New York Mets

CitiField Memories With Coop and Rich – TONIGHT! TICKET GIVEAWAY!

Coop_rich No Mets games tonight, and none till Friday **night**??? Whatever shall we do???

Have no fear, the Coop is here!

Hang out in the Mets Lounge tonight, with good friend Rich Sparago, twitter personality and Rising Apple contributor, at 9 pm ET tonight!

Grab a martini, a beer, or a margarita (like me) and listen to us as we discuss happy days at CitiField.  Yes, there have been a few.  But also a reminder that good days will be here again.

Here is an incentive…come hang in the chat room, and ask us questions…or better yet DIAL IN!  Share your CitiField memories.

I have TWO Caesar GOLD tickets for next Tuesday 4/22 game against the Cardinals.  So yes, I am bribing you to dial in tonight to talk to us.

When Coop and Rich get going on the Mets, there’s no telling where the conversation will take us.  So grab a brew, take a seat, and hang out with the cool kids tonight!

Post-Traumatic Mets Disorder Therapy Session

How do Mets fans face their problems?  Head on, apparently.

Join me and Metstradamus (that pic below was just taken Monday), tune into the Mets Lounge podcast (where the cool kids hang out) at 9 pm ET tonight, and up your alcohol or Xanax intake as we discuss some of the most painful post-traumatic Mets disorder moments in our lifetime, and some beyond.  If you can’t listen to talk on 2006, 1988 or Black Friday, you might want to listen in installments.

The Mets make us drink...or do we drink because we're Mets fans?

The Mets make us drink…or do we drink because we’re Mets fans?

Please Join Us

Have you ever been told, “You know, you sure know a lot about baseball…

For a GIRL.”

If you’ve ever been told that great observation above, well, guess what?  You’ll find your place with the rest of us misfits.

It’s my pleasure to announce that I’ll be feting my dear friend, Caryn Rose aka Metsgrrl (one of my original inspirations for Mets blogging), honoring her newest book release, A Whole New Ballgame.

I’ll be joining a panel moderated by Kimberly Austin of Rock Book Show, with other great lady baseball writers / bloggers, including Joan Walsh (of Splash Hit, Salon.com) and Diane Firstman (Value Over Replacement Grit).

Join us at WORD in Brooklyn on Wednesday, March 12, at 7 pm, for the You Sure Know A Lot About Baseball For A Girl event.   I’ll be there, I might mention something about post-traumatic Mets disorder or something.

Follow us on Twitter:

Caryn Rose – @Metsgrrl
Diane Firstman – @dianagram
Joan Walsh – @Joanwalsh
Coop – @Coopz22

Faith (Not Fear) In Flushing

Faith and Fear

Another closing day has come and gone.  It used to be that days leading up to it were nostalgic.  Almost like a wake.  We got together to remember.  We got together to forget.  (This phenomenon is known as post-traumatic Mets disorder).  Then closing day comes and goes.  Sometimes they are happy.  Sometimes, they are sad.  More often than not, it’s a bittersweet event.

Sure, the Mets put us through a lot of shit in a season.  They’ve certainly given us a fair share of feces in the last six/seven years at least.  But we keep coming back every Opening Day.  But as Greg Prince once said, “Every poseur wants to be at Opening Day. Closing Day is a rite for the secret society of baseball fanatics.” Faith and Fear in Flushing

This Closing Day was special for Mets fans though.  It showed that on a deeper level, we all still care.  We care very deeply for the team that we’ve taken as our own, and has given us personality.  I often say, I’d be really boring if it wasn’t for being a Mets fan.  I don’t know is anything really compares.  Perhaps I had a life changing experience with football and soccer fans in Seattle (those people are CRAZY). Yet, nothing else in my life compares to being a Mets fan.  I made some of the best friends I’ve ever had in my life.  I met my husband through Mets blogging.

Greg and Jason may say that being a fan in Flushing can give you both faith and fear.  It’s a delicate balance for sure with us.  I suppose this is the root of all post-traumatic Mets disorder.  We “gotta believe,” but it’s “always the Mets.”  Faith.  Fear.

What’s more is that it wouldn’t be a true closing day if I didn’t see my blogging mentor/friend/cat parent.  It also wouldn’t be a true closing day, where we celebrated Mets great Mike Piazza, if I wasn’t wearing my Faith and Fear shirt.

I had bought two in 2006, when I was in a relationship.  I got his in a bad breakup, and I have two FAFIF shirts, that showcase retired numbers in Mets fandom.  By the hardcore Faith and Fearless, these shirts have showed up in several countries, and around the U.S.  I wore mine to Texas when we ambushed Howie Rose in the radio booth.  I wore it on the day I met Greg Prince in 2007, which was a total accident.  (We ran into each other a lot that week.  Sure you can search his archives for that).

There is one number conspicuously missing from the four.  We have 37 14 41 42.

