Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Series Recap - Florida Marlins

April 27: Mets win 7-1
April 28: Marlins win 7-4
April 29: Marlins win 4-3

Mets record: 9-12

And the answer is... : Omir Santos hit the first grand slam in Citi Field history on Monday to become the answer to a trivia question. Two days later, its really the only memorable thing for the Mets in this series.

Can you Cantu? : Yes, he can. Jorge Cantu homered three times in the three game series. That's two more home runs than David Wright has all season.

Bullpen goes ka-Putz : What did Johan Santana do to deserve this? Another blown lead by his bullpen on Wednesday. J.J. Putz gives up the game winning runs in the eighth ruining another fine outing by Santana.

Why can't we get players like that? : A tip of the cap to former Boston sportscaster Bob Lobel who used to always say that line when a former Red Sox player would come back and torch the current club. On a completely related note - former Mets farmhand Matt Lindstrom saved both Marlins wins.

Help is NOT on the way : Freddy Garica was thought to be a candidate for the #5 spot in the rotation when Spring Training began. He started the season in Triple-A and that didn't go well. He gave up 10 runs in 11 innings and was released on Tuesday. Omar Manaya's off-season is not getting a passing grade right now.

Next Up : Three games at Philadelphia Phillies. And if you're keeping track - Oliver Perez will apparently get one more shot at the rotation and pitch on Saturday. If you're going to try and help a pitcher regain his confidence - why have him throw against your arch rival, one of the best hitting teams in the league, and in what is traditionally a launching pad for HRs? Its almost like they want him to fail.

- SB

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Series Recap - Washington Nationals

April 24: Mets win 4-3
April 25: Mets win 8-2
April 26: Nationals win 8-1

Mets record: 8-10

Waiting To Exhale : Francisco Rodriguez was brought in to make those 9th inning leads safe. Mets fans probably had trouble breathing when he coughed up the two-run homer Friday night to make it a one-run game. He managed to close the door after that.

What Else Is New? : Johan Santana was awesome Friday. 6ip, 10k, 1er. Here's how good he is - that one earned run allowed actually raised his ERA.

Pelfrey Steps Up : A day after Santana's gem, Mike Pelfrey pitches a gem (by Pelfrey standards) going 5.2ip, 2er, 1k. Its not great, but with Green, Parnell, and Stokes shutting the door after that - its just what the Mets needed.

Wait a second...WHO, WHO and WHO??? : Green, Parnell, and Stokes?!?!? Who the heck are these guys??? Apparently they're Sean Green, Bobby Parnell, and Brian Stokes. I guess the Mets media guide hasn't quite made it down to the Southern Bureau yet.

He's Not Good : Four starts this season for Oliver Perez and in three of them he can't get out of the fifth inning - including Sunday. If you're too sick to click on that game story here's the highlights from the AP writer:
-the erratic lefty has a 9.31 ERA.
-Perez could be in jeopardy of losing his spot in the rotation.
-“I’m really concerned about him at this point.” manager Jerry Manuel said.
-Perez has allowed 15 walks and 23 hits in 19 1-3 innings.
-He was booed off the field by a frustrated crowd of 40,023

BOOOO!!!! too!! : Perez wasn't the only guy getting an earful. From the same AP story: "even David Wright heard catcalls during an 0-for-4 day that included a run-scoring throwing error from third base. The All-Star slugger has fanned 23 times in 70 at-bats this season."

Next Up : three games vs the suddenly slumping Florida Marlins

- SB

Saturday, April 25, 2009


I have been less than enthused about the NFL off-season. The Jets' late-season fade left a really bad taste in my mouth, and the frustrations over the years have slow-cooked to a boil right about now.

I'll be excited again in September, but I didn't really follow closely what had been going on this off-season.

But today's draft might change that a bit.

I didn't really think the Jets would go into the season with Kellen Clemens as their most likely option at quarterback. But it was looking more and more desperate if they didn't do anything at the draft.

I'm happy to report they did.
The Jets gave up a lot - but it should be worth it, drafting Mark Sanchez out of USC.

They traded their first and second round picks in this draft along with Kenyon Coleman, Abram Elam, and Brett Ratliff to Eric Mangini and the Cleveland Browns for the fifth pick, which they used to land Sanchez.

Here's why I'm confident:

1) If at no other position, USC quarterbacks have found success in the matter how much playing time they got in college.

2) Sanchez seems to have a good head on his shoulders. The Jets, under Rex Ryan, will just be looking for him to make smart plays and not screw things up. Just manage the offense. Sanchez, probably the highest-profile draft pick in an otherwise drab personality year, handled himself very, very well throughout the process the past few weeks, and didn't screw it up for himself. I think that's pretty microcosmic of the job he'll have to do with the Jets.

3) It's not Kellen Clemens.

Listen, I'm sure Kellen Clemens is a decent guy. But I'll always hold it against him that he was the one pitted against Chad Pennington when Pennington should have been given a better deal than he was given with the Jets. And he didn't do well during that time, so I was not looking forward to that day when he eventually took over. Now we won't have to worry about that.

