Mets/Cubs – Wrigley 2015

May 15th, 2015 Posted in Mets, Mets games, Wrigley Field | No Comments »

Standings Flags

Panoramic View from 237

For the second season in a row, the Mets were swept by the Cubs at Wrigley Field. I was there for every game and combined with the cooler temps, it was more miserable than you could imagine. The Mets should have at least won on Wednesday and Thursday.

Without further ado, a quick summary and a lot of pictures from the series:

Monday May 11, 2015

Jacob deGrom

Jacob deGrom vs. Jon Lester. 2014 NL Rookie of the Year vs. highly paid veteran. The game was off to a rocky start when the Mets were retired in order to start the game. In the bottom of the 1st, the Cubs’ Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo hit back-to-back home runs to give the Cubs a 3-0 lead. Luckily the Mets got it back with back-to-back homers of their own from Lucas Duda and Wilmer Flores to cut the lead. The Mets were able to get some other runners on base, but the bats couldn’t get them home and lost 4-3.

Lucas Duda home run

Wilmer Flores home run

Other notes: This was my first game at Wrigley this season and my first chance to see the new video boards. I think they are great. Video replays on the left field video board were pretty instant and crystal clear. The information on the right field board was also great. I didn’t need to scramble and write down when a new pitcher or pinch hitter was announced. The information was always on the screen. The Mets even challenged a call last night and there were sharp graphics to show that!

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*Full set of pictures here.

Tuesday May 12, 2015

It was Noah night! The debut of Mets phenom prospect Noah Syndergaard vs. Cubs’ Jake Arrieta. Both pitchers were cruising along until Syndergaard gave up a few runs. It was the same ole story where the Mets couldn’t get any offense going and ultimately lost 6-1. Sitting behind home for the second half of the game to see him pitch was great though.

Noah Syndergaard

Noah Syndergaard

Noah Syndergaard

Noah Syndergaard

Jake Arrieta, Johnny Monell

*Full set of pictures here.

Wednesday May 13, 2015

Harvey Day! By this point, everyone was expecting a win. Matt Harvey did his part, throwing 99 pitches, 69 of them for strikes, over 7 innings. Not only was it the offense that let him down, but the bullpen too. Carlos Torres struggled and gave up the tying run. Jeurys Familia came in for the 9th and walked in the winning run. Mets lost 2-1.

Silver lining: with seats right behind home plate, it was a treat to watch Matt Harvey:

Matt Harvey

Matt Harvey

Matt Harvey

Matt Harvey, Starlin Castro

 

*Full set of pictures here.

Thursday May 14, 2015

The one game of the series where the Mets had a good lead, 5-1, at one point. Anthony Recker hit home runs in back-to-back at bats. Wilmer Flores had a homer of his own. Jon Niese pitched alright, but once the lead was gone, the wheels fell off and the Mets lost 6-5.

Jon Niese

Anthony Recker home run

Wilmer Flores home run

Anthony Recker home run #2

Jack Leathersich

 

*Full set of pictures here.

Overall, the series stunk. The Mets should have won at least two games and even a third. I can only hope the games next year are warmer and have better outcomes.

Juan Lagares Steals Second Base

May 12th, 2015 Posted in Mets, Wrigley Field | No Comments »

At Monday’s Mets/Cubs game, I just so happened to have my camera focused on Juan Lagares at first base. It paid off for me when he stole second:

Juan Lagares steals 2nd

Juan Lagares steals 2nd>

Juan Lagares steals 2nd

Juan Lagares steals 2nd

Harvey Day at Citi Field

April 24th, 2015 Posted in Citi Field, Mets, Mets games | No Comments »

Happy #HarveyDay!

I usually make at least one spring trip to NY and try to tie in a Mets game. When Nik and I planned this years spring trip a few months ago, we picked the April 19 game against the Marlins because it was the only day game they were playing during our trip. As the game approached, the pitching rotation aligned that we would see Matt Harvey.

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It came out after the game ended that Harvey was a little under the weather. I guess it showed in his pitching, but luckily the offense performed so well, you didn’t notice that he was missing a little something on his pitches. The Mets exploded for seven runs in the 4th inning and held a lead the whole game. The Mets gave up a few late runs, but they held it together and picked up the 7-6 win.

