February 2012

Report from Port St. Lucie, 2/20

Hello, and welcome to the first day of spring training. I’m going to attempt to work this blog more thoroughly into my Mets coverage this spring, using this space to highlight the best content on Mets.com as well as some tidbits that may not make it to the main site.

The big news today, on the report date for pitchers and catchers, was that Jon Niese underwent a rhinoplasty last October at the behest of former teammate Carlos Beltran. Originally a cosmetic decision, the surgery ultimately allowed Niese to breathe better, helping him do his cardiovascular workouts this winter and drop 10 pounds.

Much, much more tomorrow, when Terry Collins officially addresses the media for the first time.

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

A note on Gary Carter’s memorial

Late Mets catcher Gary Carter’s family is holding a memorial for family and friends Friday evening in the Palm Beach, Fla. area. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to The Gary Carter Foundation, 580 Village Blvd., Suite 315, West Palm Beach, FL, 33409. Donations will go to support the Autism Project of Palm Beach County, Hospice of Palm Beach County, and Palm Beach Atlantic University Basebal.

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Reaction to Gary Carter’s death

The outpouring of reaction to Gary Carter’s death on Thursday was so immediate, and so overwhelming, that there was not enough room for everything on our main Mets.com stories. Here is more reaction from around the world of baseball:

Former Mets general manager Frank Cashen: “The genesis of the trade was that we wanted to add a big bat to the lineup. He did that right away, but perhaps more importantly was the way he handled our young pitchers. He was the perfect guy for so many reasons.”

Former Mets manager Davey Johnson: “Gary was a one-man scouting system. What people didn’t know was that he kept an individual book on every batter in the National League. He was the ideal catcher for our young pitching staff.”

Former Mets outfielder Darryl Strawberry:  “What he added to the team was character. His approach to the game was contagious. It spread to the rest of us. He helped each of us understand what it took to win.”

Former Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden: “I relied on Gary for everything when I was on the mound including location, what pitch to throw and when. Even when I didn’t have my best stuff, he found a way to get me through the game. He was just a warrior on the field.”

Former Mets infielder Wally Backman:  “He was like a big brother to me.  I always went to him for advice. No matter what time of day it was, he always had time for you.”

Former Mets infielder Tim Teufel:  “The baseball community has lost a Hall of Fame player and a Hall of Fame person. He was a good man and will be missed terribly.”

Former Mets teammate Mookie Wilson: “The one thing I remember about Gary was his smile. He loved life and loved to play the game of baseball.”

Mets Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver: “Nobody loved the game of baseball more than Gary Carter. Nobody enjoyed playing the game of baseball more than Gary Carter. He wore his heart on his sleeve every inning he played. For a catcher to play with that intensity in every game is special.”

Mets chairman and CEO Fred Wilpon, president Saul Katz and COO Jeff Wilpon: “On behalf of everyone at the Mets, we extend our deepest and heartfelt condolences to Gary’s family — his wife Sandy, daughters Christy and Kimmy and son D.J.  His nickname ‘The Kid’ captured how Gary approached life.  He did everything with enthusiasm and with gusto on and off the field.  His smile was infectious. He guided our young pitching staff to the World Series title in 1986 and he devoted an equal amount of time and energy raising awareness for a multitude of charities and community causes.  He was a Hall of Famer in everything he did.”

Hall of Fame pitcher Bert Blyleven: “We both grew up in Southern Cal, though he was 3-to-4 years younger than I was. He was a great ballplayer and a tremendous family man, and I’ll miss him.”

Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk: “We had a lot in common, from family to our profession. He endured a lot as a catcher, as did I. And making it to the Hall of Fame was over the top for Gary, as it has been for me. We knew each other for more than 30 years, he meant a lot to me. I’m crushed by his passing.”

Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson: “When you think of the great baseball field generals, you think Gary Carter,” said Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson. “He ran the game from behind the plate with strong leadership and passion. The Kid’s contribution to our National Pastime is big, but his heart was even bigger. We’ll always remember his caring way, ever-present smile and strong devotion to family, community and the Baseball Hall of Fame.”

Mets pitcher Jon Niese: “The one thing Gary stressed to us was team. He said individual goals were meaningless. He said the name on the front of the uniform was more important than the name on the back. That’s what I’ll take from my two years with him.”

MLBPA chief Michael Weiner: “We are saddened by the news of Gary Carter’s passing.  Gary was one of the greatest players of his generation and his enthusiasm and passion for the game will live on in the hearts and minds of those of us fortunate enough to have watched him play.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to Gary’s family, his former teammates and his legion of fans in the U.S. and Canada.”

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Mets launch anniversary celebration

The New York Mets today announced the launch of “50 Days to 50” on Twitter to celebrate the franchise’s 50th Anniversary season.  Tickets, autographed memorabilia and unique experiences are among the 50 prizes for fans every day through Opening Day, April 5.  The Mets will award Opening Day tickets as the final prize of the countdown.

The campaign, which starts today at Twitter.com/Mets, will consist of daily trivia questions and games related to Mets history and the 2012 season.  There will be different prizes every day including tickets to Mets games, autographed memorabilia, unique experiences at Citi Field, and game-used merchandise.

Fans must follow the Mets on Twitter (@Mets) in order to participate in the promotion.  A trivia question or retweet request will be posted daily and fans must include #Mets50 in their response to be eligible to win.  Winners will be contacted by the Mets via Twitter.

“The Mets 50th Anniversary season is all about the fans,” Dave Howard, Mets executive vice president of business operations, said in a statement.  “This promotion is one of the ways we are showing our appreciation for Mets fans who have supported the franchise throughout the years. It pulls together the team’s past, present and future.”

Today’s announcement of the “50 Days to 50” Twitter promotion is the latest in a series of commemorative programs tied to the season-long celebration that includes the unveiling of a commemorative logo and redesigned uniforms, the return of Banner Day, the launch of the Mets50.com web site focusing on Mets fans and their memories, and the 50th Anniversary Alumni Bobblehead Series.

The complete list of prizes featured in the “50 Days to 50” promotion is listed on Mets.com.

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Mets nod to past with bobbleheads

The Mets have released their bobblehead schedule for the 2012 season and it’s throwback-themed. As part of their 50th-anniversary celebration, the Mets will give away bobbleheads of some of the key figures in franchise history. Here’s the complete list:

April 22 vs. SF: Tom Seaver
May 26 vs. SD: Rusty Staub
June 17 vs. CIN: Keith Hernandez
July 21 vs. LAD: Edgardo Alfonzo
Aug. 25 vs. HOU: Mike Piazza

Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.