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2014 – metsgrrl.com http://www.metsgrrl.com one girl, one team, one city. Mon, 17 Aug 2015 15:04:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Mets Do Something Right: The 2014 Women’s Baseball Clinic http://www.metsgrrl.com/2014/07/07/the-mets-do-something-right-the-2014-womens-baseball-clinic/ Mon, 07 Jul 2014 17:35:35 +0000 http://www.metsgrrl.com/?p=2601 When other teams are having events with makeovers and vodka or arguing whether female fans are “Gamer Babes” or not, and OPI is pushing their MLB-approved line of colors, the Mets held a Mets Women’s Baseball Clinic Sunday afternoon that completely and totally focused 100% on baseball. There was no makeup, no knitting, no player’s wives, or any of the stereotypical activities that have been part of women’s focused MLB events in the past. There was nothing pink in the gift bag.

There was already a line waiting outside of the Hodges entrance when I arrived at Citi Field at 7:30 on Sunday morning.… [more]

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When other teams are having events with makeovers and vodka or arguing whether female fans are “Gamer Babes” or not, and OPI is pushing their MLB-approved line of colors, the Mets held a Mets Women’s Baseball Clinic Sunday afternoon that completely and totally focused 100% on baseball. There was no makeup, no knitting, no player’s wives, or any of the stereotypical activities that have been part of women’s focused MLB events in the past. There was nothing pink in the gift bag.

There was already a line waiting outside of the Hodges entrance when I arrived at Citi Field at 7:30 on Sunday morning. We went through bag check, then registration and paperwork, before picking up water and Gatorade and heading out onto the field. It was clear and sunny but not too warm yet, and there was also plenty of shade in the outfield. Donovan Mitchell, the Mets’ Manager of Player Relations (and former minor league coach and manager) was the master of ceremonies. We were divided up into teams and began warm up and stretching on the field. When I say “we began warm up and stretching,” I mean that we were doing an identical version of the same warm up and stretching you see major leaguers do before a game, or down at Spring Training. We ran, we stretched, we ran some more. Some women ran faster, some ran slower. Some were better at stretching, others just kind of vaguely gestured in the direction of the stretch. (Frankly, I watched Paul Lo Duca pretend to warm up at Spring Training years ago and most of us stretched more than he did.)

The group of women at the baseball clinic was fairly diverse. There was a minimum age of 16 (with parental permission) but most of the participants were grown-ups. (The $100 price before service fees was probably the biggest contributor to that.) There were older women and younger women, women who had played softball in high school or college, women in shape and women who weren’t. There were Orthodox Jewish women wearing long sleeves and track pants under their skirts. There was a woman with a cane who cheered her friends on and took pictures. There were women dressed for a workout and women dressed for lunch. I didn’t walk around taking a census, but it felt like the same ethnic diversity in the overall fanbase was represented here as well.

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After warm up we sat on the outfield (except for those of us who wanted nothing more than to make grass angels in the outfield–that grass is awfully nice to lie down on) and Mitchell explained the rest of the day. There were five coaching stations, which were all supervised by members of the Mets’ coaching staff, and our groups would rotate from station to station: hitting, outfield, pitching, fielding, and baserunning. My group (hello, black team!) was sent off to the hitting station, which meant heading into the batting cages in the Mets clubhouse with Bob Geren. I was disappointed we weren’t hitting on the field, until I realized that they had to get the infield ready for the game (which meant ‘baserunning’ would not be running the actual bases, a goal I have resigned myself to needing to rent someone’s children in order to do the Mr. Met Dash some Sunday in order to accomplish), and until I walked into the actual batting cage. We were all kind of in awe, to tell you the truth. Bob Geren explained how he’d set up four different stations for us to hit, and explained that this was the same batting cage that the team used, and how they used it, with a funny story about how he’ll tell someone that Terry might want to pinch-hit them, so they come down to the cage to warm up and can watch the game on the tv in the corner (which before the game is used to broadcast footage of that night’s opposing pitcher), and how Terry will get nervous when he doesn’t see the player on the bench and say, “Bob, you told him, right?” only for the player to pop back into the dugout after the second out.

