Preston Wilson

Family Restrooms Are For Families Only

For those people who have been places with children and have had someone in the family needing to use the bathoom, former Major Leaguer Preston Wilson said what finally needed to be said:

This reminded me of an “incident” I recently had at Citi Field. To be fair, to call it an incident is probably overstating the case, but as a parent, I did assert my rights to use the designated family restroom with a family.

To put things in perspective, I have over an hour drive to get to the ballpark. After that, there is the process of putting sunscreen on the kids and then waiting on lines to enter the ballpark. After going up the escalator, the first thing my five year old tells me is he has to go to the bathroom. Honestly, at that point, who doesn’t?

In addition to my son having to use the bathroom, I have to change a baby’s diaper. That’s now two people who have to use the bathroom and a toddler who needs his diaper changed. This is the EXACT scenario why family restrooms exist. Of course, based on my personal experience, I have yet to come across a vacant family restroom at Citi Field.

That was until a few weeks ago. In this particular moment, the heaven’s seemed to open, and someone departed the family restroom just as I was walking towards it. With the family in tow, I made my way in as a group of adults stopped to alert me there was a line.

Again, a group of adults. No children in sight. They wanted to stop a family from using the . . . wait for it . . . family restroom.

With myself standing in the door frame, I politely asked if they had children who needed to use the restroom or had a baby who needed a diaper change. When they predictably said they didn’t, I told them they could wait and closed the door.

What is beyond stupid was there needed to be this exchange. It’s one thing to use the family restroom when no one is present. However, for the life of me, I cannot fathom the level of self entitlement involved in telling a family they need to wait so an adult can use a bathroom not designated for them.

These bathroms exist so parents can use the bathroom while keeping their children in a confined space where they don’t have to worry about them. These bathrooms exist to provide families with the space and privacy needed. They exist because if a child has an accident, you can change your child without them having to stand stark naked in the middle of a men’s or women’s room. It allows you to take care of multiple children at the same time without commotion.

These bathrooms are not for adults who like to do number two in a less used bathroom. They’re not there for adults convenience. These bathrooms aren’t for the public at large. They’re for people who actually need them. This is why Preston Wilson is 100% right saying those who use them are bad people.

Alonso And McNeil Power Mets

When the Mets bucked conventional wisdom and put Pete Alonso, the rationale was this was a tight National League East, and the Mets needed every possible game they can get. Well, in the second game of the season, Alonso helped them win a divisional game against the Nationals.

It began right away with his hitting a single in the top of the first to set up a three run first inning rally. That rally also featured a Wilson Ramos double and a Jeff McNeil triple (more on him later).

That three inning first would become a 4-1 lead when Alonso annihilated a Stephen Strasburg pitch for a double.

This Strasburg start should have the Nationals very worried. Any hope last season was a blip for him were quickly dashed. According to Brooks Baseball, he was throwing 93 MPH. Remember, this is a guy who used to be able to get it up to 100 MPH. Now, he looks ordinary, and the Mets made him look as such.

Strasburg pitched six innings allowing four earned on seven hits. His eight strikeouts were good, but it’s not going to do him as much good if he’s going to be this hittable.

Despite Strasburg’s struggles, he got the no decision.

The main reason was Noah Syndergaard wasn’t sharp. Like Strasburg, he allowed four earned over six. However, Syndergaard’s game shouldn’t elicit as much concern for the Mets.

For starters, he has never pitched well at Nationals Park. In five starts, he’s now 0-3 with a 5.79 ERA. With Syndergaard’s velocity and location there, you could chalk this up to the quirks of a pitcher just not pitching well at a particular park.

The other issue was Mickey Callaway pushing him too far.

Syndergaard looked done after getting a huge strikeout of Anthony Rendon to end the fifth.

At the time, it was 4-3, and Syndergaard was at 86 pitches. He was battling most of the game, and Victor Robles was set to lead off the inning.

Robles would hit a ball through the shift, and he turned it into a double with Michael Conforto not getting over in time. The Nationals would then get him over and in with a Kurt Suzuki sacrifice fly.

