CAUTION: CLOSER IN TRAINING

The slider, when thrown properly, is a devastating pitch. As the batter’s hand to eye coordination gets in synched and sees the pitch as coming over the plate and the mind makes that split second decision to swing at it, the ball breaks downward to a point where the batter is fooled and cannot adjust his swing. But when a slider is not executed properly, it hangs up in the hitting zone. If the batter has some power that flat slider usually leaves the ball park screaming like in a cartoon. This is what happened yesterday to Bobby Parnell and his pitch to Logan Morrison that left Whatevertheycallit Stadium like it was shot out of a cannon.

As bad as that pitch was and the outcome, negating the 2 run blast by David Wright to put to Mets ahead 4-3 going into the bottom of the 7th, pisses us me off as a Mets fan, I think we are now at the point of the season where we can chalk this up to closer in training Parnell’s learning experience.

Look, the season is what it is, a fight to finish with between 81-85 wins. If the Mets can do that the season is a positive and if Bobby Parnell and Pedro Beato work on being the future backend of the bullpen then that’s fine with me. Same thing with keeping Izzy around for the rest of the season. What can you get for Izzy? A C level prospect? He is much more valuable to the Mets as a veteran reliever working with Parnell and Beato for the next two months.

I think one thing in the Mets favor of keeping Jose Reyes with the Mets for years to come, is the consensus from the Mets players this season that the Mets clubhouse is a great place to be. Izzy for example, went to Sandy Alderson to tell him he doesn’t want to be traded. Carlos Beltran, understands the reasons why the GM is trying to move him, but Beltran will not be sad if he’s not dealt.  In fact Beltran would love to stay as he has cited this being the best clubhouse he’s been in since he became a Met.   Remember back early this season when Willie Harris caught hell from Mets fans when he spoke of the distance in the Mets clubhouse? Well, I wish those who have access to Harris would ask him if he still feels that way now that we have played more than half a season. I doubt it. For this you have to credit the manager, for keeping that clubhouse positive.

I’m worn out reading about when and where Carlos Beltran will be dealt to.  With all the debate over which team will offer the Mets the best prospect, the best take I’ve read so far on dealing Beltran comes from Paul of Random Baseball Stuff, who left this comment on my post from yesterday:

 I enjoy watching Beltran play, but I’m going to be annoyed if he’s still a Met on Aug. 1st. Sandy has got to move him for the best return he can get – the 2011 Mets aren’t going anywhere, and I don’t think Beltran fits in the 2012 budget.

 Even if he only gets salary relief, it would be better than nothing. The Mets haven’t finished signing all of their high-round draft picks yet.  

When you think about it, if you trade Beltran to a team that would take the rest of his salary for the year, it comes out to about $5-$6 mil. You could use that money to sign Brandon Nimo and RHP Logan Verret, not to mention any free agents in the Latin market as well. It may be worth more for Alderson to do that than any prospect the Giants, Phillies or Braves are willing to give up.

I’m not going to lie to you, I am ecstatic that the NFL lockout is over. I am ready for some football.

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SIGN THE GET WELL CARD FOR GARY CARTER TONIGHT AT CITI FIELD

This card will be in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda tonight before the Mets-Angels game. It will be signed first by the Mets players and broadcasters then fans will be able to send their best wishes to the Kid. When the card is full of names and well wishes, the Mets will send it off to Gary Carter as he battles with brain cancer.

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R.A. DICKEY TO RECEIVE THE YA GOTTA BELIEVE AWARD AT METS WELCOME HOME DINNER

The greatness that is R. A. Dickey, will be rewarded this Sunday night at the Mets Welcome Home Dinner, at the New York Hilton, as Dickey receives the Ya Gotta Believe Award. He is the press release issued by the Mets:

The New York Mets today announced they will hold their annual Welcome Home Dinner to benefit the Mets Foundation this Sunday, April 10 at 6:00 p.m. at the New York Hilton Hotel, located at 53rd Street and Seventh Avenue. 

Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson, Manager Terry Collins, coaches, and all 25 Mets players will be in attendance.

