Sunday, September 22, 2013

It's That Time Of Year Again

Yes, it is time for the Mets to unofficially officially welcome their rookies to Major League Baseball.  The Mets theme this year is weddings, as so many of them are getting married after this season, and Zack Wheeler is playing the bride.  I will keep updating this post with pictures as they come in on twitter, instagram, and elsewhere.

The first picture of Zack's wedding gown

He looks beautiful

The first glimpse of the rest of the party with Wilmer Flores as maid of honor


And the stunning Travis d'Arnaud

My goodness...

A more formal picture of the party

And some individual pictures




Dillon Gee is not impressed

Wow

Zachary Craig Lutz. My favorite. I'm crying.

Just more insanity

JOSH SATIN

Your reward for looking at the entire post is a video from LaTroy Hawkins

Monday, September 2, 2013

My Favorite September Call Up

Mike Nickeas is a Major League Baseball player again.

For real.

Thank you, Blue Jays for giving him more time in the majors.
Thank you, Mike for being so awesome.

He has not had a great season by any means, but he played in 58 games for the Bisons, more than any other catcher.  He caught all but one of Ricky Romero's Bisons starts.  His one home run of the season was of the walk-off variety and 41% of his hits for the season were doubles.  Mike also won Most Inspirational Player, as voted on by his Bisons teammates.

I do not expect him to play much this month.  Hopefully he will get an at-bat here or there and maybe even catch one of R.A. Dickey's starts.

All that matters to me is that Mike Nickeas and Josh Thole are teammates again.


Oh and the Blue Jays are coming to Boston in a few weeks.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Actual Breaking News

Rob Carson and Matt den Dekker seem to be joining the Mets. Jack Leathersich, who was sent back to AA Binghamton on Monday, will now stay in AAA with the Las Vegas 51s. 

Matt Harvey to the DL opens up one roster spot but the second move isn't as obvious. 

Stay tuned for the official move later. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

BREAKING NEWS

Mike Nickeas hit a walk-off home run for the Buffalo Bisons tonight. 

I am still regaining consciousness because this is a pretty shocking occurrence. The home run was his first of the season, and according to Mike it was the first walk-off home run of his life. 

Congratulations, Mike! Enjoy this moment, you deserve it!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

This Will Be Interesting

The Las Vegas 51s and Sacramento River Cats started a game on May 6 that they will finish tonight.

Carlos Torres was set to take the mound for the 51s but he never got the chance.  He is now set to start today's Mets game as a Major League pitcher.  Sonny Gray started the game for the River Cats and with MLB experience under his belt he can continue his effort and leave his two walk performance in the past.

The two players walked by Gray were Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Collin Cowgill.  Nieuwenhuis has also spent time in the big leagues since the game started, and Cowgill is now on the Angels.

Reese Havens is in the lineup, playing 2nd base, but he will be replaced as he has now found himself on the disabled list mid-game.

Josh Satin will need a replacement at first base and Omar Quintanilla will need a replacement at shortstop because they, too, are playing for the Mets today.

I wish you luck if you choose to keep score during this game.  As Keith Hernandez might say, get your highlighters ready.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

He's Always The Best

There is nothing like coming home from a long day of work orientation to some good baseball news. The Mets won but that wasn't even the best part. 

Mike Nickeas doubled in the 14th inning and scored the only run of the game in the Bisons 1-0 walk off win. I enjoy when Mike does well more than anything else in baseball. He plays better when he plays more often so hopefully he'll get more consistent playing time. 

Thanks for the great game, Mike!


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Coming Soon To A Theater Near You



The Latest Turn In My Twisted Life

The Bisons seem to be spending their day off in Boston tomorrow. 

Boston. 

The city I live in for two thirds of the year. 

But now I can merely dream about being in the same city as that wonderful team as my dorm room sits empty. 

My life is a joke. 


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Little Bit Of Recovery

Zach Lutz is the lineup for the Las Vegas 51s tonight. It is his first time playing since he injured his oblique on May 26. 

It's frustrating that he's back right after the roster shuffle but if he keeps hitting the Mets will have to bring him back eventually. 

Something Postive

Everything surrounding the Mets has been pretty negative recently.  Fortunately for me, I have still been paying attention to 2/3 of the players the Mets sent to the Blue Jays in the big offseason trade.

At the end of last week Josh Thole was called up by the Blue Jays.  Josh crushed AAA pitching, hitting .322 with 7 home runs and 31 RBI before his return to the major leagues.  I was not shocked in the least bit to see him return to form with the Bisons this year.  People never seemed to remember he played most of last season after sustaining a concussion.  While the symptoms may have been gone, and he may have been officially healed, a concussion is not something a player can just come back from.

Then there is that other catcher.  Mike Nickeas did not get regular playing time while Thole was with the Bisons.  However, when given the chance to play everyday he improves drastically.  He has hit in 7 of his last 10 games and is hitting .273 with 5 doubles and 5 RBI over that span.

Mike has also proven he still does not have a mean bone in his body.  He has played for the Bisons for part of the last five seasons so he found a way to compliment the city of Buffalo recently.  He also calls himself Canadian in that article which amuses me.

I am still dying to see Josh and Mike (mostly Mike) play this season.  I will continue to root for them but a season without seeing Mike Nickeas will obviously be disappointing to me.  Hopefully I'll find a way to see a Bisons game.

I hope this brightened your day because they always brighten mine.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Two Steps Forward One Step Back

The Mets finally made some roster moves tonight. Ike Davis, Mike Baxter, and Robert Carson were sent to AAA Las Vegas as Josh Satin, Collin Cowgill, and Josh Edgin were called up. It certainly sent shockwaves through the world of the Mets but it may not be accomplishing what it was meant to. 