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We had seats in section 109, row 15 and they were great for such a sunny day. Once you got into the shade of the concourse it was pretty cold because of the wind coming through. A bonus was the cute dog parade before the game for Bark at the Park.

Bark at the Park

It was great to see the Mets sweep another series and continue rolling along. It makes me even more excited that I’ll see the team again in about 2 weeks at Wrigley. I have tickets to all four games. I think since living in Chicago, (moved here in 2007), I’ve only missed seeing the Mets once, and that was because of a conflict with Pearl Jam’s night at Lollapalooza.

Mets win. Familia with the save

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**Full set of pictures is here.

Road Trip: Mets Spring Training

April 10th, 2015 Posted in Mets games, Road Trips | No Comments »

Tradition Field

Bartolo Colon warming up

Buddy Carlye and his kid

I can finally knock seeing the Mets in Port St. Lucie off my wish list as Nik and I made a trip to Spring Training last week. It was great to have live baseball in front of me. Literally. The seats we had were front row by the Mets bullpen so I was mere feet away from Bartolo Colon warming up. It was great seeing guys like Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler and others all hanging out by the pen being loose and relaxed.

Pitcher brain trust

Anthony Recker giving hugs

The game itself wasn’t that great for the Mets as they lost 4-3 to the Cardinals. Outcome aside, it was great exploring Tradition Field. Nik and I didn’t spend much time in our seats because it was so damn hot. We roamed around the stadium going in and out of the shade. Making our way down the first base line to right field, then out to the outfield berm and all around. I loved the easy access to walk around and it was great to be around baseball again. (Full set of pictures here.)

David being David

Bartolo Colon

View from right field

As for other games on my agenda this season: April 19 at Citi Field against the Marlins; May 11-14 against the Cubs at Wrigley Field and perhaps a game in St. Louis.

Obviously there are some high expectations for the Mets this season. Let’s just take it one game at a time and enjoy the ride.

Let’s go Mets!

The Mets/Cubs Debacle

June 10th, 2014 Posted in Cubs, Mets games | No Comments »

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I love the Mets. I look forward to schedule release day every year to see when they’ll come and play the Cubs. (Playing the White Sox in 2013 was just a bonus.) No matter how good or bad the team has been before coming to town, I always plan to go. In my seven years living here, I’ve missed one Mets/Cubs game – because of a concert.

David Wright

David Wright

Last week, the Mets came to town fresh off four wins over the Phillies. It was great for the team, and one would think the Mets would have a good series against the Cubs. As Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast, my friend.” The games are already a week old, but here’s a quick recap:

Tuesday June 3

Wilmer Flores

Zack Wheeler

Zack Wheeler went 6 2/3 innings, giving up only two hits, while the Mets held onto a 1-0 lead. The game was turned over to the bullpen…and it was just the same ole story. The Mets had so many opportunities to blow open the game with countless base runners, but they couldn’t get the runners home. Josh Edgin gave up a game-tying homer to Chris Coghlan in the 8th, and then Scott Rice lost the game in the bottom of the 9th on a Nate Schierholtz walk-off single for a 2-1 final score.

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View from my seat

For this game we sat in section 237. Full set of pictures from the June 3rd game can be viewed here.

Wednesday June 4

David Wright

Lucas Duda

Curtis Granderson

The second game of the series was a lot like the first. The Mets took an early lead, let the Cubs score some runs, and back and the forth the teams went until the Cubs held on for the 5-4 win. Once again, the Mets had plenty of opportunities but stranded far too many runners on base. Adding insult to injury was the weather. Tuesday was sunny and warm. Wednesday was cold and breezy, making the game even worse to sit through.

Daisuke Matsuzaka

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View from my seat

For this game we sat in section 208. Full set of pictures from the June 4th game can be viewed here.

