10 Days Away From Opening Day…Do You Know Who Your Mets Are?

Dennis Ribant has nothing to to do with this post. I just felt like posting his baseball card. For some reason I was thinking about Ribant and why his Mets career was so short. Yes, I need to go out and get some fresh air.   

So we are a mere 10 days away from opening day and the questions at the start of spring training are still questions as we hit the training camp home stretch.  Who’s on first? What’s on second and at shortstop? I DON’T KNOW!!!!!!!!

Let’s peruse the Mets roster that could debut at Citi Field a week from Monday in front a lot of empty seats:

The much anticipated battle of the stiffs never materialized as both Ike Davis and Lucas Duda went down with leg injuries.  That gave us a chance to see Eric Campbell and Josh Satin play the bulk of the spring games. Both players looked to be much better choices than either Ike or Duda but only one of them will make the 25 man roster and looks to be Satin. The shame of it is Campbell will not make it north because he hits from the right side, and Ike, Satin and most likely Duda will make the club. That’s a damn shame.

Daniel Murphy will be the everyday 2nd baseman until Ike Davis and Lucas Duda flop then he would shift over to 1st base and Terry Collins favorite Eric Young Jr would become the regular 2nd baseman that is unless Wilmer Flores takes that spot and EYJ keeps a spot as a super sub. Whew! Where for art thou Edgardo Alfonzo?

None of the in house candidates to play shortstop, Ruben Tejada, Omar Quintanilla or Wilmer Flores are much with the glove so why not take the best bat out of the three which would be Flores and start him at short? Let Ruben be what he was born to be a utility infielder and let Quintanilla be what he was destined to be, a former big league player.

David Wright 3rd base. Nuff’ said

It seems as if long time minor league journeyman and Jersey boy Anthony Seratelli will make this club as a super-sub. His ability to switch hit and get on base makes him an asset.

Chris Young has picked up his offense lately this spring so let’s hope that translates into the season. $7.25 mil for a player whose offensive game has declined the last three seasons seems like a huge gamble for a team that has to scrape and scrimp to come up with that kind of scratch. Got to hope this is not the offensive version of Frank Frank  .

There is no way in hell Terry Collins cannot write Juan Lagares name in the everyday lineup.   Not just Collins but no one in the organization can make a rational argument as to why Lagares will not be in centerfield just about every day.  Here’s a newsflash, the Washing ton Nationals are going to win the division by about 20 games so let’s play Lagares every day and let him grow as a big leaguer .

Can Curtis Granderson give the Mets an average Granderson season? Would you sign on for .261/.340/.488 with 30 HR 80 RBI? Oh hell yeah!

The training wheels are off Travis d’Arnaud, it’s not only his pitching staff but he has to contribute offensively as well. TDA’s bat could be the X factor in this season’ run to respectability.  Yes that is Kevin Pawlicki in the rear view mirror

Jon Niese starts the season on the DL but could be activated by the first weekend series against the Cincinnati Red Legs. With Niese out, Dillion Gee has been given the honor of starting the first game of the season. Good for Gee who was solid the last half of last season and has paid his dues in the organization. Gee will be followed by Zack Wheeler, Bartolo Colon and Dice-K. That’s a solid starting staff and with Raphael Montero and the Mighty Thor waiting in the wings, the club is flush with stellar pitching arms.

The front office has had a tough time putting together a solid bullpen. It doesn’t help that Terry Collins and Dan Warthen are not the best late inning pitching strategists  either but in order to be the 90 win team Alderson thinks he has here, he’s going to need a bullpen that ranks in the top ten , something that has eluded the Mets for a few years now.

There has to be trepidation over the lack of velocity coming from the right arm of Bobby Parnell and the lack of command shown by Vic Black.  Jose Valverde looks like he’s made the team and could step in to close when needed as well as Jeurys Familia who has had a spectacular spring. Scott Rice comes back as the LOOGY with Carlos Torres and John Lannan as long men/spot starters. This could be the year the Mets have a pen to believe in.

Jeremy Gibson of the Blue Jays blog 500 Level Fan asked me for my take on the NL East race this season by the way seems the Jays fans are still hurting from the trade last year.