Josh Satin for Ike Davis makes sense. It's a simple move. There isn't much to say about it. 

Collin Cowgill for Mike Baxter is a little confusing. Baxter did not really do much to warrant a demotion. His batting average was only .212, it was in limited playing time and his OBP was over .100 points higher. He was one of the team's best pinch-hitters and actually provided reliable defense in the outfield. Cowgill could perform similarly but I don't see the purpose of this move. 

Now, Josh Edgin for Rob Carson is a move in its own league. Carson has been brutal this season. He seemingly gives up a home run every time he shows up on the mound. But I really don't believe Edgin is going to be an improvement. When Edgin was first sent down he went to AA Binghamton and pitched to the tune of a 7.88 ERA. Things were only marginally better in Vegas where he posted a 5.91 ERA. I understand that they want to replace Carson with another lefty, but they weren't comfortable using Carson and they likely won't be very comfortable with Edgin. Justin Hampson is a lefty who has posted a 2.16 ERA against lefties this season and a 1.54 ERA in his last 10 games. 

Josh Edgin was the first move of the season that signified the Mets may actually use the minors to turn players around. However, bringing Edgin back up when he has basically shown no improvement diminishes the authority of these moves.  If Edgin didn't actually have to earn his way back, will Davis and Carson? 

I feel for Davis and Carson, two talented players who just seemingly lost it this season. I feel for Baxter who didn't really do anything wrong but is a victim of this slide. 

Hopefully the Mets will find the players that optimize this lineup and team. I'm just not convinced these moves will do that. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

It Has Happened!

The 20 inning loss to the Marlins was not all bad after all. The Mets announced Rick Ankiel will be designated for assignment before tomorrow's game and Kirk Nieuwenhuis will be called up. 

Juan Lagares has actually played a few games in a row so maybe the Mets are finally beginning the youth movement. 

Welcome back, Kirk!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What Happens In Vegas . . . Oh Just Please Leave Vegas

I was never a fan of the Mets AAA affiliation with the Las Vegas 51s.  I did not like how the top minor leaguers would be playing across the country, in a timezone that would make it difficult for me to watch games online and even more difficult for me to see some of my favorite players in person.  I didn't like that the pitching-heavy organization would be playing in a hitters league and specifically a hitters park.  However, my gripes ended there.

On Monday, a piece came out from the Wall Street Journal detailing exactly what the baseball experience is like in Las Vegas.  In short, the field is dry and poorly cared for with only two groundskeepers to work on it, there is no indoor batting cage in the facility, and the Mets are stuck with this because of Jeff Wilpon.  No AAA team wants to be affiliated with the Mets and no MLB team wants to be affiliated with the 51s.

Jeff Wilpon put the Mets in this hole cutting off nearly communication between the Mets and the Norfolk Tides in 2002.  The Mets have since worked with the New Orleans Zephyrs, Buffalo Bisons, and now the 51s.  After sticking with one team from 1969 until 2006 it was a little weird to see the Mets shuffle around the AAA map.  The partnership with Buffalo would have been nice to continue, but the Mets couldn't figure out how to field a winning team in the minor leagues (and when last season started off nicely, they refused to discuss an extension with the Bisons).

I have continued to follow the Bisons as they are now affiliated with the Bule Jays.  I was admittedly bitter when I began to see everything the teams were doing to emphasize the new partnership and I wondered why the Bisons never seemed to put in the same effort with the Mets.  Now it is more clear that the Mets were the ones who may not have cared.

The Mets, namely Jeff Wilpon, took the partnership with the Tides for granted and nobody has learned how to bounce back yet.

So, if you have followed all this you will realize the Wilpons have not only strapped the Mets big league team, they have also been a detriment to the minor leagues. 

My first reaction to this piece was disbelief. The Vegas facilities sounded more like a high school than a team one level away from the majors. I've learned enough about minor league baseball to understand conditions can be less than ideal, but no professional players should have to resort to a batting cage behind their stadium if they want to take a few extra swings in the afternoon. Marty Brown (AAA manager for the Blue Jays) should not have had to water the field himself when there weren't enough groundskeepers to do the job. No team should have to play short handed because it takes half a day to get players to that affiliation. 

The Mets will be stuck in the most undesirable of situations for at least two years. They have gained a reputation o being a bad partner and the front office has to change that for the sake of the players. They want to build this organization from the bottom up but I can't imagine anybody wanting to sign a minor league deal with the Mets right now. Any team looking to build from within needs organizational depth and now even that could be a challenge.

It is really frustrating to find out the Mets have failed beyond the major leagues. It's hard enough to get through the grind of a minor league season and the Mets aren't making anything easier for their prospects. 

Hopefully the Mets will squeeze back into the International League in 2016. Hopefully they'll be anywhere but Vegas. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Congratulations Kevin!

Kevin Burkhardt will be calling NFL games on Fox this fall. What a great addition to their broadcast team. This is probably the only thing that could get me to watch football so Fox has gained at least one viewer. 

Hopefully this doesn't mean Kevin will be leaving the Mets and SNY soon. He really is a great part of Mets broadcasts and I can only imagine the insight he could bring with more air time.

Congratulations, Kevin! You are more than deserving of this opportunity. 

Different Paths To The Same Finish Line

Unfortunately, the Mets are on their way to another losing season. No amount of Matt Harvey strikeouts and Daniel Murphy doubles are going to change their fate. There are going to be times throughout the season when we wonder why we're still watching. The Mets will be down by five runs to the Braves on a beautiful summer day and the summer sun is bound to be more appealing at least once. However, the Mets do have a way to make the dog days of summer a little more interesting. 

