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Greetings from Citi Field, the Futures Game and All-Star Week

Jul 15, 2013, 7:46 AM EST

Citi Field

I hopped on a Delta Connection flight to New York yesterday morning. There were eight people on the flight, including me. I was asked to move up to first class, not because I am special, but because they needed to balance out the weight. No mistaking it, baby: this is the big time. My first All-Star Game. And I’m so excited for it that I’m willing to overlook the inconvenient fact that it’s in New York and actually enjoy myself.

Nothing personal against New York. I’ve enjoyed myself often here. And I have the utmost respect for the city and its people. It’s just not my cup of tea. I am reminded of this every time I get in cab leaving LaGuardia and almost die ten times before I get to the Queensboro Bridge. I am reminded of it every time something happens which makes me have to be defensive and on guard and all of those things that New Yorkers tell you you have to be so the city doesn’t eat you alive. I live in Ohio. In a near-rural part of it, for cryin’ out loud. I get by OK when I have to come to New York, but my natural state is not best described as “on guard.” Especially since I began working at home. Putting me in New York is like putting a dairy cow in the middle of the African savannah. The novelty of my presence here will likely keep me alive long enough, but it’s by no means a natural state.

And this is where baseball has taken me this week, so on we forge.

I am staying at the Library Hotel, which is a little boutique joint based on the Dewey Decimal System. Really. My room number’s digits correspond with the classification for 20th century history and so my room is 20th century history-themed, right down to a book about Hitler and Stalin on the shelf and picture of Neville Chamberlin on the wall above the bed. It’s as if the hotel read all of my work about A-Rod and Braun and decided that I needed to be in the “appeasement of history’s greatest monsters” suite. Well-played, Library Hotel.

source:  There’s a media shuttle from Midtown to Citi Field, but I decided that, for my first trip to Citi, I’d do it up John Rocker-style and take the 7 train.  I’m glad I did. I always assumed it was the case, but now I know for certain: John Rocker was probably the most disgusting thing on the 7 train. Beyond idiots like him, the 7 train consists of more or less normal people trying to go about their day. Including the drunk guy and the guy with purple hair and the guy who looked like he just got out of jail for the fourth time and whoever else Rocker decided to attack in that article all those years ago. They didn’t bug me, I didn’t bug them and that’s how non-sociopaths get on in this world, Mr. Rocker.

As for Citi Field: it’s OK. Kind of a mish-mosh of styles and a more fragmented route is required to get around it than a lot of new parks, but it’s nice enough once you get to your seat and watch the game. And the food selection is pretty fantastic. Maybe the best I’ve seen in a big league park. There are many parks I like better than Citi — including ones that don’t have a bunch of scary as hell looking chop shops right outside the park that look as though they chop up way more things than cars — but it’s a fine enough place to take in a game. Like The Futures Game, which is the reason I was there yesterday.

I’m not really a prospects guy and don’t pay as close attention to scouting analysis as some other writers do. I figure the big leagues is a lot to cover so I end up reading Keith Law and Jason Parks and all of those guys for that stuff just like all of you. But I went to the Futures Game because, well, why not? I’m really glad I did.

For one thing, it was a nice, relaxed way to see Citi Field for the first time. I figure it will be hard to move around the place at the Home Run Derby tonight and the actual All-Star Game tomorrow, but yesterday Citi Field was probably only half-full and it made it easy to get to know the place a little bit. Starting with the Rotunda:

source:

When Citi Field opened this was the most obvious nod to Ebbets Field — an ire-inducing nod for those who thought Fred Wilpon was a little too taken with Dodgers history — but for someone who was born a long time after Ebbets was knocked down it’s hard to get too worked up about it. It’s essentially a Jackie Robinson memorial, and while he was a Dodger, he sort of belongs to all of baseball now. As it is, the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum and the team store is right off the Rotunda. It feels Metsy enough to me. I mean, check it out. The second edition of Mr. Met. With hands so uncomfortably human-like I at first thought it was a real person pretending to be a mannequin:

source:

After a lap around the park I settled into the auxiliary press box (located behind the glass in the air conditioned Acela Club behind the left field foul pole). Good seats for the game, although it was a bit of a sensory deprivation tank, insulated as it was from the ballpark noise. I assume I’ll be out there for the Derby and for the game, so I’ll have to get used to it. If that’s the worst thing that happens this week, well, good for me.