 

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Spring Traning Roster Lag

 

It seems as if we are getting close to hitting the wall of the 2013 spring training marathon. Due to the World Baseball Classic, spring training started earlier than usual and the writers and bloggers covering the training camp are starting to drone on. So I thought maybe this is good time to take a look at how the 25 man roster of the Mets is shaping up:

Pitchers

(Starters)

Jon Niese

Matt Harvey

Dillon Gee

Shaun Marcum

Jeremy Hefner

 

I don’t think anyone is looking at Johan Santana starting the season at Citi Field, which is fine with me. This should be the season we see Jon Niese make the next step as a starter. Niese has improved every year he’s been up in the bigs and he looks to have shed the conditioning and stamina problems he’s had in the past. It also helps when you have two studs like Harvey and Zack Wheeler as teammates as well pushing you to keep pace.

 

Bullpen

Bobby Parnell

Brandon Lyon

Josh Edgin

Scott Atchinson

LaTroy Hawkins

Pedro Felicano

 

Those six barring injury look like they will be lined up on the first base line of Citi Field on April 1st. That would leave one spot left. Will Frank Francisco be ready for opening day? That’s a big question mark. So who would get the last spot in the pen? It could go to Collin McHugh even though he really doesn’t excite anyone when he’s on the mound.  Jeurys Familia would have to step it up in the next few weeks to stick as well. Even with a small sample size it would seem that Greg Burke would grab that last spot in the pen.  

 

Infielders

 

Ike Davis

Daniel Murphy

Ruben Tejada

David Wright

Justin Turner

 

The last infield spot could come down to Brian Bixler, Brandon Hicks, Zack Lutz and Josh Satin. Jordany Valdespin will most likely make the team as a hybrid Inf/Of.  Hicks, Lutz and Satin have shown some power in the minors and all hit from the right side. It will come down to the wire as to who becomes the 25th man on the Mets roster.

 

Outfield

 

Lucas Duda

Collin Cowgill

Marlon Byrd

Mike Baxter

 

Again Valdespin works his way here as the righty caddy for Duda and also as a fill in at 2nd base for Murph. Kirk Nieuwenhuis deep bruise of his knee hurts in more ways than one and Matt Den Dekker is the best defensive outfielder in camp but his bat is still under construction. We’ve beaten this outfield topic to death but a big question is, as bad as this outfield looks now, what happens if one or two of these guys go down with injury??? GULP!!!!!

 

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Carlos Beltran Turns Heel

He used to be a “baby face” but after he turned in Andres Torres for missing 1st base, Beltran is now a “heel”

The story today would have been much bigger if the Mets were fighting for a post season berth, but still the appeal at first base yesterday that Andres Torres missed the bag on his way to lead off double putting the tying run on 2nd base was an absolute joke on a number of ends.

From the replay, it looks as if Torres heel hit the bag which is why first base umpire David Rackley, a rookie umpire by the way, call was puzzling to begin with. I wonder if the game was at Citi Field would have made the same call, and how about Carlos Beltran making the call on the appeal????  

The reaction or non-reaction by Torres and first base coach Tom Goodwin was more troublesome to me than the call by Rackley, Torres didn’t flip out and neither did Goodwin, even if he did miss the bag, that was a crucial moment in the game, a game that Colin McHugh struggled in  and a game, the play out the string Mets, showed some fight in coming back from a 4-0 deficit on home runs from Kelly Shoppach and Daniel Murphy , you would think either player or coach would have gone ballistic? At least Terry Collins came out to fight the call.

I hope Terry Collins has seen the light and lets Kelly Shoppach catch every non-R.A. Dickey start.

Welcome back Wally Backman. Backman along with seven of his Bison (OF’er Fred Lewis, LHP Justin Hampson, RHP Elvin Rameirz , RHP Jenrry Mejia, RHP Jeury’s Familia, pain in the ass Jordany Valdespin, and last and least C Mike Nickeas) have been added to the Mets roster for the last month of the season .

