Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

How does this decade remember the Mets?

So, the decade of the 2000's, the first of the new millenium comes to a close in about 2 weeks. 10 seasons of New York Mets baseball.

How does this decade remember the Mets?

Without commentary, let me give you a season-by-season statistical recap.
2000: 94-68, 1 game back, 2nd place, Wild Card winners, NLDS winners, NL Champions
2001: 82-80, 6 games back, 3rd place
2002: 75-86, 26 1/2 games back, last/5th place
2003: 66-95, 34 1/2 games back, last/5th place
2004: 71-91, 25 games back, 4th place
2005: 83-79, 7 games back, tied 3rd/4th places
2006: 97-65, Division winners by 12 games, NLDS winners
2007: 88-74, 1 game back, 2nd place
2008: 89-73, 3 games back, 2nd place
2009: 70-92, 23 games back, 4th place

a total record of 815-803 with 6 seasons above .500. 1 Division title, 1 Wild Card, 2 NLDS series victories, and 1 NL championship, in 2 playoff appearances. 4 seasons where they finished over 20 games back of the division lead. And the 2 collapses.

So how do historians and fans look back on the past 10 seasons of New York Mets baseball?
- positively (the above .500 total record and a Division title and an NL pennant in 2 playoff appearances)
- negatively (4 seasons in the toilet and 2 collapses)

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Exclusive - Mets get their Number 2 guy

The Mets have signed Sidd Finch. The 53 year old pitcher hasn't been seen since he announced his retirement on April 8, 1985. Scouts in Port St. Lucie say he has lost a bit of zip on his fastball, only down to 95 mph. He still projects to be the Mets #2 starter in 2010.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Opinion revisited - A Pattern of Bad Behavior

I'm re-posting this opinion that I shared earlier this year. I wanted to get this out there for discussion before we get too far into the free agency period and Winter Meetings. I've also tweaked some of the wording after sleeping on it for a few months and discussing it with a few people in the meantime.

The Mets are in a bit of a tailspin, and I'm not surprised by it. This fits into a loose pattern, and I can only go by what I lived through as a fan starting with the 1987 season.
  • After the Mets lost in the 1988 NLCS to the Dodgers, the team started to slide the next season. It was a series they should have won, and after it, things got really bad for a few seasons. It really wasn't until Bobby Valentine was hired as manager and Steve Phillips came in as GM before things turned around.
  • After the Mets lost Game 1 of the 2000 World Series to the Yankees, the team started to slide the next season. They shouldn't have won the series, but they shouldn't have lost that first game either. They really really had a chance to win and let it get away. Then things got bad. It wasn't until Omar Minaya and Willie Randolph came in to save the franchise that things turned around.
  • After the Mets lost Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS to the Cardinals, the team started to slide. We all remember the 7 game lead with 17 to play in 2007, and the bullpen collapse of 2008. 2009 was just the next paragraph in that story. 2010 probably will be too.

You can pinpoint moments in 1988 (Kirk Gibson in game 4 of the NLCS), 2000 (mental mistakes that I have partially blocked out of my consciousness in game 1 of the WS), and 2006 (not scoring after the Chavez catch in game 7 of the NLCS).

You can see the parallels and patterns - sliding from 1989 to the "world team money could buy" in 1992 and rebounding around 1995/1996; sliding from 2001 to the Art Howe era ending in 2004 and rebounding in 2005; sliding from September 2007 into 2008 and falling fast in 2009.

By comparison, Atlanta won their division every year from 1991-1993 and 1995-2005. They failed in the playoffs many times, got back up, and were right back the next year. The Phillies have been in 3 years in a row, built up from 2007 to 2008 to win it all. The Mets aren't in the same class as those teams are/were.

Now I know that the players weren't around for all of these slides. Most were only around for one. It's not necessarily them. It's the culture. What they built up with Frank Cashen was great (maybe he's a candidate for the Mets Hall of Fame). But once things started to get away from them, that was it. Even a broken clock it right twice a day. That probably best explains most of their success in the last 20 years.

Looking towards 2010 and the free agent market, I just don't see the Mets making a big move and spending the money, and even if they do, I don't see them being one player away from turning things around. They just weren't good in 2009 and showed a severe lack of depth. That can't be fixed by one player.

It ain't pretty. I can see why Fred & Jeff Wilpon want to ignore this history, but they're doomed to repeat it.

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Please help me out

I'm trying out a couple of new things on my blog, some of which are transparent and some aren't. Google has a new blog post editor. I don't know what's so special about it other than maybe the fonts and colors.

But I installed a new commenting section software (IntenseDebate), and I'd like to have people try it out. I've been having trouble with the Google/blogspot.com comment section software on this and other blogs, so I decided it was time to make a change. Usually, I like the banter on either the comments section or the facebook page, but for this, I'd like you to come on and post a comment (even if you just say "hi") on the website itself to see how well this works.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Sorry seems to be the hardest word

A few days ago, the Mets send out a press release detailing some changes to Citi Field for 2010. They're "Metsing-up" the place, giving us what we've been asking for, what we've been missing in Citi Field. It's quite possible that this will be the first time in a long time that the Mets do something right. It's also possible that this is another example of the Mets trying to do something good and them simply doing it wrong. Not once in there did the Mets appologize for doing it wrong in the first place.

Let me break some of this press release down and share why I think the latter will be true.

RENAMING OF AREAS IN BALLPARK The Mets will rename and visually theme Citi Field's VIP entrances and outfield bridge after individuals who made an indelible mark on the club. First Base VIP will be named after Hodges to honor the manager who led the Mets to their first World Championship in 1969. Third Base VIP will honor Seaver, the Hall of Fame pitcher and Mets leader in wins, earned run average and strikeouts. Left Field VIP will be named after Stengel, the first manager in Mets history. The outfield bridge will be dedicated as Shea Bridge, honoring the legacy of the man who was the driving force to bring National League baseball back to New York after the departure of the Dodgers and Giants.

The VIP entrances are getting named the "Gil Hodges [First Base] VIP entrance", the "Tom Seaver [Third Base] VIP entrance", and "Casey Stengel [Left Field] VIP entrance". I think they forgot the "Marv Thronberry [Left Field] common man entrance" and the "George Theodore [Right Field] common man entrance". I don't know what good it is to have these entrances themed by some of the most elite Mets and yet most fans won't be allowed to see it since we're nothing more than P's, and hardly "Important", let alone "Very Important" in the Mets' eyes.

And they'll name the bullpen bridge the "Shea Bridge". This we'll see and we'll walk all over many times at the ballpark. If the Mets were really listening to the fans, they would have gone with the name "Gil Hodges Bridge" that we've been using all season. I think that one came from Howie Rose.

I would have kept the Gil Hodges name on the bridge, attached Casey Stengel's name to the plaza behind home plate on the Promenade level (Casey Stengel Plaza, same as I remember on a street designation outside Shea), made the "Shea entrance" at the Rotunda, and named the LF entrance after Tom Seaver. Having to pick another name for the RF entrance is tough - Koosman (i.e. Seaver and Koosman), Piazza, Gooden, Strawberry, etc.

