MLB

Add It Up

Day after day/I will walk and I will play
But the day after today/I will stop
And I will start

Growing up, coming into my own, I’ve had two pivotal years that really stand out for me.  The first was when I was seven years old.  I had discovered baseball, and I discovered Duran Duran and New Wave British 80’s pop.  Both discoveries helped shape my personality even to this day.  And yeah, seven years old for me…was a long friggin time ago.

The other time was when I was 16 years old.  In the world of numerology (moons and goochers and all that stuff), it was an “endings” year for me.  If you look at your change years, “endings” could mean a literal loss or even something figurative, like letting go of an energy or limiting belief, and they happen every nine years.  So for me, when I was seven, the wheels were set in place to make this my life trajectory.  When I was 16, I discovered punk bands and alternative/indie bands like the Violent Femmes.  I started to straighten my hair, wear flannels and Converse sneakers, and I became a hippie.  Also, Tom Seaver was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame that summer, so I guess baseball was also prominent that year, though the Mets were not…that…great.

I’m far from having an “endings” year today.  But I have to say there was a change in dynamic with the way the current Mets team, and beyond, this week, that maybe they, themselves, are having a closing year.  I have been through trade deadlines, I was old enough to remember when Gary Carter was traded to the Mets, I certainly would like to forget “Black Friday,” but not what it did for me, personally.  Black Friday was a day that made me a “Blog Groupie.”  That turned into me starting my own blog(s) several years later.

Yet, in my 33 seasons of being a Mets fan, I don’t think I will ever witness nor have I witnessed as zany a week as the one that transpired, unlike Sandy Alderson’s deal in principle for Carlos Gomez.  In fact, I spent most of Thursday seething (and even attended a “group therapy” session as a guest on the Rising Apple Report podcast), and on Friday, the day OF the trade deadline, I kept singing in my head the lyrics to the Violent Femmes song “Add It Up.”  It had been awhile since I listened to the Femmes, so I turned up the volume on my iPod (mostly because my ear buds had shorted AGAIN), and I started to think about everything.  From a standing ovation for Wilmer Flores in what was presumed to be his final at-bat for the Mets on Wednesday night, to Flores’ tears in the infield, to Alderson and Terry Collins losing their shit towards the beat writers, to looking like nothing would happen (I even said on Twitter and the Rising Apple show as much, that I believed the Mets would stand pat)…

I felt like the non-deal for Gomez, while the Brewers beat writer suggested that the Mets wanted some partial salary relief for 2016 on Gomez’s already team friendly contract, and the Mets suggested it was injuries (when have injury risks ever stopped the Mets?  See: Putz, J.J.  See also: Santana, Johan.  See also also: Beltran, Carlos.  And while we’re at it, see also also also: Zambrano, Victor), I’m guessing it was somewhere in the middle.  Gomez missed a lot of the year with his hip injury, and had a down year for him already…but adding him to the Mets lineup would automatically make him the biggest offensive threat (And that should tell you all we need to know about this zany 2015 year already).  Though the fact that Gomez was in it for next year as well, and looked more like a Sandy move than, say, a partial year rental, it was nixed.  The celebration of Gomez with his former Milwaukee teammates (who bade him adieu ~ or adios ~, anyway) and Flores’ tears were all for naught.  Someone fucked up.  Multiple somebodies fucked up.

Oh, ma-mama, mo-ma, mo-ma mother
I would love to love you, lover
City is restless, it’s ready to pounce
Oh, here in your bedroom, ounce for ounce

I’ve seen some weird shit as a Mets fan.  I witnessed Black Friday, and Rick Peterson convinced he could fix Victor Zambrano in 10 minutes, even though his elbow fell off at about minute number three.  Vince Coleman threw firecrackers at some kids.  Bret Saberhagen threw bleach at reporters.  Bobby Bonilla wanted to give someone a personal hand-guided tour of the Bronx.  Duaner Sanchez got hungry at midnight.  Carlos Beltran got surgery against the advice of the Mets’ medical staff.  I heard Omar Minaya say “has lobby.”  I saw a collapse in 2007, and a denouement in 2008 take Shea along with it.  Needless to say, I have not had the warm fuzzies about Citi Field.

This year has been different.  The NL East is ripe for the taking.  While the Marlins won the offseason backpage World Series, the Washington Nationals were pretty much anointed the crown princes of the division. I mean, why wouldn’t they?  They went for broke and added Max Scherzer to their already decent pitching staff.  The Mets added Michael Cuddyer.

Nationals were beset with injuries.  The Mets and they have been neck and neck basically all season.  So then what?  The team lost David Wright and R.A. Dickey-lite Jerry Blevins from the get-go, and Travis d’Arnaud also had made several trips to the DL in the already over-halfway-done season.  How much wiggle do the Mets have?  They’ll never publicly admit it, but Alderson has always maintained “Flexibility” for spending, but then says, “It could go higher…or it can go lower.”  (Translation: It will go lower, mostly)

The city is restless, and it’s ready to pounce.  Hard to believe that I would find a song that’s about lust and sex, and turn it around on Sandy Alderson’s looking for an impact player to not only compete but take the damn thing.  The city is restless in that, the Mets are a springboard alert.  Ready to pounce in that if no moves are made after all (and very low-risk/high-reward moves were made with adding Kelly Johnson, Juan Uribe and Tyler Clippard, and losing some low-level prospects no one will miss), there wouldn’t be the buzz that’s been around Citi Field this entire season.

Oh, ma-mama, mama-mo-ma-mum
Take a look now at what your boy has done
He’s walking around like he’s number one
Went downtown and you got him a gun

Warts and all, there is no General Manager or team Manager who is going to be perfect.  While Sandy has made some questionable free agent signings (I’ve never been a Curtis Granderson lover or I don’t understand what the big deal with Cuddyer is…), his trades have always been creative and clearly thinking outside of the box.  Trading R.A. Dickey may have very well been one of the most impactful trades in team history.  Needing to stay creative and keeping in line with the “non-existent/nothing-to-see-here” budget constraints, he pulled a rabbit out of his hat.

I started a new job last week, where I became a pet caretaker and dog walker.  I was going between jobs on the train, and there’s a big dead zone underground where I was going.  Yet I know there is always one little itty bitty pocket where I can get updates or texts.  I hear an update.  I grab my phone instinctively.  “Mets trade for Yoenis Cespedes,” was the gist of it.