I was out at MCU Park last night, sitting in the intermittent drizzle to watch the Brooklyn Cyclones get within one win of making the NY-Penn League post season as the Wild Card team.  A few observations:

RHP Luis Cessa pitched a fantastic game, he game within one out of a complete game victory, something quite rare in low A. Cesa only K’d two batters but he got a lot of ground ball outs.

MCU Park has to be one of tougher parks to hit home runs out of. Yesterday the wind was blowing in briskly from the Atlantic Ocean, so anything up in the air wasn’t going out of the park. In fact there was a ball hit high in the air that Lowell 3rd baseman called for at his position but ended up running down the line and making the play at home plate. That’s brisk baby.

RF Miakis De La Cruz made a sensational throw from the right field corner to nail a Lowell runner at the plate. By the way Kevin Plawecki did a great job blocking the plate.

Speaking of Plawecki, he had 3 hits and a Rib Eye Steak in the game, not that there is much competition but Plawecki has to be the best catcher in the Mets org not named Kelly Shoppach.

Brandon Nimo had a hit and looked very smooth in CF on the night that his poster was the Cyclone giveaway.

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David Wright Wants Answers About Mets Direction

 

Man, this seems like a hundred years ago……………

David Wright is not only the leader of the 25 man Mets roster; he is also the leader of the Mets fan base. In a story in today’s NY Post, Wright essentially told the Skill Sets “get your shit together before I decide to book”

Wright is not concerned about the monetary aspect of a new contract, and why should he? Wright on the open market is a minimum 5 yr/$110 mil baseball player and there would be teams lining up for his services like the Orioles, Dodgers or even (GULP!) the Phillies.  

Wright still has that quote from Freddy Skill Sets New Yorker piece burned in his brain about being a “good player not a superstar”  and Wright as always, took the high road and did a good job of defusing what could have been a real shit storm for the Mets. But that’s the way Wright goes about his business. But make no mistake that quote hurt Wright a lot as it should. Here is a guy who goes to every charity function the team has requested for him to attended, then plays with a broken bone in his back, is the first guy to show up at St. Lonesome every February and the last to leave and then has to answer question upon question after every one of the Mets 162 games only to have the owner say “eh, he’s a good kid” Disgraceful.

Now for the Freddy Skill Sets the rooster has come home to roost. Wright knows you need him much more than he needs you so it will come down showing Wright what we Mets fans have been asking for the last few seasons, what’s your game plan Freddy?

The Skill Sets hate to show their hand and with Freddy yelling out the other day at Citi Field “Ask Sandy” when quires about which way the wind was blowing organizationally, he is already passing the buck (no pun intended) to Alderson who will have to show Wright what the plan is to get the Mets back into contention and how long before the plan pays off.

Wright is just like me and you he wants to know where are the Mets headed and is it worth the time and effort to see it through.

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2 OF 3 FROM THE FISH TAKE THAT SUCKAS’

What’s not to like? 2 of 3 on the road from the Fish to start the season is as good as it gets. Last year the road was a scary place for the Mets who didn’t win a road series until beating the Orioles during last June’s inter league play. Not only was this an impressive road series victory but it was against a division rival that seems to give the Mets fits.

No one on the Mets roster can complain this weekend about playing time as Terry Collins used the whole roster, just about, in all three games.

What more can be said about Willie Harris ? A HR today a couple of doubles in his last game, and 4 RBI as well as Howie Rose said last night on the radio, “what took so long for the Mets to get this guy”

Ike Davis hit a blast in the 3rd off Javy Vasquez who is just a mess on the mound, almost as much a mess as the Marlins D. It’s that god awful defense that holds the Fish back from being a legit contender.

Usually the April Fools gag that was perpetrated by the SNY employee who played the Family Guy clip mocking the Mets losing on opening day, would have the club say, see we can take a joke” but with all the negative vibe being generated from the ownership mess and unprofessionalism by the main steam media, whoever was guilty of the prank has to be fired immediately. If the organization is going to take a stand and stop allowing itself to be a patsy for no talent hacks like Fillip Bondy in the NY Daily Lupica, then this is a good place to start.

