Observations From Opening Day at Citi Field

Observations from opening day at Citi Field:

I’ve been going to Mets games for 48 years, I was 6 years old in 1964 when I went to see Bob Gibson beat the Mets  on May 9 th, and as excited as I was back then I was just as excited yesterday to be at Citi Field for opening day.

Outside the ball park before the game there was a great positive energy that non-Mets fans just do not understand. I stood near the SNY broadcast area where Bobby Ojeda, Chris Carlin and the iconic Ralph Kiner conducted the pre-game show. There is a segment of younger generation Mets fans who really don’t appreciate Kiner and what he means to charter member Mets fans like me. Ralph, Bob Murphy and Lindsey Nelson were a constant summer time companion on TV and radio. Nelson left in 1978 and that was shocking, but we still had Ralph and Murph. Murph left in 2003 and that was sad but through it all Ralph Kiner remained, albeit on a limited basis but Ralph always knew when to show up when you needed that boost of Mets elixir because when you’re a middle aged Mets fan the sight and sound of Ralph Kiner brings back memories of a simpler and great time of your life.

Lots and lots of CARTER 8 jersey’s and t-shirts on display yesterday along with signs and banners praising Carter and mourning the loss of Gary Carter. The Mets held a wonderful pre-game ceremony starting with the players, coaches and manager all wearing their warm up jerseys with CARTER 8 on the back and having Carter’ jersey hanging  up in the dugout.  It was also touching to see Darryl Strawberry, Keith Hernandez, Bobby Ojeda and Mookie Wilson catch the first pitch from Carter’s wife and children along with the unveiling of the KID 8 patch on the outfield wall and video of Carters Mets career that would make even the most cynical Mets fan dab their eyes.

Seems the only people who are obsessed by the Mets attendance are the Mets Media Haters and Highlander fans.  The Mets Media Haters harp on this due to their lack of talent and originality, I mean how much talent does it take to answer a telephone for five hours a day while reading a newspaper and sucking down soda after soda or sit at a laptop staring lovingly at your Derek Jeter gift baskets while writing what a great GM Pee Wee Cashman is because he is so brilliant in having a $200 mil payroll to cover up his fuck ups. The Highlander fan knows that the first time the Mets show any success the Highlander reign of attention in this city will be over.

Citi Field was jammed packed yesterday, the line at the Shake Shack was a couple a hundred deep, the fans lined the Shea Bridge soaking up the sunshine which could explain for some of the empty seats you’ve seen. The crowd responded well to the player introductions, sure some folks felt it was a good time to boo Mike Pelfrey and Jason Bay but for most part the Mets faithful was happy to see their beloved team back in action.

I didn’t see any of the usual Highlander fan jerk offs who come to Citi Field wearing their Jeter jerseys and caps which is encouraging.

The Mets have made an upgrade on the main scoreboard to where it’s  setup like Gameday on MLB.com a virtual scorecard showing not only what the player has done in previous at bats but also showing you the location of balls put in play in those AB’s. The pitchers line as well as pitch count, pitch selection and pitch count are there as well as both lineups, the player at bat’s season stats and career numbers as well.

I have never bitched and moaned about the prices at the concession stands but $6.80 for a Nathans Hot Dog is ridiculous. Compare that to $11.50 for a turkey with mozzarella and gravy on a semolina hero at Mama’s of Corona, why would you go for the hot dog?

Nothing better than watching Johan Santana work. Frist two innings he had a bit of a command issue, which is to be expected as I’m sure his adrenaline was flowing like Niagara Falls but it was the 5th inning that really sent the message as to what a competitor he is and why Santana is one the best starting pitchers in baseball. He wanted badly to get 5 innings in today as his pitch count was limited to 80-85 so he knew this was his last frame of the day. Getting Freddy Freeman out on strikes to start the inning was big because Santana killer Matt Diaz doubled to left and you could see the finish line of this start was near.

After getting Jason Heyward to fly out to Bay, all Santana needed was one more out but he struggled against Tyler Pastornicky and Tommy Hanson walking both of them to load the bases for leadoff hitter Michael Bourn.  This was the at bat of the game. Santana fell behind Bourn 2-0 giving the crowd of Mets fans an uneasy feeling since it was September of 2010 when we last witnessed Santana pitch we forgot how much heart this man has on the mound. He got Bourn to hit a comebacker to him and with what adrenaline was left nearly threw the ball over Ike Davis head but Ike caught it stepped on first inning over with no Braves crossing home plate. Welcome back Johan.

