Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye 2012

A no-hitter.  A 20 game Cy Young Award winner.  A third baseman signed for the future.  The Mets 74-88 record doesn't tell even half the story of the year for this team.  It doesn't tell the story of the thrill first half comebacks.  It only reveals the heartbreak from the second half of the season.

The personal feats are what made this year worthwhile.  David Wright being on an offensive tear for the first few months of the season.  R.A. Dickey being nearly unhittable and giving his catchers fits.  Howie Rose losing his mind calling the lost out of Johan Santana's no-hitter.

Numbers won't make you laugh about Ike Davis's plight with Valley Fever.  They won't tell you how much fun the Mets seem to have had at his charity event.  No statistic will describe just what Jeremy Hefner looks like in a tight football referee costume.  Tim Byrdak's bowling prowess can't be revealed by WHIP or ERA.  Jerry the Chicken didn't play a game for the Mets but he can't be left out.  Does anybody have a count of just how many times Wonderwall played before someone figured out how to use Justin Turner's iPod?

There are frustrating parts of every year.  The injuries, trades that weren't made, trades that were made, signings that backfired.  But all of those moves are part of building a team that brings unique memories no matter what.  A different team simply wouldn't have the same bonding moments.  In baseball you get to see many teams throughout the year.  In January there is only a skeleton of a roster.  By April it's a full team yet it still manages to evolve.  And once November rolls around it's a skeleton again.

Nobody knew R.A. Dickey would actually be that good.  Nobody knew the Mets would finally have a no-hitter in the books this year.  Heck, the year started not even knowing when Johan would pitch at all.  Yes, it ends without R.A. and more questions about Santana.  But it was all worth it for the thrill that each pitch brought this year.

2012 was historic.  2012 was worth it.

Let's Go Mets!

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Best Friend One Could Have

There are a lot of times when I find myself looking forward to the time between 3 and 4 PM. During baseball season it's when the Mets lineup is usually announced. It's the hour that starts best part of the day. A lot of times I essentially sleep-walk through the day until the Mets game starts. It is not the most productive way to spend my days, but sometimes it is what I have to do.

Baseball season encompasses six months of the year. Every day there is a game. It doesn't not show up because you got upset about the previous night's results. If a game is supposed to happen and it doesn't, it's rescheduled and is ultimately still there. Baseball doesn't care if you had a fight with your (ex)-best friend. It doesn't care if you're too sick to leave the house. Baseball will be there.

From April through September there will be bats and gloves and baseballs and teams playing games. Hundreds of teams playing every single day. The excitement of those five strikeouts in a row. The exhilaration of back-to-back home runs. For a few minutes nothing else has to matter. Put all the events together and you have hours where baseball can be the only thing in the world. Those afternoons and nights are the best parts of the day.

But they are also the most evil parts of the year. They're what makes those other months of the year so difficult. The weeknights when you stare at your homework for hours, simply because you have no reason to finish it early. The minutes and hours and days after a fight when you just desperately want something else to think about. Any time you need an escape from the reality of your own life.

It's what makes rumors, trades, and signings so big. They're the closest you can get to that escape. But the distraction of each isn't quite as long. So you need more. The rumors come pouring at you and you want them all to be true. Each new rumor brings you daydreams of that player making a diving catch and hitting a screaming line drive. You need them to be true because otherwise your moment in baseball bliss is over.

This is why the first sights of Spring Training are so amazing. No longer do you have to fantasize about the dirt-stained uniforms. The smack of bat to ball and ball to mitt is real once again. On August 11 these simple workouts would be a drag, but on February 11 they are the best thing in existence.

The alternate reality comes back. There is something to catch you when you fall. Baseball is there once again to hold your hand through the bad times and make the good times even better.

The best thing about baseball is that it always comes back. Baseball's reality doesn't make your reality worse with lockouts and never ending negotiations.

For essentially my entire life baseball has been a constant. If it hurts me one night it comes back the next day and does whatever it can to make up for its wrongdoings. It has never been on the phone or gone to do errands when it promised to show up. I never had to ask twice to spend time with it.