I don’t see how the Mets look bad as per the comments that Pee Wee Cashman made about Pedro Feliciano being “damaged goods”. If any one should be embarrassed its Pee Wee.  When Old School Dan Warthen heard Cashman’s comments I guess he got a laugh as he said “why do you think we didn’t resign him”? Didn’t Pee Wee know that Gary Cohen gave Feliciano the name “Perpetual Pedro” for a reason?  He led all of baseball in pitching appearances the last three seasons and to Feliciano’s credit, he asked for the ball everyday, the only real gamer on the club the last two seasons. Warthen knew Pedro was on his last legs (or arm) and I’m sure he recommended to Sandy Alderson to take a Pasadena on PP. Maybe someone in the Highlander front office could show Pee Wee the Baseball-Reference website, it might be helpful when he makes his next player move.

Jason Isringhausen felt a twinge in his back as he pitched in a minor league game today. Alderson comes up smelling like a rose once again.

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SQUARE PEGS

I have to say as much as I was looking forward to the start of spring training, I’ve got a bad case of “workout fatigue” from all the reporting going on from St. Lonesome.  There is only so much I can read about players having catch and throwing batting practice or bullpen sessions. I can only look at so many pictures of players stretching where it starts to become as annoying as when you’re cornered by a co-worker and forced you to look at pictures of the latest birthday party they had for their 3 year old.

It’s gotten to the point I sit at the keyboard and try to figure out what the hell can I come up with that’s new and fresh. I’m still staring. I can’t wait until Saturday when I can at least see players in game action. It’s nice to read about pitchers throwing outstanding bullpens and hitters ripping the cover off a batting practice fastball but when it’s put in real live action then we’ll find out just what we have with this Mets team.

And no I’m not jealous of everyone down in Florida in their shorts and t-shirts enjoying the warm sun, I’d much rather be here in NYC with four layers of clothes and being stuffed into a subway car like a sardine.

When I look over how the makeup of the Mets roster could be constructed I cannot fathom how either Oliver Perez or Luis Castillo makes this team (ok I admit I’m a bit obsessed with these two faces of failure and I see what Sandy Alderson is doing by keeping them as long as can until he either trades them or releases them)

For Castillo it’s either start or bust, he is no use to the team off the bench. From many indications, both Daniel Murphy and Brad Emaus will make the team, most likely as a platoon at second base unless one guy break out big at the start of the season.  Between Murph and Emaus you have a shot at 60+ xbh  from second base. It would take Castillo three season to do that.

Ollie Perez has become the Mets square peg on the round hole. What a misfit. Looking at pitching staff it looks like a 12 man staff of five starters and seven relievers. From the early results, Chris Capuano and Chris Young should fill out the bottom two fifths of the rotation. From listening to Terry Collins, the men in the pen who will have locker space in Queens are Frankie Rodriguez, Bobby Parnell, D.J. Carrasco. Pedro Beato has made a big impression on Collins and with his Rule 5 label attached to him he’d have to get hit from stem to stern to not make the team.  Now it gets a bit complicated. Jason Issringhausen has surprised everyone by showing up in Mets camp and looking impressive in his workouts. Izzy does just bring back some nostalgic memories, he also brings an impressive closers resume as well.  That leaves two spots and one has to be filled by a LOOGY, so Tim Byrdak and Taylor Tankersley will fight for that spot or would they both make the team? What about Pat Misch? Another lefty who could be LOOGY-ish or Darren Oliver-ish as a long man.  I haven’t even mentioned Mike O’Connor or two righties, Manny Acosta and Manny Alvarez who could make the final bullpen decision difficult for Alderson and Collins.

Am I missing anyone? I don’t think so, hummmm let me see…………ahhh yeah, Mr. Square Peg. Sorry Ollie you don’t fit here anymore.

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TENDER OR NON-TENDER, THAT IS THE QUESTION ?

As we await the non-tender floodgates to open, the Mets have four players who fit the offer/non-offer list so let’s see who stays and who goes:

John Maine-I think we all agree the days of Maine are done in Queens. Maine did himself no favor by hiding his injuries and less than honest with the coaching staff and front office. With Old School Dan Werthan staying on as the Pitching Czar and the fact that Old School can’t stand the sight of Maine then add in his arbitration price could go to $4mil, it’s safe to say we can add John Maine to that long list of former Mets

R.A. Dickey-Look, we all love Dickey wait that didn’t come out right, We all love R.A. and he was a revelation both on the mound and in the clubhouse as Dickey was the only player when interviewed that I paid attention to as he would always say something of substance. But (and you knew the BUT was coming) let’s not go crazy with talk of multi-year deals for R.A.  I’d go 1yr plus an option $1.5 mil which is about double what he made last year.

