QBC 2018: Finding Nimmo Is a Great Guy

We have been doing some upgrading of the site. Get ready for a relaunch at the end of February. Well, maybe relaunch is too big of a word. But it will look different. If this is loaded properly by me (and based on this post being several days old upon publication, this is not my first try), this is kind of a spring training reveal. Whaddya think?

One thing that was the same was the always awesome Queens Baseball Convention. The Mets even sent a couple of people from marketing and promotion to talk to the people and they handled some pointed questeions well and honestly. Todd Hundley was back in New York and Chris Flexen, whom I missed. And the panels on the State of the Mets and the Uniforms were their usual brilliant selves. But the star of the day was Brandon Nimmo.

I have been rotting for him since he came up. I admit I was skeptical that they spent a first-round pick on a guy from a state without high school baseball. But he can play and play the right way. And his attitude is even better than this batting eye. And I was one of the few people who have been to Wyoming. I lived in Colorado for a little while and I’ve been to Wyoming like six times. I’ve been to Frontier Days twice. And I like neither rodeo nor country music. So Nimmo and I have that Wyoming crush in common. We both like the Mets, too.

I have to thank Keith Blacknick for giving me the OK to come the morning of the event when I realized very late that Katch Astoria was sold out. Also thanks to up and coming Mets author Brian Wright; Jesse James Burke, barrister and memorabilia man who treats me like a king, and Marty Gover, Ed Kranepool’s agent, who met me there—and who is still has a lot of Kranepoolian memorabilia available through the end of January for those who are interested in meeting the Krane at his home. Contact Momentum Sports if you are interested (212-918-4545).

I hope to have even more of a presence at the next QBC. But right now I am working on a book on our favorite ballpark. More on that later.


An Opportunity for a Piece of Steady Eddie’s Legacy

In almost 10 years running metsilverman.com, I have been loathe to put any commercial, outside, or autographed products on this site. But I never got a call like I got this week. Martin Gover, who represents many former ballplayers in their life after the game, reached out to me about a Met having health problems. And not just any Met, but the longest tenured Met ever: Ed Kranepool. (more…)


Managing to End a Slide

It was quite an interesting fall in baseball. The Astros won their first World Series. They became the first team who switched between the National and American Leagues to become a world champion. They are also the first Texas world champion. They beat the Yankees to get there. And, if you want to get technical, the new world champion is my employer. (more…)


Not Your Sunday Best

I made the mistake of going to a Mets game on a Sunday. I knew the Mets did not play well on Sunday, and were 0-4 in trying to complete home sweeps—all on Sunday. But how was I to know that when I bought seats online directly from a season ticket holder in the last row of the first section at Citi Field behind home plate. My whole family attended a game for the first time since the 2013 All-Star, when our standing room tickets transformed into great seats when the people in front of us left early.

This one got a late start, thanks to a downpour, but the seats had four different clubs to seek refuge in. With two picky eaters gone teenagers, I was not about to waste the $33 all-you can eat ballpark food at the Porsche Club, so we gambled on the Foxwoods Club and waited out the rain until we could order Shake Shack from the waiter service. But I am not there for the food. It’s better than anything I ever ate at Shea, but I wonder what’s the surcharge to order a second helping of the ’86 Mets, please.

Both WOR radio and the New York Times did a fine job of chronicling the Mets’ woes on Sunday. The Mets had been 4-0 in games I attended this year this year (all on Friday or Saturday nights), and somehow got great pitching performances each time. I did not get a bad effort from Rafael Montero against Oakland, either. But the Mets lived up to the Sunday billing.

They have actually won twice at home on Sunday (once in April and once in June). Yet they lost this one to Oakland, the closest loss they’d had on a home Sunday all year—the other seven losses had been by an average score of 9-2. This was 3-2, sounding a lot more like the 1973 World Series against the A’s than a pedestrian interleague game against a foe whose players’ names were almost entirely unfamiliar to me except for Yoenis Cespedes, who wants to go back there for his final year. I hope the final year of Yo’s career won’t come for a while and if I could go back in time and spend one more year in the house where I grew up, I’d probably wish for it aloud, too.

On Sunday Yoenis gave everyone a jolt—if not a McDonald’s-sponsored compression sleeve with his #52 on it—when he skied a high fly to center with a man on in the ninth. The crowd behind me oohed and ahed, but I had a perfect view up the middle of umpire, catcher, pitcher, and center fielder. Jaycob Brugman (I so had to look up the A’s CF) never moved and the Mets never quite got off the Sunday schnide.