I have not hit a ball with a bat since I was in junior high — okay, maybe early college when I “played” on my summer job’s company softball team. (I put the quotation marks there because I basically took up a roster spot, stood in the outfield and drank beer.) But I hit the ball off the tee several times, and made contact when the ball was thrown to me in soft toss, and my ‘team’ for the day was friendly and encouraging even though many of them had clearly played before and were actually good at it. Maybe other groups were different, but despite having actual talented athletes on my “team,” as well as women who needed to sit out a round here and there, no one was obnoxious about it. Probably because everyone seemed very happy to be at the event, but there were lots of cheers and high fives and smiles everywhere you looked all morning.

The announcement to move on to the next coaching station arrived, and we headed over to left field and the outfield coaching station. There, Mets first base coach Tom Goodwin jokingly explained how we were the line of last defense and whatever ‘mess’ had been created by the infield, we were there to stop it. We were divided up into two groups for a ‘quarterback’ drill, where we ran out as a coach threw a fly ball at us for us. We were supposed to catch it, and then fire it back at another coach, and run back to the second line. Some of us were good at this, others were not; everyone had fun, even the woman who caught a ball on the side of her sunglasses, causing her eyebrow to bleed (and she insisted she was okay and having a great time, until someone came over to bring her to the EMT). Given that my last experience with a glove was two weekends ago in Central Park when I was getting ready for this event, I acquitted myself reasonably well, even as I found myself wishing for a stronger throwing arm. It was sunny. It was beautiful. I had a baseball glove on my left hand and I was fielding baseballs in the outfield at Citi Field.

Bullpen coach Ricky Bones awaited our group next out in center field for the pitching station. “The most important thing to do is throw strikes,” he told us, before taking us through the pitching exercise, which involved playing catch and then taking turns pitching and catching to a partner. I was definitely not as good at throwing the ball, but surprisingly managed to catch very well, and only had to go scurrying back to the warning track once or twice. How my legs were not screaming in pain at this point I don’t know, but there I was, looking in for the signal, and then going into a wind up, throwing a ball and then dropping into a crouch for the ball to come back to me. (They’re screaming today. I am avoiding going to lunch because I will have to get up out of the chair I am currently sitting in.)

Fielding was next, and Tim Teufel was waiting for us between center field and right field. He ran down the exercise, which was fielding a ground ball and then throwing it bak, and gave us some pointers, noting, “This is the same advice I give to our minor leaguers; it’s the same advice I gave to David Wright many years ago.” That wasn’t an offhand comment, but rather a pretty important point about the day’s activities: at no point were we ever talked down to, or treated like second-class citizens.

This is probably the place to note that without exception, all of the coaches were all positive and friendly, down to the most junior trainer that was there. No one had the attitude of how awful it was to have to get to the ballpark earlier than normal on a Sunday, and waste their time and energy coaching women of varied athletic ability. It’s actually an enormous tribute to the organization that everyone involved in the day was as enthusiastic and energetic as they were. I know, it is hard to say so many good things about the Mets organization, but it was true, and it made me proud to be a Mets fan. That is not something we get to say or feel very often these days.

I was reasonably decent at fielding ground balls, but at this point in the day, my aching shoulder was not so great at throwing them back. However, I did glow when Tim Teufel yelled, “Good shoulder!” at me, as I remembered to turn my body in the direction I needed to return the ball (while also remembering to hold my hands like I was clapping and keep my eyes in line with my glove and to point my feet in the direction the ball had to go.) It’s not that I ever thought that playing baseball was “easy,” the way a lot of fans seem to, but by the time the day was over, I definitely had a new appreciation for the training involved to build the muscle memory needed to perform this activity at a professional level.

The last station was baserunning, coached by Donovan Mitchell, which, unfortunately, did not involve the actual bases. At this point in the morning it was probably a good thing that I was not running the entire 90 feet between the actual bases, although I was coaching myself internally to run through first base the same way I yell it at a player dogging it down the baseline. We practiced hitting the base, we were admonished to not jump on the base, and also practiced looking right to check in on the action and practiced different turns towards second base. I didn’t know where I had the energy to keep running down the baseline, and there were women who sat out a couple of the sprints, but I was having too much fun and it was my last station and it was going to be over very soon.