WHAT???!!!!?!?!?!?!?!?

This was the very definition of torture.  Not just being a Mets fan, though it has qualified as such in my years.  I could not get any updates.  THEN my stupid fucking phone wouldn’t open.  I ducked into a Starbucks to get some Wifi action on.  And it looked like a deal finally got done.  Something to really get excited about.  I have to give them credit.  I thought a deal like this was antithetical to what the Mets MO was these days.  To the extent that barely any dollars were added, but they got a gun to compete for this year.  Which I think anyone with eyes would see that’s not a bad thing.

Day after day/I get angry/And I will say
That the day /Is in my sight /When I’ll take a bow
And say goodnight

Mets history will look at Sandy Alderson’s leadership at where he’s had to make do with very little.  He’s had very little flexibility, despite what the owners and he, himself, might try to tell us.  They’ve had to get great drafts in order to be attractive to other teams for trading chips, as well as make us very excited about the future.  We see a glimpse of Steven Matz and channel our inner Billy Idol: we want more-more-more.  We can try to cast the fault of Matz to Minaya, who actually drafted him.  But it was Alderson who had no choice but to hold onto him.  Zack Wheeler calls and has a passionate plea that he wants to remain a Met because he’s excited about the team’s future, even if it means a slow return for him post-Tommy John surgery.  Wilmer Flores cries on the field (though I have no idea if the tears were for the response by the fans or the fact he thought he was traded).

For the first time in a long time, I am excited about the year.  Not to say there is not a lot of work ahead of us (denial is not just a river in Egypt, but we have to remember that they are going for it NOW, and have no obligations for the any of the moves they’ve made after 2015).  Yet, attendance is up on the weekends.  Harvey Days are endless summer nights.

And this zany week, that actually saw a 3-HR night by Lucas Duda be an “Oh, by the way, this happened” footnote in the insanity of Metsville, was capped off by a walk-off home run by the same Wilmer Flores who hadn’t had a home run in a few months, who had thought he was going to the Good Land in Wisconsin, who basically told the Nationals, this aint YOUR house.

There are several people who can take a bow and say goodnight after this week.  And hopefully that goodnight will be in later October.  Not the early part, you know, because the season ends then anyway.

I won’t go so far as to say the Magic is Back.  But if we add up what’s happened in Queens this week, it was a special and memorable time to be a Mets fan.

Happiness Is An Option

Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 1.59.57 PMI wanted to give myself a few days before fully addressing how I felt about the New York Rangers’ 2014-15 season.  I’ve gone through the emotions of of sadness to anger and being pissed off and near tears at the same time.  I saw a guy wearing a BLUESHIRTS playoff tee in the supermarket, and I got all choked up.  A friend of mine told me (not a Rangers fan, to say the least) that this is the most upset he’s seen me as a Ranger fan yet.  And it’s true.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt this way about this team, and it’s not even disappointment, though that’s part of it.

It’s not even my wanting the Stanley Cup – damn, how I wanted that fucking trophy this year – it’s more of a squandering an opportunity kind of thing.

This is the year I realized that it’s getting close to the later years of Henrik Lundqvist.  Glen Sather and James Dolan have dicked around to the extent that they could have possibly wasted his best years as a top flight goalie.  Guys like Henke don’t grow on trees.  He’s a one of a kind player and goalie, someone we’ll be rare to see in our history of Rangers greats.  And believe me, there are more players who were *great* but never got the championship than special players who actually did win a championship.  But I also think of losing guys like Darren Turcotte and Tony Amonte in 1994, great role players who were traded away for a “win now” attitude that did “win now,” yet ultimately set the team back decades.

Yes, I do realize that they won their only championship that year those two guys were gone.  They could’ve forfeited years of multiple titles had they held onto them too.  We’ll never know.

So my tears after the last horn sounded, signaling the end of the season, was not because of a loss of a game or a series.  It’s almost something of a loss I felt, like it’s the end of an era.  I don’t think things will be as storylike as they were this season.  When they lost in OT to the hated Devils in the ECF in 2012, I was optimistic.  Sure, I hated losing, especially to that team, but I was future thinking.  They had the goods, finally, it seemed.  Then 2013 rolled around and the abbreviated season just seemed like a wash and the team knew it.  Last year, that was a special year.  Though I was disappointed in their performance in the Stanley Cup Final, I knew they could hold their head high by being so close to elimination and never gave up till they ran out of gas.

See, THIS was supposed to be the year they had the axe to grind.  Losing this game and series, in my opinion, was nothing to be proud.  The same old, “Blah blah just to play there is an honor.”  Anyone who says they are “just proud to be nominated” is a lying BITCH.  My friend Will says that he hates losing more than he likes winning.  I could see on the faces of some of the players that the loss got to them.  So they could get that emotion, hated losing more than loving to win.  That loss last year was supposed to make them hungry for this year.  Then backs against the wall and turning it on against the Capitals this year.  Every fan I knew was confident that this was the motivation they needed (not, you know, the motivation of accolades and a championship and being beloved by the best city in the world).

And this was just more than how I felt after, say, the Seahawks lost the Super Bowl earlier this year.  It was more than a loss of the season or a championship, especially they way they lost.  A Seahawks blogger by the name of Ramona over at Dave Krieg’s Strike Beard summed it up eloquently after SB 49: “The sadness I’m feeling isn’t just from the defeat in XLIX, but also from the sudden absence of this wonderful team in my life.”

I felt exactly the same for that Seahawks team.  But the absence of the Rangers team from this season…yeah, not one I’m particularly endeared to right now.

I know it’s incredibly difficult to “blow the fucker up,” with salary caps and being able to move guys easily, but if there’s anything close that can be done for the New York Rangers to get Hank some players who aren’t treating GAME FUCKING SEVEN of the ECF like it’s a Tuesday night game in December, or as Will likes to say, “Get Hank some real bitches who can play.”  Because the lack of killer instinct or wanting to win or PLAYING NOT TO LOSE (I am a Mets fan…I have enough to deal with regarding that shit), that’s what gets to me.

