Being a hockey dad means you’re traveling a lot and going/passing through places you may not normally travel. While you may be tired and want to go home after a tournament, sometimes it’s well worth making stops along the way.
Being the avid New York Mets fan I am, my family opted to stop in Binghamton. It made sense as a stop to stretch, eat, and of course, take in Mirabito Stadium.
One thing to know right off the bat is it’s pronounced MER-AH-BIT-TO. A local quickly corrected me when I mispronounced it.
More importantly, the ballpark is open everyday. I found that out when I mentioned to a security guard that I owned this site and was an editor at MMN and I was hoping to walk around the park. His response was, “Okay, well, everyone can walk around as long as they stay off the field.”
Right off the bat, the ballpark has that minor league feel we lose somewhat with the Brooklyn Cyclones. There’s not a bad seat in the house, and you’re right there for all of the action.
Rowdy the Rumble Pony on the outfield high top chairs was a nice touch. A nice touch describes much of the ballpark which embraces its own history as well as their affiliation with the Mets.
The bullpen carries the monitor “The Road to Queens Runs through Rumbletown.” That was certainly true for current Mets pitchers Grant Hartwig, David Peterson, and Drew Smith. It may also hold true for current Rumble Ponies like Christian Scott and Dominic Hamel.
In terms of the history, Binghamton has a “Binghamton Baseball Shrine” honoring all the Binghamton players of yesteryear. It’s there you are reminded Binghamton hasn’t always been a Mets affiliate.
As you can see, most of the players were before the Mets even existed. You see names like Whitey Ford and Thurmon Munson. You can see the Mets feel and acknowledgement with Jason Isringhausen on the far right.
For those wondering where David Wright is, don’t worry, he’s there. He just couldn’t make the main image and is instead off to the side on the door.
As odd as it was seeing him off to the side, it was even stranger seeing him with the number 44. For those that remember, Wright wanted to wear 4 (he didn’t ask for it) until Charlie Samuel decided Wright should wear 5 for Brooks Robinson and George Brett.
Shockingly, Samuel didn’t remember Robin Ventura of Grand Slam Single Fame. But, I digress.
Unfortunately, the Baseball Shrine is out of the main view, but it is en route to the gift shop. On the way, you will also see things like the lineups and league leaders (Eastern League and MLB).
The gift shop has what you’re really looking for with hats, jerseys, cards, and of course, stuffed animal mascots. You can get the jerseys personalized (but not t-shirts). It’s all reasonably priced with discounted winter items. I walked away with a cap.
The only downside of the trip to the ballpark was it was not a game day. That said, the staff was great, and my kids had a blast running through the park. Certainly, there will be a trip back to Binghamton to catch a game or two.
Every family has their holiday traditions. One of our family traditions has been going to Hallmark and pick out our Christmas ornament.
There are many reasons why this tradition came to bear. Mostly, it was trying to create a tradition and memories stemming from my mother being orphaned as a child.
In some ways, that made our Christmas tree an album or time capsule. Each ornament was a representation of what we liked each year of our lives. It reminded us of who we were.
It was a tradition I was eager and happy to start with my boys. The tree has Thomas and Lightning McQueen. In recent years, it’s given way to Harry Potter.
One of the fun things is my boys actively look for ornaments they think dad will like. This year, well, they did a great job even if the timing was less than impeccable.
Exactly one day after Jacob deGrom signed with the Texas Rangers, I received by deGrom ornament. Admittedly, it was just about the last thing I expected to see.
It honestly took me aback.
It wasn’t just deGrom leaving the Mets. For that, I will always have the memories of his greatness. Fortunately, I got to share some of that with my older son. Unfortunately, my younger son is not yet able to appreciate it.
The ability to share those moments is gone because deGrom is gone. There will certainly be other moments, but there may never be another deGrom.
And yet, there was still this moment. This moment meant more than any of the deGrom moments.
My boys picked out a deGrom ornament just for me. My youngest was thrilled because he knows just how much I love the Mets.
My oldest explained how important it was to have that ornament. To him, it mattered that deGrom was a great Met. He will always be a Met. We needed to remember that.
And with that, he understood the tradition better than anyone ever could.
At first, the ornament simultaneously represented how deGrom just left and how my sons picked out this great ornament for me. Now, it represents how much my sons understand why we have this tradition in the first place.
That tear in my eye wasn’t deGrom leaving. It was pride and love.
Now, every year after we’ll take out the ornament to hang on the tree. Certainly, it’ll remind me of deGrom leaving the day prior. It’ll remind me of all of deGrom’s great moments with the Mets.
Mostly, it’ll remind me of this special moment and just how lucky I am.
When our kid loves a sport like baseball, the question is how can I help my child improve? What is the gadget or new training tool?
There are infomercials and commercials. There are incessant ads across social media. We’re reminded of Fred McGriff from our youth.
It’s not always about being a crazy dad trying to have your child make it when you couldn’t. For the most part, it’s just about investing in your child and letting them be better at what they love.
