Raising a Mets Fan

Thank You Brooklyn Cyclones

This past week my Dad turned 70 years old.  It is because of him that my brother and I have been lifelong Mets fans.  For that, I’m not sure to thank him or to curse him.  All joking aside, some of my fondest memories with my Dad have involved baseball.

There were the Mets games through the years.  We were there for Robin Venturas Grand Slam single.  We saw Todd Pratt‘s homer ending the 1999 NLDS.  We were there a year later as Bobby Jones propelled the Mets to the 2000 NLCS.  There was the last game at Shea Stadium, and the first game at Citi Field.

We saw Matt Harvey come so close to pitching a no-hitter against the White Sox.  We loved see Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero have their first ever start at Citi Field in the 2013 Future’s Game.  Our favorite moment at a Mets game hands down was Game 3 of the 2015 World Series.

But it was more than the Mets games.  There were the catches he used to have with my brother and I in the backyard.  There was him throwing pitches to help try me to become a catcher.  There were the times, he would throw batting practice to my brother and I.

When it came time to give him a gift, my family wanted to give him more than a present.  We wanted to give him a memory that would at least rival the fond memories we had of him.  With us not having 499 friends to invite to a Mets game, or the money to purchase those tickets, that left us with the Brooklyn Cyclones.

Brooklyn in and of itself was fitting.  It was the place he would commute over an hour each way in order for him to support our family, to put my brother and I through school.

After speaking with the Cyclones, Joe Senis specifically, we were able to arrange for my father to throw out the first pitch before Saturday’s Cyclones game. Not just that, but at my Dad’s request, they allowed his grandson to take the mound with him (and throw out a pitch of his own):

 

Personally, I think they both did a great job:

Also, great job by Kurt Horne catching both of those pitches and for taking a brief moment to shake my Dad’s and my son’s hands.  It was also great Edgardo Alfonzo, one of my Dad’s favorite Mets, gave us his autograph.

That’s not all the Cyclones did for us.  They also sent the mascot up to where we were sitting for some family photos . . .

 

and they put on a great postgame fireworks show:


It was a classy move from a classy group of people.  They gave my Dad and his family a memory we will forever cherish, and we are forever grateful to the team.

 

On Deck

Take Your Toddler To See Cars 3

Like many dads this weekend, I spent part of my weekend going to see Cars 3.  Like many people who have seen the movie, there was one overriding notion that came across – this, and not Cars 2, is the sequel the original movie deserved.

If you have seen the promos, and you got the opportunity to visit the Cars 3 Nationwide Tour, you have an idea of the plot.  Lightning McQueen is trying to figure out how to compete with the next generation of racers.  He is trying to end his career on his own terms rather than being pushed out similar to how Doc Hudson had his own career end.


To make it succinct, if you liked the original movie, you are going to like this movie.  You could argue this move was better than the original.  For what it’s worth, my son seemed to like this one better.

With the G rating, you know it is pretty safe to see the movie, but then again Finding Nemo had the mother dying in the opening scene, and that movie still received the same G rating.  To that end, if you are a parent who are concerned about bringing your child to the movie, don’t be.

Even though Doc has passed, they don’t show his death on the screen.  Now, Doc is one of the central characters and focuses of the movie, and the characters speak about missing him, but no one speaks about the manner of his death.

Overall, the most upsetting part of this movie was the scene where Lightning McQueen crashed.  The Figure 8 race is a bit scary for the kids, but it nothing that leaves them covering their eyes and shuddering.

As a parent in the movie theater, it is an entertaining movie.  If you are stuck at the phase where you are stuck watching a lot of kid movies and shows (like Paw Patrol), this movie is Casablanca.

Now, there are a number of positive messages.  Seeing Lightning McQueen train and train does teach kids the importance of working hard to get the things you want, and how you should never give up.  Seeing the story arc of Cruz Ramirez does instill the importance of believing in yourself.  The Smokey story does instill the importance of listening to your elders as they still have many things to teach you.

With Jackson Storm being better than everyone and being a jerk, it does show the kids how to deal with similar situations.  Want to be better than someone?  Work hard and get better than them.  They insult you?  Don’t let them get to you.  In between all of that, it had all the humor you could expect from a Pixar.