The game was 4-4 entering the bottom of the eighth, and as we would soon learn, the once again retooled Nationals bullpen stinks with Trevor Rosenthal, Matt Grace, and Wander Suero combining to give up seven runs over the final two innings.

The go-ahead hit was a J.D. Davis opposite field bases loaded single to give the Mets a 6-4 lead. Alonso would soon be heard from again hitting a two run double giving the Mets an 8-4 lead.

On the day, Alonso was 3-4 with a run, two doubles, and two RBI. The doubles were smoked. At the bag, he had a pick a few balls out of the dirt. Overall, this was a great game for him, and it was the exact type of game the Mets envisioned when they put him on the Opening Day roster.

As good as Alonso was, McNeil might’ve been even better. In addition to the first inning RBI triple, he had a ninth inning RBI double. On the day, he was 4-5 with two runs, a double, triple, and two RBI.

His ninth inning double made it 9-4, and Dominic Smith‘s two RBI single made it 11-4. With respect to Smith, he’s also had quite the start to the season. In his limited duty, he’s 1-2 with a walk and two RBI while serving as Alonso’s defensive replacement.

Unfortunately, this was not a laugher as the Mets bullpen was not quite up to the task with Justin Wilson being the only set-up man to do the job with a scoreless seventh.

In the eighth, after a Davis error, the Nationals loaded the bases with two outs against Jeurys Familia. Callaway didn’t risk the inning or game getting out of hand, and he brought on Seth Lugo.

Matt Adams swung at the first pitch and gave it a ride, but it would fall short with Conforto catching it near the wall.

With the Mets having a seven run lead, Callaway opted to not waste any more relievers, and he stuck with Lugo. For whatever reason Lugo didn’t have it.

As the Nationals rallied, Callaway wasn’t as quick to respond and the relievers weren’t getting loose quick soon enough.

Rendon was hit by a pitch to force in a run, and then Ryan Zimmerman hit a bases clearing double to pull the Nationals within 11-8. Even with there being two outs, Callaway had no choice but to go to Edwin Diaz, who needed just one pitch to record the save.

Behind the win and the success of the Mets duo of Alonso and McNeil (the latest Mets bromance) was a poor game by Callaway.

He started Davis over Juan Lagares and Keon Broxton, two superior defenders who also have had better offensive production in the majors. Davis responded with a 1-5 day with a big error.

Davis did deliver the go-ahead RBI single. On the play, the slow footed Ramos was at third. Instead of using Broxton to pinch run, he stuck with Ramos. The Mets got away with it.

Finally, while starting Lugo in the ninth was the right move, Callaway was probably too slow to react, especially with Lugo’s pitches not being sharp.

Still, even with the Callaway lapses, the Mets won mostly because Alonso and McNeil were great. The Mets have taken the first series from the Nationals and are now in a position to sweep the fist series of the year.

Game Notes: Wilson picked up the win in his first appearance as a Met. Alonso joined Conforto, Kazuo Matsui, Nick Evans, and Preston Wilson as Mets who began their careers with three hits and two extra base hits over their first two Major League games (hat tip Mathew Brownstein).

Turning Off Wilpon Defender Mike Francesca

In 1997, the team had a surprising 88 win season with young players like Edgardo Alfonzo beginning to make his mark, accomplished players like John Olerud rejuvenating their careers, and players like Rick Reed seemingly coming out of nowhere to be good Major League players.  With a brash Bobby Valentine at the helm, many expected the Mets to make the leap in 1998.

As the 1998 season unfolded, it wasn’t to be, and that was mainly because their star catcher Todd Hundley had offseason elbow surgery which was going to keep him out for a while.

The Mets did start well.  On May 13th, the Mets were 19-15, albeit seven games back in the division.  Then, the following day, shockwaves went through Major League Baseball, and not just because the Mets were swept in a doubleheader by the Padres.  No, out of nowhere Mike Piazza was traded to the Florida Marlins.

It was an absolute blockbuster with Piazza and Todd Zeile going to the Marlins, who just dismantled the 1997 World Series winning team, for Manuel Barrios, Bobby Bonilla, Jim Eisenreich, Charles Johnson, and Gary Sheffield.

