Atlanta Braves

The Pity Vote

Is it me, or does anyone else think it’s a bit ironic that Tom Glavine was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame the same year his comrade Greg Maddux and his Braves manager Bobby Cox were either eligible or elected the selves?

Yes, Glavine received over 91% of the vote.  Yes, Glavine was part of the storied Atlanta Braves NL (B)East teams of the 1990s. Sure, I might have some *thinly veiled disgust* for his ineffectiveness as a Met (and I don’t even reserve the hate that most Mets fans have over his blowing the last game of 2007 before getting out of the inning…FIRST inning…most of my PTMD with him is due to his first game in 2003).

But who here thinks the crock of shit known as the Hall of Fame voting process (you know, the self serving sanctimonious assholes who didn’t vote anyone in for 2013, because someone *might* have done steroids AND the same shit-for-brains who think making a guy a “unanimous” vote takes away integrity or some shit…or some idiot who actually thought Armando Benitez was worthy of *A* vote) just simply wanted to get the band back together?

I’m sure the two Braves fans out there are excited about this prospect. But color me unimpressed. This isn’t a rant that Mike Piazza got snubbed…AGAIN.  Just because Glavine had an impressive “resume,” sure he played for lots of good teams, but he’s massively overrated. I’m sure he would get in the Hall, eventually. A pitcher with 300 wins, it’s almost a foregone conclusion.  Yet with his stats, he’s the very definition of a guy who should not get in on the first ballot, in my opinion.

This is MLB’s tweet on Glavine:

But take a look at these bullet points to show what those numbers could not possibly tell you:

*Glavine is the owner of the most postseason losses in baseball history (16 losses) – think of those years the Braves never made it past the divisional series, Glavine clearly never made it count when his team needed him most.  This is also something that Mets fans can certainly identify.

*Glavine retired with 305 wins.  His team scored 6 or more runs 226 times in his starts, where he earned 149 wins in those games. So nearly half of his total wins, his team scored lots of runs, and he won those games. My grandmother could win when her team scores six or more runs.

*But that’s not all. There were 77 total games where he either lost or got a no decision when his team gave him six or more runs. Shouldn’t more than 50% of a pitcher’s wins come when you have a 6 run spot?

*When Glavine got 2 runs or less than support he won 26 games.

*He boasted a less than average WHIP of 1.317.

*When a pitcher gives up 200 hits in a season, that’s considered a lot, right? Tom Glavine gave up over 200 hits FIFTEEN TIMES in his career. Of the seasons he did not hit that milestone (seven total), two of those seasons were not full seasons.

*During the span of Glavine’s career (beginning in 1987), NO ONE allowed more base runners than Glavine, to the tune of 6,069 of ‘em. Only five pitchers in National League history have allowed more base runners than Glavine.

Here’s the thing about Glavine. Throw away his Tom Horrific performance as a Met.  He was second fiddle to Maddux, and rightfully so. Maddux is a Hall of Fame pitcher, plus he had dominating numbers when he played for crappy teams, like the Cubs.  Yet, that certainly didn’t make Glavine the second best pitcher on those great Braves teams.  John Smoltz certainly was the stronger pitcher (and he’ll get in first ballot, no problem) – he made 200 fewer starts and got 500 MORE strikeouts than Glavine!!!

Shit, on the Art Howe Mets “error,” Glavine wasn’t even the best goddamn pitcher on that team, though by reputation he should have been.  When STEVE TRACHSEL is the more consistent pitcher, you ain’t all that, honey.

Spare me the whole “well he was older on the downside of his career” excuse.  Enough.  All Glavine did was bitch about Questec and wasn’t given benefit of the doubt calls that made him a legend in Atlanta. A dominant pitcher adjusts.  Glavine never did.

I’m outraged about this.

Maybe last year wasn’t Piazza’s year.  But it should have been this year if people wanted to truly make a statement.  But Glavine? The year his teammates and manager started to become eligible, he all of a sudden gets benefit of the doubt votes?