Thursday June 5

Jacob deGrom

Eric Campbell

Curtis Granderson

This was the one game of the series in which the Mets didn’t take a lead until a little later in the game. But, much like the previous two games, they couldn’t hold the lead. A highlight of the night, if there was one, was Andrew Brown’s 7th inning home run that tied the game at 4. The joy was short-lived, as Anthony Rizzo went deep the next inning, and the Cubs sealed the win with two more runs in the 8th on its way to a 7-4 final. (It should be noted that Brown made a killer throw to home to tag Luis Valbuena out. But after a challenge by the Cubs manager, the call was overturned and the run counted.)

Andrew Brown home run

Anthony Rizzo about to go deep

Fun with camera filters

For this game we sat in section 214. Full set of pictures from the June 5th game can be viewed here.

As of now, I don’t have any plans to see another Mets game this season. Not because they are playing badly, just because I don’t have an interest to see them in Milwaukee; nor do I have other plans to see them on the road. Slim chance I’ll see a game at Citi in the fall, but who knows. That’s a little ways off.

Road Trip: Las Vegas

June 4th, 2014 Posted in Road Trips | No Comments »

Panoramic view from my seat at the Las Vegas 51s game vs. Reno.

I love seeing baseball games on the road. I have seen the Mets in Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Washington DC and San Francisco. I saw the Binghamton Mets in Portland and even saw a Cubs-Rockies game when I was there for a wedding. Needless to say, when I knew I would be in Las Vegas for a wedding, I immediately kept tabs on the Las Vegas 51s schedule. (If you’re not familiar, they are the Mets current Triple-A affiliate.) It just so happened that they had a home game on the one night that I didn’t have any wedding-related events.

Cashman Field, Las Vegas, NV

Cashman Field, where the 51s play, is about a 20-minute car ride from “The Strip,” and so Nik and I rented a car to make it easy to get there and back. The stadium complex was much nicer than I expected. There was a cute team store and a variety of concession stands. Like most minor league games, it was very family friendly. We bought seats that were five rows behind the 51s dugout and had great views once the sun went down.

Getting the start was Darin Gorski, who held his own for awhile. But alas, a win was not in the cards and the Aces won 4-3.

Darin Gorski

Allan Dykstra

Omar Quintanilla

Josh Satin

Kirk Nieuwenhuis

It was nice to see guys like Allan Dykstra, Omar Quintanilla, Josh Satin, Andrew Brown and Kirk Nieuwenhuis play. All of them, except Dykstra, have been up and down with the Mets at some point. Hopefully they can keep improving and have a chance to make the big league roster full-time next season.

Wally Backman, Andrew Brown

*A ceremonial first pitch was thrown by Guns ‘N Roses member Dizzy Reed:

Dizzy Reed first pitch

** More pictures can be seen here.

My First Gary RailCats Game

September 4th, 2013 Posted in Gary Railcats | 1 Comment »

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For about six years now, Nik and I have driven past the U.S. Steel Yard baseball stadium in Gary, Indiana, home to the Independent League’s SouthShore RailCats. Each time we’d say to each other that we need to see a game. It finally happened this past weekend on Labor Day. I bought a $15 Groupon deal that included two tickets and a $10 “Cat Coin” good at their concession stands. We took the The South Shore Line train from Millennium Station in downtown Chicago to the Gary Metro Center stop where it was a short walk to the stadium.

Playing the El Paso Diablos, it was the final regular season game for the RailCats, and so it was fan appreciation day. Each fan was given a team photo as they entered the stadium and many of the players were out in the entry area signing autographs and posing for pictures. I took advantage of the photo opportunity:

Collage of pictures with Railcats players

As you’ll notice in the picture above, and pictures below, several of the RailCats players have some amazing facial hair.

Starting pitcher Morgan Coombs

Pitcher Morgan Coombs

Above: The amazing facial hair of pitcher Morgan Coombs.

Pitcher Stephen Hiscock

Above: The amazing Rollie Fingers-esque mustache of pitcher Stephen Hiscock.

Back to the game. Our tickets were behind the RailCats dugout, and we decided to sit in the first row until someone asked us to move. We never had to move and we thoroughly enjoyed the game. The stadium is nice and the environment is definitely family friendly with a lot of on-field contests during the game. Unfortunately, the RailCats lost 4-1, but the team is playoff bound, and hopefully it’s not another six years before Nik and I see another game there.

