Sigh…

I don’t even know what to say any more.  According to this story in the Daily News, there have been some interesting happenings involving Tony Bernazard and the B-Mets.  Apparently Tony B launched into a tirade about alleged underage drinking on the team, and proceeded to take off his shirt and challenge the players to a fight. 

Huh?   Who does this?  Admittedly, underage drinking on one of your minor league teams is a major problem and needs to be addressed.  But what in the world possessed this man to take off his shirt and challenge the players to a fight?  This, coupled with reports that have been going on for years about his interference and undermining of management, has to seal his fate and end his tenure with the Mets.  Oh, and this should help too:

“The News reported Tuesday that Bernazard, one of GM Omar Minaya’s top lieutenants,recently erupted at the organization’s manager of baseball operations. During a game at Citi Field, scouts took their customary seats in a row behind home plate. Bernazard showed up during play and wanted a seat occupied by a D-Backs scout. Bernazard’s deputy, already seated in the row, suggested to the Mets VP that he wait until the half-inning ended, to minimize the disruption. Bernazard ripped into his deputy with a profanity-laced tirade as scouts and patrons watched in disbelief.”

This guy sounds completely unprofessional.  I know if anyone in my office, VP or not, acted like that to anyone else, there would be severe consequences. 

Mets GM Omar Minaya will be holding a press conference originally schedule for 3:30, but now postponed to 4:30.  The Mets have put out a short statement saying, “We take these reports very seriously and are investigating the matter.”

Another issue I have with this whole thing is the management in Binghamton.  I’ve been thinking for awhile that there are management problems at the minor league level in terms of player development.  The front office is always high on talent, but players never pan out at the major league level.  I wonder if underage drinking is a symptom of a larger problem.  Namely, do the minor league managers not have the respect of their players?  If there’s no respect, the players can’t be taught the finer points of the game, which, to me, is the whole point of minor league baseball. 

The Endless Season

I haven’t blogged much this season. OK, I haven’t blogged at all this season.  Life kind of got in the way, with work and planning for a wedding next June.  Plus, the 2009 edition of the New York Mets hasn’t really inspired much to write about.  We’re at a point, however, where if I don’t write something about these Mets, they might drive me to the insane asylum.

In April and May, when we had our full compliment of everyday players, the Mets were a slightly above average team, keeping within striking distance of the division leader and grwoing accustomed to their new ballpark.  They hadsome hot spurts, which inspired confidence, and some down periods, which inspired panic and crazy trade ideas.  They took 2 out of 3 against the mighty Red Sox on Memorial Day weekend! I was in Connecticut with my future in-laws who happen to be Sox fans.  That was fun. After that series, I was sure they would take that momentum through June.

Then something happened.  Karma, bad luck, the wrath of the baseball gods, whatever.  The injury bug hit, and hit big time.  Down went Reyes, Delgado, Maine, Putz, Beltran.  They didn’t just go out the normal way either.  It started with a little “tightness” or “soreness”  that they kept playing through until it turned into a tear, or a bone spur, or a bruised bone.  Somehow the medical staff kept underestimating injuries until they turned into major, perhaps season-ending (still yet to be determined) injuries. 

Because of these injuries, the Buffalo Bisons started showing up at Shea Citi Field.  Soon, Jeremy Reed was our center fielder.  Fernando Martinez got his chance finally.  Then got injured.  As did Angel Pagan and Fernando Tatis.  Thus the injury bug hit our reserves too. 

Still, somehow I kept holding on to hope somehow.  Not anymore.  I was hoping the All-Star Break would give players a nice rest and they could come back and play decent ball.  Now, 9 games out of first, and with the Billy Wagner being the player nearest to coming off the DL, I can safely say: pack it in.  Bring up some young prospects to get some big league experience.  Let Jon Niese and Nelson Figueroa pitch.  What’ve we got to lose?  And if, by some miracle, we can come back and make it into the playoffs, wonderful.  I doubt it would ever happen, but maybe the Phillies can have a collapse even worse than our 2007 collapse.

This is the essence of being a Mets fan.  Experiencing losing season after season, especially in painful ways, is just part of our lives.  People wonder why CitiField honors the Dodgers so much and somewhat neglects the Giants portion of National League history in New York.  Compare the Mets to both teams.  Which team does this franchise more closely resemble? Maybe we can nickname the Mets “Dem Bums 2”

Citifield opens

Tonight, something that happens once (ok, maybe twice for Mets fans of my parents’ generation) happens in Flushing, NY.  My baseball team, the New York Metropolitans, officially move into their new digs at Citifield.  For all the fans in attendance, from young to old, this is a moment you tell your kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, anybody who will or is obligated to listen about.  For the rest of us, we’ll just have to tell stories about seeing the first game on TV, combined with our tales of Old Shea. 

The first Mets game at Shea was a loss, which set up decades of mostly futility, with some bright spots along the way.  Here’s to the Mets opening up Citifield with a win, and establishing decades of success and championships until that day, 44 years from now, when Citifield is deemed obsolete, and the future owner of the Mets wants to build the stadium he remembers from his youth:  A big, blue semi-circle with seating levels in orange, blue, green and red.