It's baseball. It just is amazing.

Monday, December 17, 2012

For Real This Time

Thank you, Mike Nickeas.  Thank you for giving me my favorite memories as a Mets fan.  Thank you for making the dreams of any sports fan come true for me.  Thank you for always being a class act and never outwardly showing that you were sick of seeing me.

I am probably one of few that will miss Mike Nickeas.  He truly was my favorite player.  At times that made me feel silly or stupid.  I questioned whether I should just move on and dedicate my fandom to David Wright or Ike Davis.  But I'm glad I never changed.  Rooting for Mike Nickeas was the coolest thing I could ever do.  He brought me closer to baseball than I ever imagined I would be.

My first time at Spring Training.  My first minor league baseball game.  His first Major League call-up.  Sitting where I am now and being utterly shocked at his response to my letter.  When he remembered me at Spring Training.  And remembered me again at every game I went to.  That time I almost had a coherent conversation with him.  The best day of my life.

That first year I rooted for him I followed the New Orleans Zephyrs games on GameDay.  I remember almost injuring myself one time after he hit a grand slam.  I devoted so many hours to reading box scores and game recaps, hoping for one mention of him.  I really had no idea what I was getting myself into.

These are memories I would never trade for anything.  These are memories I have brought up over and over again because I still can't believe they're real.  They include me rooting for him once as a Bison.  He's probably going to be a Bison again.  The MLB affiliation and uniform design have changed but that's it.  My spirit and dedication will be as strong as ever.  This trade can shake me but it certainly will not break me.  The idea of Mike Nickeas in another organization isn't really something I like thinking about.  Unfortunately, it's reality.

This trade was necessary.  I like thinking about the fact that Mike Nickeas, Josh Thole, and R.A. Dickey are traveling as one.  I like realizing that the Blue Jays took him when seemingly everybody else in the Mets system was available.  He was wanted by the Blue Jays and that's a heck of a lot better than being a spare part.  I have no reason to believe the Mets organization treated Mike with anything but the class he deserves.

This trade is the first trade that really tests me as a fan.  It tests whether I root for the player or the "laundry."  I can think of Mets I still love rooting for, but there's such a gap between my level of interest in any of them and Mike.  I don't think there will be an answer until the season starts.  I've never wanted to get the offseason over with more than I do right now.

The bright side of this trade is that while Josh Thole and Mike are gone, they are with the same team.  They are spending the next chapter of their careers together, which is so fitting for both of them.  I also don't have to stay up all night to watch Mike Nickeas play and I don't have to get accustomed to the other half of the AAA affiliates.  I also happen to really like the Bisons broadcasters and now I get to keep listening to them.  I'm also lucky the Blue Jays are in the AL East since it happens to be pretty easy for me to go to Yankee Stadium.

The Blue Jays also don't seem to have anyone in their system above Mike on the AAA depth chart.  Maybe he'll be with the team on one of their visits to Yankee Stadium.

A little over a month ago I thought his days as a Met were over.  At that point I wrote, "Whatever happens, it won't be the same."

It certainly isn't the same.

Mike Nickeas is no longer with the Mets.  Mike Nickeas is with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Good luck with the Blue Jays.  Or the Bisons.  Both, I guess.  You did more than you ever had to do here.  I will never regret making you my favorite player.  You were the best favorite I could ever ask for.  I hope the Blue Jays treat you with the respect you deserve and I can only look forward to how much more this change will teach me about baseball.

First Things First

The Mets improved their team immensely today.  R.A. Dickey won the Cy Young last season but he was a necessary piece to trade to improve the Mets weakest position.  Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas were the other players the Mets gave to the Blue Jays, and while they were important to my interest in the Mets, they were not instrumental in the team's success.

In return for Dickey, Thole, and Nickeas the Mets received C Travis d'Arnaud, RHP Noah Syndergaard, C John Buck, and OF Wuilmer Becerra from the Blue Jays.  Travis d'Arnaud is arguably the best catching prospect in the game.  The Mets go from having nothing at the position to having a future as bright as it has ever been.  He is a solid hitter who has also been praised for his leadership abilities.  He'll likely spend the first few weeks of the season in AAA but should definitely see MLB action this season.