Then it was over, and we gathered for the team photos, both of our group and the larger group, and then everyone scrambled to get their photos with Tim and Ricky Bones and themselves in the outfield or with the infield behind them, before heading to the auditorium for the panel discussion. I will be honest that I had fairly low expectations for the panel discussion, but once again, the Mets surprised me. The panel featured Leigh Castergine (SVP of Ticket Sales), John Ricco (Assistant GM), Josh Lewin from the radio broadcast team, and Holly Lindvall (Executive Director of HR). It wasn’t an accident that the highest ranking women in the Mets’ organization were on the panel, and they weren’t here to pander to the crowd, either. The discussion was moderated, which was better than it being a free-for-all, and the participants discussed their career path and what they do for the Mets. The questions from the audience (with one exception, noted at the end) were on point. I asked why the Mets chose this format for the event, given the other types of events held around MLB, and Leigh Castergine said, “We talked to our fanbase, and this was the event that they wanted.” Other women asked about career paths in sports, and overcoming stereotypes, and there were questions about strategy and improving the team based on its strengths and weaknesses. It was an informative and enjoyable discussion that added to the day, instead of just padding it out, which is what I had feared.

Then we picked up our gift bags (containing a yearbook, a promotional batting helmet, a t-shirt and the day’s promotion, the Mets cereal bowl [don’t joke, I’m glad I got one!]) before heading to the Caesar’s Club for a buffet breakfast, which was included in the price. I enjoyed the air-conditioning for the next 90 minutes before heading to my seat in section 310 to watch the Mets play the Rangers, which was also included in the price. (I don’t want to say that I think we got a lot for our money and prompt a price increase that will make it difficult to attend next year, but I will say that I think the event was very fairly priced.)

The game got off to a strong start with lots of action early in the game, which was a good thing because I literally fell asleep in my seat during the 6th inning (and I was keeping score!) and headed home early, gingerly making my way down the stairs, muscles happily complaining the whole way. I never leave the game early, but it was a very long and exciting day which started very, very early, so I gave myself that out.

Yes, sometimes it seems like the Mets seem to go out of their way to antagonize or infuriate or ignore their fanbase over and over and over again. But every once in a while, they manage to get it right, and the event yesterday was one of those moments. Yes, there were some small procedural glitches, but they did not overwhelm how great the day was, and what a win this was for the organization.

Here are some suggestions for improvements for next year (because everyone made it clear there would be another event next year):

1) Registration took too long. I arrived at 7:30 sharp (which was when Registration opened) based on directives from the Mets to get there early to maximize my time on the field. I didn’t get inside until after 8am. Send out the waiver form in advance and ask everyone to fill it out and bring it with them. Yes, some people still won’t or will forget it, but it will take less time than asking every single person to fill it out right there. Also, instead of breaking up the registration table alphabetically, just have three stations that could register anyone.

2) Bring the drinks out onto the field somehow. You had two tables full of water and gatorade in the press room, but that would only work if everyone got time to hang out there. The back half of the line was rushed through so they didn’t miss stretching and warmup.

3) Find a more identifiable way to break the group up into teams. Too many women thought that the blue group was the group with the blue border around their name tag and not the blue writing. Every name tag had a blue border.

4) Have the photographers there early and have more of them. Since guests weren’t allowed on the field (and I am not advocating that they be allowed, because it would rapidly become unmanageable and slow everything down), the only way you could get a photograph of yourself doing these awesome things is if you had your phone in your back pocket and a friend to help out or ask someone to take the photo of you).

5) Don’t let guests into the panel discussion. I paid for this, they didn’t, and there were women standing while they took up seats. This is also so the Yankee fan boyfriend of a participant can’t hijack the discussion to ask how he could differentiate himself on a job application he sent in. Yes, it would have been great if the dude wouldn’t have been so tone deaf to think that the discussion panel at the Women’s Baseball Clinic was a great time to talk about how hard it was for him to get a job in baseball, but he did.

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Book Launch Event, 3/12 in Brooklyn http://www.metsgrrl.com/2014/03/08/book-launch-event-312-in-brooklyn/ Sat, 08 Mar 2014 15:24:58 +0000 http://www.metsgrrl.com/?p=2578 Join me at “You Sure Know A Lot About Baseball For A Girl” on March 12. I’ll be celebrating the publication of my second novel, “A Whole New Ballgame” 7pm at WORD in Brooklyn, along with my guests Joan Walsh (Splash Hit, Salon.com), Taryn Cooper (of Gal for All Seasons), and Diane Firstman (Value Over Replacement Grit), with Kimberly Austin of Rock Book Show moderating. Peanuts and Cracker Jack will be served! Facebook RSVP encouraged, but not required. See you there!… [more]

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Join me at “You Sure Know A Lot About Baseball For A Girl” on March 12. I’ll be celebrating the publication of my second novel, “A Whole New Ballgame” 7pm at WORD in Brooklyn, along with my guests Joan Walsh (Splash Hit, Salon.com), Taryn Cooper (of Gal for All Seasons), and Diane Firstman (Value Over Replacement Grit), with Kimberly Austin of Rock Book Show moderating. Peanuts and Cracker Jack will be served! Facebook RSVP encouraged, but not required. See you there!

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Have You Heard, Derek Jeter Is Retiring This Year? http://www.metsgrrl.com/2014/02/13/have-you-heard-derek-jeter-is-retiring-this-year/ http://www.metsgrrl.com/2014/02/13/have-you-heard-derek-jeter-is-retiring-this-year/#comments Thu, 13 Feb 2014 23:29:13 +0000 http://www.metsgrrl.com/?p=2570 It is okay to not like Derek Jeter.

I’ll actually go one further than that: if you are a fan of a team who regularly had to play and get beaten by the Yankees, it is okay to thoroughly hate Derek F. Jeter (the “F” is a long-standing joke in our house).

I grew up in an era where you could like things and hate things. I loved Bruce Springsteen, I hated the Grateful Dead. I loved the Ramones, I hated Boston, Kansas, Journey, Styx and their ilk. Really hated them, with the fire of a thousand suns. I don’t like Dave Matthews and when he played at a benefit concert I attended, I went and got some garlic fries.… [more]

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It is okay to not like Derek Jeter.

I’ll actually go one further than that: if you are a fan of a team who regularly had to play and get beaten by the Yankees, it is okay to thoroughly hate Derek F. Jeter (the “F” is a long-standing joke in our house).

I grew up in an era where you could like things and hate things. I loved Bruce Springsteen, I hated the Grateful Dead. I loved the Ramones, I hated Boston, Kansas, Journey, Styx and their ilk. Really hated them, with the fire of a thousand suns. I don’t like Dave Matthews and when he played at a benefit concert I attended, I went and got some garlic fries. I realize that in this age where kids can’t lose a Little League game and everyone ‘wins,’ this is not a popular way to go about life, but I don’t get it. Life is short. Have an opinion.

I hate Derek Jeter. Absolutely, I acknowledge that he is part of baseball history. I don’t care about anything else. But I’m a Mets fan. I hate Derek Jeter. I’m allowed to hate Derek Jeter. It’s just good old fashioned rivalry. I think he is smarmy and I hate his car commercials taking over SNY and whenever my cat does a totally unnecessary spin jump over a sock I tell him that if he’s going to keep that up, I’m going to start calling him Derek Jeter (to which the SO will quickly interject, “NO YOU WON’T.”) If you have a problem with this because you are a Yankees fan and love Derek Jeter, tough. I am not a “New York baseball fan” as some people try to explain their inability to pick one team to root for. I am a Mets fan and I don’t like Derek Jeter.

So now I prepare for a year in which every time the Yankees visit a ballpark for a series it will become the Derek Jeter Memorial Series, with endless tributes and fawning, and my Yankees fan friends will get irate and emotional and pissed off that I dare to say anything against the mighty Jeter.

But I’m saying it. You should too, if you want. You can recognize that Derek Jeter was an important player in MLB without falling over yourself to pay tribute to him in his last year. It doesn’t make you any less of a “true baseball fan” as the zealots are already trying to allege. Doesn’t make you anything, except human.

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WOR, Ralph Kiner, Tradition & the Mets http://www.metsgrrl.com/2014/02/06/wor-ralph-kiner-tradition-the-mets/ Fri, 07 Feb 2014 02:54:34 +0000 http://www.metsgrrl.com/?p=2563 When I read the Daily News article about the Mets’ radio broadcast transition over to WOR, and how Ed Coleman barely made it over and Howie Rose was taken over ‘grudgingly’ and that Josh Lewin wasn’t a sure thing, and how WOR didn’t want continuity, none of it made sense to me. A good baseball broadcast teams are a thing held in reverence. Fans of other teams with inferior broadcasters who play the Mets openly confess to enjoying being able to listen to our TV booth or our radio team. Even fans who hate their team’s broadcasters admit that it would feel odd if they were gone.… [more]

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When I read the Daily News article about the Mets’ radio broadcast transition over to WOR, and how Ed Coleman barely made it over and Howie Rose was taken over ‘grudgingly’ and that Josh Lewin wasn’t a sure thing, and how WOR didn’t want continuity, none of it made sense to me. A good baseball broadcast teams are a thing held in reverence. Fans of other teams with inferior broadcasters who play the Mets openly confess to enjoying being able to listen to our TV booth or our radio team. Even fans who hate their team’s broadcasters admit that it would feel odd if they were gone. There isn’t a guy in the 20-35 demographic who’s thinking, “Gosh, I’d listen to the Mets on the radio if only they had someone new and exciting!” You’re not going to suddenly attract new advertisers by getting a different team in the booth.