Sunday should have seen 31.  My shirt should have been outdated.  But I wore it to make a statement, that the number should be retired pre-emptively.  I honored the present with my Niese 49 jersey.  I wore numbers that are retired with the hope that another number will be with it soon.

Fans still cared.  It turns out Mike Piazza still cares.  He came.  He spoke.  He still is a rock n’ roll bad ass, something I realize has been sorely missing since his departure in 2005.

Here’s the thing with post-traumatic Mets disorder.  Or the Faith and Fear disorder that effects us all.  There is a great amount of self-loathing involved.  We get a hard-working player and hitter like Daniel Murphy, in the vein of fan favorite Edgardo Alfonzo, and vocal minority wants him gone.  Travis d’Arnaud has a lackluster beginning, and people are already clamoring to trade him.

Guys, guys.  And gals.  It’s okay.  We DESERVE good players. We DESERVE guys like Wheeler, Harvey, Murphy, d’Arnaud, den Dekker.  Even Wright.  Self-loathing is not productive.

It also does not allow us to appreciate what we do have when it’s right in front of us.

Like Mike Piazza.

I freely admit that I did not fully appreciate him while he was on the team.  Only after he was gone, did I miss him.

And this is totally my loss.  Today, you will not see a bigger defender of Mike Piazza than me.  He should not only be in Cooperstown, he should be in there as a Met.  He shouldn’t just have his plaque in the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum, he needs to have his number on the wall in left field and a section of the park named after him (I vote “The Piazza” in the upper deck promenade food court, behind home plate, a nod to his monster home runs, and his position).

I’m through with the self-loathing part of being a fan.  Yes, it makes me funny, and I do love curse words.  But let me reserve the bulk of those for Cody Ross, Shane Victorino and hockey players, like Ovechkin and Crosby.  (Also for the New York Rangers.  Those assholes deserve all my angst).

And I implore you all to do the same.  It’s okay to want and have nice things.  See, Travis d’Arnaud might not be a hitter like Mike Piazza.  But where Piazza lacked as a defensive catcher, we can appreciate in d’Arnaud.  There was a play over the weekend where d’Arnaud’s position disallowed a run to score.  Sure, Juan Lagares’ arm helped (at least, I think he was the one with the assist).  Travis d’Arnaud knew instinctively where to block the runner.

So Sunday was hopeful.  I was relieved to see the season end.  With all the extra innings, the delays, even all the nine inning games that took FOREVAR to finish…I think it took a toll on me, as a spectator.  I can only imagine what it did to the players.  As Lou Brown once said, even tough guys get sprains.  Saturday’s game was one that did me in.

I’m so angry I’m ready to cut off Cody Ross’ dick and shove it up all the Mets’ asses

— The Coop (@Coopz22) September 28, 2013

That was the loathing part.  By Sunday, all was forgotten.  I got to see family.  I got to see friends.  Everyone came to send the team off.

As my husband said, this is what it would look like when the Mets are good.

Full lot  Full house vantage point

A full parking lot.  A full house.  It was like the ghosts of Shea were brought to us all over again.

The Mets sent the Shea Faithful vibe home with a win.  The self-loathing part of me would say, a win on closing day in 2007 or 2008 would have or could have changed the trajectory of this team dramatically.

But then, we wouldn’t have the faith and the hope that 2014 and beyond will provide better times to come.

I was happy to recharge my batteries which are resembling my broke-ass iPhone these days (cannot hold a charge to save its life) with 2013 ending.  I was happy for the pregame ceremony, I was happy for the win.  I was happy to see it end…until, of course, it was over.

I said goodbye to some friends.  We joked around about the offseason, and how we are boring, but we all wait.  We wait.  We stare out the window, and we wait for spring.

For the first time in a long time, Greg and Jason, I have faith.  I have no fears, but faith in the team for 2014.  I was happy to see 2013 end, but like many on closing day, it’s not without some kind of regret or bittersweet feeling.  I feel like we’re finally being honored for our unwavering faith to this team.  And the best is yet to come.

It’s **NOT** Only the Mets

“Typical.”

**Only** us.

I’ve heard a lot of this in, oh, the 30-some years I’ve paid attention to baseball. What could be a “typical” Mets move is signing some guy who has been great elsewhere, but comes to the Mets and promptly sucks.  Only the Mets, however, would get the shit end of the stick with a bad baseball deal.  Only the Mets have had a shitty bullpen in their history.  Only the Mets have lost a playoff game on a called third strike.

Et cetera, et cetera, so on.  Hi-sign.

little_rascals_hi_sign

I am a Mets fan.  Quite frankly, I am tired of being the butt of the joke…mostly by our own fanbase.  Mostly, in any fanbase, there are two extremes – the ultra-negative mong, or the positive everything-is-wonderful and ya gotta believe, and fuck you if you think any differently.  I like to think I am somewhere in the middle, since I can certainly identify.  A little lower than the top mong extreme is self-deprecating Mets humor.  I don’t think this is indicative of just us, but other fanbases too.  Yet, recently it’s started to grate on me.

