Posted in Baseball, New York Mets

Spring training is underway (and nobody got hurt.)

Forget about the snow that’s falling as I write this. Spring training officially got underway this week. Mickey Callaway is excited about his new team, which is good because you know you’re in trouble if your first-year manager isn’t excited about his team in February.

Michael Conforto is taking part in baseball activities. David Wright is in Florida and progressing in his comeback attempt, though he’s not ready for baseball activity yet. Maybe (probably) Wright never plays another major league game… but I’ve gotta admire him for giving it every shot. It would be so easy to walk away, but that’s not how Wright wants to go out. That dedication is a big part of what made it possible for him to be one of the greatest players in Mets history.

Jason Vargas will be part of the 2018 Mets rotation, giving them a second pitcher on their roster who threw at least 150 innings last year. Hey, I was hoping for Yu Darvish (who finally signed with the Cubs last week). But at least we got an actual major leaguer who has been able to stay on the field for most of his career. I’ll call it a win.

Zack Wheeler may not be happy, but Vargas makes the Mets a better team. Now Wheeler gets to compete with Matt Harvey, Stephen Matz, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Chris Flexen and Rafael Montero for two starting spots and three or four bullpen spots. And when the inevitable injuries occur, the Mets should have better options to turn to than they did last year.

Since it looks like the Mets might only carry four outfielders to start the season, they’re talking about giving Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores some reps in the outfield this spring. Now let me go on record to say that Wilmer Flores, outfielder, is a terrible idea. Jose Reyes is probably not going to be a good outfielder at this stage of his career either. But if the Mets are determined to stick them there at some point this season, I hope they get the ‘experiment’ started this spring.

Let’s find out whether Reyes or Flores can play out there in meaningless exhibition games, and give them enough experience to let them be at least somewhat comfortable before that day game after a night game comes along when Juan Lagares is banged up and Yoenis Cespedes doesn’t feel up to playing. (Hey. at least the Mets brought back Matt den Dekker on a minor league deal so there’s somebody that can play centerfield in Triple-A.)

And guys? I’m not gonna say a word about who you choose to hang out with during your off hours. But is shark fishing really a good idea if the goal is to keep as many Mets healthy as possible this season?

Minor League Promo of the Week:

Get your Quidditch star Fungo bobblehead when the New Hampshire Fisher Cats celebrate 15 years of magic on July 20.

Posted in Autographs, Baseball

First autographs of 2017

Once upon a time, I was very into writing to people associated with Major League Baseball in hopes of getting autographs for my collection. I’d guess more than half of the 920+ signed cards in my All-Time Mets collection were acquired that way.

As I got signatures from most of retired Mets players who were still willing and able to sign, and as current players became less willing to respond to fan mail, I wrote fewer letters.

Last year, SportsCollectors.Net tells me that I sent out 14 autograph requests and got back signed cards as a result of eight of them.(In comparison, as recently as 2014, I sent out 83 letters resulting in 58 successes.)

Last month, I wrote to a half dozen short-time former New York Mets players whose autographs I didn’t have. Today, I got three responses.

Continue reading “First autographs of 2017”

Posted in Baseball

Mets baseball cards of the week: 2016 Opening Day team set

It’s been a little while since we last talked baseball cards… a few new sets came out, and I even have two new 2016 Mets partial team sets to show you.

I’d really been looking forward to Topps Heritage, since this year’s set is based on one of my favorite classic Topps designs. Now that I actually have most of the cards in hand (thanks Stubby!), I find myself with mixed feelings.

So let’s save that for another day and focus on the product that wildly surpassed my expectations: Topps Opening Day. It’s been years since I actually bothered getting the Mets team set from Opening Day… the cards are almost identical to the ones from the Topps flagship set, but you don’t get all of the players because Opening Day is less than half the size.