One final note - another reason I'm excited about this season is the coach, and the fact that it's not a Bill Belichik disciple taking over the team. Rex Ryan has not been afraid to speak his mind in the few months since he took over, and I like that. That was part of what made Herman Edwards fun as the coach of the Jets (when he wasn't telling bold-face lies).

Ryan has yet to steer the team wrong with any personnel moves, and I like what he's had to say.
I won't be saying much about the NFL between now and...I don't know...August? But I'll be thinking happy thoughts about the Jets and their new franchise quarterback between now and then.

Friday, April 24, 2009


If I lived in New York, I would be at Citi Field tonight. Matter of fact, every time Johan Santana pitched at Citi Field, I'd want to go.

I think anytime he steps on the rubber at that field, he's capable of throwing a no-hitter.

I especially thought that tonight, going against the Nationals, but he's already given up two hits as I write this.

Instead of a no-hitter, though, he's struck out 8 batters through 4 innings.

I'm telling you, something special every time he steps on that Citi Field mound. (Not that he's been too shabby on the road, either.)

It's one constant in this year that might be inconsistent with the Mets - at least we know what we're getting once every five days.

So if I'm in New York, and Johan Santana is scheduled to throw, I'm going. And if I can only watch on TV, I'll be watching.

It's going to be that kind of year for Santana.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Series Recap - St. Louis Cardinals

April 21: Cardinals win 6-4
April 22: Cardinals win 5-2
April 23: Cardinals win 12-8

Mets record: 6-9

That was...uh...something : As Johnnymets put it in his previous post, a pretty uninspired performance by the Mets. A sweep against any team - even against a pretty good Cardinals team - is never good. Perhaps a trip home against an awful Nationals team can turn things around.

No Johan = No chance : Johan Santana didn't pitch in this series, and without him the Mets looked pretty awful. We wondered if starting pitching would be a problem on this club, and its pretty obvious now that it is. Check out the ERA's of the starting rotation...

Johan Santana - 0.46
Livan Hernandez - 7.31
John Maine - 7.47
Oliver Perez - 7.80
Mike Pelfrey - 8.10

Four of the five starters have ERA's over SEVEN. Omar Manaya's decision not to address the starting pitching this offseason is looking more and more questionable.

Batting Third... : Carlos Beltran moved up to third in the lineup, and responds with a three run home run. The 6-9 start isn't Beltran's fault - that's for sure. He's now hitting .404 on the season.

Batting First... : Is not the stolen base threat we remember. Jose Reyes has just three SBs this season, putting him on pace for 32 for the year. That's well below the 65 he's averaged in the last four seasons. Does he not have the green light?

Next Up : three games vs Washington Nationals



You might have noticed I haven't been writing very much about the Mets recently.

It's not that I haven't been watching - I have.

It's not that I don't care anymore - I do.

I feel like there's no fire in the belly. I feel like the Mets are just going through the motions. It makes it hard for me to care when, once again, the Mets look like they don't.

This was a problem last year, and the solution was get rid of Willie Randolph, because he wasn't the fiery type. Jerry Manuel was.

And that's my problem. This shouldn't be happening under Manuel. His presence was supposed to prevent the same kind of lackadaisacal start as last year. (Don't get me started on the fact that major league baseball players even need to be motivated by though millions of dollars wasn't enough motivation.)
Manuel is trying to shake things up - he adjusted the lineup for Thursday afternoon's game.
The result - an uninspired 3-game sweep in St. Louis. It's going to take more than a lineup change - it looks like this team needs an attitude adjustment.
So I hope Manuel has another move up his sleeve. Because that's supposedly why he's here instead of Randolph.


Happy Opening Day, Hall of Famer Gary Carter.

The Long Island Ducks open their season today.

And when they take the field, there might be some names and faces that look familiar to you.
Joining Gary Carter on the Ducks are former major leaguers the likes of pitchers Brad Halsey and Dan Miceli (not pictured), and outfielders Raul Gonzalez (Mets, 2002-2003) and Preston Wilson (I couldn't believe it either).

He's also got some former Mets on his coaching staff - Bud Harrelson and Kevin Baez.

The season starts at 7:05pm on the road against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. They come home Friday, May 1st, on Gary Carter bobblehead night. (I can't attend, but a free blog post to anyone who gets me one of those bobbleheads.)

We'll keep you posted on the Ducks' season.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Perhaps a bit overdue, but I've been so absorbed with the Mets opening up Citi Field that I haven't talked much about what other teams are celebrating in 2009.

There's not as much as there was last year, when teams like the Giants and Dodgers were celebrating 50 years out west, and the Diamondbacks their 10-year anniversary. But a couple of teams have occasions to recognize.

Other than the two stadiums opening in New York, the biggest deal going on in baseball might be in Kansas City, where they are celebrating their 40th year as a franchise as well as the renovation of Kaufman Stadium. I'll have more on the renovation in a minute. But I also wanted to note that the Astros are wearing a patch celebrating 10 seasons at Minute Maid Park (nee Enron). I absolutely can not believe that park has been around ten years. I feel like all of these new ones were just built. Safeco Field is also celebrating 10 years this year, though it opened after the All Star break. And Pac Bell (now AT&T Park) also opened around the same time....I just feel like there's no way these parks can be 10+ years old. Time flies.

