Crazy Sports Weekend: Part 2

November 12, 2015

Following the Hockey Hall of Fame, (see recap part 1 for more,) Nik and I headed to Bellwoods Brewery for a few drinks and lunch at BQM – Beer and Quality Meats. (I had a delicious burger and side of Poutine.)



[MORE: Crazy Sports Weekend Part 1World Series Game 3: Mets 9, Royals 3My Water Taxi Ride with Mike Piazza to the World Series]


Pens goal

It’s safe to say both Nik and I really liked Toronto. Maybe it was the location of our hotel being downtown, but both the Hall of Fame and the Air Canada Center were walking distance. It felt like we were in a spot to easily get places. (Though we did take a cab to the brewery area.) As for the game, Nik found tickets on StubHub a few month ago for seats in the upper level that weren’t too expensive. With the Leafs not being so good, I wonder if prices would’ve been lower had we waited.



The game was great. Our seats were the perfect spot to see everything on both ends of the ice. We had some goal scoring at our end, a few little scuffles and most importantly, a Penguins win. We even watched a little of the Mets/Royals World Series game during intermissions because the arena had free wifi. (Picture below.)

Mets game watching during hockey intermission. Thanks Air Canada Centre for free wifi!



Following the game, we headed back to the hotel and hit the bar for the end of the Mets game. It’s no secret that the wheels fell off and the Mets lost.

Views from taking off in Toronto and coming into Chicago:
Nice views leaving Toronto and arriving in Chicago today.

Regardless, it was one heck of a weekend. Three cities in two days. I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone other than my husband.

Full set of pictures here.


Crazy Sports Weekend: Part 1

November 10, 2015

Several months ago, long before the Mets playoff run began, Nik and I had plans for a weekend in Toronto, Canada. He was going to be there for work and I’d fly up after and we’d stay the weekend to visit the Hockey Hall of Fame and see the Penguins/Maple Leafs game. Then the Mets playoffs run happened and a fun few weeks began. Toronto was still going to happen, mainly because of the hockey tickets we had, but a stop in New York was going to happen first.

If you follow this site, you already know that Nik and I went to World Series game 3, so let me explain how it happened: Nik flew the morning of Friday October 30th to New York from Toronto, I flew in from Chicago. We had a great day in Queens and Manhattan, taking the water taxi with Mike Piazza and then seeing the Mets beat the Royals. We slept for four hours then took a Saturday morning flight to Toronto. We did a few tourist things, saw the Penguins beat the Leafs and flew back to Chicago the next day, Sunday. It was pretty crazy but extremely fun. Here is part 1 of the trip:

The Hockey Hall of Fame


2015 Stanley Cup Champions Display

My first visit to the Hockey of Fame was pretty enjoyable. It was a smaller space than I expected, but you can spend as much time as you want looking at the various displays and trophies in the Great Hall. It was cool to see how hockey equipment has changed, and improved, over the years. I can’t imagine the helmet of Denis Potvin being used in the present game.

Denis Potvin helmet

Terry Sawchuck chest protector

The Great Hall is home to a special vault that houses many things: portraits and bio information of the Hall of Fame members; the original Stanley Cup; all of the major trophies on display and the Stanley Cup as we know it today. The only disappointment for me was not seeing much (read: any) Whalers stuff around the Hall.

Wayne Gretzky display

Mark Messier display

Mario Lemieux display

One big highlight for me was the open access to the Stanley Cup. I’ve had my picture taken with The Cup several times before, but I’ve never had a chance to look closely at the engravings, so I really appreciate the access they allow visitors. (Little known fact, but which I knew, there are two Stanley Cups. One that mainly goes on the road, called the Presentation Cup, and the other that is a stand-in for it at the Hall of Fame.) The one we saw hadn’t been engraved with the 2015 Stanley Cup Champions Chicago Blackhawks names yet.

Original Stanley Cup

The Great Hall

Stanley Cup in the Great Hall

Lastly, as a fan of older architecture, I really liked the exterior of the Great Hall:

Hockey Hall of Fame exterior

Hockey Hall of Fame exterior

Additional pictures here.


World Series Game 3: Mets 9, Royals 3

November 5, 2015

Nik and I

World Series 2015

After arriving to Citi Field by Water Taxi, Nik and I made our way in the stadium by entering along the left field side. We bypassed the lower level food options and headed to the promenade for Nathan’s hot dog’s and fries. We were still hungry so we shared the Pat LaFrieda Steak Sandwich, which is still as good as when I had it a few years ago.