The Futures Game itself wasn’t transcendent but there were some interesting points. I was upset that USA manager Mookie Wilson didn’t put Byron Buxton into the starting lineup, but then he came in late and struck out in his first two at bats so maybe Mookie knew something we didn’t. Diamondbacks prospect Chris Owings had at least three slicker-than-slick plays at short. He’s hitting .353 for Reno, but I could find no numbers about his GF (grit factor) so it’s hard to say when we might see him in Arizona.

source: Getty ImagesDodgers prospect Joc Pederson fielded a fly ball in deep left in the top of the fourth and attempted to throw out Xander Bogaerts. He didn’t get him — Bogaerts showed off a pretty slick arm’s-length slide — but Pederson’s throw was a laser. Kid’s got a hose. You can say that about prospects, by the way. Stuff like “kid’s got a hose.” Say that about some kid who isn’t a prospect and you could go to jail.

Something also cool about prospects: most of us haven’t seen them before. I know that sounds like a shallow statement, but when you watch something like the Futures Game, you realize just how large a percentage of the players we watch on a daily basis are known quantities. We don’t watch them to see what they’re capable of. We know what they’re capable of. We just want to see them perform. Later on that fourth inning Jesse Biddle came in to bail Anthony Ranaudo out of a jam. He bent off a crazy-good curveball. I heard someone say he had a good curveball once. I’ve never seen it. Seeing stuff like that or like Pederson’s arm for the first time is exciting and fun. Now imagine seeing that a couple of years before a guy is good enough to make it to the Futures Game. When he’s playing out in East Jesus, Texas or Bumfuccaracas, Venezuela before anyone has heard of him. That’s gotta be the thrill that keeps the fire alive inside a scout.

The U.S. team beat the international team 4-2. The results kind of don’t matter, of course, but if you care about them go here.

I took the media shuttle back after the game. Taking a big bus from Queens into Manhattan is different from taking a cab in that you still think you’re going to be involved in multiple collisions, but since you’re in a bus you view it all with a tad more detachment, thinking of everyone else’s impending death rather than your own. “Oh, I wouldn’t have changed lanes there, but I suppose I’ll get a good view of him being smashed from this vantage point.” That sort of thing.

Today: there will be a parade.  Players will be made available for the media. Kay and I will have an HBT Daily for you from the ballpark. Then there will be a home run derby. My choice will be staying in my deprivation tank where I’ll likely have Chris Berman’s commentary piped in or else going out into the park, braving the crowd and hearing Mike and Mike do the play-by-play over the P.A. system. I’m thinking Mike and Mike will get the nod.

Follow me on Twitter for real-time updates and random photos. Keep coming back here to HardballTalk for posts as the day and evening wears on.

  1. philsphilsphils - Jul 15, 2013 at 7:52 AM

    Guys like Biddle and Franco are going to be fun to watch on the big league club in the next year or 2.

  2. unclemosesgreen - Jul 15, 2013 at 7:54 AM

    Congratulations on your new counter-weight status.

    • paperlions - Jul 15, 2013 at 8:31 AM

      Yeah, when someone looks at you and thinks “ballast”, that’s not a good thing.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 15, 2013 at 9:16 AM

        When someone looks at Craig and thinks “ballast,” you might be screwed.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 15, 2013 at 9:23 AM

        Unless, of course, they let him carry on a bunch of souvenir Amway going back.

      • unclemosesgreen - Jul 15, 2013 at 9:39 AM

        Ha – at least counterweights don’t get tossed overboard to increase lift! I’ll take counterweight any day.

    • cur68 - Jul 15, 2013 at 10:41 AM

      If he works hard, studies at night, makes the extra effort, he might make “Supercargo” status.

      • unclemosesgreen - Jul 16, 2013 at 8:54 AM

        That’s one approach. I’d just visit Carl’s Jr. every day – different strokes I guess.

  3. Detroit Michael - Jul 15, 2013 at 8:36 AM

    Your daughter was be quite a prodigy if she was managing a team in the Futures Game.

  4. a125125125 - Jul 15, 2013 at 8:41 AM

    Hope the coverage will include more self-serving, introspective, painfully boring articles about your birthday.

    • heyblueyoustink - Jul 15, 2013 at 8:47 AM

      You missed 3 and 4. Just in case your schooling had failed you.

      • heyblueyoustink - Jul 15, 2013 at 9:14 AM

        Well, there’s one screen name.