Last week, I hit the roof with some of the attitude thrown around, namely in response to Matt Harvey going down with a season ending injury.  Yes – you see, only the Mets’ phenom young pitcher can go down with an injury and might need surgery.

Then in another interesting turn, the Mets went and traded Marlon Byrd and John Buck to Pittsburgh for young talent.  Of course, this took place on what was to be Marlon Byrd t-shirt night.

**Only** the Mets, they say, would trade a player that had his t-shirt giveaway.

Well, I have sufficient evidence that this is not just a Mets-specific thing, but what’s more, it has happened to our arch rivals more than once.  In recent memory too.  Here’s a list.

Phillies – Our City of Brotherly Love rivals parted ways with their manager Charlie Manuel last month, in favor of a younger leader Ryne Sandberg.  Instead of doing this at the end of the season like a normal team would, Manuel was let go the day the Phillies were to honor his 1,000th career win as a manager.  They also parted ways with Hunter Pence prior to Hunter Pence bobblehead day (Pence also went on to be key to helping the San Francisco Giants win the World Series).  Do I also need to remind you that their Cole Hamels and Ryan Howard contracts make the Johan Santana deal look like a steal?  You guys stay classy over there.

Nationals – Remember when Stephen Strasburg missed an entire season due to surgery recovery?  Hard to believe it wasn’t long ago.  Then famously, the Nats brass had Strasburg on a strict innings limit and benched him when his team MADE THE POSTSEASON in the first time of ever.  When they lost, it was generally agreed upon that Strasburg was being coddled for the future of the team, not just the one year.  I mean, as a Mets fan, I understand the concept of the future and not thinking that *this* might be our last year to do, you know, anything.  It may take close to a miracle to get the Nats to the playoffs this year.  Cart before the horse?

Marlins – BWAH HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.  Shiny new stadium, signing all high-profile free agents, fooling even the players into believing they were part of the future, when clearly, they were not.  I mean, talk about totally going against the grain of Marlins history.  The best?  Getting these players to sign long term deals in Florida where there is no state tax, and trading most of them to Toronto, a place with a shitload of tax penalties? Also, they won two championships by accident.  All the LOLs for the MarLOLins.  (And that doesn’t even touch the fact they once had the best player in baseball on their team, now on the Tigers).
Blue Jays – A team with just the worst luck since the days of Joe Carter, they had a bunch of trades (including trading for 2012 NL Cy Young Award, former Met, R.A. Dickey – one of the most popular pitchers in Met history, to be fair) that were to keep them competitive in the AL East.  Holding strong in last place, they are the only team under .500 in their division.  Oh, and the Mets got one the most highly touted prospects in the game from that trade…a prospect the Blue Jays got from the Phillies…who are under water with several contracts of their own.

Red Sox – Remember when the Red Sox felt out of playoff contention on the last day of the season in 2011 in one of the infamous Game 162s, then they had to fire their successful coach Terry Francona because of the Chicken n’ Beer-gate?  Then hired Bobby Valentine, whom was promptly smeared?  Makes me realize that not only the Mets fuck up on the last day of the season.

Cardinals – Just follow the Twitter handle @BestFansStLouis to see how ungrateful some of these fans can be.  Best fans, my big fat ass.

Angels – They have one of the best managers in baseball, some of the best hitters on paper (Pujols, Hamilton), one of the most complete young players in the game (Trout)…and they still suck.

Twins – Remember when they had the former MVP (Justin Morneau), the best catcher in baseball (Joe Mauer), two of the best pitchers in baseball (Santana, Liriano)…yet, they could never beat the Yankees in the playoffs?  Oh, and they still have half those players on their team.

Brewers – I still love Ryan Braun, even though he turned into a giant asshole.  They’re currently keeping their cellar warm with the Cubs…who…

Cubs – Yeah.  Moving right along…

Giants -  They traded Zack Wheeler for a half-year rental named Carlos Beltran in a year they won nothing.  Only the Mets, right?

Tigers – Their best pitcher (Verlander) isn’t even their best pitcher (Scherzer) this year.  And a Triple Crown winner can’t even guarantee a World Series championship.

Orioles – Always proof that there is a worse ownership group than the Mets.

Yankees – Proof that money and general managers don’t always mix.  Just ask Lisa Swan.

So let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  The Mets are not the **only** team to whom bad shit and bad deals happen, where players get hurt, where Septembers suck.

I don’t like to dictate fandom.  But please.  The joke is old already.

You Belong To The City

Photo courtesy of Trumbull Island.  I never forgave my mom for not letting me stop long enough to take a pic of this mural by Port Authority in 1986.

Photo courtesy of Trumbull Island. I never forgave my mom for not letting me stop long enough to take a pic of this mural by Port Authority in 1986.

I knew when I was 10 years old that I wanted to live in New York City.  This was before the days of Disney-ificiation and Lion King musicals in Times Square.  These were the days of sleaze, crime, dingy days of Ed Koch.

And I LOVED it.  I knew somehow I’d be there someday.

I often say that when I was seven, two things occurred that really helped shape my personality as I got older.  I discovered Duran Duran and new wave Brit pop.  At the time, artists like Madonna and Michael Jackson were the popular go-to Top 40 artists of the time.  I listened to them too, but I really loved DD.  That same year, I caught myself watching some baseball games with my dad.  He was a Mets fan.  I declared myself as such too.

I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.  The year I was 10, the Mets won the World Series.

That was also the first year I visited New York City for the first time.  Not just going to Queens to see a baseball game, or driving through Brooklyn and Staten Island like we used would going to our Sunday games.  But a real live Broadway show (Cats on a Wednesday afternoon with my mom and my aunt).  My dad and mom also took me on a day trip to the South Street Seaport, an area I used to work close to as an adult, that has lost some of its lustre, but nevertheless still holds a special place in my heart.

When I was 10, I attended more Mets wins than I ever had.  They won 108 games that year, it would be hard to see a loss.  Then again, I attended about three Dwight Gooden starts in his rookie year, only to see him lose all three.

He lost nine games total that season.

It should be no surprise that in 1986, the Mets won the World Series, and I went to New York City for the first time that same year.

Both were gritty.  Both were totally different from what I was used to.

I identify in my Jersey-ness.  But ew York was where I belonged.

I didn’t know that though till the Mets were in the playoffs that year.

I grew up in a boring rural town, that was basically only car accessible.  There was no walking to the corner store, or taking a walk through the neighborhood.  Shit, I couldn’t even really ride a bike around…my parents feared I might get hit by a car careening down the street, not expecting a young child on a bike.

So I was relegated to basically our building, to my bike in the parking lot…I mostly read books, and kept journals.  I also watched a LOT of baseball.

Then New York City got under my skin.

Never mind I had been to the city a few times for a show, some touristy stuff and even rode the subway.  I had only seen that happen in movies and television.

It was during Game six of the 1986 NLCS against the Houston Astros that got me.

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This has been a tough year for me, getting to games wise.  I took a job that has me working many weekends.  I could finagle a day off here or there, but the reality is, being retail driven, I can’t really miss Saturdays.  The Mets didn’t consult with me, and there was only one flippin game this year that started at 7 pm on a Saturday.

To say I’ve missed many Saturdays this season is an understatement.  But I did get to go to three games in a row this week, and four out of five games.

I saw a 13-inning five hour marathon on Monday night, chronicled here by my companion for the evening, Greg Prince from Faith and Fear in Flushing.

Not one to miss a chance to see another game, I went the next night too.  I saw two wins.  I saw a rain delay Tuesday night that was almost as long as the first part of the game.  During the delay, I was able to charge my phone, watch Homer Bailey’s no-hitter in the Caesar’s Club, but reminisce about 1986, the last World Championship won by the Mets.  It wasn’t because we simply had nothing better to do; the highlight reel of that season “1986: A Year to Remember” was played during the delay.

When highlights of the epic Game Six (the “first” one) came across, the video showed fans all over the naked city watching the game by any means possible.  If that meant they had to brown bag beers outside of an already full bar, so be it.  They watched (and did The Wave) outside of appliance stores that showed the game on the display TVs.  Strangers were high-fiving strangers.  Underage drinkers were toasting cops on the street.

I was watching the game from my living room in Freehold, New Jersey.  I sat in front of that TV from the time I got home from school, to the very last bitter out.  To the point where the broadcast switched right ALCS, where the Angels were playing the Red Sox.

On the evening news, they broadcasted from a street called “Houston” (pronounced “How-STUN”), where there are still several bars.  Fans cheered so loudly, you could barely hear John Johnson report from the street.  They showed the footage of fans outside of stores, bars, cop cars or wherever they hear or see the game.

I had been to the Big Apple a few times by that point.  But as a 10 year old, I decided THAT was where I needed to be.

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New York City gets under your skin.  It did for me at least, and for the next 20-something years they closest I’d get to the city was going to Mets games.  I lived literally across the river, so I figured I was a short ride away from the action.  I worked here.  Then I had a few things come to a head in 2008.  That was when I decided it was now or never.  I’ve lived here since.

They say you can only have one great love.  I call bullshit.  Sure, I have my husband, a man I probably would not have met had it not been for our mutual Mets fandom.  The one constant I’ve had is the Mets.  And the city.

I belong to all three.

Here We Go Again

It’s hard to believe that we’re at the cusp of playoff time, as NotGlen Sather calls it, “The Second Season.”  Again. Heck, wasn’t it just like three days ago that the L.A. Kings were celebrating their Cup victory?  Okay, fine, it was almost 10 months ago, but still.  Is it me, or does time go by way too quickly?  Yes, I’m old.  Deal with it.