Our seats were in section 504, a little out towards right field. We had a great view of pretty much everything. Knowing that Billy Joel was going to sing the National Anthem and that Mike Piazza was going to throw the ceremonial first pitch, I wanted to make sure we were in our seats with time to spare so I wouldn’t miss anything.

Billy Joel - National Anthem

Mike Piazza Ceremonial First Pitch

Mike Piazza Ceremonial First Pitch

After the pregame festivities, including lineup introductions, Noah Syndergaard took the mound. He was looking to set the tone early and show that the Mets were ready to go. And he was pretty successful as his first pitch was a high-and-tight fastball that knocked Royals leadoff batter Alcides Escobar to the ground.

Noah Syndergaard

The Royals managed to score a run in the first, but that lead wouldn’t last long. With Curtis Granderson on base, David Wright hit a two-run homer to put the Mets ahead 2-1. The place exploded. It’s been awhile since Wright had such a big hit, and to have it happen at a home World Series game made it even more memorable. The Royals got two runs back in the second to retake the lead, 3-2.

David Wright home run

David Wright home run

To the third inning we go, where Syndergaard was on base and Granderson came to bat and knocked one out of the park. The Mets went ahead again, 4-3 and would never look back. Michael Conforto would knock a run in. Juan Uribe would make his first appearance of the 2015 postseason and knocked a run in. Wright would have another RBI and Yoenis Cespedes would hit a sac fly allowing Granderson to score.

Juan Uribe scores

View from my seat

Mets win

Mets win

I’ve never been to a World Series game and for the Mets to win like this, after being down 0-2 in the series, was just amazing. It’s a memory that will stay with me forever. I know the Mets went on to lose the series but I wouldn’t change a thing about my experience. I’ve said it over and over to many people, I never imagined the Mets would go this far, this season. Eventually, yes. Just not this year.

Full set of pictures here.


My Water Taxi Ride with Mike Piazza to the World Series

November 3, 2015


Having tickets to see the Mets play in the World Series is an exciting event on its own. Taking a Delta/Mets branded taxi with Mike Piazza and Jim Breuer to the game makes it even more exciting. Piazza was my favorite Mets player for the longest time and I still absolutely love him.

Me with Mike Piazza

Me with Jim Breuer

On Thursday, the day before game 3 of the World Series, the Mets and Delta did a scavenger hunt over social media, tweeting clues for fans to find the water taxi tickets. Someone in New York had gotten tickets, but couldn’t use them. This person joined the Mets Fans in Chicago Facebook group a week ago because he was here for a trip and wanted to watch the other games with Mets fans. So he posted in the group on Thursday night if anyone was coming to New York and wanted the tickets. I chimed in and was able to arrange getting them. The rest of the story is best told verbally, but I’ll do my best here to explain the amazing experience Nik and I had.

The taxi was set to sail from Pier 11 in lower Manhattan at 5 and we got there a little before. We boarded and were greeted with a Delta flight attendant giving everyone a Mets World Series winter hat (not one sponsor logo on it!) and a baseball shaped bottle opener. Each of the taxi seats had an orange rally towel draped over and I tried to scope out the situation – should we take seats up front, or in the back or upstairs? (I only contemplated upstairs because it was the perfect time of day for amazing NYC skyline picture taking.) We opted for the second row of seats on the lower level. While we waited for Piazza and Breuer to board, Nik went to the bar. Turns out, it was open bar! There was even a special cocktail for the event. Also by the bar was another flight attendant passing out small bags of peanuts and cracker jack. (I really wasn’t expecting all the free stuff, but I’m not complaining!)



Signature drink sign and free hat

Piazza and Breuer finally made their way onto the taxi. The media gathered around them and Nik and I secured decent spots too. They both had a bottle of champagne that they then smashed on the side to christen the water taxi. Because of my prime spot, I immediately went and asked Piazza for a picture. He was so gracious as Nik took pictures from both his phone and the bigger camera. And oh my god, Mike Piazza had his arm around me. I was on cloud nine. (Not exactly sure where Jim Breuer headed to, but for me, he played second fiddle to Piazza in this whole situation.)

Me getting an autograph

Piazza was there with his wife, and some security stayed nearby him, but he pretty much roamed the boat and all the passengers, about 80 of us, had unobstructed access to him for pictures, autographs and conversation. His wife took a seat in the row in front of us and was pretty personable too. I later got a picture with her and she was part of a group selfie.


I was so wrapped up in being inches away from Piazza that I didn’t take many pictures of the beautiful New York scenery. I did make my way outside and upstairs for a few minutes though, which is where I got my picture with Breuer. He too was ridiculously nice. He later came inside and told one of his epic Mets stories and it was hilarious.