We live in a world where Ryan Callahan, Brian Boyle, Anton Stralman or Brad Richards all have a chance for that crowning glory.  And we live in a world where Henrik Lundqvist may join the pantheon of great players who may never have an opportunity like this year to win it all.  And that just sucks.

If that doesn’t anger you as a fan, I hate to play the “you are not a real fan” card, because that shit pisses me off when it’s said to me…but it should make you upset at the very least.  Or as another Twitter buddy Cristina likes to say, it should make you feel as though a part of you has died.  Because I know that’s how I felt this year.

I’ve been through a lot of things, being a sports fan.  I got over the 2000 World Series pretty quickly.  The funny thing was, I felt like that Mets team was on the precipice of something great, then they did a complete 180 and by the way, fuck Steve Phillips and Mike Bordick (hey, my blog, my rules).  Yet, most fans would tell you that the 1999 team was the one that fell short and was disappointing. And I will always maintain that losing John Olerud was the hit the Mets should not have taken.  And I’m about to get all worked up about what an idiot asshole dickface Steve Phillips was, so I’ll just stop while I’m ahead.

So back to this year.  LAST Year was the “rah rah feel good get-em-next-year” year.  THIS was the take no prisoners, winner takes all year.  I almost threw a shoe at my computer when I read that Martin St. Louis said something to the effect of being proud and waiting till next year.  OH FUCK NEXT YEAR.  NEXT YEAR WAS SUPPOSED TO BE THIS YEAR.  My goodness, I am so angry right now.  I could probably throw something else in addition to my shoe.

And the regular season was a feat in and of itself.  They lost Henrik for a spell, and the team really stepped up their game to give Cam Talbot, who really has endeared himself to most Rangers fans for his performance in Hank’s absence.  It was really a lot of fun to watch them in the regular season.  No one seemed to pass the memo onto the team that the President’s Trophy means dick if you can’t bring home the real trophy.

My friend for over 20 years, NotGlen Sather handled it all in stride.  Like many, though, I want it to be just more than the 1994 Rangers.  But he takes comfort in it, saying that it’s something many generations of Rangers fans ONLY have too.  I was also kind of hoping that the year he expects his first child to coincide with a championship for his favorite sport.

I can’t say it wasn’t meant to be.  It could’ve been.  And that’s what makes me still so angry, two days later.

This one is going to sting for awhile.

**********************************************************************

It is not easy
the war within us
but it gets easier
the more we learn
I don’t need to win
You don’t have to lose
We can choose
happiness is an option

I bought a small bottle of Prosecco for the Super Bowl this year.  Needless to say, I did not open it.  While I had entertained using it for mimosas on a lazy Sunday morning, I decided to hold it for what I felt to be a formality in getting to the Stanley Cup this year for the Rangers.  I will be moving in a few weeks, and it looks like the Prosecco will be making the move as well.

I’ve always used sports as a form of escapism, and this hockey season has left me void of something.  The Chicago Blackhawks won their game seven last night and will be advancing to play the Lightning as well.  But I will always believe in my heart of hearts that this could have been the Rangers’ season.  You can’t even say they got beat by the better team.  They got beat by themselves.

That’s the worst loss of all.

My dad said he’s been a fan for over 45 years and bleeds Ranger blue.  This one sucked, but he said losing games like that doesn’t get easier over time.  I could choose happiness as my option, but the reality is, I’m too angry to even consider being happy.  I guess come back to me when the season starts again.  But I’ve learned to not get my hopes up with this team, ever.  And that, my friends, really sucks.

A “Friend of Bill” Is A Friend Indeed

“The saddest thing in life is wasted talent, and the choices that you make will shape your life forever.” – “C” Anello, Bronx Tale

bronxtale2John Belushi needed a “bodyguard” to help him resist the temptations of the Sunset Strip.  When his bodyguard went on to other things, Belushi used this newfound “freedom” as an excuse to do 8-balls, and subsequently died of an overdose.

Belushi, and many other live-fast-die-young entertainers, were used as an example by Denis Leary when he joked about how the really super talented die young like Belushi, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.  Yet, Motley Crue could be locked in a room with two tons of crack, come out an hour later and record a double-live album.

Sure, I’m poking fun right now, but let’s be fair: addiction, particularly of alcohol and drug variety, is no laughing matter.  In baseball, we are seeing some of the ramifications of illegal drugs, namely with Josh Hamilton.

And this guy was a sad story from the get go.  Someone with oodles of natural baseball talent, just got tempted one too many times.  Here’s the other part though…many addicts, especially in the public element, don’t like to talk about it unless they are in their comfort zone.  Hamilton was to be the great redemption story.  He has won an MVP, and as a Texas Ranger participated in many playoff runs.

Being a sports fan, there’s that one guy you LOVE, and then there’s that guy you LOATHE.  Hamilton was a “good guy,” someone who admitted to his mistakes and seemed to have learned from them.  Someone like Alex Rodriguez though, did PEDs for personal gain (despite what his play did for the rest of the team), he’s in it for himself and does not deserve our sympathy.  Funny how that works, right?

Yet, in the offseason we hear about Hamilton and a relapse.  I’m not sure what kind of rehabilitation he underwent previously (whether it’s Alcoholics Anonymous or N.A. or just rehab and psychotherapy), but it’s been stated that he trusts himself so little that he won’t carry credit cards or cash.  In this last bender, he wrote a check out to himself and blew it on cocaine at a strip club.  I have no idea what kind of fight he and his wife might have had that led to this behavior.  My point of view?  He needed an excuse.

Despite the fact that the Texas Rangers held his hand all those years, even had “champagne celebrations” with ginger ale so that the team could celebrate together without upsetting him. Despite the fact that the Angels were not as public with their assistance of him, they did hold his hand as well.  Here is the problem with an addict and what no one else is saying: they have to WANT to change.

la-sp-sn-josh-hamilton-angels-arte-moreno-2015-002The Angels could have assigned bodyguards or literally called every restaurant in Orange County and warned them to remove alcohol off the premises because Josh Hamilton was coming.  He could have stayed in Texas where he had great success.  Something tells me though, especially since he chastised the Texas fans for liking football more and not “owing them anything,” he either did not want to stay or wanted the California star quality.

I can’t tell Hamilton what he needs to do. He has to figure that out himself. But I can give some advice: stop blaming others for your issues. Despite all of his money, despite all the redemption stories and forget about all the fame and accolades he has received from being an incredibly gifted baseball player, one thing is for sure: he likes drugs more.

