GKR Mother’s Day! With Gary, Ronnie, Kevin, cutest Logan ever, and more!

Oh dear, I didn’t mean to disappear! And in the meantime, the Mets were up, up, up with a stellar winning streak, then down, down, down with gutting injuries and frustrating, unnecessary losses. And I will catch up after this entry and start blogging in real time again! But for now, we step to the past, to Mother’s Day, so I can share pics of one of the best GaryKeithandRon events yet. Make sure to check out the full album here!

Tracy2.JPGOn the heels of the first GKR Empire Party Suites event a Citi Field came the 2nd extravaganza of the year, for Mother’s Day. Oh, we had so much fun! And on this day for families, I was joined by my parents, for their first major league ballgame in…well…over 40 years. Each GKR event has been a total blast, so go buy your tickets for Father’s Day, which will be in the Modell’s Clubhouse, separated from the outfield by only a chain-link fence! 

If you’re a fan of our beloved SNY announcers, you’ve just got to make it to a GKR event. Almost always present are Gary, Ronnie, and Kevin Burkhardt, and they are so gracious with fans, sharing laughs and taking pictures and signing autographs. And for Mother’s Day, we got the bonus of some of their families–and oh, they’re great families. I will admit I am a little bit in love with Gary’s mom, Joyce. And seeing her in the shirt with the slogan I penned for GKR, “I wait for Gary’s call,” was hilarious and perfect. Game ball goes to Joyce for wholeheartedly trying to get my parents to love baseball. Mom and Dad had a great time, and I’m sure they’d like to return to the ballpark again. But at heart, they just aren’t ball folks. As Ronnie said (and I paraphrase), “That’s okay, we need the non-baseball people for the other stuff!” Indeed we do!

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Can you guess who was the enchanter of the day? The little tyke who made friends everywhere he ran–and oh can he run!–racking up surrogate big brothers right and left? Why, Logan, of course! The famously adorable Logan Burkhardt, whose parents are two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. He’s getting big! And his smile will melt you.

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I can only stress that there are more delightful pics in the album, including my folks, Gary and Ronnie, Lynn, Kevin, close ups of the players on the field, and some Pick Me Up Some Mets friends you may recognize. Check it out!

Santana Grip and Citi Keith placeholder

I’ve gotten so behind in posting, alas, and I’ve got a doozy of a post to do tomorrow showcasing all the heaps of fun and excitement we had at the GKR Mother’s Day event at Citi Field–and there will be loads of special guests for you to see!

But for now, when your spirits might be dampened by our first loss in 9 games, I give you fun things to look at. First, Johan Santana’s change up grip. A thing of beauty, right down to the manicured fingernails.

And then, enjoy some shots of Keith Hernandez broadcasting from around Citi Field, having a laugh and a grand old, security-detailed, I’m Keith Hernandezy time.

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Mets practical jokes: Omir cream pie and Johan cup head

Checked my DVR of last night’s postgame show this morning to find this gem involving JJ Putz “congratulating” Omir Santos on his monster grand slam. How’s that taste, Omir? Good, good, good!

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But that wasn’t this week’s only team practical joke. Way back on June 30 2007, I captured the first case of “bubble gum cup head” in the dugout: David Wright getting Ramon Castro good. Since then, Ramon has taken up the cause more than once. His latest victim? Our beloved Johan Santana. One of the few laughs during that game, with Ollie pitching a clunker to the Nats. My fave part is when Johan nestles down between Ollie and Tatis, his arms draped over their legs, his cup hovering uninhibited between them.

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First Gary, Keith, and Ron event at Citi a total winner! With special guests :-)

Picture 020f.jpgIf you’ve been reading this blog for the past year, you know I’ve been working closely with Mets announcers’ charity foundation GaryKeithandRon.com and loving it every step of the way! Much of the credit for that goes to Lynn Cohen, who attends to every single detail of the operation personally–right down to shipping!–and always with a smile, a laugh, and a fun story at the ready. GKR just plain has fun, and I think that’s one of the reasons fans have become so devoted to the foundation–they have fun too!