And if the Mets had gotten three wins in Flushing in 1973, there would have never been that ill-fated flight to Oakland or the George Stone what-if, or facing Catfish Hunter, or Ken Holtzman, or Reggie Jackson stomping on home plate, and the A’s celebrating all around the Oakland Coliseum, which is now the fifth-oldest ballpark in baseball, if not the least attractive. The Mets lost their last game at the Oakland Coliseum in 1973—on a Sunday, no less.


Some Call It Interesting, Some Call It the Mr. Met Blues

The question isn’t Why Did Mr. Met Flip Someone Off

The question is, What Took Him So Long!?!

Mr. Met had a little trouble this week. In case you don’t think the Mets are overly-scrutinized, Mr. M got in trouble for giving the middle finger, which is hard to do when you have four fingers. Three-Finger Mordecai Brown had four fingers (he lost one finger and another was badly bent) and his natural curve was one of the reasons the Cubs repeated as world champion 109 years ago. Jerry Garcia had four fingers and he was a great guitarist. Mr. Met has four fingers, never says nothin’ to nobody, and… well you know things are with the Mets.

Being a Mets fan is the equivalent of the maxim, “May you live in interesting times.” The Mets are an interesting team. Whether they are good or not depends what year you are asking.

The Mets have been good for less than half the years of their existence (25 for 55). And by good, I mean .500 or better. The Mets aren’t one of those teams where if they don’t win the World Series, it’s abject failure. It only feels that way minutes after the excruciating final World Series loss. (See 1973, 2000, 2015.)

The team is interesting because they are like someone who cannot throw a straight ball. It is always darting this way or that. And sometimes the Mets have pitchers who can do that very well. That makes things really interesting. And then they have pitchers do that and it is constantly called a ball. It feels like every pitcher on the team is having that problem in 2017.

But the beauty of baseball is that it is every day. It is looking good today, terrible tomorrow, and OK the day after. They play enough games to keep things lively. It’s up to them to add the interesting. And it is up to you.

I try to treat the team like a long-term investor, who knows they will never sell the stock while enduring the ups and down of marketplace volatility. One day it was low, like Friday night, when a five-run inning was immediately followed by a seven-run inning by the opponent—and that was that. The next night, which I saw in person, was a clean game with Robert Gsellman—he of the funny hair and funny name—pitched as well as I’ve seen him pitch this year. The bullpen actually pitched out of trouble. Addison Reed got the first two-inning save of his career, which I thought was “That ’70s Move” by Terry Collins, but it worked this time. Of course back in the 1970s, the “stopper” could pitch two or three innings in relief and then not be needed the next couple of days because one of the starters would pitch a complete game. The Mets have seven complete games in the four years since efficient and effusive knuckleballer R.A. Dickey was sent to Toronto. (Not to say in any way that was a bad trade. It was one of Sandy’s finest moments.)

And there I go, off on a tangent. Just like the 2017 Mets, it seems to make sense for a moment, and then it’s all over the place. Like a dream. And by dream I mean herky-jerky, hazy, and not quite there. Because this is no dream season. More like one of the 30 seasons that have not even come close to being a winner. I hope it is not a year that is remembered solely for Mr. Met going all Richie Hebner on the fans.


One Fan’s Citi Roll Call

In the days before the new season begins is as good a time as any to reflect back on summers at the ballpark. Looking back on the 2016 season I did not get to that many games at Citi Field, but I did see some epic moments, even if they were more epic for the other team. I did not see the season kick off in New York, but I was there when it ended. I heard the “thunk” of the ball landing on the met bullpen roof from my perch from the 7-Line seats. I sat there twice in 2016 after never getting out there before. I also made my Citi party deck debut in 2016. Not featured on my Citi roll call was my visit to Marlins Parks, where I saw the game Jose Fernandez was supposed to pitch, but tragically did not.

My record may not be so great this year, but I really enjoyed every game. Living 100+ minutes away makes you appreciate the journey as well as the game. And as things turned out I went to the same series once and back-to-back games another time. So it came in bunches. Like runs sometimes do. But not wins. I only saw the Mets win once in 2016, but it was against the Nats, who beat them like a drum. If you look at their home record overall, the Mets enter 2017 at exactly .500 at home since Citi Field opened. A nice recovery for a team that couldn’t win at home for several years and couldn’t beat anybody at all for several more. I am still under .500, but that’s just me.