Call it the Hall of Pity Votes.

Are Championships The **Only** Thing That Matter?

It’s easy to make fun of the Miami Marlins.  My husband did yesterday, and I’ve been known to dabble in it a few times myself.  After spending a shit ton of money on free agents that Jeffrey Loria later turned into Canadian currency, the Miami Marlins are bottom feeders.

But OHHHHHH! HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT??!?!  THEY WON A CHAMPIONSHIP IN 2003!!  THEY WON TWO CHAMPIONSHIPS IN LESS THAN 10 YEARS OF EXISTENCE!!! BLAHHHHHH!

The Marlins have never won a division championship either.  They never built for the future and quickly dismantled those teams just for shits and giggles.

They won those championships by accident.

So the Mets have won two championships in a 50 year existence.  Guess what? So have the Phillies, in over 100 years of existence.  They also have over 10,000 losses in their history.

The Atlanta Braves also have existed since 1966 (but existed in many other forms for over 100 years too).  As the Atlanta Braves (I’m not looking at their entire existence, get over it), they won ONE championship in 1995.  Remember how dominant that team was in the ’90s?

And the Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos? Not a one.

Out of the Phillies (a team that is well over 100 years old), the Mets (51 years young) and the Marlins, whoever wins the next championship will be the winningest National League Eastern Divisional team.

Funny how that puts things into perspective, right?

So when someone comes back at me with history, it’s a very limited history scope, and it’s a very revisionist one as well.

My question then is: are World Championships in baseball the be-all, end-all?

Look at the Houston Astros.  They’re a fucking train wreck and a half now.  They’ve never won a championship in their 51 year existence either (they’re the same age as the Mets).  Yet, they’ve had such greats as Nolan Ryan, Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, hell even Roidger Clemens play for them.  Biggio and Bagwell were the “Franchise.”  They may not have any hardware, but their history certainly is not irrelevant.

Fans still love the Chicago Cubs.  They haven’t won in over 100 years, and they, too, only have two championships to their credit.   Billy Williams, Ferguson Jenkins, Ron Santo, Ernie Banks, they all played for the Cubs.  Know what else they have in common?  Never played in a World Series.

A team like the Mets has Tom Seaver in the Hall of Fame, who won a championship with the team.  Mike Piazza, who should be in the Hall, played in a World Series just once.

The Marlins have Jeff Conine.  They traded away a future Triple Crown winner and MVP in Miguel Cabrera.  They got rid of Josh Beckett who was instrumental in bringing a World Series to Boston in 2007…another team, mind you, that didn’t win in 86 friggin years at one point.  (Though they had exorcised that demon prior to Beckett going there).

The Mets happen to share a city with the team that has won the most championships throughout sports, the New York Yankees at 27.  The second winningest franchise?  The St. Louis Cardinals, with 11.  Third and fourth are the Oakland A’s, and the San Francisco Giants.  Funny this is that the Giants didn’t win a championship in San Francisco until 2010, after over 50 years of relocating to the Bay Area (till 2009, they were tied at 5 with the Cincinnati Reds).

I don’t think we’d be as hell bent as a fan base on winning, or measuring our pee-pees with other teams in the division, if we saw the larger picture.  That larger picture is that your existence isn’t solely based on winning it all.

Oh don’t get me wrong.  It’s nice.  I’ve been through two, and I really wanted my husband to experience for another one of his teams this year since none of his teams have won anything since 1986.

But I’d take the Mets, post-traumatic Mets disorder and all, and their quirky yet rich history any day over the Marlins luck of the draw in winning championships by accident any day.

A New Era

Something about the chill in the air in September that gets me wistful.  I think about baseball season coming to an end which is always sad.  I think about when I was a kid and school would start, which meant that leaves would change, plant life would die, and birds go south for winter.  Growing up at the shore it meant the bennies would all go home and make it enjoyable again.