Anway, back to Kaufman Stadium. This park might just be the reason I want to visit all of these out-of-town ballparks. Growing up, I used to think there was nothing cooler than the fountains in Kansas City. (Still haven't been, incidentally.) The park got even more beautiful a few years back when they did away with the turf and put in natural grass. And now they've done a full renovation where the park looks very different - more like the new throwback parks, but it still kept a lot of its own charm.
(That's the way it looked the past few years on the left, renovated on the right. I couldn't find any really good pictures of the newer to enlarge.)

Finally, there is one other significant difference that I have seen these past couple of weeks around the Majors - The Ballpark in Arlington (another new ballpark that is over a decade old) has its own new wrinkle: Its high wall in left field is now fronted by a "collapsable" scoreboard.
(Again, this was the best I could do for pictures.) It's a chain-link type fence, with the scoreboard images projected on there, and it absorbs impact. I think that's different from the one they have at the Rogers Centre in Toronto - I think this one wobbles more - I think the one in Toronto is sturdier.

Anyway, check it out if you get the chance - I love all of these little changes from year to year across the majors.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Do you feel, like I do, that things are slow to develop this baseball season?

I understand that it's only two weeks in, but I don't feel like we know very much after seeing two weeks of ballgames played.

The Mets are an example...two full weeks into the season, and they're .500. Perhaps it's indicative of how they'll be all season, and in 23 weeks they'll be sitting at 81-81 (though I doubt it). I wish they had jumped out of the gate, a la the Marlins, and set a tone. But that just doesn't seem to be the way this year is going to go. And not just with the Mets.

Some pitchers' performances this year have been out-of-character. For every Johan Santana or Zack Greinke, there is a Cole Hamels or Tim Lincecum. I don't mind hitters being slow the first couple of weeks, but pitchers are supposed to be ahead of the batters at this point, and I feel like we're not seeing that much.

Perhaps it's too much of a 'fantasy baseball' view on the sport, because with many of these players I focus on their stats for fantasy reasons, and what I thought would be a good fantasy team is having a terrible start...but I feel like it's an overall trend to start 2009.

Speaking of trends...I think now's a good time to stop and look at the starts of 2009 and figure out what's legit and who will fade:


-You read it here first, the Florida Marlins will be a threat all year long. This 11-2 start is no fluke - they have the pitching to hang in the East and in the National League Wild Card races all season.

-Speaking of pitching, the Kansas City Royals have it too. Gil Meche and Zack Greinke shut down the high-powered Texas Rangers offense last weekend. Their 7-5 start is pretty legit - I stand by my pre-season prediction of a better-than-.500 record for K.C. this year. Greinke, by the way, hasn't given up a run in 20+ innings so far this year (he has a 34-inning scoreless streak dating back to last season).


-The San Diego Padres will fade. It may be sooner, it may be much later in the season (my prediction is early July), but they are not as good as their 9-4 start might lead you to believe. I do love that they got off to such a good start after everyone predicted them to be the worst team in baseball (a bold prediction in a league in which the Nationals exist), but I think they'll sink towards the bottom of the National League fairly soon. (I'm not even going to waste a paragraph going into how "For Real" Washington's 2-10 start is...the Mets have no excuse losing to them at all this year.)

-Baltimore has already begun their fade from the top of the AL East, and Toronto will follow soon after. They're 10-4, and good for them...but too many injuries to an already-thin pitching staff has them playing with smoke and mirrors (and Roy Halladay) right now. Likewise, the Rays' basement-dwelling days, with their 5-8 start, are bound to end soon.

And I just hope everything normalizes pretty soon...because I'm feeling right now like this is shaping up to be a very abnormal baseball season.

Monday, April 20, 2009


The verdict is in from one visiting team, and Citi Field drew less than rave reviews. At least, its visitors' bullpen did.

Todd Coffey of the Brewers (I had the Brewers' feed of the game on Sunday) says that from the visitors' bullpen at Citi Field it's a terrible view - you can barely see second base. He says he has no idea what's going on in the game. There's a monitor, he says, but it's on a time delay. Coffey called the bullpen "poorly designed".

And upon further review, he's probably right.
All in all, it doesn't bother me. The visitor's bullpens always get the short shrift in new places - call it part of the home field advantage.

It's a unique design, the bullpens at Citi Field. The benches are right next to one another. The other day the SNY cameras showed Pedro Feliciano just hanging out and talking to one of the Padres' relievers.

What I wonder is when things turn sour out there. The image of bench-clearing brawls is always of the bullpens emptying and relievers trickling in from the outfield to join in the fray on the field.

Citi Field may become the first park in baseball history where the players leave the bench...and head for the bullpen for the brawl that starts out there.

MORE APPRECIATION: Just publicly showing appreciation for what you already know - the Southern Bureau rocks. I love the series-ending recaps. It's also comforting to know that when I'm sick, like I was this weekend, the blog won't go for days without an update. Also, good nuggets of information - no sooner did the Southern Bureau suggest that Luis Castillo would be back to batting second than he was...for a day.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Series Recap - Milwaukee Brewers

April 17: Mets win 5-4
April 18: Mets win 1-0
April 19: Brewers win 4-2

Mets record: 6-6

Oh yeah...he's on the team : Its only been two weeks, but here's hoping Gary Sheffield's 500th HR isn't the highlight of the season. Half the fans probably didn't even know who he was.

