Sep 03

Mets Could Bring New Traditions To Citi Field

I spent Labor Day in Boston, a city steeped in tradition, and somehow over a bowl of clam chowder that got me thinking about the New York Mets.

The Red Sox were home and their game days start outside Fenway Park on Yawkey Way with the food vendors and souvenir stores on the other side of the street.

Now this is a stadium built in 1912 within the confines of the city, which accounts for its unique configuration. It also account for people milling around before the gates open. Fenway’s history can’t be replicated anywhere, but the Mets could do a few things to make their game days experience unique before and after games.

Something could be done in that vast area between the subway and Jackie Robinson Rotunda. Yes, I get the idea of the Ebbets Field replica being the grand entrance, but off to the side, funneling into rotunda they could do so much more.

Why not have a row of food vendors to have the fans getting started early? No beer for obvious reasons. There’s always somebody that didn’t get that last hot dog, so why not have some vendors open for an hour after game time? Remember, this is the city that never sleeps.

Let’s go big on the souvenirs with the construction of a small stand-alone shop. For all those shaking their hands lamenting, “I wish I’d gotten that jersey,’’ well here’s their chance.

There could be unique vendors other than jersey’s and hats.

Topps is a Mets’ sponsor; so let’s have the company open a booth to sell baseball cards of that season and sets from previous years. But, if their pricing is $800 for the 1962 set, well, that defeats the fun purpose. But, couldn’t the company make far cheaper replica sets? People would still buy them, just not the fanatical collectors.

How about a booth for bobble head dolls? Let’s go big and include bobble head dolls for players from other teams. If there’s coin involved for the other teams and sponsors of their dolls, then it’s possible.

There could be a Mets ticket booth for future sales, or if not, keep the one at Citi Field open after the games. If you’re thinking baseball, and the Mets just won a tight one, then you might be thinking of when’s the next time you’ll come back.

Keep them thinking baseball before and after games.

How about one of those carnival games where your speed gets timed on a radar gun?

Of course, that day’s line-up would be posted everywhere you look. However, let’s get away from today for a moment and get into Mets’ history and tradition.

Let’s do something along the nature of clinics and autograph booth with retired players. Or maybe an outdoor theatre featuring highlights. The Mets could easily make a 15-minute short film that could run on a loop.

It might cost the club something to bring the players in. I’d like for something every day to make each game day special, but if not, perhaps once or twice a homestand. Just make it more often than SNY brings in Ralph Kiner.

As far as present day players are concerned, they can sign balls, cards and photos for the club to sell. But, of course, that likely might have to come after approval with the Players Association. But, what if the proceeds from player’s autographs alone were to go to charity. Perhaps a “charity of the day.’’

There could be autographs from retired players with the proceeds going to BAT, an organization that helps players down on their luck.

The Mets are as giving as any sports team to groups in their city. But, here something that separates them from the Yankees, Giants and Rangers.

Of course, the autographs would have to be written in such a way as to deter collectors. Perhaps, if they were to be stamped, “Have a great day at Citi Field,’’ with the autograph underneath, that might work.

On special days, say Mother’s Day, the players – save that day’s starting pitcher – could be at the entrances giving roses to women entering the park. The Orioles did it one year with rave reviews, except for Randy Myers who refused to participate.

Maybe some of these ideas would work. Maybe some won’t, but the could add some juice to Citi Field gamedays.

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Jul 25

Mets’ Young Shows Compassion To Hudson

In an era of self-absorption and chest thumping by players in all sports, despite the painful events as the igniter, class and respect was on display Wednesday night by the New York Mets and Atlanta, with Braves pitcher Tim Hudson on the giving and receiving ends.

YOUNG and HUDSON

                                                                             YOUNG and HUDSON

By know, you’ve probably all seen the gruesome replay of the Mets’ Eric Young stepping on and fracturing Hudson’s ankle. He’ll undergo surgery in Atlanta and could be lost for the year.

What you might not have seen was Young checking on David Wright after the Mets’ third baseman’s bat snapped and cracked him on the back of the head.

The gesture did not go unnoticed in the Mets’ dugout. “The first guy when the bat broke and hit David, Tim’s standing right there to make sure he’s OK. That’s the kind of guy he is,’’ Terry Collins said.

