A Visiting Fan’s Guide to Wrigley Field

February 6th, 2013 Posted in Cubs, Fan's Guide, Wrigley Field | 4 Comments »

Mets vs Cubs!

In what is a long overdue post, I wanted to share my visitor’s fan guide to Wrigley Field. I moved to Chicago in June of 2007 and saw my first Cubs game earlier in 2007 when I was in town apartment hunting. Since then, I’ve lived within a mile walk to the stadium and have been to Wrigley many times and have sat in a variety of seats. I hope you find this guide fun and helpful.

The basics:

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Wrigley Field, or the Friendly Confines as it is nicknamed, is located at 1060 West Addison Street, in a neighborhood dubbed Wrigleyville. You might also hear the area referred to as Lakeview. It really is a neighborhood with a stadium set in the middle of it with a very good social scene surrounding. Read more about Wrigley’s history here or learn about its ballpark tour options.

Getting there:

The easiest and best way to get to Wrigley field is by public transportation. The CTA Red Line train is the most popular option. You’ll want to get off at the Addison stop. It’s hard to miss. Almost everyone will be getting off here on game day and you see the stadium as you pull into the train station.

There are also some CTA bus lines that get you to the stadium, most notably the 152 bus that runs East and West on Addison Street.

You can also drive to the game but parking is limited. There are a few official lots that are filled quickly. Often, residents in the neighborhood sell out their spot for the game at about $20 a spot. Street parking has its own restrictions with permits and other game-day limitations.

Seating:

Mets at Cubs 6/26/2012

Above, view from upper box section 420, June 26, 2012

Wrigley Field is old. You won’t find much modern charm there. In fact you might find an obstructing pillar or two in your view. Generally, if you sit in the 100′s (field levels), 200′s (terrace levels) and the 400′s (upper box) you’ll be clear of any obstruction. The upper box sections are my personal favorite. It feels like you are close to the field and on top of the action. (The previous three links in this section go to pictures giving a view from each of those sections.)

Wrigley Field: Cubs - Indians

Above, one of Wrigley’s famous pillars. Photo courtesy Nik Bronder.

Always popular are the Wrigley Field Bleachers located in the outfield. It’s worth the experience at least once. I’ve sat out there a couple of times and have never had a problem with any of the drunk fans that you often hear about. It’s nice for a different view of the game and home run balls are often easily caught while sitting out there.

View from our bleachers spot

Above, view from the centerfield bleachers

Your last option for a seeing a game is from one of the many rooftops that line Sheffield and Waveland Avenues. Face value tickets are pricey, but they include food and open bar for the whole game. Due to the Cubs’ recent struggles, many rooftop tickets can be found on coupon sites at deep discounts.

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Above, view from Skybox on Sheffield, July 2009, a rooftop on Sheffield Ave.

Concessions:

Wrigley has come a long way in the last few years. I try to avoid eating at Wrigley since I find the options are a little boring and overpriced. However, the helmet nachos always seem to be a big hit. And you can never go wrong with a Chicago style hot dog. I think some of the better food options are located on the lower level concourse.

One nice thing about catching a game at Wrigley is that you can save a few bucks by bringing your own food and drink in. There are limits of course, certain bag sizes, no alcohol or glass bottles. But pack a sandwich and an unopened bottle of water and you are set.

Looking for a postgame or late night snack after the game? Dimo’s Pizza just south of Wrigley on Clark Street is your place! Open late they have a variety of pizza for sale by the slice.

Bathrooms:

Again, old stadium = older bathrooms. I believe most of the men’s rooms still have troughs. Both men’s and women’s rooms are known to have long lines so be ready to miss a little game action.

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Above, one of the men’s bathroom troughs. Photo courtesy Nik Bronder.

Unofficial mascot:

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On game days, you’ll often see Billy Cub or Cubby Bear wandering the streets around Wrigley Field. He is not affiliated with the Cubs, but he seems to be an unofficial mascot for the team. He’s friendly and very photogenic. The above picture is from 2008.

