Sunday, August 12, 2018

Three-Run Leads Are a Recipe For Disaster For the Mets

"You know what, Mickey?  My high school sweetheart, Sandy Koufax, never blew a three-run lead." (R. Schultz/Getty Images)

Good baseball teams know how to hold leads when they have them.  And as a team's lead increases, the odds of ending the game with a happy recap usually increase as well.

That is, unless you're talking about the 2018 Mets.

The Mets lost Saturday night's game to the Miami Marlins in 11 innings.  New York dropped the 4-3 decision after taking an early 3-0 lead.  If that kind of result sounds familiar to you, you're not alone.  In fact, just minutes after the walk-off defeat was complete, I was asked this question on Twitter.

I can't confirm if the Mets have set some kind of record for losing games after holding a three-run lead, mainly because I'm lazier than the average blogger, but thanks to, I can say that the Mets have lost an incredibly high percentage of games in which their opponent had to erase a deficit of three or more runs.  But before we get to that, here's a little background research.

For the Mets to lose a game in which they held a three-run lead, that implies that they had to score at least three runs.  (Duh!)  And in their 66 losses to date, they were held to fewer than three runs a total of 36 times.  For all you kids out there, that's a lot of defeats in which the Mets couldn't have possibly held a three-run lead.

So that leaves just 30 losses in which the Mets could have been up by three runs.  You would think that given the fact that I only had to go through two-and-a-half dozen boxscores, I would find maybe five or six instances in which the Mets lost after they had taken a three-run advantage on their opponent.  If you thought that was the case, then clearly you haven't been following the 2018 Mets closely.

Here are all the games so far this season in which the Mets gave us temporary pleasure by taking a three-run lead before reminding us that they're still the 2018 Mets.

  • April 16:  Mets lead Nationals, 6-1.  Lose 8-6.
  • April 21:  Mets lead Braves, 3-0.  Lose 4-3.
  • May 26:  Mets lead Brewers, 3-0.  Lose 17-6.
  • May 27:  Mets lead Brewers, 4-1.  Lose 8-7.
  • May 29:  Mets lead Braves, 4-0.  Lose 7-6.
  • June 9:  Mets lead Yankees, 3-0.  Lose 4-3.
  • June 20:  Mets lead Rockies, 4-1.  Lose 10-8. 
  • June 27:  Mets lead Pirates, 3-0.  Lose 5-3.
  • July 3:  Mets lead Blue Jays, 5-0.  Lose 8-6.
  • July 27:  Mets lead Pirates, 3-0.  Lose 5-4.
  • Aug. 5:  Mets lead Braves, 3-0.  Lose 5-4.
  • Aug. 11:  Mets lead Marlins, 3-0.  Lose 4-3.

The Mets have lost 30 games this season in which they scored at least three runs.  And in a dozen of those contests - that's an incredible 40% of the defeats - they held a lead of at least three runs.  It's so unbelievable, even Tom Glavine would be devastated by it.  (His former team, the Atlanta Braves, have no problem with the Mets' generosity, as they've engineered three of those 12 comebacks.)

Do you remember earlier when I said that good teams know how to hold leads?  The 2015 National League champion Mets - otherwise known as a good team - lost just six games all year in which they held a three-run lead.  This year's squad has doubled that total with 48 games still left to play.

On Sunday, less than 24 hours after suffering their 12th defeat in a game where they held a lead of at least three runs, the Mets defeated the Marlins, 4-3.  How did they manage to hold the lead in this game?  It's simple, really.  They never allowed their lead to reach three runs at any point in the game.  If only they had followed that formula all year.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

This Isn't the First Time an ERA Leader Had Trouble Winning Ballgames For the Mets

Jacob deGrom has been brilliant in his first dozen starts with the Mets this season.  In 72⅓ innings pitched, the right-hander has struck out 98 batters while walking just 21.  DeGrom is also leading the National League with a scintillating 1.49 ERA.  And yet, despite putting up Cy Young caliber numbers, deGrom has earned just four wins in those 12 starts,

DeGrom's low win count is partly due to the team's non-existent offense when he takes the hill.  But mostly, it's been the club's shoddy bullpen that has turned potential victories into frustrating no-decisions.  And it's not the first time this has happened to a Mets pitcher.

Jacob deGrom, meet Craig Swan.