Until that day, we can enjoy Citifield as our home away from home.  It may not feel like it now, but no home feels right the first day you move in.  It takes time to establish memories of great plays, joys that seem too fleeting and down spells that seem like they will never end.  It may not feel like the Mets’ home ballpark right now, but all we have to do, as Mets fans, is show up, cheer for our team, and create a great atmosphere for baseball, and it will turn into our home by the end of the season. 

 

Pre-game- Mets vs. Reds, 12:35 PM

Staff meeting coming up, so I have to do this early.

The Mets go for a sweep of the first series of the season against the Cincinatti Reds at 12:35 Eastern Time today.  Oliver Perez starts for the Mets, while Bronson Arroyo takes the mound for the Reds.  Ollie is 9-4 against the Reds lifetime, and is 4-2 with a 3.91 ERA at Great American Ballpark.  Bronson Arroyo has received a cortisone shot for carpal tunnel discomfort, so keep an eye on him to see if he’s affected by it.

No official lineup yet, but it’s a day game after a night game with travel coming up tonight, so expect the lineup to be somewhat different (will Sheffield get some playing time?)  Also, it’s a Oliver Perez game, so the starting pitching could go either way.  I’m stuck at work, and can’t watch, so, once again, no significant post-game from me.

Let’s Go Mets!

MLB Musings

Some random thoughts on what’s happening around the league:

– The Nationals are off to a wonderful start, I see.  3 straight losses.  Living in DC, that makes me a little excited, since I can definitely get seats easily now. 

– The Phillies almost joined the Nats in the 0-3 department.  Fortunately for them, they got some help from the Braves’ bullpen yesterday and had a huge come from behind win.

– From the Department of the Absurd(ly Sober):  Apparently the Blue Jays didn’t sell beer at their second game of the season. Thanks to unruly fans at opening day, alcohol sales were suspended.  Even the players didn’t have alcohol in the clubhouse. 

– Finally, I’m loving how poorly the Yankees’ starting pitching is starting off the season.  I know it’s only 2 games in, but keep on truckin’ boys!

Happy Recap- Mets (2-0) 9, Reds (0-2) 7

WP- Mike Pelfrey (1-0), LP- Edison Volquez (0-1), S- Francisco Rodriguez (2)

My, oh my.  What an interesting game last night.  An emotional roller-coaster for sure.  First, the Mets took an early lead on a Carlos Delgado home run in the first inning.  Feelin’ alright about the game, we went into the bottom of the first, where the Mike Pelfrey train found the tracks after allowing 4 runs, aided by a Jose Reyes throwing error that could/should have been stopped by Delgado by getting off the bag.  Sure, the runner would have been safe, but that would have saved a run.

After his terrible first inning, though, Pelfrey found his groove and went on to pitch 4 scoreless innings.  I like that Manuel kept him in there to figure it all out, and his decision was well rewarded.  I was impressed with Pelfrey’s perseverance.  I don’t think Oliver Perez would show the same spirit.

Delgado had a great, 4 RBI game, starting with the aforementioned 2 run bomb.  Beltran and Schneider also made significant, multi-RBI contributions to give the Mets 9 runs of offense.

It almost wasn’t enough, though.  After Bobby Parnell came in and pitched a scoreless inning, Pedro Feliciano, Sean Green and JJ Putz combined to allow 3 runs over the next 2 innings, setting up a K-Rod save opportunity.  It was not drama-free.  Thanks to a couple of walks and a Delgado error, in which he came off the bag before catching the ball (!!!!) to catch the lead runner advancing to third, the bases were loaded with one out.  K-Rod proceeded to run the count full (he had control issues all night) before striking out Alex Gonzales.  Then Laynce Nix smacked a deep ball to right center which, off the bat, looked like it had a chance (my phone begins to dial the paramedics) but which died in Beltran’s glove on the warning track. 

Overall, not a pretty win (less than stellar pitching, a couple of crucial errors), but a win’s a win nonetheless.  All that matters is that the Mets are 2-0.  Clutch hitting saved the day today, with the most clutch hits of all coming from Beltran (not a surprise) and Schneider(pretty big surprise). 

Final thought-  I’m assuming Gary Sheffield is not ready to even pinch hit yet, since Jerry Manuel had a chance to utilize him a couple of times, but let Marlon Anderson and Fernando Tatis swing the bat instead.  I wonder if he’ll be ready this weekend. 

Late Late Edition- Mets 2, Reds 1

WP- Johan Santana (1-0), LP- Aaron Harang (0-1), S- Francisco Rodriguez (1)

I am extremely late at getting this out, and it won’t help anyone except the author, who gains a sort of catharsis in blogging about these games.  Again, I wasn’t able to watch or listen to the game, since I was at work.  I watched ESPN’s gamecast, which is nowhere near the real thing.  A couple of notes:

– Santana had a very good game considering the cold.

– Since Reyes and Wright are now the present of the Mets, is Daniel Murphy now the future?  If FMart pans out the way he’s supposed to, we could have an incredible outfield starting next year.