The help he needs is probably not what he was getting in Texas or in Anaheim. Addicts will be the first to tell you that they need a support system. Hamilton has “thanked g*d” and given his praises multiple times. What about his AA sponsor? I know he or she cannot be named. Yet if Hamilton is not in the rooms now, this is where he should be. REAL people (not just millionaires who have more money than they know what to do with) who have hit rock bottom several times. People who can support him, not enable him.  Yet the success stories, the redemption stories are there too. Hamilton does not or did not speak for the regular people. Whatever policies his teams have put into place were NOT enough.

My unpopular feeling is that the Angels front office is frustrated and have every right to be. Does that mean Arte Moreno and the Angels needed to shame Hamilton in the Angels press release? Of course not. Empathy can go a long way. Yet I think all Hamilton’s empaths have inadvertently been enablers.  From his wife not giving him cash or he himself even believing that he cannot be trusted to carry cash…first line of defense is to trust someone.  Most of all, yourself.  If he can’t trust themselves around alcohol or drugs or strippers, perhaps the deep work has not yet occurred?  Ignoring the problems won’t make it go away.

The first step is to recognize he’ll always be an addict. He can recover, but it will never not be a struggle. From my point of view, unfortunately he does not want that right now.  Until this happens, expect to see more of these stories from Hamilton for many many years to come.

Mets Lounge Podcast – TONIGHT! The Mets Billboard

Join us in the Mets Lounge tonight (where the cool kids hang out) where the Coop will be joined by Gary Palumbo, aka Salty Gary, the brains behind the Mets Billboard movement.

Dial into the Lounge at (914) 338-0314 or simply listen in and throw us stuff in the chat room!  I’ll also be doing a QBC wrap and how the Mets were not as quiet this week as we thought…

QBC Preview In the Mets Lounge TONIGHT!

Hey kids!  If the cool kids hang out once a week on Wednesdays in the Mets Lounge, then you definitely won’t want to miss the cool cats at the second annual Queens Baseball Convention, being held this Saturday at McFadden’s CitiField.

Join the Coop and special guest Mark Healey from Gotham Baseball, who is moderating the State of the Mets panel at the QBC.  Oh and the Coop will be on the panel as well.

Mazzy Gunslinger of the Year recipient Healey along with the Coop will be an entertaining show for sure.  So dial in or join us in the chat room starting at 9 pm!

Doing It For David

If you remember, back in 2012, I trained for the New York City Marathon and raised funds for the Tug McGraw Foundation, a cancer charity that supports brain cancer survivors and those with traumatic brain injuries to have a better quality of life.  I chose this charity because not only did I have a good friend who also raised funds for them and spoke very highly of them, I wanted to mix my Mets fandom in there somewhere.

Of course, I knew many who were afflicted by brain cancer and traumatic injuries to the brain as well.  I had a friend who was running the marathon because her father had a traumatic brain injury.  Not only did my uncle pass away from a malignant brain tumor, my friend’s nephew passed away just a few days before the non-marathon (which was never run, because of a bitch named Sandy).  And my hero Gary Carter passed away earlier that year due to brain cancer.

When Gary Carter was alive, and playing with the Mets, I remember I made my mother donate something like 75 cents to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation, to get the signed Gary Carter poster I coveted.  Carter’s mother had died when he was a child of leukemia, and he made it his life’s mission to support and promote a cure by being active in the charity. He even had his own fundraisers, mostly golf tournaments, and I remember reading about these tournaments each year in the Mets Yearbooks when Opening Day would come around.

We know there have been many technological advances to treating cancers since Carter’s mother passed away.  But there is no cure. Whether we like to think about it or not, it impacts every single one of us.

And cancer sucks, big time.

************************************************************************

Leukemia impacted my family as well.  My dad had an older brother (half-brother, technically, but no one worried about those semantics while they were growing up.  They were brothers, period) who passed away several years before I was born.  So technically, my dad wasn’t my *dad* then, so I’ll just refer to him as Mr. E periodically for these purposes.

This was my Uncle Larry.  I didn’t have the opportunity or the pleasure to know him.  I’ve seen enough pictures of him to know what he looked like.  I also knew his wife Mary Lou, who is still close with the Cooper side of the family to this day, and his only child, David Alan Hicks, whose name I believe honored not only Larry’s best friend but my Pop Pop, who looked after Larry like he was his own.

I am a Mets fan because my dad introduced me to baseball as a very young age.  I was about seven years old, and I sat down and watched a Mets game, or what I found out was to be a Mets game.  I was in first grade.  I decided to root for the guys with the big blue letters on their uniforms because D-Man was.  That night, I had to write a “theme” (think: A Christmas Story) about what my likes and dislikes were (I believe likes included: cats and chocolate, dislikes included: spinach probably – but only because my mother force fed the frozen watery stuff to me. I’m a big fan of spinach salads, as an adult who works in wellness).  I also had to include what likes and dislikes my parents had.  A big “like” for D-Man was the New York Mets.  I had no idea what baseball actually was.  But my first grade teacher did.  And she wrote on my paper that her dad was also a Mets fan.

Back then, the Mets were bringing people together, even before social media did it, or made it easier to that end.

My dad took me to my first game on May 6, 1984, versus the Houston Astros.  It was a Sunday, and I got to see Dwight Gooden pitch against Nolan Ryan.  Of course, I have no idea how significant that match up until MUCH later.  But I also knew that I loved Gooden, just the few times I watched him on TV.  And begged my dad to take me to a game, which he was more than happy to oblige.  I guess he lucked out with me, that he was able to enjoy a pastime such as this with his only child, a daughter, whose mother would rather she take ballet classes and comb her hair properly and go shopping.

The Mets lost that game.  A score of 10-1.  But hey, 30 something years later, I am still attending games, usually with the Mets on the blow out bad end of the game.  So I guess it didn’t mar my decision to be a Mets fan one way or another.

And I’m sure my husband, Ed, whom I met in 2009 after meeting the Mets 26 years prior, will appreciate that this game was 25 years and 364 days prior to us getting married.

************************************************************************

What I do know about my Uncle Larry and Mr. E is that they had an incredible bond.  They were about 10 or 11 years apart in age, but that didn’t stop them from hanging out together.  When Mr. E was six years old, the Dodgers and the Giants both left town for the west coast.  For the next five years, there was no National League baseball close by, and my Pop Pop would not STAND for rooting for an American League team (according to Pop, New York was a “National League city,” end of story).  When the Mets came around, and they went to the Polo Grounds, though Larry was a St. Louis Cardinals fan like my grandmother.  Shea Stadium opened was considered “state of the art” and all that jazz.  Mr. E was 10 years old when the Mets came into existence, and was 12 when they moved to the home we know now, in Flushing.

As I write that, I find it ironic that I became a baseball fan when I was seven, and my dad didn’t even HAVE a team to root FOR when he was that age.  He became a fan at the same age I was when I went to game seven of the 1986 World Series.  That’s something we’ll never get over.

But in the Kevin Bacon six degrees of life scenario, I am a Mets fan because my grandfather and Uncle Larry took Mr. E to baseball games and really got him to understand the nuances of the game.

************************************************************************

So I guess that I have Uncle Larry to thank for my baseball affiliation, since he got my dad into baseball, and I highly doubt I’d be the crazed lunatic fan of this sport if he was not one himself.  Yet, like my Pop Pop who passed away when I was three years old, he serves as a ghost in my life, someone I’ve heard so much about and would have liked to have known, but sadly did not get the opportunity to do that.

Larry and Mary Lou’s son, David, was himself about five years old when Larry passed away.  I never got to talk with David about his memories about his old man, basically because I didn’t know David all that well.  That is truly my loss.  But as many people who read my site or know me personally, my parents split up when I was in middle school.  And as things usually happen in a divorce, some familial relationships suffer as a result.  For years, it was my relationship with the Cooper side of the family.  There were literally cousins and family members that I did not know at all.  It wasn’t until I was in college, and after I graduated that I got really curious about my family.  I started asking questions, and got to know Mary Lou and my Aunt Babe and started a relationship with my cousins.

Christmas Time, 2007. One of the last times all the cousins were in the same room.

Christmas Time, 2007. One of the last times all the cousins were in the same room.

David was 10 years older than me.  I remember him when I was old enough to start having memories.  There’s a picture somewhere in my mother’s scrap book in Jackson, NJ, that has a pic of David, Michael and me.  I’m guessing I wasn’t quite a year old.  Michael is three months older than me.  David was 10 years older than both of us.  So I guess David was about 11, and Michael and I were roughly a year old.  I have a close relationship with our mutual cousin Michael and his sister Chrissy, then there’s my dad’s brother’s kids whom I also have a relationship with now.  David was married and lived pretty far from me, and I didn’t know him as an adult.

If I remember correctly, my dad stayed in David’s life to the extent that they themselves went to baseball games at Shea Stadium (I know that my dad did that to bond with my mom’s little brother, my Uncle Mike, around the time they got married).  I also know that David was a huge Nascar fan.  So is Mr. E.  I went to a race once in Dover, Delaware, just to say I went to one.  The next year, I had a big final to do for my masters, and decided it wasn’t in my best interests to go.  David took my ticket instead.  He was a huge Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan, like I am.

 

 

************************************************************************

Michael’s sister and my beautiful cousin Chrissy took up running and decided to run a marathon a few months ago.  Like many who run races, there’s an emotional meaning behind it, and it keeps one focused while they train.  Chrissy ran to raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation.

She decided to do so after David, our cousin, was diagnosed with a very aggressive yet treatable form of leukemia.  The same type of cancer that had taken his father from us over forty years prior.  Chrissy kept her running journal on a blog called Do It For David!

Chrissy was able to finish her race and raised a respectable amount of funds for the foundation.

Training for a marathon is incredibly emotional (not to mention physical, of course).  Believe me when I tell you, it consumes your life, everything you eat, drink or think about.  To tie that training into a family member who is diagnosed with a scary disease is something unfathomable to even me.

My family lost David Alan Hicks on Tuesday, December 23, 2014.  Chrissy has closer memories with David in her life than I did, and she was able to craft a very meaningful and heartfelt tribute to our cousin, who unfortunately was just too weakened to fight the blood cancer anymore.

I didn’t know much about David except that he was truly a decent man, a good person, who loved his wife, Lori, his daughter, Courtney and his mother, Mary Lou, who is just about one of the nicest people you will ever want to meet.  Please keep them in your thoughts this holiday season.  He also loved his Nascar, but I also know that my family loved him very much.

************************************************************************

When George Harrison (you know, the Beatle) passed away, the first person I called was my dad when I found out.  I left him a message.  Mr. E, who had taken up the guitar again that year after probably a 30 year hiatus, would tell you that Harrison was his favorite Beatle.  He would also tell anyone who wanted to hear about how he first heard the song, “I Want To Hold Your Hand” on his transistor radio, and the energy from the radio parted his hair down the middle.  When he watched the Beatles make it to the Ed Sullivan show, he sat in front of the TV, wanting like millions of teenage boys did who also watched that night to play the guitar like George, bang a drum like Ringo or have a hair cut like John or Paul.

When D-Man called me back several hours later, he left a long message about how George was at peace now, he wasn’t suffering anymore, and that he was a spiritual guy.  If anyone was going to find peace in the afterworld, if there was one, it would be George Harrison.  But in the middle of all this, my dad said, he felt like part of his youth was gone.

I know that when my favorite Mets player from the 80s era, Gary Carter, had died, I had a podcast the next night, and I cried on the air. (There’s no crying in baseball, Coop!!)  I also know that I thought of my dad and what he said about his youth being gone with the passing of George Harrison.  I knew what it meant because when Kid died, a part of me did too.

I can’t be with my family today, physically, but I can understand the loss they are all feeling today as they say goodbye to David for the last time.  My dad was very young when David’s father, his brother Larry, passed.  I also remember him telling me that because they were so young, it was sad, and they had their lives to live.  Five years later, my cousin Michael and I were born within months of each other, my aunt got remarried, Chrissy was born, and my parents got divorced.  We went to college, got married, had kids, and honored lost family members along the way.

We all know that death is a part of life.  That doesn’t make it easier with the loss of a loved one.

Yet, we also know that life does indeed go on.  David may be gone, but we have our memories of him, no matter how close or far apart we may be.