Decisions, decisions.  DeGrom and Swan don't know anything about that.  (Al Bello/Getty Images, Diamond Images)

Forty years ago, the Mets were coming off an embarrassing 1977 campaign, one in which the team posted its worst record in nearly a decade and traded its franchise player, Tom Seaver, to the Cincinnati Reds.  As a result, Craig Swan, who had never pitched more than 150 innings in his previous five seasons with the Mets, was expected to increase his workload for the 1978 campaign.  He did not disappoint, even if his teammates did when he took the mound.

Swan made 28 starts and one relief appearance in 1978, setting a career high with 207⅓ innings pitched.  The team's new ace held opposing batters to a .219 batting average and .597 OPS, which enabled him to win the National League ERA title - something Seaver had accomplished three times as a Met - with a 2.43 mark.  Yet despite his ability to keep his opponents from crossing the plate, he had difficulty adding wins to his ledger, as Swan finished the season with only nine of them.

As unfortunate as deGrom has been, with four wins and eight no-decisions in his first 12 starts of the 2018 campaign, it was far more frustrating for Swan, who managed just one victory in his first 16 starts in 1978 despite a stellar 2.59 ERA through mid-July.  Like deGrom, Swan was occasionally let down by his offense, as the Mets scored three runs or fewer in ten of those appearances, which included three shutout losses.  But on days when the bats showed up, it was Swan's bullpen that let the team down.  In four of those first 16 starts, Swan left the game with a lead, only to see the relievers cough it up before you could say Grant's Tomb.

Swan pitched five complete games in 1978 (winning four of those five contests), meaning he needed help from his bullpen in 23 of his 28 starts.  In only eight of those 23 starts did he leave the game with the Mets trailing, yet he went 5-5 with 13 no-decisions in those affairs.  Incredibly, Swan allowed two runs or fewer in 19 of his 28 starts, but was saddled with a no-decision in 11 of those 19 games.  And perhaps the most frustrating stat of all for Swan was that he pitched better in games in which he failed to earn a decision.  His ERA in those games was 2.16.

Like Swan forty years before him, Jacob deGrom knows what it's like to be at the top of his game only to see a potential "W" taken away from him.  In three of his eight no-decisions this year, deGrom has left the game in the hands of the bullpen with a lead, only to see it vanish within a matter of minutes.  How ineffective has the bullpen been in deGrom's starts in 2018?  The answer to this question deserves its own paragraph.

DeGrom has allowed 13 runs in his 12 starts.  The bullpen has allowed 35 runs in those starts after deGrom was removed from the game.  Somewhere, Craig Swan is saying, "I know the feeling."

In 1978, Craig Swan went 9-6 with 13 no-decisions.  Forty years later, Jacob deGrom is 4-0 with eight no-decisions in his first 12 starts.  At least they can take comfort in the fact that they both had winning records in the games in which they did earn a decision.  It could be worse.  Just ask another former Met, Nolan Ryan, who went 8-16 in 1987 when he led the National League in ERA as a member of the Houston Astros.

Hold my beer, indeed.

"No-decisions are better than losses." -- Nolan Ryan, probably.  (Focus On Sport/Getty Images, Todd Spoth)

Monday, May 14, 2018

Mets Have a 21-Year Streak on the Line Against Toronto

On Tuesday, the Mets will entertain the Toronto Blue Jays at Citi Field in the first of a brief two-game series.  As a member of the A.L. East, the Blue Jays will be playing their tenth series against the Mets, making them the third-most frequent interleague opponent the Mets have faced, trailing only the Yankees (40 series) and Orioles (12 series).

Naturally, having played so many series versus New York's National League club since interleague play began in 1997, Toronto has plenty of experience playing in Flushing.  There's just one thing they don't have yet against the Mets in Queens.  A win.

This pretty much sums up every Blue Jays game ever played in Queens.  (Steve Russell/Toronto Star)

Of the nine previous series played between the Mets and Blue Jays in the last two-plus decades, four have taken place in Flushing.  Incredibly, the Mets have a perfect 11-0 record in games played against Toronto in New York, sweeping a trio of three-game series and one two-game set.

