Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Oink

Three items have come out today that are mildly disturbing, at least for Mets fans.

One is - Ben Sheets is no longer on the table, according to Ken Rosenthal.
Two would be - an option for our 1B situation, Xavier Nady, is very close to signing with the Cubs.
And third would obviously be - the Mets organization completely losing their fucking minds and actually getting John Smoltz, an ex-Braves/Met-killer, on their team. No seriously, this is their "next target." (If I weren't quoting a story, I'd throw the word "fucking" in between "next" and "target" there)

I have so many things going through my mind at this point, I barely know where to begin, so I will just start with the top. According to the terms of this proposed deal, Sheets would get a deal in the avenue of $8-10mm for a one-year deal, plus incentives. Do you mean to tell me that Jeff Wilpon couldn't pony up the cash or at the very least MEET that? Are you fucking kidding me? I'm sure if I could get the likes of Cow-Bell Man, Senor Solly, Sign Guy and Bear Man to collect their loose change, THAT consortium could get him to play for the Mets with a sweeter deal than the A's are giving him. I digress, though...this is just a "rumor."

Moving right along to the second piece, I'm not bent so much about Xavier Nady signing with the Cubs as I am two things that are outlying this story. One is -- as long as Carlos Delgado is out there, Omar might have a sniff or two of the "good old days" with him and give him a one-year contract or so. That wouldn't happen with a legit back-up 1B or at the very least someone who can spell Daniel Murphy. That said, I don't MIND Daniel Murphy at 1B, I am just feeling like we need an insurance policy, in case he becomes trade bait (and we ALL know he will at some point this season whether we like it or not). The second is -- I also feel like the Mets have been cursed since that trade deadline mini-massacre after Dominican-gate that left the Mets without a lefty-power masher since, oh, 2006. Enter Xavier. I wanted to right that wrong a while ago. But...I can let that one go. I think.

But the idea of John Fucking Smoltz on my team, an aging pitching vet whose arm is not only about to fall off but whose better days are simply behind him. Don't come to me with "well, he's only bullpen help." Keep dreaming. You know and I know he will be in the starting rotation at some point, doing his best impression of Jose Lima Time.

Plus, we ALL know how aging ex-Braves/Met-killers fare on this team. See: Tom Glavine.

I just don't get it -- especially with Erik Bedard, Jarrod Washburn and Jon Garland still out there, WHY ON EARTH ARE WE WASTING OUR FUCKING TIME CALLING JOHN SMOLTZ'S FUCKING AGENT?? Why? Is it because we WANT to finish 5th in the division this year, to get a sweet spot in the draft next year? 'Cause we all know, the Wilpons won't bother to pay over-slot in the draft to get a sweet spot anyway (you know, like our competition the Phillies, among others, do and have great teams in the pipelines).

You know what kills me most of all though? Okay, so I was thinking over the last two seasons, the Mets have picked up guys off the garbage heap that had overbloated contracts on others teams who simply were not working out. See: Gary Sheffield and Gary Matthews Jr. The most noteworthy I've seen is that the Tigers were willing to pay Sheff in the neighborhood of $14mm to NOT play for them in 2009. The Angels are paying Matthews $20mm over two years to NOT play for them.

The only time I've ever seen the Mets and Wilpon & Co do anything remotely like this is when they fire managers who have multi-year contracts or General Managers.

No, I am not advocating firing Manuel and Minaya, simply because it's the wrong thing to do RIGHT NOW. The time to let those guys go was after 2008. Manuel was interim manager. Make him fucking interview with other candidates (for the record, I wanted Oberkfell). Minaya, well, we all know he had his moment, now he's a scapegoat for the real problem. And that problem won't be going away with a simple managerial change.

And that problem would be, ladies and gentleman (and some bears I know who read this)...(Drum roll please)...STERLING EQUITIES!!!

(*~*chirping crickets*~*)

I'm not saying this is going to solve all the Mets problems (because believe me...there are many MANY more than what I have just illuminated). But what is prohibiting the Mets from releasing Luis Castillo and giving Orlando Hudson a contract? It's addition by subtraction, sort of (although there is a bit of addition there as well). Compared to what organizations like the Tigers and the Angels, outright devouring buckets of money they KNOW they willingly overspent for stupid ass reasons, eating the last half of Castillo's contract is exactly what the Mets should be doing. Sometimes, imitiation IS the sincerest form of flattery, when operating like an actual baseball organization that not only gives a crap about their fans but knowing when to pull the plug as well.