Here is the log of my games at Citi Field, which I do annually so I never have to say I think I’ve been to so and so many games at the park. This also does not include the 30+ games I worked at “The Joe” in Troy for the Tri-City Valley Cats. My major league scorecard may be shrinking, but I am still seeing plenty of baseball. And talking about it now and again (thanks to Media Goon and Greg Prince for providing video of the panel discussion I was in on Tom Seaver at QBC ’17.). Thank you very much.

Captain’s Log 2016 Citi Field

Date Foe, Result Mets Rec, Pos MS Rec Win Loss Save HRs /by NYM Who hit the HRs Note
10-Ap Phi, 5-2 L 2-3, 2nd 0-1 Hellickson Harvey Gomez 2/1 Herrera, Cespedes Saw only Mets HR of first homestand while dropping rubber game to bad Phils team.
11-Ap Mia, 10-3 L 2-4, 3rd 0-2 Narveson Matz 2 Stanton, Osuna Absolute bomb by Stanton in absolute bombing of Matz. Seven in second knocked him out. Had fun on party deck, though.
17-May Was, 2-0 W 22-16, 2nd 1-2 Syndergaard Scherzer Familia 2/2 Granderson, Conforto Conforto HR and Grandy leadoff blast, but pitching and emotion ruled in Murph return. Mets only 1/2-game back. Never got closer.
19-Sep Atl, 7-3 L 80-70, 2nd 1-3 Blair Syndergaard 2/1 Freeman, T.J. Rivera 0-6 pitcher vs. Thor seems automatic, but Blair had first MLB win; Braves battered Noah.
21-Sep Atl, 4-3 L 80-72 1-4 Krol Familia Johnson 3/2 Cabrera,       R. Rivera, Recker Thought this would be the day Mets went in September crapper. Blow lead and then Cespedes HR stolen by Inciarte, but…
5-Oct. SF, 3-0 L WC,   0-1 1-5 Baumgarner Familia 1 Gillaspie …Mets grabbed playoff spot and homefield in WC (BS) Game. Heck of a year, heck of a game, unfortunate ending vs. NL ace.
2016 1-5 Syndergaard Familia 2 Familia 12/6 Six games, six different Mets homer, but no repeat–for HRs or NL flag.
Since ’09 opening 324-324 47-53 Dickey & Santana 4 Pelfrey 3 K-Rod 7 138/72 Wright 8 Counting postseason, Mets are 284-290 at Citi. A winning record at the place isn’t far

 


QBC Awesome Again

Tremendous time at the third Queens Baseball Conference at Katch Astoria. I am 3-for-3 in QBC and had plans to go to the one snowed out last year. This was the first time I was on a panel, thanks to Greg Prince. Bill Ryczek, Greg, and I were the anchorman panel to close out the event, commemorating the 50th anniversary of Tom Seaver’s debut season of 1967. I got a little worried when I saw that Greg and Bill had written remarks, but luckily I brought along a Seaver Danbury Mint statue (making its outside my laundry room debut) plus a copy of the latest edition of 100 Things Mets Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die, which has numerous Tom Seaver chapters to choose from. Greg assigned me the saddest Seaver day: June 15, 1977. I read chapter 13: “The Seaver Deal.” One person said he got misty during it.

Well, that made my day. So did getting a gift of a 1976 bicentennial patch from Mets memorabilia man Jessie Burke, winning a signed Ron Hunt ball in a silent auction from Scott Green’s Play at the Plate booth, jawing with old pal and uniform creator/historian Todd Radom, and meeting former MLB PR man Jeff Heckleman plus Mets pregame host Pete McCarthy. And of course old friends Sharon and Kevin Chapman, Arnold Dorman, Mets by the Numbers founder, author, and pal Jon Springer, Uni Watch’s Paul Lukas, Game of My Life New York Mets author Michael Garry, Mr. Met, and the organizers of the event, including Shannon Shark and Dan Twohig, who also aided in a couple of books of mine that came out last year. And there are other names I am too tired to drop. It was just a fantastic time. It always gets me geared up for the baseball season and to get back to work writing about baseball. I am still in the midst of a hiatus I have to take every few years to keep sane. There really is nothing like the Mets community—because anyone else would have given up on the whole thing long ago. But fans do not give up easy. Or forget. God bless ya!


