Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Studious Metsimus has only existed since the summer of 2009, so we were not around to dazzle you with our predictions last year. Had we been up and running last April, you would have read how we correctly predicted that 53 different players would play at least one game for the Mets, that Angel Pagan would finish fourth on the team in at-bats with only 343 and that Oliver Perez would actually throw a called strike before September 1. (We attended a game on August 1 where he stunned the crowd by doing just that.)
Next year will mark the 25th anniversary of the 1986 World Champion Mets and will also be the 50th season in franchise history. Unfortunately, those anniversaries will have to wait until 2011. Since we are in 2010, Studious Metsimus would like to remind you that this year, the Mets will be celebrating the 30th anniversary of the 1980 team, which long-time fans will remember as the year that "The Magic Is Back."
As a tribute to that "magical" season, this year's predictions will be made with the assistance of a Studious Metsimus favorite, the Magic 8-Ball. Let's shake the dust off and see what it says.
Apparently, it's a sensitive Magic 8-Ball. Maybe Luis Castillo dropped it as a child. Anyway, let's get started with the predictions, shall we?
Will David Wright remember to pay his electric bill so that his 30-homer power can return to him?
After Johan Santana, who will emerge as the Mets' #2 starter?
That's quite a shocker! Why Oliver Perez? Do you really think he's finally going to turn the corner and become the pitcher the Mets expected him to be when they signed him to the three-year, $36 million deal in 2009?
Will Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran return to their pre-injury forms once they take the field and once they do, will they stay healthy for the entire season?
Fine. How do you expect Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran to perform this season?
The Mets have never had an outfield where all three outfielders hit at least 20 HR in the same season. Will this be the first season that happens?
How about Francisco Rodriguez? Will he surpass Armando Benitez's single-season record of 43 saves?
Will Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya make it through the season?
What will be the highlight of the 2010 season for the Mets?
What is your final prediction for the 2010 Mets?
Thank you, Magic 8-Ball for your expert predictions. We'll check back with you at the end of the season to see how you fared with your predictions.
The week before the season begins is always full of high hopes. As long as those hopes don't take a tumble and have to be shuttled to the Hospital For Special Surgery, the Mets should be an interesting team to watch in 2010. This is the first time in five years that the Mets don't have high expectations (or in some cases, any expectations). Perhaps this is the year they actually don't underachieve.
The magic was back in 1980, or at least the marketing department was telling us that it was. Maybe this year, it truly will be back and the Mets will come out from behind the 8-Ball.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Daniel Murphy will turn 25 on April 1. That's two years younger than the typical age a player enters his prime. In addition to his team-leading 12 HR last season, Murphy contributed 38 doubles. That was only six short of Bernard Gilkey's franchise-record 44 doubles (set in 1996). However, Gilkey hit his 44 doubles in 656 plate appearances (571 at-bats), whereas Murphy's 38 doubles were achieved in 556 plate appearance (508 at-bats). Falling six doubles short of the single-season franchise record with 100 fewer plate appearances than the current record holder bodes well for Murphy.
Murphy could easily get 40 doubles this season, especially with a clear-cut position. Last year, Murphy started in left field before shifting over to first base due to his shoddy play and Carlos Delgado's ACME hip. Stability will help Murphy both on the field and at the plate, and I wouldn't be surprised if he approaches the Mets' all-time single-season record for doubles this year.
Need further proof that stability begets success? In the first half of the season, Murphy bounced around from the outfield to the infield. He had to forget about his outfield follies and become comfortable at first base. Once it became clear to him that he was going to be the everyday first baseman for the remainder of the 2009 season, Murphy's bat took off.
Let's compare Murphy's numbers over the first four months of the season to his numbers over the final two months.
April - July: 97 games, .247, 17 doubles, 1 triple, 6 HR, 35 RBI.
Aug - Sept/Oct: 58 games, .291, 21 doubles, 3 triples, 6 HR, 28 RBI.
Murphy's 30 extra-base hits over the final two months of the season bode well for his development. A full season at first base could produce 40 doubles and 20 HR. Considering that Murphy's power is still developing, that 40 double/20 HR projection might actually be on the low side.
