affected by injuries, and it doesn’t really matter how brilliant the starting pitching is…the Mets are having a hard time winning games.

Due to a combination of reasons- a fluctuating work schedule, church responsibilities, and a severe allergy season chief among them – I’ve only been to one baseball game so far this year: the Mets’ home opener. (They won!) I haven’t been to a minor league or independent league game at all yet.

Thanks to Stubby, I do have my 2015 Topps Heritage Mets team set… and I grabbed the Mets’ blister-carded Topps team set when I saw it in Trenton last month. But aside from those, I haven’t been adding to my baseball card collection. I’m thinking about whether I want to bother with Bowman, but I’m probably going to wait for Topps Series 2 at this point.

My friend Greg added to my autographed baseball collection while he was in Florida. I’ve also gotten a couple more of the cards that I sent out during spring training back in the mail – my successful return rate is now up to 40 percent, 20 out of 50.

And thanks to a connection made through this blog, I am now the owner of a neat Mets Old Timer’s Day presentation ring that once belonged to Roy McMillan and is older than I am.

Roy McMillan Old Timer's Day Ring
Roy McMillan Old Timer’s Day Ring

When (if) I start going to more baseball games, I’ll probably be a more active blogger. If you want to keep in touch with me (and don’t mind the non-baseball content), I invite you to follow me on Instagram and Twitter. And I do answer most emails to paul@randombaseballstuff.com.

Posted in Uncategorized

A Mets fan’s first impressions of the 2015 Topps Series 1 checklist

Image taken from 2015 Topps sell sheet
Image taken from 2015 Topps sell sheet

Topps released the official checklist for the first series of its 2015 baseball card set today, and I’m pretty excited about it.

With an official release date of Feb. 4th through hobby channels, scattered cards will probably start to turn up soon since individual Target and WalMart stores never seem to be all that concerned about keeping to day-and-date. (Mine, unfortunately, are more likely to put out the cards late than early.)

We’ve got a 700-card base set to look forward to in 2015, split into two series of 350 – and it does look like that will help us get cards of some middle relievers and bench players who might have been skipped in recent years. (How you feel about this is going to depend very much on your reaction to the news that Carlos Torres is getting his first baseball card since 2006 – if you said “who’s Carlos Torres?,” you probably would have preferred fewer cards to collect. I’m happy and wouldn’t mind going back to the 792-card sets that were the norm in the late 1980s, when there were only 26 teams and they employed a 24-man roster.)

By my count, there are 16 Mets players in the base set, and 14 of them are still Mets as I write this (though Dillon Gee‘s days in New York definitely seem to be numbered.) Daisuke Matsuzaka will be pitching for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks this season, and Eric Young Jr. is still looking for a job.

To make up for that, we’re getting the first Mets baseball cards of the aforementioned Torres (and it only took 106 appearances over two seasons, not bad for a 26-year-old middle reliever who’s not exactly a household name) and rookie Dilson Herrera. Most of the Mets’ stars appear in Series 1, with Matt Harvey and winter acquisition Michael Cuddyer the biggest names who are waiting for Series 2.

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