Right now the Mets are trotting out lineups with Rick Ankiel and Marlon Byrd. They are leaving Juan Lagares on the bench and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Collin Cowgill, and Andrew Brown in AAA. They are throwing Shawn Marcum, Jeremy Hefner, and Dillon Gee on the mound for what usually turns into about five mediocre innings per game. Zack Wheeler keeps pitching well in AAA, and Mets fans keep waiting around for the Mets to seem him worthy of a call-up. 

The Mets could keep playing Ankiel and Byrd as they eat at-bats in a meaningless season. They could leave Lagares and Valdespin on the bench for most games and never find out what the younger outfielders are really capable of. They can have Wheeler throw for three more weeks in AAA and hope Hefner and Gee can repeat their performances from against the Yankees. They can coast their way to 85 losses and wait until next year. 

Or the Mets could bring up some young players and see exactly what they have for the coming years. Zack Wheeler is more than ready to pitching in the big leagues. He will likely be up in the coming weeks and he should be the first of a series of moves to remake this roster. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Collin Cowgill, or (if healthy) Andrew Brown should be up with Josh Satin to take the spots of Ankiel and Byrd. If Travis d'Arnaud were healthy it'd probably be time to see him instead of John Buck. 

I am just tired of seeing these fringy, aging players take at-bats and innings away from players that could actually be contributors for more than one season. Right now it may not look like the Mets have much help coming soon for the outfield but they won't know if they don't play any of the viable options. They will have to field a team next year, hopefully one that is better than this year's team, and relying on Las Vegas and spring training statistics is dumb. 

Games with young players, hungry to get noticed, are always more appealing than games with veterans playing out one-year contracts. 

At least, I think they are. 

Friday, May 31, 2013

How Sweep It Is

As I was leaving Yankee Stadium last night a couple of Yankee fans tried to stop the Mets fans' celebration by reminding us this wasn't the World Series. It didn't work. We knew this might turn into the highest point of a trying season so we cherished the moment. We cheered in a rival's home ballpark, high-fived people we didn't know, watched as our favorite team took one week to crawl out of the ratty closet beneath the stairs. 

This week the Mets were not the red-headed stepchild of New York sports. Even if they reclaim that role in the upcoming week, I will be happy to take pride in the fact that they were king for any period of time. 

I have attended a Subway Series game at Yankee Stadium every year since 2007. In the most recent years I haven't expected the Mets to win. Most years I would leave the stadium with that sinking feeling, jealous of all the happy fans around me, hoping one day I'd actually be the one enjoying a victory. 

This year I walked into the stadium confident. Even if the Mets didn't win the game they had already won the series, and I would have something to celebrate.

I didn't get to the stadium as early as I would have liked, but I was able to see some batting practice from the front of my section in left field. I watched as Jeremy Hefner chatted with kids watching from above the scoreboard and tried to get a baseball for each of them. After BP concluded I listened as he talked to a group from Oklahoma, as they discussed the horrible tornados and how they affected their hometowns. He seemed genuinely grateful every time somebody congratulated him on the previous night's victory. He was as patient as ever when my brother and I struggled with my camera after I asked for a picture. He stayed and signed an autograph for every waiting fan. And to top it off, he replied to my tweet thanking him less than 10 minutes after it all happened. 

As a Mets fan I have learned to appreciate as many smaller events as possible, and yesterday I knew that would've been finding out firsthand how much of a sweetheart Jeremy Hefner is, and winning the series. Winning the game would be icing on the cake.

By the fifth inning my superstitious side had kicked in. I clapped the same amount after each Dillon Gee strike and strikeout. I similarly clapped for each ball taken by the Mets. I didn't expect Gee to pitch as well as he did. I didn't expect to actually see Scott Rice pitch for the millionth time this season. And I certainly didn't expect Bobby Parnell to close the game with a 1-2-3 inning. 

The day that started with dreams of finally walking out of that stadium joyfully ended with those dreams becoming reality. 

You know, even if they hadn't it would have been a pretty good day. 

Let's Go Mets!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

When One Inning Trumps All

For most of tonight I wanted to rip the Mets to bits, stop watching, and reevaluate any life choices I made since I became a fan.  Right now those feelings are seemingly as far away as Mets roster reinforcements.  It is a wonderful thing and just another reason why baseball is the best.

The Mets were on their way to giving Matt Harvey his first loss of the season.  He only gave up one run but the Mets offense was nonexistent, as has been the trend of late.  Mariano Rivera was due to pitch the bottom of the 9th inning, closing the game that he opened with the ceremonial first pitch.  The only glimmer of hope for the Mets was having Daniel Murphy, David Wright, and Lucas Duda coming up in the inning, the only three hitters that have shown any shred of consistency.

But Twitter had all but declared this game over.

Daniel Murphy laced a double that bounced into the left field seats.  The big hit mirrored Monday's as he once again came back after a Brett Gardner robbery in a previous at-bat.  But it's not like the Mets are known for the prowess with runners in scoring position, this isn't going to lead to anything.

David Wright has hit Mariano before.  Sure, just don't move because if I don't move it will somehow keep this rally going.  I didn't move.  Wright's hit found centerfield and Murphy found home plate.

TIE GAME!  Matt Harvey isn't going to lose!

Once again, Twitter was not ready to give this game to the Mets.  Not with Lucas Duda up.  His OPS is now .823 but there was just no way he could be the hero.

If you blinked you missed it.  Lucas Duda transformed from lost kid in the outfield to hero.  

Matt Harvey didn't lose and neither did the Mets.  