Everyone in baseball knew the Marlins were looking to flip Piazza for prospects, and a talented Mets farm system seemed to make them one of the favorites if they were interested.  Problem was, they weren’t interested.

After this trade happened, the Mets would fall to nine games out in the division.  While this was happening, Mike and the Mad Dog would take to the air day-in and day-out clamoring for the Mets to go out and get Piazza.  Their assault was relentless.

Finally, on May 22nd, the Mets would acquire Piazza from the Marlins for Preston Wilson, Geoff Goetz, and Ed Yarnall.  To hear Francesca tell it, he played a key role in that happening:

While a noted blowhard, you can never discount how public pressure forces teams to act.  After all if we look back to 2015, with all that happened, we did see the Mets swing a trade to obtain Yoenis Cespedes.  The public pressure continued in the ensuring offseason with the team, who had already moved on from Cespedes by signing Alejandro De Aza to platoon with Juan Lagares in center, acquiescing and signing Cespedes to what was essentially a one year deal.

The team didn’t let things play out after the 2016 season.  They jumped fairly quickly, and they signed Cespedes to a four year deal even with full knowledge of his heel issues.  Certainly, much of this was the result of the public pressure, which was given a voice on New York airwaves by people like Francesca.

Now?  Well, Francesca has gone from being an important voice to being a mouthpiece for the Wilpons.

He is now defending the Wilpons saying they are spending money.  He notes how the team has the seventh highest payroll in the majors.  That is patently false.  Cots, Spotrac and Steve the Ump ranks the Mets payroll 12th. Really, everyone ranks the Mets payroll 12th.

The AP ranked the Yankees, not the Mets as having the seventh highest payroll.  Maybe, Francesca read New York and was confused.

Putting the ranking aside, lost in that is the Mets recover 75% of David Wright‘s salary, which, according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, Jeff Wilpon has admitted does not get reinvested into baseball operations.  That means the Mets payroll is actually $15 million less than advertised.

Dropping the Mets payroll by $15 million, the Mets payroll drops to 15th in the majors.  With the $3 million saved in the Jeurys Familia trade, the payroll drops to 16th.  Yes, a New York market team, who is currently  refusing to give Jacob deGrom, currently the best starter in baseball, a contract extension, is in the bottom half of the league in spending.

For his part, Francesca defends this.  He will say the Mets spend, but they don’t spend well.  Nothing backs this up remotely.  Nothing.

Instead of pointing the finger where it belongs, the Wilpons, he will continue to bash Mickey Callaway as if he is the scourge of the Mets organization.  He will look at all the surrounds the Mets and mock them while failing to even consider pointing the blame at ownership.

And for all that, I’ve stopped listening to him.  After over 30 years of listening to him, I’m done.  And I suspect I will not be the only Mets fan who feels this way.

McDonalds Halloween Pails Are Back

One of the best things about being a parent is you get the opportunity to remedy the perceived wrongs from your childhood.  No matter how small or childish they may seem, we all have ones that linger.  One of my lingering issues was my parents not going out and getting the Halloween Pail Happy Meals when my brother and I were children.

You see the Mets winning the World Series wasn’t the only major event of October 1986.  I’ve never confirmed this, but I’m pretty sure Mookie Wilson got one of these for his stepson and nephew Preston Wilson.  Much like the Mets hopes of winning the World Series the following year, my hopes of getting a McDonald’s Halloween Pail were dashed in 1987.  My chances of obtaining one in 1989 were as much as nonstarter as the Mets chances were that year.  In 1990, Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter were closer to New York than I was to getting my Halloween Pail.  In 1992, there were no hopes for me or the Mets.  From there, the Halloween Pails all but disappeared.

That was up until last year when the Halloween Pails re-emerged.  Despite Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard not being alive in 1986, these trio of arms led the Mets to the World Series in the same year the Halloween Pails returned.  Never underestimate the power of the pails.  Like the good Mets fan and father (or petulant child) that I am, I made sure to get all four of them for my son who really had no clue who the Minions were or why he needed four of these pails.  That changes this year.