That will never happen.

We give contracts that are absolutely certifiable ($12mm to Oh Pea, which even I knew was crazy when I had high hopes for him), and not take a chance with Ben Sheets this year who we all know is good when healthy (~$10mm with incentives). You know when Ben Sheets DOES get injured? When he sees a two-year contract with the Mets in 2011, after winning the AL Cy Young Award in 2010.

We'll take garbage from other teams AS LONG as the other teams eat the contracts ($14mm for Sheff, $20mm for Sarge II), but not take out our own (Castillo, who can easily be replaced).

As long as the Wilpons are running the show, we'll never see anything daring like that. You know, actually doing the right thing for the team, whether that is taking a high-risk, high-reward gander at someone who has proven performance, or admitting they are wrong and walking away.

My advice to them...is to eat, piggy, EAT!!!

Oink!

PS I was profiled on the Mets Police the other day -- thanks guys for the plug. However, when I originally answered the form (a few weeks ago), it was right after the Bay signing. I was cautiously optimistic and even went to say that if Beltran is 100% healthy, we'll be legit wild card contenders.

We all know how that panned out. We'll be lucky to not finish last place at this point. (I'm exaggerating, I know, I'm just pissed off). I just wanted to point this out so I didn't look like more of a moron when someone points this out.

Mr. Wilpon...SELL THIS TEAM!!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

TWIB Notes From The Coop

Remember the old show This Week in Baseball, the "real" one, hosted by Mel Allen. There was always a section of the show called "T.W.I.B. Notes." I guess it's a bit of a misnomer here, since I'll probably talk about football as well. P's and C's don't report for another 27 days. We won't even see games for another 12 days after that. Loyal Coop followers will also have no choice but to read anything including baseball that I have to write (kind of like Adam Sandler in the Wedding Singer, right before he launches into the spirited "Love Stinks").

So last night, a guy who was all but a uniform number assignment away from being a Met, signed with my fave AL team, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Orange County, California, North America, Planet Earth, Milky Way Galaxy. Uh, short form is that Joel Piniero signed with the Angels last night. As Cerrone said over at Metsblog, I think the Mets have cooties. No one wants to sign with them (see: Bengie Molina), even when they are the only ones offering money and years. Until an interloper comes in. I can't say I blame him though for going to Anaheim. The team is the real deal, they just came off a great year, are an A-plus organization and have a competent manager. Heh, maybe I should just become an Angels fan girl after all that (I keed).

While I can appreciate the Mets not wanting to outbid themselves (see: Luis Castillo), I also wonder if they have the sense of urgency we fans do. We don't need a blockbuster deal or some kind of top-flight ace on the pitching staff. Some guy with a rubber arm, who eats innings, translates well in the NL and gives us a chance to win every fifth day.

It's been no secret I have had sort of a fangirl thing for Jon Garland for a few years. In fact, I was famously saying in the offseason leading to 2008 that we should pursue HIM rather than a pie-in-the-sky deal for Johan Santana (See: Johan Santana is now a Met). Well, I think the time has come that my vision comes to fruition and get that man on the team PRONTO. If I can see that there are more question marks than exclamation points in this damn rotation, at least put a guy in there that you know exactly what you are getting. SIGH Do I need to break out the list again? Johan - sure thing. Maine - injury waiting to happen. Oh Pea - nuff said. Pelfrey - ???????. And who else is there? Ben Sheets? I like him, I think he's worth the risk, but let's be fair. As soon as the rumors start that the Texas Rangers are "interested," he is all but going there (because they are the only team dumb enough to give him what he wants guaranteed. See: A-Rod).

So Omar, Jeff, whoever is listening. Please just go get Jon Garland already. We shoulda had him years ago. But now we can, and I would be satisfied with the rotation. Now, I didn't say "happy" with it, but I'd understand.

Next up: my blolleagues over at Studious Metsimus have brought to my attention that co-blogger Joey B. (from da B) has not been happy about his lack of blogging from his blogmaster, Bear Man. Since he specifically mentioned writing for me, I asked Joey for his dad's permission to bring him to spring training. So in addition to Chap and me, Joey will be coming along for the trip!