Andres Torres pulled up lame in the 7th on Pastornick’s triple and while I hate to see anyone get hurt, I hope Torres takes all the time he needs to get that calf 100 % so we can get a good look at Kirk Nieuwenhuis as the everyday center fielder. Hopefully when Torres comes back it will be as the 4th outfielder,

Daniel Murphy 2 for 4 yup #ImWith28

 

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MAGIC WON’T CURE JOHAN

Two more days left of my vacation and another day at the Magic Kingdom, where I swear our family are the only Americans visiting Orlando this summer. The Brits seem to be the leading European visitors here with “Name Any Spanish Speaking Country Here” as the runner up.

I guess it’s good news that Johan Santana has “only” a fatigued shoulder and will be shut down for a while to build up strength. The question it seems is “what’s the rush”? Does it matter at this point if Santana pitches a game for the Mets this season? Hopefully, this latest set back shows that it’s better to look forward to February 2012 for Johan.

Speaking of pitching, Howard Megdal has a great piece today on Jon Niese and his strong season.

The Mets are having a luncheon today at Citi Field to honor Military vets of the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars. The Mets Alumni will be there including Tom Seaver, Ralph Kiner Ed Kranepool, Bud Harrelson, Ed Charles and Joe Pignatano. The Mets organization has really stepped up big time when it comes to honoring our military heroes and also involving the Mets Alumni this season. Great job.

That’s it for now, the next post will be from the Kranepool Society headquarters in Staten Island

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WHO REMEMBERS WHAT HAPPENED ON APRIL 22,1970?

Ask me where I left my cell phone or a family members birthday or where I put my glasses and I stand and stare like a dumbass trying to remember, but ask me where I was on April 22nd 1970 and I can remember vividly.

It was Easter vacation and I spent my time off where I spent all my time off at my favorite resort, the school yard of P.S. 105 on 59th St off 10 Ave in Brooklyn playing baseball. While we played we listened to the Mets-Padres game from Shea on a transistor radio because Tom Seaver was on the mound for the Mets.  What’s better than no school, playing ball and listening to Lindsay Nelson, Bob Murphy and Ralph Kiner call a Mets game with Seaver pitching?

Now this is the beginning of the Mets first season as reigning World Series Champions, and the Highlanders were a few years removed from their glory days (although the Highlanders got off to a slow start the did rally to win 93 games in 1970 but they still finished 15 games behind Earl Weaver’s Orioles who won 108 games and the World Series that year) now, as juvenile as I am at 52 years old just think what a little asshole I was at 12 years old (Moiser (Bobby Murcer)? Wadda ya snififn’ glue or somethin’?  fuckin’ Tommy Agee’s ahundred fuckin’ times betta ‘dan Moiser.  Get the fuck outta here!) so I berated all my Highlander fan friends (believe me they have given it back to me in spades over the years) to the fact that my team the Mets, were the best team in baseball.

It was a typical Seaver game, pitch lights out and get no run support but this was the San Diego Padres, give Seaver one run and this game would be over.

After 6 innings Seaver had K’d 10 and the Mets held a slim 2-1 lead, the only Padre run, a solo home run from Brooklyn born and raised Al Ferrara. In the top of the 7th Seaver sent Nate Colbert, the Padres top hitter, Dave Campbell (yes THAT Dave Campbell) and future Met Jerry Morales down on strikes.   Come the top of the 8th and same thing 3 up and 3 down all on strikeouts. That’s 16 K’s in 8 innings for Tom Terrific. Now Seaver has all our attention. We leave whoever was in the dugout, in charge of letting the rest of us know when it was the top of the 9th inning. When we here “the Padres are up” we all run to the radio to hear the finish of this remarkable game.

BANG-BANG-BANG, the last punch-out was Seaver’s 19th and the 10th batter in a row to go down on strikes, a new all time record for strike outs in a game (since topped by Roger Clemens) and the most consecutive batters struck out, a record that still stands (by the way, Ike Davis’ dad Ron K’d 8 batters in a row for the Highlanders on May 4th, 1981). Al Ferrara played a major part in this game, he hit the solo home run for San Diego’s lone run and he was the first and tenth strike victim of the streak.

Wow, what an unbelievable game, I remember it like it was yesterday…….. Hey, anybody see my keys?

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AND TO THROW OUT THE FIRST PITCH AT CITI FIELD, PLEASE WELCOME RALPH KINER

If the hot start by the NY Mets isn’t enough to get you to the Citi Field on Friday for opening day, maybe the chance to cheer for the last of the original Mets broadcasting team, and Hall of Fame player, Ralph Kiner as he throws out the first pitch before the Mets-Nats game.