METS HALL OF FAME & MUSEUM & HALL OF FAME COMMITTEE The centerpiece for Mets memorabilia will be the Mets Hall of Fame & Museum, located adjacent to the Jackie Robinson Rotunda and accessible from both inside and outside the ballpark. A re-formed Mets Hall of Fame Committee will evaluate potential inductees, and is comprised of a combination of media members with a long-standing connection to the club and Mets front office staff.

This is good. I can see in my mind a real museum setting looking at a long wall with a timeline of the Mets. Something that has lots of space for future entries. Mookie's bat from the famous at-bat would be on display. Doc's uniform pants worn by Darryl Strawberry on Opening Day 1987 would be on display. Lenny Dykstra's 1986 World Series ring. Jerry Koosman's 1969 Mets and 2009 prison uniforms would be on display. The second base that Robin Ventura never touched. Jesse Orosco's glove from the championship toss. Eddie Kranepool. You get the idea. Maybe the timeline portion of the exhibit could be made up of the different Mets pocket schedules. Maybe we get to see the Mets yearbook covers. A corner dedicated to the 1964 All-Star game, and another for the "Shea Goodbye" event. I could go on and on.

If this were part of the original design, I would say the museum would be IN the Rotunda instead of next to it, but I won't go there now. I certainly can't ask that the Jackie Robinson exhibit be taken down. I do like that the museum would be available from both inside and outside. If memory serves me correctly, that space is occupied by a team store right now.

And we have the re-formation of a Hall of Fame committee. The press release goes on to say that Marty Noble, who's covered NY National League Baseball since the early 1900s, and Mets fans #1a Howie Rose and #1b Gary Cohen are on this committee (numbering them is no knock on them, rather a compliment for the fact that the biggest voices representing the Mets are two of the biggest fans). Dave Howard and Jay Horwitz, the other "voices" of the Mets, Tina Mannix, ex-Met Al Jackson, and little Jeffy Wilpon are also on the committee. I hope they're active. I read on one of the blogs a suggestion that they elect two Mets per season. I'm not even sure what I want here, but with Howie, Gary, and Marty there, I'm comfortable with it.

More details from the Mets will be coming at a later date. I hope this is ready for Opening Day. I also hope no one affiliated with team ownership is inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame (Joan Payson, the first owner, was the first inductee in 1981, which I do support).

IMAGERY & TEAM COLORS Next season, fans will be greeted by Mets colors as they approach Citi Field with full-color banners of Mets players on Mets Plaza in front of the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. Mets logos will be added on entry points to the parking areas and on the light poles in the parking lots. The addition of team colors will continue inside the ballpark with staircases painted with blue and orange and more Mets logos throughout the ballpark. Flowers in the gardens at Mets Plaza in front of the Jackie Robinson Rotunda will also be blue and orange.

I always though those staircases looked too boring in its brick-gray. I liked Shea's different levels being painted each in a single different color, matching the color of the seats from that level. That was something done earlier this decade. It kind of let you know where you were. I also remember from my visit to Philly that a lot of poles and beams were painted in the dark maroon color of the Phillies' color scheme. Orange and blue stair cases could be good.

More Mets logos will also be welcome. Let's hope this is done better than the imagery added to the ballpark last summer. Shea was beautiful with its bright colors shining through. Citi Field needs to be the same. In 2009, it was more grayscale.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

5 questions for an average New York Mets fan

Shannon over at MetsPolice.com posted a short survey the other day called "5 questions for an average New York Mets fan". He's gotten a few answers sent to him, but a few of my blogging friends have decided to post their answers on their own blogs.

1. When did you start following the Mets?

I'll say it was somewhere between Mookie's at bat in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series and Opening Day 1987. I've told the stories of Games 6 and 7 of the '86 Series before.

2. What is your favorite Mets memory?

That's a tough one. I have so many good ones. Just being at Shea. The "Santana game" in 2008 on the next-to-last-day of the season (with the Gary Keith and Ron group and walking on the field). Being at the 2006 Division clincher and the final game of the 1999 season when they clinched another day.

3. What is your worst Mets memory or experience?

Watching Glavine melt down on the final day of the 2007 season on TV. Watching the bullpen melt down on the final day of the 2008 season at Shea. Watching a piece of Shea come down on the final day of January 2009 in person. 2009 was a bad year all around. Fortunately, I don't remember much of 1992 and 1993, or at least didn't care how bad they were when I was 14 and 15.

4. If you could change one off-field thing about the franchise what
would it be?

That's a loaded question. I'd do many things to/at/with Citi Field, which I've blogged about (paint job, retired numbers, tickets, seating views, names of things). If I could go back in time, it would have been fixing a few things at Shea to make it sustainable for many years to come. I'd clean house in the front office and start from scratch with someone who would clean house on the field. Retire a few more numbers. Mets museum. How many is that?

5. If you owned the team starting tomorrow, what is the first thing
you would change?

see question 4.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Mets Announce Spring Training Schedule

It's official. The Mets will play baseball next March in Florida. 32 games, 18 in Port St. Lucie. Tickets on sale January 23, 10 am.

I'll see you there.

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Spring Training

Update 11/16 Good Old Adam Rubin has a full schedule

Pitchers and Catchers are about 4 months away (today is October 16). Spring Training schedules will be trickling out over the next 6 weeks. And I've heard a little bit about the 2010 Mets Spring Training schedule.

I'm sure some of you are Spring Training regulars. I am. And I'll be keeping this post updated with the Mets Spring schedule. You can find the link on the website on the right side under the greeting from Bob Murphy.

What I know so far...

Heard on some of the last broadcasts, we know the Mets will open up March 2 against Atlanta (I believe at home in Port St. Lucie), and I thought I heard there will be 2 trips over to Fort Myers. According to Mapquest, Fort Myers is about 140 miles and 2 hours 49 minutes via shortest (estimated) time from Port St. Lucie. Expect a few of these long bus rides each Spring Training until more teams move to the East coast of Florida.

NOTE: this is in no way final and there may be conflicts
25 games on 23 dates
Tue. March 2 - Mets vs Braves (Port St. Lucie)
Wed. March 3 - Mets @ Braves (Disney)
Thu. March 4 - Mets vs Cardinals (Port St. Lucie)
Fri. March 5 - Mets (SS) @ Cardinals (Jupiter)
Fri. March 5 - Mets (SS) vs Marlins (Port St. Lucie)
Sat. March 6 - Mets @ Nationals (Viera)
Sun. March 7 - Mets vs Nationals (Port St. Lucie)
Mon. March 8 - Mets @ Marlins (Jupiter)
Tue. March 9 - Mets vs Astros (Port St. Lucie)
Wed. March 10 - Mets @ Braves (Disney), 7:05 pm
Thu. March 11 - Mets vs Red Sox (Port St. Lucie)
Fri. March 12 - Mets @ Twins (Lee County)
Sat. March 13 - Mets vs Tigers (Port St. Lucie)
Sun. March 14 - Mets @ Marlins (Jupiter)
Mon. March 15 - Mets vs Cardinals (Port St. Lucie)
Tue. March 16 - OFF DAY
Wed. March 17 - Mets @ Red Sox (Fort Myers)
Thu. March 18 - Mets vs Marlins (Port St. Lucie)
Fri. March 19 - Mets vs Twins (Port St. Lucie)
Sat. March 20 - Mets @ Cardinals (Jupiter)
Sun. March 21 - Mets (SS) @ Astros (Kissimmee)
Sun. March 21 - Mets (SS) vs Univ. of Michigan (Port St. Lucie)
Mon. March 22 - Mets @ Nationals (Viera)
Tue. March 23 - Mets vs Braves (Port St. Lucie) 7:10pm
Wed. March 24 - Mets vs Astros (Port St. Lucie)
Thu. March 25 - Mets @ Cardinals (Jupiter)
Fri. March 26 - Mets @ Marlins (Jupiter)
Sat. March 27 - Mets vs Nationals (Port St. Lucie)
Sun. March 28 - Mets vs Cardinals (Port St. Lucie)
Mon. March 29 - Mets @ Marlins (Jupiter)
Tue. March 30 - Mets vs Cardinals (Port St. Lucie)
Wed. March 31 - Mets vs Marlins (Port St. Lucie)
Thu. April 1 - Mets vs Nationals (Port St. Lucie)
Fri. April 2 - Mets @ Rays (Tropicana Field)
Sat. April 3 - Mets @ Orioles (Sarasota)