Pitcher R.A. Dickey will receive the Ya Gotta Believe award, named for former Mets pitcher Tug McGraw. The lefty reliever famously coined the phrase in 1973 as the Mets rallied to capture the National League pennant despite being in last place in August.  After being the first player cut during spring training in 2010, Dickey finished the season with an 11-9 record and a 2.84 ERA, seventh-best in the National League.  Dickey, who reinvented his career in 2005 with Texas by becoming a knuckleball pitcher, signed the first guaranteed contract of his career last winter, a two-year deal with a club option for 2013.

“It’s been a long journey for me,” said Dickey, Sunday’s winning pitcher who is scheduled to start the Mets’ 4:10 p.m. home opener against the Washington Nationals this Friday, April 8.  “My wife Anne always wanted me to continue to play. She didn’t want me to have any regrets.”

The Ya Gotta Believe award is given annually to an individual within or associated with the Mets family who has shown an exceptional commitment to the community, fortitude in overcoming adversity, and the spirit to believe that anything is possible.

For more information visit mets.com or by phone at (718) 803-4074.

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WE’RE CLOSE REEEEAAAALLLL CLOSE TO REAL BASEBALL

I had the honor of being invited to a bloggers conference call with Mets manager Terry Collins last night. Collins is upbeat , excited and quite confident about his team. I posed the question to Collins on how will he keep this club together when adversity hits, as it always does in a 162 game baseball season. Thanks to Michael Baron, here is my question and a full transcript of the conference call. I tip my Mets cap to Michael for doing this transcript under adverse conditions as there was a load of background noise during the call:

Steve Keane: This Spring, camp has been upbeat, although there have been a few bumps in the road. It seems the players have fed off your enthusiasm. Over the course of the season, there will be losing streaks, and in the past, those spread and festered. The Mets, over the past few years, haven’t been known to be mentally and physically tough. How do you combat that?

Terry Collins:   Not everyone has the answer. People think there is a process we go through to get through it. In a losing streak, a lot of guys get concerned with individual stats, and we need to combat that. Its all about communication, and making sure they continue to believe in themselves. Not sitting back, and waiting for things to happen.

The toughest part of managing or coaching is getting your players to buy in to what preaching, getting them to put team ahead of self and so far this spring from the quotes and stories from Mets players, they seem to be buying what TC is selling.

Caryn (Metsgrrl) Rose had a great question for Collins about him being a players manager and I think this was a real honest and revealing answer from TC:

I think it means a lot – in the past, I was probably not a players manager. Through the years, I have realized the importance of constant communication, and never taking anything for granted. That is done with experience – from my first few years, I was worried about only managing the game, and thinking everyone was on board with it. I look at it as a compliment.

Keeping the lines of communication open is KEY for a manager. When the players have to guess what you’re thinking or feel you’re playing head games, you are destine to lose that player and your team.  I would say TC learned that lesson in Anaheim and will not make that mistake again.

Izzy has agreed to stay in extended spring training for two weeks as the Mets try to fit this bullpen. It worked out as well as Sandy Alderson could have hoped as he gets to keep two or the three relievers he had to decide on.

The more these stories keep coming out about the Skill Sets shaky financial status, it seems the only conclusion I can see is the Skill Sets selling the team.  Freddy Skill Sets has his heart set on keeping the team in the family for generations to come but I doubt if his wish will come true.

As I was typing up this post, word came down that Luis Castillo has been cut by the Phuck Phaces. Andy Martino is getting ready to file a discrimination lawsuit against the Phuck Phaces on behalf of Castillo.

GET METS-MERIZED! GET METS-MERIZED! Cheesy? you bet Sharp Cheddar Baby!