In a world full of coincidences, fate, sliding doors, six degrees and other minutiae, he may not have known it, but David is in part responsible for helping me be the person I am today.  So thank you for that, David.  And as my dad once told me, we have our lives to live, and our own battles to face even with the loss of a loved one, no matter how hard that loss is.  It’s all right to be sad, and our loved ones are never truly gone when we have their memory to honor.

Mets Lounge 30th Anniversary Trade Celebration TONIGHT

Upcoming Mets Lounge shows tonight and next Wednesday 12/17…

Tonight’s show is a celebration of Metstory past, being the 30th anniversary of one of the most significant trades in the history of the franchise…that brought Gary Carter here and set the wheels in motion to win the world championship!

Next week’s show is Metsivus for the rest of the us…yes, it’s the annual airing of grievances towards our team and how they’ve disappointed us (but there can be some bright spots, too).  Why let Winter Meetings ruin your mood for spring…look at the bright spot!!!

Hang in the chat room tonight!!

The Mets and the Myth of the Milquetoast Good Guy

Matt Harvey takes in Derek Jeter's last ever home game in 2014 .  His hat may as well say, "#ZeroFucksGiven"

Matt Harvey takes in Derek Jeter’s last ever home game in 2014 . His hat may as well say, “#ZeroFucksGiven”

I’m looking forward to the end of the regular baseball season.  Though I’m kind of excited to see teams like the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles play in the postseason, and even more relieved that teams like the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees are NOT going to be playing, I’m a little sick of the marketing overdrive campaign of Derek Jeter’s retirement tour.  Gosh, any amount of constructive criticism or objective opinions about Jeter, and people act like you kicked their dying dog.  But in all the accolades, all the sensation, one piece of rhetoric gets repeated-repeated-repeated again.  The idea that “Derek Jeter is SUCH a GREAT GUY.”

Now, I don’t have much of a strong opinion either way on that sentiment.  What I will say is that on Thursday, at the last Yankee home game that Jeter played, the Mets own (season-ending injury) Matt Harvey sat in the field box, tweeting and Instagramming the shit out of his #RE2PECT experience at the House that Juice Built.

Once again, you’d have thought Harvey kicked someone’s dying dog or on the other end of the spectrum, malaise.  I was on the end of the malaise spectrum.  Harvey’s team was mathematically eliminated.  Harvey was injured all season.  I’m sure if this was a meaningful game with playoff implications, he’d have been in D.C.  And it wasn’t like Harvey was living out and proud.  If he had never tweeted or Instagrammed, we might not have realized it was him.

Who cares?  Derek Jeter may or may not have given Jessica Biel herpes or gave gift baskets to his conquests.  Matt Harvey has dated supermodels and flashed his middle finger prior to getting Tommy John Surgery and put it on Instagram for all to see.

See, though that is what makes Matt Harvey a “bad guy” in Mets lore.  This is also the same guy who got a quote tattooed on him to honor his aunt who died from cancer several years ago.

Sometimes, things aren’t what they seem.

Horrible, HORRIBLE person, that Matthew Harvey.

But this was what I absolutely love about Harvey, and what I think most fans like about him too.  He has a #ZeroFucksGiven attitude.  He’s a rock and roll bad ass.  And to thrive on a New York Mets team, one has to have that attitude to not only be embraced by the fans, but also to not be afraid to win.

For too many years, the Mets have invested their energy and not to mention money on players who have some kind of milquetoast bland personality, a counterpart to the tenured guy in the Bronx.  But when have Mets fans EVER responded to guys like that?  History has dictated that we like the assholes.

Tom Seaver, the Franchise himself, is revered in Mets culture; yet he is widely known as an insincere douchebag.

Jose Reyes and the Mets parted ways a few years ago, yet most fans loved his “play hard” attitude.  However, I think his play hard and **shock horror** fun attitude towards the game rubbed the highers-up the wrong way.

Mike Piazza loved heavy metal guitars and classic rock.  He was feared when he came to the plate, and had VooDoo Child as his entrance song and you just KNEW he was gonna kick some ass.  I said last year at his Mets Hall of Fame induction ceremony that we needed another rock n roll bad ass like him on the team.  Though in 1999, he was surrounded by characters with whom we could all find someone to identify.

Look no further than the boozing, brawling, drugging 1986 Mets as the most bad-ass of them all.  Shit, four guys got ARRESTED in a barroom brawl, and we fuckin loved it.  Funny how we point to a guy like Kevin McReynolds sucking the personality out of the team, while he was an incredibly underrated player, his lack of an attitude rubbed us the wrong way.

This is what gets me, though.  The Mets have positioned themselves as like this “family friendly alternative” with milquetoast boring guys like David Wright as the “face of the franchise,” when the teams we’ve endeared ourselves to had panache and shitloads of personality.  Much like New York City itself.  The only thing the Mets have failed at is being a poor man’s version of the Yankees.  And it’s an insult to poor men everywhere. Not to mention, an insult to most Mets fans’ collective intelligence.

Here’s my take.  Let’s stop trying to be this milk-drinking-wow-wee-golly-gee-whiz-milquetoast team.  Embrace the weirdness that is being a Mets fan, and let’s love the rock-n-roll bad asses for bringing something different to the table.

Do we really want a lot of boring David Wrights on the team?  Or bad ass Matt Harveys with a “IDGAF” attitude?

You decide.  I like the Zero Fucks Given personality on my sports teams, myself.

Women And Children “First?” No, Not Really

donald-reilly-women-and-children-first-i-mean-come-on-new-yorker-cartoonI was involved in an abusive relationship.  Two, actually.

Possibly more if you think about the emotional abuse I’ve endured being in a relationship with a person who is not so secure within themselves that they take it out on someone they allegedly “love” by using their words which can hurt just as much as open fists at times.

For arguments sake, let’s just say I can contribute a thing or two about the #WhyIStayed hashtag.  When it happened, though, there is a bit of Stockholm Syndrome, and defense mechanisms coming into play.  When I really think about #WhyIStayed, I think the defense mechanisms go back to possibly prehistoric caveman times.  Any moment of weakness would make you prey, would make you a target.  Telling people to mind their own business or push people away who truly care happen because you do start to believe the hype.  You start to believe the things you are told, that you are worthless, a pathetic little shit, ugly, fat, no one will believe you/want you/love you as much as I do.