Now that I’m older it reminds me not only of that piece of information (that I’m not getting any younger that’s for sure), but as sure as death and taxes, the Mets leave me wishing for more.

What’s more: I was also reminded of better days.  I remember watching Mets games in October as a child.  I remember watching Mets in the playoffs as an adult in October.

But ultimately, I was reminded of Chipper Jones not only in my youth but in his youth.  And though I rode him mercilessly, it brings me back.  To the simpler days.  To when I watched Mets postseason games at Uncle Gene and Aunt Melissa’s house.  How when my dad told me when we were leaving San Francisco one year that Chipper Jones won the MVP award, I muttered, “Larry Fine.”

Some things will remind me that I’m getting older.  Like the fact that when I drink a milkshake my ass jiggles for a week. Like that I’m training for the marathon, and I’m not recovering from harsh workouts like I used to.  That I might need to invest in plastic surgery because gravity is taking toll.

But mostly that something weird is that I was sad to see Chipper Jones leave us at Not Shea for the last time.  Not that I’ll miss him kick our ass.  That part I won’t miss.

It means I’m no longer young.  The retirement of Chipper Jones means part of my youth is also gone.  Gone are the days of watching the Mets and Braves in the playoffs.  Yes, I know those were long gone.  But those memories I hold near and dear to my heart. The Mets will always be around, testing the very limits of futility.

I first learned about him in my 20s during the Braves hey-day in the late 1990s.  I got to know him intimately during the late season runs with those lovable black jersey wearing Mets in those years.  As sure as death and taxes, like the Mets leaving me to wish for something more, Chipper was going to stick it to us no matter what.

And yesterday we got to show some respect to the man who probably played the game the right way.  His name was never tarnished with PEDs.  His team was always in the thick of things late in the season.

As the pre-autumn chill hit the air, and the first football games were played for the 2012 season…I saw Chipper Jones take his last at-bat in Flushing.

And I was actually sad about it.

Like I said, it’s mostly for selfish reasons.  Most people know my slight obsession with Cal Ripken from the Baltimore Orioles.  When he retired, I was in my 20s still.  I drove down to Baltimore to see him play at home one last time for this retirement game.  I was sad to see him go but in a different way.  I never saw him intimately involved with killing my team personally.  I was sad for baseball that a great was leaving.

This time around is different.  It’s really the end of an era, for me as a Mets fan.

A generation has passed.  A generation of futility.  The one person to remind us of it was Larry Wayne Jones.  Now he’s no longer around to do it.

The only person reminding us of our futility is ourselves.

That’s no fun.

Let’s face it.  For years and year, Larry Jones made it a habit to kick our ass when it counted.  Now we just kick our own ass when we’re down and it doesn’t even count.  That’s no fun.  At least there was an element of collaboration there.  Now it’s simply self-defeatist.

A wise man once sang that “Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes,” and it’s time for goodbye again.  This time it means something.

It means we’re getting older.  It means another fall is going to pass, and turn into winter.  It also means that spring and summer will be around the corner once again.

It means that we’ll never see Chipper Jones play against the Mets anymore.  Some people are happy about it, but I’m sad.

It means that I have to acknowledge that I, too, am getting older.  And that’s no fun at all.

Sucks To Be Them

Well, hello, everyone.  I’m back.  I apologize a) for the brief hiatus and b) for not really leaving an explanation.  Truth is, I was moving, and had the attention span of a three year old.  Even if I wanted to write, if I could string a coherent sentence together, that would have been enough of a win for me.

But I’m ready now.  After my break, I plan to come back this Wednesday with my first podcast in about a month, and then broadcast regularly.  Also, something else interesting happened.

Baseball wasn’t doing it for me.

I was a little shellshocked from the New York Rangers season, to the extent that it took me awhile to get back to baseball.  That’s not to say that I wasn’t paying attention or enjoying it.  From R.A. Dickey’s spectacular start to Johan Santana’s no-hitter to other events in baseball, I have to say I was preoccupied.  But in a conversation I had last night with Tweeter @Gardenfaithfull, this is what I had to say.