Here is video Jim Breuer doing telling one his epic Mets stories:

Jim Breuer Epic Mets Story from Julie on Vimeo.

Not sure how it started, but I see Breuer and Piazza take a selfie and think to myself, I should get one. (Turns out he was taking video that ends up in this Rolling Stone piece. Water taxi video starts at 1:36 in.) So Nik hands his phone over and it happened! Me, Nik, Breuer, Piazza, his wife and a few nearby fans are in one selfie together. I mean, this whole ride is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before.

We arrived at the Worlds Fair Marina about an hour later and took a short walk over to Citi Field where we would enjoy the Mets winning a World Series game. This water taxi experience is something I will never forget.

Additional pictures are here.


Thoughts on the 2015 Mets Season

November 2, 2015

So many emotions the day after the Mets lost to the Royals in game 5 of the World Series.

I’m disappointed, bummed, call it what you will. The Mets led each of the games they’d eventually lose. You just can’t do that in the World Series. Blame the pitching – starting and relief – if you want; blame the fielding; but really, I blame the lack of offense. It’s not surprising though, because this offense was streaky all season long. It got hot for the NLDS and NLCS and then disappeared for the World Series, sans game 3 (that I was at and will write about later.) Game 5 was most frustrating because Matt Harvey was pitching a hell of a game and the Mets couldn’t hold on for the win. I am completely fine with letting Harvey start the 9th inning. He was pitching one of the best games of his career and I wanted him to have the chance to go the distance. Then the wheels fell off and stayed off. We know the rest.

Other than winning, I wouldn’t change much. It was good experience for a lot of  guys on the team. It’ll eat at them all off-season and they’ll be ready to go come Spring Training. I was able to witness a win over the Dodgers, the clinching of the National League over the Cubs and their only win in the World Series. Just the fact that I am even writing about this is pretty amazing. This team made the MLB postseason for the first time since 2006. Playing in the World Series? I never thought this would happen when I sat through a four game sweep by the Cubs in May.

So many ups and downs this season. I’m glad the team got here though. It’s what every fan wants to happen for their team, the Mets just came out on the losing end. I’d rather have this than not have it at all.


Mets/World Series game watch info

October 27, 2015


If you don’t already know by now, Racine Plumbing in Chicago is the place to be for Mets World Series games. Many thanks to Eddie for all his efforts in helping to arrange this.

You will notice one difference for Game 4 due to a conflict with Notre Dame Football:

World Series Schedule*
Game 1: Tuesday 10/27/2015 at Racine Plumbing – 2642 N. Lincoln Ave
Game 2: Wednesday 10/28/2015 at Racine Plumbing – 2642 N. Lincoln Ave
Game 3: Friday 10/30/2015 at Racine Plumbing – 2642 N. Lincoln Ave
Game 4: Saturday 10/31/2015 at Flagship Tavern and Grill – 1622 W. Belmont Ave
**Game 5: Sunday 11/01/2015 at Racine Plumbing – 2642 N. Lincoln Ave
**Game 6: Tuesday 11/03/2015 at Racine Plumbing – 2642 N. Lincoln Ave
**Game 7: Wednesday 11/04/2015 at Racine Plumbing – 2642 N. Lincoln Ave
*All World Series start times are 7:07PM CST, but as always we encourage you to arrive early if you require a table as they are first come first serve.
** If Necessary


Mets Sweep Cubs, Going to World Series!

October 22, 2015

View from seat

Steven Matz on the mound

Last night is a night that I will never forget. The Mets beat the Cubs 8-3 to sweep the NLCS to advance to the World Series. I know the Mets were in the World Series in 2000, but this is different. I’m a working adult now, as opposed to a senior in college, and have the fortune to be able to go to big sporting events like last night. Also, what are the odds that they’d be playing in the city I live in, practically in my backyard? It was amazing to witness. This is a completely different team than the one I saw at Wrigley in May. The Cubs were different too, but I did not expect this outcome in four games.

Bartolo Colon

Daniel Murphy home run

Daniel Murphy home run

Since I had to work into the early evening, I arrived to the game at the bottom of the 4th inning and met Nik and our friend at our seats in section 420. The Mets were already up 6-0. I sat down and a few batters later, the Cubs had the bases loaded. Luckily Steven Matz and the Mets escaped by giving up only one run. It was a pretty good going game, with solid relief from Bartolo Colon. Daniel Murphy continued his amazing postseason play by hitting a home run in his sixth straight playoff game. I did have a brief moment of worry when Tyler Clippard gave up a two-run homer to Kris Bryant. It didn’t get any worse as Jeurys Familia came in and secured the win.