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JUST A MINUTE TO CATCH MY BREATH

I hate when my goof off time gets interrupted but this weekend it’s worth it as I had two baseball games (both wins!!!) a graduation party and now today my daughter’s dance recital so blogging is taking a back seat today.

I have two hours to relax and watch  the Mets today and an added treat, Ralph Kiner is in the telecast.

So taking a break today and I’ll be back in action tomorrow with some good stuff I promise.

Don’t forget to check out my This Call To The Bullpen Shop for This Call To The Bullpen t-shirts, caps, mugs etc.

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JERRY MANUEL DROVE THE BUS THAT RAN ME OVER

I want to thank Jerry Manuel and David Wright for throwing me under the bus last night. Yesterday I posted on NYB Blogs telling Mets fans to relax and not give up on this team and especially on Wright who I defended big time. So how do they repay me?

Well J-Man had a managerial night that makes you wonder just how long he has as the leader of the Mets. It’s one thing to be hard headed and not see the experiment to bat Jose Reyes third in the lineup is an out and out failure, but then to have him bunt in the 9th inning with Luis Castillo the go ahead run on 2nd base was just stupid baseball. If you put Reyes in that spot in the order, you’re saying you have total faith in him as a hitter as the 3 hitter is usually the teams’ best hitter. So why would you make Reyes bunt in an obvious RBI situation. Reyes barely can bunt for a base hit never mind a sac bunt but also what message are you sending him? I’m batting you 3 but I don’t have faith in you to get a big hit, just move Castillo to third and let someone else get the job done.

Wright didn’t help me either with his two K’s, the biggest one in the 9th inning. Maybe I’m just not seeing or maybe I don’t want to see the decline in David Wright but when I look at his digits they are right there with all the league leaders but it just seems like the big spot is a tough spot for DW. I’m not jumping ship though, I’m still loyal to D-Wright      

Manuel said in his post game presser that he’s thinking of making some lineup changes, gee ya think Jerry? It seems the only one who favors Reyes in the 3 spot is Manuel. As Ralph Kiner said the other day, Reyes belongs as a leadoff man. When Gary Cohen asked who should bat third, Kiner replied “The Mets don’t have a 3 hitter” He’s 100 % right. The Mets 3 hitter is jogging in St Lonesome. They have a leadoff hitter but he bats third. If Manuel doesn’t bat Reyes leadoff tonight and bench Frenchy for The Animal then he’s just telling Mets fans and management he wants to be fired.   

I didn’t watch all of this game as I spent most of my evening watching the Boston Celtics send LeBron James and the Cavs packing (more on that in a minute) but couldn’t Manuel have given Johan Santana another inning of work? I know he batted second in the top of the 8th but he seemed to be pitching his best game of the season and was far from tired (just 98 pitches) and even though Fernando Nieve got a DP to get out the 8th how many days can Manuel go to him or Feliciano or Takahashi? Those three have become everyday players.

I still stand by my the Mets are still in this stance but I’m starting to feel a shake up in the mangers office needs to be made. The Royals, who are going no where, fired Trey Hillman so you would think a team that is in a playoff hunt should be looking around as well. Something is missing here. When the team is 0-6 in rubber games of series and the same stale lineup gets trotted out there every day and the bullpen is getting run into the ground, maybe the Mets have reached that fork in the road and as Yogi said “when you get to the fork in the road, take it” It may be time to stick the fork in Jerry Manuel.

A big tip of my Celtics cap to Bill Simmons who started a Celtics Chant account on Twitter which got that “NEW YORK KNICKS” chant going at the TD Garden was the best fan participation since the days of the C’s fans telling the 76 ers in 1982 Conference Final to “Beat LA”. Get ready Knicks fans the LeBron era is coming.

To all the Celtic haters on Twitter who right after the C’s beat the Cavs were crowing that the Celtics will be buried by the Magic. First you all can kiss my green, white and 17 NBA Champiosnship banner ass. The Celtics have done what we all say can’t be done in sports, they turn the on switch on when the playoffs started and now are in full UBUNTU mode.

Metsradamus has what is now the Post of The Year dealing with that fell off the turnip truck turd, Cholly Manuel who has dragged the Mets into this sign stealing brouhaha with the Colorado Rockies, Metstradamus also reflects on the Skill Sets looking to by the Fishsticks and moved them to the brand new Chop Shop Arena. Not only does Metstradamus invoke the New York Amerks but when was the last time you heard about Newsy Lalonde?