Of course, last is my obligatory posting on the Jets. Seems like Joe Namath is liking the confidence they are projecting, going into the heavily favored Peyton Manning-led Indianapolis this weekend for the Conference Championships. I have to say, being a lifelong Jets fan (something I wasn't necessarily "proud" of), this type of thinking is different and I have to say that I, too, have been drinking the green Kool-Aid as of late and truly believe they have more than a fighting chance to win this weekend.

Joe Willie also makes an interesting point, that the Jets infamously beat the "favored" Colts in Super Bowl III. Of course, the Colts were still in Baltimore at the time (ironically, the Jets could have played Baltimore Ravens this weekend had they won as well). But I can't help but notice that the Jets have this hottie new quarterback, much like Broadway Joe was back in the dizzay. Perhaps we will see Mark Sanchez in about 30 years, hitting on some young female reporter on the sidelines at a game.

I keed, I keed. Personally, though, I would just like to see the Jets win. Just make it to the Super Bowl. That's all I ask. It will just be fun to have a team that I genuinely root for in there.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Coop for GM! (Or At Least President of the Mets HOF Committee)

The second part of the title is due in part to my partner-in-Mets-blogging Bear Man for suggesting this the other day, but for retiring jersey numbers...

I went on a rant about number retiring (or lack thereof) in the Mets organization. To be blunt, I think they should do more to memorialize Mets who weren't named Stengel, Seaver or Hodges. Honoring Jackie Robinson throughout baseball is one thing. But as Senor Solly said, if the Padres can retire Randy Jones' number, the Mets can do far better with honoring their past. What about Koosman, Kranepool or Davey Johnson (grandathering in Jose Reyes and David Wright with those last two)? That's just naming a few. In my most humble opinion, I think the better part of the Mets' early existence was spent trying to remind old New York National League fans that they were the children of Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants history. With an owner who loves the Brooklyn Dodgers and the mythical lore surrounding them, good luck getting them to acknowledge ANYTHING Mets-related.

That said, the Mets have surprised me with their big announcement today (making it official in a conference call at 2 pm today) in that the newest Mets Hall of Fame Induction will at least nod to the best Mets manager ever, Davey Johnson, but also give long due to Darryl Strawberry, Doc Gooden and the man behind the scenes responsible for the teams '80s successes, Frank Cashen.

How funny, that it seems like FINALLY after all these years, Wilpon & Co are finally listening to the fan base. Took them friggin long enough. We've wanted nothing more than to see our favorite players memorialized. Of course, we all know that Darryl and Doc lost their way, but it's good to see them back in the good graces of the Mets organization (not to mention the fans).

Now all the Mets need to do is make a sweeping act of goodwill with the fanbase and do what Bear Man suggests here (and was posted on Metsblog today).

Oh and one more thing since today is Plugs R Us in the land of summer families...

Steve over at Kranepool Society says that the Mets are watching Ben Sheets throw in Louisianer today. Nothing huge there, since we all knew that time was coming. However, he mentioned something that I had completely forgotten...

Ben Sheets named his son Seaver after our own Tom Terrific.

Jeff, Omar, John Ricco...if ANY of you fucks are listening and/or know what's good for you, this is the PERFECT PR MOVE!!! SIGN THAT GUY NOW!!! How great would it be to get The Franchise himself in that press conference to give him his jersey, or give his son Seaver his own little Seaver #41 jersey.

I cannot be the only to see this. Give him an offer he can't refuse, and let's move towards P's and C's already, washing the bad Beltran and Boras taste out of our mouths already. Kthxbai. Love, The Coop

Sunday, January 17, 2010

O.M.J.E.T.S.

What a GREAT New York sports day!

The Jets actually WON an important game.

The Rangers scored SIX unanswered goals against Original Six rival Les Habitants.

And the Mets didn't lose!

I'm sorry for those of you who come here for Mets stories or news or insights, and if this bores you. But it's my site, so I will do whatever I want!!

After three years of disappointment, ennui and sadness with the Mets, I have had two great things happen to me tonight.