When you extend class and courtesy, it comes back to you, and Hudson felt the warmth from the Citi Field crowd, but also compassion from Wright and Young, who both stayed by Hudson as paramedics treated him on the field.

“It sucks,’’ a saddened Wright told reporters. “I’ve gotten a chance to be around Tim at All-Star games and playing against him for so long. He’s one of the good guys in the game and to see him go down like that and know something was wrong, it’s tough to watch.’’

Outside of Hudson, the only person who felt worse was Young, who knew he got Hudson’s ankle and none of the base. Young immediately sprinted to Hudson and bent over to pat him on the back.

Young stayed with Hudson throughout the time he was being treated, and shook his hand as he was carted off the field, perhaps for the last time this season.

“You never want to injure anybody,’’ Young said told reporters after the game. “I knew I didn’t get any of the base. I know I got all of his foot. … I pretty much knew it was probably broke right as I did it. That’s why I sprinted right back to him and try to console him as much as I could and apologize.”

Covering first base is a dangerous play for a pitcher because his eyes are on the ball and not the runner or the base. The pitcher winds up “feeling’’ for the base with his foot, and Hudson’s was squarely on the middle. There was no place else for Young to run.

Young said Hudson told him an apology wasn’t necessary as they shook hands on the field. Hudson repeated those words to Young when the Mets’ outfielder checked on him in the Braves’ clubhouse.

“I obviously wasn’t trying to hurt him on the play,’’ Young said. “He just told me to keep my head up and keep playing the game the hard way, the right way. He said there was nothing I can do about it.

“That made me feel somewhat better, but still bummed that he’s going to be out for a while. I just hope he has a speedy recovery.’’

Everybody does.

Jun 30

For Best Results Mets Need To Turn Wheeler Loose

After what happened Friday night, it was impressive how the New York Mets rebounded yesterday. While the baseball cliché is “there’s always a game tomorrow,’’ there can be a carry-over. Now, let’s see if there is one today in Zack Wheeler’s Flushing debut.

WHEELER: Turn him loose.

WHEELER: Turn him loose.

In his first two starts, Wheeler is 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA. The Mets took him off the hook for what would have been a loss last Tuesday in Chicago, but they aren’t able to erase his wildness.

Foolishly, the Mets mandated Wheeler throw more breaking pitches against the White Sox. Unfortunately, he was tipping his pitches when he did.

Wheeler’s money pitch is his fastball. First things first: He should learn command of that pitch on the corners before going to his slider and curveball.

There are many – Wheeler included – who believe he’s being force-fed the major leagues. But he’s here now, so the Mets should put him in the best position to win. With their offense suspect and bullpen shaky at times, that means letting Wheeler go with his fastball.

There will be pressure on Wheeler this afternoon against the Nationals, but he’ll have third baseman David Wright available as a calming influence.

“It’s going to be one of the most enjoyable, memorable times for anybody making their home debut, especially as highly touted as Zack,’’ Wright told reporters at Citi Field yesterday. “Best advice is just enjoy it because it only happens once. Don’t go out and try to do too much. Don’t try to go out and impress. Do what’s got you to this point, and he obviously knows what he’s doing.’’

And, what got Wheeler here was his fastball.

NEWS NOT GOOD ON GEE: Dillon Gee gave the Mets six strong innings yesterday, but he did it with flexor tendinitis in his arm making the disabled list a possibility.

As most pitchers do, Gee said he’s fine.

“It actually felt pretty good lately,’’ Gee said after beating the Nationals. 5-1. “Hasn’t really been an issue.’’

Over his past six starts, Gee as limited opponents to one run in four of them.

METS MATTERS: One of the best pick-ups by the Mets has been outfielder Marlon Byrd, who is second on the team with 40 RBI. Ideally, you’d like to keep him in the hope the Mets will make a run toward respectability, but realistically he could prove valuable to a contender. … Terry Collins said Ruben Tejada has to beat out Omar Quintanilla when he comes off the disabled list. Quintanilla has played very well, and yesterday broke an 0-for-17 slide with two hits. … Jon Niese, on the disabled list with a partially torn rotator cuff, is scheduled for a follow-up MRI July 4, which could determine the need for surgery.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jun 28

Matt Harvey Starts Important Series For Mets

The New York Mets return home from a 7-4 road trip to face the Washington Nationals in a three-game series, with Matt Harvey going against left-hander Ross Detwiler.