Yet this hockey season was curious.  The Flyers and Devils are out (and let me take this time to remind you that every single Devils fan I know gave us SHIT about the Rangers losing the first three of four games this shortened season…hope you’re all enjoying your tee times), and as death, taxes and the power play sucking, the Rangers are facing the Washington Capitals in the postseason.  (See my video from the first round last year below)

And I’m not sure how to feel about this.  It was tough for me to get excited about this season, be the prolonged start, and abbreviated season it was.  Talking to fellow Ranger fan, KB, the other day, she was kind of nonplussed about the team making the playoffs.  I can see that, but I can basically say one thing.  That once they start to win, or advance out of the first round, we’ll start to get the bug, the itch that it may OUR year.  Even if we have given SOME OTHER teams grief over winning “half a cup.”

(And yeah, if it comes to that this year, I’m not sure how to resolve my feelings either on that one.)

Of course, this means another sport will be neglected, and that will be baseball.  With good reason too.  To say the Mets have been lackluster is an understatement.  I keep telling my husband, “IT’S ONLY APRIL.”  Yet, by their effort this month, it’s evident that it will be a LONG ASS season.  Until, of course, Zack Wheeler is called up.  And who knows, his start has been below par too out in Vegas.

But it makes me happy that I can shy away from baseball, though it is my favorite sport, I don’t feel bad about not giving it as much attention as I do the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Now, if you want a good laugh or be entertained while watching hockey, be sure to follow my sports tweets @Coopz22.  I have a heart attack with every pass, every shot on goal, every Henrik save or close call, and every goal scored by the Rangers is the BEST GOAL EVAR.   Or I threaten myself with bodily harm.  Just myself.  You don’t have to worry about yourselves.

It’s a do or die situation.  Whether we’ll be invincible or not, remains to be seen.

Trust me, I operate on a different plane during this time of the year.  Apologies in advance.

Turns Out, You **CAN** Go Home Again

One constant you’ll see me harping on in my existence is a place to call home.  I didn’t necessarily move around a lot as a kid, but never felt like I quite belonged anywhere, and as a result I think my moving seven times in a period of 13 years has been a thinly veiled (or not-so-veiled) attempt at finding a place that I could root myself in.  Even in New York City, where I’d always coveted, and always wanted to call home.

Yet one place I’ve always felt confident and comfortable in my own skin is at a baseball stadium.  Shea Stadium served that role for several years, from the time I was eight years old and I attended my first Mets game, till I was something-something when it closed down.

In 2009, I had a hard time adjusting to CitiField.  I was far from the only one.  There were moments though when I felt connected in 2009.  Like Fernando Martinez’s debut, and my friends and I congregated on the Shea Bridge, then unnamed.  The Catch of the Day stand had calamari, and people kept buying beers.  It was like an Italian family gathering.

Then there was the game in August, by then the Mets were decimated by injuries, and Fernando Tatis hit a grand slam to win the game.  I had seen Howard Megdal and Mets friend CharlieH at the game. This was also the same day that a mushroom cloud erupted and Omar Minaya essentially called out Adam Rubin for trying to lobby for a job.

I wanted to go home.  I wanted Shea.  I couldn’t identify with a team that had plan Z’s all over the place (as opposed to Plan A, Plan B, etc).  I didn’t know any of the players.  And a six-week injury was a season long furlough.

But I couldn’t get away from the Mets.  CitiField didn’t feel like home, but I had planned to spend some time on the road, visiting another stadium.

This was the infamous West Coast Baseball Trip of ’09.  It was the last summer I was single.  It was the last summer I traveled alone for a baseball trip (and yes, my solo trip to Rogers Centre last season does NOT count because I’d rather forget about it).

It was the summer I discovered home on the west coast.

It was Angel Stadium, or as Greg Prince once described it to me, “Bizarro Shea.”

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The year 2009 was the year I met my now-brother husband/sister wife team in the Sollies.  While I met them at a Mets game at Petco Park, we became locked together for life.  Most of my west coast trips since then have entailed some time spent one way or another with them.  Whether that was them driving up to the Bay Area to see us at AT&T Park or going to the SF Zoo or even just taking a trip to Alcatraz.  Then there was the lost weekend of 2011 when the husband and I went to see them in their home quarters.

The Sollies say “home” to me.  They’re familiar.  They’re safe.

But Angel Stadium has a special place in my heart.  For baseball fans, 2009 was a tough year.  For one, young upstart pitcher Nick Adenhart was killed tragically by a drunk driver after his first game with Anaheim.  When I visited the stadium, I had it marked on my list, since I’d never been there, but I wasn’t expecting much.  I was blown away by the memorial outside for Adenhart.  It had been months, but still fresh in the mind of the fans.

Southern California baseball had experienced its hey day in the 1960s, which was when the stadium was built.  And there were many reminders of the decades past, not too long ago, around the stadium.  The “Big A” outside which had served as the scoreboard in the outfield.  More recent additions like the giant caps were outside by what was perceived to be the main entrance.  And for a team with only one championship, they really loved honoring their past, like having a Wall of Fame celebrating their stars, like Nolan Ryan…a guy most Mets fans can identify.

The Big A  Caps

Mets fans do love their history, and what was missing in 2009 was a nod to any of their history.  Most fans felt as though they were walking into a Brooklyn Dodger shrine.  And when I found Angel Stadium in 2009, it was exactly when I needed it.  I needed another home.  I love the West Coast.  I found it.

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When I visited the Sollies in 2011, it was basically July at Christmas (or Thanksgiving, since it was November).  We decided to make it a baseball trip, where we visited Dodger Stadium and Petco Park for tours.  We worked in other trips, like Hollywood Blvd, San Diego Zoo and Old Town.  But the focal point was of course our bond over baseball.

As we drove up Saturday morning to hit a Dodger Stadium tour, I saw the Big A from the highway.  And I had a feeling of longing.  I missed it.  And I’d only been there one other time in my life.  But we didn’t plan on taking a tour of it.  If they even offer them.  I hadn’t thought to look, because Dodger Stadium and Petco Park seemed more likely.

I’m rarely in Southern California, especially for business.  When I saw that I had a trip that brought me to the west coast in April, and lo and behold I got there with enough time to hit Anaheim and a baseball game at Angel Stadium, you best believe I took the universe up on that offering.

But my family grew.  Besides the Sollies, I got to see my esteemed podcast frequent guest and Whoomp! There It Is Jake! segment host, uh, Jake.  I also had reconnected with a former coworker who was now in SoCal, MB.  I purchased the tickets when I was waiting for my flight to Long Beach.

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So many things…

Someone had asked if I felt that Shea could have been comparable to Angel Stadium, had it been decided to revamp Shea instead of tear it down.  The consensus was that Shea was old and decrepit (and smelled bad…but yes, I still missed it terribly), and because it was exposed to different elements of weather, the upkeep was probably more costly.  Eh, who knows, it might have still been worth it.

But when I get to Angel Stadium again, it’s a sigh of relief.  See, when I travel, I’m a complete spaztastic spaz.  And this day was no different.  TSA was intent on fucking me over.  My plane got delayed on the tarmac because there was some sort of switch sticking, and maintenance people had to get us to the gate again.  Of course, I wouldn’t have minded if a) this same shit didn’t already happen when I was on my way to Seattle last November or b) if I didn’t have a connecting flight to catch in Las Vegas.  Oh, and I’m already a nervous wreck disaster because I don’t like cross-country flights (though they are more tolerable since I flew to India, an 11 hour flight after a six-or-so hour flight to Germany).

Then I get in a car…in Southern California…during rush hour traffic.

I need serious help.

But when I was driving to the local StubHub office, I drove right past Angel Stadium.  A calming effect, if you will.  I could exhale.  I felt good.

It was home.

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The Buzz Reached Shea Bridge

The Buzz Reached Shea Bridge

Urban legend has it that my dad once wore a suit to Opening Day at Shea one year.  When people asked him why, he said, “Well, it’s Opening Day!”  My family isn’t one to get all gussied for holidays or special occasions.  But Opening Day: that’s Christmas, New Year’s, Mardi Gras and 4th of July rolled into one.  When we’d drive there, or take the train, and Shea came into view, it was always a thrill, that first time of the year.

We had some defining Mo-Mets at Shea, and it was tough to get that at Citi.  Now I get the thrill when I see Citi.  We’ve had some good times, like 2012, with R.A. Dickey winning 20 games, David Wright breaking the all-time hit record and of course the Johan Santana no-hitter.

Last week, there was a buzz around Citi.  It had everything do with Matthew Edward Harvey.  Or as my friend Orlando (who is *NOT* a Mets fan) calls him, “The Truth.”

 

Even with the bells and whistles and focus on history at CitiField, there has been a disconnect between fans and the park.  It’s finally arrived.  With every Matt Harvey start, it’s bringing the energy of a Pedro Martinez start circa 2005 (by the way, FUCK PEDRO MARTINEZ), and the rock concert quality of a Doc Gooden start circa 1984.   Either one of those events took place at Shea Stadium.

Matt Harvey IS CitiField.

And should be for years to come.

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I’m very fortunate to have found my place with the misfits by being a Mets fan.  Yet it’s the only place I’ve found that being weird is a good quality, an acceptable one.

This weirdness got me to the Sollies, and to Jake, and got them to drive from various places in Southern California just to come watch some baseball at my west coast stadium home.

There’s a piece of paradise at this place.

Is it the waterfall in the outfield?  Is it the combination of eras?  Is it that it reminds me of Shea on some level?  I’m not sure.

DSCN6233  DSCN6238

Perhaps it was because at a time when it was hard to accept that things were changing for a Mets fan, I found an oddly familiar home 3,000-some miles away.

I get there, and I’m comfortable.

I get there, and I’m home.

I’m where I should be at home.

Now that Citi is getting to that point with me, I guess the need to visit my west coast home isn’t necessary or as longing.  Still doesn’t mean I can’t miss it when I don’t see it.

Let’s Play Two

Opening Week  Rangers Win!

The last time I had a day like this was in April 2011.  I had been invited to an afternoon Rangers/Devils game, and had a Mets game that night at 7:10 pm. The night game was critical, as it was the night Scott Hairston ended up on my ass’ Wikipedia page.

The day game was also a good one where the Rangers beat the Devils, in what I believed was the last home game of the regular season, if my memory serves me correctly.  All I know is a few weeks later, I went to a brutal playoff loss.  And the night game stood out as well, not because of the ass situation, but my husband couldn’t go with me since he got really sick.  Then he ended up giving it to ME, and I was really pissed off the Rangers lost that game…otherwise I should have just sold my playoff tickets since I was miserable sick AND the Rangers lost in a brutal fashion.

I digress.  Everything that could have gone right DID go right on Monday, April 1st, and that is no April Fool’s joke.  The Mets won, the Rangers won, and everyone was happy.  Well, I was happy.  My husband was happy.  Our various bears were happy, since they were well-fed and their teams won.

Joey & Iggy  Joey and Gabby

I could end it there, but I won’t.  I’ll start from the beginning.

I’ve often said that Opening Day is mostly fun, but stressful.  Friends make the trip especially, and we have pressure to see everyone. It’s the one game a year there is a sell out, and a cell phone signal is usually a rarity.  There’s excitement, but we are grumpy cats with long lines and poseurs who come to their only game a year.  It’s also the one day a year that every single person I know is tailgating.  The good news was that two of my friends who have notable tailgates combined their efforts and had a megamerger of tailgating.  So it saved me a lot of running around, and I could sit and drink and eat at my leisure, without worrying about offending anyone by not showing up to their party.

Plus I could sit and enjoy the two plus hours before the opening ceremonies without running all over the parking lot.

More Cowgill  Real Housewives of CitiField Coop, Alvin, Kelly Section 22 Mezzanine

I’ve found that at CitiField, it’s easy to keep track of the game without sitting in your seat.  I guess in a way that’s good because I can get a little antsy sitting around the entire time. So prior to the game, I was able to see friends and visit people, and during the game it’s the same.  On Opening Day, it’s become sort of a ritual to have a Shea Bridge meetup in the 5th inning.  Yet, in the midst of celebrating the present of the Mets, and talking about the future, a big part of my past hit close to home.

As I was waiting for various folks to join us on the bridge, I saw a familiar looking black Mets jersey, with the name and number “WOODSIDE 7″ embroidered on the back.  Oh, holy sheepshit and balls.  This was the old Woodside crew from Shea Mezzanine Section 22, Saturday plans!!!  The Woodside 7 was worn by Kim, who hadn’t aged a day in a decade (which HOLY SHIT IT HAD BEEN TEN YEARS SINCE I SAW THEM LAST), and there was Tommy, her husband, and the ringleader, Frank, who was still the same.  I nearly cried.  These people gave me some of the best memories outside of the Mets themselves at Shea, including terms that I use to this day, like, “Fuck these guys, I’m going to Donovan’s.”  In fact, I was introduced to Donovan’s by this same crew.  Also, a podcast that has been recruiting me to be a guest, Mets Bhoys, turns out that Frank is a regular on the show too.

This world has just gotten smaller.  But to me, a little bit of home was brought to me on Opening Day.  Besides seeing the Mets, I saw a big part of my past. It was great.  My past and present collided for sure on that bridge.

And just like old times, the Mets won on Opening Day.  My boy Jonathon Joseph Niese won the game, and then I was able to see both of our favorite hockey team, and my boy there Henrik Lundqvist, get the win that night.

Jon Niese  Henke

Everyone contributed to the Mets victory, from the ball boy on up.  The same could be said for the Rangers win. We got to see a grand slam from Collin Cowgill, and we got to see the Rangers score 4 goals themselves. We saw a shorthanded goal by Captain Cally, and we saw efforts from Brad Richards and Rick Nash, and a solid effort from Henrik Lundqvist.

The Mets are going through changes, and we look to their future a lot rather than the present.  The Rangers are living for the present, as Wednesday rolled around, and they parted ways with Marian Gaborik.  I had a happy Gabby bear on Monday, but a disappointed one come Wednesday…until they played that night.

On Monday night, I saw a team that gelled together, and even had a contribution from Brad Richards who hadn’t been consistent at all this season.  One nonperforming entity was Marian Gaborik, and as I like to say, the very definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  A deal had to be made, and Gabby was collateral damage.

Yet, the Rangers idea of playing two is a world of difference in two nights. They played a very tough — albeit Crosby-less — Penguins team, and won definitively with contributions from everyone new and old.  This was the type of win that we need to see going forward, and the type of play to see going forward.

I’ve seen two Ranger games since Monday, and three Mets games. Contributions are made from the littlest person on up, but that’s how a team is built.

For the next few weeks, at the very least, I’ll be in the mood to play two, to follow my teams till they no longer overlap.

Post-Traumatic Mets Disorder: Coopie Drinks Because You Torture Her

I wasn’t always a big drinker.  In fact, I probably can’t even classify myself as one anymore, since I’m no longer in my 20s, and don’t like being hungover ever since it takes me like three days to recover from ONE bad night of drinking.

But there was a period of time that made me drink, and it correlated to a time period with being a Mets fan.  And it was during some of the best of times too, as a fan.

It is one name, though, one name in particular that makes Coopie reach for the bottle.

Or one time, actually.

And that’s Jose Lima Time.

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The game that actually Coop associates with drinking heavily is a game with positive memories, one that certainly gives the warm fuzzies.  And that’s late 2005, the Mets are pushing for what was to be an elusive wild card.  Ramon Castro hits a home run against Ugueth Urbina, sailing into the old Pepsi Porch in Shea Stadium.

I drank very heavily for two reasons.  One is that I didn’t have to work the next day.  Two is that the game was so close, and I really wanted them to win.

Yes, I convinced myself I was taking one for the team, by drinking.  Heavily.

I didn’t leave drunk, but I felt like I did something for the common good, by switching that energy.

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Turn the clock to almost a year later.  It’s 2006, and the New York Mets are enjoying a bit of a renaissance or a Metaissance.

While the Mets offense seemed to be gellin’ like Magellan, the pitching left a bit to be desired.  Besides Tom Glavine having himself a bit of a Glavinaissance (see what I did there?), the rest seemed to be chosen by the method of seeing what shit stuck to the wall.  Oh, but except for Steve Trachsel who this chick has some sort of Stockholm Syndrome associations.

Oh and did I mention Trachsel, at that point, was the longest tenured Met?

A brighter spot was John Maine, who came to the team via trade.  Then there was El Duque Hernandez, the oldest 37 year old alive.  (Seriously, the guy does not age).

In no particular order, the Mets threw the likes of Glavine, Trachsel, Maine, Duque, Brian Bannister, Alay Soler, Geremi Gonzalez, Mike Pelfrey, Dave Williams, Victor Zambrano, and Pedro Martinez into the starter role.

Did I forget someone?  I feel like I did.  After all, there were so many starters who took one for the proverbial team that season.

Oh wait, now I remember.

Jose Lima!

…….

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The date is July 7, 2006.  The Mets prove to not be fluky, and they have a strong hold in the NL East.  Yet, the pitching continually is a question mark, with some questionables being thrown into the mix.

At this point, I had attended probably the most Mets games I had in my adult life.  In fact, due to all the money I was spending on one-off games (plus my dad’s weekend plan), it was that weekend that I decided to take the plunge and take a closer look at full season tickets.

Not sure why that specific weekend.  It must have been the alcohol talking.

Jose Lima made four starts for the Mets that season, and subsequently four losses with 17 1/3 innings pitched.

On 7-7, I was in attendance.  I went directly after work, and went to my seat in Field Level.  Dontrelle Willis made the start for the then-Florida Marlins.

It’s a wonder I can even remember **that** much.  Believe you me, there’s not much I remember of that night.

In fact, when Dontrelle Willis (remember? The starting pitcher for the Marlins) hit a GRAND SLAM in the third inning…that was when the beer guy became my best friend.  When I was still talking about Lima in the seventh inning, still convinced it was HE who was out there, and not Darren Oliver (who apparently did not give up another run, which should have been my first clue that Lima was no longer in the game), I learned something.

That beer was the solution to all things bad in baseball.   It certainly made my memories of Lima more appealing.  Well, my lack of memories.  Because I had wiped it out mostly.

I kept drinking.  And drinking, and drinking, and drinking.   Oh, I ate something.  Drinking.  More drinking.  The people in the box next to us offered me some cookies.  I declined.  I kept drinking.

I remember saying something to the effect that, “Jose Lima is awful, why is he still out there?” And to which my box-mates in the field level said, “Uh, you do know he was taken out after the third?”  I was not convinced.

Ah, the beauty of alcohol.

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But with my drinking game that goes along with baseball, I can’t do it as much as I used to.  I guess my liver is starting to balk.  But that night Lima made that start was the be-all end-all of all drinking nights at baseball games.  I still think it’s funny that it took me till the seventh inning to realize he was no longer in the game.

The last time I threatened to up my drinking was in 2007, probably after a particularly bad game (take your pick).  I lamented the fact that when I drove to Miller Park, I couldn’t drink at a stadium named after a beer, because I drove.  Now, I can barely remember the last time I got hammered at a game.

But for awhile my drinking problem was centered around the Mets.  It was fun.  It was social.  But now I just mostly have a social drink or two at each game.  And mostly not even beer, now that they have mixed drinks available.

But I was definitely doing my part to keep alcohol companies in business during the Mets’ hey days.