Posted in Baseball, New York Mets

Baseball is back, and that is awesome

Baseball is back.

I got to watch the Opening Day introductions of the Mets players live on SNY before it was time to start work, so I saw the new Mets trainer get cheered for not being Ray Ramirez. Jacob deGrom earned applause even without his trademarked long locks. Wilmer Flores, man of the people, got one of the biggest ovations. So did David Wright, though it was sad to realize that the cheers were for what he’d already done and not what he might still accomplish on a baseball field.

Philip Evans looked like he was trying to run Brandon Nimmo competition for having the biggest smile on Opening Day. After a too-long winter, it was great.

I had to wait for the SNY Encore to watch the game, which the Mets won 9-4.

Noah Syndergaard was impressive, striking out 10 while walking none. But I agree with him that there’s room for improvement… forget about Yadier Molina’s fluke home run, because Molina hit a pretty good pitch and it barely stayed fair. But Jose Martinez (who the hell is Jose Martinez, anyway?) looked way too comfortable.

Amed Rosario had one of the biggest hits in the game. Brandon Nimmo was on base just about every time he came up. Yoenis Cespedes was Yoenis Cespedes (in a good way.) Nobody could touch Robert Gsellman when he came in in relief.

It was awesome. The cherry on top is that Michael Conforto might be back next week, almost a month ahead of schedule. (Adrian Gonzalez, you should probably consider yourself on notice.)

I got to see a few minutes of the Yankees’ opener, though not any of the exciting bits. Giancarlo Stanton lived up to the hype — at least on Day 1. A homer in his first official Yankee at bat gave John Sterling the chance to debut his awful home run call. (Dude, you had all winter and this is what you came up with?)

The other big star of the winter, Shohei Otani, singled in his first Major League at bat and drove in a run. He went 1-for-5 as the DH in the Los Angeles Angels’ Opening Day loss. Otani is set to make his MLB pitching debut on Easter Sunday.

Thanks to Easter and all the daytime baseball scheduled during the season’s opening week, it will be a little while before I can settle into a rhythm of watching games… but it’s nice to know that baseball and the Mets will be there for the next six months, at least.

Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

Thunder, but no rain

Free-Event

The rain stayed away from Trenton yesterday afternoon so a few hundred baseball fans could meet this year’s Thunder team.

There were free hot dogs and sodas, quick tours of the ballpark and a chance to watch the players take batting practice… but I think everybody came to get autographs.

And this early in the season, almost all of the players seemed happy to be signing autographs for fans – not that they had much choice at a team-organized autograph session.

Dante Bichette Jr. asked my friend Bart – dressed in Boston Red Sox gear as always – “Do you root for us?” Bart answered, “Of course I do – I root for all you guys to make it to the major leagues because that was my dream.” Bichette asked, “But do you root for us to beat the Red Sox?” “No,” Bart answered truthfully, and they both laughed.

The session was well-organized, with players set up in four different groups on the concourse because of the weather concerns. (Last year, the autograph stations were set up on the field where they could be spread out more.) Fans were given a map identifying who would be signing where as they entered the ballpark, and it was possible to get through all four lines if you were close enough to the front of your first one.

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When I got home, I caught the Angels’ 2-0 victory over the Mariners. It was definitely a win for the “we want faster games” crowd, ending in just a little over two hours. But I don’t know how many people found it exciting television – C.J. Wilson and Huston Street held the Mariners to just two hits and no runs, while James Paxton and the Mariners bullpen were almost as stingy. The game’s only offense came from a David Freese two-run homer in the fourth inning, and neither side really had many other scoring chances.

I guess we can breathe a sigh of relief that an MRI found no structural damage to Jenrry Mejia‘s elbow, but I still wonder if a second Tommy John surgery is in his future.

Posted in Autographs, Uncategorized

Mets Autograph of the Week: Dean Chance

signed Dean Chance 1991 Wiz Mets card from my collection

Dean Chance played in the major leagues for 11 seasons, winning the 1964 Cy Young Award, getting picked to two all-star teams and pitching a no-hitter.

He’s best remembered as a Los Angeles Angel – one Angels blogger ranked him the 25th best player in team history as of 2009.

But I’m a Mets fan, so I’m more concerned with three games at the end of the 1970 season. The Cleveland Indians sold Chance’s contract to the New York Mets on Sept. 18th. New York trailed Pittsburgh by 2.5 games on that date, so I imagine the move was intended to help the team make one last push.

Chance made his Mets’ debut two days later, closing out a 9-5 loss to the Pirates at Shea Stadium. After Tug McGraw gave up a 10th inning homer to Willie Stargell to break the 5-5 tie, he face two more batters before exiting. Chance came in with a runner on second and one out, and intentionally walked Dave Cash to get to Gene Alley. That move backfired when Alley tripled (and later scored) to put the game out of reach.

Chance pitched a scoreless inning to earn a save against the Phillies on Sept. 22nd, but earned the loss in his final Mets appearance on Sept. 25th because he allowed the eventual winning run to reach base in an appearance that lasted just 1/3 of an inning.

The next spring the Mets traded Chance to the Detroit Tigers with pitcher Bill Denehy for pitcher Jerry Robertson, who never appeared in a major league game for New York. Chance retired after the 1971 season.

Despite his brief time in New York, Chance does appear in the 1971 Topps set as a Met. I opted to get his 1991 Wiz Mets card signed instead because the 1971 Topps set already has a facsimile signature printed on the card. I was able to get Chance’s autograph through a private signing conducted by Chris Potter Sports recently.