Angel Pagan-Now Pagan is a different story. Pagan not only took his offensive game to a higher level but right now he’s the best centerfielder on the Mets roster. Pagan went from being a baseball dunderhead in 2009 to arguably the Mets MVP last season (Yes I know David Wright had a great offensive year but the case can be made that the best all-around season by a Met last year was Pagan) Angel made $1.45 mil last season and it would be hard for the Mets to win an arbitration case but what price is right for Pagan? 2yrs/$4.5-5mil?

Sean Green-We’re tendering him a contract, why?

Mike Pelfrey-Ahhhhhh Big Pelf.  The sticking point he is Pelf’s agent, Scott Boras.  Pelf cannot test the free agent waters until 2014, so the Mets hold the hammer on him as well. Pelfrey has made some coin off his ML contract he signed when drafted in 2005 to the tune of a shade under $5mil so this negotiation should be quite interesting. As the Mets hold all the cards they don’t have to offer a multi year deal but figure with Boras as his agent, I’m sure he will make up one of those elaborate books to present at the arbitration hearing to make Big Pelf look like Cy Young .

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CAUTION THE SURGEON GENERAL HAS DETERMINED THAT READING THIS POST COULD BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH

Trying to write something creative this morning and it’s just not happening so I’ll just throw some shit on the wall see what sticks:

If Jose Reyes is 100 % healthy then why not let him start on opening day? Why is it even a question? His legs don’t seem to be any problem so if his thyroid levels are fine then why wouldn’t Jose be at shortstop on Monday?

I would love to be in the room when soon to be Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and Jay-Z sit down and talk to LeBron James about joining the Brooklyn Nets. Mr. Prokhorov is going to be the most newsworthy sports owner this town has seen since a big blowhard ship builder from Cleveland rolled into town.

This Monday has been renamed Monumental Monday. Opening day at $iti Field. The NCAA Final and two hour episode of 24.  I’m busting sweat just thinking of how the Jack Bauer, Dana Walsh  interrogation scene will play out.

Major tip of the BLUE Mets cap to Shannon Shark over at Mets Police for uncovering the Fanwalk faux pau naming Sid Fernandez the winner of Game 7 of the’86 World Sereis when it was actually Roger McDowell who earned the win. At the time that game was over, we really didn’t give a rats ass who go the winner to tell the truth all I remember is pandemonium in the streets of Queens and that for one on the dozen or so times in my life I woke up the next day in my bed having no recollection of how I got home.  Ahhhhhh good times. Also Mets Police is recruiting for the Blue Cap Army to meet up Monday at $iti Field.

It’s a three man race to grab the 25th spot on the Mets roster. The candidates are Mike Jacobs, Frank Catalanotto and Chris Carter. Very tough choices. The first one I’d dismiss in Jacobs who is a hit a home run or miss guy and a not very good first baseman. It was commendable of Jacobs to put on the catcher gear and volunteer to be the emergency catcher. How often do you need an emergency catcher? Carter has earned the name The Animal for Jerry Manuel and Catalanotto is a savvy vet who can play just about any position on a baseball field. If I had to make the choice, I’d take Frankie The Cat.

Who? Raul Valdes Who? Raul Valdes Who? Raul Valdes

Ladies and Gentlemen please welcome the new and improved LMILLZ

I don’t look at Darryl Strawberry as being a quitter for leaving The Apprentice, it’s more like he was bored and tired of the stupid tasks he was asked to do. Whoever signed off on making this show two hours should BE FIRED! Thank God for TiVO. By the way as soon as Cyndi Lauper and Summer Sanders are fired I’ll be done with The Apprentice.

So long Chris Coste, Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out!

It looks like the new McFadden’s at $iti Field is going to be THE place to be.