Simply the best : But everyone knows who Johan Santana is. He once again shows why he's the best in the game with his dominant performance on Saturday. Citi isn't "The House That Johan Built", but its going to be a place he's going to win a lot of games.

1 HR, 4 rbi : That's not David Wright's line for this series. That's his line for the ENTIRE SEASON. Is Citi Field the wrong stuff for Mr. Wright? (ugh...that pun was awful. I'm so sorry).

I'm going to check out the '86 trophy while getting a burrito : Johnnymets wasn't the only one not happy with the exclusion of the Mets Hall of Fame at Citi. Thanks to all the complaints, the Mets will be adding it soon. And where is the only logical place to put it?? The food court, of course.

Next Up : three games at St. Louis Cardinals

- SB

Friday, April 17, 2009

Julia Stiles knows her stuff

Apparently actress Julia Stiles is a huge NY Mets fan. I had no idea. But I guess the Wall Street Journal knew.

Stiles was hired to write an Opening Day story on Citi Field for the Journal. And would you believe it - its REALLY good. There's even a slam on Oliver Perez.

"Is Oliver Perez's weight symbolic of his attitude after signing a fat three-year, $36 million contract?"

I think I'm in love.

This isn't just some publicity thing either - a Google check shows she's not shy about her Mets fan-dom.

- SB

Thanks to Southern Bureau Grandpa Edition for the heads up about the Styles article. Must admit - the WSJ isn't part of my daily reading.

Series Recap - San Diego Padres

April 13: Padres win 6-5
April 15: Mets win 7-2
April 16: Padres win 6-5

Mets record: 4-5

Shea it ain't so : Not exactly the best of starts at the new Citi Field. Losing two of three to the Padres? At least the opener was close - unlike the OTHER New York team. do I call this place? : Not everyone is on the "Citi Field" bandwagon. And you can buy a shirt if you're one of those people.

He's no Johnnymets but... : Obviously Johnnymets summed up Citi Field better than most, but Padres starter Jake Peavy seemed to like it too. He said, “The ballpark is beautiful. They did it right." The only complaint - no hot water in the vistors clubhouse.

Trade you? NEVER! : Luis Castillo has bounced back nicely from the constant off season trade rumors and "dump this bum" talk. He's hitting 385 to start the season. If he keeps it up, you'd have to think he'll be hitting second again soon.

Next up : three games vs Milwaukee Brewers - and their bench coach Willie Randolph.

- SB

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Too much to say about Citi Field to confine it to one posting:

I wanted to give you some visuals to illustrate what I was talking about yesterday. Here's the gate comparison I was talking about comparing San Francisco to Citi Field (maybe it's not entirely accurate, now that I see the pictures...incidentally, it was SBC Park when we were there. I kept calling it AT&T Park...I don't even know what it is now. And I've given you the side view of Citi - that's where these high gates are):

And then here's the field comparison I was talking about with PETCO ("Where The Mets Go") versus Citi Field, particularly with the outfield walls:

A couple of more comments about the experience:

-We parked in the lot, and were lucky enough to choose a spot near an exit (we got to the park around 3:30 for the 7:10 start, so we had our choice of spots), which turned out to be a direct shot right out the door. That was lucky.

-But it was great that we had the car there. Since we were there so early, we were waiting for the gates to open, and that's when one of the vendors right inside the gate decided to start selling the 'collector's edition' programs for the first game at Citi Field. (He kept looking over his shoulder like he was doing something wrong, selling them through the gate.) So after I bought the program, rather than carry it around all night, I was able to put it in the car and keep it in nice condition. I was excited about that.

-Interestingly, there was texting interference all night. Clearly I didn't have much trouble sending out texts, since I was able to update Twitter all night, but when I tried to send a picture of the big flag to the Southern Bureau to post on the blog, it wouldn't go through. Then, when I walked through the concourse later in the night, a bunch of texts started to pour into my phone that had been sent hours before. So if you texted me Monday night, that's why I didn't reply.

Finally, Justin in NYC sent this e-mail, which I'm not sure he meant for publication, but I will anyway. Not only is it a good point, but it illustrates how he keeps an ear to the ground for me from the NYC radio stations, which I appreciate:


Lots of people were calling up and complaining to Francesa today about how they thought Citi Field tried so hard to embrace New York's national league history, that it was ignoring Met-specific history.

They were saying it looks like Ebbets Field and has the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, but none of that has any direct link to the Mets except that Wilpon grew up in Brooklyn. Your thoughts?"

I think this is an interesting point, because it's sort of what I'm getting at when I talk about the Mets Hall of Fame. At Shea Stadium, it was hidden outside the Diamond Club, which I didn't actually go into until last year, the final year of its existence. In other words, the casual fan never saw it. And I don't know where that is at Citi Field - but obviously it's not prominently displayed, because I didn't see it. I would love if it was in the Rotunda, but I don't think it is. (This is what the Arizona Diamondbacks did so well - they have their 2001 trophy front and center as you walk in - and they have zero history. It spices up an otherwise boring ballpark. In Pittsburgh, where there's a ton of history, there's not much visual evidence of it. One of the flaws of a beautiful ballpark.)