And that was that. This was after all, right after David Wright hit a walk-off single to win the game and blown save of Jonathan Papelshmear, oops, Papelbon.  It was the first time that I shrieked watching baseball this year.  It was the first time I was afraid my neighbors thought I’d be murdered since watching hockey.

So I guess All-Star Break came at an opportune time, since I have a better feeling of how the Mets should be performing, but also with the other indicators in the NL East.

And what I can say about the Braves, the Phillies, the Marlins and the Nationals?  Sucks to be them.

Hear me out.

So there’s the Braves. The Braves are currently in third place in the division, but have an interesting thing going on.  Famed Met killer (not to mention Phillies killer) Larry Wayne Jones is going on his retirement tour.  So in essence, with Bobby Cox gone, and Chipper near done, it’s the end of an era.  But the Braves will always have young talent coming through their ranks to keep things interesting.

Sucks to be them.

Recently, they lost their young stud starter Brandon Beachy to a season-ending injury requiring surgery.  This led them to sign Ben Sheets, the oft-injured once-upon-a-time wunderkind starter himself.  I have kind of a thing for Sheets, I just always loved him, but I know his limitations as a pitcher.  So they replace an injured pitcher with a perpetual injury risk himself.   The Braves will always be somewhat of a threat to the Mets, but to be honest, I don’t see them being much of a threat this season.  Jonny Venters has not had a dominant season, coming back down to Earth as he was pretty much bullet proof in the ‘pen last year.

The Marlins.  Or the MarLOLins as you’re apt to see on Twitter.  Miami has proved that, once again, championships or divisions are not won by backpage headlines.  In fact, I’m sure with a cast of characters like Hanley Ramirez (not exactly known for playing nice with people), Jose Reyes (whom we all loved as Met), Carlos Zambrano (nuff said), Heath Bell (bwahhahahahahaha), Mark Buehrle (actually, I don’t have a problem with him, but he was on the FA list so there), and manager Ozzie Guillen, we all thought this could go one of two ways: Jeffrey Loria was trying to garner interest in his new park by spending money on top names, or the team would peak in year one, only to have the contracts take them down and have a fire sale in a few years.

Suffice to say, both were off for me.  While the park has lost some interest with dwindling attendance some nights, the team is certainly not peaking.  In fact, whoever had the over/under of team turmoil happening before the season started won with Guillen making some controversial comments on Fidel Castro, when his team plays right in the heart of Little Havana in Miami.  Oops.

But that’s not all.  Two days ago, Guillen ripped into the pitching staff of his team for giving up 13 runs to the Milwaukee Brewers, losing a game in extra innings via walk off when Heath Bell blew a save (something we hear about quite a bit, actually).  Bell is getting paid an average $9mm per year for three years to close in Miami, and he has five blown saves to record as of today.  That’s nuts, as my friend Sully says, don’t let his contract ruin the season.

Sucks for them.

For everyone who anointed this team as world beaters at the beginning of the season, I told my friends on a podcast of predictions that I didn’t think they were going to go anywhere.  I was in the minority.  I did, however, say the Phillies would win the division until they gave me good reason not to think they would.

I think they’ve given me reason.  Roy Halladay was hit with the injury bug in May, but he should be nearing his return soon.  That didn’t take away from the fact though, that Chase Utley and Ryan Howard were both out, formidable threats in the lineup.  Utley returned, kicking off a six-game losing streak with him on the active roster.  Then there was the curious case of Clifton Phifer Lee, who couldn’t buy a win with his $24 mm (till, you know, the Mets gift wrapped his first win for him).  Then Howard shows up, well on a return from his Achilles tendon injury, looking like he could be the next spokesperson for the bacon sundae at Burger King.

Sucks for them.

I know it’s only July, I know better than anyone that ANYTHING can happen between All-Star break and the last regular season game in September.  But honey, let me tell you, Rome is burning and Nero is fiddling, but substitute “Philadelphia” for Rome, and a fiddling Nero for I don’t know, some cheesesteak eating Eagles fan who got tired of waiting around for them to win a Super Bowl.  Look, Cliff Lee can go on a tear and win every single start from here on out.  Halladay could be the rug that ties the room together, and Howard might start smacking the crap out of the ball in his return.  It will also account that they are WAY behind in the game, Jimmy Rollins isn’t getting any younger, Shane Victorino’s days are numbered in a Phillies uniform (good riddance to that prick-torino), and Jonathan Papelbon is signed for four years, $50mm…and it’s as good as an automatic blown save for the Mets (okay, I’m exaggerating, but you get the point).  Oh and the beauty part?  Howard signed a gargantuan contract two years ago, that kicked in THIS YEAR: 5 years/$125mm.

Join me in a hearty BWAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

For the Nationals, though, it’s kind of curious.  I know, as it turns out, many good folks who are passionate about the Washington Nationals (follow @cnichols14 and @dugoutdiva for some good Nats tweets).  Though they are a division rival, I’m actually quite curious and kind of excited to see how they pan out this season.  I mean, I love Davey Johnson, that’s for sure.  As a Mets fan, I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for him to do well no matter where he goes.  Then there’s the future is so bright, we gotta wear shades kids.  Of course, I’m talking about Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper.  But yeah.  Sucks to be them.

Of course, Harper is tearing shit apart and kicking ass, taking names, etc.  But then Strasburg thing is a curious case, as he’s infamously been given an innings limit of 160 innings, maybe a few innings more according to GM Mike Rizzo.  I guess when it was imposed (at the beginning of the season) or suggested, the Nationals making the playoffs might have been a pipe dream.  The reality is, no one is running away with the division now AND with the advent of not one but two wild cards, it warrants some serious consideration about Strasburg’s usage, coming off an injury to being used full-out to win a division, which could happen.

Sucks for them to be put in that situation.  Sacrificing the future, or going with the win-now? Oh and I almost forgot, the beauty part.  Remember when Jayson Werth bolted Philly and signed a ginormous contract with the Nats, for a guy who never had 100 RBIs ever in his career (99 was his peak)?  Well, he got hurt earlier this season, and has spent significant time nursing a broken wrist.  Yet, Ryan Zimmerman, with a 6yr/$100 mm extension last year (till 2019 with a 2020 club option), has not been having a great prove-my-contract-worth year with a whopping .241/.304/.374 and 7 HRs and 38 RBIs.  Ouch.

Well, what about the Mets, you may ask?  Well, they are not without their warts either.  In a conversation with Kerel Cooper from On The Black last night, I told him that I was happy to be dead wrong about the starting pitching this year.  (Video will be posted in a few days).  Doesn’t mean I won’t have my concerns about going into the second half.  Johan Santana may not have a Strasburg-like limitation, but he did come off a devastating injury last year.  R.A. Dickey has been the man, but according to the New York Post, Dickey is 1-1 with a 7.79 ERA against teams he’s faced previously this season.  That’s kind of an ouchie, considering we really need someone like Dickster to step up his game against NL East teams down the stretch.  Then there’s Jon Niese, whom you all know I love, but he often has conditioning issues (and a heart surgery coming up during All-Star Break…as minor/outpatienty it sounds…yeesh).  Chris Young and Dillon Gee have been holding down the fort, but with Young’s propensity for the long-ball, and Gee’s youth, they need to also step their second half up.  Oh and the bullpen.  It sucks.

Moving right along though, David Wright has been having an outstanding season and he’s not even playing for a contract!  But then, there’s someone like Ike Davis, whom most Mets fans are rooting for, but his bout with Valley Fever and an injury comeback has hampered his play significantly.  We have a dude named Duda in RF who clearly has no clue how to play the position, and my ass is on Scott Hairston’s wikipedia page.  What’s worse?  Daniel Murphy has improved at his role as an infielder…but may be trade bait for the deadline.

