Two Side to a Future

It isn’t often when fans at an All-Star game can sincerely root for both teams without guilt, but that’s what transpired at Citi Field this afternoon as Mets fans, who primarily made up the fairly well attended Futures Game crowd, as they were there to cheer on three Mets prospects with healthy futures – Noah Syndergaard and Brandon Nimmo for the USA team, and Rafael Montero for the World Team.

The Mets connections even extended themselves to the coaching staffs. The USA team was managed by Mookie Wilson. His batting coach was Howard Johnson, who now serves in that capacity for the Tacoma Rainiers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners.

The World Team was managed by Edgardo Alfonzo. His pitching coach was Neil Allen, who Mets fans remember primarily as the chip that brought Keith Hernandez to New York back in 1983. Allen is now the pitching coach for the Durham Bulls, a Tampa Bay affiliate.

USA topped the World club, 4-2, backed by a solid pitching staff that limited the international squad to just three hits. And a longball by Diamondback future infielder Matt Davidson.

The scoring began in the second, when USA’s DH, Christian Yelich, a Marlins prospect, belted a doubled to left center, scoring the Dodgers’ Joc Pederson, who had singled.

Syndergaard started the game for USA, and was impressive as advertised, picking up one strikeout – Arismendy Alcantara, who later homered off Boston’s Anthony Ranaudo. Syndegaard yielded one hit in his brief one-inning scoreless stint, but the runner was erased trying to steal.

The lanky righthander exhibited distinctive poise and confidence when dealing with the herd of media prior to the game.

“This is a great opportunity,” said Syndegaard. “I’m here to have fun with it, learn as much as I can and work on getting to the next level.”

Nimmo was the proverbial kid-in-a-candy-store, soaking it all in and enjoying every moment. “I’m loving it. There’s a lot more going on here, a whole different experience.”

After a first half with the Savannah Sand Gnats in the Sally League, Nimmo was thrilled to be voted onto the prestigious squad. “I feel like this is a good reward for a good first half (.261, one homer, eight doubles, five triples, 23 RBIs), I’m happy with it, and just want to soak up this atmosphere, learn what I can, keep working hard, and the rest will take care of itself.”

He was even assigned David Wright’s locker. “All I can say is, David, thank you, and hope that I can have an amazing career like you’ve had.”

Ex-Met Mike Piazza was a welcomed guest, on hand to play in the celebrity softball game which followed the Futures Game, and was met by the media with an eager group of cameras and recorders.

Asked about his days in New York, Piazza recognized that when you retire, there’s something missing.

“Playing golf never replicates that excitement,” Piazza pined. “I hold my time here very fondly. I was blessed to play here, and to have had the tremendous support of the fans.”

No. 31 still follows the Mets closely and knows they’ve been going through a rough patch. “I love the character of this organization, with its history and fans, but as I’ve said many times before, sometimes the hard times define you. When you have had that roller coaster history, it’s about character.”

Of course Piazza creamed a home run in the softball game that followed, helping his National League collection of former ballplayers and celebrities beat an AL roster, 8-5.

The orange-clad NLers, “managed” by WFAN’s Boomer Esiason, who is also better known as an NFL quarterback, “drafted” a team filled with ex-Mets and Mets fans, including Piazza, Darryl Strawberry, Doc Gooden, and which was “captained” by Johnny Franco. The roster also featured Kevin James, Andre Dawson, Jennie Finch, George Lopez, Ozzie Smith, Miss America Mallory Hagan, and Alyssa Milano.

The AL team, managed by Esiason’s morning radio partner, Craig Carton, lined up ex-Met Rickey Henderson, Bernie Williams, Frank Thomas, Fred Lynn, Rollie Fingers, AJ Calloway, and actors James Denton, and Chord Overstreet.

James was named one of the game’s MVPs, for a headfirst slide into second that extended a rally. The other MVP was Josh Wege, a member of the nation’s Wounded Warrior softball team, which plays over 100 games per year. Wege lost both legs in the service of his country, but continues to play on prosthetics. He hit a home run in the game, too.

On deck: The main events, the Home Run Derby, and the All-Star Game on Tuesday.