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Except this year, I noticed half of the Mets in Opening Day aren’t in Topps Series One. Steven Matz and Lucas Duda will undoubtedly turn up in Series Two, most likely with the same image. Matt Reynolds and Ruben Tejada? Your guess is as good as mine… I could easily see Tejada getting bumped or digitally transformed into a Cardinal. (The better question is: “where’s David Wright?” but he did miss all but 38 games last season and is in Series One, so I’ll cut them some slack.)

(Tejada also has a pretty nifty super short print photo variation in Opening Day that I’d been planning to get, but the Mets released him before I had the opportunity and it has kinda killed my motivation. There are also super short print photo variations for Noah Syndergaard and Reynolds according to the Cardboard Connection’s gallery.)

So Reynolds’ first Mets baseball card (not counting autographs in Heritage and Spring Fever) was motivation enough for me to pick up Opening Day this year, but the set’s strength is in its inserts.

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Opening Day gave us Mrs. Met’s first baseball card appearance, as well as two cards commemorating the Mets’ playoff success last fall. (There’s also a less interesting Matt Harvey card in an insert set dedicated to teams’ alternate uniforms, but the Mets wear their blue alternates often enough that seeing Harvey in the home jersey that he always wears isn’t very exciting…still, what’s one “miss” in a product that’s so much better than I expected?)

In actual baseball news, Matt Harvey weathered a health scare, Bobby Parnell got released by the Tigers, Philip Humber retired after learning he wouldn’t make the Padres’ roster and Jeff Francoeur managed to make the Braves roster.

We’re just days away from baseball games that count…I’m looking forward to caring enough to watch more than one game a week. 🙂

Posted in Autographs, Baseball

Spring training autograph update

We’re three weeks away from baseball games that count, so I thought I’d check in with an update on how my spring training autograph requests are faring.

I ended up sending out only 10 letters from the 20 that I’d originally planned. I couldn’t find suitable cards to send to the three coaches and one player, remembered that the Braves don’t get USPS mail during spring training, and decided to save the players who reported directly to minor league camp for the regular season rather than trying to figure out the logistics of writing to them now.

So far, I’ve gotten four of the 10 back. My biggest success to date is new Mets’ second baseman Neil Walker, who sent back a card signed (with his new uniform number) in just over two weeks.

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Continue reading “Spring training autograph update”

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 Baseball

Mets Baseball Card of the Week: 2016 Topps MLB Wacky Packages promo

ny-mittsThis week’s featured Mets baseball card is really a sticker, a promo for Topps’ MLB Wacky Packages product that’s coming out in March. It’s part of my collection thanks to one of my blog readers, but I’m really not sure what to say about the “N.Y. Deli Meat Mitts.” (John also sent along some other, more traditional baseball cards and I’m sure I will get to featuring some of them in the days ahead. All are much appreciated.)

I have to admit that I’m not really feeling the spring training vibe this year. Sure, it was fun when camps officially opened a couple of weeks ago. But since then, all we’ve had to focus on are stories about Yoenis Cespedes‘ car collection, the new slide rule, and a whole bunch of other stuff that doesn’t seem very interesting.

Maybe Friday’s first Mets spring training game telecast will rekindle some of my enthusiasm. (It probably will for the first few innings… until the field is invaded by players wearing football numbers and identified in on-screen graphics as “minor league guy.”)

But I don’t think I’ll really be excited about baseball season until Sunday night, April 3rd, when the Mets play their first game that counts.

Posted in Baseball

Dillon Gee hoping to make the most of Royals opportunity

Dillon-Gee
Dillon Gee (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Former Mets pitcher Dillon Gee is in spring training with the Kansas City Royals, hoping to win a spot in the team’s rotation or as a swingman in the bullpen.

“It was bittersweet, obviously,” Gee told the Kansas City Star’s Rustin Dodd about his departure from the Mets. “I had been there going on five years in the big leagues, and it’s like: ‘I was there during the lean times. I wanted to be there when they were celebrating at the end.’ ”

“It wasn’t the best of circumstances, but things unfolded the way they unfolded. They went to the World Series, so obviously they pulled the right strings, I guess.”

Source: Former Mets starter Dillon Gee trying to earn role on the Royals’ staff