Toronto is the only major league team to have never won a game in Flushing, despite having played games at Shea Stadium in 1997, 1999 and 2001 and at Citi Field in 2015.  (The Yankees called Shea home in 1974 and 1975, but their division rivals from Toronto didn't come into existence until 1977.)  The only team that can come close to the Blue Jays' record of futility against the Mets in Queens is the Cleveland Indians, who have won just one road game versus New York (NL).  But the Indians have a good reason for that.  They've only played a single series on the road against the Mets, dropping two out of three games at Shea Stadium in 2004.

Besides Toronto, there's just one other American League team that the Mets are at least ten games over .500 against at Shea Stadium/Citi Field.  That would be the Baltimore Orioles, who are 3-13 in the Mets' home ballparks (3-10 in the regular season, 0-3 in the 1969 World Series).  That's a pretty dismal record, but at least the Orioles have won a few games in Flushing.  That other A.L. East team named after a bird wishes it could fly out of Flushing with a victory or two.

But alas, the Mets have yet to drop a home affair to the Jays through 21 years of interleague play.

The Mets have won blowouts (two wins by 6+ runs) and nailbiters (four one-run victories) when they've hosted Toronto.  The Bobby Valentine fake mustache game?  That was against the Blue Jays at Shea in 1999.  That game was also the closest Toronto came to winning a game in Flushing, as the Blue Jays' bullpen blew a three-run, ninth-inning lead before succumbing to the Mets in the 14th frame.  Toronto almost had a happy recap during their inaugural visit to Citi Field in 2015.  But they couldn't hold a one-run lead in the 11th inning, allowing the Mets to cross the plate twice in a walk-off win.

Eventually, the Blue Jays will celebrate on the field in Flushing, just like every other team in baseball has done at least once.  They're 0-for-11 in games against the Mets in Queens.  The Mets hope it becomes 0-for-13 by the time this week's series is over.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Joey's World Tour: Missouri Madness (Part II - Royal Rumbin' in Kansas City)

Kauffman Stadium is middle-aged, but it still looks young to me.  (Photo by Ed Leyro/Studious Metsimus)

Hello again!  This is Studious Metsimus' one and only roving reporter and culinary expert, Joey Beartran, and this is the second part of my two-part Missouri Madness tour.  After slogging my way through St. Louis (and two Mets losses), I hopped on a bus going west to the BBQ capital of the world, Kansas City.

I thought the best part of this trip would be that the Mets weren't joining me in KC, meaning that I couldn't see them lose any games in person.  Then I thought the best part would be the sampling some Kansas City style barbecue.  I was wrong on both counts.  The best part of Kansas City was Kansas City as a whole.  Let's go on a virtual tour of a city that's the true crown jewel of Missouri.

Of course, the main reason the Studious Metsimus staff went to Kansas City was to attend a ballgame at Kauffman Stadium, home of the Royals.  Originally, we were going to go in 2016 when the Mets were scheduled to open the season there.  Then the 2015 World Series happened.  And we decided to go to cities that didn't open up fresh wounds instead.

Three years after that Fall Not-So-Classic, the Mets opened the season with one of the best records in the league and the Royals were at the bottom of their division.  So if you ask me, now seemed like a pretty good time to check out "The K".  And boy, did we ever check it out.  I mean, look at this view!

Sunset in KC is truly the place to be!  (EL/SM)

The Royals continued to disappoint as a team, losing to the equally inept White Sox, 7-4 in 11 innings, but nothing about my time at the game was disappointing to me.  For one thing, the food choices at Kauffman Stadium blew the door off anything served at Busch Stadium.

There was several food stands devoted to BBQ such as "The Pit", which served items such as brisket or pulled pork BBQ sandwiches, BBQ extreme fries (in a souvenir helmet, to boot!) and the cheesy corn brisket-achos that made their way to the recent MLB Food Fest.  But my favorite stand was "Sweet Baby Ray's" barbecue in center field.  I could have ordered a cheesesteak with burnt edges, but instead, I went with the mac and cheese with baked beans.  The woman behind the register accused me of being a vegetarian because I didn't order steak or brisket, but I was really just looking forward to chowing down on their famous BBQ Baked Beans.  And they did not disappoint.

Ooey gooey mac n' cheese and two bowls of BBQ baked beans.  And they were inexpensive, too!  (EL/SM)

This is most definitely a food stand I'm racing to the next time I attend a game at "The K".  The baked beans were even better than advertised and the mac and cheese was chewy, gooey and gone faster than you can say, "Why couldn't Lucas Duda have made a better throw to home plate to nail Eric Hosmer in Game Five?"