Jon Buck will likely serve as the starting catcher until d'Arnaud is ready.

You can click here to read more about the other members of the trade.

This trade is obviously a little tough for me to swallow.  The Mets managed to trade both of my favorite players in one move.  I truly believe Josh Thole has a bright future.  He got a bad draw this season with his concussion and being tasked with catching the wildest knuckleball in the history of baseball.  Both catchers from the Mets deserve credit for working with Dickey.

The Mets used their strength to improve their weakness.  Sandy Alderson deserves a great amount of praise for pulling off a move like this.  The Mets all of a sudden have concrete pieces to build a winner. It's a great feeling and one that can only improve in time.  I applaud those who were patient with Alderson and trusted him to do his job.  And to those that didn't, told ya so.

Let's Go Mets!

Monday, December 10, 2012

One More Note About Prospects

My twitter timeline this morning includes seemingly every prospect-gone-bad story out there. From trades that went bust to trades that didn't happen because of untouchable players. Every example is covered.

There is a reason such players are called prospects. No team knows what the player will do in the Major Leagues. But if every team was obsessed with the pessimistic view of prospects that don't pan out there would never be any trades at all ever.

There are plenty of prospects that do grow into capable big leaguers. The trades come from that mindset.

The Logical Move

The story of the Mets offseason has moved to R.A. Dickey now that David Wright has a home for the future. And this story reads quite differently than any other of the offseason. The Mets front office is genuinely conflicted as to whether to trade him or sign him to an extension. The good news is they can not really lose either way. The bad news is this could go wrong fast.

If the Mets do decide to trade Dickey it shouldn't just be about grabbing at the shiniest object on the market. As of last night the shiniest object, Wil Meyers, was traded elsewhere. So now instead of reaching for an outstanding outfield prospect they would be reaching for Mike Olt, a third baseman. I understand that he's a prime prospect. However, he is still a third baseman, a position the Mets have covered for a long while. It seems to have become the Mets trademark to move infielders to the outfield and if that's what they want to do with Olt, that's they're decision. But if it doesn't, they would have given their Cy Young winner for a blocked prospect.

Obviously, there are many scenarios that wouldn't have the Mets get Olt. But with the Dodgers and Royals out of the market for Dickey the next logical teams are the Rangers and Blue Jays. And while it's easy to go for the biggest prospect and the biggest offer out there, it's more important to get a prospect that will help. The Blue Jays seem to have a surplus of catchers so maybe they'd be better trade partners.

The Mets are right to ask for a lot in trades. They're right to want a top-tier prospect. This is a trade for a Cy Young winner. It's also one situation where they can look for the perfect trade because signing Dickey to an extension is just as good a move.

Let's Go Mets!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Here To Stay

This guy.

(photo from

Simply Amazin'

Sporting a blue and white button down shirt with an orange tie David Wright addressed the media. He was also wearing the new blue jersey. A jersey he will wear next season and for many seasons after. Mr. Wright is here to stay and it is the greatest thing the Mets could give their fans this winter.

Throughout their history the Mets have had franchise players that donned other uniforms. Tom Seaver wasn't a lifelong Met. Neither was Darryl Strawberry. Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez, and Mike Piazza spent prominent parts of their careers with the team, but weren't homegrown. Jose Reyes certainly didn't stick around. But David Wright did.

The contract extension was agreed on last week. However the awesome feeling of finally having a lifelong Met didn't really hit me until today. When David was there in all his blue and orange. When he spoke about growing up rooting for the team. When he spoke about not accomplishing the ultimate goal yet. When he said he couldn't wait to change that fact. It was simply amazin'.

Wright has been through everything with this organization. It's hard to believe he made his MLB debut over eight years ago. It's even harder to believe he'll be a Met for the next eight years.

Where will you be in April of 2020? Because David Wright will be at Citi Field.

Let's Go Mets!