Outside the stadium:

Wrigleyville is a great a neighborhood and there are a ton of options within easy walking distance of the stadium. Bars such as Murphy’s Bleachers is a landmark staple of the area located on the corner of Sheffield and Waveland, just beyond the outfield bleachers. The place has a lot of history and is often packed before and after games. On the corner of Sheffield and Addison is Sports Corner which was recently renovated and has been established there for a while. On another corner, at Clark and Addison, is The Cubby Bear. It has been around a long time too and always packs in a crowd before and after games. If you head north or south on Clark Street you’ll come across a variety of bars that might make it hard for you to decide where to go since there really are so many of them. One of the nicer establishments on Clark Street is Goose Island Brewery. They brew their own beers and offer a wider range of a menu. Click here for a very comprehensive list of bars around the area.

Misc:

Hotels near Wrigley are pretty non-existent. There are maybe a small handful of hotels in the neighboring areas, but your best bet is to stay downtown or out by either of the airports. (O’Hare or Midway) Another option that some friends have used is AirBNB. People list their apartments or a room for short stay rentals.

Make the most of your visit to Chicago and explore! The city has museum after museum and some great architecture. If your visit is during the warmer months, the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise is one of the best things in the city. And you cannot forget about the beautiful lakefront.

Chicago has an amazing food scene. Endless steakhouses, seafood restaurants and so much more are around to enjoy. Some of my favorite downtown places to eat include Harry Caray’s Steakhouse in River North and Hackney’s on Printer’s Row.

I hope this guide has been helpful and a good starting point for your trip to Chicago for a Cubs game. Please leave any comments and other feedback in the comments.

Update April 2: Eater Chicago published this handy guide about where to eat once you’re inside Wrigley Field.

Bobblehead Cabinet

December 31st, 2012 Posted in Bobbleheads | 8 Comments »

Bobblehead Cabinet

I’m not sure when I started collecting bobbleheads, but I imagine it was shortly after graduating college. I have so many of them that I had to pick and choose which ones would sit out on display at home. I have some shelves that they would sit on, but they’d get dusty. That’s when I started thinking about a cabinet or display case with glass doors, which would allow me to display them and not worry about having to dust as much. Somehow, this led to my father-in-law designing and then having a family friend build a cabinet for me as a holiday present. It’s 4 feet by 4 feet with 5 shelves and full size sliding glass doors. As of this post, there are 68 total bobbleheads in the cabinet with room for more to be added. It’s truly amazing, and I couldn’t be happier* with it.

Top Shelf Panoramic

Above, top shelf, left to right: Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Tony Esposito, Joel Quenneville, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Dave Bolland, Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Marian Hossa.

 Second Shelf Panoramic

Above, second shelf, left to right: Don Imus (very rare!), Cyclones Mookie Wilson, Mets Mookie Wilson, Edgardo Alfonzo, Cyclones Bobby Ojeda, Cyclones Howard Johnson, Keith Hernandez, Mike Piazza 1, Mike Piazza 2, Mike Piazza 3 (with autograph on the back of the base!), Mike Piazza 4, Ralph Kiner and Bob Murphy, Mr. Met, Ceramic Mets guy.

Third Shelf Panoramic

Above, third shelf, left to right: Mini Johan Santana, Carlos Beltran, Pedro Martinez, Willie Randolph, WFAN’s Joe Benigno and Sid Rosenberg, Mini David Wright, Mini Francisco Rodriguez, Ceramic Whalers, Andy Roddick, NY Liberty’s Teresa Weatherspoon, NY Liberty’s Becky Hammon, NY Liberty coach Richie Adubato.

Fourth Shelf Panoramic

Above, fourth shelf, left to right: Robin Ventura (White Sox manager), Frank Thomas, Ohio State Heisman Winner Les Horvath, Ohio State Heisman Winner Archie Griffin, Big Ten Icon Jesse Owens (Ohio State), Big Ten Icon Drew Brees (Purdue), Big Ten Icon John Cappelletti (Penn State), Big Ten Icon Bronko Nagurski (Minnesota), Mini Chicago Wolves bobblehead, Walter “Clyde” Frazier, Bobby Holik, Mark Messier, Ceramic Rangers guy, Islanders Chris Osgood.

Fifth Shelf Panoramic

Above, bottom shelf, left to right: Troy Polamalu, Two Miller Lite/White Sox Beer Vendors, Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready, Ulysses S. Grant. The following batch of bobbleheads were given away by the Columbus Clippers (minor league baseball team) in honor of the Columbus Bicentennial. They feature not just athletes, but people who have influenced the history and culture of Columbus: Auto racing legend Bobby Rahal, “Buster” Douglas, Woody Hayes, fighter pilot Eddie Rickenbacker, James Thurber, Olympic great Jesse Owens, Heisman Trophy winner and former Clippers coach Howard “Hopalong” Cassady, Columbus Zoo’s Jack Hanna, Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas and daughter Wendy.

*Nik and I mounted the cabinet to a wall in the sports room with the various screws and brackets we were given. I started placing bobbleheads in it and took two days off before returning to it and adding more. That is when tragedy struck. I was on a stepstool and heard a slight sound, and the next thing I know, the cabinet was leaning forward off the wall and bobbleheads started falling like crazy. In the end, the damage wasn’t too bad. Looking at the bobbleheads in the cabinet, you can barely tell that Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane and Brent Seabrook had broken parts. The only injury not fully recovered is a missing arm from Edgardo Alfonzo. Not gonna lie though, tears were shed in a moment of panic. I’d hate to have lost bobbleheads such as Imus and my autographed Piazza, among other rare ones that I have. Below is a picture of Nik doing major repair work with crazy glue.

Bobblehead repair going much better than I expected. Thanks @nikbronder.

** Click on the images for a larger view and view additional close-ups here.

***Editors note on Jan. 15: A few people have asked how I got all of these bobbleheads. Most were game giveaways from the various teams. Maybe about 3-5 of them were bought on ebay. A handful were gifts, trades, bought in a store or a perk of my job.

Dickey Gets Win No. 19

September 26th, 2012 Posted in Citi Field, Mets, Mets games, R.A. Dickey, Road Trips | 2 Comments »

Marlins-Mets 9/22/12

I try to make one game a year at Citi Field, and this year’s happened to be at the end of the season when very little was on the line other than seeing R.A. Dickey pitch for win No. 19. When I planned to attend this game during our trip to New York with Nik, we had no idea who might be pitching, but we got lucky that Dickey was on the mound. For a dismal Mets season, Dickey, along with Johan’s no-hitter, has been one of the lone bright spots.

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Some of my fellow bloggers have had the opportunity to get special access to pregame player interviews, batting practice and press conferences before and after several Mets games. Knowing that, I took a chance and reached out to the Mets office to see if they might be able to accommodate me with something similar. Shannon Forde* of the Mets Media Relations Department was incredibly kind to grant me a field pass for the Saturday game against the Marlins. There was no batting practice since it was a day game after a night game, so I relished the opportunity to walk on the field and capture the scene around home plate and the Mets dugout before the first pitch.

Marlins-Mets 9/22/12

Marlins-Mets 9/22/12

There were many events taking place around Citi Field that day, most notably Bark in the Park, where fans could purchase special tickets and bring their dog to the game and sit with them. A portion of the ticket sales benefited the North Shore Animal League. Several pitchers were on the field for stretching, autograph signing and puppy holding! The players and pups were super adorable. Other highlights from pregame included finally meeting Ellie, sitting in the dugout and just generally enjoying the sunny day at the ballpark.

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Marlins-Mets 9/22/12 Marlins-Mets 9/22/12

The game itself was great. Good friend and fellow blogger Coop hooked us up with her tickets in section 138. We spent about two innings there before moving to stand behind first base. It wasn’t because of the view, but rather the 50 cheerleaders in attendance that couldn’t stay seated for more than five minutes. I ate the Pat Lafrieda filet mignon steak sandwich, and oh my goodness, was it delicious.

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Marlins-Mets 9/22/12

Marlins-Mets 9/22/12

Marlins-Mets 9/22/12 Marlins-Mets 9/22/12

Dickey cruised through the game and almost hit a grand slam. Jason Bay and Scott Hairston both went deep. Jon Rauch made it interesting when he came in, but ultimately closed it out. The Mets won 4-3, and Dickey got the win to move one step closer to No. 20.