I have always told Mr. E that I could forgive him for making me into a Mets and a Rangers fan. Luckily for me, they've both won something in my lifetime. However, the Jets, I told him in the winter of 2008, I could NEVER forgive him for. He had a good laugh, I mean...of course, if that's the only thing Mr. E has messed up in raising me, was making me care about teams and being emotionally invested in something I have no control over...caring about sports, I guess I could fare a lot worse.

Initially I had tickets for tonight's Ranger game. At the last minute last week, my friend who I buy tickets from had invited me to see the team play on Thursday as well. Ironically, this was the 21st anniversary of me attending my first ever Rangers game at the Garden. That game was January 14, 1989, against the Penguins. A young upstart named Mario Lemieux played for the Pens. There was a guy with a cool name of Zarley Zalapski. Paul Coffey was their defenseman, and I later grew to respect and fear him on the ice as an opposing fan. Penguins goalie was Tom Barrasso.

That day I introduced myself to Ranger hockey and also to future legend Brian Leetch, who scored a shorthanded goal. The Rangers won that game. I learned what a shorthanded goal was.

Which came in handy today, since Brandon Dubinsky also scored a shorthanded goal tonight. Of course, the Rangers didn't repeat the win on my 21st anniversary. After the Canadiens scored two goals to open the game, it didn't look promising. The Rangers then scored SIX unanswered goals.

But the piece de resistance was that after the first period, a bunch of us Ranger fans stood in the beer vestibule watching the Jets game on the HDTV there. It looked like the game might spill over into the start of the second period for the hockey game. Lo and behold, I was back in my seats by the time the face off started.

Even though I am thrilled beyond all my wildest dreams that the Jets won today and going to the CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP (which I was just corrected by my co-pilot wasn't the "Finals," which comes from my hockey background)...the game ending was sort of anti-climactic. I cannot be the only one who watched that game who didn't see otherwise. I was watching in the area with the other fans, then the TV said, the Jets would be advancing.

Hmm. No J-E-T-S chants (I started one moments later, joined in by others). It was like, Oh ^shrug^ okay. And that was that.

Not that I'm not happy. The Jets have faced the Colts in recent weeks, and although it was a mail-it-in-game, even Jets fans weren't giving them much of a chance to win this weekend either against the Chargers.

Well they did, and they're going to play in Indianapolis next week so...neener neener neener!!!

Well I couldn't get many fans to join in with me at the Rangers game tonight...so join with me now please.

(ahem, ahem, ahem)

J!!!!

E!!!!

T!!!!

S!!!!

Jets!!

Jets!!

JETS!!!!!!!!!!!!

What else?

There has to be something else....

Oh right.

The Mets didn't lose today. They also didn't cause a public relations fiasco.

WOO HOO!!! LETS GO METS!!!!!!!

Lets go RANGE-UHS!!!!

And goooooooooooo Jets!!!!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Selling the Drama

So have you heard the one about Carlos Beltran?

We all knew with the collective euphoria of signing Jason Bay and firming up the rotation, along with a month away from P's and C's, the feeling wouldn't last long. Interesting. I would have given it more than a week.

I think most Mets fans are sincerely torn about this recent development. As my friend DiLo put it, we are not sure if we should be peeved he hid and delayed this, or happy he skipped over the Mets doctors. Cause there is one or two things here for sure. One is: Carlos Beltran was more "hurt" than the team (and even himself) let on. Two: The Mets management including their medical team is in shambles.

And honestly, I am feeling exactly the way DiLo described it. I should be relieved that if Beltran was hurt, he got the surgery he needs. And as the reports suggest, he will be rehabbing for 8-12 weeks, potentially miss season opener but definitely miss Spring Training. On paper, that doesn't sound bad, and if the news were coming directly from the Mets and not from a legitimate medical staff, we all know that means he would be out for the season. So I can live with him getting a scope of his knee

Of course, this does not go without the Mets providing their own two cents, with some kind of press conference being done today regarding this. See, they claim they were not aware of the surgery and/or were made to know about it too late to do anything. They are looking for an "out clause" in his contract and have lobbied the Players Association, from an article, "the Mets are claiming this was done without clearance and that the Mets are threatening to take some form of action. There is a potential issue out there."

Wow.

So now what? Well, if all goes well, and it seems like he visited a competent facility and felt the need to do this, then I should applaud Beltran for doing what he felt was right for himself and best for the team.