The ninth inning went from "end the pain now" to "OHMIGODWHATJUSTHAPPENEDSAKDHKAS" in the span of three batters.  Once Wright scored the winning run it was over.  The celebration could begin immediately because baseball doesn't make you wait for a clock to expire.  The game is over when the players decide it's over.  Tonight the Mets ended the game on their own terms.

My mind is still racing, wondering how this could really happen.  It was such a turnaround in such a short amount of time.  It erases the frustration for a little while, which is great because I'm sick of thinking about Ike Davis's strikeouts and Ruben Tejada's errors.  It allows Matt Harvey and all his fans to enjoy this game without thinking it's too bad such a great performance was punished by a loss.  I celebrated like the Mets won the World Series because they might not have a game or an inning like this again all season. 

For one night, one inning, half an inning really, will be the biggest and best part of the season.  Oh what an inning it was.

Let's Go Mets!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

This Should Make All Humans Smile

The Mets lost for the millionth time and I know Mike Nickeas isn't even in the organization anymore but these pictures of him visiting kids at a Buffalo hospital are too adorable not to enjoy.



























All the pictures are from the Bisons.

Here, have an adorable video from yesterday too!



(If you hadn't noticed I'm still going to post about Mike Nickeas because he is and always will be my favorite and if you don't respect that you can show yourself out.)

I Still Exist!

It has been way too long since I have written anything here.  It has also been way too long since the Mets won games consistently and Ike Davis got more than one hit a week.  As long as I pick up my consistency now I can have a better season than the Mets and Ike, right?

Since I last wrote the Mets have basically fallen off the face of the earth.  They only come close to winning once every five games when Matt Harvey starts, and that is only if they manage to score runs for him.  Rick Ankiel and Marlon Byrd have been pleasant surprises offensively which really means the rest of the team needs major help.  The Mets have used about 324783 different outfielders and to everyone's surprise, Lucas Duda has not been the problem.

Sandy Alderson noted that the transitional players brought in to fill gaps have not performed as hoped.  The Mets have a lot of work to do if they want to even be treading water at the All Star Break.  The bullpen has relied on a Pedro Feliciano-level of appearances from Scott Rice and Matt Harvey is on pace to throw a billion innings and have maybe eight wins by the end of the season.  The offense is nonexistent outside of Daniel Murphy, David Wright, and some Lucas Duda.

It is going to be a long season.


As for my relevant minor league happenings this season, Mike Nickeas and Josh Thole are both catching for the Bisons so if I don't find a way to see them I will be a sad girl.  Xavier Nady has my attention again as he hasn't seemed to go more than a day or two without getting a hit and is trying to get back to the major leagues with the Royals.  It was really convenient last weekend when Nady's Storm Chasers were playing against the '51s.  Zach Lutz and Josh Satin are both waiting for the Mets to remember they exist and play 1st base and know how to hit while Ike Davis frustratingly melts away in New York.  Oh and Kai Gronauer has actually gotten some playing time and a few hits for the '51s which is pretty cool.

So I will be here enduring Mets losses, enjoying Indians wins on the side, and following way too many minor league games.  Maybe I'll actually write about some of it!

Let's Go Mets!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Better Safe Than Sorry

The Mets announced today that David Wright has a strained intercostal muscle and will rest for 3-5 days before thinking about resuming any activity.  It is a similar injury to the one Daniel Murphy suffered earlier in spring training and he is just working his way back into games now.  Obviously, Opening Day is in jeopardy for Wright as that is only 17 days away.

One way to look at this is that David should never have been playing in the World Baseball Classic and participating in all those games lead to this injury.  However, if we want to bring the WBC into this maybe we could look at how it helped.  David Wright said this strain has been bothering him since before the tournament started.  If he had stayed back in spring training he would not have been playing as much and perhaps the injury would not have become bothersome enough to bring up for another week.  This is Wright, the guy who has played through a broken back and a broken pinky.  He doesn't complain unless something is really a problem and the WBC put him in a place where he had to bring it up.

The timing could also be worse than it is.  While it's the second half of spring training, it is still spring training.  The games don't count until April 1 so if David needs a month to recover, he'll spend the first two weeks missing meaningless games.  And even if he misses Opening Day and a week or two of April, he'll come back and be ready for the rest of the season.  He will still have plenty of time to have a successful season.  By the mid-May or June nobody will think about whether or not Wright was there on April 4 because he will be there for the 4th of every month until October.

Let's not forget that David could be back in five days and start the season normally.

The Mets are lucky that they can afford to be cautious with Wright.  If he is out for a month, which is what Terry Collins predicts, he will miss minimal regular season time.  Be thankful David had a reason to deal with this now and not in a week or a month.  Spring training injuries happen but I really don't think this is anything to worry about.

Rest up, David!

Where Are They Now: 2010 B-Mets

The 2010 Binghamton Mets are the reason I know what I know about Minor League Baseball.  2010 was the year I finally thought about seeing Mike Nickeas play in person and even though I went to the game specifically to watch him, I left with an interest in a few other players as well.

Naturally, the first player to look at should be Nickeas.  2010 was the best full season he spent in the Mets season.  He was an Eastern League mid-season all star and made his MLB debut in September of that year.  It was a turning point in his career, as the Mets were ready to release him and he was preparing himself for an early transition to coaching if he didn't turn things around.

In 2011, Mike made his first Opening Day roster due to an injury and suspension of Henry Blanco.  Although he was back in AAA by the beginning of May, he was back before roster's expanded in September and fighting to prove he could be the next year's backup catcher.  After the season Mets officials admitted they were not satisfied with Blanco's 2011 performance and were preparing to start the 2012 season with Josh Thole and Nickeas as their catchers.