My son loves Peanuts.  He has loved them since we took him to see The Peanuts Movie, his first ever movie, for his birthday last year, and since he saw A Charlie Brown Christmas last year.  Like any child, he loves Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the whole Peanuts gang:

  
With that, we have now found the intersection where my son’s love of Peanuts and my need to get these Halloween Pails have met in the parenting Venn diagram.  With that, I have checked one thing off my parenting bucket list, and I will now seek out curing other perceived wrongs like never getting the chance to attend a Mets World Series victory parade.  I guess that one will just have to wait until next year.

To ensure that will happen, I think McDonalds will need to roll out an Avengers Halloween Pail featuring Thor, Captain America (David Wright), Iron Man (Steven Matz), and The Incredible Hulk (Lucas Duda).

By the way, the Great Pumpkin is on tonight:

From Todd Hundley to Mike Piazza

The things we are willing to tell ourselves as fans can sometimes be quite outlandish.  Back in 1997, if you polled Mets fans, they would probably tell you they would rather have Todd Hundley than Mike Piazza.  Why not?

The two were the same age.  Both were All Stars in 1996 and 1997.  In those two years, Hundley had hit 71 homers to Piazza’s 76.  Hundley had 198 RBI to Piazza’s 229.  Hundley’s 53 doubles surpassed Piazza’s 48.  In fact, Hundley’s 127 extra base hits were actually two more than Piazza’s 125.  On top of that, Hundley was a switch hitter and a much better defensive catcher.  He was the homegrown Met that was afan favorite with his very own Todd Squad cheering section at Shea Stadium.  Hundley’s career was taking off, and he was seen by Mets fans as a newer version of Gay Carter.  When he returned from his elbow surgery in 1998, he was expected to once again be the slugging defensive minded catcher who was going to lead the Mets to the postseaon for this first time in a decade.  If you took a poll of Mets fans, they may begrudging admit Piazza was the better player, but overall, they would also state their belief that they would rather have Hundley as he was their guy.  It was all a moot point anyway because there was no way the Dodgers would ever get rid of Piazza.

Until they did.  There wasn’t a baseball fan alive in 1998 that was utterly shocked when Piazza was traded to the Florida Marlins along with future Met Todd Zeile for a package that included future Met Gary Sheffield and former/future Met Bobby Bonilla.  Once Piazza was a Marlin, the world over knew the team that sold everything except the copper wiring after winning the 1997 World Series was going to trade the impending free agent Piazza.  All of a sudden, the very same Mets fans who loved Hundley, desperately wanted Piazza.  Myself included.

It was certainly possible.  In that offseason, the Mets had acquired Al Leiter and Dennis Cook.  There was a reporte there.  Even with those trades, the Mets still had a good farm system headlined by Mookie Wilson‘s stepson, Preston Wilson, who could justifiable headline a Piazza trade.  Without Hundley, the team was languishing around .500, and they needed a shot in the arm if they were ever going to earn a postseason berth.  You could tell yourself that when Hundley got back he could either play left field in place of the struggling Bernard Gilkey or in right in place of another fan favorite, Butch Huskey.  At least, that is what you told yourself.

Amazing, it actually happened.  On May 22, 1998, the 24-20 Mets actually pulled off a trade to acquire Piazza.  Perhaps just as a amazing, when the Mets activated Hundley from the disabled list on July 22nd, they put him in left field.  Very rarely in life does things happen exactly as you imagined it would.  This did.

Except it didn’t.  While Piazza was originally greeted with a hero’s welcome, he would then become roundly booed by the very same fan base who was desperate to acquire him.  Hundley would be a disaster in left field.  As uncomfortable as he was in the field, he was equally uncomfortable at the plate hitting .162/.248/.252 with only one home run.  He eventually forced Bobby Valentine‘s hand, and he became the backup catcher to Piazza.  In retrospect, how could it have ever worked?  Piazza was a star in Los Angeles, which is nowhere near the hot bed New York was.  Hundley was a catcher out of the womb as he was taught the position by his father Randy Hundley.