Other schedules out (teams in the Grapefruit League not playing the Mets) include Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Toronto

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mets TV

I saw this and thought it was worthy of posting. I've been behind for a couple days reading all the other blogs, so maybe someone else posted it too.

SNY will have a new series called "Mets Yearbook" that follows "Mets Hot Stove". "Mets Yearbook" has 27 half-hour season highlight films from 1962 to 1988 (mostly before my time, but it's always good to learn about Mets history before we're doomed to repeat it). I don't know what happened from 1989 through 2009. Pete Dougherty, Sports Media Columnist from the Albany Times Union (that's a newspaper) in his blog says "The films originally were produced as marketing tools shown at local schools, churches, scout groups, etc., and haven’t aired on TV, according to the network".

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Baseball Oddity

Did you know that Minor League Baseball's International League has only American teams while Major League Baseball's American League is international?

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Friday, October 30, 2009

A Programming Note

In scanning the TV listings for Classic MLB Baseball, I saw that MLB Network will be showing the 1969 World Series this weekend.

Sat (10/31) 10am - Game 1 (the Mets first World Series game)
Sat (10/31) 12:30pm - Game 2 (the Mets first World Series game win)
Sat (10/31) 3pm - Game 3 (the first World Series game at Shea)
Sun (11/1) 9:30am - Game 4
Sun (11/1) 12pm - Game 5 (the Mets win their first World Series)

and with a few replays
Sun (11/1) 7:30pm - Game 4
Mon (11/2) 3pm - Game 5
Sun (11/8) 7:30pm - Game 5
Sun (11/8) 10pm - Game 4
Mon (11/9) 8:30am - Game 2
Mon (11/9) 11am - Game 3

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It is 3-3 in this madhouse called Shea

I have 2 distinct sets of memories of Game 7 of the 1986 World Series, which took place 23 years ago today. The first is of the first 7 innings, give or take a few pitches. It was the first time I sat down to watch a Mets game with an interest in watching it. The second is of the last 1 1/2 innings and some of the postgame show. I can almost recite that part of the TV broadcast word for word.

The first 7 innings I watched on TV live. I don't remember much about it since I haven't watched the replay/tape/DVD that often. I watched it for the first time about 10 years ago on Classic Sports or ESPN Classic or whatever it was called at the time. Watching the game then, there were a lot of little things that I remembered from the live broadcast (I couldn't even tell you what they were now). Things like Keith Hernandez shaking his head at the airplane flying overhead during his at bat in the 1st (I'm cheating and watching the DVD now). Lots of those "I remember that" moments for whatever portion of the game they showed then. It really was a good game, and not just a Mets romp, which I tend to forget.

Boy Shea got loud when the Mets woke up to tie the game in the 6th. Seemed to fit in with the 1986 Mets season. Mets fans really are the best, or were 23 years ago.

By my calculations, if the game started at 8pm (probably a few minutes after), then the end of the 7th was around 10:30pm. That would make sense. At 8 years old, on a school night, my bedtime was probably 10:30pm, and this baseball/Mets thing was a bit new and my parents didn't know what to do. My dad set up a tape in the VCR at some point before I had to go to bed, and the rest of the game I know from watching that tape over and over and over again.

I probably wore out that tape watching it so much. I probably memorized most of the spoken words from that part of the broadcast. You could feel the excitement in the air from watching on TV. The Mets had it in hand. Vin Scully was a poet at the microphone.
It's so noisy at Shea that you can't hear the airplanes.

High drive into deep right field. Evans back, at the wall. GONE!

Joe, you just lost your house.

And the Sox are down to their last strike, and this crowd is really ready to reach the heavens now.

A sidebar - the video tape, which is probably long gone, had the markings of a tape that had taped over, in that my dad may have taped the whole game, and taped something over the first about 2 1/2 hours. the tape did that speed-up thing that our VHS tapes did when coming out of a newer recording to the older recording on the tape. it did that just as Carter was grounding out to Spike Owen to end the 7th after the pitching change. I told you I memorized many things from the broadcast. I'll swear that it was Back to the Future taped over the first 7 innings, or however it was arranged, and I'll also swear that the same tape, after whatever post-game show NBC had that we taped was the Opening Day festivities from WOR. I do remember running home from school on Opening Day in 1987...oh hell, I'll save that one for next Opening Day. The tape is probably long gone to prove/disprove what I remember, but I have the important parts (Back to the Future, Game 7, and the Opening Day ceremony) on DVD.

When they get through the 9th, even though I've seen this at least 100 times in the past 23 years, I still feel the anticipation (not the type that I would have felt watching live or not knowing the outcome) of the Mets winning and the final out.

It's a bit weird for me to see Shea before the blue makeover was complete (it finished somewhere around 1987 or 1988, along with the new RF scoreboard screens). It's not quite the weirdly-colored Shea of the 60s and 70s, and not the all blue Shea with orange/blue/green/red seats that I knew for about 20 years. It's something in between.

Mets World Series Trivia - who were the 3 people in uniform for BOTH of the Mets World championships?

More trivia - 2 of the quotes are calls from the game (where a play was made). Can you put them both in context?

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

The game that got me started

Well, 23 years ago today was the day that started it all for me. I'm talking about one of the biggest comebacks in baseball history. Game 6 of the '86 'Series. I have no recollection of any games from 1986 or before, except for the one I attended as a clueless kid in mid-September, before this game. I really don't remember anything from the first 9 1/2+ innings of the game either, aside from the video tape and DVD in much much later years. That bottom of the 10th is engrained in my memory though.

As an 8 1/2 year old with a future closer to the sciences than the arts, I remember that night as being the night we changed the clocks back to end Daylight Savings Time, and that I was even allowed to stay up well past midnight as my parents had friends over to watch the game. In fact, the nights of Game 6 of the World Series and ending DST coincided up until a couple years ago when both were pushed back. I thought I might get to be up to see 1am twice. I almost saw it once that night. Instead (and staying up that late at that time in my life was a pipe dream), I saw something much bigger and much more memorable.

I saw the greatest comeback in baseball history and it made me a fan forver. It made me a Mets fan forever. The bottom of the 10th is my flagship baseball moment. I have the audio of the bottom of the 10th from WHN (Mets) radio with Bob Murphy and Gary Thorne. Bob Murphy, forever the voice of the Mets, captured the hope and joy perfectly on radio. I'm listening now, with the DVD cued up for later today. An abbreviated transcript from Bob Murphy (in blue) and Gary Thorne (in orange):
Veteran relief right-hander Bob Stanley being brought on now by John McNamara. Stanley has pitched effectively in this World Series. He'll be pitching to Mookie Wilson. The Mets were down to their final strike. Ray Knight kept it going with a base hit.
Boston 5, New York 4. The first two batters up in the home 10th inning were retired. Three hits in a row. Gary Carter, a single to left. Kevin Mitchell, a single to left. Ray Knight with a two strike count, a single into Centerfield, scoring Gary Carter. Now, one more hit and the Mets, for the third time tonight, would have come from behind and tied this ballgame.
Bottom half of the 10th inning. Red Sox, one out away from a World's Championship. Stanley in the set position, the pitch. Foul ball, skidding off the bat handle, and again, the Mets are down to their last strike.
Stanley really anxious to get it overwith. He's getting the ball back and almost quick pitching. So Mookie will step out on him to slow him down a little bit. 2 balls and 2 strikes. Mets have only one strike left.
Stanley is ready. The pitch. Gets away! Gets away! Here comes Mitchell! Here comes Mitchell! Tie game! Tie game!

Unbelieveable, a wild pitch!
The game is tied 5 to 5. Mitchell comes in to score. Knight, the winning run is on second.
Mookie Wilson, still hoping to win it for New York. 3 and 2 the count. And the pitch by Stanley, and a ground ball trickling, it is a fair ball. Gets by Buckner. Rounding 3rd, Knight. The Mets will win the ballgame. The Mets win! They win!
Unbelieveable, the Red Sox in stunned disbelief!
A slow ground ball went right through the legs of Buckner, down the rightfield line. The Mets have won the ballgame. 3 runs in the bottom half of the 10th inning. 3 runs in the 10th inning. They were down to their final strike twice, in the bottom half of the 10th inning. They win the ballgame!

I won't go into the "why's", which are really from Boston's side. Or the "what if's". I just enjoy it. Bob Murphy's call of the 10th which I probably recorded one Christmas Day from WFAN when they would play the tape rather than have someone on air. I didn't know and probably couldn't have understood at the time that he was the guy hired to call Mets games 25 years earlier to work with the Hall of Fame player and Network-caliber broadcaster, getting his first chance in the World Series. Vin Scully's priceless work on NBC. I didn't know and probably couldn't have understood at the time that he used to call games in New York for a team that left nearly 30 years before. Or that he was a Hall of Famer who would still be going strong on a reduced schedule 23 years later. Or that Boston hadn't won in 67 years (at the time), and in numeric synergy, would win 18 years later breaking their drought of 86 years. It was just a magic moment that would make me a fan.

The story continues in 2 days (remember that the Mets only won Game 6 to tie the series, winning the right to play one more game, and that game would be rained out the next night).

Never Forget '69 has the transcript of the entire bottom of the 10th inning.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Today was a very special day

Reposting with more links:
I wasn't alive on this date 40 years ago, so I won't attempt to remember myself what happened on this date 40 years ago. So I'll defer to two other blogs who are good with this sort of thing.

On CenterfieldMaz, The Amazing Mets Win the 1969 World Series.

On Never Forget 69, 40 Years Ago Today.

And of course, on Faith and Fear's Flashback Friday, Greg remembers his first.

Of course, today is the 40th anniversary of the Mets winning their first world series. What a day it must have been. Tom Seaver should crack open a bottle of his finest vintage today to celebrate. I'm sure Mets Fan #1 Howie Rose is a bit misty eyed thinking about this day too.

Update: Several more blogs have checked in with their posts on the 1969 World Champion New York Mets.

Mets Walk-Offs And Minutiae wishes Happy Anniversary, 1969 Mets.

The Eddie Kranepool Society asks Where were you on October 16, 1969?

Blogging's own Dana Brand is quoted in an article by Mark Herrmann in Newsday talking about the 1969 championship, along with Al Weis from that team.

Much to my pleasure, we hear from Howie Rose writing on MLB.com about the 1969 championship.

Marty Noble also penned an article on MLB.com for the event with quotes from Davey Johnson. More on Davey in about 10 days.

Sadly, The Real Dirty Mets Blog in their daily This Day In Infamy With Rusty post did not include the 1969 World Championship. But from them, I do know to wish a happy 50th birthday to former Mets LF Kevin McReynolds.

Also, I received an email from reader Angelo Fusaro, who was at Shea 40 years ago today on a $10 ticket (and collected a patch of grass), said that the NY Daily News ran a list of "This Day In Sports History" itemizing 15 events of October 16 that did NOT include the Mets championship. I don't have access to the print edition (page 94) and the online edition doesn't show this list. Thanks Angelo and shame on the NY Daily News for excluding a very big moment in Sports History from This Day In Sports History.

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Bad Call Down the Line

After watching highlightes of the Yankees-Twins game from last night with the very badly blown call on the LF line, I decided to repost something funny I wrote back in July. If you didn't see the play, a ball bounced a few inches on the fair side of the LF line, there was an umpire right there (they have LF and RF line umps in the playoffs), and the ball bounced up into the crowd. It was called foul. TBS had a camera on the foul poll clearly showing it was fair. The ump and camera were both about the same distance from the bouncing ball. It may have cost the Twins a chance to re-take the lead in the 11th. Anyway, back to something somewhat related that I wrote back in July.

I like watching the big Tennis tournaments, so here's a thought with that in mind.

Imagine baseball's replay system (or even football's) if they used the technology and speed used for replays at Wimbledon & the US Open?

(Gary) "A pop up down the line. Sheffield over. It falls in fair territory. Utley to second standing. And Sheffield raises his hands asking for a review. Let's take a look Keith."
(replay system shows the ball landing just outside from the line, in foul territory, calling it "FOUL".)
(Keith) "It's called out, Gar. Good eyes by Sheffield out there in left."
(Gary) "So they'll replay the pitch."
(Keith) "Mets caught a break there, Gar. They didn't have that in my day."
(Gary) "Ronnie, as a pitcher, how does that affect you?"
(Ron) "Uh.... Just treat it like you would if it were called foul in the first place."

A few nights later, Gary and Ronnie on SNY had a play in a game against the Dodgers at was a candidate for this type of replay. Without mentioning this blog, or the specific (joking) example noted here, they did bring up the idea of the tennis replay in passing before having the thought put to bed by the showing of their sponsored replay.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What a Weekend - Part 2

What a weekend indeed. Saturday was the GKR Main Event at Citi Field. Sunday was the Mets season finale and the drive for 70 wins. I'll reserve comment on the 70 wins for another day. Sunday really wasn't bad. I was considering in the morning not going. My friend that I was planning on going with decided Saturday night not to go. We each had an extra ticket that we couldn't get rid of. So I went alone. I wasn't letting the pre-paid parking pass go to waste either, so I drove to the ballpark (something I don't like doing). I did find it was exactly 40.0 miles from my apartment building to the parking space in Citi Field's lot, somewhere in what was left field at Shea.

Sunday was a beautiful day, weather-wise. A beautiful day for baseball. A bit of sadness that the season was coming to an end, but good riddance to it. No batting practice after Saturday's long day. No real need at this point. Still, the fans came out, pushed to the outfield sections along the foul line to try to get players' attention (the relief corps went out for some stretching and throwing, which was the only action on the field), and a few of those guys stayed for a long time to sign. Lots of kids down there too. I've started to think it's better for autographs when there is no BP and just the relievers because there's less going on at field level and less people from the club watching and possibly discouraging positive fan interaction (and yes, going back to the Willie Randolph days, I do feel that to a degree. Just come out to Spring Training at Tradition Field with me and tell me there's good player-fan interaction before a game).

I did get to meet fellow blogger Ed Leyro of Studious Metsimus. We really should have a bloggers day/night at the ballpark to get to know one another.

I decided just to try out the new fad of not sitting in your seat and wandering around the ballpark to watch the game from the open concourses. It's a different experience. First, I felt no real reason to stay in my seats. They suck. I said that from day one. But I got a chance to see the imagery that's been added since the last time I was there in August. What they added was nice. I'm glad they did it. It would have been nice to see "space reserved" back on Opening Day to show the promise and forward thinking of images to come rather than doing this based on complaints. I see a real black-and-white theme to the images. And they're sponsored, which for a photo company is a good opportunity but for a fan, it shows no real investment by the club (this wasn't exactly prime advertising space they gave up). Maybe if Kodak sponsored it, the images would be in color.

I really don't like walking around during the game. I never did. I miss so much. I had a walkman, which helped, but still. I find it more enjoyable sitting and watching from one location. That's just me.

It was a good game. Maybe one of the best all year. Weekend sweep. Got to 70 wins. And the complete game shutout by Nelson Figueroa. What a game. What a story Figueroa was. And he's a good guy, always signing autographs. A model player from that respect. We need a person like that on the Mets, and we need a guy like that either as the number 5 or long man/spot starter. Remember that roster debacle back in April. We almost lost him. We did lost him and were damn lucky to get him back. A few moves where we were damn lucky to get someone just to fill a position for the final quarter of the season.

After the game, not well publicized or known to some stadium staff was a DynaMet Dash with Mr. Met (run the bases). This one was set up for all fans. I had heard something during the week about it being only for season ticket holders. Lots of kids went. I asked a security guard and he said everyone. Even the guy on the street could get in since nobody checked tickets. They lined us up after the game on 126th Street from the bullpen gate back to the subway tracks (breaking at walkways and driveways). The line even turned the corner on Roosevelt Ave. They brought us in through the bullpen entrance to the warning track (almost picking up where I had left off from Saturday), down the RF line to first base, and over the grass onto the infield (they had a tarp down to protect the grass). Around the infield with the customary security telling us to keep on moving, and down to home plate, and back under the tunnel under the stadium and out to the LF VIP entrance. That was good, right by my car.

And that was it. 2009 was over. A few photos now.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

F-You, F. Wilpon

If I had seen Fred Wilpon greeting fans at either Saturday's or Sunday's game, this is what I would have said to him (somewhat of an assumption is that he's thanking fans for coming out to see the Mets and that he doesn't apologize for anything).
Mr. Wilpon, I think you owe me more than a "thanks for coming". I think you owe me an apology. You owe all fans an apology. You should step up to the microphone and say to the fans and media, "I'm sorry for the way things turned out. I'm sorry for all the injuries. I'm sorry for the bad play. I'm sorry for what happened with Adam Rubin and Tony Bernazard. I'm sorry for 2009. The buck stops here, and I accept full responsibility."

OK, that last line is a bit corny and dripping with a punchline.
Mr. Wilpon, even with that, I can't accept your apology. I'm not sure why, but I can't. But it's good that you said it. It was a start. But you owe us more. You owe me more.

What about (the absurdly high) ticket prices? What about (deceptive) ticket packages? Why so expensive to park your car at the ballpark? Where are the Mets colors? Where is the Mets Hall Of Fame? Why did we have to force you to put up the Mets (championship outfield wall) banners? Why did we have to force you to put up Mets photos and "imagery"? Why is it all black-and-white? Why are there no statues (like of Tom Seaver, "The Franchise")? Why were so many photos and banners sold (online and then at auction). Why haven't more numbers been retired? Why couldn't you have fixed/renovated Shea?

That's worked in other ballparks.
Why not (formally call it) the "Gil Hodges Bridge", and in front of it, "The (Mike) Piazza"? Why not "Casey Stengel Plaza" (behind the Promenade Club over the Rotunda)? Why not allow us to congregate at a bar called "The Happy Recap"? Why are the pieces of Shea (scoreboard skyline and home run apple) hidden (behind the big scoreboard and behind the bullpens respectively)? Why have so many restricted areas? Why focus on suites and corporate instead of the fans?

I think they'll learn the hard way what happens when the fans stop showing up.
Why didn't you have the banners out where everyone could see them? Why did you get away from the familiar names of "Loge", "Mezzanine", and "Upper Deck" and their familiar colors in favor of country club names and a generic color? Why didn't you see the (seating) obstructions?

Why didn't you stop and review medical practice and procedure when players started dropping like flies? Why were so many players trying to rest an injury only to end up on the DL? Why were we strung along to think there was real hope for all these guys? Why was there no depth in the farm system? Why were we made to believe that the core group was a winning group? Who is supposed to be accountable for the endings of the past 4 seasons? Why do we continue to build the team up only to see it fall down again after a few years?

Other bloggers have written their own letters or purging their ill will, and I'll go read them now. I purposely didn't want those opinions to get in the way of my own.

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

What a Weekend

Yes, what a weekend indeed. The Mets swept the Astros, limped to the 70 win mark, and finished the season. I got 2 more wins under my "witness" belt, and finished the season at Citi Field at 7-0 (with one loss that I never actually saw). I got to go on the field twice. I got to meet/see a few of my fellow bloggers.

Let me give a shout out to Dana Brand, Greg Prince and Jason Fry, Steve Keane, Zoe Rice, Lynn Cohen, and from Sunday, Ed Leyro.

Lynn Cohen did a great job setting up the GKR event. We were a bit cramped down in the Citi Field party area. A lot of GKR supporters came out despite the weather. A lot of GKR supporters came out despite the Mets. That's a big outfield. In some of the photos, you can get an appreciation of how many of us there were on the warning track. We came in from left field near the foul line, and a single line wound all the way to the right field foul line and then down the LF foul line towards 3B. I was somewhere in right centerfield just before the bullpen. That outfield wall is big, almost like you can't even see up into the crowd from the field. It looks big on TV, but seeing it in person from that level you really can see just how big it is.

They had t-shirts (some cool new designs and some other ones that I remember seeing earlier in the year. My collection is now up to 7 (and I do wear them a lot). And raffles. I won a pin from an instant winner scratch off. And I won one of the raffle prize baskets (on a single ticket even). That was really cool. Mine had a GKR hat, a t-shirt (one that I wanted but didn't buy because they didn't have my size), a pen and circular key chain (I guess) medallion with the circular Mets logo on one side and the Citi Field Ceremonial Groundbreaking logo and date on the other side. That's pretty cool to add to the collection.

