Must Read of the Day Ron Darling Guest Column of Shannon Forde

 

Ron Darling has a guest column in today’s NY Daily News about Mets Sr. Director of Media Relations Shannon Forde and her fight with Stage IV breast cancer and information on the fund raiser on her behalf. Check out Hope Shines For Shannon for all the details of this great event

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Please Support the Fund Raiser for Shannon Forde

 

Last week at our monthly Met Bloggers night at Citi Field the friendly face I always look for was right there in the conference room where you see Terry Collins before and after every game. Shannon Forde, the Mets Senior Director of Media Relations came over to give me and the other bloggers a big welcome.

Shannon and Danielle Parilleo the Mets Director of Communications are the Mets bloggers den mothers. They take us into the places we’ve all dreamed about being in, the managers press conference, on the field for batting practice, arranging players for us to interview and assuring Jay Horowitz that we are not bad people. It’s people in the organization like Shannon and Danielle that make me root harder for this team to win because they work so hard they deserve a World Series ring as much as any player.

While watching BP last week at Citi Field myself and Ed Marcus went over to say hi to Shannon and tell her how much we missed her at the last bloggers meet up. Shannon has that personality that just makes you want to hang out with her to the point where she is much more interesting to talk to than any of the players, the same players by the way who seem to have much love and admiration for her since they know firsthand how hard she works at her craft. Her work at Citi Field is just a part of what she does as she is a mom and a wife and handles all those responsibility flawlessly and with her trademark smile.

It was while we were hanging out by the Mets dugout that Shannon told Ed and me that she was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer. At that point both of our knees kind of buckled. But leave it to Shannon to stay positive and tell us she’s going to fight this and beat it and with the great support group she has both with the Mets and within her family, I have no doubt that she will beat this insidious disease and continue to be one of the best and most important members of the NY Mets and continue to lead a bunch of nomad bloggers around Citi Field.

To support and give back to Shannon for all she has done for so many, her friends have organized a fund raiser for her at the Westmount Country Club in Woodland Park NJ on Thursday night November 1st for 7PM to 11PM. Tickets for the dinner are $100 and that includes dinner dancing a cocktail hour and open bar. From 7:30PM to 9:00PM that evening, there will be an autograph session featuring Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, John Franco, Bobby Ojeda, Edgardo Alfonzo, Al Leiter, Ed Charles and Eddie Kranepool. For $250 you get to meet with these members of Mets Royalty and get an autograph as well.

If you cannot make it to the dinner you can still make a donation. All the information is at Hope Shines For Shannon.  

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MORE FROM MY FRIDAY AT CITI FIELD

On Friday the Mets invited some Mets bloggers back to Citi Field to participate in Terry Collins’ pre and post game press conference and to watch the game between the Mets and Brewers from the press box.  I want to thank Danielle Parillo Director, Communication and Shannon Forde Director, Media Relations for the hospitality they’ve shown us and for the invitations to these events and the Mets management for trying and so far succeeding in changing the atmosphere around the club and bringing transparency and communication back to the fan base via the voice of the fans, the Mets bloggers.

During the evening I sat with Mike Silva of NY Baseball Digest and Mike mentioned to me a post he was writing dealing with Mike Pelfrey and how the Mets should explore making Pelf the closer for 2012. We tossed the subject around with the pros and cons and mostly if Pelf can handle the day to day pressure of closing and if he could get a strikeout when he needs it. All in all it was a subject that stirred a debate and was great conversation. That being said, I was shocked to see the lightweight Mets beat reporter for the NY Daily News write the same exact story that Silva posted on Saturday in today’s paper. I won’t link the News story but if you see someone using a Daily News to pick up after their dog in the street ask if you can have the sports section to read the ripped off story.

I still feel a bit intimidated when I go to these Mets bloggers events. Before the press conference, Danielle informed the blogggers that we could ask Terry Collins a question but she warned, he wasn’t in a very good mood. Now I had a question for the manager as I wanted to know if in the Mets minor league system, of which Collins was the Minor League coordinator, do the coaches and managers have classroom sessions, kind of like they do in other sports, where they go over video of a game and correct mistakes in base running or on defense like throwing to the wrong base or being out of position and to go over the rules of the game?  

When Collins entered the room the first thing he said to Jay Horowitz was “I’m out of here at 4:05” it was 3:55 when he said that. The media in the room that I recognized were Adam Rubin, Howie Rose, Gary Cohen, George Vesey and Ed Coleman.  The bulk of the questions were about Jose Reyes and his sore hammy. It seems Reyes was able to run on a track at a training facility in Long Island and I guess the manager wanted to see him run the bases at Citi but whatever, the look and mannerism of the manager gave me the impression the last thing he wanted to do was answer a questions from the media much less from bloggers.  

When Shannon approached me with the microphone to ask a question, something in my mind told me, “ehhhh you better pass here. It’s a pretty good question but maybe save it if you meet the manager in the off season when it’s a little calmer” So I passed my turn to the next blogger, who passed to the next blogger who passed to…..Well, I guess you see my point, none of us wanted to raise the skipper ire.

One of the pleasures of watching the Mets warm up and take BP is interacting with Jose Reyes. Reyes was taking some ground balls and playing catch with Justin Turner, then hit the cage for BP. When he was done he headed to the clubhouse and as he got close to me I asked him how he was feeling and how the hamstring was and he answered. “I’m feeling good Papi, I’ll be ready soon” This was the second time I’ve spoken to Reyes (the other was during an event in the offseason)    and both times he called me Papi and you know what, it made my day both times.

Yesterday I posted the audio from the bloggers sit down with R.A. Dickey. Before R.A. came out we were hanging out in the Mets dugout. I put my bag down and hopped up on the wall in back of the benches to sit down. As R.A. came out he sat right next to me. Luck of the Irish eh? We all introduced ourselves and of course I had to add that I’m @kranepool on Twitter to which Dickey gave me a laugh and said “ahhhh ok pleasure to meet you in person” No R.A. the pleasure was all mine.

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A GREAT NIGHT OF FOOD TASTING AT CITI FIELD AND A SEAT IN THE PRESS BOX FOR DESERT

Quite the evening at Citi Field last night. This post may start to ramble for a while so if you want to stay for the full ride I suggest you make a trip to the rest room, grab some coffee and get a comfortable chair.

Last night was another installment of Mets Bloggers Gone Wild at Citi Field.  In this episode, which by the way, SNY is making a huge mistake not taping our blogger outings at Citi Field. The reaction of me and my fellow bloggers in arms when we gain access to areas of the ball park we never thought in a million years we’d enter is priceless.  I know for myself I feel like a 5 year old again and I’m at some old relatives home and my mother grabbing me by my arm imploring me to not to touch anything and mind my manners.  

At the last bloggers gathering, we were invited to listen to Terry Collins pre-game press conference and we were given access to be on the field during batting practice. As the main streamers sat in the Mets dugout, Shannon Forde, the Director of Media Relations (and all around sweetheart who sets up these events) told our group we could sit in the dugout as well. What? Say that again? So into the Mets dugout we went.  As hard as I tried to stay out of people’s way, I felt an arm on my shoulder and voice saying “excuse me” the arm belonged to Daniel Murphy, the shoulder was mine. I apologized for being in the way (“Oh sorry Daniel”) and Murph patted my back and said “not a problem”. So just when you think that was a best day ever, you have a day like yesterday.

My day at Citi Field started off with the bad news about David Wright and his stress fracture in his back. I arrived a bit earlier than expected and as I waited to get my credential, Shannon saw me and invited me to sit in on the Wright press conference. I told you she’s a sweetheart.  As Wright spoke about the MRI and then revealed he had a stress fracture in his back from the play in April involving Carlos Lee, I wanted to yell out “oh shit” and kick the chair in front of me but I had to remember that in these situations I can’t be a fanboy. It was interesting watching the media taking notes and asking questions nice and calm, while all Mets fans receiving this news were freaking out.    

As I waited for the rest of the blogger-ratzi to arrive, Caryn Rose, Kerel Cooper, Mike Silva, Matthew Artus, Rob Castellano and Ceetar,  I sat near Jay Horowitz who was on his phone spreading the word that Wright was going for a second opinion on his back and relaying the successful surgeries of pitchers Chris Young and Jenry Mejia . As Horowitz got off the phone, he let out a sigh and looked over at me with a smile and said hello. I almost did one of those look over the shoulders and then point at myself as to say “you talking to me” and with a “hiya Jay, busy day eh”? he replied shaking his head “that’s for sure”

When the other bloggers arrived, we were set to start out tour of the new food products available at Citi Field and of the clubs in the ballpark.