Reflections of a Mets Life: 2016

The last time the Mets opened the season on Sunday Night Baseball, it was a rematch of a heartbreaking loss to a Missouri-based foe. In 2007 it was the Cardinals. The Mets smoked them in the opener, swept the series, and looked great until the last frightening fortnight of the season. In 2016 it was the Royals. They smoked the Mets and Matt Harvey, the teams spilt the series, and New York turned it on in a final formidable fortnight of the 2016 season.

The Mets are a fickle bunch, and their fans can be, too. After a 2015 run where everyone was healthy and producing, where late-inning and late-season rallies happened with remarkable regularity, the Mets seemed rundown and out of luck for much of 2016. In 2015 they did not win a single regular-season game against either the Cubs or the Pirates, both playoff teams, but they overcame. In 2016 the Mets went a staggering 2-11 against the Rockies and Diamondbacks, teams that went a combined 36 games under .500. The Mets also had losing records against divisional foes Washington and Atlanta.

During the final homestand I sat in the upper deck and saw the last-place Braves sweep the Mets on a game-saving, over-the-fence catch by center fielder Ender Inciarte (he earned the 2016 Gold Glove right there). It left the Mets tied with the Giants and Cardinals for the two wild card spots. There were just 10 games left in the season, and given the Mets’ past history with the Cardinals, it was hard to think they’d steal a spot from them. But they did.

The Mets went 7-3 to finish the season, taking three of four from the Phillies, starting off with the best—and most important win of the season the night after that crushing loss to the Braves. Back and forth they went with the Phillies, Yoenis Cespedes tied the game in the fifth and then put them ahead in the seventh, only to see the Phils score three times in the eighth in a rare stinker outing by Addison Reed. The Mets rallied to tie it in the ninth on a Jose Reyes two-run homer. And then after Jeurys Familia faltered in the 11th and two runs scored, a three-run, walkoff bomb by Asdrubal Cabrera saved the day.

From that point forward, during a part of the season when Mets teams have faded badly over the past 20 years, the Amazin’s were, well, amazin’. Their only two losses in games that mattered: against the Phillies in Flushing, when they were down by 10 runs before rallying to make it 10-8 with the tying runs on base when the game ended, and against the Marlins on a night when Jose Fernandez was supposed to pitch but did not.

I was heading to Florida to visit my dad, with plans to see one of the games in Miami. Fernandez was scheduled to pitch that first game. He had never lost to the Mets, had a career 1.34 ERA against them, with the Mets hitting just .177 against him. Fernandez was cocky, but I liked him. He loved the game and it reminded me of watching young Pedro Martinez in Expos garb dominate a good Mets club. But Fernandez died in a boating accident the day before I left for Florida, the day before he was supposed to pitch against the Mets.

I walked around the mall-like stadium complex by myself that Monday night. It was somber but still had the bustle before a big-league game, especially with both teams still with a chance for the postseason. But when the Marlins took the field all donned in number 16 jerseys with Fernandez on the back, it was hard to think about a game. I don’t like Dee Gordon, or anyone who cheats the game (he spent half the year suspended for performance enhancing drugs), but it was hard to not feel something positive when he hit Bartolo’s second pitch over the right-field fence at that massive park. It was his only home run of the year. He cried when he got to the dugout.

The Mets put together a comeback, but lost that game. Against this team, playing the role of opponent in something bigger than the game, the Mets could have done their usual September slide. But they did not. The Mets were respectful of the Marlins the last two games, but they did not let down. Jay Bruce, who had been quiet as a dormouse since being acquired from the Reds for never-to-be Favorite Nonplaying Met Dilson Herrera, came alive the last week of the season. The Mets won those last two games in Miami and then won the first two games in Philly, the second of which clinched the top wild card seed.

Anytime the Mets make the postseason, it is a real achievement. The way this season looked, it was a grand achievement. Beating out the Cardinals, not beating themselves, and holding it together when they had to with a pitching staff made of Noah Syndergaard, Bartolo Colon, and three guys I hadn’t heard of before the year began. I thought Terry Collins deserved Manager of the Year, but for the second year in a row, he didn’t even come close in the voting. And I did not think much of the man’s managing ability (and occasionally still have questions) until last year. After so many things went right in 2015, so many things went wrong in 2016. Reaching the postseason at all was amazin’ indeed.