Or did he?

In 2009, I had great expectations for Beltran. To me, no one seemed more disappointed than him in the events of 2007 and 2008, and I could really see he desperately wanted to carry the team on his back for 2008. Of course, we all know what happened then, but I felt, knew that he would come through for the team, no matter what in 2009. Of course, he was out from June 21 till September. His effort was too little too late, unfortunately, but I felt again that 2010 would be Beltran's year. Shit, I was even saying before he started putting up MVP numbers in 2009 that he would be MVP not just of the Mets but in baseball. That was how much I wanted to believe in him.

Then there's the other part of me who used to call Carlos Beltran a "sissy," who was "all about the drama," the ringleader of the "Big Pussy's Posse" because (and I get this from Mets fans all the time -- he PLAYS hurt! he's always put the team before his own needs. Well I also believed that you can HURT the team more by playing hurt...but believe me when I say I was truly disappointed that he couldn't play last year because I felt like he had something to prove).

So I guess I am like the rest of the Mets fans in being on the fence. Happy he got it, disappointed he won't be there, angered by the way he went about it, getting paid anyway. Maybe if I start calling him out again, he will be back in 12 weeks to prove me wrong.

So how do you like them apples?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

NUM83R5

Matt Cerrone from Metsblog had a piece yesterday on Mike Piazza and the conundrum of him going into the Hall of Fame as potentially a Dodger, but the idea of retiring his number as a Met. Of course, Piazza is up for induction in 2012, so this point could all be moot.

But it got me thinking (did you smell the wood burning yesterday) about retired numbers. As of now, we all know that the only retired Mets numbers are 37 (Old Perfesser), 14 (Silent Gil) and 41 (The Franchise), plus #42 universally for some really cool famous dude Jackie Robinson.
The closing out of Shea Stadium and opening of CitiField, we were able to see Tom Terrific and Mike Piazza throw the final and opening pitches, respectively. Clearly, we are able to see that Piazza is at least viewed upon in the Mets organization "up there" with Tom Seaver as far as being the "best" at his position. I mean, for sentimental reasons, they could have easily gone with Gary Carter. But Kid Carter himself is in the Hall as a defunct Expo. Mike Piazza, to the latest of the Shea Generation anyway, view Piazza as one of "us," as a "true" Met.

Sentimentality is not the reason I am writing this, however. I have heard from numerous camps to "Retire 17" for Fernando Tatis...nah, just kidding. For Keith Hernandez of course, for "leading" the Mets to the 1986 World Series and 1980s overall greatness. To me, though, Keith was one of the key cogs of a well-oiled machine and as the argument goes for me anyway that if you retire his number, Gary Carter's #8 is worthy of being retired as is Darryl Strawberry's #18. I could even argue that Gary Carter, who is in the Hall as an Expo, should have his #8 retired because the current-Expos, Washington Nationals, do not recognize him as one of them. Gary Carter is a perpetual player, without a team, a man without a country.

What has been the biggest travesty to me, however, is that while NONE of the late-80s Mets numbers have been retired, Davey Johnson has been treated like Chopped Liva.

Seriously, if you retire Casey Stengel's number for being the first Mets manager (and harboring a losing record) and Gil Hodges for being a Met player and a great Mets manager who led them to the World Series, then you HAVE to give props where they are due for Davey Johnson. He was a stat-head before the term was ever popular, he was a player's manager and basically he led the charge for the team to take over the NL East in 1986. If you can't retire any player's number from the '80s, 1986 specifically, retire Davey's.

Back to Piazza. Even if he goes in the Hall as a Dodger, would it be so terrible if the TWO teams claimed him and retired his number? There are plenty of Dodger fans who would like that, as I saw first hand what he meant to them as an up-and-comer in the earlier part of his career. Nolan Ryan went into the Hall as a Ranger and his number is retired He split the majority of his years between the two teams, and I don't know if the Dodgers would need to set that bar that he needs to go in the Hall as a Dodger. (The Red Sox, I think, are a team that puts "rules" on the numbers they retire).

Personally, I think it's ridick to think in those terms. Take Mark Messier in hockey for example. His #11 is retired in both Edmonton AND in New York, the two teams he had the biggest impact on. What would be the big deal?