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Starting pitcher Morgan Coombs

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Rascal, the Railcats mascot

Relief pitchers heading out to the bullpen

Nice to see the tradition of a rookie carrying the pink backpack of supplies to the bullpen lives on in the Independent Leagues.

*Full set of pictures can be found on my Flickr page.

Mets Split with Sox

July 2nd, 2013 Posted in David Wright, Mets games, U.S. Cellular Field, White Sox | No Comments »

Mets at White Sox

I’m not a recap blog, so click here for a recap of the June 25 Zack Wheeler game against the White Sox and here for the June 26 Shaun Marcum game.

Warthen, Wheeler, Buck

David Wright, Adam Dunn

That said, it was great to finally see the Mets play on the South Side. It’s the first time they’ve played in Chicago since 2002, which was before I moved here. I’ve documented before that I much prefer The Cell over Wrigley Field. It may not have the historic charm of the Friendly Confines, but it has good food and much better bathrooms.

Tuesday’s matchup gave us Zack Wheeler vs. Chris Sale. While Sale lived up to his side of the hype, with 13 strikeouts, Wheeler struggled a bit more than his first outing. Unlike some fans who are freaking out about it, this happens. The kid is a rookie and will take some time to get polished. I welcome him to the starting rotation with open arms and hope he’s with the Mets for a long time to come.

Zack Wheeler

Chris Sale

David Wright

A popup snafu was due to happen to a team other than the Mets, and on this night it did. Daniel Murphy was at bat, with David Wright at second and two outs, when Daniel Murphy hit a popup. Sox third baseman Conor Gillaspie seemed to be headed to make the play when Gordon Beckham also charged in from second base, tripped on pitcher Addison Reed’s foot and fell forward as the ball dropped to the ground, allowing Wright to score the tying run. The excitement didn’t last long, as LaTroy Hawkins blew it in the bottom of the ninth, and the Sox won 5-4.

Gillaspie, Beckham drop popup

Gillaspie, Beckham drop popup

Gillaspie, Beckham drop popup

Wednesday’s game had a much better outcome, as Shaun Marcum finally picked up his first win of the season in a 3-0 victory.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis

Tim Teufel tossing BP

We arrived early enough to catch the end of batting practice, which is always enjoyable. I made my way over to the side of the Mets dugout to find Zack Wheeler signing autographs. The guy could not have been any nicer when he signed my scorecard from the previous night’s game.

Josh Satin

Daniel Murphy

David Wright

Mets win

Zack Wheeler signed scorecard

 

*Full set of pictures from the June 25 game is here.

**Full set of pictures from the June 26 game is here.

A Visiting Fan’s Guide to U.S. Cellular Field

June 24th, 2013 Posted in Fan's Guide, U.S. Cellular Field, White Sox | No Comments »

US Cellular Field

U.S. Cellular Field aerial picture taken by me on June 26, 2011 from a helicopter ride.

On the heels of my “Visiting Fan’s Guide to Wrigley Field” post, I wanted to create something similar for U.S. Cellular Field since the Mets will be making their first appearance there on June 25 and 26.

The basics:

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Photo courtesy Nik Bronder.

U.S. Cellular Field (Sox Park or “The Cell” as I call it) opened in 1991 replacing the famed Comiskey Park in Chicago’s South Side neighborhood of Bridgeport. Many fans can’t let go of the Comiskey namesake and often refer to the stadium as New Comiskey. You can read a more detailed history here.

Getting there:

Much like getting to Wrigley Field, getting to The Cell is easiest by the CTA. Take either the Red or Green Lines to the 35th Street stop and walk West a few short blocks or hop on the CTA 35 bus if the walk is too much for you. Important to note for the 2013 season, a portion of the CTA Red Line train tracks will be undergoing construction and the station will be closed. So the Red Line will automatically be going to the Green Line 35th Street stop. Read more about the construction and service alternatives here. Additionally, the Cell does offer a range of parking in their lots, and tailgating is welcome.