In the end, I was happy I took my son to the movie.  It didnt’ disappoint.  In fact, it was better than I expected.  Having seen it a large part of me hopes we get to see a Cars 4.

Note: We did not see the movie in 3-D as we didn’t want to deal with making sure our son had his glasses on throughout the entire movie. 

Children See And Repeat Everything

There is no better reminder of all of your bad habits than having a child. If you have a son, they watch you and want to do all the things you do. Unfortunately, that includes your bad habits. Check that, that especially includes your bad habits. 

I was reminded of that again the other day:


My son wanted a blue car like his daddy, and because grandparents do what they do, he was given this instead of a matchbox car. After he got in the car, I was soon very uncomfortable. 

No, it wasn’t because of the size of the gift. It wasn’t for safety reasons. Between the fact these are impossible to flip over, the low rate of speed, and bike helmets, that wasn’t the issue. The real issue was what my son did once he got in the car. 

Almost everyday, I have to derive through bumper-to-bumper traffic on the way to preschool. This means I have to deal with idiots of every kind who won’t drive for a number of reasons: 

  • On their cellphone
  • Completely zoned out and not paying attention
  • Doing their makeup in the car
  • Eating breakfast
  • Talking to everyone in the car
  • Turning the knobs on the radio like it’s one of the ones with the dials
  • Singing and dancing
  • Letting everyone in whether or not people actually want to get in even if it means stopping dead in traffic to let it happen 
  • Somehow I have to get two or three lanes over in the span of 3 feet and I’m just realizing it now so I’m stopped
  • Just not in a hurry to get anywhere
  • And one of my favorites: the person who takes a cat nap at every red light. 

With my child in the car, I make sure not to use profanity or insults, and if anyone of the aforementioned people get angry with me, I certainly don’t engage. To that extent, I thought having a child made me a better man. 

That was until my son got in the car, and his very first reaction was to slam the horn repeatedly and scream, “DRIVE YOUR CAR!  GET OFF THE ROAD!”

By the way, that’s when you get the knowing look from your wife. You don’t even have to turn around to see it. It’s there. You don’t even have to have the conversation about it either. It happens instantaneously and telepathically. 

And yet, you will talk about it. You will both laugh that he did it and reinforce to one another how he watches everything. The end result is I’m seemingly calmer in the car without any slamming of the horn. 

One added benefit – I’ve found flashing your lights certainly pisses people off more than slamming your horn. I wish I knew this sooner. To that end, I can once again say I’m once again better for having a son. 

Look Elsewhere For Sunday Fun

Originally, I was supposed to be watching this game with my brother, but with him being rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery on Friday, those plans were nixed.  By the way, Happy Birthday to him.  His gift was being discharged from the hospital.  It is a good thing he was going through the discharge process because I’m not sure even his painkillers would have been sufficient to dull the pain of watching that game.

Before you could blink, it was 5-0.  It would have been worse but Michael Conforto nailed Danny Espinosa at home plate.  Believe it or not, it got worse from there.  Mike Trout and Jefry Marte would hit back-to-back homers off Tommy Milone to make it 8-0.  At that point, Milone was done for the day.

To put is succinctly, Milone was absolutely terrible.  He threw 43 pitches with only 27 of them being strikes.  When he did throw a strike, it was hit hard.  Overall he pitched just 1.1 innings allowing eight runs (seven earned) on seven hits and two walks.  As bad as that was, Rafael Montero came into the game.

Bringing in Montero was the right move because it’s already 8-0, and you don’t want to rip through an already tired bullpen.  However, Montero is really just a white flag.  When he comes into the game, it really means “Game Over.”  It was a gorgeous day, and I have a three year old.  I decided to go out and have a fun day away from the team.  There was no sense watching anymore.


And really, it is getting to the point where you don’t want to watch the Mets on Sundays anymore.  Since winning their first Sunday game of the season, the Mets have lost five straight Sunday games.  Overall, they are getting out-scored 65-24 in Sunday games.  The losses have been a mixture of disheartening losses and blowouts. They have made you feel worse about series losses, and they have overshadowed series victories.  It makes me happy that the Mets no longer offer the Sunday Plan because I otherwise would have been at the game watching that mess again.

