It’s Monday, April 4, 2016. At the time of this writing, it is 35 degrees in Cleveland. At 4:00 pm EST, it is being guessed that the temperature will be about 33 degrees with an 11% chance of precipitation (read: snow). Out my window here in Boston all I see are grey skies and snowflakes. There is nothing about this day that screams “BASEBALL SEASON” yet here it is. Cardinals, Pirates, Rays, Blue Jays, Mets and Royals fans got their opening day yesterday and for the rest of us TODAY is it. (Well not all of us. Astros and Yankees fans have to wait another day thanks to Mother Nature, who is apparently NOT a Yankees fan.)
Outdoor sports that don’t involve boots, skates, or layered clothing should not be played in 33 degrees. It’s uncomfortable for the players, for the fans, for the folks who work at the parks and stadiums…it’s pretty much miserable for everyone. But know what? We don’t care. None of us. Because MOST of us will be sitting at home watching on television or listening to the radio/Internet while everyone else languishes in the cold. We get to enjoy the fruits of their labor and suffering from the warmth of our couches and bar stools because, dammit, baseball season will not be halted. Not even for a little bit of snow. (Again, unless you’re in New York today.)
Diehard baseball fans will argue that the season isn’t long enough. Just when it starts to get really good, bam, it’s over. So we accept that our teams play in the snow in April and sometimes in October as well because the alternative is no baseball…and what the hell is the point of that?
Seven years ago this past weekend I was at the opening of Citi Field for exhibition games between the Mets and the Red Sox (apologies for the lack of photos on those links – archiving the old blog entries didn’t go as well as I had hoped). It was a cold, grey, rainy weekend and at one point while we were walking around the brand new park shivering and practically getting blown over by the wind, I overheard a couple behind me. He was ranting about how he had told her before that they weren’t going to any games in April and she literally just laughed in his face. She knew he was full of it (either that, she knew the next April game she went to would be on her own or with someone who wasn’t him) – we ALL complain about the miserable April weather but we all show up at the games or turn that television on come opening day. We are baseball fans and we are a little bit crazy.
The 2016 season is a snowy blank canvas and the Red Sox have David Price as their artist in residence. I’m looking forward to some beautiful, winning tableaus this year – sprinkled with a little carnage every now and then.
Let’s go, Red Sox!
|Citi Field. Taken, as all the photos here are, by me.|
This weekend has flown by and in a few hours the event we’ve been clamoring for will be upon us: Opening Day at Fenway (and all around MLB)!
|A happy Justin Masterson.|
Being at Citi Field absolutely made me realize how much I missed baseball. It was also my first real taste of Mets fans and I have to say that, on the whole, I really enjoyed them. I was a little surprised that they were booing Oliver Perez in the first inning of an exhibition game on Saturday but the other side of that showed itself the night before when they went wild for both JJ Putz and Francisco Rodriguez. When, suddenly, all the Mets fans left at Citi Field on Friday night stood up, I had no idea what was coming. Then KellyO pointed out the bullpen door opening and K-Rod running out. The reaction of the fans gave me chills. It was special to be able to witness their first sighting of him in a Mets uniform (in the new park!).
|Mr. Met – packing heat.|
So many random things happened this weekend. A (seemingly) homeless man passed us at South Station before we left on Friday and muttered “Red Sox!” at us. Mind you, neither of us had any Sox gear on at the time. (It came full circle when I was crossing the street in New York to get to Penn Station and a man walked by me and yelled “Yankees!” in my ear.) We were constantly being reminded to “watch the gap” when getting on and off the trains. Amtrak (and the LIRR) is quite serious about this. Sadly, I watched the gap all weekend long and nothing seemed to happen. False advertising if you ask me.
I was disappointed that Kyle Snyder didn’t make the trip but am hopeful that he was still in Florida. Because, really, if he wasn’t going to be able to play at the new park this weekend, at least he could be enjoying nice weather while some of his new teammates froze their butts off.
|Julio Lugo taking autograph requests.|
Julio Lugo seems to be trying his best to keep up a positive front. On Friday night, from clear across the park, we noticed someone in the Red Sox dugout tossing baseballs to the fans. Turns out it was Lugo, taking baseballs from the fans and signing them. He then started tossing gum to the kids behind the dugout (at one point motioning for the bucket of gum!). On Saturday, he was out there signing autographs again and chatting up pretty much everyone he came upon. It was like Sean Casey all over again!
Watching Jed Lowrie hit a grand slam – even in an exhibition game – is possibly one of the coolest things I’ve witnessed on a road trip! Everyone on the team seemed to be pretty jacked up for him. There was a small part of me that felt sorry for Perez but mostly I was just really happy to see the team doing well. A split was fine with me.
Jon Lester? Not so impressive this weekend. Daisuke Matsuzaka? He was just fabulous wasn’t he? He just oozed confidence as well – especially when he fielded the two balls that he did. Ice water in his veins, I’m telling you. Also, David Ortiz looks to be in tip-top shape. It’s always tough to tell how his weight is with the way he wears his uniforms but I’ll tell you this: watching him run from first to third in one smooth motion with no chugging along or huffing and puffing once he passed second was very telling. I can’t remember ever seeing him run the bases so effortlessly and it impressed me greatly.
|Daisuke Matsuzaka explaining that the bases loaded thing was all part of his plan.|
Because of technology issues on Saturday, I was without the use of my cell phone. This caused issues where I was supposed to meet up with Metsgrrl and finally get to say “hello” (Metsgrrl is now in Cincinnati for the Mets/Reds games this week!) It also caused me to miss some stellar texting from friends. I feel the need to defend Citi Field and the Mets by saying if it wasn’t for the insane winds, there would have been no garbage on the fields on Saturday. The park is spotless (well, except for a couple of sketchy bathrooms) and I really enjoyed it so I hated the idea that the game airing nationally was the one where there was trash blowing all about. (Did MLBN get Papi holding on to Alex Cora’s pocket at third base and stuffing it full of garbage? Papi was the most diligent of the players, really wanting to get the trash gone!)
I know I’ve missed things to touch upon so I’ll send you here and here to see the rest of the better photos I took this weekend. I’m using a new camera and still playing with settings and such, so the pictures won’t be professional grade but I like them!
To celebrate the beginning of the season, here is my favorite version of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”. Hope everyone enjoys the day!
|Justin Masterson on Friday before the game. One of the few pictures I took not marred by gray skies and rain!|
Friday was a long day full of much rain (the worst of it long before we got to Citi Field!). I think I’m still damp.
But we made it and the day was also full of much fun (in spite of Jon Lester proving, once again, that he isn’t too fond of me!). Prior to the game, there weren’t many lines and things seemed to be running smoothly in the concessions, but the wheels seemed to fall off during the game. (To paraphrase KellyO, any liquid that could come spewing out of an opening was doing so at one stand she went to.) But the Mets fans were, honestly, really great and the park is quite beautiful.
I’m hoping to get a better view of it today on the less gray day (?) – we didn’t check, yet, to see what the weather will be like. We were going for the element of surprise.
No Kyle Snyder sighting but I DID see a guy in a Mets jersey with “Buckner – 6” on the back. And on the train, after the game, a Mets fan approached me (I had a Sox sweatshirt on) and said “Too bad they fell short again – just like in 1986”.
Seriously. 🙂 He was pleasant enough, though, and all it did was make me laugh.
Apparently, unless you have tickets for the rows you are standing in, you can’t get close to the field during batting practice. That annoys me only in as long as you aren’t in the seat of someone who wants to sit in their seat at that moment, I don’t see the big deal. Oh well, I guess plenty of parks are doing this now.
The one thing I truly dislike about the park are the bullpens. They aren’t stacked like in Baltimore or Philadelphia, they aren’t side by side like in Fenway, they are one behind the other. And the Mets bullpen is in front of the visitor’s bullpen and open to all the elements. This means, when it started raining, the Red Sox were already under cover but the Mets pitchers had to huddle together under a small overhang…KellyO compared it to a bus stop shelter…just to stay dry. It makes no sense, to me, to design a bullpen in this way, but what do I know. I DO wonder what kind of visibility the visiting team has and if they can’t see the game, that opens up the possibility for bored men to get creative. Could be interesting viewing, the visiting bullpen at Citi Field.
We’ll be bolting soon for another day at the park. This time with (fingers crossed) less rain and maybe better lighting for pictures! (I took a ton on Friday. I’ll probably spend Sunday editing the best ones and I’ll post some here.) One more “meaningless” game, folks, until the real deal on Monday!
|A picture I took at Fenway in June 2007. Just a few more days until Fenway!|
It’s about 1:10 on Friday morning as I begin to write this and I just finished packing. I’m going to be gone two days and one night and most of that time is going to be spent at a ball park, yet it took me all night to get motivated enough to pack the bag. It isn’t that I’m not excited about going to New York, I truly am. It’s just that when I get excited I tend to need to do something to relax before I can focus on things I really need to do. Relaxing for me included watching the Giants beat the A’s on the MLB Network. I’m nothing if not predictable, huh?