2012 brought another appearance on the Opening Day roster as he had the role of backup catcher.  He stayed in the majors until August, when he was swapped for Rob Johnson.  He struggled offensively in the big leagues but fortunately he found his stroke back with the Bisons.  He hit .364 during his month in AAA and was back with the Mets as a September call-up.

Throughout both the 2011 and 2012 seasons he gained experience catching R.A. Dickey and his knuckleball.  His defensive ability lead to his inclusion in the trade that sent Dickey to the Blue Jays.

This year will likely find him back with the Bisons.  His career since 2010 may not have lead to a stable place on a big league roster but it did lead to the opportunity for his first MLB hit, home run, and grand slam.  He was with the Mets to witness history when Johan Santana threw the team's first no-hitter and caught R.A. Dickey's one-hitter against the Rays.

That one-hitter also provided everyone with this awesome gif of the knuckleball in which Mike looks as baffled as one can be by the pitch (yet he still manages to catch it).

2010 was the first year I watched Mike Nickeas and the first year I watched Minor League Baseball.  There are other players from that team that will be familiar to Mets fans so I'll get to them later.

Let's Go Mets!

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Never Ending Baseball Season

Why is it such a big deal when pitchers aren't ready for the first round of bullpen sessions?  Why do so many people panic when the shortstop needs an extra day or two before appearing in a game?

Spring training has included less and less training as the years have gone on.  Players are expected to arrive in camp in the best shape of their lives.  If the official report date is February 15, they better be there on February 5.  Players end up spending upwards of two months at the team facilities before six months of regular season baseball.  And the sooner they arrive at the complex, the sooner they're expected to be ready for the season.

Baseball season is already a grind, marathon, and handful of other clich├ęs.  The six month regular season wears on even the best players and the extra month for playoff teams is obviously an additional test.  The demand to come early to spring training isn't always beneficial.  The elongation of spring training is especially exaggerated this year with the World Baseball Classic and certain veterans' routines show just how much spring training is actually needed.

LaTroy Hawkins didn't appear in an actual game until March 8.  Last year, David Wright missed most of the Mets spring training games.  David Wright made it to Opening Day and Hawkins is on track to make it to Opening Day as well.  For players that have secure roster spots there is more than enough time to get ready for the season.  Pitchers don't want to throw too many innings and hitters don't want to take too many swings in games that don't matter.

Spring training has about 1/5 of the games of the regular season.  Add in the first few weeks of workouts and the extra workouts from early arrivals and there is more than enough time to be ready for the season.  Missing a handful of games or starting a few days late isn't going to ruin anybody's regular season.

At this point players are training year round.  It has almost gotten to the point where less training goes on during spring training than during the offseason.  Conditioning schedules are built around individual and official report dates and team workout schedules.  Players that actually rely on spring training to get in shape are criticized for coming into camp overweight or unprepared.  Spring training has turned into a winter long process with the formal camp only being the end of months of preparation.

There was a time when players weren't expected to be ready to throw a bullpen session or take a round of batting practice at the drop of a hat.  2013 is well past that time.  Players are in shape year-round and simply don't need two months of formal spring training.  They get their reps without formal workouts so the uniform is a small change in how they get ready.

Most players are going to be ready for the season regardless of small interruptions to spring training.  It's more important to take the extra time during the days that don't count in order to be there for those that do.  So the next time a player misses a day or even a week of spring training games remember their three-hit day in July is more important than any amount of hits in March.

Let's Go Mets!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"I've Got A Story And I'm Trying To Tell It Right"

In 2006 SNY was launched and all of a sudden there was Mets coverage out the wazoo, well at least compared to what was there before.  One of the new programs was Kids Clubhouse, a magazine show for kids to learn about the Mets and go behind-the-scenes of many aspects of baseball.  At the time Amanda Cole was the host and every fiber of my being wanted to be in her shoes.

Kids Clubhouse went beyond Mets games.  The episode in Cooperstown lead to a family vacation and a visit to the kids area because I just had to see that room after Amanda made it look so cool.  I wanted to be the one interviewing players and telling David Wright I played "8th base in 3rd grade."  I even remember the bloopers because the second that show started I knew it was what I wanted to do.

Then in 2007, Kevin Burkhardt joined Mets broadcasts.  He took over the role of field reporter and brought all kinds of stories and reports on Mets players and history to the broadcast.  Every time the broadcast would "Check in with Kevin" I knew I wanted to listen.  Every time I found myself wishing I could have been the one to do the research and tell people the anecdotes and information.

That's how I knew I wanted to somehow be the one getting the story.  I wanted to be the one exploring every ballpark and giving the "virtual tour."  I wanted to be the one interviewing Joe Smith on the subway.  I wanted to be sitting in the room listening to press conferences and writing the types of stories Kevin Burkhardt tells.

Writers at the Daily News, and New York Post also took note of Kevin and, for once, he became the story.  Kevin Burkhardt worked his way up to SNY.  And once he got to SNY he never stopped working and he became way more than the regular on-field reporter.

Kevin Burkhardt brings the fans closer to the game than more than anybody else can.  He explains everything from how players started playing baseball to what starting pitchers do between starts.  He shows us the best parts of each road ballpark and the parts of Citi Field fans don't get to see on their own.  He does it all and somehow manages to be so casual with his "back to you, Gare."

Any fan that has met him will tell you he's a class act.  Heck, the fact that a reporter has fans has to say something.  The first time I met him I could only utter "thank you" about 3847 times after taking a picture and he somehow didn't hold that against me during future encounters.  He goes out of his way to talk to fans at games and he always seems genuinely interested in what you have to say.  He's either a really good actor or he actually is one of the coolest people ever.

Lest we forget that he reads every twitter mention he gets and replies to most of them (even the ridiculous ones from me).  Kevin clearly knows how important it is to interact with your audience and it makes every report he does even better.  Who wouldn't like to think they influenced some aspect of their team's coverage (even if it's the ridiculousness that become the influence)?



In the tight-knit Mets community Kevin Burkhardt is one of the biggest celebrities yet he somehow manages to make the "little people" feel important.

Kevin Burkhardt is the best in the business at what he does.  Everything he brings to a broadcast is something I wish I can one day bring to Mets fans and readers.  If I can be half as successful a journalist as Mr. Burkhardt I'll know I did something right.

Kids Clubhouse and Amanda Cole inspired a 6th grader to find her dream.  Kevin Burkhardt kept that dream alive and continues to keep it alive with every report he gives.

Let's Go Mets!

Monday, February 25, 2013

O Canada

Russell Martin dropped out of the World Baseball Classic so the Canadian team is looking for a catcher.

Mike Nickeas was born in Canada, therefore he is eligible for that team.

Let's go Canada, make it happen. This would let Mike complete his international trifecta as he has already represented the USA and Great Britain in other tournaments.

It's not like he's fighting for a Major League role on the Blue Jays so this could give him some fun playing time this spring.

Your move, Canada.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

It's Baaaaack



The first weekend of Mets baseball has finished and even though it may not have been the most exciting, it was nice to see some version of games again.  I followed as much as I could on my computer.  Gary, Keith, and Ron were back in the booth for SNY and of course we checked in with Kevin for the first time this year.  It was fun seeing #MetsTwitter active and tweeting about games again, too.

Shaun Marcum got things started yesterday against the Nationals.  Zack Wheeler, Cory Mazzoni, Darin Gorski, and Bobby Parnell also got in the game.  Admittedly a little amped up, Wheeler threw two scoreless innings to start his season.  Future closer Bobby Parnell even got the save.  Ruben Tejada homered off Stephen Strasburg and Collin Cowgill immediately had fans asking for more Cowgill.

So maybe it was exciting.

Today the Mets played against the University of Michigan baseball team as well as the Astros.  In the game against the Astros the bullpen gave us another taste of what the Mets have been eating since 2007 as they blew a 6-1.  The game eventually ended in a tie, because it's Spring Training and that can happen.  Matt Harvey and Travis d'Arnaud were the starting battery against the Astros and like Wheeler yesterday, they were both ready to play real baseball.  Before the game d'Arnaud said he had to listen to classical music to calm himself down and if he hadn't gone 0-for-3 that might have become his new pregame ritual.

Any day I can spend watching baseball is a good day.  I'm not going to lie and say I wasn't jealous of what looked like beautiful weather in Florida as I sit in still-freezing Boston.  But seeing David Wright and his Mets reminds me that baseball will be up north in a matter of weeks.

It was great seeing Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas play in the same game.  You know, and I got to confirm that they still exist even though they were exiled to that Canadian organization in the American League.  Mike even got a hit today!

Baseball is back and it's not going away until the month that has Thanksgiving.  It is a wonderful feeling.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Warm Welcome

Maybe his new skipper was wishing him a happy birthday.
I hope Mike Nickeas had a great day.  He seems to love baseball more than almost anything so I'm sure he was just happy to be playing today.

Happy birthday, Mike! 

The First Look

I guess it's all real now.

Happy Birthday!


Mike Nickeas turns 30 today and I find it noteworthy.

Happy birthday, Mike!  I hope all your dreams of being teammates with Josh Thole and being on the Bisons forever come true!

Here's to an awesome year in the Blue Jays organization and maybe possibly some eventual return to the Mets one day.

Now get out there and play ball!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Memory Lasts Forever

I have only seen two different teams at Spring Training, the Mets and the Yankees, but it was still interesting to compare the environments.  One of the biggest differences was the accessibility of the players for autograph opportunities.  In Port St. Lucie, the Mets have many short fences and areas that are simply chained off, providing easy access for autographs.  In Tampa, the Yankees have high fences around most of the practice fields, some of which have slits built in for autograph-seekers to pass baseballs/cards/pictures/etc. through to the players.

This piece about Derek Jeter adds an element to the Yankees side that I didn't experience firsthand.  The only autograph I recall getting at Yankees Spring Training is Chris Woodward so there really wasn't security or much of a crowd around.  Reading what the guard was saying to Jeter's fans was awful.  Realizing that Jeter did nothing to help the situation was worse.

Derek Jeter has created a pattern that allows him to skip out on autographs.  At some point years ago he decided some amount of fans was his limit.  He's not the only superstar that doesn't oblige every request.  I have seen David Wright sign for only a fraction of hopeful fans.  But that doesn't make it right.

Baseball players tend to start their careers saying they will sign every autograph because they all remember when players didn't stop to sign for them.  They go through the minor leagues signing as many autographs as possible.  They get to the big leagues and continue to sign countless autographs.  Yet once they find success and they have to stay and sign for an extra minute or two many stop signing at all.

Those two seconds spent with a fan can make the day, the week, the month, the life of a kid (or even an adult).  That could be their first autograph, my first was from Endy Chavez and my second was Juan Padilla.  That general greeting towards the crowd could turn a random player into a favorite player, 'sup Mike Nickeas.

Those two seconds spent walking past the crowd could ruin that fan's opinion of the team for life.

No player should be in the habit of not signing or rarely signing.  There is no way they have an appointment or obligation immediately after every single Spring Training workout or they are always too busy to spend a few minutes before a game interacting with fans.

The autograph may fade but the memory will last forever.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Zach Lutz: Outfielder

Zach Lutz has apparently arrived in Port St. Lucie and begun to work with Tom Goodwin on becoming an outfielder.  He participated in outfield drills and came out of them feeling pretty good.