Top of the 9th

Mets win!




Other miscellaneous memories from the night:

Getting on the video board mid-way through the game while wearing my orange David Wright All-Star Game “shirsey.”

Eddie Vedder

Eddie Vedder singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”


Jeurys Familia

Moving down behind the dugout and slapping hands with Familia.

Coming close to slapping hands with David Wright (see 1:02 into this video.)

Terry Collins champagne

Witnessing Terry Collins spray the crowd with Champagne.


Me with Sandy Alderson

A picture with Sandy Alderson on my way out of the stadium.

The full set of pictures, with a lot more on field celebration can be found here.


Mets at Cubs – NLCS Game 3 – Mets 5, Cubs 2

October 21, 2015


I cannot believe the Mets are one win away from going to the World Series!! My co-workers are waiting for me to trash talk and I just can’t do it. I’m not that type of person to begin with but it’s still shocking to me that the Mets are doing this well right now. I can’t wait to be back at Wrigley tonight. Fingers crossed the Mets take care of  business. Before getting too ahead of myself, let’s take a look at last night. There was a handful of fellow fans who came to Merkle’s before the game. The bar was more packed than I expected, but I think every bar along Clark Street was just as busy.  


The group at Merkle’s

Nik and I had seats in section 237 where we’ve sat several times before. I got the tickets from a Cubs season ticket holder who I’ve bought from before. I absolutely love these seats. You can’t see plays in right field, but the view for everything else is great. (And with the late game rain, we were covered by the overhang!)




Everyone on the Mets played a role in the game. Jacob deGrom was able to go 7 innings and gave up only 2 runs. The bullpen took over and didn’t give up any runs. On offense, Daniel Murphy kept his hot streak going with another home run. David Wright and Yoenis Cespedes connected on a few hits. Curtis Granderson and Lucas Duda got on base. Wilmer Flores got in on the action with a ground rule double. (Should have been a triple but the ball got stuck in the ivy and Wrigley has special rules for that. Anyway, Terry Collins was none too pleased.)



It was just a great game all around. The Cubs fans around us were quite nice and rather entertaining. And in case you needed reminding, the Mets won 5-2!!


Additional pictures from the game can be found here.


Going to the NLCS!

October 16, 2015

Holy shit, going to the NLCS!! So great to be at a bar with fellow #Mets fans in Chicago!

It’s been quite a season and the Mets are riding on into the NLCS to play the Cubs! This Mets team is a completely different team than the one I saw at Wrigley in May and it’s just an amazin’ time to be a Mets fan.

I’m still a little speechless that this is all really happening. NLDS game 5 was not an easy game to watch at the beginning. Jacob deGrom was off. The Mets left guys on base. It wasn’t pretty. But holy shit, Daniel Murphy. If they gave out MVP awards each round, he’d be the run away winner of this NLDS. He’s so locked in. And deGrom battled, limiting the damage and still keeping the Mets in it. I can’t wait for the NLCS to start.

Fellow Met fan here in Chicago, Eddie Cisneros, has been the organizer of the game watches. There’s been an incredible turnout of Mets fans at Racine Plumbing all through the NLDS.

Due to a sports scheduling conflict, game 1, and only game 1, of the NLCS will be at Crossroads Public House. They are located at 2630 N. Clark Street. Game 2 and beyond will be back at Racine Plumbing.

As a reminder, there is now a Facebook group for Mets fans in Chicago. It’s a one-stop landing spot for the latest on game watches and friendly conversation among fans.

Let’s keep it going! I’ll be at Wrigley for game 3. Let’s go Mets!


Dodgers at Mets – NLDS Game 4

October 15, 2015
Citi Field, NLDS Game 4 panoramic

Panoramic view from my seat

Ed Charles and Ron Swoboda First Pitch

Ed Charles and Ron Swoboda First Pitch

I was back at Citi Field for NLDS game 4. Unfortunately the results were not as good as the night before, but I’m glad to have gone. The atmosphere was again loud and exciting until the later innings when the Mets couldn’t muster up any offense. Steven Matz was on the mound and he cruised through his first two innings, but then he ran into some trouble. 

Steven Matz

Steven Matz

The Dodgers went up 3-0 and an inning later Daniel Murphy hit a solo shot to put the Mets on the board. And that was about it. Credit to Clayton Kershaw for having a good outing. I just wish he was off his game a little.

Curtis Granderson

Daniel Murphy Home RunUntitled

Clayton Kershaw

Full set of pictures is here.