When John Olerud left the Mets following the 1999 season, the Mets played musical chairs with the first base position for the next six seasons. From 2000-2005, the Mets employed various veterans and youngsters at first base, none of whom ever made the position theirs. From Todd Zeile to Mo Vaughn to Jason Phillips to Mike Piazza to Doug Mientkiewicz, no player could hold the spot for more than two seasons and none of them played up to the team's expectations. It wasn't until Carlos Delgado was traded to the Mets before the 2006 season that a player took hold of the position and didn't give it up.
Now Daniel Murphy is expected to take over at first base. The Mets tried to find a successor to John Olerud, the last player to play at least three seasons at the position, but failed miserably and the team suffered. Other than Jason Phillips, the Mets tried to stick a 30-something year old player with limited mobility at first base. We all know how those decisions turned out. They can't make that same mistake again with Daniel Murphy.
In Murphy, the Mets have a young player who will not suffer the aches and pains that a Mo Vaughn, Mike Piazza or Doug Mientkiewicz would suffer. Murphy worked with Keith Hernandez during the off-season to improve his mobility and range at first base. He's clearly looking to improve defensively and hold on to the position now that the Mets have entrusted him with it.
Daniel Murphy is a gamer. He will come to the park day after day, looking to improve all facets of his game. Here the Mets have a soon-to-be 25-year-old who showed steady improvement both defensively and offensively as the season went along. When everyone else succumbed to the injury of the week, Murphy elevated his game instead of giving up, which would have been easy to do once the team fell out of contention.
Why wouldn't the team give him every opportunity to establish himself as a major league first baseman? History has shown that injury-prone veterans aren't always the best fit for the position. With Murphy, the Mets have a young player who doesn't get hurt (knock on wood) and hasn't reached his full potential yet. The final two months of the 2009 season showed that his potential might be greater than most people are willing to believe.
Don't kick Daniel Murphy to the curb just yet. He may end up rewarding you in ways you never expected him to.
Monday, March 22, 2010
From Tug McGraw's "Ya Gotta Believe" that gave hope and fired up the 1973 Mets on their way to the National League pennant to Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter's veteran presence that helped the Mets win the 1986 World Series, there have always been players who were ready to carry the team on their backs when they needed that push.
Players like Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry and Mike Piazza have all carried the team for long stretches and helped the Mets win pennants and championships. The 2006 team that fell one game short of a World Series appearance had numerous players (Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, David Wright, Carlos Delgado) carry the team for extended stretches.
However, if an alien spacecraft landed at Citi Field today and its inhabitants asked to be taken to the Mets' leader, who would they be directed to? Not only is there no clear cut leader, there are very few candidates who even appear to want the job of ambassador to the creatures from outer space.
David Wright is too busy trying to say the right things to be a true leader. Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran haven't learned how to lead from the trainer's room.
Johan Santana is the closest thing the Mets have to a true leader. On the next-to-last day of the 2008 season, he took the mound on three days rest with a later-to-be-revealed torn meniscus and pitched a complete game shutout against the Florida Marlins to keep the Mets alive in their attempt to make the playoffs. This was done after throwing a career-high 125 pitches in a victory against the Chicago Cubs. He took the struggling Mets and carried them into that final game. Without his gritty performances, the final game wouldn't have been relevant as far as postseason hopes went.
Even in the forgettable 2009 season, Johan displayed his leadership skills over the first two months. Carlos Delgado went down in early May, followed by Jose Reyes. Carlos Beltran was playing with an injury. Somehow, the Mets were in first place on May 27. How was that possible with such a depleted squad? Two words: Johan Santana.
Over the first two months of the 2009 season, Johan Santana made ten starts for the Mets. In those starts, he was 7-2 with a barely-there 1.77 ERA. He was on a Gooden-esque strikeout pace (86 Ks in 66 innings) and was practically unhittable. Opposing hitters were hitting a measly .208 against 'Han the Man and slugging .316 against the Smooth One. That slugging percentage would have been a poor on-base percentage, which, since we're on the topic, Santana held opponents to a .270 on-base percentage.
As a result, the Mets held a half-game lead over the Phillies after Santana defeated the Washington Nationals on May 27. However, since the gods above gave us The Four Rainouts to back up Santana in the rotation, not even Sir Smooth could keep the sinking ship afloat.
For as much as Johan Santana tried to lead the Mets, he can only lead them on the field once every five days. That leaves 125-130 games where he can only lead in the clubhouse. Unfortunately, pennants are won on the field and not in the clubhouse. (Only poker games are won there. Right, Mr. Bonilla and Mr. Henderson?)
In Dana Brand's book, "The Last Days of Shea", there is a chapter about Dr. Brand meeting Hall-of-Famer Reggie Jackson. The self-proclaimed "straw that stirs the drink" approached Dr. Brand and struck up a conversation on the 2007 Mets. According to Dr. Brand's book, Mr. October went on to say:
"What was it, they only needed to win one more game? You know, people used to call me egotistical , but I tell you, if I had been playing for (the Mets), I would have won that one game, even if I had to do it all by myself."
The Mets don't really have an everyday player who has the fire of a Reggie Jackson. They have players who can fill up a stat sheet, but can any of them truly carry the team? Can any of them be counted on to drive in the winning run when the team needs to win one game? Is there a pitcher on an opposing team who fears any hitter on the Mets?
The 1986 Mets had swagger. When they were down, you always expected someone, whether it was Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter or Darryl Strawberry to come through with a clutch hit. Even in 2006, David Wright seemed to come through with many a walk-off hit. (The Mets had 11 walk-off wins in 2006, but only had four such wins in 2009.)
The closest thing the Mets have to a leader is Johan Santana. But he can only lead on the field 34 or 35 times a season. Kirk Gibson won an MVP Award in 1988 by leading the Dodgers on the field and in the clubhouse. His numbers weren't typical MVP numbers (.290, 25 HR, 76 RBI) but he had the uncanny ability to come through when the game was on the line.
According to baseball-reference.com, when Gibson came to bat in a tie game situation in 1988, he hit .306 and had a .424 OBP. In 239 plate appearances in those situations, he didn't hit into a single double play, thereby not squelching potential rallies. In late and close situations (defined by baseball-reference.com as plate appearances in the seventh inning or later where the team is tied, ahead by one or with the tying run on deck), Gibson hit .321 and compiled a .423 OBP in 97 plate appearances. Since Gibson amassed 632 plate appearances in 1988, the above clutch situations made up for more than half of Gibson's appearances in the batter's box.
The Mets have never had an MVP. If they're ever going to get one, they need a team leader. He can't pad his stats by hitting home runs when the team is already up by six runs in the eighth inning. He must come through in the clutch. He must be fundamentally sound. He must be able to pick up his teammates when they fail between the white lines.
Do the Mets have someone who's willing to step up over the entire 162-game schedule? They're going to need one if they're going to reverse the trend that began when Carlos Beltran looked at Adam Wainwright's curveball. Otherwise, the fans will be doing the leading, but it'll be towards the exit gates at Citi Field.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Apparently, Hampton wasn't the only pitcher to turn down money from the Mets in 2000, only to sign with Colorado. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, fireballer Ubaldo Jimenez was offered $20,000 by the Mets to sign with the team after he turned 16 in 2000. Why did he turn them down? Yet again, school was cruel to the Mets.
The teenaged Jimenez was still in high school at the time the Mets made their offer. But his parents chose the benefit of an education over the temptation of quick financial success.
When recounting the reasons for not signing with the Mets in 2000, Jimenez went on to say:
“My parents said no. They didn’t want me to sign until I finished high school. I always respected my parents, and I knew it was for my own good, so I didn’t sign. I always figured I was going to be a doctor anyway. I used to love medicine. My mom’s a nurse. It’s something I grew up seeing. Every time people got sick, my mom would be the one who helped make them better.”So how did the Rockies sign Jimenez in 2001 at the age of 17, thereby negating his chance of becoming a doctor? It was pretty simple, really. When the Rockies’ director of Latin American operations paid the Jimenez family a visit, he promised that if Ubaldo signed with Colorado, they would allow him to finish high school. That was enough for Jimenez’s parents. After graduating from high school, Jimenez signed his first professional contract and joined the Rockies organization.
Since making his major league debut at the age of 22 in 2006, Jimenez has improved steadily each year and is now among the best (and lesser known) pitchers in the National League.The Rockies inserted Jimenez into the starting rotation in 2007, just in time for their unexpected run to the World Series. In 15 starts with the Rockies, Jimenez was 4-4 with a 4.28 ERA, but he held opposing batters to a .228 batting average. He then turned it up a notch in the National League playoffs, giving up one run in 6.1 innings in his start against the Phillies in the NLDS, followed by five more innings of one-run ball against the Diamondbacks in the NLCS.
His luck (as well as the Rockies’ luck) ran out in the World Series, but he still pitched effectively in his one start against the Red Sox, giving up two runs in 4.2 innings of work. The 22-year-old pitched like a seasoned veteran in the playoffs, where many pitchers at the same age would have wilted in the national spotlight.
He followed up his rookie season by going 12-12 for Colorado in 2008. He lowered his ERA to 3.99 and opponents batted only .245 against him. More importantly, he was able to get his outs via the strikeout and the ground out, thereby overcoming the Coors Field effect. He racked up 172 strikeouts in 198.2 innings and allowed only 10 home runs.
In 2009, his improvement continued to where he became one of the best pitchers in the National League. Last season, Jimenez helped lead the Rockies to their second playoff appearance in three years. He finished with a 15-12 record, which tied for fourth in the NL in wins. He also lowered his ERA to 3.47 (which is very low for a pitcher who plays half his games at Coors Field) and struck out 198 batters in 218 innings, making him sixth in the NL in strikeouts. Opposing batters continued to be frustrated by Jimenez, as they only batted .229 against him last year.
How good is Jimenez? Only seven pitchers in 2009 finished in the top 25 in both strikeouts per nine innings and groundball percentage. Those seven pitchers were Tim Lincecum, Roy Halladay, Felix Hernandez, Adam Wainwright, Jon Lester, Josh Johnson and Ubaldo Jimenez. That’s a pretty exclusive class, if I must say so myself.
Ubaldo Jimenez has already been named the Rockies’ Opening Day starting pitcher by manager Jim Tracy. The 26-year-old will be among the favorites for this year’s NL Cy Young Award and will be counted on to help lead the Rockies back to the postseason.
Imagine what might have been if the Mets had offered to let him finish school instead of just throwing $20,000 on the table. The Mets might not be having such a problem in the starting rotation had Ubaldo Jimenez signed with them instead of the Rockies. Hindsight may be 20-20, but in the case of Jimenez, all the 20-20 needed to be was $20,000 and 20 more months in school. Too bad the it was the Rockies who had the foresight to do so.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
He seemed fully recovered from the ordeal, needing only seven pitches to retire the Cardinals in order in the ninth inning.
K-Rod took the mound with orange-tinted wraparound glasses that he says he may continue to wear during the regular season. The glasses will allow him to pitch without contact lenses as he continues the healing process for his eyes.
Although Rodriguez's performance on the mound was a welcome sight, it was the comment made by Jerry Manuel (channeling his alter ego of Sesame Street character Guy Smiley) that drew my attention. According to Marty Noble's mlb.com article, Manuel stated that he will use K-Rod more in non-save situations, but will limit his pitch count to 15 in those situations.
As the Mets were falling apart (both literally and figuratively) in the second half of the 2009 season, Manuel could not find regular work for Rodriguez and was forced to use him in non-save situations. The sporadic appearances and the occasional high pitch count in those outings led to an inconsistent, if not poor second half for the Mets closer.
Manuel has finally realized that leaving Frankie in games too long when there was no save to be picked up was detrimental to his closer. He goes on to add:
"He appears to be a guy who loves to be on the mound on a regular basis. He's able to command his pitches better. He likes to perform. We didn't really give him the opportunity in the second half."
Kudos to Jerry Manuel for realizing something he should have already known. Closers always need regular work, but if you use them for 30 or more pitches in non-save situations, they may not be effective if you need them in an actual save situation the following day.
Case in point, on the morning of June 28, K-Rod's ERA stood at 1.01. He had made 35 appearances to that point and did not throw over 30 pitches in any of those outings. The Mets still had a winning record (37-36) and were very much alive in the NL East race, resting 1½ games behind the first place Phillies.
Then the wheels came off the wagon. Including their loss to the Yankees on June 28, the Mets went 33-56 the rest of the way. Frankie Rodriguez made another 35 appearances in that time. Unfortunately, not many of them were in save situations.
After never surpassing 30 pitches thrown in any of his first 35 appearances, he registered six such outings over his final 35 appearances, including two outings where he threw over 40 pitches.
Save situations were few and far in between and Frankie needed his work. Unfortunately, he was getting too much work in some of those appearances and it cost him in the ERA department (6.68 ERA over his final 35 appearances).
This year, if Jerry Manuel is true to his word, Rodriguez stands to have a much better season. A closer needs consistent work to maximize his effectiveness. That doesn't just mean pitching three or four times a week. It also means not having a seven-pitch appearance here and a 40-pitch appearance there.
There is no need to stretch Rodriguez past 15 pitches in non-save situations. He may be called upon to save the following night's game and must be as fresh as he possibly can for those games. After all, he's not getting paid over $12 million per year to be the mop-up guy. He's earning his dinero by closing the door on the opposition.
Francisco Rodriguez might be the one wearing the colored glasses, but it's Jerry Manuel who seemed to have the vision. Let's hope his plan for K-Rod remains in play for the entire season.
Of course, when you consider the Mets' 29-52 road record in 2009, perhaps they did have an advantage at home. The one thing I know for sure is that the Mets were at a DISADVANTAGE when they left their friendly Flushing confines.
Last year, there were eight teams who finished with winning records away from their home ballparks. Of those eight teams, six made the postseason, including both pennant winners. This was similar to what occurred the previous year (2008), when only six teams finished above .500 on the road, four of which made the playoffs.
Now let's look at home records. In 2009, 20 of the 30 teams in baseball finished with winning records. 12 of those 20 teams (60%) FAILED to make the playoffs. The year before, 21 teams finished above .500 at home. 13 of those 21 teams went home before Game 1 of the Division Series.
It's not an easy task to win on the road in any sport, but finishing with a winning road record greatly improves a team's chances to play past the 162nd game. A team is expected to win at home. That's why more than half the teams that finished with winning records at home over the past two seasons didn't play in October.
However, the majority of the teams that finished above .500 on the road continued playing when other teams were left wondering what went wrong.
The Mets finished with a winning record at Citi Field last year. However, when a team finishes 23 games below .500 on the road, that doesn't give them much of a chance to play meaningful games in July, let alone September.
For all the talk about the Mets not being able to hit home runs at Citi Field, they actually hit more long balls at home (49) than on the road (46). They scored 15 more runs at Citi Field than on the road (343 home, 328 away), but gave up a whopping 57 more runs on the road than at home (407 runs given up on the road, 350 runs given up at Citi Field).
The two most outrageous home-road splits belonged to Mike Pelfrey and John Maine. Below are the stats for Pelfrey and Maine at Citi Field and on the road:
- Mike Pelfrey (Citi Field): 6-5, 3.72 ERA, 1.35 WHIP
- Mike Pelfrey (Road): 4-7, 6.72 ERA, 1.73 WHIP
- John Maine (Citi Field): 6-1, 1.98 ERA, 0.95 WHIP
- John Maine (Road): 1-5, 6.92 ERA, 1.64 WHIP
It's very easy for guys like Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel to say that the team can compete if they remain healthy. What they really need to say is that the Mets can compete if they can perform better on the road. Using injuries as a crutch (no pun intended) can only go so far. What will they say if the team is still losing when Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran are back in the lineup?
The Mets don't necessarily have to finish with a winning record on the road. After all, in each of the last two seasons, there have been two teams with losing road records that made the postseason cut. But no team that loses almost twice as many road games than they win can expect to be anything but a second division team.