The everyday menu at Foley’s NY is always first rate but with the start of the 2011 Baseball Season, they have added a bunch of specials to commemorate the season openers:

Appetizers

Francona’s Terry-Yaki Steak Skewers: $5.00

Thai (Cobb) Chicken Skewers: $5.00

Dustin Pedroia’s Buffalo Shrimp: $5.50

Miguel Cabrera’s Loaded Fries: $5.00

Welkes’ Wings (Bucket = three orders): $12.50

Entrees

Cliff’s Phil-Lee Cheesesteak Sandwich: $5.95

Justin Morneau’s French Dip $5.95

Sean Casey’s Irish Burger $6.50

Coursi’s Chicken Club Wrap $5.50

Additionally, Foley’s has named a menu item for every team in the major leagues:

NL

Mets: David Wright Sandwich

Phillies: Philly Cheesesteak Wrap

Braves: Fried Chicken Dinner

Marlins: Fried Fish Sandwich

Nats: Washington Apple Pie

Brewers: Bratwurst

Cardinals: Toasted Ravioli

Pirates: Pittsburgh Steak Salad

Cubs: Chicago Dog

Astros: Texas Sirloin Steak

Reds: “Reds Hot” Chili

Dodgers: LA Pizza

Padres: Fish Tacos

Rockies: Beer Battered Onion Rings

Arizona: Chicken Southwest

Giants: French Dip

AL

Yankees: “Swish” & Chips

Red Sox: Shrimp & Scallops

Toronto: Poutine (French fries topped by cheese curds and gravy)

Orioles: Maryland Crab Cake Sliders

Rays: Cuban Sandwich

Tigers: Mini Chili Dogs

White Sox: Chicago Dog

Twins: “Juicy Lucy” Burger

Royals: KC Burger

Indians: Cleveland Carrot Cake

Rangers: Texas T Bone

Angels: Artie’s Nachos

Mariners: Chicken Eggrolls

A’s:  Garlic Wings

Looks like tomorrow or Friday will be a long lunch day for me to sneak over to Foley’s

Don’t forget to check out the THIS CALL TO THE BULLPEN Podcast from last night with my guest Matthew Silverman author of 50 AMAZIN’ SEASON . You can listen here at Kranepool Society (lower right side bar) or at the show page or as a download on iTunes.

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“FOR THE GOOD OF THE TEAM” STARING CARLOS BELTRAN

When Sandy Alderson was hired to run the Mets baseball operations, the phrase we heard over and over again was “Now there are adults running the show”. When Terry Collins was hired as manager it was not the most popular choice to make since the bulk of the fan base wanted Wally Backman to get the job because if there is one thing that Mets fans love it’s former Mets players with World Series rings (that should be an incentive to present and future Mets, if you win a World Series as a Met your set for life. Meals will be free, endorsements plentiful; no matter if you are the star or 25th man you’re revered) but so far this early in spring, it’s safe to say, the on the field Mets are doing much better than the off the field Mets.

Before camp even started, Collins showed strong leadership by naming Big Pelf the opening day starter and the first seven spots in his lineup. He also made it known that the question of who will be the centerfielder will be answered quickly and decisively.  

Alderson and Collins showed Carlos Beltran the veteran respect he has earned and deserved. They laid out the centerfield scenario; Beltran will be given every chance to prove that he and his knee are up to the task of covering the vast canyon that centerfield in Citi Field is. If he can’t, then the move to right field will be made and Angel Pagan, who has proven to be a terrific centerfielder, will take over the job. The key in this plan was, once the decision was made, it will be final, no yo-yoing back and forth.  

I guess with that information and the fact that he has been treated with respect for the first time in his Mets career and knowing that his knee will be a problem for as long as he plays baseball, Carlos Beltran got to camp early yesterday, asked to meet with Collins and Pagan to let them know it’s time for him to shift over the right field and let Pagan take the helm of center field. It was a crowning moment for Beltran, Collins and Pagan.

Beltran has gotten a bad rap by the segment of Mets fans. It seems that called third strike he took from Adam Wainright in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS has followed him his whole Mets career. I’ve said before, the folks who criticize Beltran for taking that pitch obviously has never played baseball beyond Little League. The reason a curveball is such a potent pitch is when you’re standing in that batter’s box, pitchers who can throw a hook like Wainright, can throw the pitch with such a big break, that the pitch looks like it’s coming straight at you but then breaks over the plate. It’s the pitch that separates all stars from journeymen but I digress.