So all of a sudden the Skill Sets are flush with cash that they can talk about buying the Fishsticks and build a new arena in Queens but the can’t release Oliver Perez and eat his deal.

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OH WHAT A NIGHT…………….

Boy, did we ever need that? In what has become one of the worst season’s on and off the field in the history of the NY Mets, last night had to prove to the Skill Sets that, yes we have a history and an outstanding one at that.

I was 11 years old (same as Gary Cohen) when the Mets became World Champions. You see all the negativism and anger from this current Mets fans base? Well now picture the complete opposite of that and you have the feel for what it was like around here in 1969.

Think of this for the first time in the history of newspapers the NY Daily News ran a COLOR front page just for the Mets. The news also sold buttons with GO METS on them and every Sunday had portraits of Mets players as inserts in the paper. Channel 9 the TV home of the Mets showed just about every game and all the games were on radio (WJRZ 970 AM) and Lindsey Nelson, Bob Murphy and Ralph Kiner were the guys we brought into our homes for every game.

The Mets were not just the talk of NY but of the whole country they were truly America’s team. This was an organization that was looked at as loveable losers until the Quiet Man took over and put an end to that kind of thinking. It was Gil Hodges who set the tone for the club. As Mets fans we all know of the love and devotion that Tom Seaver had for Hodges, not an appearance goes by when The Franchise doesn’t invoke the name of Hodges his stories. But the most told story about Hodges and his team always is about him taking out Cleon Jones during a game against the Astros on July 30 1969 for lack of hustle.

During his time on the SNY broadcast, Jones told that the only Hodges and he knew what really happened that day. Jones went on to say how Hodges didn’t yell or scream or get in his face he just told Jones that we can’t play like this if were going to win  and Jones realized right there that is wasn’t business as usual for the Mets. Hodges meant what he said in spring training that the loser mentality stops here and now and Jones knew after getting lifted from that game that the team was destined to win.

Some observation from last night’s ceremony:

I love how Eddie Yost came out and was still giving signs, and leave it to Howie Rose to remember that Lindsey Nelson would always say “and Eddie Yost, the sign man is coaching at third base…….”

Wayne Garret and Gary Gentry must have found the fountain of youth, both guys look like they could still play.

You know you’re an old time Mets fan, when you not only can recognize Duffy Dyer but your happy as hell to see him.

Here is the legacy of Yogi Berra, he is the only man other than the Pope who could get a standing ovation in both Highlander Stadium and $iti Field.

I loved how the music of 1969 was intertwined with the introduction of the players but I wish SNY would have left the cameras on the players instead of showing videos of them in their playing day. It’s called capture the moment fellas’

The biggest ovations of the night were for Bob Murphy’s widow and for Ralph Kiner and rightfully so.

I don’t I have ever seen Jerry Grote look so happy as he did last night. I wish he was with the Mets in some capacity as that is what the organization misses an Grote like mentality. I still can see him throwing back a ball to the pitcher at about 95 mph when he was pissed off at him for either crossing him up or not hitting his spot and non of the pitchers ever challenging him.

I’m glad Gary Cohen mentioned Ken Boswell not being there and not being acknowledged on the field. It seems Boswell had a falling out with the organization an declined the invitation to come. This is where the Skill Sets are absolutely clue less. With their track history, the Skill Sets are probably at fault here and should have made amends with Boswell to get him last nights ceremony. Boswell too should not be so cranky as to snub this reunion as I’m sure he feels hurt that the Mets treated him wrong (join the club Kenny) but he may regret it for a long time not being at $iti Field last night.

As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, Tom Seaver is THE FRANCHISE!!!!

There may be no more underrated sports performer in this town than Jerry Koosman. The chant back then was “We can’t loose with Seaver and Kooz”

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BAD OLLIE, BAD BAD

Instead of ranting here on the Bad Ollie Experience of yesterday just listen to my rant on Pro Baseball Central from last night. I think I set a record for the most times using the phrase “consistency in the mechanics” Also Ben Kabak of River Ave Blues was on to talk Highlanders.

 

Of all people The Old Grumpy Man has a positive piece on Gary Sheffield joining the Mets.

 

Darren O’Day had a very tough day dealing with the death of Nick Adenhart. The LA Times also chronicles the long list of tragedies that have struck the Angels franchise.

 

You have got to go to the Gary, Keith and Ron site and purchase the new Ralph Kiner shirt. This t-shirt should be standard uniform for all Mets fans it’s absolutely stunning.

 

Thanks a lot David Lennon for now setting of a wide spread panic through out Mets Fandom.

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