Oh, and speaking of Lucas Duda, he's a member of the Royals now.  And he even has own banner outside the ballpark.  I mean, Royals fans loved him since Game Five so they might as well shower him with gifts at Kauffman Stadium just like he gave them a gift as a member of the Mets in the World Series.

But I digress.

Eric Hosmer may be gone, but Lucas Duda still lives on.  (EL/SM)

Back to the topic of hand, namely, the tasty things I can put in my mouth at Kauffman Stadium.  In addition to all the barbecue stands in the ballpark, you can also have gourmet hot dogs with unique toppings at "Dogfather".  There are also berrie-kabobs for dessert.  This succulent snack has berries covered in chocolate and icing, which are then pierced by a long stick.  And for all you non-kids out there, you can have alcohol in a way you don't normally see at ballparks back east.

Kauffman Stadium has a pour-your-own-beer stand, where you choose your beer from either a tap wall or behind a bodega-style refrigerated display.  And if you like your alcohol just a little bit colder, you can order a vodka-infused sno cone (in cherry or blue raspberry flavors) or vodka lemonade.  It almost makes me wish I was already 21 so I could try one!

Imagine if they had these at Citi Field on hot days.  The lines would be longer than Shake Shack.  (EL/SM)

Another aspect of the park that put Citi Field to shame was the Royals Hall of Fame and Museum.  The Mets have seven more years of history than the Royals do, yet the studio apartment-sized Hall of Fame and Museum at Citi Field pales in comparison to the multi-room exhibit at Kauffman Stadium.

Located in the left field corner on the field level, the Royals Hall of Fame and Museum celebrates the team's best players, with a section for retired numbers and a wing devoted to the Royals' one Cooperstown honoree, George Brett.  It also has Dan Quisenberry's Rolaids Relief Man Award, team trophies, a history of the World Series (and not just the Royals' appearances in the Fall Classic), player lockers and bobbleheads.  In the area where the Royals Hall of Fame members are honored, a beautifully done painting of each honoree is displayed, along with a short history of the player depicted on the canvas.  It sure beats the traditional Hall of Fame plaque.  (And I was surprised to see so many former Mets who were honored for their playing and/or coaching careers in Kansas City.)

But my favorite display in the museum had to be the huge No. 5 made with 3,154 baseballs, or one for each hit collected by George Brett during his 21-year career in Kansas City.  In the middle of the display is Brett's 3,000th hit ball and the bat used to reach that milestone.  Incredibly, the bat is still loaded with pine tar as a reminder of just how much Brett applied to his lumber during his career.  And in case you were wondering, the Pine Tar Game is also discussed in the museum.

Of course, as a Mets fan, I was upset that the jersey worn by Eric Hosmer in Game Five of the 2015 World Series (complete with Citi Field dirt still on it) was prominently displayed, as well as the third base bag he was standing on before he made his mad dash to the plate,  But that was offset somewhat by the unexpected Gil Hodges Mets jersey from 1969 that was there to commemorate the team that won the championship during the Royals' inaugural season.

This trophy would have been ours if World Series games ended after seven innings.  (EL/SM)

Kauffman Stadium is a great place to watch a game, but if you have young kids who can't stay still in a seat for three hours, there are many activities to keep them occupied.  Whereas Citi Field only has a dunk tank, pitch speed machine and a mini field, Kauffman Stadium has so much more.

There's a baseball-themed carousel.  There's a much larger "mini" field where you can play actual baseball games.  There are pitching cages.  There are batting cages.  There's even a miniature golf course with baseball obstacles.  And of course, there are the beautiful fountains in center field that shoot water high up in the air between innings and when the Royals score.

All those things were great for a Mets fan like me.  Why is that, you ask?  Because they distracted me from the 2015 World Series flag flying in the wind and the large 2015 World Champions sign in center field.

I think I liked this sign better when it just said 1985 World Champions.  (EL/SM)

So that covers the ballpark in Kansas City.  But watching a game is far from the only thing you can do in this beautiful burgh and the nearby surrounding areas.

There are numerous great restaurants and venues to watch live music in the Power and Light District.  There's also the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in nearby Independence, MO.  For music lovers, nothing beats the American Jazz Museum in the 18th and Vine District.  And housed in the same building is the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, which I made sure to visit during my stay in the city.

Ordinarily, photos are not allowed in the NLBM.  This is done to protect the artifacts within the 10,000 square-foot space.  But my colleagues and I were given a green light to take all the photos we wanted to document our visit on the Studious Metsimus site.  My photographer took hundreds of photos, of which I will share a few here.

This was my field of dreams, which I shared with some of the greatest players of all-time.  (EL/SM)

So there you have it, my fellow Mets fans.  The baseball teams from Kansas City and St. Louis may have given the Mets lots of heartache in recent years, but the cities those teams call home made up for all the grief.  Well, at least Kansas City did.  And for all the things St. Louis didn't have, Kansas City picked up the slack and then some.

Busch Stadium and Kauffman Stadium are both beautiful ballparks.  Although the immediate area around Busch has more baseball-related activities to entertain fans when there are no games being played, Kauffman is the superior stadium.  The food is tastier and there is more variety.  And there's far more to do inside "The K" when the game isn't the only thing you're interested in.

I can't wait to rumble in the Royals' home town again.  Maybe next time I'll just fly over St. Louis and wave at Busch Stadium from the air while I count down the minutes until I touch down in Kansas City.  And by then, maybe losing the World Series to the Royals in 2015 won't sting as much as it still does and I'll just want BBQ because it's delicious rather than to wash away the memories of that Fall Classic.

Thanks for joining me on the latest legs of my baseball world tour.  Now excuse me while I try on my Negro Leagues apparel.  They may have allowed me to take photos in the museum but they still have to work on making clothes in my size.

Hope my colleagues kept the receipt for this.  (EL/SM)

For previous installments of Joey's World Tour, please click on the links below, where you will be entertained by Joey's wit, photos and love of ballpark cuisine:

World Tour Stop #1: Baltimore
World Tour Stop #2: Washington, DC
World Tour Stop #3: Pittsburgh
World Tour Stop #4: Texas
World Tour Stop #5: Los Angeles
World Tour Stop #6: San Diego
World Tour Stop #7: Toronto
World Tour Stop #8: Chicago (NL)
World Tour Stop #9: Milwaukee
World Tour Stop #10: Seattle
World Tour Stop #11: Cleveland
World Tour Stop #12: Brooklyn (Ebbets Field site) and Manhattan (Polo Grounds site)
World Tour Stop #13: Baltimore (again) and Pittsburgh (part deux)
World Tour Stop #14: Cincinnati
World Tour Stop #15: Colorado
World Tour Stop #16: Cooperstown (Baseball Hall of Fame)
World Tour Stop #17: Detroit
World Tour Stop #18: Atlanta
World Tour Stop #19: Miami
World Tour Stop #20: St. Louis


Joey's World Tour: Missouri Madness (Part I - Busch-whacked in St. Louis)

Meet me in St. Louis, preferably in front of the home plate entrance.  (Photo by Ed Leyro/Studious Metsimus)

Greetings, baseball and travel enthusiasts.  I'm Joey Beartran, your favorite roving reporter/culinary expert for Studious Metsimus.  Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting Missouri, which is the home of two Major League Baseball teams.  Unfortunately, both of those Show-Me State squads have caused great suffering to Mets fans, as they each contributed to two of the team's most heartbreaking postseason defeats in the 21st century.

As much as I can never root for the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals because of what they did to the Mets in 2006 and 2015, respectively, I can put aside my differences with the teams for just a moment to discuss their cities, ballparks and cuisine, which I will do in this two-part installment of Joey's World Tour.  (You can read the second part by clicking here.)  We begin in the Gateway to the West, St. Louis.

After taking two out of three games against the Cardinals at Citi Field to open the season, the Mets appeared to be on their way to winning another series when they traveled to St. Louis and took the opening game, 6-5 in 10 innings.  The Studious Metsimus staff and I didn't attend that thrilling contest, but we did have tickets to the final two games of the series.  So how did the Mets reward us for traveling halfway across the country to see them finish the job against their hated rivals?

They got blown out in the first game we attended, then dropped a 13-inning heartbreaker in the series finale.  Thanks for nothing, guys!

The games might not have been anything to write home about (or devote more than two sentences about in a blog post), but Busch Stadium and the immediate vicinity around the ballpark were something else.