Sure, in turning the game off, I missed the Mets making a game of it with the Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce homers.  I also missed the continued struggles of Hansel RoblesInstead, I got to ride on a train and drink soda from an animal sippy cup.  I also got to see a sea lion up close.

 

With that, I at least had a fun Sunday, which is something I would not have had if I continued to watch that Mets game.

Cars 3 Nationwide Tour

Because my son loves the movie Cars, we took my son to the Cars 3 Tour last weekend.  Despite it initially being listed as being at Citi Field, the tour was moved to The Shops at Atlas Park.  It was a good thing my wife decided to check the information the night before because we were all set to go to Citi Field.  Part of the reason for that was the Mets ticket office confirmed for me that it was going to take place in the Citi Field parking lot despite the Mets being home.  I digress.

When things of this nature happen, the obvious question that arises was whether it was worth it or not.  Based upon the fun my son, it was certainly worth it.  What was great about it was the event was completely free.  There were no hidden costs anywhere.  When you get there, there are no fees for anything.  Also, there was no merchandise for sale.  Basically, you are able to get in and get out without paying for anything except parking.  To that end, it is a cheap day out with your child.  Those days are few and far between.

Now, the one thing it will cost you is time.  There are lines everywhere.  Some locations have fast passes for entry available (for free), but those are limited.  By this point, they have been snatched up.  Another consideration is they get you entry only.  You have to wait in line for the various events they have inside.  Keep in mind, those lines move quickly.

The first stop was Alamo where you got to do “Street Art.”  Essentially, it is a large piece of paper where your child can use colored pencils and markers to color.

 

They change the sheets throughout the day so if your child is upset they didn’t get to color in Lightning McQueen or another part of the picture, you can always circle back.  Once you are done, Alamo will give your child a pack of colored pencils.

After that, there is a section where they have the Cars toys and toy sets.  Your child can launch the different cars, and they can watch as the different cars “race.”

 

From there, you begin getting into more sponsored tents with different activities.  These other tents provide a game and a photo opportunity as an avenue to get your information.  The first was Coppertone who had something set up where your child can actually change a tire:

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​At that stop, they give you Coppertone coupons, and they also allow you to take a family photo.  Once you input your information, the items will be texted and/or emailed to you immediately.

The next stop is the Crest sponsored tent.  There you can take a photo with a Cars background, and then your child gets to spin the wheel.  The prizes there are toothpaste, a toothbrush, or Cars tattoos.

After that, you get to do the things you really came there to do.  First is a stop where you can build your own Cars’ car.  It is a piece of paper that you can cut out and fold into a car shape.  Your character choices are Lightning McQueen, who your child knew already, Cruz Ramirez, or Jackson Storm.  Trust me, your children will know and want Cruz before the day is over.  If your child doesn’t want a character, you can opt for a blank color he can color himself.  Considering it is an open air facility, you have the opportunity to go back multiple times and get them all.  Either that, or you can ask nicely.  The staff there was kind and courteous.

After building their own car, your child gets to watch a part of the movie.  For those that visit these locations, they get to see a brief clip describing the making of the movie followed by a small clip of the movie.  The long is long, but it is worth it.  It is a 16 minute clip, and they get a good amount of people into the small theater.  Typically, you are going to wait a half hour to an hour to watch it.


Finally, you get to see what you came there to see.  They have Lightning McQueen, Cruz Ramirez, and Jackson Storm there for your children to see.

 

Note, it is to see only.  You are not allowed to touch.  They remind you of this constantly.  While you cannot touch them, you are allowed to take a picture with each of the cars.  They will only permit you to use one camera per group.  Some of your photos may not come out as well as you would want because your child may be upset they cannot touch the cars.  This is a good time to remind you that you can go through multiple times.

If you are lucky, the second time through your child will be in a better mood (if they were upset in the first place).  Trust me, there were a lot of upset kids they could not touch the cars.  Whether you go through once or twice, don’t worry, they take a lot of pictures with each car.  If someone blinks, there will be another photo where they aren’t.

Overall, it took about an hour once your are inside, and it was a great day out with the family.  It got my child excited to watch Cars 3.  It also led to him asking for the new cars.  Don’t worry, there is a massive display of all the Cars 3 merchandise at Toys R Us.