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HOT FUN IN THE SUM-MER TIME

8 days until pitchers and catchers

If you haven’t seen the video of Keith Hernandez working with Daniel Murphy and Nick Evans at first base, click here. Again my opinion on Murphy is certainly biased but if the other 24 players on the Mets roster that comes North has the same desire and work ethic as Murph, things may be a lot better than we think this summer at $iti Field. At the end of the video Hernandez tells Murphy and Evans that if they ever need him for anything to tell Jay Horowitz and he will drive up to St Lonesome to lend a hand.

Two things here, one what the hell took so long for the Mets to utilize Mex in this capacity and two, if Mike Piazza never asked Hernandez’ advice when the Mets were looking for him to make the transition for catcher to first baseman, then he’s a bigger asshole than I think he is.

Nice to see Mike Jacobs back in the org. I hope he likes chicken wings.

The biggest problem I have with Mets management is not so much with it’s ineptness of its baseball ops but more with its dishonestly. When it comes to the teams finances someone is lying  either the media or the team and most likely it’s the team.  With the management not being aggressive on free agents and not making deals that would make the team better by taking on pitchers like Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo, or Gil Meche, who have big contracts that teams would love to get out from under, it proves that the coffers of the Skill Sets are not as robust as they claim.

It seems that’s the only reason Omar and Jerry Manuel are still here, it’s more of a “it’s cheaper to keep ‘em” scenario than a performance  factor. The Skill Sets can’t afford to pay Minaya and go out and hire a top of the line GM, so what we get is lots of layers of front office types that makes dealing with the Mets tedious and exhausting.

Everyday there are more and more stories about the teams finances and I’m sure there will be more and more of the cash flow stories throughout the season.  All it will take is for one snitch to blab the inside scoop on what’s going on in the back rooms of $iti Field to bring this to light.

Perfect example of the Mets money woes, Chein- Ming Wang is ready to sign with the Washington Nationals who are putting together a nice team for 2010.

Just sit back and listen to this song and enjoy your snow day!

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“COM’ON YOU LITTLE GANSTA’S, OFF THE BUS”

 

 

 

 

Isn’t this great?. The first day of Vernal Equinox and it is snowing like a mutha’ here in NYC. Thankfully, it’s not sticking and the forecast tomorrow is for sunny skies and 50 degrees which is fine to conduct my first practice of the baseball season with my 13 year old Babe Ruth League team and to show that I’m more Gansta’ than Jerry Manuel I’m holding practice at a park next to the Berry Projects on SI. I might even wear my sweatpants down to my knees.

 

Last night on Pro Baseball Central we talked about the Mets roster, the Mets announcer’s tournament at Amazin’ Avenue, St Patrick’s Day, Kilts, what’s under the kilt, booze and rubber ducky’s. To hear what you missed check out the podcast at Pro Baseball Central web site.

 

Jon Niese was sent to minor league camp today and that sucks for the kid who had visions of making the team as the 5th starter. So now it’s just about in stone that Livan Hernandez will get that spot but you can be sure we will see Niese sooner rather than later this season.

 

Ollie P makes his first spring start for the Mets and from what David Lennon says his mechanics while with Team Mexico were so messed up that Old School Dan Warthen had to deconstruct Ollie through video, instruction and a good old fashion ass kicking (ok I made that one up) just another reason for teams to get together and abolish the WBC.

 

Brain Costa at the Star Ledger has a nice piece on Bobby Parnell and his quest to make the Mets in the bullpen. What will be interesting to watch as the cuts come down is how much influence J-Man has on whom goes and who stays. Manuel has talked up Parnell and Nick Evans as two kids he adores and wants on his squad but money and player options may determine who comes North and  who keeps going further North to Buffalo.

 

It’s hard serving to masters isn’t David?  But not to worry as help is on the way for Team USA as Evan Longoria is headed to LA to fortify the Team of the Land of the Corporate Bailout. Craig Calcaterra of the fabulous Shyster Ball site explains with some kind of fantasy mumbo-jumbo. I could never get into that si-fi stuff all that make believe crap as I live in the here and now in real life, oh shit is tonight my fantasy baseball draft? Yikes! Got to go prepare!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

 

 

    

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Tickets

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