But then on a September 16th game in the old Astrodome, it all worked according to plan.  In the top of the ninth, with the Mets trailing 3-1, Piazza, who had been 0-3 on the night, stepped in the box against Billy Wagner with two on and two out.  He would launch a go-ahead three run homer.  After Cook blew the save in the ninth, Hundley would be summoned to pinch hit in the top of the 11th.  He would hit a game winning home run.  It would be the first and only time Piazza and Hundley would homer in the same game.  In fact, it was Hundley’s last homer as a Met.  At that point, the Mets seemed to have control of the Wild Card, but they would eventually fall apart, thanks in LARGE part to Mel Rojas, and they would just miss out on the postseason.

Going into that offseason, the Mets had to make a choice.  Do you stick with your guy Hundley behind the plate, or do you bring back Piazza.  To everyone’s delight, the Mets made Piazza the highest paid player in the game giving him a seven year $91 million dollar contract.  When the Mets re-signed him, the Mets seemed assured of returning to the postseason.

And they did with the help of both Piazza and Hundley.  With Piazza back in the fold, the Mets had to move Hundley.  That spurned two shrewd moves by Steve Phillips that helped build a supporting cast around their superstar.  Hundley was traded for Roger Cedeno and Charles Johnson, the same Johnson who was traded by the Marlins to acquire Piazza.  Cedeno would spend 1999 being tutored by Rickey Henderson, and he would set the then Mets single season record for stolen bases while manning right field.  Phillips would then flip Johnson for Armando Benitez, who would become a dominant closer out of the bullpen.

Piazza was dominant that year.  He hit .301/.361/.575 with 40 homers, a Mets right-handed batter single season record, and 124 RBI, which is the Mets single season record.  He led the Mets throught the play-in game and into the NLCS.  His seventh inning opposite field home run off John Smoltz in Game Six of the NLCS tied the game at 7-7.  In a game they once trailed 5-0 and 7-3 and a series they had trailed three games to none, it seemed like the Mets were on the verge of pulling off the impossible.  With a Kenny Rogers walk, they didn’t.  The Mets came so close to making the World Series, but they fell short.  Even with as much as Piazza gave them, they would need more in order to make it to their first World Series since 1986 and to play in consecutive postseasons in team history.

Amazingly, Piazza had another gear.  He would hit .324/.398/.614 with 38 homers and 113 RBI.  It remains the highest slugging percentage in team history.  The 78 homers and 237 RBI over two years stands as the team records over a two year stretch.  He would tie the Mets single season record with three grand slams.  In 2000, the Mets would go to the World Series, and they would fall agonizingly close as his shot to center field fell just short of tying the game.

It was a start to an amazing Mets career and part of a Hall of Fame career.  Before Piazza left the Mets after the 2005 season, he would hold many records.  He would have the most home runs by any right-handed Mets batter and second most all time to Darryl Strawberry.  He would also be second to Strawberry in team RBI.  He would be passed by David Wright in those catergories.  However, Wright wouldn’t pass Piazza in some other catergories.  Piazza has the third highest team batting average, and he has the highest slugging percentage in Mets history.  He would also hit the most home runs all time by a catcher surpassing Johnny Bench.  It was one of many memorable home runs in Piazza’s time with the Mets, which included the June 30, 2000 home run capping a 10 run eighth inning rally that saw the Mets overcome an 8-1 deficit against the Braves, and the most important home run he would ever hit:

Now, Piazza is going to be a Hall of Famer.  He is going to be a Hall of Famer in a Mets uniform.  It never seemed possible.

Years ago, Mets fans would’ve picked Hundley over Piazza.  Almost twenty years later, Piazza chose us when he chose to enter the Hall of Fame as a New York Met joining Tom Seaver as the only Mets in the Hall of Fame.  It was an incredible ride that has seen Piazza become perhaps the most beloved Met to ever wear the uniform.  He deserves that love and much more.  He deserves every congratulation and accolade the Mets, Mets fans, and all of baseball can throw his way.

Thank you Mike Piazza.