You will, however, turn off everyone who grew up with Howie and grew to appreciate Josh and their cameraderie, which seems to me to be a greater loss. But, like management everywhere since the dawn of time, they have to put their mark on the new thing they just bought just to say that they did.

I thought about all of this when the announcement of Ralph Kiner’s death began filtering through social media. Instantly my feeds filled up. I have one baseball-only account and another ‘civilian’ one and the tributes and respect flew thick and fast, young and old, male and female, all across the country. There are certainly differences in baseball fandom but respect for the game’s history is something that is not ever going to go out of style. Howie Rose is part of Mets history. Let’s hope WOR comes to their senses.

It is one of the many things I regret the most about coming to baseball so late is that I missed hearing the likes of Ralph in his prime. I do remember watching “Kiner’s Korner” on Saturday nights when I was babysitting and there wasn’t much else on. It seemed odd and funny and almost kitchy, with that paneling in the background. I remember being fascinated by it.

My favorite pieces on Ralph today:
Greg Prince: Ralph Kiner, Original and Forever
Marty Noble: “He traveled on the high road exclusively.” Baseball Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner Dies At 91

And the Immortal Chris Majkowski, as usual, has the last word:

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My New Novel: A WHOLE NEW BALLGAME http://www.metsgrrl.com/2014/02/03/my-new-novel-a-whole-new-ballgame/ http://www.metsgrrl.com/2014/02/03/my-new-novel-a-whole-new-ballgame/#comments Tue, 04 Feb 2014 02:26:41 +0000 http://www.metsgrrl.com/?p=2554 I’m proud and excited to announce the publication of my second novel, A WHOLE NEW BALLGAME.

As you might have guessed based on the title and the cover, it has a baseball-related theme.

A few years ago, an editor who had been following my blog contacted me to suggest that I write some kind of baseball-ish memoir. I wasn’t interested in writing memoir but I was interested in writing about why I loved baseball and how I got drawn into it. I started a short story and 12,000 words later realized that it was clearly headed somewhere else.

It’s a story about baseball but it’s also about growing up and driving around and falling in love and taking chances and having your heart broken.… [more]

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I’m proud and excited to announce the publication of my second novel, A WHOLE NEW BALLGAME.

As you might have guessed based on the title and the cover, it has a baseball-related theme.

A few years ago, an editor who had been following my blog contacted me to suggest that I write some kind of baseball-ish memoir. I wasn’t interested in writing memoir but I was interested in writing about why I loved baseball and how I got drawn into it. I started a short story and 12,000 words later realized that it was clearly headed somewhere else.

It’s a story about baseball but it’s also about growing up and driving around and falling in love and taking chances and having your heart broken. One of the things I am most proud of my baseball writing is how people who normally didn’t read a lot of sportswriting were drawn to it for the same reasons people like my music writing; it made them feel like they were there. I tried to bring all of that into this book.

For Mets fans, it will take you back into the 2006 and 2007 post-seasons, and I hope I did us proud.

More information is available at this web site, and A WHOLE NEW BALLGAME is available in paperback and eBook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Google Play and Kobo and Powell’s Books.

Locally, you can obtain the paperback from WORD in Brooklyn, and your favorite bookstore can also special order it for you – tell them it is in the Ingram catalog and the ISBN is 978-0-9835029-5-1.

BOOK LAUNCH PARTY:

SAVE THE DATE! March 12 at WORD in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Join me at “You Sure Know A Lot About Baseball For A Girl,” featuring some of the best NYC area lady sportswriters reading about baseball! Tentative lineup includes: Joan Walsh (Salon), Taryn Cooper, Diane Firstman (Value Over Replacement Grit) and Amanda Rykoff. Peanuts and Cracker Jack will be served.

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