My guest blogger is Alexander Everett., a sophomore math major at Quinnipiac University. He is also my currrent research assistant in the area of mathematics called Sabermetrics.
Spring training has become a tradition for my spring break. Each year my family and I go down to Port St. Lucie and travel around south Florida to as many Mets spring games as possible. Spring Training is the best time of the year. For $20 you can get a first row seat with the best view of a baseball game imaginable. There is always optimism surrounding every team and excitement to see the new talent brought into camp. However, every year when I leave the spring training, the part I enjoy the most is the interactions with the ball players. Just sitting at the park talking to the players and coaches for the teams is something that can only happen during spring training.
This year I got to attend three games and saw the Mets play the Cardinals, Marlins, and Twins. The funny thing is, the Mets never win spring training games I attend (I think they are something like 0-12-2 in the last 14 games I’ve been in the last three years). However, the games don’t count so the final scores don’t really matter to me. In game one against the Cardinals, I got to watch John Lannan pitch against young Carlos Martinez. During this game, my grandfather and I were right behind home plate which gave us a view of the pitch that TV cannot show you, through the hitter’s eyes. Watching two polar opposite pitchers throw and work from right behind home plate showed a huge difference in two pitchers
In game 2, it was an away night game against the Marlins. Spring training games are never at night, which already made this game different. During this game however, is when I got to have conversations with the players. Our seats were the first row right next to the Mets dugout so I was able to easily walk over and talk to some of the players while getting autographs. Even the substitute first base coach, Edgardo Alfonzo came over to talk to us for a little while. However, it wasn’t until the end of the game where I had to have a good interaction with a player. After the game, relief pitcher Vic Black was throwing in the Mets bullpen, which was also by my seats. So after he was finished I talked with him. What Vic told me and showed me was that if he warms up in the bullpen and doesn’t throw in the game, his hand uncontrollably shakes to a point where he can’t do anything besides pitch. Before that I had no idea adrenaline could act so high in a spring training game. It was just icing on the cake to see Zack Wheeler pitch live and close up that night.
The final game was when the Twins visited the Mets. This was the one game where I was able to enjoy the game and not go harass players the whole time. In this relatively uneventful game, I got to see free agent acquisition Chris Young hit a long home run and prospect and 2013 first round draft pick Dominic Smith play half a game. While watching this young prospect play first base and get standing ovations, it dawned on me that I am older than him (which made me feel sick.)
Overall, I left spring training optimistic about the 2014 Mets. Although it is cliché, this does feel like a different team than last year. They are having fun and actually feel competitive which has been missing for a while. Their pitching staff looks fantastic and their offense looks much improved. Now, the only thing to wait for is opening day, March 31st