There are a number of different devices which can actually help. Of course, it’s difficult to know which device can specifically help your child.
There is good news. There is something universal which can help your child improve in baseball. I
Look, life gets in the way all the time. There are countless things to do at work and home which always get in the way. We all know you’re not being selfish by handling those things or the myriad of other things which always get in the way.
And it’s not just you. There are practices, birthdays, and play dates. There’s homework and projects. There’s rain and snow.
Still, in any week, there’s always time to be found.
So long as you have a glove and ball, you can have a catch with your child. There is literally nothing more you can do to help foster your child’s love of the sport and help grow your relationship than that.
Grab a chair and Whiffle ball. Throw all those crazy pitches to your kid. It works on their hand eye coordination and ability to see the ball. Mostly, it’s just really fun.
There are other things you can do like grab a tee and net. You can watch videos and hit the batting cage. They’re all great tools, but it’s no substitute for you.
So, as you see all these Black Friday deals, and you question what you can do, you already have the answer. The answer is you and has always been you.
On January 6, 2022, high school sophomore Teddy Balkind suffered a fatal injury. During a collision, a skate sliced his neck causing him to bleed to death.
At this point, we don’t know if he was wearing a neck guard or not. What we do know is two things: (1) they’re designed to prevent tragedies like this one; and (2) they’re not mandated by USA Hockey.
The second point is a massive problem. When you don’t mandate it, you allow children (and sometimes parents) to get lax with pieces of safety equipment. Moreover, when you don’t introduce it and/or enforce it with young players, they become less inclined to wear it as they age.
It’s more than that. There needs to be appropriate minimum standards. If you’ve seen hockey necks guards, they run the gamut. There’s the it’s a neck guard to say you have a neck guard to actual Kevlar.
Governing bodies need to not only set standards, they need to lead studies. More than that, they need to inform.
Most parents are decades removed from playing the sport. That’s even if they played the sport. Parents are only guessing what’s the correct and most up to date equipment.
There is equipment out there. However, most parents don’t know about it, and worse yet, it’s not mandated. All of this needs to change. Teddy shouldn’t have died, and we can’t sit around and wait for the next tragedy.
Mets fans are a truly blessed to be a great community. That includes regular fans like myself as well as people like Mets PA Announcer Colin Cosell.
Recorded a bunch of voiceovers today, including a couple of call-ups, and wow…I miss being behind the mic. Anybody else want a call-up for a quick, easy, and FREE Christmas gift? ? #CallMeUpColin
— Colin Cosell (@CosellPA) December 22, 2020
Cosell, for no reason other than he’s a great person, offered to prepare walk-up music and introductions for Mets fans for free. He stepped up and gave Mets fans a free Christmas gift they can cherish forever.
I reached out, and I requested one for each of my boys. They absolutely loved it. It wasn’t just them either. My entire family did as well, especially my father who probably got more of a kick out of it than anyone.
That’s what Cosell did. He gave a gift not just to my kids, but also my entire family. That is something truly special, and I cannot begin to thank him. Honestly, in addition to my private notes is to publicize how great a person he is for doing something like this.
So again, thank you for this truly wonderful gift. Words cannot express how wonderful it was.
If you give a Met a cookie, he’s going to ask for a glass of 2% milk,
When you give him the milk, he is getting ready to hit like Straw,
When the Met is done eating his cookie,
He’ll want another and another and another.
He will go outside to get an Insomnia Cookie.
When he is outside he will see the Home Run Apple,
Seeing the apple will make him want to crush baseballs.
The pitcher will have to pitch a ball,
The outfielders ready with their gloves.
To the pitcher, he’ll look strong like a Polar Bear with his bat.
The pitcher will throw a pitch,
He’ll hit a HOME RUN!
He’ll do a bat flip and dance like a Squirrel to celebrate.
When he starts to dance, the press will want to take his picture.
When he sees his smiling face, he’ll want to text the picture to all of his friends.
When talking, they’ll talk about how to play the game the Wright way.
They’ll talk about scouting reports, camaraderie, and giving the extra 2% on the field.
Talking about the extra 2% will remind them they’re thirsty.
So, they’ll get a glass of milk.
And chances are . . .
If they gets themselves a glass of milk, they’re going to want a cookie to go with it.
In his Medium article, Ryan Holiday writes about how the eternal search for quality time leads to disappointment. In reality, it’s that search which not only builds up these moments to live up to impossible lofty expectations, but it also has you missing the everyday magic.
It is an article well worth the time. In it, he discusses Jerry Seinfeld’s love of the mundane and how Holiday has loved his time just waiting.
Reading it brought me back to different moments. There are those times I’m driving in my car, and my son innocently begins a conversation by saying, “Daddy?” in that one tone where I know he has something important he wants to say.
It’s those moments my youngest just randomly starts singing a song and gets all excited when you start singing with him.
Honestly, Holiday is right. With your family, the best things happen everyday, and the moments don’t need to be manufactured. They’re already there, and they’re coming when you least expect it.