His first year as a Met was not as good as hoped and his last two seasons have been injury riddled but from 2006 to 2008 he was the best player on the Mets and one of the best in all of baseball. Hopefully the move to right field works for Beltran and helps keep the stress off his arthritic knee. This will be his last season as a Met but hopefully he goes out on the same high note as he has started this spring.

Who knows, maybe this is something Mets fans will look back on in September as a galvanizing moment for a club that might just be figuring out that if they stick together and block out the noise from ownership and the media barbs that this team is not worthy of having New York in its name, they can do something special. So far this early spring it’s been all positives coming from camp even when Ollie Perez pitches the team puts a positive spin like” no children or animals were harmed during Perez’ performance.”   Who knows? One thing is for sure I can’t wait for a month from today.

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POSITIVELY METS

From spending time at the Mets  Citi Kids event at Citi Field, a few things stood out:

When you bring up Manager Terry Collins name, especially to the younger Mets players, you get a big smile. Dillon Gee, Josh Thole and Bobby Parnell are all familiar with Collins from his days as the Mets Minor League Coordinator. When asked about the new manager the description they all use is “high energy”. They also laud Collins preparation and the detail he puts in to his workouts.

One of the questions to R.A. Dickey was about him coming into spring training knowing he has a job and how does that affect his routine in camp. Dickey said that working on getting right handed hitters out more consistently, especially switch hitters who bat from the right side against him as “it’s a more comfortable at bat for them”, he can now work on finding ways to take away that comfort level.  One of Dickey’s concerns he said was “that last year was not an anomaly, and it’s my hope it’s the natural evolution of the journey that I’ve started with the knuckle ball”  

Dickey was asked about meeting and talking to Terry Collins and he said he enjoyed the conversations they’ve had but there will be a feeling out process between the manager and the players, “a learining curve “ was how he put it.  R.A. said  “He  respect his (Collin’s)  baseball knowledge”  and he loves Collins’ intensity something Dickey said “that has not been seen around here in the last few years”.  I asked Dickey about the team being a contender and he told me “Gosh I hope so, but there are some boys down the road who may not agree with me but we have the pieces in place, how competitive will play out over the season.  Dickey went on to say that “clubhouse culture” is a big factor “getting people to realize their maximum potential is a big part of it (contending) “   Dickey also feels a “new sense of energy” from last season to now with the new regime taking over he used the term “a high tide raises all ships” stating that the high energy of the manager and the more positive outlook from the front office is a breath of fresh air from the defeatist attitude the Mets organization had had over the past few years.  Dickey told me it’s about getting a “network of guys” to buy in to the positive attitude that it will spread through the team.

Dickey pulls no punches when asked about the second half malaise of last year, “We were ill prepared, in the sense that we weren’t ready there was no sense of urgency” Dickey included himself in that category as well.  He also spoke vaguely of the “hypothesis” of Beltran coming back from injury and the shifting of roles that wasn’t done too smoothly. Dickey claims with all the guys (save for Johan Santana) coming into camp healthy and “rip-roarin’” it will make a world of difference.

Dickey then talked of Josh Thole and how “blessed” he is to have him catch him. He called Thole “Selfless and that’s not something you can say about a player in most clubhouses” He also went to rave about the time and hard work that Thole puts into his craft. It was a theme amongst the pitchers when asked about Thole, they all started with praise of his work ethic and his communication skills. I asked Thole what it’s like to work with the veteran pitchers like Santana, Frankie Rodriguez and Pedro Feliciano when he was here. He said those guys were great to him and he implored them to let him know anything he was doing wrong and from talking to Dickey and Mike Pelfrey that straightforwardness of Thole has gone a long way in his gaining the respect of the pitching staff.

Of course no conversation with R.A. Dickey is complete with some literary recommendation. He told us he just about done reading My Name Is Asher Lev, and he highly recommends it.