Forget about blaming injuries, forget about blaming the ballpark. The answer to whether the Mets will succeed or fail in 2010 rests on the road. If they can take care of business there, home cookin' will taste so much sweeter this year.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
- Rule 7.08 (f): Any runner is out when he is touched by a fair ball in fair territory before the ball has been touched or passed an infielder. The ball is dead and no runner may score, nor runners advance, except runners forced to advance.
- Rule 10.05 (a) (5): The official scorer shall credit a batter with a base hit when a fair ball that has not been touched by a fielder touches a runner or an umpire, unless a runner is called out for having been touched by an Infield Fly, in which case the official scorer shall not score a hit.
Friday, March 12, 2010
Thursday, March 11, 2010
The condition is not considered serious and Reyes will not be prescribed any medication for it. He will require plenty of rest and will be tested weekly until his thyroid levels come down to a normal level.
Even if Reyes misses the minimum two weeks, he would still need to rebuild his strength until he's healthy enough to play in a game, putting his Opening Day status in jeopardy.
Should Reyes miss Opening Day, he'd be the second regular player who will not be in the starting lineup when the Mets take the field on April 5 at Citi Field, joining Carlos Beltran, who is recovering from offseason knee surgery. Potential set-up man Kelvim Escobar will also be unavailable until at least mid-April due to a shoulder injury.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Apparently the Mets didn't get the memo stating that 2009 was over. How else can you explain these injuries continuing? There's no WBC to blame it on this year.
Fortunately, these injuries will not keep Reyes, Beltran and Escobar off the field for a major chunk of the season (supposedly). When the Mets take the field with their ugly red caps during Memorial Day Weekend, all three players should be available to them. How they will perform is something we won't know until they cross the white lines.
Experiencing the 2009 season prepared Mets fans for the worst. These pre-season injuries/surgeries are bringing back visions of last year's reunion that took place at Citi Field. Unfortunately, the reunion I'm talking about is not the one featuring the 1969 Miracle Mets, but the one starring the 2009 Buffalo Bisons, since most of the players on the Bisons' Opening Day roster ended up reuniting as New York Mets at some point last season after each injury claimed another victim.
When the Mets added Jason Bay, fans thought this year could be different than last year. However, with each announcement of another player missing significant playing time, fans expecting to see the equivalent of Hot Lips Houlihan at Citi Field in 2010 might have to settle for Corporal Klinger instead.
There are still a little over three weeks of exhibition games left on the Late Winter Training docket. It's imperative for the Mets to focus on remaining healthy just as much as it is for them to get in game shape and practice good baseball fundamentals. (I'm talking to you, Angel Pagan!) They can't continue to lose players to injuries and expect to remain competitive for long.
These injuries almost make me wonder. When the Mets unveiled their "We Believe In Comebacks" slogan for 2010, were they referring to the team being able to come back from a miserable season to compete in the NL East or were they just being cautiously optimistic that injured players would eventually come back from their injuries before the season was over?
Let's just hope that the team doesn't believe in coming back to 2009. But with the way the injuries are popping up again in 2010, it sure looks like they're feeling nostalgic for last season.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Thanks, esteemed colleague! This is Joey Beartran reporting for Studious Metsimus. I had a great time covering the Mets in Port St. Lucie during Open Workouts. From sampling great breakfast dishes to delicious lunches to sumptuous dinners (and an occasional Mets player here and there), I did my best to bring you the most complete coverage of what the fan experience is like at Open Workouts. So sit back, turn on your favorite sports radio station to listen to the latest Mets pitcher getting rocked while throwing strikes and enjoy what I like to call "Bears Gone Wild: Port St. Lucie Edition".
I woke up at the crack of dawn and to my surprise, I found myself greeted with breakfast in bed. I love the smell of Corn Pops in the morning!
Then it was off to Tradition Field to see batting practice. However, there was not much action going on in the batting cages. Is it possible that Daylight Savings ended and I was the only one who didn't get the memo?
One Mets player did show up and was kind enough to pose for a picture with me. Here I am with minor league prospect Eddie Kunz. I asked him if he felt he had a chance to make the team out of Spring Training and all he did was smile and hide his pitching hand behind my back. Apparently, he was nervous to meet me because he was covered in sweat. That's okay. When you meet the only bear blogger for the Mets, I can understand if you have a sudden case of the jitters.