My main concern with Lutz in the outfield is his speed and athleticism.  He has never been particularly swift but hopefully he will be able to work past that.  Mets fans are used to seeing these outfield experiments blow up in their faces, as they have with Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda.  However, if we want a positive projection maybe we can look at Alex Gordon.

It isn't impossible for Zach Lutz to find some measure of success as an outfielder.  He's a corner infielder like Gordon, a big guy like Duda and Gordon.  Also like Gordon, Zach is a corner infielder and it has always been important for him to be somewhat fast on his feet.  So even though he may not have the running speed of the Jordany Valdespin experiment, he has more potential than Duda ever really had.  As Gordon adjusted to the outfield he got in better shape and gained a step or two, so that's another possibility with Lutz.

I honestly don't think anything will really come of this.  I'm expecting to see him in left field for the '51s for a good amount of games this season.  It stinks that the Mets have first and third base covered for years to come.  It stinks that the Mets have a million and one outfielders in camp.

Zach Lutz has had so little luck in his career.  It's hard not to root for something to go his way.  Maybe this will be what swings it.

Let's Go Mets!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Much Needed Perspective

It's always a little weird when you think about how your parents and grandparents and teachers and every adult ever was once a kid and a teenager and how they went through high school and college.  It's even weirder when you realize your favorite athletes fit in that category.

But that's why I thought this article was particularly interesting.  TV shows and movies make you think going to college is easy.  They make the transition seem flawless.  They never show anyone figuring out how to do work or talking to a million different people and only maybe becoming friends with two of them.  So even though this isn't something out of a show or a movie it is still nice to read.

I only go to school 200 miles away from home and I feel like I'm a world away so I can't imagine going across the country.  All these baseball players and other college athletes are still kids when they go away.  They may have chosen a certain school because of that particular team but that doesn't mean the transition is nonexistent.

My roommate last semester was on the basketball team.  She had to get up for 6:30 AM workouts more than once a week.  She also had regular practice and her classes and she tried to talk to people that weren't on the team.  I can't imagine the schedule for a Division I athlete when that D-III athlete had a full schedule.


Even the people that you look up to went through adjustment periods. Everything didn't just fall into place.

Every college athlete is a student.  They are all human.  Sometimes people need to be reminded of that.

I know this has close to nothing to do with baseball.  I know most people reading this are past college age.  I just happened to find this today and I'm glad I did because it made me feel a little bit better about my situation.

Let's Go Mets!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Patience or Indifference

The Mets still don't have much of an outfield and I just don't know if I care.  I don't know if I am confident Sandy Alderson will make some move, any move, before or during Spring Training.  I don't know if I've convinced myself that any success this year will be considered overachieving no matter what the outfield looks like.  I don't know if any move will matter or change my point of view.

Sandy Alderson has stuck to his plan of building the farm system and acquiring players through trades. He hasn't given out big contracts and has stuck to signing veterans to short-term deals.  His sights are set on fielding a strong team in 2014.  But it is starting to feel like that has stopped him from taking 2013 seriously.

By no means are the Mets one or two acquisitions or signings away from being a contender in 2013.  Their bullpen is still up in the air, they just traded 2012's best starting pitcher, and their outfield is as close to non-existent as it can get.  Yet they feel so close to success that not making small acquisitions seems to signify they really are punting the upcoming season.  Despite the pitching departures they have enough bullpen arms for some Spring Training competition and they have enough starters for a rotation.  That elusive outfielder is all of sudden what's holding them back.

However, this team is really more than an outfielder away from being big in 2013.  Matt Harvey has half a season of MLB experience while Zack Wheeler and Travis d'Arnaud have yet to make their big league debuts.  Three essential pieces of the future still need time to adjust and prove themselves and that's not going to happen immediately.

So maybe it isn't that I'm simply being patient or indifferent.  Maybe it's that I'm beginning to understand what Sandy Alderson is working with.

Let's Go Mets!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Craving Baseball

This past week has been unseasonably cold (even for January) across the country.  It has left many people longing for summer and all that it brings, including baseball.

This past week has also been the week in which many Major League Baseball teams held their annual winter Fan Fests.  Held at either a convention center or the home ballpark, many teams organize a fun event with player autograph sessions, Q&As, ticket giveaways, raffles, hitting lessons, etc.

I attended the Red Sox Winterfest yesterday.  It was a toned-down fan fest, geared towards kids, but was still fun and exciting to experience.  As someone older than the intended audience I found many ways to enjoy myself.  I met Will Middlebrooks, watched Daniel Nava give hitting lessons, saw the Red Sox clubhouse, and got to tour and experience Fenway Park in a way that's impossible during the season.

Even without an abundance of player appearances it was a fun event that satisfied this weekend's craving for baseball.  Would it really be so hard for the Mets to do this?


If it's really true that they don't think it would stand out in the New York market then how do the Dodgers pull it off in Los Angeles?  Dodgers fans have never been lauded for their loyalty quite like Mets fans and it's not as if the entertainment market in L.A. is exponentially smaller than that of New York.

It's not even that the Mets need to hold it with a full roster of players and make it a three day event.  One day with a few players would still be a major step up.  They too could market it towards children if they really want to avoid putting on a huge show.  Kids aren't going to care if Justin Turner is with them while taking cuts off a tee or if Kirk Nieuwenhuis is signing autographs.  Mr. Met makes everything better and quite frankly, the rest of the activities needed could be found at any number of Bat Mitzvahs in the tri-state area.  They have held open anthem tryouts before, why not hold them earlier to include them in Fan Fest?

I know you can't pull together any event like this overnight.  I also know the Mets will have the All Star FanFest this year that they can use as an excuse for this winter and maybe next winter as well.  By the end of January I am so ready for baseball and clearly others are too.

