Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Highlights From The Mets MVP Reception and Coat Drive

Over the past few weeks, the headlines have been dominated by big free-agent signings and contract extensions (Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth, Adrian Gonzalez). None of these headlines have involved the Mets.

Instead, the Mets have been trying to attract the fanbase back into the fold even though most of those fans know that it will be difficult to compete in the National League East in 2011 with the current roster they have. To do so, the Mets held an MVP Reception at Citi Field last night and a Coat Drive today, which was attended by various members of the Mets organization.

The Studious Metsimus staff was on hand last night at the MVP Reception and today at the Coat Drive. Here are some highlights of both events, accompanied by the gazillion photos you've come to love and expect in a Studious Metsimus blog.

I must say that I was impressed with the way the Mets handled this event, which was held in the Caesar's Club. There was plenty of free food and free drinks (including adult beverages). Of course, no one seemed to care about food and drink once the players came in.

Ike Davis was the first player to make an appearance. He was followed by Carlos Beltran and Jason Bay. They all posed for photos and made small talk with the guests. Ike was even kind enough to pose for a photograph with Studious Metsimus co-blogger and culinary expert Joey Beartran, while Jason Bay decided to one-up the Mets' first baseman by taking a picture with both of us.

Mets manager Terry Collins and general manager Sandy Alderson also appeared and took photos with fans during the event. Both men were quite affable, as Collins seemed genuinely happy with the turnout and Alderson asked every person he talked to for their names, making each conversation he had with fans seem much more personal. They both get two thumbs up from me and two paws up from Joey for going the extra 60 feet, six inches for the fans.

David Wright was also part of the welcoming committee, but he either did not appear for photos or was too busy practicing how to stick out his tongue at every photo op, such as in these pictures taken at the Coat Drive.

After approximately one hour of mingling with the players, Mets fans took to their seats and Wright, Bay, Alderson, Collins, Beltran and Davis sat up on the stage set up for them.

The emcee for the evening was none other than Met legend and current SNY analyst Ron Darling, who started the Q & A session by asking a few general questions for the panel and then taking questions from the fans. Mets' P.A. announcer Alex Anthony was also on hand to share his microphone with the fans asking questions.

Some questions were typical, such as what's your favorite ballpark to play in other than Citi Field? (Davis and Beltran both chose Wrigley Field in Chicago, while Bay picked Coors Field in Denver and Wright selected Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.) Jason Bay was also asked if he'd like the fences moved in, to which he responded by saying that he'd like them moved in by about 40 feet. (I guess he must want to crash into them a few seconds earlier.)

Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins answered their questions directly and with passion. I have no doubt that Terry Collins is a fiery manager. You could hear it in his voice as he answered each question. He and Carlos Beltran also provided the comic relief for the night when Beltran referred to what he would do whenever Collins' fire would burn on the field a little too much.

Carlos Beltran: Every time Terry is fined by the league, I will pay it for him.

Terry Collins: I'm glad you make a lot of money.

Speaking of Carlos, Sandy Alderson gave Mets fans reassurance when he said that he is NOT looking to trade Beltran. Alderson stated that he expects Carlos to be a contributing factor on the Mets for the entire 2011 season.

Upon hearing the good news, Carlos was so overjoyed that he broke into an impromptu version of John Fogerty's song, "Centerfield", which he dedicated to his general manager.

One young fan asked the question of the night when he asked the panel what they were going to do about their walk to strikeout ratio. Upon hearing the question, David Wright assumed the question was for him.

It was one of the lighter moments for Wright, who answered every other question asked of him in his usual let's-not-offend-anyone, politically correct way. It was enough to make a $17 million man want to go to sleep.

Speaking of Wright, once the Q & A session ended, he was whisked away immediately. I did not see him take any additional photos or talk to any fans, like other players did. MC Ronnie stuck around to talk to fans. Even Jeff Wilpon was going up to fans and shaking their hands. David? Not so much.

Approximately 18 hours after the MVP Reception, the Mets hosted their annual Coat Drive. The turnout was great and many coats were collected for the needy. However, the way the Mets handled the so-called meet and greet with the players left a little (okay, a lot) to be desired.

First, Terry Collins, Ike Davis, Jason Bay and David Wright were supposed to appear for one hour, from 11am to 12pm. After I dropped off my coat at 10:55am, I went into the press conference room to get my voucher for two free tickets to a select game in April (a nice gesture by the Mets). Approximately 100 fans were waiting in the room, many seated in the chairs provided, while others remained standing. At about 11:10am, members of security came in to say that no Mets were going to appear in that room because they were going to be outside.

Fine. Everyone in the room rushed outside, at which time Collins, Davis and Bay came along in their Mets jackets. Who wasn't part of the group? You guessed it. David Wright. He came along a few minutes later with his entourage of security personnel. You know the ones. They're the ones who weren't needed for the manager, the first baseman and the $15.5 million per year leftfielder.

So after a brief public relations moment, where Mets photographers snapped away at the foursome stuffing the collected coats into boxes, Terry Collins and Jason Bay were whisked away to the left side of the Gil Hodges VIP entrance, while Ike Davis and David Wright were moved to the right side.

Naturally, being a 38-year-old married man, I went over to where all the screaming young girls were to try to take pictures of Davis and Wright, especially since I couldn't take a photo with David Wright at the MVP Reception the previous evening.

I did get a nice closeup shot of Ike Davis' bearded head, which you can see below.

However, just like a vampire, David Wright was a little harder to photograph. Between the Twilight Saga-loving pre-pubescent girls who wanted to be with David Wright (and the guy who plays first - what's his name?) and the little league boys who just wanted to be David Wright, it was a madhouse to say the least.

The fans were surrounding Davis and Wright, even though the overwhelming majority were screaming out that one line should be formed. That would have made the most sense to keep things organized and to guarantee that everyone could take their pictures with the two infielders. But since when do the Mets do things that make sense?

The security person insisted on telling people to back away, not motioning for them to make a straight line. After only five minutes and barely ten fans getting their photos taken with Davis and Wright, all of the players waved their goodbyes and left. It was 11:22am. The one-hour meet-and-greet with the players turned out to be 12 minutes long, or about as long as it takes for Oliver Perez to walk the bases loaded, wild pitch the first run home, then give up a long home run when he finally throws the ball down the middle of the plate.

Oh well, at least I donated a coat for a good cause and got this picture of Mr. Met.

So let's recap the two days of events. The reception was handled very well, with the exception of David Wright's sleep-inducing answers and no-show at individual photo sessions. The coat drive didn't go as expected and Mr. Wright again did his own thing while the other members of the Mets were outgoing and friendly.

Maybe we should change the vowels in his first name and call him Diva'd Wright. It would be an appropriate name for the player everyone looks up to while he looks down on them.

On that note, we'll leave you with one more photo. This photo from the MVP Reception appears to foreshadow how Ike Davis was going to feel the following day at the Coat Drive when Diva'd Wright got all the attention and he had to be in the background of everyone's photos. Merry Christmas to all and to all, a good Wright!

For more photos from both events, please click HERE to see our Facebook photo album. You'll be glad you did.

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