        Nice job, ass clown, in outing yourself.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 15, 2013 at 9:21 AM

        I’m sorry. I didn’t follow that last part. Are you still on medication?

      • heyblueyoustink - Jul 15, 2013 at 10:03 AM

        Nah, just trying to figure out who some of these screen names who have infected our nice little forum are, so I can troll the hell out of them, one at a time.

        I used to moonlight as a bouncer as a second gig at a dive bar on the weekends. These mental midgets seem to be along that breed. It’ll be fun! :-)

      • historiophiliac - Jul 15, 2013 at 10:13 AM

        Oh, well, this guy has been around before. I enjoy the irony — his trolls are boring and today consist of telling Craig *he’s* boring. Too funny. I wish the trolls would take a lesson from dirtyharry. At least he does some homework and puts thought into his haterness.

      • heyblueyoustink - Jul 15, 2013 at 10:28 AM

        That would involve effort and though. I mean really, look at the screen name: a125125125.

        It’s like some idiot’s luggage combination.

      • paperlions - Jul 15, 2013 at 10:52 AM

        No offense to CC, but I don’t know how many of us come here for his writing or insights so much as the community that can (generally) discuss baseball in an relatively constructive and civilized way (at least, compared to just about any other internet outlet). I do think CC has had a huge hand in this aspect of the site and that should not be under-valued. It is a hard thing to create when a site includes such a variety of fans and perspectives. Fangraphs generally has it, and so does minorleagueball (usually)…but those are much more specific subsets of baseball fans, and in those situations I think it is the oversight and approach of the primary contributors of the site that are responsible for those communities arising and maintaining..

      • historiophiliac - Jul 15, 2013 at 11:21 AM

        What I got from that is paper plays the site field. ;)

      • lanflfan - Jul 16, 2013 at 5:13 PM

        I lurk here more than post but I find it a very entertaining site, both for solid baseball knowledge and solid laugh factor. Far better than most other sites at maintaining a balance of both.

        I’m off to the shadows again…and to change the combination on my luggage :)

    • historiophiliac - Jul 15, 2013 at 9:32 AM

      There, there. You be a good little boy and play with your thumbs while the adults talk. Try not to spit up on yourself.

  5. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 15, 2013 at 8:57 AM

    I am reminded of it every time something happens which makes me have to be defensive and on guard and all of those things that New Yorkers tell you you have to be so the city doesn’t eat you alive.

    Here’s a little secret, no you don’t. The only thing you have to be on guard for are cab drivers, because traffic laws are more like suggestions in NYC. See that red light? They don’t care. See that walk sign in the crosswalk? They don’t care. See that one way sign? They don’t care.

    • cohnjusack - Jul 15, 2013 at 10:32 AM

      Oh, and cops. Cops and cab drivers:

      http://gothamist.com/2013/07/08/no_charges_for_cop_who_killed_man_i.php

      That link is about a cop who turned left (non-emergency), hit and killed a pedestrian with the right of way and had no charges filed against him…

  6. myhawks1976 - Jul 15, 2013 at 9:18 AM

    great article Craig. ignore the idiots. NY is one of my favorite places to visit. the city offers everything. my fiance works for Delta, so I fly down frequently. LGA is a mess, but I will take the subway and LIRR over a bus any day. the people watching alone is worth it.

    nice birthday article yesterday too. looking back and ahead sometimes is great perspective. thanks for sharing it.

    • a125125125 - Jul 15, 2013 at 9:35 AM

      Yes Craig….ignore the idiots and keep writing things that nobody wants to read. Should be a great way to bolster your blog’s popularity. Really looking forward to your 41st Birthday blog…..I’m sure it will be just as captivating as last night’s pathetic attempt at thoughtful insight.

      • cur68 - Jul 15, 2013 at 10:02 AM

        Oh fuck off, you annoying git. What makes you think anyone reads Craig’s work to see YOU comment with endlessly offensive drivel, like some comic show heckler? Get a life, you donkey. As someone once said on these very pages, you could be anyone on the internet and you chose THIS?

      • heyblueyoustink - Jul 15, 2013 at 10:46 AM

        The best part is in not defending one’s self. I mean, if you made a scathing response like that to me, it’s only natural I would reply in one way or another.

        This thing just throws poo and then hides under the sheets like a coward.