Though you may see me on Twitter or social media forums making fun of my teams and taking out frustrations by using expletives; in general, I am a pretty happy person.  I have my moments, but a lot of it has to do a lot with limiting beliefs that we are conditioned to believe by our loved ones.  For better or for worse, we are taught to believe stuff for our “own good.”

Though I think every single person I know can add something of value to this discussion, the statistics show it is overwhelmingly women who are taught this.  Perhaps it’s because we are associated with more “emotion” in our rationale, our thinking with our hearts rather than our heads (which, by the way, is complete bullshit, there is something to be said about using your “female intuition.”  Which by the way, has only failed me because my survival defense mechanisms talk me out of what is normally always the right thing for myself).

Statistics also show that in an abusive relationship, it takes women especially seven attempts to either leave or ask for help before doing it for good.

Studies show that when women “recant,” it’s not because they’ve “lied” or are “looking for attention,” but rather they are sweet talked out of it by their significant others, because they do not want to see their loved one or children’s father or whomever to be in trouble.  How many times do we hear “He’ll never do it again,” or “it was just this once,” when it rarely ever is?

I suggest we give up this ignorant and arrogant thinking that all she has to do is leave.

It’s more complicated than that.

I’m sure by now, you’ve seen the articles, many opinions and the video of former Baltimore Raven Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee/now-wife Janay in an elevator, knocking her unconscious.  We’ll hear the apologists who saw the video of the entire incident ask, “Well, she pushed him.” Or, “She might have **said** something to provoke him?”  “What did she DO to provoke him?”

The victim who was knocked unconscious and APOLOGIZED for “her role” in it has to also play defense for her very visible, beloved by many, public figure of a husband.  Who by all accounts is this super/wonderful/straight up good guy who would never ever do something like this, ever.

Well, guess what? He did.  And while we do not know what goes on behind closed doors, I can give you the story right here.  And it may or may not describe the tenure of their relationship, since I do not pretend to know what goes on behind their specific closed doors, but I can assure you of this.

(Mostly) Women (I do know that men can be abused too) involved in physically abusive relationships have nowhere to turn.  If you look at a public figure who seems to have everything going for then — fortune, fame, name recognition, respect for their contributions to society — you also have to believe that there are other factors involved.

I stayed in a seven year emotionally abusive and exhausting relationship because it was bigger than myself.  There were many other factors than myself.  I figured, if I could just “get through this one thing, then we can move on with our lives and be happy again,” seems misinformed and bullshit right now.  But I can tell you at the time, it made perfect sense.  It wasn’t about me.  There were other factors involved.  Luckily, I didn’t have children.  Oh and the second he was unhappy with how I looked or with how I was spending my time socially, he was the one who left.

But that was emotional.  And I found someone who adores me and doesn’t keep me isolated from my friends who bring out the best in me.  Believe me, no one appreciates having a healthy relationship that we actually enjoy each others company.

In situations like this, I can presume — and I could be very wrong — that Janay Rice probably is scared to leave, or fears her husband might do something to her or keep her away from her child.  Since he has the money and means to do so.  This is how abusers draw people in.  They control their money, they control their friends, but have an impact of being charming and drawing people in as well.  This is why we have a culture of abuse.  We are not supposed to talk about it, and people think that if they work with someone or see someone in a public setting or have an image they project, that this is the person they are being presented with.

It’s time to start talking about it.  And it’s time to start having a real discourse about it, and realize it’s not as simple as, “Well, it can’t be *that* bad if she hasn’t left him yet.”

Trust me.  Like life, it is hell of a lot more complicated than that.

*******************************************************************************

I grew up in an era where it was okay to spank your children.

I’m not sure if it was “okay,” per se.  Ask any child who grew up with one Italian parent, or an Italian grandparent, and they’ll talk about the “wooden spoon.”  Most of us chuckle and nod in agreement.  I was about 10 years old though, when my mother literally chased me into my bedroom to spank me for doing something, I told her to count to ten before laying a finger on me.  She never spanked me again.

I’m not gonna say, “Well I grew up just fine, and I was beaten.  There’s a sense of entitlement in this generatio and damned you whipper snappers and blah blah blah.”   But I’m gonna ask, with the news of Adrian Peterson using a switch to beat his two year old child…

On what planet does a child, at any age, let alone a TODDLER, deserves to get their pants taken down, and beaten on bare skin his private parts, backside and mostly his entire body?  None.  Absolutely not.

In fact, short of gutting an animal alive (which in that case, the child is a sociopath and needs to be institutionalized, immediately), no child deserves that.   Not only physical wounds but emotional trust issues to deal with his entire life.  The people who are supposed to be protecting him are doing this for his “own good.”

Yes, I grew up in an era where spanking your child for discipline was considered okay.  Adrian Peterson is nine years younger than I am.  How, exactly, was he raised that he has so much anger…towards a two year old?

*******************************************************************************

For years and years, the general public has turned a blind eye to child abuse and domestic violence either accusations or flat-out proof that it has occurred.  This is not a sports and entertainment specific thing.  It’s a cultural thing.  We are conditioned to never talk about it.  The victims are afraid to speak.  One writer I know through social media channels, Julie DiCaro, has written some definitive posts on domestic violence, in response to arrests and suspensions and public outcry when it happens with beloved and respected sports figures.  A few days ago, as a former lawyer dealing with domestic violence victims, she wrote a post targeting the NFL Commissioner and what she wanted him to know about domestic violence.  It’s an important topic to discuss.  But also to listen to.

I was in an abusive relationship.  And even after my high school sweetheart, who beat me with his hands and his words regularly, I could only extricate myself from when he decided to find a new girlfriend.  And even when I tried to move on from all that pain and anguish, he STILL managed to call me a slut and a whore and damage my reputation when I wanted to see other people.

Thank goodness I was able to go away to college and get out of that fishbowl of high school.

Amplify those feelings by about a million when you are dealing with being in a relationship with a person adored by millions.  A person, by the way, who has control over finances, has lawyers and agents and more backup than his significant other could even imagine.  Try getting out of that.  Especially if there is a money control factor.  Who is going to feed my child?  How am I going to make a living?