Jose Reyes was more than accommodating with his time for us but one thing he didn’t to talk about was injuries. As far as Jose is concerned injuries are a negative and in keeping with the positive energy of the Mets, Reyes pronounced himself fit and healthy and ready to get to St. Lonesome to workout.   When I asked him about the managers proclamation that he is the leadoff hitter with no stupid games as to maybe he’ll bat third Reyes was Reyes, he had a wide smile and said he spoke to Collins who told him “he wants him more involved in the offense” and you can tell that was just what Jose wanted to here.  Reyes said he likes the energy and passion Collins begins as manager. There wasn’t much on the prospects of a new contract from but Reyes reiterated how he wants to stay a Met especially when it was brought up to him that he is longest tenured Met.

During the event we found out that Terry Collins had told Mike Pelfrey that he will be given the opening day assignment and when we got to talk to Big Pelf, you could see how happy he was getting that news.  Pelf told us during his lunch with Collins that he could tell the manager was ready to get to camp as he was going over cutoffs and how to back up bases on throws from the outfield.  Pelf was asked about last year’s trading deadline and the inability of the team to make a deal; he said it was frustrating that the club didn’t try to bring in a player or two to spark the club. Pelf also said he was very happy (as did Bobby Parnell) that Dan Warthen was retained as pitching coach. Both Pelf and Parnell spoke of Warthen’s strong communication skills and how he works with the pitchers.  The biggest thing Pelfrey is looking for from himself in2011 is consistency, the ability to go out and give the team seven-eight quality innings every start.  Pelfrey agrees with most that the Chris Capuano signing was great “under the radar” as he said, same with Chris Young and as we all feel with the pitching reclamation projects brought in by the front office, everything is prefaced with “if healthy”

Pelfrey talked about his use of his secondary pitches and his slump of August. He said learned a lot form that slump but knows that everything he does works off his fastball. It seems that when Pelf has his fastball working it raises his confidence to use his two-seam knowing that he get out trouble with the fastball.

Confidence, Energy, Positivity that just about sums of the Mets off season.

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METS FANS BE PREPARED

I’m just back from Citi Field where the Mets held Citi Kids Day for some 5th and 6th grade public school children of NYC. The attraction besides getting to sit in the Mets Clubhouse, we meeting Mets players Dillon Gee, Josh Thole, Bobby Parnell, R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes and 2011 Opening Day starter Mike Pelfrey along with manager Terry Collins.

I haven’t had time to transcribe what I have from the interviews with the players (I hope to have some of it up tomorrow as I came home and now I’m off to MSG for Rangers-Maple Leafs) but the main theme I picked up from the players is, they feel this team is no also ran and 2011 is not just a bridge to the future. The word you heard the most today was “preparation” as in lack of it last year and lot’s of emphasis on it this year.

Mike Pelfrey, beaming from the announcement that he will be on the mound April 1 in Florida, told us of Terry Collins sitting with the players at lunch today going over relay throws and defensive alignments. The whole time Big Pelf had a big grin conveying his liking of this new direction.

More tomorrow ……………………..

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NAME YOUR TOP 50 METS PLAYERS OF ALL TIME

A couple of quick hits before I settle in to watch the Jets-Colts game. I’ve got no dog in this fight but I guess I’ll root for the Jets since their name ends in “ets”

Great post by Amazin’ Avenue showing pics of celebs in Mets attire. The first pic though is of Adam Sandler who is a Highlander fan. Kevin James, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, Baba Booey, Tim Robbins and Jon Stewart I know are die hard Mets fans. I met Stewart at of all places the Bronx Zoo a few years ago when the zoo had a Holiday Lights Festival. He was waiting like me to put his kids on the Merry-Go-Round. I recognized him right away and before I could say hi to him, he approached me and commented about my Mets jacket and cap. As our kids rode the Merry Go Round we talked Mets baseball. Yes that was a cool, very cool.

Jason Robotham of Metszila found a great article about Chris Young that was written in Men’s Journal. I know there has been talk that Alderson will not go past $1.5 mil for another starting pitcher so it would be nice to sign a pitcher like Young to an incentive laden deal for one year with an option kicking in as one of those incentives .

Ed Marcus (a/k/a Rusty Jr.) of The Real Dirt Mets blog wants to know who you feel are the Top 50 Mets players of all time. I’m going to file my top 50 in the comments section of Ed’s post and I have to warn you there is no big research or statistical analysis with my list.