That was the prevailing spirit at the first GKR Citi Field event last night–an evening of pure fun, with Johan on the mound, Gary Cohen, Ron Darling, Kevin Burkhardt, and Mr. Met in the suite, and the GKR supporters all enjoying the fancy-pants digs of the new Empire Party Suites. This is one photo album you won’t want to miss! Browse all the pictures here

Picture 033f.jpgThe evening started with the suite buffet (though I can’t lie, Shake Shack and Blue Smoke are tastier) and, in truth, a lot of gawping. Whether or not you think a ballpark should be so luxurious, I will tell you, this is a fine place for a party. Unlike at Shea, there aren’t glass doors separating the suite from the view of the ballpark. You can move back and forth from game to suite with ease, and there are TVs everywhere–even for the seats outside–to ensure you don’t lose a single moment of play.

Picture 068f-1.jpg[An aside? Less than an hour before the game began, I checked out the party suite bathrooms where I was tickled to see yet another TV. Until I realized it was tuned into the YES network. Yes. It was YES. I told the bathroom attendant–who didn’t disagree–“Even porn would be more appropriate.”]

The party really got started when Gary stopped by to pose, chat, and sign for every single fan who asked. We GKR fans know how lucky we are to have the best play-by-play man in all of sports! Not to mention how swell Gary and Lynn look together :-)

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Picture 162f.jpgRonnie showed up soon afterwards–a surprise guest, since he wasn’t even working that night! But that’s the kind of guy Ron Darling is–he’s always entirely gracious with fans and will go out of his way to ensure they have the best baseball and Mets experience that can be had. Ron even signed a copy of his recent hit book, The Complete Game, for a lucky fan who thought to bring it by. If you look at the full photo album, you may realize it’s hard to get a picture of Ron Darling smiling. I get the feeling he prefers not to in pics, which is a shame, because Ronnie has one of those great smiles–the kind where his eyes light up and widen, and you just know he means it.

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Our third surprise guest star–continuing the trend of just great, fan-friendly folks–was SNY favorite and Pick Me Up Some Mets friend, Kevin Burkhardt. Now Kevin’s not one to hide his smile; he brightens up a room, and once he meets you will likely remember you forevermore. Though it was the beginning of the game, Kevin also let my readers have a peek at the scorecard he keeps during the SNY broadcast–you never know when he’ll need to step in with a game-related tidbit or some off the cuff play-by-play. Woulda been fun to see what the card looked like by the 9th! I did get to see a recent pic of Logan, and oh that kid just gets cuter. He remains as blond and smiley as ever, with cheeks you just want to squeeze, albeit gently!

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Ooh, by the way, did you notice Lynn’s tank top? She’s wearing my favorite slogan of the ones I’ve helped add to the GKR inventory–“Real Men Call.” Make sure to get your own totally cute tank here!

I got so many more wonderful pictures–of the field and the game, the Empire suites, the very Mets-centric Empire level hallway, the food, the fans, and the usual Pick Me Up buddies.Picture 120f.jpg I truly recommend you browse the album, but for now here are some parting shots. I will admit I’m a bit overly pleased with the one where I’m pinching the wee Home Run Apple…Also, you’ll see pics of two Ugly Betty cast members (I confess I don’t watch the show) since they were filming a scene for their finale involving the first pitch. Except there were about 5 first pitches so they could get their shot, and let me tell you, Mr. Pretty Boy Actor should stick with his day job…I’m guessing they’ll edit out the boos :-)

It’s not complex mathematics, friends. GKR + great people + Santana = one damn fine evening. Look out for ticket opportunities to future events, for there will certainly be many. I look forward to them all.