DiCaro’s post detailed what five things that one needs to consider in cases like this.  The most important part to consider in the post is that once abuse happens in a public setting, IT HAS ALREADY OCCURRED MULTIPLE TIMES BEHIND CLOSED DOORS.

Amplify that by the fact that probably she is protecting her child, and protecting herself.  How do we know he hasn’t told her that if she leaves, he’ll kill her or find her and take away her kids?  Again, I don’t know the intimate details of their relationship.

All we know is that in domestic violence cases, the victim is typically isolated, and charmed into making the situation go away with law enforcement officials.

It’s arrogant of us to think it’s just as simple as “just leaving.”  It’s not.

*******************************************************************************

My friend Rebecca has brought up an interesting talking point about what correlation is there between being in a “violent” sport and abuse situations.  This past week, we have had two incredibly public figures involved in legal situations where a woman or child has been abused with proof to back up the allegations.  This is not just a talking point in American sports, like football or baseball (Mets fans may remember when former Phillies pitcher Brett Myers punched his wife with a closed fist on the street in Boston).  This is a pervasive element of American culture that needs to be discussed.  We are no longer in caveman culture or prehistoric times that any sign of weakness meant a predator was going to take your food or shelter or eat your young.  We live in a civilized society that still brushes it away.

Perhaps figures like Ray Rice or Adrian Peterson or Brett Myers may cause us to point and laugh, say they are nothing but a piece of shit for beating a woman or child.  But what exactly is being done about the millions of other women and children or anyone being abused on a regular basis?  These incidences may bring up the discussion, but until we realize that domestic violence or child abuse is just NOT OKAY and it is NOT NORMAL AT ALL, this is still going on behind closed doors.

It is not as simple as “just leaving.” There is years of mind control, and just control in general over human interactions, financial.

Women like Janay Rice need our support.  I had a friend ask me, “How do YOU know she doesn’t have any one to turn to?”  Well, she has me there, I don’t know.  But based on what Julie DiCaro as a lawyer who represented domestic violence victims, and repeated behaviors, I’m going to guess that she’s trying to keep things together for the sake of other things.  Or perhaps, she has been conditioned to fear what she doesn’t know, that staying in what she DOES know is easier.

*******************************************************************************

I am not beating a feminist drum.  Yet, I am just so shocked that we live in a day and age where still women are portrayed to be stupid and dependent on men and treated with arrogance by other women.

This week, a story hit the wires (that I had talked about extensively on my podcast) about the Senior Vice President of Ticket Sales for the New York Mets, Leigh Castergine, has sued the Mets and most specifically Jeff Wilpon (part of the Sterling Equities group that owns the Mets, along with his father, Fred, and Uncle Saul Katz).  Why?  Well, it wasn’t for underperformance.  I can tell you right off that her team was almost literally selling ice to eskimos.  Mostly in part because the inept ownership built the team on false profits and lack of understanding Ponzi schemes.

The lawsuit alleges she was discriminated against because she was unmarried and pregnant.  Complete with Mr. Wilpon making comments about her not being married, and telling her with witnesses in the room that she could make more money if she was only married.

Someone told me, “Nobody is that dumb.”  Yet, people who have met Jeff Wilpon do say, he’s fucking clueless.

I guess I don’t want to reinvent the wheel here, but goddamn it, when will it just be okay to live your fucking personal life and not have your superiors at work use it as an excuse to get rid of you?  No matter what Castergine did (and I can tell you – I never felt more valued as a season ticket holder than under her leadership, so thank you for that, Leigh), she was pissing in the wind.  Season ticket holders were being bled, people were downgrading their ticket plans, and in general weren’t going to Mets games.  Why?  BECAUSE THE OWNERS HAVE DONE SHIT TO IMPROVE THE TEAM.

So the fallguy is now a single mom who was targeted as such.  Give me a break.  What fucking year is this?

I worked in banking.  Women who have taken time off to attend to themselves and their children after giving birth, one of the most traumatic things a woman can do, are unfairly targeted and find that their jobs are divvied up and changed when they return in 90 days or so.

Legend had it at one bank I worked at, a woman was promoted to a senior facing role in a leadership team.  She apparently knew she was pregnant but hid it while she built a team.  It was evident though after a few months, and she was literally going into a C-Section surgery, while on a conference call, telling her team, “Okay, I will call back in a few hours.”

This is what women have to do.  Sacrifice one thing for another.  And before you tell me, “Well, isn’t it dedication to her craft? Maybe more women should be like her.”  Remember that if a dude was getting hernia surgery or ball surgery or a colonsocopy, I’m sure he’d milk that shit for what it’s worth.

The good news is that perhaps this law suit will force the Wilpons to sell the team.  All I want is for Leigh Castergine to have her job back.  Nothing but class acts under her leadership.  More than I can say for our fucking owners.

*******************************************************************************

When Titanic hit the fateful iceberg, the mantra was “Women and children first.”  John Jacob Astor, the richest man on the voyage, went down with the ship but his wife and unborn child were spared.  He offered to pay the hand to go with her.  He was denied.  Instead, he sacrificed himself for his wife and child to survive.

We’ve gone from men holding doors open for women, offering their seats on the train to being “good manners” and a proper way to handle themselves, to women declaring that they “don’t need feminism.”  Which is ironic because I realize that without feminism, I would not be able to share my views in an open forum.

Perhaps the first step in having this discussion is HAVING the discussion.  To have abuse and domestic violence not be taboo but ugly parts of real life.  To realize that life for victims is not as simple as “taking your shit and leaving,” but rather multiple layers that have to do with protecting themselves and their loved ones.

Yes we’ve gone from knowing domestic violence and abuse is wrong, but we still have women apologizing for their part in it.

That’s not “conditioning” to fear your attacker?

Give me a break.

Don’t Get Over It: A Very Special Mets Lounge Podcast TONIGHT!

Were you around the last time the Mets won a championship?  Were you a child, young or old?  Do you enjoy baseball history?  Do you like listening to broads talk about baseball?

Then tonight’s Mets Lounge podcast is for YOU!!!

Please join me in the lounge at a different time (9:30 pm ET) with special Heather Quinlan, the filmmaker behind the 1986 Mets Movie kickstarter campaign.

Join us in the chat room, or be sure to send us questions on Twitter beforehand!