      • a125125125 - Jul 15, 2013 at 11:20 AM

        So sorry to have offended the delicate sensibilities of cur68 & heyblueyoustink. I’m sure that you both loved Craig’s agonizingly stupid post about facing the horrors of turning 40. In fact, I’m sure you both enjoyed a great birthday party with your fearless leader. Were you careful when you were eating the birthday cake? Wouldn’t want to get any icing on Craig’s ass while you were kissing it.

      • cur68 - Jul 15, 2013 at 12:23 PM

        As opposed to what you do? Show up like a 3rd grader with a pout-on? What did Craig do to you, anyhow? Steal your girlfriend? I bet he did. ‘Ole Lex Luthor is some studly mo-fo, in a Jawa kind of way. Can write the ass off a blog, too.

        We all get it. You’re SO jealous. Craig ate your lunch. That mean ole bald man.

        Well too bad, chid-ren. Suck it up, you petulant child. Act like you been to this rodeo before as opposed to some second rate hack who can’t cut it in life. Do you seriously think pulling down those who are more successful yourself enhances you in some way? If you do, you are worse than a fool.

        See ya, sucker.

      • stlouis1baseball - Jul 15, 2013 at 12:44 PM

        I think they are really just pointing out that your countless trolling of all things C.C. related illustrates either…

        a) You are jealous of him
        b) You aren’t comfortable with your current place in the society
        or…
        c) You are sweet on him

        I am guessing ‘c.’ Either way…you are stalking him like Hollywood paparazzi.

  7. phuckphilly99 - Jul 15, 2013 at 9:19 AM

    Craig, Craig, Craig. Do you recall that article you penned many months ago, screaming about how those “billionaire Wilpons” were getting a sweetheart deal from the city to purchase that chop shop land and redevelop it into something useful and exciting for fans to enjoy? And how all Mets fans were near-unanimous in saying this was actually a positive thing and you didn’t know what you were talking about having never been there? Well, can you at least agree that maybe we knew what we were talking about? …even if you still disagree with the “gift?”

  8. spellingcops - Jul 15, 2013 at 9:35 AM

    Craig, good post & congrats on the trip to the ASG. Berman though? Love him with football, but the back back back back back back back back on every fly ball during the derby induces ear bleeding & brain hemorrhaging.

    • moogro - Jul 15, 2013 at 4:31 PM

      This. He shat on the Cano video.

  9. sdelmonte - Jul 15, 2013 at 10:36 AM

    Pretty much grew up on the 7 train. I always love the view of the city from it.

  10. stlouis1baseball - Jul 15, 2013 at 10:36 AM

    “I was asked to move up to first class, not because I am special, but because they needed to balance out the weight.”

    Gahhh! I would have immediately tripled my dosage of anxiety medicine and downed 3 beers.
    Then…I would have drank two more. I don’t care how short the flight was. I don’t fly well.

    Something else the puzzles me…

    “I live in Ohio. In a near-rural part of it, for cryin’ out loud. I get by OK when I have to come to New York, but my natural state is not best described as “on guard.”

    Sooo…naturally…you take the 7 train!

    Serious immersion C.C. I am glad you decided live on the wild side for a bit.

    • umrguy42 - Jul 15, 2013 at 1:20 PM

      I now have Lou Reed stuck in my head. Thanks.

      • stlouis1baseball - Jul 15, 2013 at 2:31 PM

        Lol! You are quite welcome 42. And umm…sorry. But there could be worse songs.
        And the video has a chick in a bikini from 0.31 – 0.38 seconds!

  11. adiddie - Jul 15, 2013 at 10:53 AM

    Well written article

  12. moogro - Jul 15, 2013 at 4:32 PM

    More. And more picts please.

  13. yousuxxors - Jul 15, 2013 at 5:09 PM

    cab drivers are the biggest thing you need to look out for and I’m a new yorker. they will hit you and drive away. everyone will walk past you as you lay on the floor after being hit by a car. someone not from there will help.

    • spellingcops - Jul 15, 2013 at 10:27 PM

      Sounds like a nice place.

    • stlouis1baseball - Jul 16, 2013 at 11:09 AM

      “everyone will walk past you as you lay on the floor after being hit by a car. someone not from there will help.”

      This is precisely why I have avoided the place like the plague (thus far).

  14. rcdck - Jul 15, 2013 at 8:55 PM

    It’s a bit of a stretch to approximate the attendance for the Futures Game to be half full.

  15. mrznyc - Jul 16, 2013 at 7:47 AM

    What an offensive beginning to an article. You don’t like it here, don’t come. We don’t mean to interrupt your nap.

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