News From The Field – WAY Out In The Field!

Ken at Citi Field

This morning I found out that a friend of mine from the old neighborhood had passed at the age of 45. Ken grew up on my block as kids and was a die hard Mets fan like myself. Despite later on moving to Panama his love for the Mets never diminished. Back in early 2011 when I was writing my first blog, The Crazy Mets Fan, I asked Ken if he would mind occasionally writing a piece for the blog. With out fail, Ken said yes. Below was his first post that I would like to share with you. RIP Ken!

Original post: February 25, 2011

Greetings Mets fans! My name is Ken Allaire, and this is the first of what I hope will be many contributions to “The Crazy Mets Fan” blog. I hope to add a unique perspective to this site: I grew up a few doors away from our host, Ray Gruenfelder, in Flushing, and lived most of my life in NYC, but I have recently moved to the Republic of Panama (“A man, a plan, a canal, Panama”- that’s the place!). In my new (3rd) world, I can only follow the Mets via print reports and online radio- rarely is a Mets game broadcast on TV here. Even worse, Panama is a Yankees country- Mariano Rivera is Panamanian, he is (quite understandably) a national hero. So every time I tell a Panamanian that I’m from New York City, they want to ask about the Yankees. I’m in hell! The good news is that Mets prospect Ruben Tejada is from Panama, if he makes the team and succeeds we may get a few games on tv here!

So one might reasonably ask, how is this guy qualified to discuss the current state of affairs in Mets-land? Well, here’s some more personal history: I have bled orange and blue for my whole life. Once literally. When I was about 10 years old I was (on the sly) listening to a Mets’ game on the radio while I was supposed to be sleeping, and Dave Kingman (The Mighty Lumberjack) hit a home run- I dashed out of bed to catch the replay on the tv my father was watching downstairs, caught my finger on a bannister, and sprained it badly. But I saw the replay…

Not enough? Well, I started going to games on my own, walking across Flushing Meadows Park, as soon as my parents deemed me old enough. Back in the day a general admission ticket cost $3- and we had quite a few doubleheaders, I could watch two games for $3 and buy a 50-cent scorecard as well to keep score and pass the time. The “Bleacher Bums” were a decent bunch, and we usually sat in the mezzanine, since the Mets weren’t exactly a tough ticket in the late ‘70’s and early ‘80’s! I even earned a t-shirt for attending 10 games in 6 or 7 days (thanks to some rainouts)- I wish I’d thought to keep that!

Then, while I was in high school, I started working at Shea as a vendor (soda heah!), and got to meet many of the rising stars in ‘84 and ‘85- sadly, I was away at college when it all came together in ‘86! In recent years, I’ve made an interesting friend in a softball buddy who is the grandson of M. Donald Grant- I hope to get him to contribute a few stories, he’s got an intersting perspective on such matters as the Tom Seaver debacle….

So, as an ex-pat struggling to keep up on the news, I may only have sporadic comments to share, but I’ve also noticed that a certain distance from my beloved team has earned me a little objective perspective. What do I see for the coming season? Well, the addition of Terry Collins is a good one, and the management issues really don’t concern me that much- the revenue stream is solid in NYC, this will work itself out. I don’t mind seeing Santana get part of the year off- he has always been money late in the season, if he comes back healthy and rested he could dominate the second half. But what have we done to improve? A couple of backup outfielders, some back-end starters, a reliever or two? So much will come down to health. Will Beltran wake up and give us his best? Will we ever give up on Luis Castillo? I don’t care if he shows up late for spring training- he breaks down every year anyway- but he’s a slap hitter and seems to have nothing in the tank. Will Daniel Murphy live up to his promise, will Jason Bay adjust to Citifield’s dimensions, will Ike Davis continue to grow? Many questions, and a competitive field out there- I’m always happy to start the year as an optimist, but we need some things to break our way this year, that’s for sure. I’m looking forward to following the season by whatever means possible in my remote outpost of sorts…. vamos a jugar beisbol!

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