Now look, the one-game playoff/playin/playwithyourself game had its chance to convince me of being a worthy postseason format for baseball. A homer by a banjo-hitting third baseman against the league’s best closer did not change my belief that the wild card teams (if two such teams are really necessary) should play a best-of-three format reminiscent of the old way that the National League handled ties at the end of the Year (see “Shot Heard ‘Round the World, The”).

The Mets were bounced from October quick as a wink, but it was still a tremendous October. The Indians had their best team in years and with a little luck might have ended a drought that stretches to when my Dad, who just turned 85, was a teenager. (Happy birthday, Pop!) My grandfather, who has been dead for two-thirds of a century, was seven years old when the Cubs had last won. Something had to give.

But I would not give back one iota of the 2016 Mets season. Wright gets hurt, Reyes comes back. No deGrom? We get Gsellman. Duda and Walker are out? Loney and T.J. Rivera are in. Rene Rivera takes over when Travis d’Arnaud turns as small as the letter that starts his last name. Seth Lugo, for crying out loud. Josh Smoker, for corn’s sake. A team that has done nothing but frustrate me for a long time made me proud. They played exciting, meaningful baseball, and I walked out of there thinking the season was over the Wednesday night Inciarte stole that would-be home run. I walked out of there two Wednesdays later knowing that their season was done, but having no doubt they had given their best.

We want a world championship, just like everyone else, but barring that we’ll take a fun season. And these Mets gave us that and more in 2016. Here’s to even more in 2017.

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You want fun in 2017? Well, how about the Queens Baseball Convention this Saturday at Katch Astoria at 31-19 Newtown Avenue, Queens, NY 11102. I’ll be on Greg Prince’s 50 Years of 41: Tom Seaver Panel at day’s end, about 5 p.m. Be there or be square.


Your Mets Gift of the Year: Can You Spell QBC?

Just came from the mall where I bought… a bunch of crap. It’s nice that the Newburgh Mall has a branch of the library there, with lots of people sitting and reading. For shopping it would have been nice to have an actual bookstore to browse through titles in hardcover, softcover, and CD, but you still might order your favorite Mets book online if you don’t mind getting it after Christmas. But if you are reading this, I am assuming you already have One-Year Dynasty covered. Thanks so much.

Anywho, going to the mall is a pain. An hour and 15 minutes spent there feels like 15 hours and 1 minute to me. I can think of someplace where standing for 75 minutes waiting in line feels mighty fine: The Queens Baseball Convention. I’d gladly wait that long for two former Mets infielders and third base coaches in Bobby Valentine and Tim Teufel.

And the Queens Baseball Convention will have me, too. I have been asked by Mets author and blogger extraordinaire Greg Prince to take part in a panel on Tom Seaver, who became a Met 50 years ago. Whoa! I get a lot of anniversary numbers thrown at me, but that one made my knees buckle a bit. I’ll hopefully have recovered enough by Saturday, January 28, at Katch Astoria, 31-19 Newtown Avenue in Queens. This is inside information since I’m not listed on the QBC web site. So keep it under your (blue) Mets hat.

And what does this have to do with holiday shopping? Well, since we all waited too long to order our stuff online, my recommendation for your Mets Christmas gift of 2016 is to buy a ticket to QBC, print it out, and put it under your favorite Mets fan’s tree. I attended the first two QBCs put together by Mets Police and many other dedicated volunteers. I was monumentally bummed out that last year’s QBC was snowed out—the one storm all year! Bobby V. and Timmy T. won’t let that happen again.


Books Make Great Gifts, I Hear

This being the holiday season and me having books to sell, I figure why not combine both sentiments? I have included links below to click on to order from Amazon, but feel free to break out on your own and buy it from Barnes & Noble or your local book shop, like my favorite new place, Postmark Books in Rosendale.

My latest book is about everyone’s favorite insufferable Mets team, the ’86 world champs. It’s called One-Year Dynasty: Inside the Rise and Fall of the 1986 Mets, Baseball’s Impossible One-and-Done Champions. I also updated a couple of old stand-bys, 100 Things Mets Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die and Mets by the Numbers (which I co-authored with Jon Springer). I also updated Cubs and Red Sox books with my co-authors in the By the Numbers series. So I did books on three teams this year and all of them made the postseason. One even beat a 108-year curse and ended the San Francisco even-year, Ho-Jo-like domination thingee. Not too shabby.

If you want autographed copies, email me at matt@metsilverman.com.

Thanks for listening and no matter what gifts you choose, have a Metty Christmas and Happy Harvey Year!