For example, yesterday, I was making macaroni and cheese for lunch. Next thing I know, my oldest wants to help. So while the pasta is boiling, I have him measuring out the milk and butter.
As is usually the case, when my oldest is doing something, the youngest needs to do it too. Suddenly, after I drain the pasta, the two of them, not me, are stirring the ingredients together.
This was a completely organic moment which happened for no other reason than the family was spending time together. To me, this was Holiday’s point. From the seemingly mundane came the real magic.
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:
I don’t know who needs to hear this but if you aren’t traveling with children don’t use the family bathrooms in airports. It makes you a bad person.
— Preston Wilson (@PrestonWilson44) August 19, 2019
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.
Last Saturday was the loudest I’ve ever experienced Citi Field. With how loud the crowd was, it was honestly forcing me to make a choice. Considering I was at the game with my 19 month old, the noise level put me in a very difficult position. As big a game as that was no game is big enough to expose a child to that level of noise especially since there is evidence exposing children to that level of noise can create hearing loss.
The options available were to just watch the game from one of the suites my ticket afforded me access. There are issues with that especially since seating is limited, and on a more selfish note, you don’t get to have the full fan experience. If push comes to shove, you go to the suite, but at the same point, you really can only spend so much time there before you have to leave.
Of course, leaving the game was a possibility. However, I also had a five year old with me who was really excited for the game. Again, if push comes to shove, you don’t endanger one child for the other. However, if there was another solution, you find it just so you don’t have to upset your child (or effectively throwing away hundreds of dollars).
That left the best recourse being available being finding noise cancelling headphones. Now, if you go to the Citi Field Information Guide, there is ZERO information on how to obtain them. With this being the Mets, that initially left me wondering if there were ones for sale. I tried the Mets Dugout Shop for Kids (by Section 105), and I tried the Mets Team Store, but they did not sell them.
After that, I tried Fan Assistance. I was actually directed to a number of different places with some people surmising there may be earplugs available in one area. That was definitely not an option. Some recommended the Nurses’ Station, but that was just a guess. Undeterred, I walked through the ballpark until I found someone who finally knew what they were talking about and where to get them.
Finally, I had my answer. For those who are already annoyed on how this is like one of those recipe posts where you don’t care about the nonsense background, here is the information you need.
From the perspective of your entering the ballpark from the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, there is a Rotunda Ticket Services Office in the back left corner. When you enter, you have to fill out a form, and you will be given a “Sensory Bag” which includes fidget toys, noise-cancelling headphones, weighted lap pads, and other sensory resources. Be forewarned, they will hold your driver’s license or other form of ID until you return the bag.
The noise cancelling headphones will fit your toddler’s head, and they will fit an adult’s head. They are adjustable. Being the parent I am, I first tried them on myself. They were uncomfortable, but they did really mute the surrounding noise. To that effect, they were quite effective.
HOWEVER, they are uncomfortable for toddlers. I spent most of the time trying to keep them on my child’s head. I spent much of the time being strategic with them taking them off of his head between innings to give him a break. I also made sure to walk around the ballpark a bit more, which honestly, is always the case when you bring a toddler to a game.
As noted, these are only for rent, and you need to return them to get your driver’s license back. Note, you do not return them to the Rotunda Ticket Services Office. Instead, you return them to the Lost and Found, which is located right next door. That office is only open for a half hour after the final out, so don’t delay.
For parents with small children or those in need of the sensory bags, I hope this information is helpful. For the Mets, this should serve as a lesson your ballpark staff needs to be better informed, and this information needs to be more easily accessible on your website because when I was in the ballpark, I had no idea nor should I have automatically known the information would have been attained by clicking on the Citi Field Accessibility Guide.
Grant Paulsen of The Athletic reported the Washington Nationals are now offering free kid’s meals at games to children 12 years old and younger. According to the Nationals website this is a limited time offer from July 22 – September 2.
In order to obtain the free kid’s meal, parents have to go to Nationals.com and go through a free but tedious process. First, you have to link your MLB account to the Nationals Red Carpet Rewards Program. Once you have done that, you then have to register your children for their Nationals Kids Club. Once you have jumped through all of the hoops, the ticket for the kids meal will be available on the MLB Ballpark App.
The kids meal is actually a sufficient meal, especially for younger children. You receive a hot dog with your choice of chips or applesauce and a choice of water or a soda. According to the Nationals, that’s a $17 value. So, if you are bringing a couple of kids to the game, that’s $34 dollars in your pocket.
As a Mets fan, it will be interesting to see if the Mets follow suit here. It should be noted that while the Nationals’ Kids Club is free, the Mets isn’t. That costs either $35 or $55 depending on the level you select. Of course, the Mets Kids Club, or Mr. Met Club does come with “complimentary tickets.” Still, if the Mets can follow the Nationals lead on an inane backpack policy, they should be able to do so here when it comes to making it more affordable to bring kids to the ballpark.