Mets Game Thursday: Anticipating A Live Look From Citi Field

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I’ll be at the Mets game on Thursday afternoon and filing a report the next day. Following are “assignments” I’m giving myself…

UPDATED –  FRIDAY, JULY 26. ANYTHING NEW IS IN BOLD BLUE TYPE

The Mets game on Thursday is the final game of a three-game series with the San Diego Padres. It’s one of those unusual “getaway” starts at 12:10 p.m. EST, allowing the Padres time to travel cross-country to meet the San Francisco Giants the following night at Petco Park.

Jacob deGrom is scheduled to start for the Mets. He’ll be opposed by one of the Padres talented newcomers, Eric Lauer (5-7, 4.31 ERA).

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Travel time from my home in Catskill, New York is about two and a half hours with no traffic and no pit stops. This one Mets game will cost me a pretty penny, but that’s a choice I’m freely making in wanting to support my writing by seeing this team, up close and in person.

So, with $150 invested in a ticket (Section 114 Row 10, right behind the Mets dugout), $45 in reserved parking to accommodate my 71 year-old body, $50 in fuel, $25 in tolls, $50 for food and drink, and around $45 for Stub Hub and insurance fees, what are my “assignments” for the day?

$7.00 for a pretzel. $7.75 each for 3 Souvenir soft drinks, $7.75 for French Fries, and $7.00 for a hot dog. Total – $45.00 (Not bad  – imagine the cost for a family though).

Assignment #1 – Pre-Game Activity

“Throw away the numbers and let your eyes tell you everything you need to know.”– John Smoltz
Observe and absorb. A day game with an early start following a night game previously probably means no batting practice. But which of the Mets players take the field at 11:30 a.m. or so for routine stretching exercises, running sprints, or mixing with fans in search of a photo or autograph?

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In contrast, which of the Mets elect to remain in the comfort of the clubhouse posting to their Twitter account, grabbing a bite to eat, or watching ESPN until they hear the call, “Ladies and Gentleman, please rise…”?

Neither team took batting practice. Mickey Callaway and Todd Frazier both took time to chat and sign autographs. Robinson Cano (surprise, at least to me) was the first Met on the field, stretching and going through his personal warmup and playing a spirited game of catch with Amed Rosario later. Following a night game, all pre-game activity was understandably toned down.

Assignment #2 – In-Game Activity

Observe and absorb. Who are the Mets standing on the top of the dugout steps when the first pitch is thrown, versus those who can’t be seen taking a back seat to the game?

It’s likely Mickey Callaway will not post the team’s regular lineup for this game, allowing a day of rest for one or two position players. They still have a job to do though, which is to be mentally ready when Callaway calls their name in a pinch. Do these players appear to be “in the game”?

Jeff McNeil was given the day off. Of course, he was ready – he’s Jeff McNeil. He grounded to shortstop pinch-hitting for deGrom in the 7th inning.

Do the players talk to one another? During the infield go-around while deGrom takes his warm-ups between innings, does it appear overly routine? Or in contrast, is there some joshing and good-natured exchanges with umpires, opposition coaches, and each other?

Mets And Padres Chat During a Pitching Change July 25, 2019 (Photo: Steve Contursi. Reflections On Baseball
Mets And Padres Chat During a Pitching Change July 25, 2019 (Photo: Steve Contursi. Reflections On Baseball

Who is running out routine fly balls and grounders to shortstop – and who is not? On TV, we see only a portion of this “action” on infield plays, and never on balls to the outfield when cameras focus on the fielder. I want to observe everything in this regard because it conveys the soul of a ballplayer.

I (almost) take back everything I ever said or felt about Robinson Cano. He was the most animated and spirited New York Met on the field yesterday. Sending a coded “greeting” across the field to the Padres third base coach, joshingly “bumping” the second base umpire to say hello, teasing and playing with Manny Machado during a pitching change, it went on and on. He had a ball and so did I watching him closely throughout the game.

Or…was Cano still juiced from his first-ever three home run game the night before? I hate it when these guys act like most of us do…so unpredictable…up and down… 

The sour milk award goes to Juan Lagares who got a rare start in center field. Lagares looked like he was going through the motions, and on one occasion barely made it to the dugout literally walking in from second base during an innings changeover. He did, however, come up with two hits to raise his BA to .185. Lagares also made a good play on a screaming line drive hit to him that got him all turned around.

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Does there appear to be harmony between deGrom and his catcher? Are there an abnormal number of “shake offs” during a pitching sequence to a particular batter? Does a need develop to have a conference on the mound to straighten things out? And more importantly, when the same hitter comes up again, do things go more smoothly?

Wilson Ramos and Jacob deGrom both had great games. They were fully in sync, though it was one of those days where deGrom had that biting 92 MPH slider working, and all Ramos had to do was put the same finger down for the out pitch. There was never a need for a mound visit. This was vintage deGrom today.

Which fielders need to be moved by Callaway or one of his coaches because he is not checking his “dummy notes” in his back pocket on where to play each hitter? This trend based solely on analytics is soaring in use throughout baseball.

Mets Game – Assignment #3

Observe and absorb. Look for the positive even more than the negative.

Who has an eight or ten pitch at-bat – and then strikes out? Yes, that can be positive.

New York Mets Fans - The Faithful Photo Credit: The Daily Stache
New York Mets Fans – The Faithful Photo Credit: The Daily Stache

Who is cheerleading from the bench? They teach this in Little League for a reason. How quickly it gets forgotten when some players reach “The Show”.

And finally, am I and the fans around me having fun? Are we entertained by the product we have purchased? I expect that answer to be positive.

A splendid day. Youth groups populated the upper decks. Sitting in the fourth row behind the Mets dugout accented the experience. The crowd stayed in the game despite all the scoring by the Mets in the first inning. deGrom is much more thin and wiry than he appears on TV. Conversely, Pete Alonso is bigger than even a polar bear. Citi Field is an excellent baseball venue, save for the 30-45 minutes it took to leave the parking lot (there’s only one way out to the expressways and the Whitestone Bridge). The Mets continue to play a solid and spirited brand of baseball, even if it doesn’t show in the standings. Can’t wait to get back again…

Written by Steve Contursi, Editor, Reflections On Baseball
(Thank You For Sharing)

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Mets Game Thursday: Anticipating A Live Look From Citi Field
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Mets Game Thursday: Anticipating A Live Look From Citi Field
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I'll be at the Mets game on Thursday afternoon and filing a report the next day. Following are "assignments" I'm giving myself...
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Reflections On Baseball
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Author: stevecontursi

I am an amateur writer with a passion for baseball and all things Yankees and Mets.

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