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A Doc quote, and some cool pics from Santana’s first Citi appearance

Doc Mo.jpgHave you been following GoodenGate? Ugh, so Dwight Gooden takes a Sharpie to the precious Ebbet’s Club wall and the Mets brass gets up in arms. In the end, sounds like they’re moving the signature to a different location, where more autographs from Mets greats can be added–and that’s cool–but to have even considered wiping it clean in the first place just feels…cold. Let’s warm up our new ballpark, people.

Here’s something fun, though. The organizers of the Mo’s Zone promotional event were able to send me a Doc quote exclusively for Pick Me Up Some Mets readers. Nothing too deep, but I’m glad to hear that we’ll have this fan favorite around a lot this season.

Zoë: Will you be a regular at Citi Field now that your nephew is on the team?
Doc:
Yeah,
you’ll see me a lot, and it’s great to be back, and the camaraderie with
the fans, and sharing baseball memories with them as well, I’ll enjoy
that.


Looks like Modell’s sponsored the fan-created K-counter I saw at the ballpark that night, which is fun and all, but I confess I’d rather have the actual K-Counter back somewhere on or around the scoreboard. Heck, let Mo’s sponsor it–then you can still cram as much advertising in as possible. Did you notice even the on deck circle has advertising on it? It’s now the New Era On Deck Circle. I’m not whining–just having a cranky corporate-is-annoying moment, so forgive.

mo's zone k-counter.jpgPicture 094a.jpgI’m definitely hoping for a good series off in St. Louis starting tonight, but for now I thought I’d share some of the great pics I got during Saturday’s game, featuring a few blog friends too, like Coop, Kranepool Society’s Stephen, and Danielle from The Wright Stuff.

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Picture 012a.jpgBefore we check out Santana, take a look at this shot of the promenade level–after waiting on line for Blue Smoke to get my deeeeeeelicious pulled pork sandwich, I headed up to my seats, and lo and behold, on that gorgeous, sunny Saturday, fans were lounging in the wide concourse of the promenade’s main food court area, where picnic tables and actual space make for a much comfier concessions experience. Alas, the food isn’t as good, but if you’re more interested in sitting and hanging than waiting on line for the good stuff, consider a trip upstairs at Citi. And they’ve got their very own Mama’s of Corona!

Now how much do we love Johan Santana’s pre-game handshake ritual? I’m gonna say lots. Here’s my attempt to use my 40x digital zoom to get shots of it from across the field in upper promenade. Cilck the pics to enlarge and find Johan (who is way cooler than Waldo).

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Video: Team showing Sheff the love

Here’s one of the reasons you gotta love our Mets: They’re a team. An actual team that supports each other and has the next guy’s back and seems to genuinely want its teammates to succeed. Few moments better exemplify that than when the new guy–the big shot new guy–goes yard for the 500th time, and his teammates are there at the finish with huge smiles and bracing hugs. Jose Reyes is there with the first embrace, but David Wright’s is the longest. Looks like Sheffield says something into his ear while they hug. Wish I knew what it was!

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Pics still to come from yesterday’s awesome game at Citi. Santana was his usual (consistent! Oh, what a word!) self, and our boys managed to move at least one guy off the base pads and home–even if only because of Milwaukee’s error. Hey, we gave away a couple games with errors, and I’ll take a Santana win however I can get it! I got some good shots of our boys, met up with a couple other bloggers, and I will share soon!

Pics: Doc Gooden at Mo’s then awesome seats at Citi!

There’s Doc Gooden in in the middle of a bunch of Modell’s customers who will soon all be off on a bus to Citi Field to sit in the Mo’s Zone in right-to-right center field. I would be off to the game too, but in different seats!

I can’t lie–the “event” was rather anemic. Mitchell Modell talked to us a bit, Doc took the mike for about two minutes, and then the Modell’s fan bunch posed for a group pic with Doc before heading on the bus.