Posted under Andy Esposito, Anthony Ranaudo, Durham Bulls, Edgardo Alfonzo, Exper, Joc, Longball, Mets Fans, New York Mets, Pederson, Pitching Coach, Proverbial Kid, Seattle Mariners, Strikeout, Tacoma Rainiers, Top Story, Usa Team

Two Side to a Future

It isn’t often when fans at an All-Star game can sincerely root for both teams without guilt, but that’s what transpired at Citi Field this afternoon as Mets fans, who primarily made up the fairly well attended Futures Game crowd, as they were there to cheer on three Mets prospects with healthy futures – Noah Syndergaard and Brandon Nimmo for the USA team, and Rafael Montero for the World Team.

The Mets connections even extended themselves to the coaching staffs. The USA team was managed by Mookie Wilson. His batting coach was Howard Johnson, who now serves in that capacity for the Tacoma Rainiers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners.

The World Team was managed by Edgardo Alfonzo. His pitching coach was Neil Allen, who Mets fans remember primarily as the chip that brought Keith Hernandez to New York back in 1983. Allen is now the pitching coach for the Durham Bulls, a Tampa Bay affiliate.

USA topped the World club, 4-2, backed by a solid pitching staff that limited the international squad to just three hits. And a longball by Diamondback future infielder Matt Davidson.

The scoring began in the second, when USA’s DH, Christian Yelich, a Marlins prospect, belted a doubled to left center, scoring the Dodgers’ Joc Pederson, who had singled.

Syndergaard started the game for USA, and was impressive as advertised, picking up one strikeout – Arismendy Alcantara, who later homered off Boston’s Anthony Ranaudo. Syndegaard yielded one hit in his brief one-inning scoreless stint, but the runner was erased trying to steal.

The lanky 6’ 6” righthander exhibited distinctive poise and confidence when dealing with the herd of media prior to the game.

“This is a great opportunity,” said Syndegaard. “I’m here to have fun with it, learn as much as I can and work on getting to the next level.”

Nimmo was the proverbial kid-in-a-candy-store, soaking it all in and enjoying every moment. “I’m loving it. There’s a lot more going on here, a whole different experience.”

After a first half with the Savannah Sand Gnats in the Sally League, Nimmo was thrilled to be voted onto the prestigious squad. “I feel like this is a good reward for a good first half (.261, one homer, eight doubles, five triples, 23 RBIs), I’m happy with it, and just want to soak up this atmosphere, learn what I can, keep working hard, and the rest will take care of itself.”

He was even assigned David Wright’s locker. “All I can say is, David, thank you, and hope that I can have an amazing career like you’ve had.”

Nimmo went 0-2, with a groundout and a liner out to short.

Montero started for Fonzie’s World Team, setting down the USA team in quick order in his one inning appearance – fly out, popup, groundout.

Ex-Met Mike Piazza was a welcomed guest, on hand to play in the celebrity softball game which followed the Futures Game, and was met by the media with an eager group of cameras and recorders. It was announced that Piazza would be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame on Sept. 29.

Asked about his days in New York, Piazza recognized that when you retire, there’s something missing.

“Playing golf never replicates that excitement,” Piazza pined. “I hold my time here very fondly. I was blessed to play here, and to have had the tremendous support of the fans.”

No. 31 still follows the Mets closely and knows they’ve been going through a rough patch. “I love the character of this organization, with its history and fans, but as I’ve said many times before, sometimes the hard times define you. When you have had that roller coaster history, it’s about character.”

Of course Piazza creamed a home run in the softball game that followed, helping his National League collection of former ballplayers and celebrities beat an AL roster, 8-5.

The orange-clad NLers, “managed” by WFAN’s Boomer Esiason, who is also better known as an NFL quarterback, “drafted” a team filled with ex-Mets and Mets fans, including Piazza, Darryl Strawberry, Doc Gooden, and which was “captained” by Johnny Franco. The roster also featured Kevin James, Andre Dawson, Jennie Finch, George Lopez, Ozzie Smith, Miss America Mallory Hagan, and Alyssa Milano.