But we need to remember, when thinking about this, that the Mets represent National League baseball in New York City. The whole reason they are blue and orange is because of the Dodger blue and the Giants orange. So there is sort of a connection to those teams, and I think it's an appropriate connection to Ebbets Field.

Yes, I would have liked for there to have been a mention of the 40th anniversary of the 1969 champions (which I'm sure will be celebrated this year, but has been overshadowed by Citi Field), and I would love for the Mets to trot out the 1986 Mets every game. I also think the orange stripe around the outfield walls would look cooler on a blue wall, showing the Mets colors. But the championship banners are flying in the new park, and the exterior of Citi Field (you can see it a little bit in the picture at the top) has pictures of Mets from every era.

What history the Mets have is displayed. You just have to look for it. And there's nothing wrong with the Mets carrying the New York National League baseball torch. So long as, now that they've introduced the world to their throwback ballpark, they start putting more of an emphasis on their own history.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I have a feeling this entry is going to come off in an "I didn't like Citi Field" kind of way. But it's not that at all.

It's just that this ballpark visit was different. It wasn't a visit at all for was a test run. I could make snap judgments on Nationals Park and PETCO Park ("Where The Mets Go") because they were visits. One-time deals (though some of them I liked so much that I may go back in the future).

With Citi Field, I will be going back. Often. And I had to see how it fit, so to speak. Use whatever analogy you like - I was trying it on for size; I dated those other ballparks, this one I am going to marry (that's kind of a weird one). I didn't expect to feel that way - I was over-the-top excited about going. But once I was in the park I knew it was going to be a different kind of visit.

Don't know where else to put this, so I'll do it here, I guess. If you were following me on Twitter last night (which turned into a pretty neat summary of events in the end), you read that I walked past Fred Wilpon outside the park. I am terrible when it comes to recognizing famous people. But I notice when there's an important-looking older person...and we walked past an important-looking older person that looked a lot like Fred Wilpon. So I said to my dad, "Was that Wilpon?" We walked back in the direction we came from, since the other way was a dead end, and passed him again, talking to Mike Lupica. Hence, the picture. I would like to say I barged in there and shook his hand and said, "Congratulations on this fine-looking ballpark" (or maybe I should have asked his permission to take Citi Field's hand in marriage [if it's such a weird analogy, why am I continuing with it?!]), but I did no such thing. I did snap the picture, though, which is kind of an intrusion of privacy that I usually wouldn't do. So I'm getting there.

OK. Now to the park. First of all, there's no denying the park is beautiful. When you think about Shea Stadium versus Citi Field, it's obviously no comparison. Just look at it up at the top of this post. The exterior, modeled after Ebbets Field, reminds me of AT&T Park, as I wrote the other day, with its high iron gates and the curved-window look. I've never been to Coors Field, but the light towers at Citi Field remind me of its light towers. And it's funny the Padres were in town last night, because the outfield walls/dimensions/layout remind me of PETCO ("Where The Mets Go").
What I'm not buying, and I hinted at this on Twitter last night, are some of the biggest deals people have been talking about this whole time. All I've heard about is the overhang in right field, reminiscent of Tiger Stadium. Well, it's not that much of an overhang. Yes, it juts out to the field eight feet, but only where the wall suddenly goes back in right. So it's not the entire right field overhang. No one had made that clear before. And there's been all this talk of how fans can get right up to the visitors bullpen and harrass the opposing relievers. From what I saw, that's not true - there are a lot of barriers...or else you need a ticket for that kind of access that I didn't have.

The bullpen area (that's it above, through the gate), seems to need some work. From what I could tell, it had one of the nicer-looking entry points into the park, but it was really empty. I got the impression from a couple of places that the Mets didn't quite know what to do with them yet. This was one - there are picnic tables set up, as well as the old apple from Shea (new apple also shown at right), where people can take pictures. But it was kind of empty. No concession I guess you have to carry your food to these tables.
Speaking of concessions, all anyone had been writing about was the centerfield food area, so that was mobbed (I like how they kept the skyline there above the restaurant...not sure if that's the actual skyline from atop the Shea scoreboard). Luckily, quick thinker that my dad and I are, we figured everyone and their brother was in center field...other concessions were probably empty. They were. I had a chicken sandwich, which was good...but everything was very expensive.

The opening ceremonies were nice, but I would have liked some more history. I heard there were old-timers in the building - they should have been introduced and trotted out. Seaver to Piazza was good, and I liked the continuance from the end of Shea...but there could have been more.

(Incidentally, just to throw out a prediction, I bet the Yankees do something involving the old Yankee Stadium when they open the new one Thursday. Like walking across from one to the other. It's still standing...and that has to be by design - they can't possibly be that behind schedule. I'll have some (not-so-great) pictures of those two parks later in the week. )

I feel like I'm throwing out way too much information here, but I have a lot on my mind about this park. So here it continues:

My biggest flaws with the park are:

Someday the Mets will buy out the surrounding area and put in some restaurants and make the area surrounding the ballpark an enticing place. Like Pittsburgh/Baltimore, with their fan walks. They can't exactly duplicate San Francisco's exterior because San Francisco has the water right there, but anything other than junkyards and scrap heaps would be a better backdrop.

