New additions to my card collection

I haven’t bought any baseball cards in the last month, but Brian from Play at the Plate made sure I’d have at least a representation of the Mets in this year’s Bowman set for my collection.

Jacob-deGrom

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Thoughts on the New York Mets at Memorial Day, 2015

Members of the New York City Police Department unfurl a giant American flag across the outfield at Citi Field during the Mets' 2015 home opener in April (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Members of the New York City Police Department unfurl a giant American flag across the outfield at Citi Field before the Mets’ 2015 home opener in April (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Memorial Day is often thought of as the time that it makes sense to start looking at the MLB standings. More than a quarter of the schedule has been played, and we think we’re getting a handle on which teams are good, which teams could be “good enough,” and which teams need to wait until next year.

This Memorial Day certainly went better for the New York Mets than last year’s. No one got fired and they managed to win their game.

But all the hope and optimism generated by April’s 11-game winning streak are gone. Despite today’s victory, the Mets are just four games over the .500 mark and are mathematically closer to the third-place Atlanta Braves than the first place Washington Nationals.

Over the last seven days, the Mets are 2-5 and have been outscored 43-17. A lineup that had several question marks on Opening Day is now a serious cause for concern thanks to disappointing performances and injuries.

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Checking in

Remember this Daily News cover on the eve of the Subway Series? Those were good times.

Remember this Daily News cover on the eve of the Subway Series? Those were good times.

One fifth of the 2015 baseball season has already gone by, All-Star voting has been underway for weeks and we’ve seen historical milestones reached, even if some people would prefer to ignore them.

The Mets had an 11-game winning streak, which included an undefeated 10-game home stand to open the season. They’re still in first place, but that success is a distant memory. Injuries have led to a lineup that’s featured Kirk Nieuwenhuis and his .088 as the starting center fielder and shortstop Wilmer Flores batting fifth… it’s turned out about as well as you’d expect.

Factor in an overworked bullpen which has also been affected by injuries, and it doesn’t really matter how brilliant the starting pitching is…the Mets are having a hard time winning games.

Due to a combination of reasons- a fluctuating work schedule, church responsibilities, and a severe allergy season chief among them – I’ve only been to one baseball game so far this year: the Mets’ home opener. (They won!) I haven’t been to a minor league or independent league game at all yet.

Thanks to Stubby, I do have my 2015 Topps Heritage Mets team set… and I grabbed the Mets’ blister-carded Topps team set when I saw it in Trenton last month. But aside from those, I haven’t been adding to my baseball card collection. I’m thinking about whether I want to bother with Bowman, but I’m probably going to wait for Topps Series 2 at this point.

My friend Greg added to my autographed baseball collection while he was in Florida. I’ve also gotten a couple more of the cards that I sent out during spring training back in the mail – my successful return rate is now up to 40 percent, 20 out of 50.

And thanks to a connection made through this blog, I am now the owner of a neat Mets Old Timer’s Day presentation ring that once belonged to Roy McMillan and is older than I am.

Roy McMillan Old Timer's Day Ring

Roy McMillan Old Timer’s Day Ring

When (if) I start going to more baseball games, I’ll probably be a more active blogger. If you want to keep in touch with me (and don’t mind the non-baseball content), I invite you to follow me on Instagram and Twitter. And I do answer most emails to paul@randombaseballstuff.com.

Mets autograph of the moment: Omar Quintanilla

Yesterday’s mail brought a signed baseball card of former New York Mets shortstop Omar Quintanilla.

Quintanilla will never be remembered for the stats on the back of his baseball card – he has a .220 lifetime average with 8 home runs and 74 RBI in 402 major league games over nine seasons.

Now he did have his moments, with the odd game-winning hit here or there… but on-field accomplishments are only one reason to appreciate a baseball player.

When I remember Quintanilla, I will think of the times he signed autographs for fans at Citi Field on days when the “better” players wouldn’t even stop long enough to wave. And I’m not the only one who remembers Quintanilla for his fan-friendly attitude.

When I posted a photo of my signed card on Twitter yesterday, I got this response:

Best of luck to Omar Quintanilla on the Albuquerque Isotopes this year.

Omar-Quintanilla

I got to watch my first full Mets game of the season last night, aided by a timely rain delay that allowed me to get home from a meeting before the first out was recorded. And the Mets cooperated by getting that first loss of 2015 out of the way.

There’s been a lot of griping about the batting order Terry Collins has used over the first two games of the season, and I admit it’s not the one I’d write down if I were filling out the lineup cards. I’ll chalk up the lack of offense in the first two games to facing great pitching, but if the struggles continue in Atlanta I’m going to be concerned.

I also wasn’t thrilled with the botched rundown play in the bottom of the seventh inning. Sure, it didn’t cost the Mets a run… but it was bad fundamental baseball – what exactly were the Mets working on in Port St. Lucie for the last six weeks?

Allan Dykstra plays for the Binghamton Mets in 2011 (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Allan Dykstra plays for the Binghamton Mets in 2011 (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Congratulations to former Mets farmhand Allan Dykstra, who was called up by the Tampa Bay Rays yesterday when 1B James Loney went on the disabled list.

Thunder, but no rain

Free-Event

The rain stayed away from Trenton yesterday afternoon so a few hundred baseball fans could meet this year’s Thunder team.

There were free hot dogs and sodas, quick tours of the ballpark and a chance to watch the players take batting practice… but I think everybody came to get autographs.

And this early in the season, almost all of the players seemed happy to be signing autographs for fans – not that they had much choice at a team-organized autograph session.

Dante Bichette Jr. asked my friend Bart – dressed in Boston Red Sox gear as always – “Do you root for us?” Bart answered, “Of course I do – I root for all you guys to make it to the major leagues because that was my dream.” Bichette asked, “But do you root for us to beat the Red Sox?” “No,” Bart answered truthfully, and they both laughed.

The session was well-organized, with players set up in four different groups on the concourse because of the weather concerns. (Last year, the autograph stations were set up on the field where they could be spread out more.) Fans were given a map identifying who would be signing where as they entered the ballpark, and it was possible to get through all four lines if you were close enough to the front of your first one.

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When I got home, I caught the Angels’ 2-0 victory over the Mariners. It was definitely a win for the “we want faster games” crowd, ending in just a little over two hours. But I don’t know how many people found it exciting television – C.J. Wilson and Huston Street held the Mariners to just two hits and no runs, while James Paxton and the Mariners bullpen were almost as stingy. The game’s only offense came from a David Freese two-run homer in the fourth inning, and neither side really had many other scoring chances.

I guess we can breathe a sigh of relief that an MRI found no structural damage to Jenrry Mejia‘s elbow, but I still wonder if a second Tommy John surgery is in his future.