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Following the game, we stopped into the Mets Hall of Fame. It was my first time in there and it was very nice. Great displays and many images from throughout the years.

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The season is coming to a close, but I hope I don’t wait until the end of next season before I get back to Citi Field.

*I didn’t get the chance to meet Shannon or her colleague Danielle Parillo since there were numerous other events taking place at Citi that day. Since my day at the ballpark, it has been revealed that Shannon is battling Stage 4 breast cancer. To help offset the medical and other expenses her family will face during treatment, a fundraiser will take place Thursday, Nov. 1. Many former Mets will be involved, and Ron Darling will be the MC at the event. Please visit http://www.hopeshinesforshannon.com/ to see how you can help.

View my full set of pictures from the game at my Flickr page

Schedule Release Day is the Best Day

September 12th, 2012 Posted in Mets games, Road Trips, Schedule | 5 Comments »

Whether it’s baseball, hockey or football, I always get excited when a season schedule is announced, especially since I don’t live in the city of my main team. I like to circle when NHL teams from the East come to Chicago. In baseball, I have wild dreams of making a bunch of road trips to here, there and somewhere inbetween. The Mets schedule for 2013 does not disappoint.

I intially looked over the schedule at Mets.com and I went month-by-month looking at the road games. The trip to Minnesota for the Twins in April stood out instantly. Target Field is one of the new stadiums I’ve been wanting to see a game at and the series is over my birthday weekend. It works perfectly for a road trip.

My next bit of excitement was for a weekend Cubs series at Wrigley in May. This is the one time a year I know I step foot in that stadium, and it’s finally over a weekend. No need to take days off at work.

A few weeks later, at the end of June, the Mets return to Chicago for a two-game series against the White Sox. This might excite me more than the Cubs series. I absolutely love seeing games at US Cellular Field, and it’ll be great to finally see the Mets play there.

I next noticed a July weekend where the Mets travel to Milwaukee to face the Brewers. Admittedly, I’ve only seen the Mets play there once in my five years of living in Chicago, so it’s low on the priority list. Next season might be different because it’s conveniently over a weekend.

Moving to August, there’s is the possibility for a fantastic West Coast trip starting in Arizona, continuing to Los Angeles and concluding in San Diego. I’ve been to Dodger Stadium once, about seven years ago. Nik has never been, and I want to go again. We’ll keep this trip on our minds, but it wouldn’t be cheap to do.

The last road series that really caught my eye is in early September, when the Mets visit the Indians. I know the city and stadium aren’t much to get excited over but I’ve never been. If I’m going to make a trip there, I’d like it to be for when my team plays. This series is a little tricky because of busy season at work, but I’d like to make one game if timing allows.

Previously announced is the All-Star Game at Citi Field in mid-July. Tickets will be pricey, but at the minimum, I hope to be in New York during the festivities. I’m sure it’ll be a great time for the players, teams and tje city.

I really think this 2013 schedule excites me more than any in recent history. It probably helps that each league has an equal number of teams now and interleague play is more spread out through the season. Now we just have to hope the Mets field a strong team.

I believe. Do you? And what series are you looking forward to the most?

Previous Mets road trip posts:

Pittsburgh

Cincinnati

Washington DC

San Francisco

Non-Mets related road trips:

Cubs at Rockies

Mets Are Grand in Finale

June 28th, 2012 Posted in Mets, Mets games, Wrigley Field | 1 Comment »

Mets at Cubs - 6/27/2012

Mets at Cubs - 6/27/2012

Wednesday’s Mets game is why I, and I’m sure many others, have stayed loyal to the Mets. Each game is a new one and you never know what to expect. I was being questioned if I was going to go to the final game of this Mets-Cubs series. Of course I was! It was never in doubt. The Mets only come to Wrigley Field once a year, and if my schedule allows, I’ll go to all of the games.

We all know how the game went, home runs galore from Daniel Murphy, Ike Davis and Scott Hairston. RBI galore from David Wright and the aforementioned players too. It was just amazing. I really could not believe what I was seeing. Would have been nice to have some of that offense in the first two games, but oh well. Better late than never. 17-1 was the final. Go get ‘em in LA!