Another problem, though I didn't look much for it, was I don't know if the Mets Hall of Fame is displayed any more prominently at Citi Field than it was at Shea. I'll look into that more over the summer.

I already mentioned that there were a couple of places in the park that seemed not-thought-all-the-way-through - the bullpen area was one, and the area above the Rotunda is another. It seems like a usable space, but not a lot is there right now. Maybe that's a good's not too crowded.

The exits were terrible. Perhaps that's because no one really knew where they were going and it was the first time 40,000+ were trying to leave at the same time - but I didn't see anything other than some crowded stairwells trying to leave the upper sections of the park.

One last complaint (for now, I guess), is that when you come out of the rotunda in the front, you don't walk right out and see the field. There are walls there (some sort of restaurant or the press boxes or luxury boxes are in the way, I think). One of the best things about the park in Houston, and Fenway Park first and foremost, is when you walk out of the tunnel and see the field. I was hoping the field would be right beyond the Rotunda, but it wasn't. You have to walk a bit to get that view at the right - and then the overhang is so low it made me a bit claustrophobic. I didn't love that.

I did love the Jackie Robinson Rotunda - very unique, very appropriate, it's something that sets Citi Field apart.

I loved that there was organ music all night long. My dad made the excellent point that at no point was there blaring music - and the organ played "Meet The Mets" before the game - nothing beats that.

I loved that the first hit at the park for the Mets was a David Wright double. I love that the Mets have a home park that people won't be making fun of. I didn't mind the billboards - people are saying it's too corporate - I think it adds a minor-league-type feel to the park. It feels more throwback that way.

I love that I'll be able to keep going back to this place and find out new things and get more comfortable there as the years go on. I love that this is the place my children will go when they go to Mets games, and I'll be able to compare it to Shea Stadium the way my dad was comparing it to the Polo Grounds for me last night.

Despite the fact that I left the park last night thinking it wasn't perfect (and therefore had no shot of living up to my expectations), I love Citi Field. Like Shea Stadium was for the first 30 years of my life, Citi Field is going to be a sort of home away from home for me. I had 30 years to get acclimated to Shea. I've only had one day at Citi Field.

I can't wait to go back.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Follow "johnnymets" on Twitter for constant updates from Citi Field.

I'll be there before 4pm, probably, with the updates starting shortly thereafter. Game starts at 7pm.

BUMMER: I just read that Harry Kalas died this afternoon at the age of 73. One of my favorite broadcasters - loved listening to his voice. I hope the Mets make an adjustment to their plans tonight and do the right thing with a moment of silence in memory of the Phillies broadcaster.

And knowing nothing about Kalas other than what he did for a living, I'd have to think there couldn't be a more appropriate place for him to go than a ballpark.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Series Recap - Florida Marlins

April 10: Marlins win 5-4
April 11: Mets win 8-4
April 12: Marlins win 2-1

Mets record: 3-3

Beast of the East? : Don't look now but the Marlins are 5-1 with all the wins coming in the NL East. Jorge Cantu joked they might win 161 games.

So Close : Both Met losses come by just one run. They say good teams win close games. But then again - who is "they" that always says that?

Surely You Can't Be Serious : The Mets lone win this series came because of Livan Hernandez. Yes - THAT Livan Hernandez. I'm serious - and don't call me Shirley. That same Livan Hernandez had an ERA of 6.05 last season for the Twins and Rockies. Put it this way - if the Mets are counting on Livan Hernandez to bail them out, its going to be a long season.

Ace vs Staff : The Marlins might have one of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball (Braves manager Bobby Cox thinks so), but its clear the Mets have the best pitcher. Johan Santana was awesome on Sunday, but couldn't get the run support. So the question is, would you rather your rotation was one amazing pitcher and four so-so's, or five pretty good's? 2009 could be the year we find out the answer.

Next up : three games vs San Diego Padres. Its the home opener Monday and in - case - you - hadn't - heard - already, Johnnymets will be there.

- SB

Saturday, April 11, 2009


We were driving past Citi Field on Saturday, and couldn't resist pulling over to check it out.

From the outside it reminds me mostly of San Francisco, with the high, gated doorways. I never went inside AT&T Park, though, so it just reminded me of that from when we walked around the outside.

We parked and walked over to the team store...which is awesome.

From the team store we could look into the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. You could see the escalators that lead up to Field Level. But everything was shut down.

It was quite a tease for Monday's game.

I can't wait.

I'll have Twitter updates all day Monday via text, if you want to know what I'm thinking as I experience the park for the first time.

BIG WEEKEND: Celebrated a championship for a team I root for for the first time in 15 years last night as Boston University's hockey team won (in dramatic fashion, tying the game with 2 goals in the final minute, then winning in overtime) 4-3 over Miami of Ohio. It's the first championship I've cared about since the Rangers in 1994. Which is really pretty hard to believe. Hopefully this is just the start of a period of prosperity.