The AL team, managed by Esiason’s morning radio partner, Craig Carton, lined up ex-Met Rickey Henderson, Bernie Williams, Frank Thomas, Fred Lynn, Rollie Fingers, AJ Calloway, and actors James Denton, and Chord Overstreet.

James was named one of the game’s MVPs, for a headfirst slide into second that extended a rally. The other MVP was Josh Wege, a member of the nation’s Wounded Warrior softball team, which plays over 100 games per year. Wege lost both legs in the service of his country, but continues to play on prosthetics. He hit a home run in the game, too.

On deck: The main events, the Home Run Derby, and the All-Star Game on Tuesday.

Posted under Andy Esposito, Anthony Ranaudo, Candy Store, Diffe, Durham Bulls, Edgardo Alfonzo, Exper, Joc, Longball, Mets Fans, New York Mets, Pederson, Pitching Coach, Proverbial Kid, Seattle Mariners, Strikeout, Tacoma Rainiers, Top Story, Usa Team

Espo’s Trivia Challange: David Wright

He’s already at or near the top of so many Met All-Time offensive categories they could someday name the entire list of hitting categories in his honor, so there’s no telling where David Wright will end up at the end of his newly signed eight-year deal worth some $138 million.  Wright is now the all-time team leader in Hits, Runs, Doubles, RBIs, Total Bases, Extra Base Hits, Multi-Hit Games, Walks, Sacrifice Flies, and was second in At-Bats, and Average.

Wright will be wearing that number 5 Met uniform for a long time, and he can now challenge a team record once thought insurmountable  – the 17 years in uniform held by longtime Met Ed Kranepool, and his well-earned record for games played (1,831).

Until then, and for now, this month’s inaugural Sportsday Mets trivia challenge is dedicated to Wright and his all-time accomplishments with those who occupy the lists ahead or behind him.

 

1. Just behind Wright and Kranepool, with exactly 1,300 hits in a Mets uniform is:

A.   Cleon Jones
B.   B. Bud Harrelson
C.   C. Darryl Strawberry
D.   D. Jose Reyes

2.     Nine Mets have at least 1,000 hits on their Mets ledgers.  Rounding out the Top Ten is this popular Met with 997 hits:

A. Mookie Wilson
B. Howard Johnson
C. Edgardo Alfonzo
D. John Olerud
3. Wright leapfrogged several ex-Mets to now top the all-time Walks category, and dethroned this Met for the No. 1 spot, who had earned 580 free strolls to first:

A. Ed Kranepool
B. Bud Harrelson
C. Darryl Strawberry
D. Mike Piazza

4. In the quirky, but important category of Multi-Hit Games, Wright passed this Met, who had 385 MHGs, as the new leader:

A. Ed Kranepool
B. Cleon Jones
C. Keith Hernandez
D. Jose Reyes

5. Wright was, and is still, third in all-time team slugging percentage.  The leader in this category remains:

A. Darryl Strawberry
B. Mike Piazza
C. Carlos Beltran
D. Frank Thomas

6. It became widely known in the Mets Universe that Wright became just the third Met to reach the 200 home run level, behind Strawberry (252), and Piazza (220).  Just behind them, at 192, is:

A. Dave Kingman
B. Ed Kranepool
C. Howard Johnson
D. Carlos Beltran

7. Wright’s speed on the bases this year earned him the No. 5 slot in all-time stolen bases, way behind all-time leader Reyes, who copped 370 bags.  Wright passed this rather fast Met in the process, who had 152 steals:

A. Ron Hunt
B. Lee Mazzilli
C. Lenny Dykstra
D. Bud Harrelson

8. In the also important category of On-Base Percentage, Wright is locked in at fourth, and we’ll ask if you can put the top three in this category in the correct order, who boast OBPs of .425, .391, and .387:

A. John Olerud, Dave Magadan, Keith Hernandez
B. Keith Hernandez, John Olerud, Dave Magadan
C. Dave Magadan, Keith Hernandez, John Olerud
D. John Olerud, Keith Hernandez, Dave Magadan

9. If you’ve been following Wright’s career, you might know that among National League teams, the Mets third baseman owns his highest batting average (.378) against this club:

