Mets embrace Syracuse spotlight

Mets embrace Syracuse spotlight

Over 4,000 fans came out to watch the New York Mets work out in the Carrier Dome on Tuesday afternoon.
Published: March 27, 2019 | Updated: April 2nd, 2019 at 12:11 pm
Meet the Mets
New York Mets players stretch before practice. The Mets held an open practice Tuesday afternoon at the Carrier Dome.

Thousands of fans flocked to the Carrier Dome on Tuesday to see the New York Mets just days before the team’s first game of the MLB season. The exhibition to promote the team’s newest affiliate in Syracuse sparked a promising union.

The Syracuse Mets, previously known as the Syracuse Chiefs, were approved to become a Mets affiliate in late 2017 and finally completed their rebranding this past October. In preparation for their “first” season, the New York Mets hosted a free workout at the Carrier Dome, allowing all fans to show their support and build hype for the coming months. Players traversed the turf arena, signing t-shirts and tossing baseballs into the crowd as cheers erupted from sideline to sideline. For Syracuse residents, this was an easy move to root for. The New York Times’ fandom map lists that six percent of baseball fans in Onondaga County are Mets fans.

New Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen expressed his deepest support for the city of Syracuse as a new flagship for the Mets brand: “We have talked all offseason about a new attitude with this team and this city,” Van Wagenen said. “Now we can share that attitude with Syracuse.”

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The Carrier Dome may have been a strange setting for batting practice and fielding drills, but the team made the most of it and walked out with fans in a buzz. At one point, Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard ran out of the tunnel with a massive “S” flag, waving it around to demonstrate how much he cares for the city. It was a winning gesture that erased almost all concerns fans had for disparaging comments he made about Syracuse.

“[The fan turnout] was great,” said Mickey Callaway, manager of the New York Mets. “Everybody was excited. To see kids happy and smiling because they get to see Noah Syndergaard or guys like that — that’s what this is all about.”

The move to Syracuse has been lauded as a smart homecoming for the National League club. Before committing to upstate New York, Mets players at the highest level of the minor leagues had to commute from Las Vegas. It was often an arduous flight on quick notice. Now, rookies coming up the minor league ladder will be warmly familiar with New York before playing under the bright lights of Flushing.

“To have our fans — our New Yorkers — seeing our players is probably the most special part of it because there’s going to be an energy here. And I think New York fans are going to be here cheering on their team,” Callaway said.  

Meet the Mets

Callaway added that this change will vastly improve the health and recovery of players. They will no longer have to suffer the flights back and forth from Las Vegas. He said that players would often have to fly in on a red-eye and sleep in the clubhouse for a few hours before a game.

“[The workout] was awesome,” said first-baseman Dom Smith. “I know me and a bunch of my teammates didn’t know what to expect coming down here, but when we got here, saw the stadium, and felt the energy from the crowd, we loved every second of it.”

Meet the Mets

Mets fans tote a home-made sign for pitcher Noah "Thor" Syndergaard.

Meet the Mets

Noah "Thor" Syndergaard practices a pitch in the Carrier Dome.

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