Some Mets number 5s help me recognize 5 years of blogging:

I distinctly remember how the blog started. I was sitting with The Wife (then the fiancee - I've been blogging longer than I've been married), surfing the net on her laptop, saying, "I want to write about the Mets. How do I start my own website?" She said, "You can start a blog." So I did. That happened on April 11, 2004. The site has come a long way, I think, since those mini-game recaps.

In 5 years we've seen the rise of David Wright, the closing of Shea and opening of a new stadium, Carlos and Pedro* and Johan, and disappointment after disappointment after disappointment. (Not to mention the Jets' share of well as the birth of two children.)

Hopefully the enthusiasm with which I've started off this year stays with me until late October.

A World Series championship would be a nice way to celebrate the end of our fifth season.

Thursday, April 09, 2009


I’m not trying to stir up trouble. And all things considered, I’d rather the Mets fought with members of another team than among themselves.

But I have a bad feeling that this is the year Jose Reyes and Carlos Delgado finally come to blows in the dugout or in the clubhouse.

I’ve written about this before, and I’ve never been fond of it...and I can’t imagine it’s not getting old for Reyes.

Any time Reyes makes a bad throw, or even a throw that makes Delgado move the slightest bit off the bag, Delgado stares down Reyes. It happened again on Wednesday night, when Reyes threw a ball to Delgado’s right that Delgado didn’t even make a good effort to get in front of. It could have easily been an error on Delgado, but it was scored a throwing error on Reyes. Delgado gave Reyes a look as if to say, “Enough with the bad throws.” The camera I saw (I was watching Fox Sports Ohio, the Reds’ channel) showed a reaction shot of Reyes where he gave a look back to Delgado.

Now, I don’t know anything about their relationship. Maybe they have worked this out in the past that Reyes says he needs the reminders from Delgado to get pumped up and make good throws. It certainly seems that the next time after these situations Reyes throws a strike to Delgado.

But if I were Reyes, I wouldn’t like it. It might have flown when he was younger, but he’s a veteran now, and probably doesn’t want to be treated like a rookie. And Reyes has shown a resistance to authority - remember Jerry Manuel’s debut in Anaheim, when he tried to lift Reyes from the game and Reyes publicly pouted? He wouldn’t fight a manager, but he’d fight a teammate.

One other thing that bothers me about this situation is that it’s one thing for Delgado to shoot a look when someone else isn’t perfect, but he’s not perfect himself. He is notorious for coming off the bag too quickly on forceouts - too close for comfort in some instances. Wednesday night (I fell asleep, but read about this afterwards...I’ll try to watch the video) he got called on it, in the 9th inning, when he came off the bag to throw home after a throw to first.

I bet no one shot him a look....but I hope someone did.

OTHER THINGS: I love that the Southern Bureau is fully on board writing this season...David Wright had a double Wednesday night - too early to count those game-by-game, but the first one's worth mentioning (Ryan Church already has 3)...Just an absolute tragedy for the Angels. I wouldn't be surprised if this derails their season.

Series Recap - Cincinnati Reds

April 6: Mets win 2-1
April 8: Mets win 9-7
April 9: Reds win 10-8

Mets record: 2-1

The More Things Change... : THE BULLPEN HELD A LEAD!!! Omar Manaya probably chewed his fingernails right off as the Mets clinged to a one run lead in the opener. But J.J. Putz and Francisco Rodriguez did what no one could do last season and held on in the 2-1 win. To make things even better - they did it again the next night.

...The More They Stay the Same : But all chances for a sweep were quickly killed by Oliver Perez. His Thursday afternoon line - 4.1ip, 8er, 5bb. Tough to come back when your starter puts you in an 8-4 hole. And the Mets couldn't.

Go, Go Delgado : Carlos Delgado getting the season off to a good start. Hitting .429, 6rbi, and a HR in the three game series.

Back from the Dead : The debate in the preseason was who would win the NL East - The Mets or the Phillies? Despite their bullpen meltdown Wednesday, the Braves served notice that they will be a force in the NL East as well. The Braves outplayed Philadelphia for a game and 6+ innings before a train wreck of an inning cost them a sweep. The NL East could be a three team race.

Next up : three games at Florida Marlins

- SB

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


It's time to update you on Hall of Famer Gary Carter, as he celebrates his 55th birthday.

This year, Carter brings his act to New York, where he will manage the Long Island Ducks.

He's already started to make noise...apparently he was on WFAN in New York about a week ago and said he was upset that the Mets didn't ask him to catch the last pitch at Shea Stadium. Don't think there won't be plenty of noise coming out of Citibank Park (not to be confused with Citi Field) with Carter this close to the New York media.

Still, though, I love the man, and wish him a very happy birthday. And I also want to take this opportunity to remind you that he has had nothing but success as a minor league manager.

The Ducks season starts on April 23rd. We'll definitely be keeping you updated - and there will be a trip this summer as well.

(Also on this April 8, birthday wishes go out to Dave in Brighton.)

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


The weather is scaring me...but tells me Monday will be partly cloudy and 51.

Good enough for me.

I'll have a lot to update in the next couple of days...keep coming back.