Mets at Cubs - 6/27/2012

Mets at Cubs - 6/27/2012

Mets at Cubs - 6/27/2012

Mets at Cubs - 6/27/2012

Some other notes from the game:

  • I got to the game early to watch warmups and batting practice. I claimed a standing spot by the Mets bullpen and saw Chris Young do his bullpen session. He then signed autographs for almost everyone that was lined up along the wall. I moved down the line a little towards first base and got a Tim Byrdak autograph. Both guys were genuinely nice.

Mets at Cubs - 6/27/2012 Mets at Cubs - 6/27/2012

Mets at Cubs - 6/27/2012 Mets at Cubs - 6/27/2012

Mets at Cubs - 6/27/2012 Mets at Cubs - 6/27/2012

  • Nik and I sat in section 134 which was in the shade the whole time. Boy did we get lucky! I bought the tickets on Craigslist – $65 for the pair!

Mets at Cubs - 6/27/2012

  • After the game, I high-tailed it over to the Wrigley Field exit where the Mets leave and board the bus. Sometimes some of the guys will sign autograph’s, but I just love seeing them all dressed up. We have one good looking team! In yesterday’s case, Terry Collins, Justin Turner and Omar Quintanilla all signed autographs. Quintanilla has one adorable smile.

Mets at Cubs - 6/27/2012

Mets at Cubs - 6/27/2012

Mets at Cubs - 6/27/2012

Mets at Cubs - 6/27/2012

Mets at Cubs - 6/27/2012 Mets at Cubs - 6/27/2012

Mets at Cubs - 6/27/2012 Mets at Cubs - 6/27/2012

Mets at Cubs - 6/27/2012

*Click on the images for a larger view

**More pictures from the game and postgame are on my Flickr

Tired, Sloppy Play Leads to Loss

June 26th, 2012 Posted in Johan Santana, Mets games, Wrigley Field | No Comments »

Panoramic view from my seat in section 429 at #WrigleyField for #Mets - #Cubs

It seems that over the last few years whenever the Mets come to Chicago to play the Cubs, they always struggle. Monday’s opener in the series was no different. The team arrived to Chicago at 4am following their Sunday night game in New York against the Yankees. I’m sure the Mets were dealing with the hangover of the Subway Series and a late flight, so I’ll chalk this loss up to that.

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The night started out just right. A sunny evening, pregame gathering at the bar with a few friends, great seats at the game and Johan Santana on the mound. The Mets might not have been getting hits early on, but neither were the Cubs. Until Joe Mather went deep with a two-run homer in the 4th. It was the 7th inning where it seemed like error after error for the Mets defense ultimately costing them the game.

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I absolutely love Ronny Cedeno’s high socks and bright orange shoelaces (as seen above.)

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In perhaps another sign of Ike Davis getting out of his slump, he did go deep in the 9th. Too little, too late as 6-1 was the final.

If you’re not familiar with Wrigley Field and the surrounding area, there is a Miller Lite billboard situated on a rooftop just outside the stadium on Sheffield Avenue. It’s appearance changes with every visiting team (or, in some cases, when a concert) comes to Wrigley Field. Here is the billboard for the Mets series…which for Monday’s game was pretty accurate:

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Nik and I are back at Wrigley tonight and hope for a better outcome. Let’s go Mets!

*Many more pictures on Flickr

Mets-Cubs Pre-game Meetups

June 24th, 2012 Posted in Mets games, Wrigley Field | 8 Comments »

Monday is the day. The day the Mets open a three-game series at Wrigley Field and I will be at each game. Like years past, I encourage Mets fans to gather before the games. The locations I’m thinking:

Monday – Murphy’s Bleachers at the corner of Sheffield and Waveland

Tuesday – Dark Horse Tap and Grille at 3443 North Sheffield, just south of Addison

Wednesday - Murphy’s Bleachers at the corner of Sheffield and Waveland

Hope to see you. Let’s go Mets!

Johan Santana Makes Mets History

June 2nd, 2012 Posted in Johan Santana, No-hitter | 1 Comment »

I clearly started this blog for a reason when I moved from New York, to chronicle different experiences as a Mets fan living in Chicago. The Mets have been the one professional sports team I’ve been a fan of the longest. And last night made it so worth it. Never giving up. Never getting down on the team or players. Always staying with them and watching into September when seasons were long over.

It’s hard in the day and age of Twitter to be a Mets fan and not living in New York. It makes me want to go to more games than I can get to. I follow a bunch of fellow fans, some who have become friends, that live in NY and can follow the Mets a little more easily with SNY on their local cable. Here in Chicago, it’s not so easy. But last night, Friday June 1, a day that will never be forgotten, I was at work and was able watch SNY straight through without the channel being blacked out upon completion. (That’s what happens when watching on MLB.tv.)

Just a few weeks ago my dad and I were talking about how great this 2012 Mets team is. There is something special about them. We thought this would be the year the Mets get a no-hitter and we thought it was going to be by R.A. Dickey. But then in the 7th inning I called my dad to make sure he was watching and we were both hopeful it would happen on this night with Johan Santana pitching.

There were so many defensive plays that helped Johan along in the game, most notably, Mike Baxter’s catch in left field in the 7th. He injured himself on the catch and had to leave the game. (Really hope he’s OK, because he has been so solid this season.)

When it was in the 8th inning (I think) I tweeted something about butterflies in my tummy. Soon enough it was the 9th inning and my eyes were glued to the TV on my desk at work. It happened. Johan Santana pitched the first no-hitter in Mets history!

It truly was so amazing and though I was sad to not have been able to watch the game live with Nik, it was really awesome to go through it with so many fellow fans through Twitter.

Nik and I happened to see a no-hitter last year. It was Minnesota’s Francisco Liriano against the White Sox. While it was amazing to see that in person, nothing beats my most favorite team from finally getting one.

Now if you excuse me, I’m going to watch the archive of the game with Nik and continue to enjoy this milestone.

Let’s go Mets!

 

Mets Game Watches 2012

April 9th, 2012 Posted in Mets Watching | 3 Comments »

At @finley_dunnes where my #Mets pennant proudly hangs

I’m trying something new this season by picking one Sunday a month for a game watch. This way, people can have it on the calendar now and if you can make it, great. If not, no big deal either. I think trying to plan ahead of time might get more turn out than a last minute get together. (Of course, I’ll still probably send emails for those as well.)

I started by picking a game for April, May and June that fit into my schedule. There is a weekend series in May vs. the Marlins which would make for a great meetup, but I already have something else scheduled that weekend. I’m planning these meetups for Finley Dunne’s, since I know they’ll put the game on for us, Sunday is typically a slower day for them and it’s conveniently located by an El stop – the Paulina Brown Line. (The above picture is from Finley Dunne’s. They hung a Mets pennant for me, so you know they are good people.)

The games:

Sun. April 15 – Mets vs Phillies, 12:35 CT

Sun. May 20 – Mets vs Blue Jays, 12:07 CT

Sun. June 10 – Mets vs Yankees, 12:05 CT

Hopefully none of the games get flexed to ESPN Sunday Night baseball. And the only thing that would prevent me from making any of these dates is if the Blackhawks have a home playoff game. Let’s see how these go before picking the next batch of games to plan for.

Hope to see you. Let’s go Mets!

Spring is in the Air

February 14th, 2012 Posted in Mets | 4 Comments »

I haven’t posted anything Mets in a long time, but that’s my way my around here. I’m not a daily blogger, there are many good ones out there already tackling the day to day news.

Hands down though, I always post around this time when players start reporting to spring training. There’s something in the air that really gets me excited. Maybe it’s the lull of other sports going on. I was hoping to make a trip to Port St. Lucie this year, but some other plans came up and so a trip there will have to wait again. As it stands now, I’ll first see the Mets when they come to Chicago at the end of June. I can only hope it’ll actually be warm by then and I won’t need to wear layers like last season. Not too many other plans to see the Mets on the road. Perhaps a game in Milwaukee, but we’ll see. Being a new home owner, I have to save a little money and so I’ll probably be watching more games at home on my TV. Thankfully the MLB.tv subscription offers both home and away feeds, so I’ll almost always get my Gary, Keith and Ron.

In any case, let’s go Mets! I’ve never given up before and I’m not about to start now.