The Mets are 5.5 games behind the Nationals in the standings, and four behind in the loss column. Yes, it sounds odd, perhaps premature to think, but a sweep could change the complexion of the NL East standings and maybe the Mets’ season.

HARVEY: Animated, as usual.

HARVEY: Animated, as usual.

A strong close to the first half could get them inside ten games below .500, which could bring some fun to Citi Field after the All-Star break. Too early to say playing meaningful baseball in September, but better than we thought a month ago.

Harvey, at 7-1, is an integral part of what the Mets are trying to do, and from his personal objective, a win tonight could go toward his being named a starter in the July 16 All-Star Game.

Harvey leads the NL with 112 strikeouts and MLB with opponent’s batting average (.188) and WHIP (0.88). If not for a lack of run support that has him with eight no-decisions, he might already have double-digit victories and his position as All-Star starter would be secure.

With Harvey going Friday and Zack Wheeler on Sunday, it could be and early version of the “Futures Game,’’ this weekend.

Incidentally, Wheeler is working with pitching coach Dan Warthen on not tipping his pitches. Just wondering why the Mets in his debut or at Triple-A Las Vegas didn’t pick this up earlier.

METS MATTERS: Doc Gooden will be at Citi Field tonight for a book signing. … Ruben Tejada begins a rehab assignment this weekend. Terry Collins said Tejada isn’t assured his job when he returns, claiming he has to beat out Omar Quintanilla, who has done nothing to warrant losing the starting position.

Here’s tonight’s Mets’ batting order:

Eric Young, LF: Hitting .556 (5-for-9) with RISP since joining the Mets.

Daniel Murphy, 2B: Hitting .276 (16-for-58) with RISP.

David Wright, 3B: Hit .326 (14-for-43) on the trip.

Marlon Byrd, RF: Has six homers in June, a career-high for him in any month.

Josh Satin, 1B: Hitting .273 while playing good defense. Is he a keeper?

John Buck, C: Is on a 2-for-24 slide.

Juan Lagares, CF: Looks as if center field job is his to lose. With his speed, I wouldn’t mind seeing him getting a chance at hitting second and dropping Murphy into a RBI position.

Omar Quintanilla, SS: Takes a 0-for-13 slide into game.

Matt Harvey, RHP: Has reached the sixth inning or longer in 14 of 16 starts.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jun 14

Lenny Dykstra To Be Released From Prison

Former New York Mets outfielder Lenny Dykstra will be released from a California prison this weekend, almost 15 months into a three-year term.

Dykstra, nicknamed “Nails,’’ because of his gritty style of play while with the Mets, achieved All-Star status after being dealt to the Phillies in one of the worst trades in team history.

DYKSTRA: After his homer in the 1986 NLCS.

DYKSTRA: After his homer in the 1986 NLCS.

Dykstra hit one of the most memorable home runs in franchise history against the Houston Astros in the 1986 NLCS, and also hit a key homer against Boston in the World Series that year.

Dykstra, 50, ran into financial crisis several years ago, and was charged with grand theft auto and filing a false financial report in October of 2011. After the charge, Dykstra went into a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program.

Author Christopher Frankie, who wrote “Nailed: The Improbable Rise and Spectacular Fall of Lenny Dykstra,’’ told reporters he was surprised by the court’s decision.

“[He] blatantly disobeyed the court, and a lot of the stuff was very brazen,’’ Frankie said. “He was doing it in the full view of law enforcement. I hope for his sake, his family’s sake, and the public’s sake, that he doesn’t return to his criminal past.

“I think people in this country really love a comeback story, so he certainly has that opportunity. But, I’m not convinced that’s the path he’s going to take.’’

Dykstra has been noticeably absent in Mets’ functions since he retirement, and for obvious reasons hasn’t been around Citi Field. Mets fans have been open in their acceptance of Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden, and it will interesting to see if they will be that open to Dykstra.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos