Raising a Mets Fan

Tips For Mr. Met Dash

On the last game before the All Star Break, I brought my son to the Mr. Met Dash. Once we got onto the field, he had the time of his life, and honestly, he has not stopped talking about it. He loved everything about the dash once he got onto the field. The key here being once we got onto the field.

Leading up until that point, it was exhausting for him and for me.

It was a hot and muggy day with the ballpark flooded with people due to it being Spiderman Bobblehead Day. There were lines all over the ballpark to get food and to hit the baseball behind center field. The Phillies were dominating the Mets. All-in-all, it was a pretty frustrating day at the ballpark.

Still, getting on the basepaths to run on the same field as the Mets players made it all worthwhile. A week later, and my son is still talking about how he ran the basepaths. Seeing his excitement, it is something I will consider doing again in the near future. Next time, I plan on doing it better. There are some ways.

First and foremost, if you belong to the Mr. Met Club, you get priority access. The members of the Mr. Mets Club get to run the bases before those who are not members. This along with four complimentary tickets to a Mets and Cyclones game along with other perks. The cost of the membership is $35 or $55 depending on the level of membership you purchase.

In terms of value, not having to wait in that line, the trinkets, and the tickets are probably well worth the money. Of course, the issue I had in the past was remembering to bring the lanyard with me to the games to get some of the perks. Also, in year’s past the tickets were for weekday games which are difficult to attend. So in the end, it’s not for everyone.

If you don’t want to spend the money on the Mr. Met Club, there is still another way to get priority access. Before the game, Citi Perks sets up a table atop the escalators above the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. If you have a Citi card (or ask nicely enough), they will give you a pass to get priority access.

Even with the priority access, the lines are LONG. For example, the lines of just the Mr. Met Club members and Citi Perks ticket holders stretched from the bullpen area to the parking lot on Seaver Way. If you want to get to the front of that line, you are going to have to leave during the game.

To get to the front of that line, you are going to have to leave around the seventh inning stretch. The downside is you’re missing the rest of the game and have to wait around for the game to end. In a game the Mets are losing 8-3, that’s not as big of a deal. If it’s a close game or the Mets are winning, it’s a completely different story. In the end, it really is a matter of just how much you want to get on that line and back to your car to get home.

Two other important factors. First, carry some cash on you. If it’s a hot day like it was on Sunday, you’re going to be dying of thirst after running the bases. When you exit the ballpark after running the bases, there is a vendor there selling soda and water (at ballpark prices). He accepted cash only when I was there.

Second, there is not re-admittance into the ballpark. For some reason, that also includes the team store. Accordingly, if you want to get your kid a souvenir, you need to get it before heading on line for the Mr. Met Dash. It’s a small lesson I learned as my son wanted to get his Pete Alonso All-Star shirt.

All that considered, even if you don’t have priority access, doing the Mr. Met Dash is well worth it. Even though they try to usher you off the field once you touch home plate, you will have a moment or two to take a picture with your kid on the field. There are plenty of families there who want family photos are will be amenable to the normal swap of taking family photos.

There’s one other thing people won’t tell you. No one is checking your ticket before you get in line or get on the field. Accordingly, if you are so inclined and are in the neighborhood, you can just hop on the line and have your child run the bases without even attending the game. Just a thought.

Nice Going Home Again

Yesterday, I went back home to celebrate my dad’s birthday. On the long drive, my oldest was just whining about how hungry he was.

When I got into town, we passed by the old pizza place we practically lived in growing up. This was always the stop for the kids in the neighborhood.

We’d ride our bikes there after school. After Little League games, we’d stop there for Italian Ice’s. I swear people in the neighborhood went there at least three or four days a week. It was more when it had Street Fighter and NBA Jam video games.

For about the first time in 15 years, i walked into that pizza place. With a beard and five year old by my side, I was a completely different person than the one who used to frequent that place.

As soon as I walk in, the owner exclaimed, “Holy sh–! How ya doin’?”

I honestly couldn’t believe he remembered me after all these years. I really couldn’t believe him when he told me I hadn’t changed a bit. We then walked down memory lane talking about our shared memories of the place.

My son watched with amazement taking in and enjoying everything. That’s when the owner noticed him.

He laughed when my son told him his name saying, “Of course, he’s the fourth.” He then laughed harder when my son told his favorite team was the Mets. It was met with, “Let me tell you, kid. No one loved the Mets as much as your dad. Stick with them.”

Then he offered my kid a rainbow Italian Ice.

He told my son about how my friends and I would get one after every game. In disbelief, my son said, “Really? My Daddy never eats ice.” This caused the owner to laugh and say that maybe I have changed.

On the way out, he shook my hand telling me not to be a stranger while telling me to say hi to my parents and to wish them well.

As I left with, pizzas in hand, I looked down at my son eating the rainbow ice, and it brought me back to those times I walked out of that pizza place with my own father. My son was bemused with stories of my childhood.

It was as good and nice a moment as you can experience. It’s only one you can experience if you not only go home but go around your hometown.

Impose Age Restrictions Instead Of Extending Netting

In Houston, Albert Almora ripped a line drive foul into the stands. As Almora would say, “As soon as I hit it, the first person I locked eyes on was her.” This meant he watched the whole way as his line drive hit a little four year old girl.

An understandably devastated Almora was crushed and began weeping on the field.

This incident led to calls for more netting at ballparks. For example, Jeff Passan of ESPN called for netting to be extended from foul pole to foul pole. In his article, he played up the scene saying:

Look at the entire scene, ugly and awful and entirely preventable, and then tell me Major League Baseball teams don’t need to extend protective netting from foul pole to foul pole. It’s time. It’s well past time, actually. There is no argument against this, no humane argument at least, not when this keeps happening again and again and again and again and again — and children wind up in the hospital, where the girl was taken following the incident, according to the Astros.

Passan was far from the only person to go to these lengths both in terms of the netting needed and using the incident to prove the point.

Certainly, you could understand the calls. CBS reported Almora hit the ball at least 90 MPH meaning that little girl had about 1.2 seconds to respond. There’s no four year old capable enough of getting out of the way of that ball.

If we’re being honest, it’s unrealistic for a parent to get in the way. If you’ve ever been to a game with a child that young, they’re constantly distracted, and as a result, they’re distracting you. When balls are hit that hard, even one slight distraction means you’re defenseless.

As noted by Andrew Marchand of the NY Post, this danger is the reason why players will sit their children behind netting to ensure they are safe during the games.

Yes, you could argue netting all the way around the stadium protects children. You could also argue the netting is deemed a nuisance to fans for a few reasons including ability to watch a game, catch a foul ball, or get an autograph. Considering how MLB is purportedly concerned about attendance, you could understand why they wouldn’t want to detract from the experience of attending a game.

People want to dismiss the later as being irrelevant when it comes to children’s safety. To an extent, they’re right. No child should be injured because someone wants to catch a fly ball. That said, we need to stop pretending wrapping the ballpark in netting is the only solution.

Let’s face facts for a second. No child should be sitting that close. As noted by everyone, it’s a danger to their health. So, let’s call this what it is – a parenting failure.

A parent needed to understand this was not a safe situation for their child. They needed to get seats literally anywhere else in the ballpark. Considering how much those seats cost, they could afford it. If they didn’t realize how close the seats were, an usher/team would’ve been happy to help them relocate to a safer situation.

This is akin to driving to the park and not having your child in a car seat. Sure, chances are really good you won’t ever need that car seat. Even if you do get into an accident like a fender bender, your child could be fine even without the car seats. Then, there’s that accident where having a car seat or not is the difference between life and death or at least the difference between serious injury and no long term harm.

That situation is why we have car seat laws. It’s the reason why we have a bevy of other laws to protect child from absent minded or even bad parenting. These laws include but are not limited to car seat laws, bicycle helmet laws, and required fencing around pools.

Because of absent minded or bad parenting, we have laws designed to protect children and put them in safer situations. Why isn’t this done at ballparks?

Up until the point there’s netting, there’s should be rules (or laws) which restrict where children can sit. Don’t permit a parent to again bring a child that close to the action. Don’t allow a parent to put a child in jeopardy.

Let the adults assume the risks they choose. If they want to be that close to the action without netting, let them. It’s 2019. They should be well aware of the risks by now, and if they’re not, there’s plenty of ballpark announcements alerting them to the fact. Just don’t let an adult taking what is an extremely reasonable risk for them allow them to potentially put a child in harm’s way.

When purchasing the tickets online, there needs to be a prompt advising of the age restrictions for that seating area. If it can be done if you want to leave just one seat open between the seats you purchase, it can be done for this. If you’re calling or buying the tickets in person, the ticket agent needs to read off the rule.

If someone buys the tickets anyway, the usher needs to serve as the barrier of entry. If the ushers can do it in the later innings of a game stopping people from moving down from the upper levels to the field level, they can do it before the game.

Remember, there’s no good reason why a child NEEDS to sit that close to the action. There are literally tens of thousands of places to watch a game from a ballpark. They can sit in one of those seats.

If you boil it down, this is the best way to accomplish allowing fans to have the unfettered view and access they want with protecting children. At the end of the day, we should allow the adults to take the risks they openly want while protecting children from forgetful or negligent parenting.

Impose an age restriction.

New Jersey Not Reporting On Drugs And Deaths At Day Care Centers

When you are a parent who needs to send your child to daycare, there is a lot of unknowns. You spend a lot of time researching different places, but the information you want is not always available. For the most part, you are relying upon word of mouth, and you never know what the standards different parents have for a daycare center.

No matter what the case, parents everywhere have a problem with teachers not only bringing drugs to daycares, but them being so careless with them that they get into the hands of children. According to an ABC report that is exactly what happened at The Learning Experience in Whippany, New Jersey.

Aside from the obvious, what is really scary about this is the information was difficult to ascertain. When Googling “Learning Experience Whippany” this ABC report was not on the first page of results. What we did see was a Yelp review giving unspecified parent complaints.

On that first page, the results did pull up the State of New Jersey Department of Children and Families Inspection Reports on the facility. The incident where drugs were brought to the school and fell into the hands of children there are not mentioned . . . AT ALL!

What was there was a September 2018 Report which indicated there was a failure to conduct fire drills and even worse the center was not undergoing proper background checks and training. However, despite this, the State did determine the center was “free of imminent hazards/risk of harm.” Seeing what happened only months later, this report and that determination was laughable.

Now, this is far from the only day care center to have an issue. Last July, there was an infant death at the KinderCare in Whippany. When you check the New Jersey State records of the facility, THERE IS NO MENTION OF THIS EVENT!

How in the world is drugs getting into the hands of children and baby deaths not inspected or reported upon by the relevant state agencies? This is a complete failure by the State of New Jersey. It is not giving parents the information they need to make sure they are putting children in safe environments, and as we see, it is putting children in harm’s way.

This is a complete abdication of duty by the State of New Jersey. It’s bad enough they don’t shut down these facilities, but to not even investigate or report on these actions is a complete dereliction of duty. Fortunately for me, I don’t live or work in close enough proximity to either center for either place to be a consideration for my children. Like everyone else, I had to find this out by word of mouth.

That’s not remotely acceptable, and the State of New Jersey has some explaining to do. I’d imagine this is the same situation in other states as well.

Name Bubbles Perfect For Labeling For Summer Camp And Day Care

Summer camp is a little over a month away. If you have your children in day care, you have the issue with having to label things everyday. Whether it is for summer camp, school, sports, day care, or whatever the case, at times labeling your children’s clothes and belongings can be a pain.

Personally, I have found myself rushing as my child is headed on the door trying to find a way to label something on the go. Typically, this involves me grabbing a Sharpee and scribbling one of my son’s names on something as we are headed to the car. As usual, there is a better way.

That better way is Name Bubbles, specifically the round labels.

The Name Bubbles labels are both dishwasher and washing machine safe. This means you can just stick the label on a shirt or a bottle, and you don’t have to worry about it. The label is going to be there when it comes out of the washing machine, dryer, or dish washer. Basically, you put it on once, and you are not going to have to worry about it again.

Sure, it is easier to use a Sharpee or something else, but if you have multiple kids that can be a problem. If you have an item of clothing or a toy with your oldest’s name on it in Sharpee, it effectively belongs to that child. You aren’t going to want to cross out the name or write both names. Instead, it is better to put a label on there you can remove later.

The bright side is at $22.98 you get 84 labels. That is a fairly cost effective option. As a parent, you rarely get the opportunity to combine both cost effective with convenience. The Name Bubbles labels are one of those rare instances when you can get a cost effective, convenient, and a reusable item. It is what makes it perfect for day care, summer camp, or for whatever other purpose you can find.

Editor’s Note: This is not a paid advertisement, just sound advice from one parent to another.

MLB Needs To Be More Involved At The Little League Level

When I was growing up out on Long Island, your sports season was basically pre-determined. You played soccer or football in the fall, CYO basketball in the winter, and Little League in the Spring. Maybe it was just where I lived, or maybe it is times changing, but it seems now there are more sports available, and they are available throughout the year.

There are summer hockey leagues, and there are indoor winter baseball leagues. As a parent of a five year old, my goal is simply to expose my son to as many sports as possible to see which ones he enjoys the most and wants to continue playing when he gets older.

Going through this process, it amazes me how much some sports are better run than others and how much professional leagues are involved in some of these sports.

For example, when it comes to hockey, the NHL runs the Learn to Play program. For $195, a child is fully equipped with hockey gear, and they participate in a 10 week session guided by team officials. Part of that gear is your own personal practice jersey from that team.

Even if you don’t go that route, there is not one hockey arena which does not have some sort of NHL presence. Moreover, when you sign up for different hockey lessons, you actually will receive USA Hockey magazines. Inside are not just stories from American hockey league players or stories on college teams, there is information on different drills to do.

Hockey is not alone in reaching out to fans this way. In addition to hockey, my son if playing NFL Flag Football. That league, run by the NFL, teaches children the basics of football while providing a safe and fun environment to play. Without dropping names, it is interesting to see some former NFL players have their children participating in my son’s league (albeit in a different age division).

What is fun about this is the children receive a reversible NFL jersey. Also, similar to the USA Hockey magazine, there are weekly emails with different drills to do with your children.

This is much different than the Little League experience thus far. Just like when I was in Little League, you got a jersey which was identified with a local sponsor and/or color. I remember growing up, I was the light blue, white, and blue teams. It wasn’t until I was older that there were MLB like jerseys, and those needed to be returned after the season.

It’s also interesting there is no newsletter or emails from Major League baseball. Basically, you are leaving it to your child’s coach. From my experience on both sides of the aisle, that is the luck of the draw.

Really, there’s a disassociation between Little League and MLB as far as children are concerned.

To be fair, Major League Baseball has taken some steps with the Little League Classic. Last year, Mets fans got to see Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz watch a game with the teams participating in the Little League World Series. Then again, the game was broadcast on ESPN on Sunday night.

Often times, we discuss why children aren’t as interested in baseball as they are the other sports. There are many varied and plausible theories focusing on pace of play or time when games are broadcast. Lost in all of those is the fact baseball isn’t focusing enough at creating fans at a very young age.

Honestly, if not for me, I’m not sure my son would be as big a baseball fan as he is. After all, baseball makes little to no effort to make him one themselves.

What Mats Zuccarello Meant To Me

Far too often, we lionize professional athletes. At times, they disappoint us, and sometimes, they lift us up. The thing is whether or not they know, athletes can leave a profound impact on our lives, and when that player leaves, it certainly hits home.

It hit home when Mats Zuccarello was traded to the Dallas Stars.

I’m far from alone. We saw Henrik Lundqvist break down when talking about it. There have been a number of Rangers fans upset as well because Zuccarello was a fan favorite. For me, it was a bit more than that.

My wife had a very difficult pregnancy with my oldest. When my son was born, he wasn’t a preemie, but he wasn’t far off either. When he was born, his Apgar score was two . . . two. Thankfully, he would be okay.

One thing about babies born this early is they’re small. It’d be a while before my son grew into the newborn sized clothes, even longer to get to three months. That left his Rangers onesies quite big on him. It was a slight issue because he wore them often.

Whatever the reason, during those sleepless nights as he slowly made his way towards that magic 10 pound mark, he really enjoyed hockey. He was on my lap during that epic Olympic game against Russia, and he was on my lap during that magical run to the Stanley Cup Finals.

The ritual was the same. I’d get home from work and get him in a onesie for the game. We watched through all the ups and downs in that incredible run partially driven by how well the Zuccarello-Brassard-Pouliot line played. It was Zuccarello’s two goal game in Game 6 against the Habs which propelled the Rangers to the Finals.

That run would be the first time I bonded with my son on a sports level. He was excited whenever I celebrated, and he’d clap in these moments. Many of those moments were directly related to Zuccarello’s play on the ice.

Fast forward a few years. At three, we decided to sign up my son for ice skating lessons. The reason was as simple as he was bouncing off the wall, and we wanted to find him an outlet on the weekends. Ice skating lessons for his age were available.

At three, he was still one of the smallest guys on the ice. Even with him being smaller, he picked up on things right away. He continued to get better and better.

It’s been over five years since my son was born. That little guy has now more than caught up to the kids his age. He’s actually one of the taller ones, which is a far cry from where he once was.

However, with him having started skating earlier than most in my area, he finds himself as the little guy on the ice. The little guy in his Rangers jersey.

Admittedly, I do allow myself to dream. Sometimes, I look at that little guy with a left-handed shot skating through much bigger players, and I see the next Zuccarello.

After all, my son’s a tough little guy who’s beaten the odds, so if this is something he wants for himself, I wouldn’t count him out.

And I don’t count him out too because I’ve seen Zuccarello play. I’ve seen him overcome the odds created due to his size, draft status, and even his home country of Norway not exactly being an NHL hotbed. Despite all of that, he became a good NHL player. He became a fan favorite. He showed us all anything is possible.

This is what Zuccarello gave to me during his Rangers career. He gave me a bonding experience with my newborn son, and eventually, he gave us a role model for a little guy playing against much bigger players. He fortified the faith and belief I’ve always had in my son.

Honestly, although he never knew it, Zuccarello gave me a lot during his time as a Ranger. I appreciate it more than he could know, and I wish him the very best in Dallas.

Cheap Valentine Day Cards: Buy Valentines For Your Child’s Class Today

Today is February 16th, which means it is two days after Valentine’s Day. On the surface, it would appear foolish to purchase Valentine’s Day cards today. After all, with the day having come and gone, who exactly are you going to give the Valentine’s Day cards?

Well, the answer is your child’s class . . . next year.

At the moment, the cards at different stores will be deeply discounted. Likely, you will see them for at least 50% off. If you are lucky, you will find a better deal.

The initial reaction may be cards only cost $4.00 for a group of 16, and as such, you can get cards for your kids class for under $10.00. If you have two kids, it is still less than $20.00.  For some people, spending $20 on cards for Valentine’s Day is not that big a deal. That is all well and good, but the same people who treat $20.00 like a rounding error also don’t like to just throw money away.

Fact is you can get cards for not just this year, but you can also get them for the next year or two or three right now. Considering your children are in elementary school for six years, that’s over $120 for Valentine’s Day cards. If you child is in pre-school or daycare, that amount increases by an additional $60. When you look at it in terms of nearly $200.00, you quickly realize how much money you waste on those little cards other people just throw away days after receiving – if not sooner.

As for the cards themselves, in the day and age of peanut free schools, those cards are increasingly including things like pencils, stickers, and temporary tattoos. With that in mind, you don’t have to worry about the contents of the cards expiring. Really, you just have to be mindful of the cards you are purchasing.

On that front, certain things don’t go out of style. Superheros and Disney princesses are always in vogue. As for your child, you know where their interests lie, and you can purchase the cards accordingly. You can also purchase a variety of cards so as to not look cheap year-in and year-out.

Really, if you are interested in saving a buck so you don’t have to spend it later, you should go out today and purchase Valentine’s Day cards for your child’s class today.  At a minimum, not only will you save a few bucks, but you will also have the benefit of not having the hassle of having to go get them next year.

Al Leiter Making Right Decision Leaving Booth

In recent news former Mets great Al Leiter has announced he will not be returning to the YES booth for the 2019 season. With him leaving the booth, he is leaving behind a promising and good broadcast career which had begun when he was a player providing commentary during the 2003 NLCS.

During that NLCS, you could see Leiter was going to be a gifted broadcaster. He hasn’t disappointed in his time as a Yankees color commentator or as an analyst on MLB Network. Seeing his work, you knew no one was pushing him out the door, and yet Leiter has announced he is leaving.

The reason is his son, Jack, is a senior in high school, and he is committed to Vanderbilt. If Jack is anything like his father, his uncle Mark Leiter, or even his cousin also named Mark Leiter, he has a real Major League future ahead of him. If that is the case, Al Leiter is going to be in New Jersey doing work for the MLB Network, or he will be in the Bronx, or he will find himself anywhere where the Yankees travel.

That does not leave him much time to watch his son pitch during his senior season. It doesn’t give him time to give parental advice to help prepare his son for college or even the draft. It doesn’t leave enough time for him to spend time with his son because his son finds himself in places like Tennesse, whether that is for college or for an Appalachian League affiliate.

In his career, Leiter made approximately $68 million. He’s done a fine job as a broadcaster presumably earning a good salary. With his reputation and his relatively young age (53), Leiter has the chance to do this. This is all every parent wants, and Leiter has that opportunity. Good for him for taking full advantage.

When he’s ready to return, there could be a chance for him at SNY as the Mets have begun taking more of a look at the 90’s Mets team. We have seen Todd Zeile recently hired to replace Nelson Figueroa and Bob Ojeda before him. Sooner or later, we know Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling are going to leave the Mets booth.

Maybe, there will be room for a new booth with Gary, Leiter, and Mike Piazza. It would be the type of booth which could generate the same chemistry and cache with Mets fans. And who knows, maybe we will see Leiter calling games his son is pitching.

But before then, let’s hope the best for Jack Leiter and hope Al enjoys each and every minute of the ride.

For Kids, Ditch The Maple Syrup For Chocolate Syrup

At least one day on the weekend, my son and I will make breakfast together.  Typically, this will involve making either pancakes or waffles.  Not to get all “If You Give A Pig a Pancake,” on you, but if you give a child a pancake, they’ll want some syrup to go with it.

Well, one day, I did not check the fridge or the pantry, and after I made the pancakes with my son, I realized there was no maple syrup.  While I didn’t have maple syrup, I did have a bottle of Hershey’s Chocolate syrup in my fridge.  My son loved the chocolate syrup on his pancakes, and he loved it even more when we made waffles.

Now, the natural inclination upon reading this may be to question why you would give a child chocolate syrup for breakfast.  Well, as I discovered, the chocolate syrup was actually the better nutritional choice.  If you don’t believe me, take this into account:

Mrs. Butterworths Trader Joe’s Agave Hersheys
Serving Size 1/4 cup 1/4 cup 1/4 cup
Calories 200 170 180
Fat 0 0 0
Sodium 150 mg 5 mg 20 mg
Carb 52 g 43 g 48 g
Sugars 37 g 42 g 40 g

Looking at the information, the Trader Joe’s Agave is arguably better than the chocolate syrup as it has 10 fewer calories as well as less sodium and carbs.  Conversely, Hershey’s has less sugar, and unlike the Trader Joe’s Agave, the syrup has some calcium and potassium.  If you buy the calcium enriched Hershey’s, you will get even more calcium.  That said, there still may not be that much to make that much of a difference.

What would make some difference is the Hershey’s Lite Syrup.  On a 1/4 cup basis, that syrup only has 80 calories, 60 mg of sodium, 24 g of carb, and 20 g of sugar.  The sodium does offset some of the benefits of a lower caloric or sugar count, but it is still not enough sodium to move the needle on it being unhealthy, at least as far as syrups go.

Ideally, you would make your own syrup using fruit, but for a variety of reasons including spoilage and expense, that is not always an option.  More than that, it is the time to make the pancakes or waffles while simultaneously making a quick syrup.  Many times, when you are a parent, you just need a quick way of doing things.

With that being the case, give your child chocolate syrup instead of maple syrup with their breakfast.  It is the ever so slightly healthier option, and really, it is a much more fun option.