Picture 010y.jpgBut I got some cool pics, and so I’ll share them here! A few other bloggerati were there too, including Coop of My Summer Family, Corey of Metsie, John of Metstradamus, and Adam of Brooklyn Met Fan. Check out their links on the right-hand sidebar!

After the group photo op with Doc, I threw my camera at Coop, snuck in at his side, and ambushed in a pic with him. Looks like that chick on the other side had the same idea. Too bad I don’t look better in it!

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I went straight from the event to Citi Field, where I had some time to kill before Tracy came with the tickets, so I took a couple pictures of funny fan bricks…and a funny man. Coop says she’s seen him at Shea before; I have not. He’s…colorful. And so is his poor dog. Anyone else seen this character before?

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When Tracy arrived, and she got the tickets she had been offered–for free!–we realized they weren’t in the 500s, as we all thought. They were on field level. My seat was Section 125 (flush with 2nd), row 8. I have never sat 8 rows back at a baseball game before. I was in heaven. As Dykstraw said, “Don’t curse, we’re in the classy seats.”

So here are some pics from last night’s (Wednesday’s) game, the 2nd ever at Citi Field, with Good Ollie on the mound and an exciting win from our boys. (As I write this, the team ends what I thought might just be a 9th inning rally to win tonight’s game. Alas, John Maine looked great to begin with, but had a nasty inning there. The boys could make it up to us next series with a sweep!)

Click here for the full Wednesday photo album–lots of cool, close-up pics of the players and the ballpark!

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We also checked out the Acela Club briefly, and it’s certainly an attractive place to eat a meal, and if you can catch a spot near the window a decent place to watch the game. But all in all, I preferred watching the game outside. Still, here are some pics for the curious!

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Gotta get to Mo’s…and Doc!

I’m off later to an event at the Time Square Modells (42nd and 7th) to launch the “Mo’s Zone” at Citi Field. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by the Times Square Modells from 3:30 to 4:45. Modell’s president Seth Horowitz and the CEO Mitchell Modell will both be there, as will Doc Gooden!

From Modells: “The Mo’s Zone area is led-off by a 72 foot span across the outfield warning track where the traditional padded outfield wall is replaced by a chain link fence. The Modell’s Clubhouse is set behind the chain link fence and will consist of dugout-style benches backed by five full sized garage-style overhead doors. Those doors open up to a private fan hospitality area which can accommodate up to 70 fans.  The only thing that will separate fans in the Modell’s Clubhouse from the playing field is the chain link fence.  Fans attending a game inside the Modell’s Clubhouse will be as close to the playing field during the game as you can get without being one of the players!”

I will say that often when I see an awesome piece of Mets gear and ask where it’s from, it’s Modells. Maybe I’ll be able to pick up something Metsy to keep me warm tonight at the ballpark!

Details of Citi Field’s first home opener

Picture 076cf.jpgThe day started sunny, and not at all as cold as I expected. Things got a bit dimmer and colder–in more ways than one–as the hours wore on, but the night still had its great moments and photo ops. And though it was my 3rd game at Citi, now I continue to learn more with every journey. Click here for the full photo album, and here, for you, are some more bullet points.