(as I write this post, Marshawn Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks just jaunted 60 yds for a TD to put the Seahawks up 41-30 over the defending champs New Orleans Saints. The Seahawks are a 10 pt underdog and have an 11 pt lead with 3 mins left in the game. Lynch broke six tackles during his run. Incredible)

Somewhere on my Top 50 list of Mets players I will put the name R.A. Dickey. In just one year Dickey has won the respect and admiration of Mets fans like I’ve not seen in a long time

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Shhhhhhhhh……….. I”M SUPPOSED TO BE GETTING READY FOR CHRISTAMS

Happy Christmas Eve y’all I got so much shit to do but I hate doing it so while everyone thinks I’m busy doing stuff to get ready for tonight and tomorrow I’m sitting here typing out this post, and why not no one gets yelled at on Christmas right?

Rob Castelano of Amazin’ Avenue was on a conference call with the new and improved Mets coaching staff and posted the entire transcript of the call. Looks like TC and Co. will hit the ground running at St Lonesome in Feburay. I’d advise the Mets players to leave the golf clubs at home.

I cannot believe that  Charles Wang has not reached out to Mikhail Prokhorov about adding the Islanders as  a tenant to the Barclay Center in Brooklyn. Forget about building an arena in Queens, Brooklyn is the place for the Isles.

As with Thanksgiving, it’s not the official holiday with hearing Alice’s Restaurant on Christmas no gifts can be open until I play the only Christmas song I like.

Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!
Couldn’t miss this one this year!
Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!
Couldn’t miss this one this year!

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RANDOM ACTS OF RANTING

I hope you have time to check out the BASEBALL BLOGGERS ALLIANCE BASEBALL TALK show on Blog Talk Radio last night as I hosted the show and my guests were SF Giants bloggers Scott of The Crazy Crabbers and Julian of Splashing Pumpkins, and we reviewed the Giants championship season.

I also have to make a correction. In the beginning of the show I made reference to the passing of Sparky Anderson and mentioned the Reds beating the Highlanders in 1975 World Series which was a huge blunder on my part when I should know it was the 1976 World Series where the Big Red Machine kicked the Highlanders ass. I could blame it on the fact that I was up at 5AM and worked a ten hour shift and did this show at 11PM but that’s no excuse and your right I need to grow a pair.

You just know that this Charlie Samuels mess is going to get worse before it gets better. The Mets can say Samuels is indefinitely suspended but we all know Samuels will never work in baseball again. As soon as he admitted to MLB investigators that he bet on baseball, he accepted his baseball death sentence. I’m just concerned about how long this was going on, who knew what and when did they know it and I’m praying no Mets players were involved in this shit storm.

I have no problem at all with the Mets cutting ties with Hisanori Takahashi for the price Taka and his agent were asking, 3yrs /$12-$15mil the Mets were offering what I believe is a more realistic contract of 1yr+an option for $3mil. Taka was outstanding taking over for Frankie Rodriguez and that’s what he is, a reliever who can give you an inning, two tops. As a starter, when he faces a lineup the second and third time around Taka gets pounded. There is a good possibility that Pedro Feliciano will be coming out of someone else’s bullpen in 2011 as well since he has a higher opinion of his monetary value as a stone cold LOOGY than the Mets do.

Wally Backman gets to WOW Sandy Alderson today as he interviews for the Mets Managers job. Backman is the number one choice for most Mets fans let’s see if can make a big impression on Alderson.

David Lennon says Don Wakamatsu will be the Mets manager. Joel Sherman says Terry Collins will be the next Mets manager. Guess what? The MSM doesn’t have a fucking clue as to who will be the next Mets manager.

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Tickets

The Mets are looking great this year and The Eddie Kranepool Society keeps you up to date on the good bad and the ugly. If you are looking for Mets Tickets, you must visit Coast To Coast Tickets for all your ticket needs. CTC carries MLB Tickets as well as some of the best priced Concert Tickets on the web and don't forget they also carry Yankees Tickets.

Visit BangTheBook.Com for daily free MLB Mets Picks and gameday previews, also join the baseball handicapping discussion in the forum or track your plays in our sports monitor.