Retiring a number may seem like something that is petty, compared to what the organization has done to us fans in the last three seasons. Understand though, along with bringing back the Mets Hall of Fame and having more regular inductions, retiring a number is just what the fans need to look forward to and get behind. A moment that is bigger than them, since winning a championship might be a long time coming.

Therefore, I propose, besides Coop for GM, that the Mets right a wrong and bring back Davey Johnson to retire his #5 and retire Piazza's number whether or not he gets into the Hall as a Met.

Monday, January 11, 2010

No Gnus Is Good Gnus

So Mark McGwire finally comes out and says it.


And in other news, Pope Benedict confirms that he is indeed Catholic, a bear took a dump in the woods and sand was found on the beach today.

This is news? Well, clearly it is. We all knew it was a matter of time since he is going to be the hitting coach of the team that made him famous as the Big Mac, the St. Louis Cardinals. I mean, I'm sure their fans don't give a crap anyway, he'll always be near and dear to their hearts and it's well-documented that once someone comes clean, they can turn a new leaf and will be conveniently forgotten as the anti-hero.

But, again, I ask is this news? Or just confirmation of what we already knew?

In other news, it was reported in the news today that Derek Jeter is marrying his semi-long-term girlfriend actress Minka Kelly. It must be a slow news day. For one, this is going by a registered wedding as "Jeter Wedding." He's either dumb as shit (well, that's up for debate) or is really going through with it as the "Jeter Wedding" getting more paparazzi than Elizabeth Taylor did at her marriage to Larry Fortensky.

To me, this is "news" since I always thought Derek Jeter to be a long-life bachelor in the vein of Rusty Staub and Reggie Jackson. Uh, you guys figure that one out.

Of course, on Twitter there is also the trending topic of #thingsicareaboutmorethanjeterswedding and I included things such as counting the kernels of corn in my crap after Shepherd's Pie night.

I guess my point is, if there's no news on the Mets today, it must be good gnews. So good night everyone.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

A Little July at Christmas

On this, tthe official end of the "Twelve Days of Christmas," I've decided to honor our big Christmas gift found under the tree yesterday -- Jason Bay -- his official press conference (where I didn't hear "aboot" or "organ-eye-zation" once...but did see Rod Gilbert present an authentic Rangers jersey to Mr. Bay)...and finally getting around to telling y'all about what I did, just 13 days prior to Christmas, to honor my Mets fandom.

Unfortunately, as I wrote the piece initially, Blogger had other ideas. Stupid bastards ate my post after I had put about an hour of heart, soul and pictures into it.

So I am finally getting to my little piece of July at Christmas, in going on the Mets CitiField Season Ticket Holders Tour. Enjoy.
************************************************************
*Originally started on December 12, 2009, finished on January 6, 2009*
************************************************************
Thermal underwear and shirt? Check.
Thick socks and Ugg Boots? Check.
Puffy North Face coat? Check.
Gloves? Check.
Mets cap? Check.
Camera? Check.

What does this mean folks? It's time for the Behind the Scenes CitiField Tour, open to Season Ticket holders!!

Before I get started on the actual tour, I had gone back-and-forth with renewing my season ticket plan. I needed a partner, Mr. E might not be able to commit to a full season in 2010, and honestly, I feel like the Mets treated their season ticket fan base like one would treat a boil on their backside. You go to ANY other park, you go to any other sports event, and their season ticket holders are treated like VIPs, like they're considered a part of the team. The Mets I felt hadn't done enough in the four years I've been a holder, and thought, what is the payoff here, when I could have a mini-plan and have the same "perks" (which was basically - a big fat bowl of nothin').

However, when I got notice of special benefits this year such as Port St Lucie Special Access, Early Saturday/Sunday access privileges and the piece de resistance, Behind-the-Scenes-Citifield Tour, I had to find a reason to re-up. I found someone to take my Sunday tickets, a partial partner for Saturday games and I'll be willing out the rest. (PS Email me if interested in getting a four-game or five-pack from the Coop, in Section 138 at CitiField.)

One of my partial partners in 2010 will be Professor Ed from Studious Metsimus, so I invited him to tag along and take pics (see his take on CitiField here).