Thank you to Lynn and the GKR "elfs" for all of their hard work putting Saturday together, bringing all of us together, and getting us onto the field. I've already seen on the GKR site that they did better than last year in raising money, so job well done! And thanks to Gary Cohen and Ron Darling for coming down, hanging out with fans, signing autographs and posing for pictures. Keith, we missed you down there.

I did end up staying through most of the rain delay, towards the end just hanging out in the party area talking to people (mostly Dana Brand), staying that long mostly because my plans at night weren't until later (no stopping at home in between) and I would rather wait at Citi Field (under cover) than in outside in Newark in case the rain didn't go away. I ended up leaving just as the skies cleared and the train left the station just a minute or so before the first pitch of the resumed game. Oh well. 5 innings with a lead counts towards my overall record (since they held the lead, much like the rules for a pitcher getting a win).

In no particular order, photos from the GKR portion of the day and a short video from walking onto the field.

It's late and I'm tired, and the GKR event really deserves its own post, so Sunday's game will be posted tomorrow.

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Put It In The Books

It's over! Finally! This season of misery is finally over. We can officially transition into winter baseball mode, counting down to Spring Training.

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Saturday, October 3, 2009

It's Almost Over

I'm tired. I need a watchdog. When the time comes to plan my Spring Training trip, and I start talking about doubleheaders (which are really day-night split-stadium doubleheaders), talk me out of it. I left the Mets game today during the rain delay and heard the resumption of the game on the radio on the train just after it left the ballpark, got to the Devils game, and was tired before it even started. Left that game early too as a matter of being tired and not having to wait in Newark for an extra 45 minutes.

I'll do a writeup on the GKR day and other thoughts after I get home from tomorrow's game. I couldn't shake my extra seat. My friend and ticket-partner who had the other 2 seats couldn't shake his and decided it wasn't worth it for himself. So I have 4 seats to myself in Section 405. Come say hi. I'm pretty sure I won't back out, but I don't know.

It makes me think of this. These days, late in the season, is it worth it to go to a game that you've already paid for (and in my case for Sunday, pre-paid for the parking) when there's very little enjoyment, plus tolls (from NJ) and food costs? Or is it just better to cut the losses, consider the ticket and parking a donation to a Madoff victim (if that makes you feel better), and do other things (or nothing at all) instead? I committed to this game back in March and I hate backing out of a game once it's been purchased.

Remember this thought when the time comes to buy your season or partial ticket packages.

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Friday, October 2, 2009

Too Little, Too Late

The Mets put out a press release and an email announcing that season ticket prices will be reduced by 10% to 20% for next season. I'm still trying to process that thought. Studious Metsimus, MetsPolice, MetsPolice again, and again, Loge13, and Citi Field of Dreams among others have this one covered.

There's a lot of ill will from Mets fans towards Fred and Jeff Wilpon and the rest of the Mets ownership. I fell it too. I have a post that I wanted to have ready now but expect it to be next week where I address Fred Wilpon directly. My Summer Family, and Faith and Fear In Flushing have that sentiment covered too.

Meanwhile, The Daily Stache looks at the big question what if bloggers ran the Mets?

I'll get to reading all of these posts soon, along with others soon. I'll be at the final 2 games of the season. And on Monday, we'll be in off season mode. Spring Training games start on March 2 against the Braves (thanks to Gary Cohen for saying that on air tonight).

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A few programming notes

A few items of note while I try to figure out what to write here on the Mets ticket prices for next year (to which, I may hold my final word until I see a pricing chart)...

SNY's own Ron Darling will be working the Yankees playoff series for TBS. That's a battle for my senses - the most evil baseball team and the best analyst in the game. Ronnie will be paired with Chip Caray on TBS's lead team for the Division Series and NLCS. (Thanks to Neil Best for that tip). No word if anyone of note will be on ESPN Radio, but Neil has all 4 pairings on TBS.

NHL Center Ice has a free 3 week preview to start the season. On most cable companies (primarily those with inDemand programming), that also means a bonus free preview of MLB Extra Innings for the last 4 days of the season (started last night). So in most cases, check out the channels before spending the $69 for the pennant race package. Schedules for both are available on their respective websites.

I'll be out in the crowd with the GKR group on Saturday and then back in the worst seasts in the house, section 405, on Sunday to serenade the Mets.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Mr. Met

Yesterday we received word that Jose Reyes has a torn hamstring in addition to the tendon problem he's had all summer. I'm just thinking that whoever it is sticking pins in the Mr. Met voodoo doll, STOP! It's not funny anymore. Well, at least nobody was killed.

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Meet the Mets

Meet the Mets, beat the Mets,
Step right up, defeat the Mets.
Bring your kiddies, bring your wife,
Guaranteed to have the time of your life.
Because the Mets are really droppin' the ball,
Watching those home runs over the wall.
East side, West side, everybody's coming down,
To beat the M-E-T-S Mets, of Brooklyn town.

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I give up

Just make it stop! Please! I can't watch, I can't listen, I can't even read about it anymore. 5 in the 9th off K-Rod to lose the game. Meanwhile, his old team clinches the division without his 162 saves. The Mets aren't even trying. Jerry Manuel is not even trying. They stopped trying around the same time they stopped getting hurt. Reyes is was trying. And he got hurt again, and he hasn't played since May.

I'm going to the game on Saturday to sit with the GKR group. That should be interesting - lost of Mets fans that mostly otherwise wouldn't be at the game at this point in the season from hell concentrated in one part of the ballpark to watch the game.

I'm going to the game on Sunday to sit in my "regular" seats, hopefully in those for the last time, where at least there will be some obstructions keeping me from seeing what goes on on the field.

Just make it end! Please!

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Monday, September 28, 2009

My Last Days At Shea - Part 4 - In My Life

This is part 4 in a 4 part series on my last days at Shea Stadium. This is the story of the "Shea Goodbye" ceremony.

So the season is over. Playoff hopes are gone. And all in the blink of an eye. A day that started with a bit of uncertainty now has a concrete ending. Shea Stadium has seen its last official pitch, and all that was left was the closing ceremony. A bit of a wait to set up the field. Not a good wait. Most fans stayed around after the loss to see this. It looked like a few couldn't bear to watch the rest.

Mr. Met came out to tear down the last number to reveal a Citi Field logo at the end of the countdown. Boos, but not for Mr. Met, but rather what his actions revealed (oh what a telling sign that was).

There was a great parade of former Mets and those affiliated with the club since the opening of Shea. A good mix of the different winning eras and some of the losing eras. Howie Rose read with excitement each name as the player came out from a bullpen down the side warning track to the edge of the infield grass. Quite a collection of the different white Mets jerseys. I could sense an order towards the end when they got to what I call the Mets dignitaries (Strawberry, Piazza, Koosman, Gooden, Seaver). They're all a bunch of names who's numbers belong painted on the outfield wall with the other retired numbers. There were a few players that I felt should have been included and names mentioned in their absense (such as the only manager to take the Mets to the playoffs and not be represented in some way, the first basemen from the greatest infield ever, or the "ace" of the staff before they got good again a dozen years prior to this parade). There also should have been something for the other teams that played at Shea, especially the Jets (the program from the final game had all that). Imagine Tom Seaver and Joe Namath on the same field together.