A. Atlanta Braves
B. Cincinnati Reds
C. Los Angeles Dodgers
D. St. Louis Cardinals

10. True or false: David Wright has a higher batting average in Citi Field than he had at Shea Stadium.

ANSWERS:

1. D
2. B
3. C
4. D
5. B
6. C
7. B
8. A
9. C
10. False, At Shea: .318, Citi Field: .283

 

 

Posted under Bud Harrelson, Carlos Beltran, Cleon Jones, Darryl Strawberry, David Wright, Edgardo Alfonzo, Espo, John Olerud, Jose Reyes, Mhgs, Mike Piazza, New York Mets, Offensive Categories, Sacrifice Flies, Slugging Percentage, Sportsday, Top Story, Trivia Challenge

Ten Years Later, 9/11 Remembered at Citi Field

Flushing, NY -The lilting strains of a clear female voice singing “God Bless America” was heard throughout Citi Field as scenes of players on many major league teams standing at attention were shown on the big screens in the ballpark. As the film came to a close, chants of “U.S.A.” emanated from all corners of the stadium. Thus, began the special Remembrance Ceremony at Citi Field on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attack.

The devastation in lower Manhattan caused by the hijacked planes that were crashed into two towers of the World Trade Center ten years ago were the next scenes on the giant screen that jarred the eyes and the minds of those watching.

As the horrifying pictures were shown, the sound of pipes and drums were heard as a corps of uniformed musicians marched onto the field. Following the pipes and drums were a color guard. Representatives of each of New York City’s uniformed services, the First Responders, marched onto the field in time to the stirring music. The families of Tuesday’s Children carried a huge American flag into the outfield,

Ballplayers of the past and present joined the procession. Heading the lines of march were returning members of the 2001 Mets, John Franco, a native New Yorker, and Mike Piazza, whose winning home run on September 21, 2001 ignited Shea Stadium and let the world know the United States of America would not be destroyed, physically or emotionally. A large contingent of current Mets and Cubs joined Tuesday’s Children to help them hold and then unfurl the 300’ by 100’ American flag. Joining Franco and Piazza were other members of the 2001 Mets, Edgardo Alfonzo, Joe McEwing, Steve Trachsel, Robin Ventura and Todd Zeile. Other Mets alumni in the procession were Rusty Staub, Matt Franco and John Olerud.

With the processions ringing the field, lights within the stadium were dimmed and those on the field and in the stands were asked to light the electronic candles they were given. At that point, Marc Anthony, another New York City native, gave an emotional rendition of the national anthem, as he did at the first sports event that place in New York City after the national tragedy on September 21  at Shea.

The procession of important personages then marched off the field to end the moving and dignified remembrance ceremony.

The ceremony was especially meaningful to many in the stands as the Mets distributed complimentary tickets to New York City First Responders and their families and to members of the United States military to attend the ceremony and game.

Several of the former Mets shared their thoughts and their emotions with reporters during the game. Piazza shared his thoughts of a decade ago, “It’s definitely painful thinking and reflecting about that weekend. That week changed my life. It made me realize how important family and love is.” Of his own role, he commented, “It’s very humbling. I’m very blessed to have come through that situation. We know who the real heroes in life are, the First Responders. They ran into buildings knowing they would never come out.”

John Franco, born in Staten Island, has recently moved several blocks from Ground Zero.  Of his new neighborhood, he reported, “It’s just amazing how it’s all just come together, how it’s rebuilding.” Franco gave credit for leadership to then Mets manager Bobby Valentine, who was in the stadium broadcasting for ESPN, “This is the guy you want to be in a foxhole with. He led us not only on the field, but off the field. He was relentless. We just followed him.” Of praise for the team’s efforts during that period, he remarked, “We were a little band aid on a big wound.”

Posted under Color Guard, Edgardo Alfonzo, Electronic Candles, Giant Screen, Horrifying Pictures, Joe Mcewing, John Franco, John Olerud, Matt Franco, Mike Piazza, Native New Yorker, New York Mets, Pipes And Drums, Remembrance Ceremony, Robin Ventura, Rusty Staub, Shea Stadium, Steve Trachsel, Tenth Anniversary, Todd Zeile, Top Story

This post was written by Howard Goldin on September 12, 2011

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