And of course, no tour of CitiField is complete without the Mets Man of the Year (Or Bear of the Year) -- he, himself...JOEY!!! (I think I actually took more photos of Joey than the actual stadium).

We were told to enter the stadium through the "1B VIP" entrance. Here is Joey next to the picture of the man he was named after, Jose-Jose-Jose Reyes, in the entrance hallway, leading to the elevator banks.

It was odd, walking through Flushing at the Willets Point stop on a Saturday afternoon in wintertime. A lot different from a Saturday afternoon with the mini-family reunions I'd have each weekend. The hustle bustle of game day was quickly replaced with a ghost town...the only "hub bub" around was the occasional 7 train on the track and Chop Shop Alley.

I have to say, they really put on the dog for us. Signs everywhere and the tour seemed very well-organized and planned, to get our buy-in (who'da thunk, we'd be y'know the REAL team members of this organization). Here is a sign as to which floor we take (how DARE they not have an elevator operator on staff that day!...just jokes)
And lo and behold, we get to the Caesar's Club, where I basically had one experience with all season during the exhibition games in March. We got to see the World Series trophies. I took a picture with these two kids who were SO excited to do this tour...I think they might have been more excited about the prospect of Mr. Met making an appearance this day, who was hanging out greeting the fans in the Club.

Our first stop was in the control room, which "controls" basically everything from the entrance music, closed-captioning, graphics on CitiVision and the scoreboard and most importantly...the Home Run APPLE!!


Right above is a photo of the monitor that monitors (I keep doing this, don't I) the swings and certain pitches...so let's say David Wright hits a grand slam in a game or something. The next time he comes up with a bases loaded situation, they might play this clip. Below is a monitor with all the nifty graphics you see at a given time on the CitiVision. KissCam, Carvel advertisements, you name it, it's on here.
But of course, the control room's most important aspect is...(don, don, DON!!)...the HOME RUN APPLE BUTTON!!!!

The two kids who you saw posing in front of the trophies earlier were in charge of the HR Apple duties that Saturday afternoon. How cool! We found out the reason for the 2.5 minute apple "performance anxiety" (after seeing one first-hand over the summer with a back-to-back home run situation). It is supported by hydraulics whereas the "old" apple at Shea was run on a more manual process. You'd think with all the technology out there, they'd have anticipated more "technological" moves, like you know, the old back-to-back home run situations. I digress.

The next stop were the broadcast booths, namely to pay homage to the original "Met" men, Bob Murphy Radio Booth and the Ralph Kiner Television Booth!


This view below only further proves that Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling have the COOLEST JOB on the face of the planet!
I know he'll probably kill me for posting this, but this is such a good pic of Ed and Joey at the TV booth, I couldn't help but posting it!
We were also able to see the view from the Press Box. Given the choice, I say SCREW the club suites and give me a press pass. These are the coolest seats in the park, hands down.



Here's Joey doing his best act of a local sports reporter.
After this sojourn, we went to the Empire level, which houses the aptly-named Empire Suites. I attended a game in April where I sat in one. Certainly luxurious and comfortable. Protection from the elements, whatever they may be. I don't sit there often, though. Let's change that this year!

Anyone who says there are "no photos" of Mets greats around or rather, "enough photos" clearly does not look hard enough, as the Empire level has cornered that market...yes, I do mean this as a bit of irony, because how many actual fans get the opportunity to attend games here? Here are some photos of Gary Carter and Carlos Beltran!
Onto to the auditorium, which apparently is the ONLY area in the stadium that references the color orange and blue anywhere. As Ed remarked...NO ONE KNOWS THEY'RE THERE. Ha ha. This also is not the area where press conferences are held. That is downstairs, right by the VIP entrance, where we also were able to exit (go figure) this day. Pics on that below.
We also got a great shot of the Rotunda from this area too.

We didn't spend much time in here though. There were other areas (note: more luxury suites to pitch to us) which to attend. We would be departing from the auditorium to land in the Delta 360 SkyClub. Wow is the first word that comes to mind. They did a great job in catering to their higher-end clientele in this room. Which makes me think that Jay the Dawg and I will have to find a means to crash on this season. It will be mine. Oh yes.




From here, we were able to get some great views of other non-Delta SkyClub items. One was the indoor batting practice cages. The other was the actual allowing of us fans ONTO the field, a first for me at CitiField!