Later on, I met a member of the 1986 World Champion Mets. He was the starting pitcher in Game 6 of the 1986 NLCS and Game 6 of the World Series. It was an honor to meet fellow lefty Bobby Ojeda.
I talked to Bobby about how he managed to make the transition from the pitcher's mound to the SNY studio in the hopes that someday I can make a similar move from blogger to SNY on-air personality. He just smiled as I overheard him say "am I on Candid Camera?" to our Studious Metsimus photographer.
After a long day of interviewing, photo ops and wondering whose hand was where, it was time to sample the fine cuisine in Port St. Lucie. There was no shortage of fine Floridian food to partake of. Take a look for yourself...
After a wild night of hot wings and brownie sundaes, it was time to hibernate for the evening. Fortunately, Studious Metsimus had enough funds available in the budget (a.k.a. the piggy bank that serves as our petty cash tin) to allow me to stay for another night. Our photographer had to stay in the car, but I promised to share my breakfast the following day as compensation for the room.
As the sun rose and the roosters cock-a-doodle-doo-dooed, (I should know. I accidentally stepped in some of it.) it was time to get back to the field. This time, I arrived a little bit late and the players were already doing some running. Just watching them perform their drills made me tired so I decided to take a load off and rest on the warning track. Had it been batting practice at Citi Field, I would have been in a perfect position to catch a David Wright just-short-of-the-wall double.
After players were done running around (no truth to the rumor that Angel Pagan was messing up the rhythm of the drill by running too aggressively), it was time to meet some more players. I went after a few more lefties and ended up with the motherlode. (sorry, I didn't get to meet my hero, Keith Hernandez. He's the ultimate lefty and the reason why I became a Mets fan. How can any bear not love him after he was caught by the SNY cameras feeding corn chips to a teddy bear in the TV booth during the 17-inning marathon in Houston during the 2007 season? Ah, but I digress...)
First I met the man known as Perpetual Pedro. He's the Mets' all-time single season leader in appearances by a pitcher. He was also the first Mets player, past or present, to actually talk to me when he told me that I looked a little like him. Personally, I didn't see any resemblance other than the two of us wearing a "Mets" on our chests and the fact that we're both lefties. Here I am with Pedro Feliciano.
Finally, I met up with my Aunt Coop and together we were able to attract the attention of the man with the most home runs in Mets history (no, not Tim Bogar). The "Coop" de grâce of the entire trip was getting this picture with the Straw Man himself, Darryl Strawberry!
If I looked like I wanted to be somewhere else, it's because we were about to miss Happy Hour! Fortunately, we were done with our meet and greet session with Mets players, so we headed out to Duffy's for an hour of liquid happiness.
I had to stow away in the bag because I left my "special ID" at home. Fortunately, I was able to partake in Duffy's 2 for 1 offer, although I can't say I remember much after that. I don't even remember being photographed in the picture you see below to the right.
I was told we didn't do anything else after Happy Hour, so we packed up our belongings and headed back to New York. I was hoping to fly over Citi Field to get some overhead shots of the new additions for 2010, such as McFadden's, the reconstructed bullpens and the Mets Museum and Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, the pilot was a Yankee fan so I couldn't convince him to change his flight pattern so that we could land at LaGuardia Airport instead of Newark Liberty.
It's okay. When he wasn't looking, I unbuckled my seatbelt and left him a surprise in the lavatory (and I'm not talking about the iPhone in my lap, if you know what I mean).
Thank you for reading about my experiences as a bear blogger gone wild in Port St. Lucie. With your continued support of Studious Metsimus, we hope to continue to bring you more exclusive content such as this year's Late Winter Training escapades. Maybe next year, our budget will increase. You can never have enough meal money.
For Studious Metsimus, this has been Joey Beartran reporting. Hope to see you all at Citi Field this season!
Special thanks go out to Sharon Chapman and Taryn Cooper for their wonderful photographs and their credit cards. Oh wait, they don't know about the room service I ordered, do they?