Behind me is a village within the city, all devoted to food, fun and baseball.  (EL/SM)

Directly behind the left field fence is Ballpark Village, which is a complex that houses several eateries and bars.  From Drunken Fish (sushi) to El Birdos Cantina (Tex-Mex) to the Fudgery (you figure it out), dinner and dessert can all be had a hop, skip and a jump away from the ballpark.  For those who like entertainment with their food and drink, there's the Budweiser Brew House, which is three stories of adult beverages, dancing and live entertainment.  And if you like sports, there's FOX Sports Midwest Live!, which is 20,000 square feet of sports, sports and more sports.  There's also a stage for concerts and a VIP area for people like me.

I didn't visit any of those places, mainly because I had two Mets losses to attend.  But I did enter the Ballpark Village complex for one other thing; the Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum.  And what an experience that was!

The floor design as you exit the elevator to the Cardinals Hall of Fame an Museum (EL/SM)

The first thing you see (besides what's in the photo above) is the wall of Hall of Fame plaques.  Similar to the Mets Hall of Fame, each player given the highest individual honor by the Cardinals has a plaque mounted on a wall, depicting his career highlights.

To the left of these plaques are the players who will be inducted this year.  For 2018, those players are Pepper Martin, Mark McGwire and former Mets broadcaster Tim McCarver.  In addition to their own plaques, each new inductee has a display booth featuring the jerseys they wore and other memorabilia from their career with the Cardinals.

Lots of red in the Cardinals Hall of Fame.  And lots of legends as well.  (EL/SM)

In addition to celebrating their best players, the Cardinals are also proud of their ballparks.  There is a room dedicated to the previous Busch Stadium, complete with a model of the ballpark St. Louis called home from 1966 to 2005 and one of the dugout benches from the dearly departed venue.

The Cardinals also haven't forgotten the other team that used to call St. Louis home.  Until they moved to Baltimore for the 1954 season, the St. Louis Browns shared the city with the Cards.  And in 1944, the two teams squared off in the Street Car Series, which was the first (and only) World Series featuring both teams from the Gateway City.  A display in the museum proudly remembers that Fall Classic, which was won the town's National League squad.

Speaking of the Browns, probably my favorite artifact in the museum was the actual jersey worn by Eddie Gaedel, the 3-foot, 7-inch "athlete" signed by owner Bill Veeck as a publicity stunt.  Wearing the number 1/8 on the back of his uniform, Gaedel walked in his only plate appearance for the Browns in 1951.  Why is it my favorite item in the Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum?  Because it's the only uniform that would probably fit me!

Actually, Eddie Gaedel's uniform still looks too big for me.  That's okay.  I'm still growing.  (Photos by EL/SM)

So now you know my favorite display in the museum.  What was my least favorite?  That's easy.  It was the display on the 2006 Cardinals, also known as the team that took the pennant away from the Mets at Shea Stadium.

Featured in the disgusting display of devastating disappointment was the World Series trophy, a World Series ticket, the championship ring won by the victorious Cardinals and one game-used bat and jersey.  But it's not just any bat/jersey combo.  It's the lumber that was wielded by Yadier Molina along with the threads he wore when he hit his infamous home run off Aaron Heilman in the ninth inning of Game Seven of the National League Championship Series.

It's like they knew we were coming and wanted to pour more salt in the 12-year-old wound.

But I wasn't that bad of a sport.  In fact, the next people to enter the room got a clear view of the 2006 display, mainly because they saw it all under a full moon of my creation.

Is that a championship banner or bear-sized toilet paper?  I vote for the latter.  (EL/SM)

I almost felt like I was walking through a maze in the Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum.  There was a room dedicated to the legendary Stan Musial.  Then there was one dedicated to the great 1980s teams that won three pennants and one World Series title.  From there, it was on to an area devoted to the great managers in club history.  There was also a timeline with all the uniforms the Cardinals have worn over the years (complete with a photo of Keith Hernandez), including the sweet powder blue jerseys from the '70s and '80s.

But wait, there's more!

There were Cardinals bobbleheads, a model of the new Busch Stadium and a beautiful photo of the construction of the new park with the old stadium still standing.  For some reason, they also had the World Baseball Classic trophy on display.  And there was probably a kitchen sink somewhere in there as well.

But just when you thought the Cardinals couldn't fit anything else inside their museum, they did.  I'm talking about an area dedicated to ex-Met and former teenage shortstop sensation Jose Oquendo.  That's not hyperbole.  The Oquendo space actually exists.