  • For the first time, I entered from the Left Field gate, which opens at 4:40PM, before the rotunda. I would say if you’re going for your first Citi Field experience, go through the rotunda. Even if it’s more crowded by the time you arrive, there’s something special about entering the ballpark from the grand entrance. I felt butterflies the first two times I scanned my ticket at the rotunda. Left field gate has way fewer butterflies.
  • Picture 018.jpgShake Shack now has shakes. Oh my God. I wished my black and white shake would never end, and it took some self-control when I was done not to take the top off and lick it clean.
  • The sound system has been adjusted since the Mets-Sox exhibition games, and it’s much better. However, now they are playing the 8th inning sing-along, “Sweet Caroline,” which was greeted by a resounding chorus of boos the likes of which probably haunt Luis Castillo’s nightmares.
  • Picture 026as.jpgGot a couple shots of “Pick Me Up Some Mets” friend Adam Schein (who waved and mouthed “Hi Zoë”) broadcasting from the field before the game. I’m holding my tongue before passing judgment on Chris Carlin for the pre- and postgame shows, just to give him a fair chance, but I think it’s a safe bet you’ll see a post from me in the future beseeching SNY to bring back Yallof or replace Carlin with Schein…But not yet. To be fair. 
  • Johan Santana was not on hand for the opening day festivities so he could be at his wife’s side for the impending birth of their first son, Johan Alexander Santana, Jr. Congrats to our beloved ace!
  • Picture 087sp.jpgTom Seaver and Mike Piazza, you are Mets heroes, and I do not deny that. I enjoy clapping for you. I took many pictures of you. But when you meet in tandem on important game days, things do not end well. So forgive me if I don’t hold my breath in anticipation for your next joint appearance.
  • The big old Domino Pizza style Citi Field patch on the arm of all the players? Yeah, it still sucks, even from upper promenade.
  • The fans felt bizarrely quiet overall for this game, at least where we were sitting. I’m chalking it up to Pelf starting the game by giving up a home run on the 3rd pitch. It’s harder to get loud when you’re behind from the get-go.
  • When David Wright stepped to the plate with 2 men on base, I yelled out “Now would be a good time to get hot, David.” And we went wild for him! He raised the new home run apple! I’m glad it was David who got our first home run. I’m also glad we have proof that the Mets can actually hit home runs in the new ballpark. Even if ultimately we still lost (so annoyingly!), he tied up the game and gave us hope and something to cheer about. 

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  • Picture 115.jpgEarly in the game, Mike Pelfrey took a tumble on the mound, and though he waved off the trainers, they came running. Ultimately, he’d face a hit-parade after the fall, but I enjoyed getting this shot of what looks like Reyes and Wright giving Pelf some ribbing, and Pelf smiling sheepishly.
  • The soda cups at the Taste of NY food court are kinda cool–Citi Field on the front, the season’s schedule on the back.

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  • Picture 033p.jpgBy the time buddy Rob got to the ballpark, the line for Shake Shack snaked way past the ropes, but while saving him a spot I met the Mets Poet, Frank Messina, whose book of Mets poetry is out now. I anticipate a few stanzas soon about waiting on long lines for food. What rhymes with “delicious burger”?

There are many more awesome shots in the full photo album, including pics of the players, and many more of the ballpark, so I recommend you take a look!

As for exiting the ballpark from the promenade? Oy. First the crowd by the elevators brought traffic to an absolute stand-still, then the stairway creeped along as crowded as I can imagine it. Rob and I plan to head to the left-field ramp next time and hope it’s an easier journey down.

I’ll leave you on a bittersweet note. I tried to give a bright, optimistic smile after the loss. But it was right after. And it was another unnecessary loss, a sock in the gut by another error in the outfield and–of all things–a run scored on a balk. The season is still in its infancy, and there’s no need to get antsy about it, but at the moment of the loss this was about all I had in me:

Picture 142.jpgAnd now we’ve got…Ollie. Oh, Ollie. I will just say that I want him to win as much as we all want him to win.

Fight for us, Perez.

A glimpse at player amenities

I can think of nothing except getting to Citi Field for opening day-night. Left field gate opens at 4:40, other gates 5:40. I plan to be on line at the LF gate by 4:15 latest. Like Daniel Murphy (who I’m sure will be error free this opener!), I mean business.

But let’s take a look meanwhile at some of the new amenities that the players are enjoying at Citi Field. It’s a quick clip, but I’m loving the extra rehab facilities, and I’m wondering how much playing time the arcade video games and pool table will get. Hmmm, might have to suggest that Julie Alexandria play some pool with our Metsies for Mets Weekly!

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Alright, let’s make this opener worthy of all our anticipation. Let’s Go Mets!

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