Monday, April 06, 2009


Without making too big of a deal out of one game, I'll just say that this was exactly the type of game the Mets didn't win last year.

Five and two-thirds from Johan Santana with just a one-run might as well carve in stone the No Decision.

Especially with the Mets having trouble scratching out runs.

But the bullpen was the star of the show, and the Mets were confidence-inspiring in the final innings.

Now, there's a difference between Cincinnati in April and Philadelphia in September, and Santana starts aren't really a question (we need to see what the Mets look like the other four nights)...but I'll take it.

Because come September every little win adds up, and every loss gets magnified. And a year ago, this would have turned into a loss that would have haunted the Mets all season. Right now, it's a good win.


-I'm following Pittsburgh this week closer than I otherwise would have because of the New Baseball Pool (no, I didn't pick them, but I'm rooting for them to take out a lot of people), and that was an impressive comeback in the 9th inning. Moreso, it was a terrible outing by this guy Motte for the Cardinals.

-I think the new Twins uniforms are nice. Didn't expect to see new unis in that game. That's always fun.

-For what it's worth after one game, the Yankees looked terrible. Whoa. That was a stinker.

OPENING DAY REFLECTIONS: So I don't know if I have seasonal depression or what. But I can tell you that I'm 100% happier right now that I have baseball to watch than I was without it. I love my family, love spending time with my daughters and wife, but I missed baseball terribly. And I'm ecstatic that it's back.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Southern Bureau's 2009 Mets Preview

The Southern Bureau's 2009 Mets season preview is brought to you by the official house band of 200 Miles From the Citi - Matt Sucich with the Vanderettes.

HARMONIUM - The new Citi Field is probably going with pre recorded rock music and not the traditional ballpark organ music, but that's not what really matters. How will the new Citi Field play? Will it favor hitters or pitchers? Having seen some of it on tv yesterday - the large wall in left field made it feel like a pitchers park - but with Oliver Perez pitching, it was still 6-0 Red Sox in the first inning. So who knows? But I'm wondering how quickly it will take the Mets and Jerry Manual to adjust to the new digs. Could possibly set the Mets back a few games.

...AND LOVE - ....and hate. Didn't take long for Mets fans to turn on this team. In that same article in the previous paragraph it reports that the Citi Field faithful are already in September boo'ing mood. Perez was boo'd off the mound (as well he should have been). But I think that could be a big factor with this year's team - how long will the fans believe? They're obviously gun shy - and rightfully so. The last two seasons have been pretty heartbreaking - you only need to read Johnnymets to know that (see 2007 and 2008). While every Met fan does love their team, a slow start could ruin the confidence of the fans and lead to a summer full of empty seats at Citi Field.

STUPID OUTFITS - We've been over the sleeve patch, but I'm happy to see the Mets have gotten rid of their black alternate uniforms. The Southern Bureau hates alternate uniforms - always feels like a slow pitch softball uniform to me.

ALL TIME GREATEST - Yeah...we're all looking at you, David Wright (maybe not in that picture). Its your year to step up and win something. Individually - you're great. I've been in two fantasy baseball drafts this year, and you went first in one, second in the other. I'm sure there are dad's in Queens right now trying to convince their wife to let them name their newborn "David" or "Wright". But at some point, you've gotta win a big game. You're probably already one of the Top 20 players in Mets history (maybe not - Johnnymets or Daddymets could probably correct me), so its time to make that next step.

SETTLE DOWN - As Johnnymets pointed out in a recent post, Sports Illustrated believes the Mets are winning the World Series. Not good. Sports Illustrated has a habit of doing this - and its never works out well for anyone - especially the team they pick.

As a Red Sox fan who sat through several years of "The Red Sox will win it all" issues from Sports Illustrated, its not fun. On the left - that's the 2000 Preview. The title: Why the Red Sox Will Win the World Series (Really!)

Turns out: not really. They finished 85-77 and didn't make the playoffs.

To be fair to the cover boy, it wasn't Pedro's* fault. He won the Cy Young and finished 5th in MVP voting.

Anyways - before we all get too excited about Sports Illustrated, lets all settle down and realize they really don't know much more than anyone else.

NEW YORK IN THE FALL - But with that all said, hopes should be high for some October baseball in Citi Field. They have a much improved bullpen, a great lineup top to bottom, an ace in their pitching staff, and a pretty good manager. Perhaps this is the year the Mets can finally get over the hump.

So will we see playoff baseball in New York in the Fall? I think it all falls on starting pitching. If they can get good starts from #2-#5 in the rotation, they'll be there. If not, it will be a long year with no playoffs at all.

- SB


A couple of reasons this is unusual:

1) Two postings already before noon on a Sunday (and I wouldn't be surprised if the Southern Bureau posts before the day is out).

2) An image of Citi Field that wasn't taken from a moving car.

As mentioned earlier this week, the sister and the brother-in-law got to go to the Mets open practice at Citi Field this morning - she sent me this picture, for which I'm grateful.

Is it possible to be in love with a building? If so, I am.

UPDATE - My sister sent three more pics:

The significance of this last picture is that my sister used to spend Mets games at Shea counting the airplanes flying overhead. Her Citi Field count has started, I guess.