Seating:

My view

View from upper box section 537, July 30, 2011

Being a newer stadium, there really shouldn’t be any obstructed views of the field. And if there are, I haven’t found them yet. If you want to arrive early for batting practice, you must have a 100 level ticket otherwise they won’t let you in the lower level to watch it. I’ve sat in a few different 100 level locations and have liked the views. The Cell does have some bleacher seating in the outfield, as well as regular reserved seating. My preferred seating is in the upper deck, either upper box or reserved. Both offer great views of the entire field.

One last note on seating is the Bullpen Sports Bar on the field level out in right field. Any level ticket gets you into the bar and you enter from gate 2. Full bar and full menu are available and there are first-come, first-served patio seats. Tables and counter stools are also available inside and have views right into the visitors bullpen.

A view from the well air-conditioned Bullpen Bar at US Cellular. Looks out at visitors pen. Go Sox, Detroit sucks!

A view from Bullpen Bar

Concessions:

The Cell has a lot of offerings, both on the 100 level and 500 levels. My two favorite items are the Comiskey Dog and the corn fresh off the cob. Not to be forgotten are the nachos from the Tex-Mex stand where you have your choice of meat and fresh toppings.

The Comiskey Dog is served classic Chicago style: a Vienna Beef frank on a poppy seed roll piled on top with yellow mustard, chopped onions, a neon green relish, pickle spear, tomato chunks, sport peppers and celery salt. Delicious. As of last season, I could only find them on the 100 level in the outfield. There used to be a stand on the 500 level as well.

First Comiskey Dog of the season.

The delicious Comiskey Dog

The corn off the cob is just as it sounds. An ear of boiled corn on the cob is pulled from a hot compartment and the kernels are cut off the cob and there’s a choice of toppings including mayo, cayenne, lime, cheese. I prefer the old fashioned salt and butter topping. Amazing.

The stadium also has your usual far of grilled hot dogs, brats, sausages, burgers. All of which are good. Desert includes ice cream and my favorite thing: churros. And to save a few bucks, you can bring in a sealed water bottle.

Chicago food blog, Chicago Eater, recently published this handy guide of where to eat in the stadium. Much more detail than I can provide, check it out.

Southpaw:

Next to Mr. Met, Southpaw might be the best baseball mascot in baseball. He’s very active on Twitter and has always been super friendly and accommodating for picture requests the few times I have met him.

White Sox mascot Southpaw and I

Misc:

Bacardi at the Park is a bar and restaurant located outside the stadium along 35th Street and is open to all fans, with or without a ticket. A wide variety of food and beer is available and it offers access to the stadium as well.

Before every game, after every White Sox home run, and after White Sox victories, fireworks are set off in the distance beyond center field.

Outside the stadium:

The immediate area surrounding The Cell doesn’t have as much to offer as Wrigley does. If you’re willing to walk a few more blocks west to Halsted, you’ll come upon a few places including the historical Schallers Pump. Also on Halsted is a Buffalo Wings & Rings chain restaurant.

Most of what is in this post applies to any team visiting the White Sox, so I hope this guide is helpful in your visit to the Southside. I’m by no means an expert of the stadium, so please leave any tips or suggestions.

Visiting the MLB Fan Cave

June 17th, 2013 Posted in MLB Fan Cave | No Comments »

Fan Cave panoramic.

I have to admit that I didn’t follow much about the MLB Fan Cave until spring 2012, when fellow Chicago Mets fan Travis Miller was an applicant. While he didn’t get chosen in 2012, he did in 2013, as one of the nine finalists. On my recent trip to NY, I asked Travis for a little tour and he obliged, showing Nik and I around.

"Dirt Bar"

Dirt Bar, authentic dirt from each MLB stadium.

The Cave Monster

The Cave Monster, 15 big screen TV’s for every game.

Cave Art Gallery

Fan Cave Art Gallery. Artists and paintings will rotate.

Ping pong, photo booth

Ping pong table and a photo booth.

Custom Pool Table

Custom pool table and balls.

VIP Lounge

Lower level VIP lounge.

Home run slide & the Nanopus

Home run slide and the Nanopus.

2013 MLB Fan Cave

The space is just amazing. Follow the fun on Twitter via Travis’ feed or the MLBFanCave account.