– First reaction to the revamped bullpen: well worth the money.  This is easily a game the bullpen blows last year.  As it is now, the Mets are 1-0 and on the road to perfection, where the UConn Lady Huskies now reside.

– Finally, I was able to catch Mets Extra before the game on the interwebs.   I was particularly interested in seeing what they did with the intro, since the 80s version of Meet the Mets had the line “Hot dogs, green grass, all at Shea…”  which is obviously obsolete now.  I was hoping they’d use the original 1962 version of the song (or, dare I say it, the 1986 classic “Let’s Go Mets!”?)(4, make that 5 punctuation marks in a row FTW!)  Alas, they did some weird editing and kept the first two lines of the 80s version and went into the sax solo part, which was very weird for me, since I know whats supposed to come next.

 

I will be watching tonight’s game, which will be my first Mets game on my newly ordered MLB Extra Innings package.  At some point this season, I want to try live-blogging, but not tonight.  I can only watch until 9, because Lost is on.  Hopefully nothing too crazy happens after then and I can accurately summarize the game.  Preview coming later.

Welcome back my friends…

It’s that time of year again.  When hope springs eternal, dreams seem real, and the Mets gun for a championship.  And then Sports Illustrated comes in and kills hope, shatters dreams, and dooms the Mets’ season by predicting that they’ll win it all.  So it is with this SI cloud over their head that the Mets take the field (hopefully) in their 47th season of professional baseball.

The Mets begin their season in Cincinnatti(sp?) in a game scheduled to begin at 1:10 PM today.  The weather forecasts in Cincy are not good, so there is a chance this game will be postponed.  For those keeping count, this is the 3rd straight season the Mets will start on the road.  You would figure that a new stadium could get them an actual Opening Day at home, but it’s not to be.  Not even the mighty Yankees could get a true Opening Day in their new stadium.

Tentatively, Johan Santana is slated to take on Aaron Harang in this season opener.  I’ll keep this updated as I hear more.  I’m blogging from work today, and since it’s a day game, I won’t be able to watch the game, so any post-game notes will be from the box scores.  Actually, maybe a rain/snow out doesn’t seem that bad anymore.

Shea is gone

After having served us Mets fans faithfully for 44 seasons, and after about 4 months of demolition, Shea Stadium is completely gone.  I will always have fond memories of the Sundays during the summers of my childhood that I spent at Shea.  Though it was the 90s, and the team was awful, I loved every minute of every game.  Loge 13 will always be in my heart.  I’ll always remember walking on the field with my dad on Banner Day, running around the short-lived Nickelodeon Extreme Baseball beyond the right field fence, having my parents tell me to put my ticket in my sock in case I get lost.  In those days, you could arrive early and hang out on the field level to watch batting practice and get autographs.  My autograph ball from those days has no room for any more autographs, it’s filled with names like Gooden, Strawberry, Cone, Hernandez, and Carter. 

I know that Citi Field is a beautiful ballpark, and I can’t wait to see a game there.  But there will never be anything like driving on the Grand Central Parkway and seeing that huge blue stadium come out of virtually nowhere.  Whenever it first came into sight, I always was amazed at how huge it was.  And now there’s nothing left but rubble.  And in a few weeks, that, too, will be taken away.  Then the paving begins, and there will be truly nothing left of Shea but memories, and a painted outline of the basepaths in the parking lot. 

When I was growing up, I always thought I would take my kids to see their first game at Shea, like my dad took me, even though I was so young I can’t remember it.  Now I need to change that mental image to that of Citi Field.  I’ll show them the painted basepaths, point out approximately where we used to sit.  I’ll show them pictures of the stadium, especially one I have on my desk at home of my dad and I (age 3) sitting in the Mezzanine.  Citi Field, to them, will become what Shea was to me.

It will be very strange for the first part of the season, watching the Mets play home games at a stadium I’ve never been to, watching fans sit in seats and mill around concourses that I’ve never sat in or walked around.  I won’t know the views these fans have.  For a little while, it will feel like the Mets are never playing home games.  Shea was home. 

Offseason Review

Overall, I think this was a fairly successful offseason for the Mets.  Could it have been better? Absolutely.  It also could have been a lot worse.  We got 2 Major League caliber closers for the pen, one via free agency, and the other via a trade that got rid of a reliever who just wasn’t working out.  We re-signed Ollie Perez without having to overpay for him too badly.  When you take what the team did last year and add the improvements of this offseason, the team wins the division.

The thing is, this is a different season.  Different challenges will arise.  Will the offense remain strong?  Can they get better by hitting in the clutch and in the later innings?  I have to believe that if the bullpen is better, the hitters will relax more and not press to get a hit, which often leads to unproductive outs.  The Mets are depending somewhat on a still-aging Carlos Delgado.  Can he be as good as he was at the end of last season?  Did he find a new approach that fits him better as an older player?  Is he taking a magic elixir (God I hope not)?

The great thing about Spring Training is that any team has the chance to be a contender, with a few exceptions.  At this time last year, who would have thought that the Rays would be AL Champs?  So as the long season approaches and we enter a new era of Mets baseball in a new stadium, we can only hope for the best.  No matter what though, we’ll stick with our team.  Let’s Go Mets!!!