New York Mets

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

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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.

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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.

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!

Dancin’ In The Streets

PNC Park  Mazeroski Way

I visited PNC Park for the first time in 2010.  I had just gotten married; hubby and I went on five baseball road trips that year.  This was the only stadium I hadn’t been to at least one other time. The game was a rain shortened yet official game; the Mets won.  It was also a Jonathon Niese start (this Saturday I was there, it was also a JJN start).  The series this year was a four game variety.  Mets lost three of them.

I didn’t get the full effect that year.  Since 2011, though, it’s been tough for us to do a trip, whether the series fell during the week or a time that we already had a conflict.  We were both eager to get out there for this weekend.  However, what we didn’t expect was life to get in the way.  My husband’s family sold their house that’s been in the family for over 40 years.  As a result, he had been taking some time off from work to deal with moving things out of the house.  Before he knew it, it was month end.  When your job function has to deal with closing out books for month end and year end, chances are a quick getaway only ends up with more work involved.

Before I knew it, it was decided that I’d be going solo.  I had some friends who were going, so it was like I was alone.  I had a lot of stuff to do.

I found that Pittsburgh is a very underrated city.  Clean, pretty.  You definitely feel Americana at its best when you’re there.  PNC Park is also easily my favorite stadium thus far out of the 20 I have seen.  I’m guessing Target Field, from people have told me, will give it a run for its money.  Food, ambience, fan involvement, views.  All the little things they got right in Pittsburgh’s park.

What I really took away from my weekend in Pittsburgh’s PNC Park was the attention to the little things to make the fan experience better. Friday and Saturday (perhaps Sunday, too, but I wasn’t there for it) featured a block party down Sixth Street, which is where the Roberto Clemente Bridge runs through, where partygoers could go to bars that lined the streets with drink and food specials, if you didn’t want to be beholden to the ballpark for food. Prior to these Block Parties, they featured some Pirates alumni (in this case, Omar Moreno of the famed We Are Family 1979 Pirates team), and $4 beers.

 

Block Part Beers Summer Shandy

Just let that one sink in. I got a Leinenkugel summer shandy for $4. Prices went up, slightly, in the park.  I know there’s a lot of pricing to the area (I know New York City has a higher cost of living…but it’s still not “cheap” to go to a ballgame, I just make it a priority).

But I got to thinking, how could the Mets do something like this to entice fans? All the energy from outside of the park did translate inside the park.

I realize that a lot of New York laws might not allow open containers. ‘Tis true, due to the many tailgates I’ve attended and have had to “cop” my beers in red Solo cups. We’ve never had to toss anything, or have had any troubles with the law

I’m sure if it came to a rowdy game (like a playoff game), I could see some crack downs. But if you can be served on a sidewalk, chances are, CitiField premises could apply for some sort of area as a drinking establishment, where you are permitted to drink outdoors. Maybe by McFadden’s.

I’m getting ahead of myself. Like I said, I left PNC with a sense of Pirates history, pride and fun. It’s been awhile since we’ve had collective fun at CitiField. There have been some moments. And the Mets **do** try, by having alumni there from time to time. It’s great to see guys like Edgardo Alfonzo, John Franco, hell even Matt Franco. But these Block Parties really make me see that the fan experience is something else that’s sorely missing from Mets home games. They try. It just falls off the mark. Whether it’s the actual “buzz,” whether it’s fan disenchantment (could very well be that), I’m not sure. All I know is that if there were parties like this, I could be enticed to show up earlier to the ballpark to do some cheap drinking and partying.

There was also an emphasis on history. Not just Pirates history, which is rich and unique in and of itself. But Negro Leagues were included too.

Clemente Statue Cool Papa Bell Mazeroski Kiner's Hands

I’ve never been one of those folks who subscribed to the idea that the Mets needed statues outside of CitiField, or even inside. I never felt strongly about it either way. I felt like the Museum and Hall of Fame was well-done, although I felt that the Rotunda could use some other acknowledgement of New York baseball history, not just Jackie Robinson.

After seeing the statues at PNC Park, of Honus Wagner, Bill Mazeroski and Ralph Kiner’s hand cast, I had a strong reaction. I wanted our own shit in CitiField.

A Jesse Orosco statue, doing his YES pose after striking out Marty Barrett to win the World Series. Cleon Jones with his catch to end the 1969 World Series. Mike Piazza hitting a home run. Whatever. There are so many great things that could make the fan experience better at CitiField. I’m not sure if they’re doing as much as they could.

They say that when the Brooklyn Dodgers finally won a World Series in 1955, beating the hated Yankees, fans had a party down Flatbush Avenue that rivaled Mardi Gras.

I was 10 years old when the Mets last won a World Series. I got drenched in a beer and champagne waterfall. I also remember that in 1988, when the Mets simply clinched the NL East, there was a dude who was a passenger in a passing vehicle waving his pants around out the window as his friend drove by Shea Stadium, in celebration.

I was 18 years old when the Rangers won a Stanley Cup after a 54 year drought. People were climbing up on lamp posts whilst naked.

Although I’ve been rooting for them for two years, and we were not in their home city when they won a championship, Seahawks fans took the Times Square to celebrate their Super Bowl victory last February.