 

By the way, your kid will know what is available even without a trip to Toys R Us. On the way out, you receive a poster will all the cars available for sale. On the bright side, you also get a $5 coupon to see the movie at Regal Cinemas. 

If you are interested and live in the tri-state area, this could be your last chance to see it.  The Cars will be at the Cherry Hill Mall on Saturday, May 13th  from 10 AM – 4 PM and Sunday, May 14th from 11 AM – 4 PM.

Find Out Your Baby’s Gender

When you first discover that your wife is pregnant and going to have a child, there are number of doctor visits and tests.  Sooner or later, and with modern science it’s sooner that it used to be, you get the question from your doctor, do you want to find out the gender of the baby?

Like most couples, my wife and I had the debate, and we decided to find out.  Our goal in finding out was to have one special and private moment where we could celebrate finding out the gender.  I was reminded of that moment again when I saw this video on Twitter:

This was an exciting moment the father and mother got to celebrate, and they did it in a really cool fashion.  For my wife and I, we were a little more subdued in how we did it.  We did the traditional cake with the gender:

 

We jazzed up the moment if you will by using the cake cutter and server from our wedding and by using a tea set we got from a trip we make to London.  It was a moment that the two of us will never forget.

And trust me, finding out the gender didn’t rob us of any joy in the delivery room.  When our son was born, the gender was the last thing in our minds.  When your child is born, all you are thinking about is whether or not the baby and the mommy are healthy.  That’s the joy.  While I don’t speak from experience, finding out the gender then, really takes a massive backseat.  If anything goes wrong in the delivery room, as it did for us as it does for many other parents, the gender will be the absolute last thing on your minds.

Keeping that in mind, find out the gender.  Create another special moment for yourselves and your family.  I know when we found out the gender, we had some fun with it.  We bought a boy’s pink polo shirt to trick my parents.  When they opened it, it had a note pinned to it saying, “Real Men Wear Pink!”  For my mother in law, we sent balloons and flowers to hear at work.  Everyone had their moment, and it was great.

There are three more added benefits to finding out the gender.  The first is if you are stuck on a name, you get extra time to focus on figuring out the name for just one sex.  When people send you gifts, you get gender specific gifts instead of the “neutral” stuff.  That neutral stuff is terrible, and it varies from year to year.  Overall, I still maintain yellow is not a boy’s color, nor is green a girl’s color.  And no baby should wear gray or brown.

There’s another factor to consider.  When you find out the gender, not everyone is happy.  Sure, they’ll give you the line, “We just hope the baby is happy and healthy!”  They’re lying.  Most are not like my father who came outright and said, “I want it to be a boy!”  Hint, most grandfathers want their sons to have a boy because it means the name lives on.  Long story short is everyone has their preference, and some will get crushed when they find out the gender.  Letting them know early let’s them work out whatever it is they need to work out before the baby comes.

One last note, and this is perhaps the most important.  Finding out the gender allows you to bond more with your unborn child.  It’s not just a baby.  Now it is a boy or a girl.  If you have a name picked out, it’s not a baby in there, that’s John or George or Patrick or Jamison or whatever name you have picked out.  If it’s a girl, that’s Olivia or Eva or Katie, etc.  That’s a powerful moment, and one that makes the decision to find out the gender worth so much the more.

So for parents that are debating finding out the gender of their baby, I fully encourage you to do so.  It was one of the greatest moments in my life.  I hope it will be one of the greatest moments in your life as well.

Checking In On Conforto And The Mets

When your child is invited to a birthday party, you need to derive a plan. When do to get there?  When should you leave?  Which parents are you going to talk to?  How are you going to be able to watch/follow the Mets game?  

Well, the latter is more my concern than my wife’s. 

Fortunately, I got to watch today’s game until Michael Conforto did this:

Well, I got to watch the first one.  After that, it was time to start getting out the house and into the car. Once in the car, I got to hear how Zack Wheeler‘s Houdini act was running out of time. 

The Nationals might’ve gotten to him in the first with a Ryan Zimmerman RBI single, but they weren’t getting to him again. At least, Terry Collins wasn’t going to let that happen. 

The first four innings were tough for Wheeler. After the first, he issued lead-off walks. Somehow, he managed to escape unscathed. With the Conforto three run bomb, he has a 3-1 lead and just needed to get out of the fifth to get his win. He came so close. 