I’ve been a critic of some of the food stands and the emphasis that is put on what to eat at the ballpark, but after meeting Scott Kleckner, Resident District Manager, Sports & Entertainment for Aramark, I have to switch my position. The enthusiasm that Kleckner has for the food concessions and clubs reminds me of how Terry Collins talks about his team.  I still would rather sit in the stands at a ball game on a warm summer night with a hot dog and drink and from talking to Kelckner, he not only understands folks like me, he respects that fan mindset and wants you to be able to go to any concession stand and get the best hot dog and drink that you could possibly have.  He puts his degree in Hospitality and Management to excellent use. Kleckner is proud of the quality of the food and the amenities of the clubs at Citi Field, and he should be.

Kleckner and his staff brought us around to different concessions to try some of the new food items available at Citi Field. We first went to Catch of the Day stand to sample Popcorn Shrimp and Shrimp Po’Boy ‘s.  I’m not a big seafood eater but I loved the Popcorn Shrimp. The shrimp had a nice breading and wasn’t overly greasy (that was the one thing with the fried food we tried it never had a greasy taste) from there we moved to Keith’s Grill to sample the Mex Burger. This burger was put together by Keith Hernandez and consists of a Brooklyn Burger, cheddar and jack cheese, bacon, guacamole, chipotle aioli and jalapenos. That’s a spicy burger. I’m not much for spicy food so I favor the Gold Glove burger myself, which has cheese ,bacon lettuce, tomato, ketchup on one side of the roll and mustard on the other   . My one problem with Keith’s Grill is they make the burgers one at time which is great but they need to add another Keith’s Grill somewhere else in the ball park. During the last home stand, my wife waited 30 minutes on the line to get four burgers; on her behalf I field a protest with Mr. Kleckner.

We then went over to Cascarino’s Pizza.  This is my least favorite concession, the pizza is good (we sampled the thin Sicilian with fresh mozzarella) but I just have a tough time paying over 6 bucks for a slice.  We also tried a new fried chicken sandwich at Blue Smoke which was good but a little too much on the mayo but then again any mayo is too much for me. I hate mayonnaise.

We then went to what I feel is the best new concession to taste the Hot Pastrami. WOW!!! The meat is hand carved nice and thin and very tender and seasoned to perfection. The pastrami may move ahead of the turkey and mozzarella at Mama’s of Corona as my food at choice at Citi Field.

After stuffing ourselves at the concessions we moved on to the clubs. As I say I’m not one for the stadium clubs but again I loved Scott Kleckner’s enthusiasm and passion for the product the staff puts out.  Kleckner raved about the eggplant parmigiana hero in the Delta 360 Club. It was outstanding. The eggplant was just how I like it, sliced thin, seasoned and breaded nicely and not tough or stringy or mushy, and the tomato sauce had nice flavor not acidy, the roll was nice and crusty as well. You were right Scott that is a hell of a sandwich.

After all that noshing, we were set to watch the game. Shannon then informed us that we, the bloggers could sit in the press box. Yes you read that right, we, the bloggers were invited to sit in the Citi Field press box during a real live Major League game. Talk about an awkward feeling. It’s nowhere near Jackie Robinson breaking the color line I know, but never in my wildest imagination did I think I would go from a non-pants wearing , basement dwelling lunatic ranting about his favorite baseball team to having a seat in not just a Major League press box but the Citi Field press box.  We all handled ourselves correctly, no cheering in the press box and when we spoke to each other it was in hushed tones as people were working. We got a few stares but the box wasn’t very crowded. The best part for me were all the stat sheet  handouts they have, it reminded me of when Sal “Red Light” Messina did color on  NY Ranger games on radio, he’d always slip me the media notes for the game, class all the way was Red Light.

So the state of baseball reporting survived an invasion of Mets bloggers sitting in their Ivory Tower. The bedrock of Manhattan didn’t shift, the Atlantic Ocean didn’t erupt and flood Coney Island and Jay Horowitz didn’t suffer a nervous breakdown. Now if one of the beat writers would have come over and put his arm around us, like Pee Wee Reese did to Robinson, the night would have been complete.

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