The best name to appear in terms of sentiment was Doc Gooden. A long time in absence from the Mets and Shea (he last appeared at Shea in a day-night doubleheader pitching for the Yankees against the Mets the same day that Clemens beaned Piazza in the other now-defunct ballpark). That felt really good to see him back in the good graces of Mets fans.

A video tribute to Mets baseball at Shea. A great scene of former Mets and former teammates coming together behind 2nd base from their different respective entrance lines and embracing. Doc and Darryl together in Mets jerseys for the first time in about 18 years.

The players came off the field towards home plate to touch the plate one last time, each to more ovation, and then one last pitch. Tom Seaver, the "franchise", and best pitcher the Mets have ever had, throwing to Mike Piazza, the greatest catcher that the Mets have ever had. Then they walked into the sunset together and out through the centerfield fence (the same place that I entered the field myself the day before) to the music of The Beatles' "In My Life" (and briefly before it, Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World". I will never be able to listen to "In My Life" again without thinking of this moment. I started to break down into tears when the song came on. One year later, listening to the song typing this, the same thing is happening.

The lights went off, it was close to sunset, fireworks went off, and that was it. At 6:22pm on September 28, 2008, Shea Stadium was closed for business. Nobody rushed the fans out of the ballpark. I got to stay for some time before I felt like I had to get my dad home. I walked slowly out for the last time.

"In My Life" was a very fitting song. I vaguely remember it on a history of the Mets video from the 1980s. And of course the Beatles connection to Shea. I think "In My Life" came on right when Seaver and Piazza hit the spot where the Beatles stage was for their first Shea concert behind 2nd base.

But the lyrics. Click that link and read the lyrics and tell me that it isn't the best set of lyrics for that moment.

Photos from the day:

Photo Day at Shea | The Santana Game | Shea Goodbye | In My Life

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My Last Days At Shea - Part 3 - Shea Goodbye

This is part 3 in a 3 4 part series entitled "My Last Days At Shea", celebrating the first anniversary of the closing of Shea Stadium. This is my story of the final game at Shea.

This was a tough ticket to get. Every real Mets fan wanted one. I got mine through the luck of the draw. Since late in the 2006 season, I was part of a group that split up season tickets (4 seats in the Mezz box, first base side, just out from the camera well). We had enough people in the group so that everyone had tickets for 4 games. We also had a rule for the premium games that you could only take 2 tickets instead of 4 (with the tradeoff being 2 tickets to another game at the end of our draft, meaning probably a weeknight in April against the Nationals). For whatever reason, 10 people ahead of me passed on the finale. That made it kind of easy to get.

To gameday itself, I had my dad with me. We had been going to games together at least once per season since my first game in 1986. We arrived at the ballpark around 10am. In all the years of going to games at Shea, including a few opening days and playoff games, I had never seen the place so crowded that early. Lines to get in at every gate. People just kind of looking around. And it started raining, so batting practice was more of a quiet time for fans to walk around and reflect on however many years they had spent there. More chances to walk around taking pictures of "empty Shea". More time to have one last walk down each concourse.

I saw a bit of commotion in the Loge concourse where the MeiGray group was selling for the first time Shea memorabilia (I have many posts accounting my delivery of these items and visiting the warehouse a few times). I figured in order to get what I wanted, I needed to stop, look through the catalog, and figure out what I had written down in the past on my "wish list". I wish I had known they were going to be there selling things.

Rain delay and just too much time to kill before starting the game. You can only walk around slowly so many times. The Mets had a very important game to play. They could clinch at least a tie for the Wild Card, possibly making the game acutally not the last game at Shea (either a playoff game or the playoffs). Confusing. But the Mets by the 7th inning simplified matters, as did the Brewers in their game against the Cubs.

Just like many other games for what Gary Cohen called "team tightrope", the Mets had an early lead, things were looking good, and it didn't last. After the rain delay, the Mets game started around the same time as the Brewers game. Both games ended around the same time. Both games' results were set at about the same time a few innnings earlier.

The season was over. Shea was closing. And then a way for the closing act.
I've decided to make this a 4 part series

Photo Day at Shea | The Santana Game | Shea Goodbye | In My Life

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

My Last Days At Shea - Part 2 - The Santana Game

This is part 2 in a 3 4 part series on my last days at Shea. I bring you now to the final Saturday of the season, the penultimate scheduled game at Shea. At the time, the Mets season was hanging on by a thread. One loss and it's over. Scoreboard watching to see what Milwaukee and Philadelphia would do to possibly get us in the playoffs desipte another late-season collapse.

I had never sat in the bleachers in left field. I'd always wanted to. Nothing special about being out there other than it was different. But I didn't want to leave Shea for the last time without having sat there. I'd sat just about everywhere else at Shea (speaking in terms of general areas). I'd been looking for a way in for probably the last 2 seasons. They didn't sell individual tickets out there, only groups. OK, how do I get myself into a group that can get me into the picnic area and bleachers? I can fake the interest if it gets me out there. I don't care what game it is.

And stepping up to the plate was GaryKeithAndRon, the charity organization run by Lynn Cohen, wife of Mets TV play-by-play man Gary Cohen. Their "main event" group outing, penultimate game at Shea. Too perfect. No need to fake interest here. If there's one group I'd want to support it's one affiliated with fan favorite broadcasters Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling. Picnic bleachers, 1,200 Mets fans, season on the line. This has the making of a great story. Let me add one thing, thrown in by the GKR group - anyone from the group wearing their t-shirt gets to walk on the warning track for the National Anthem. So now I get to sit in that elusive part of Shea, AND I get to be on the field. I was just glad the rain held off long enough to get the game in without much of a problem (there was about a 1 hour delay and the threat of heavy rain for the entire weekend).

I'm out at the ballpark early (as always, the first LIRR train from Penn Station to Shea), we get in and get our commerative pins and towels and I go to check out the sights (during BP). A different perspective on looking at "empty Shea" in its full vivid color. I get my food, GKR merchandise sale (I bought 3 more t-shirts), and appearances by Gary and Ron, all with a delay in the game while the fans are told to line up in the back to come out on the field. Somehow, with the delay and extra time and whatever else it was, I managed to be the first person standing in one of the two lines. I've got the camera ready to capture this one. First person on line isn't walking behind people to come on the field, only someone from the stadium security leading the group. First person on line gets to go as far down as they'll let us (which was to the foul line initially, then when the crowd swelled up so much, it was over the line and down a few feet).

For the game, well, it became known as "The Santana Game" in Mets lure, just like "The Imperfect Game" and some others. Our new ace Johan Santana came out on 3 days rest and pitched a complete game shutout (it was later revealed that he had a bum knee for at least that game and possibly even the entire month of September). Mets win 2-0. He kept the season going one more day. And that's another story.

A big "thank you" goes out to Lynn Cohen and the rest of the GKR group for setting this up, timing it perfectly in the Mets season, and allowing us onto the field. At the time of this writing, I have 5 of their t-shirts now and am looking forward to the 2009 "main event" group outing at the new ballpark on the final weekend of the season.