Sox got a bit of a butt kicking from the Twins, but Brad Penny made it one step closer to the rotation, so the final game of Spring Training was a wash. The guys are creeping their way up north First New York for the weekend and then – Boston! It’s a cliche for a sports fan to say that the off-season felt long, but this one really did. And I know it doesn’t seem it to the folks in Ft Myers, but Spring Training alone just felt so long this year. Hallelujah, what we’ve waited for since October is finally upon us!
Apparently, the grand plan is to have it rain on us this weekend. I refuse to let that ruin our good time. First and foremost, I’m going to see Citi Field, so as long as we get into the park, the weekend will be a success for me. Getting to see the Sox play is just whipped cream on that sundae. (An appearance in some form by Kyle Snyder would be the cherry!) Meaning that with all my heart, I’m still hoping against hope that the weather isn’t as bad as people keep telling me it will be. Ah, spring in the Northeast!
Coolest story of the day had to be what the Buffalo Bisons are doing.
The Buffalo Bisons, Triple-A affiliate of the New York Mets, today announced that they will offer up to four FREE tickets to Opening Day 2009 to any person who has lost their job.
The Bisons recognize that many of the same fans that have helped the team set numerous attendance records have now fallen on hard times with the downturn in this country’s economy. With the hope and promise of Spring and a new baseball season, the team wanted to make sure that all their great fans and their families have a chance to attend Opening Day on Thursday, April 9 against the Pawtucket Red Sox (3:05 p.m.).
Say what you want. Choose the cynical route that this is just for the publicity. I say bah. All we hear about baseball is “It’s a business. They’re in this to make money”. Not this time. This is a wonderful way to show the fans that the team actually cares about them. Sure, it’s only one game…but it’s the Opening Day game and that’s a pretty special deal. Good for the Bisons.
The plan is to post at some point Friday night after the game (or after whatever ends up happening if the game is rained out) or Saturday morning. It all depends on the events of the evening. If, in fact, we do get to see some baseball this weekend, we get Lester on Friday and Matsuzaka on Saturday. I’m interested in seeing them both in person for the first time this year. I’m anticipating quite a few walks.
And, finally, a shout-out to my sister. April 3 is her birthday and she’s a good enough sport to not mind that I’m spending it in New York. Of course, I’m bringing her to Opening Day so I guess she can’t complain too much. Happy birthday, Junior!
|Kyle Snyder in 2006 (Just because!) Photo by Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.net. Used with permission.|
Everything you might want to know about the food at Citi Field (especially if you’re heading to New York this weekend), including pictures and pricing, can be found at the NYC Food Guy’s blog. My understanding is I’ll be at the Acela Club at some point so this part of the entry is especially smile-inducing:
I tried two of the Acela Club’s three dishes offered at Tuesday’s press conference, starting with the white cheddar macaroni and cheese with panchetta. This was one of the tastiest dishes at the event, combining textures, with the crunchy bread crumbs and creamy cheddar, and flavors, with the slightly spicy panchetta and the sharp cheese.
I’m a fool for a good mac and cheese dish. But if that isn’t your speed, Lawrence outlines EVERYTHING (Even Shake Shack!). I’m sure you’ll find something to please you. Really brilliant work on Lawrence’s part. Even if you aren’t going to Citi Field, it’s worth checking out.
My friend becks pointed me here. It’s a popularity contest for the most popular minor league team in each “class/level” done bracket-style. There’s a few teams there (like the PawSox, Spinners, SeaDogs and Rox) who could use your votes. Sure there’s nothing, really, to gain by our teams each winning but it’s a fun way to spend a few minutes.
Not baseball-related, but still…Rajon Rondo has a blog? How is this not publicized around here more? Look what we’re missing:
It has been a long time…and I do apologize for it. I’ve been away from the yard for a while-not purposely, of course. It’s just that the past couple of months have been very busy for me. We were on the road for almost all of February, and we have been on the road a lot this month too. It seems like all I’ve done for the past two months is travel, and when I wasn’t traveling I was either doing appearances or trying to spend time with my family. My little girl is getting soo big, and she has to be the smartest baby in the world (yes, I’m partial). She is saying and doing everything-her favorite thing to do is to play ring around the rosey (she knows all the words).
The cuteness is killing me. Very real-sounding, yes? Not too much of the phone it in and let someone else write it up sound to it. I like that. I get a kick out of reading things like players saying their kids are the smartest babies in the world. I eat it up.
Kyle Snyder pitched a scoreless inning in relief today (the pitchers for the Bisons collectively shut-out the Memphis Redbirds). Tomorrow the Bisons play their last Spring Training game so I’m still holding out hope that Kyle makes an appearance (even if it’s just on the field and not in a game) at Citi Field this weekend. I’m nothing if not optimistic.
* So named becasue I was just too wiped to create a truly well thought-out post.
When I’m feeling lazy, you get links. 🙂