C'mon Mets. Please?

Let's Go Mets!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Easing Back Into This

As you have noticed I haven't written very month in the past couple of months. Believe me, I want to write and I have plenty of things to say about the Mets and the upcoming season. However I also have been adjusting to a new semester at a new school.

This blog is like a home to me. I love writing here and I'm going to keep writing here until blogger shuts down and forces me out. For now I just wanted to let you all know that I'm still here. I haven't disappeared and hopefully you'll be reading a lot more of my words soon.

Let's Go Mets!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

but the mets don't have an outfield

scott hairston is reportedly close to signing a 2-year deal with the cubs.

the mets current outfield is lucas duda, kirk nieuwenhuis, and mike baxter from left field to right field.

but kirk nieuwenhuis's season was cut short by an injury so there's no guarantee that he'll be fully healthy for the season.

and lucas duda broke his wrist moving furniture earlier this winter.

and mike baxter can't cover all of the citi field outfield.

the mets did sign collin cowgill to a minor league deal.  they also discussed trying justin turner in the ourfield.  i guess if all else actually fails they could put josh satin out there.  or they could punish any daniel murphy errors at 2nd base by making him play an inning in the outfield.

michael bourn costs too much money. justin upton costs too many players.

clearly their options are amazing and they are totally set for the season.  i mean, the one that has spring training starting in less than three weeks.  that season is going to be great.

right?
maybe?
no?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Just A Note

The Blue Jays made roster updates today and Josh Thole has his number 30 with them.  R.A. Dickey got 43 right after the trade was finalized.  Mike Nickeas is a non-roster invitee and has 15.

This time I'm not even going to try to figure out how he chose it.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

That Was A Nice Surprise

Mike Nickeas was interviewed on the Canadian radio station TEAM 1040 tonight (or this afternoon if you're actually in Vancouver where the station is based).  The show's hosts, B-Mac and Taylor, asked Mike various questions about topics such as his familiarity with R.A. Dickey and whether he knew any of his fellow Blue Jays.

Mike Nickeas said he was surprised when Sandy Alderson informed him that he was in the deal.  He seemed to be okay with the move, saying he it would be "neat having a fresh start" in another organization.  It should be good for him, getting experience with a new team and playing with different people.  The Mets knew what he would give to them and unfortunately they had seemingly seen enough.  He's going to help the Blue Jays whether he's in the big leagues or back with the Bisons.

Another topic discussed was Mike's possible spot on the Blue Jays.  He was asked what he thinks his role will be going into Spring Training, mentioning J.P. Arencibia as the starting catcher but not bringing up the acquisition of Josh Thole.  Mike said he would certainly do whatever he can to make the team out of Spring Training but will go wherever the Blue Jays the send him.

Of course, he was also asked about catching R.A. Dickey.  He explained that, yes, he has caught Dickey not only with the Mets but also when he was first experimenting with the knuckleball on the Rangers.  When describing R.A.'s pitch he said, "If it doesn't want to be caught, it's not going to be caught."  That really sums up the pitch perfectly.

It was just good to hear that Mike was upbeat about the situation.  When asked about whether he already knew any players on the team he quipped that "a lot of Marlins guys" are there now.

The Vancouver station obviously brought up that his dad played for the Whitecaps and that Mike wore #4 last season, which he proudly explained he chose for his dad.

Once the interview is online I'll post a link.  The hosts really liked talking to him and complimented him after the interview.  It was fun to listen to, even more so because it was totally unexpected.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year's Mets-olutions

As 2013 rolls through the Mets are looking towards a bright future.  That future may not come until 2014 so until then they have to stay on track.  As an organization they too can have New Year's resolutions, although these won't involve getting in shape or watching less television.

One thing the Mets have to do is stay on track with their farm system.  They already had Zack Wheeler, Jeurys Familia, Brandon Nimmo, and Kevin Plawecki in their system last season.  They acquired Travis d'Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard, two players that add to the minor league potential.  However, Wheeler and d'Arnaud are likely going to reach the Mets this year and lo and behold, they won't be prospects anymore.  Yes, it is part of the cycle of any organization.  Yes, it means the Mets will be getting their contributions in the Majors.  No, it doesn't mean they can neglect the farm system until it shrivels and goes to the place Omar Minaya and co. left it before.  Just because the future is bright now it doesn't mean it can't continue to shine even when the MLB club finds success.

A bit of a tougher resolution for the Mets is to get faster.  The ranked 27th in the Majors in stolen bases with only 79.  For some perspective on that number, they only had 30 more SB than Mike Trout, who led the MLB.  In 2007, Jose Reyes stole 78 bases on his own.  The Mets don't have a clear speedster on the team right now and they're not going to lead the league in SB.  They do have the potential to improve, though.  Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Ruben Tejada may never be huge base stealers but they can learn when to sneak one.  If only to move players into scoring position and create more RBI opportunities, this is an area that needs improvement.

The most obvious resolution for 2013 is to figure out the outfield.  It is the most glaring need for this team and they need to fill it just to start the season with a respectable roster.  From left to right their outfield today is Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Mike Baxter.  Thank goodness the season didn't start today.  They need a righty-hitting outfielder, if not for this season, for the future.  Their closest outfield prospect is Matt den Dekker, a lefty.  Duda, Nieuwenhuis, and Baxter are also lefties.  Be it drafting a righty outfielder from college and hoping they can develop quickly, or actually signing a free agent, something has to be done.

1. Keep the farm strong
2. Get faster
3. Find an outfield

They have all year for these resolutions.  I hope some are achieved sooner rather than later though.

Let's Go Mets!