He helped erase a Jose Reyes error to start the inning by getting Bryce Harper to ground into the 1-6-3 double play. On the play, Trea Turner, who reached on the Reyes’ error, went to third. Turner then scored on the Zimmerman infield single. 

By the way, Zimmerman is getting annoying. The guy is 32 and coming off two bad years. Now, all of a sudden, he’s playing at an All Star level again even if he still can’t throw the ball.  Not only is he beating up on the Mets pitching right now, but he’s also rubbing it in because he’s having the resurgence Mets fans wanted for Zimmerman’s childhood friend and teammate David Wright

In any event, Zimmerman singles, and Wheeler is at 96 stressful pitches. Collins was all but forced to go to Josh Edgin at that point to put an end to the tomfoolery. For the second game in a row, Edgin did just that by getting a huge out. This time he got Daniel Murphy to line out. 

Just as Howie Rose is talking about how Hansel Robles usually blows up just as you begin to feel comfortable with him, it’s time up enter the party. Of course, Robles has been great of late not allowing a run in his last six appearances or eight innings, whichever you prefer. Nine innings including the sixth inning. 

That’s where I left off. Not the best feeling with the Mets up 3-2, and Stephen Strasburg is dealing. At that point, I’m walking into a party. 

For those that have not attended children’s birthday parties, it’s a mixture of bedlam amongst the children while you make small talk. The two goals are make sure your child doesn’t get hurt on whatever contraption is the feature of this party, and don’t get stuck in one of those conversations.  With this being a “gymnastics” party, there were plenty of pitfalls:


Fortunately, one of the better parents was there. Before I could say hello, he said to me, “Mets are still up 3-2.”  Everything about that sentence is beautiful. First, he found it more important to give a score update exchanged pleasantries.  Second, he used the word still knowing I was going to be listening to it on the way over. Finally, the Mets were leading. 

From there, it was all hands on deck.  One eye on the phone.  The other on the kids. 

The second Conforto homer sparked a conversation how bizarre it was the Mets treatment of him was. The Zimmerman homer led to conversions about him and Wright. No, the Reyes homer did not extend into a DV discussion. Rather, it was about how hot he is now at the plate, and how we hope Curtis Granderson snaps out of it once the calendar turns to May. 

With Jeurys Familia getting his first save of the season while retiring the side in order, the game was over, but the party was in full swing. 

Certainly, with the Mets having pulled out their second straight win, I was in a party mood myself. 

Cespedes Fan Club

Looks like Yoenis Cespedes has a brand new fan:

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This is probably his Daideo’s fault for getting him a Cespedes jersey last season:

Cespedes Is A Dad Like The Rest Of Us

Year in and year out, the one thing you notice with Spring Training games is the stars rarely travel.  That goes double for when there are split squad games.  The bus travel during Spring Training is not ideal, and you really want to keep your best players both happy and healthy going into the season.

That is why I took a step back the other day when I saw Yoenis Cespedes traveled about an hour by bus with the Mets to Jupiter to play the Marlins in a split squad game.

Now, this wasn’t some interesting strategy that allowed Cespedes to get a look at some of the Marlins pitchers for the 2017 season.  It wasn’t even an opportunity for him to help find a spot for Tim Tebow in the Mets lineup at First Data Field.  No, it was for personal reasons for Cespedes that he made this rare trip:

In many ways, Cespedes has become almost a cartoon character with the Mets.  He’s a guy that is unstoppable at video game levels when he’s hot.  He’s the guy that had a car show at Spring Training last year.  He gave the keys to one of those expensive cars so someone could purchase the right waffle iron for him because as we know the biggest star on the Mets also makes breakfast for everyone.  He bought a farm, and he bought a pig at a State Fair.  He even rode horses one day at Spring Training with Noah Syndergaard.  To top it all off, he randomly decided to become the Lion King last year because why not?

Through it all, Cespedes has shown himself to be one unique individual, and that is why the fans love him.

Under all of that though, Cespedes is just a dad doing all he can do to make sure he can go watch his son’s baseball game.  Certainly, that is something all dads can appreciate.  It is certainly a trait we can all admire.  It is another reason that we can all root for Cespedes.