Makes me wonder why there's no Rey OrdoƱez jersey in the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum (EL/SM)

If you look at the photo of the construction of the new Busch Stadium, you'll notice that the left field area of the new park overlapped part of the old Busch.  That part of the old ballpark is marked in two places at the new stadium.

In the field level concourse behind the left field foul pole is a painted white line, which is the exact spot while the right field foul line used to be at old Busch Stadium.  Then, on the sidewalk outside the new stadium in the Ballpark Village is a green and yellow line.  That represents the spot where the outfield wall at old Busch used to be.

Howard Johnson took Todd Worrell deep here.  Great memories from before my time.  (EL/SM)

Now that we're talking about the stadium, why not show you what's good there?  The ballpark itself is lovely, with Cardinal red seats on every level.  And if that's not enough red for you, the ballpark is made of red bricks, with small cardinals above every entrance and a pretty big cardinal walking around the ballpark insulting Mets fans in attendance.

Oh, wait.  That was Fredbird, the team's mascot.  And he tried to obscure my colleagues' Mets caps and jerseys when we met him.

My colleagues seemed to enjoy this photo op.  I, on the other hand, wanted to pluck Fredbird's feathers.  (EL/SM)

But seriously, there's red EVERYWHERE.  The ballpark is also decorated with pennants, retired numbers, statues of the greatest players to don the Cardinal red, an homage to a legendary broadcaster, large bricks that detail great moments in Cardinals history (including Steve Carlton's 19-strikeout loss to the Mets in 1969) and a scoreboard that's topped by reminders of each of the Cardinals' World Series championships - all 11 of them.  And the scoreboard on the field isn't the only one in the ballpark.  Located in the field level concourse is the old hand-operated scoreboard from the old Busch Stadium.

I have to say, the ballpark is quite photogenic.

Sweet view, right?  (EL?SM)

Busch Stadium offers beautiful views of the city if you're lucky enough to snag a seat behind home plate, like I did in the above photo.  And speaking of plates, many of the food options at the ballpark are served in containers that are shaped like home plate.  But unlike other ballparks that have unique food options, the fare at Busch Stadium is mostly what you would expect at a minor league ballpark.  You have the basic ballpark cuisine and not much else.  But they did have tater tots, which is always a plus for me.

I also had another potato product, but that was absolutely awful.  It was a potato knish and it pretty much looked like a bread bowl; a very dry flavorless bread bowl with nothing in it.  Don't just take my word for it.  Have a look for yourself.

At least the tater tots were edible.  And that's not saying much.  (EL/SM)

Thinking of how disappointed I was in the food, the fact the Mets lost both games we attended, the stress-inducing artifacts in the Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum and the fact that I couldn't convince Fredbird to wear more orange and blue made me glad this was only the first stop in our tour of the two Missouri ballparks.  Surely, Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City had to be better by default.  (Spoiler alert: It was soooooo much better.)

So that's all for the first part of my recap of the two Show-Me State stadiums.  Remember to click here to read about my adventures in Kansas City and also remember to bring your own food into Busch Stadium the next time you visit the park.  Unlike Aaron Heilman's pitch to Yadier Molina, you won't regret that decision.

I regret attending these two losses by the Mets.  (EL/SM)

For previous installments of Joey's World Tour, please click on the links below, where you will be entertained by Joey's wit, photos and love of ballpark cuisine:

World Tour Stop #1: Baltimore
World Tour Stop #2: Washington, DC
World Tour Stop #3: Pittsburgh
World Tour Stop #4: Texas
World Tour Stop #5: Los Angeles
World Tour Stop #6: San Diego
World Tour Stop #7: Toronto
World Tour Stop #8: Chicago (NL)
World Tour Stop #9: Milwaukee
World Tour Stop #10: Seattle
World Tour Stop #11: Cleveland
World Tour Stop #12: Brooklyn (Ebbets Field site) and Manhattan (Polo Grounds site)
World Tour Stop #13: Baltimore (again) and Pittsburgh (part deux)
World Tour Stop #14: Cincinnati
World Tour Stop #15: Colorado
World Tour Stop #16: Cooperstown (Baseball Hall of Fame)
World Tour Stop #17: Detroit
World Tour Stop #18: Atlanta
World Tour Stop #19: Miami