I couldn't get a very good shot of the batting cages from inside, due to weird lighting but Joey got a good eyeful. The latter is Ed leading the charge onto the field. Well leading me onto the field anyway.

Anyway...yay! The field.


Who didn't tell the bear he was supposed to keep OFF the warning track? As Solly said when he saw the latter photo, I guess that David Wright's fly balls paid attention to the sign (ZING).


The above photos are all taken from the view of the field. We actually got to go INTO the dugouts and the verboten clubhouse as well.

But here is my fav'rit (as Ed would say) photo from the day. Joey just loves his Aunt Coop here!


Also the player's view of my new section for 2010, Section 138...

Onto the dugout...





What else can I say? It was as super-cool as it looked.
So! What do we have here...

Can I get another hint?
OOOH! We're about to enter the clubhouse, easily the neat-o-est part of the tour. Here's a view from the player's vantage point, when they are about the enter the dugout. (just from whence we came)
Prep for the day's game...here is the line up from the last (and possibly best) game at CitiField in 2009.
Players gather in here to practice hitting...
Running drills (measured out at 90 feet)...

And have the ability to watch videos of that day's pitcher or any kind of instructional video.
As we also found out, the room where the umpires go to view the instant replays are on the OTHER side, the 3B side of the park.

Other cool tidbits on the inside...CitiField "Rules"


We also got to go into the locker room, getting the good vibes of what players do in prep for each game, and where they congregate daily.

We found out the lockers are not assigned yet. So take your pick! Ha ha ha...

An homage to ol' Shea, the neons show up on the rug. Do they sell these anywhere? Not that I would get one...Dad might like one though.
The locker room was empty, signifying the beginning of winter and waiting for spring to come.

The players also have a recreational room that houses such cool items as a pool table, pinball machines, video games and an old school carnival popcorn maker.

The story behind this pool table is that when the Rolling Stones toured Shea Stadium in the late-80s, the band schlepped this pool table with them but didn't feel like bringing it back to the UK. Charlie Samuels (Equipment Manager) decided to reupholster it and give it a more-Mets look.

Apparently, Nelson Figueroa is the Rock Band and Guitar Hero champ, as well as the resident tech nerd. Here are some old school non-technical stuff, like pinball machines.

And the super-industrial sized kitchen in the game room.
Our tour was starting to wind down from here. We got to see the weight room, but our supposed last stop on the tour was going to be the weight room.

Unfortunately some dude named David who plays third base for the team decided it was time for his workout, and they wouldn't let us in.
I tried to get a good shot of him, but I think he was a bit camera-shy for the nutty fans doing the tour that day. I did tell the security dude to pass along birthday wishes for the fellow-December baby, since his bday was the upcoming week.

Our tour winded up shortly afterwards in the press room, which I mentioned earlier. This is where we see Omar Minaya stumbling around with words and Jerry Manuel doing his post-game wrap ups.

There are those kids again!
And these kids again! Coop for GM! Not that I'm into the whole self-promotional thing...

Anyway, we exited through the 1B VIP entrance...which I guess makes it the VIP exit. Joey of course wanted some pizza so we found him some.
I'm sure, being it was Cascarino's and it hasn't been opened in a few months, it must be pretty old. But he was happy.

Lastly, I realized that during the whole season, I hadn't seen where the Shea Stadium markers were. Shocking, I know. I guess I hadn't wanted to acknowledge that it was gone. I've also remarked that since I go to so many games, I usually don't take my time to notice the little things around the park anymore. That will have to change this year. Here is a photo of the old Pitcher's "Plate" at Shea Stadium.
All in all, I may have been discouraged about the team this season, the bumbling management always and even the stadium that I hadn't yet found enough love in my heart to call a "home" yet. Funny thing is, as time goes on, I'm starting to get a little wistful nostalgia relating to the very few games I felt a genuine connection with it. I miss Shea, but this tour was the first time I didn't think of it coming back, that CitiField was our new home and I had to in essence deal with it.

I wish the baseball season could start tomorrow, rather than in less-than-three-months. I am not only excited to sit in a new section, but I'm excited to start a new community of Jason Bay-Watchers over in the left-field reserved sections!