Photo Day at Shea | The Santana Game | Shea Goodbye | In My Life

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My Last Days At Shea - Part 1 - Photo Day At Shea

The first anniversary of Shea Stadium's final game is upon us. So it's time to write about my last days at Shea. And I don't mean to infringe upon the title of the new book "The Last Days At Shea" by fellow blogger Dana Brand (which you can buy from amazon.com linked to on the right half of this blog). This is my story.

I start with a less exciting game. Actually games. I was at Shea's final doubleheader, a "regular" doubleheader to boot (as opposed to those greedy day-night doubleheaders). The story starts back in August when I got a new digital camera (I had one already, but after almost 5 years, they've improved in quality to the point where pictures look good). I decided that I wanted to have a day to spend at Shea to say goodbye. Walk around the park, poping out from different sections in different levels, taking pictures, and just looking around. It was easiest for me to find a weekend game, and there was a 4:05pm game against the Braves in September, so I didn't have to be up early in the morning and I could get some nighttime photos after the game with the neon signs illuminated (and yet not have to rush back to make the last train back to NJ). Anyway, 4:05pm game, timing worked out. Until it rained the day before and the Friday game was cancelled (acutally, there were 6 games postponed on Friday including in both NY stadiums). That led to 21 games being played on Saturday (with 5 doubleheaders played and one postponed). I saw 2 games on the single, cheap, back row Mezzanine ticket I had for Saturday. Good. 2 games to spend walking around Shea taking pictures. I get both daytime and nighttime photos. Perfect.

The games, for as much as I saw (and listened to on the radio), were somewhat of a microcasm of the 2008 Mets season, especially in the first game. Santana pitched for national TV, the Mets had a lead in the 8th, Santana left the game ahead 2-0, and 2 pitchers later in the 8th, the Mets were down 3-2. Jon Niese pitched and won in the 2nd game going 8 strong innings and the Mets won 5-0 in front of about 10,000 fans left in the ballpark.

It was also my first glimpse of the MeiGray Shea catalog (which at the time seemed like picking out the items in Grandma's house that you wanted to take before she was put in the old folk's home). Some sort of pre-sale and preview of items. Enough about them for now, other than to say cataloging the items must have like being a kid in the candy store.

I think walking around the inner ramps of Shea was like walking a condemmed man down the Green Mile. It was a last look, somewhat captured on (digital) film, from just about every part of Shea. One thing in particular I wanted then, that I was thinking about this week reading some posts from other Mets blogs, was getting what I call "empty Shea", where I can see the broadness of the seating bowl and its different levels in their full colorful glory before the fans in their various colored jerseys filled in the seats. When I think about Shea, I want to remember the colors. Citi Field makes those memories even more colorful.

In the end, I walked the concourses on each level, I got out to see the field from different angles (just to have fresh pictures of what that all looked like), and I even got what I call my "postcard" shot from the last row in the Upper Deck looking out to the entire field. I got everywhere except to the outfield bleacher seats. At the time, I still hadn't been there. That was going to change.

This is a very small sampling of photos from that doubleheader day, as well as the final two games.

Photo Day at Shea | The Santana Game | Shea Goodbye | In My Life

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Something Blue

From MetsBLog.com comes the direction that we should all wear blue at Citi Field next season.
Next season, I’d like to see every Mets fan who attends Citi Field wearing a blue shirt… nothing but blue… wear a blue Mets jersey, where a generic blue t-shirt, a blue jacket, this Mets jacket, whatever… but make it blue… this way, Citi Field will get the splash of blue paint it is sorely missing.

That puts my black jersey, snow white jersey, and white pinstriped jersey to waste, but I will be wearing blue for the game on October 4 (after my GKR t-shirt on October 3).

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The Onion Strikes Again

Another one from The Onion making fun of the Mets with excellent humor.

NEW YORK—With Citi Field attendance during Sunday's matchup barely reaching 70 percent, Mets pitcher John Maine let fans who actually came to see the bottom two NL East teams play shout out pitch requests during Nationals at bats. "What's that? A slider? I haven't thrown that old classic in a while, but I'll give it a go," Maine said during the fourth inning. "All right, submarine pitch, then a palm ball. That's a weird one, but if you want to see me throw one of those, let's hear you scream!" Requests were no longer accepted after a teenage boy asked Maine to "throw something faster than 91 miles per hour," to which Maine responded, "Shut the hell up."

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I'm Bored - Let's Play Trivia

No prize other than bragging rights...but a Mets trivia question for you.

Of all the players who have played for the Mets, only a few have become broadcasters for the club too. Of those select few, who is the only one to never win a World Series with the Mets (as a player)? I can't make it multiple choice because seeing the name would probably give away the answer, but can you name him?

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Injured Players

Here is an interesting take on injuries for the 2009 Mets. The following players from this season's roster did not play during the NHL's entire off season (defined here as the time between the end of the Stanley Cup Finals, June 12 and the first exhibition game, September 14):

  • Carlos Delgado - last game was May 10

  • Jose Reyes - last game was May 20

  • Ramon Martinez - last game was June 2

  • J.J. Putz - last game was June 4

John Maine missed being on this list by one day - he returned on September 13 after pitching June 6.

OK, I actually thought there were more players on this list. But when you consider 2 offensive keys and 2 of your top 5 pitchers (top 3 starters, setup man, closer) on this list, that spells doom.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Happy Birthday to the longtime voice of the Mets

Gary Cohen reminded us on the TV broadcast today that today would have been Bob Murphy's 85th birthday. Murph, for you younger fans, is what I call "Forever the Voice of the New York Mets".

Just as I did on the anniversary of his passing, I invite you to listen to his voice from a couple of posts from earlier this year.

First is a few minutes of play-by-play and banter during Spring Training with Gary Cohen.

Second is something that I put up just before Opening Day and is available on the right side of (every page in) this site. Just Bob Murphy talking about Shea.

And I invite you to read (or re-read) something from Faith and Fear In Flushing that Greg Prince sent me about a month ago and posted about a year ago, in which he transcribed Bob Murphy's account of the first half inning at Shea Stadium. I can read those words and just imagine his voice in my head.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

My first game and my biggest game

Thanks to Greg Prince of Faith and Fear In Flushing for sending this over a while back from his "Flashback Friday" archives. It's a writeup on the first ever game I saw at Shea Stadium, attending as an 8 year old non-fan pulled out of school, and it happened 20 years ago today (September 18, 1986), the day after the Mets clinched the division. I can't say I was hooked on the Mets immediately. That didn't happen until the end of Game 6 and then Game 7 of the World Series. Those are the only three games from the 1986 season/post-season that I even remember watching, even parts of.

I wish I had pictures. I wish I had the scorecard. I wish I had the ticket stub. All I remember was Hojo hit a home run and Rick Anderson pitched. Mets won 5-0. I found out years later that Greg Maddux pitched for the Cubs that day. You'll recognize the game in any highlights because of the green "band-aids" on the outfield grass (that's how my father explained to me what that was, while later Vin Scully called it "Sharks at feeding time"). This wasn't the regular Mets lineup.

Today is also the anniversary of the 2006 Mets clinching the division (many many similarities to the 1986 Mets). I attended that game along with my father to honor the 20th anniversary of my first game. I also knew when I picked the game in August that it would be that year's clincher. I have the ticket stub, program, photos, and video from the 2006 game.

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