Sometimes, summer doesn’t have to be right for dancin’ in the streets. Or maybe when you’re in Pittsburgh, it warrants a party each weekend. A block party, if you will.

The gentleman you see dancing in the video to old school R&B was someone who quite frankly danced like no one was watching. But plenty of people were. What surprised me though was just in a few years time, the Pirates, who always had tickets available, many comments were made about how the Pirates had such a nice park, but no one went to see them play.

It just shows that after a few years, some exciting play, and even a playoff run, can change a fan base around. It may take time, but Mets fans, we can only wish to be dancing in the streets at some point.

A Podcast Doubleheader!

The Mets aren’t the only people to have a doubleheader this week!

I’ll be a guest on the Rising Apple podcast, at 8 pm ET TONIGHT.

Alternatively, Sam Maxwell, the “Converted Mets Fan,” and cohost of the Rising Apple podcast, will join me on MY show – the Mets Lounge – at 9 pm-ish ET.

I’ll be drinking a Raz-ber-rita…what’s in your glass?

Talk to you soon!

GTFO

“Don’t boo your own team.”

I hear this mantra repeated over and over for the fans in Flushing.  This is hardly unique to the area; it’s a New York thing, for sure.  But I think even St. Louis Cardinals fans, you know the “Best Fans in Baseball,” have booed their own players, contrary to popular belief.

Look at hockey.  I am a Rangers fan, and the fans are BRUTAL.  I challenge any baseball player who has butthurt feelings to play hockey in an intense town like New York City.  They’ll be running home to their mommies, crying and sucking their thumbs.

So to boo or not to boo, that is the question.  I think when I was a kid, I used to think it was funny that players would get booed.  But when I was eight or nine years old, I thought the players were superhuman.  They could handle the cheers, the boos, any distractions.  Even the airplanes that flew consistently overhead.

It wasn’t until I was much older (probably older than I care to admit) that I realized that these were people who were coming up to bat.  People who were pitching, throwing the ball.  What other industry or job can one have that you can have a 70% failure rate and be GOOD at it?

Yet, here we are, with the age old question: “To boo or not to boo?”

According to former Mets hitting coach, Dave Hudgens, booing is a BIG problem at home.  (Mind you, I’m sure the team hears boos on the road…and they play just fine there).

“I really just think guys tried too hard at home,” Hudgens told MLB.com after his firing. “I think the fans are really tough on the guys at home. How can you boo Curtis Granderson? They have no idea how hard this guy works and how he goes about doing his business, doing his job. He gets off to a slow start and they’re booing him? Come on. It’s tougher at home to play than it is on the road, there’s no doubt about it. And they’re trying really hard at home.”

Wow.  I mean.  Just WOW.

Of all the things I’ve heard my team blame their poor play on…the fans are all of a sudden “the problem.”

From not going to enough games, to voicing displeasure, to not being loud enough.  I’m just at a loss.  I have no idea how to even broach this topic anymore.

I’ve been a Mets fan for 30 years.  I’ve been through more down years than up.  Never have I felt more condescended to by the ownership, front office and team in my life.  And this is after two ginormous collapses in 2007 and 2008, then sub-.500 years in CitiField.  All of a sudden…it’s the fans who are the problem.  Yes, that’s the one constant.

In the parlance of my time…#SMH.

And then, I have to hear the self-righteousness of the people who claim to never “boo” their own team.  And I mean, I might applaud fans booing, and yell a sarcastic, “Lets go METS” every now and then.  The only people I suppose I’m hurting, would be the players themselves.  Players, by the way, that get paid a shitload of money to listen to a few people boo IF THEY CHOOSE TO DO SO.  Because at this point, I’m sorry to admit, the laundry is going to get the brunt of the discontent here.  I mean, the ownership doesn’t take the field.  (And if they did, I’d probably cheer Saul Katz for the sheer news that he’d sell his shares of the Mets).  There is a larger picture here.

But over the years, I’ve thought of players who have been loathed by their own fans.  And I mean, I can think of at least a dozen players that Mets fans CANNOT STAND.  Two pop into my head, actually.

And I got to thinking…if everyone is claiming, “I don’t boo my own players.” Then those players are subsequently booed…who’s doing it?

It’s like the rhetorical question (that was literally translated) by Sally Albright, when she told Harry Burns most women fake orgasms at one point in their lifetime.

If most women have done it, chances are, they’ve done it with him.

And chances are, you’ve done it too.

I admit, I’ve been particularly harsh with Curtis Granderson.  I heckle him in the appropriate fashion: via social media.  But here’s the kicker: I want him to do well.  But I can’t fathom why anyone would think a guy who hit home runs at Yankee Stadium is all of a sudden “surprised” that this same guy hits long fly ball outs at CitiField.

Here’s a thought.  And it’s always been this.

It’s not CitiField.

It’s never been about the fucking walls, despite numerous attempts to make it about that.

It’s not about the coaches.

And it’s certainly not about the fucking fans and whether they voice displeasure every now and then.

GET BETTER PLAYERS.

Maybe they need to talk to guys like Troy Tulowitzki or Chase Utley (Utley’s corner, anyone?) and see why they manage to hit well at CitiField.

You know why?
They don’t make excuses.  And excuses, if you remember, are like assholes.  Everyone has one…and they ALL stink.