Which leads me to….sucks for them all.

Each of these teams have to think about whether they will be buyers or sellers at the deadline.  That will determine of course how much it sucks to be these teams.  Let’s recap, no one is running away with the division.  The Nationals are clear frontrunners, but anything can happen in the next half.  The Mets have been surprising, but can’t count our chickens as R.A. Dickey comes down to Earth and the bullpen with as many question marks as it has.  The Marlins…I doubt they will be buyers at the deadline, since they were already buyers in the offseason.  The Braves and Phillies look to be active in the trade market, but the Phillies are looking to be active sellers with names like Victorino being tossed around, or even Cole Hamels who is in a walk-year, and giving millions of reasons why he is worthy to be signed long term.

It sucks to be all of these teams.  Yet it sucks in a good way, because some of them can improve and it can easily become a two-horse race after the trade deadline.

Larry’s Fine

I leave town for a few days and the shit hits the fans with some of my teams doings in play and outside of the box.  The Mets made a kerfuffle though, when there was news that hit that they would honor Chipper Jones on his retirement tour.

I can’t really find anything sourcing it for sure (the announcement certainly didn’t come from the Mets directly), but the reaction to it was quite strong.  Mostly of the “let’s not do it” variety from the Mets fans population.

Let me tell you something.  I’ve spent a good amount of time in my Mets fandom dreading when Chipper Jones comes up to bat at a critical time against the Mets, and I cringe usually because the story seems to set itself.  Perhaps we dread him though being a Mets killer because we would see his team 18 times a year.  And let’s be fair, the Mets usually beat themselves at those times, not the other way around (Sorry to bring that up, but ’tis true).

But let me go on record to say how much this rumored honoring actually doesn’t bother me.

1.)  Larry Jones didn’t just kill the Mets.  Did you know he had better career numbers against the Phillies?  It’s just that when it counted, Larry would come up huge against the Mets.  But as I said before, those Mets teams generally beat themselves with shitty bullpens and bad thought processes.  Also, let’s be real the Braves were really really good in the 1990s.  I always felt that rivalry was more of a big brother/little brother variety, like “Why are you guys always picking on meeeeeee?”

2.) Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn.  These guys were not only baseball legends while they played, but were lifers with one team.  Those guys are hard to find nowadays. When they retired, every single baseball park practically gave them a send off that would rival any of their own players I’m sure.  It’s a respect thing.  And Larry Jones is Hall of Fame material, with or without the Mets killing.

3.) It’s not like the Mets haven’t done shit like this before.  They’ve honored Bobby Cox with a bottle of GTS wine, and Craig Biggio with a video montage prior to his retirement.  It’s a respect thing.

4.) It’s a respect thing.  Hey, you don’t have to like Larry.  But you have to respect him.  Kind of like the Yankees.  Okay, maybe not.  The Rangers fan base still uses “Potvin Sucks” as a chant for a guy that hasn’t played in like 30 years.  It’s a RESPECT thing at this point.  But at least Larry didn’t use PEDs or steroids or anything like that.  He doesn’t beat his wife, use drugs or drive drunk.  He just likes H00ters waitresses and sex.  Nascar too probably.

5.) He gets it.  Larry gets the rivalry.  We talked about this on the KinersKorner.com podcast, and that there was some awards ceremony and Larry had to give a speech.  He thanked the New York fans for reminding him what his real name was.  Though I hated him for his “Put on their Yankee gear” quote in 1999, he came around and gave the fans here a nod in the rivalry.

6.) They’re not giving a statue, people.  If they do honor him, it will be a video clip montage and his GTS wine.  Some have pointed out that the Mets never properly honored Gary Carter, but they’d honor Larry.  I disagree.  The Mets have always done right by him.  They didn’t retire his number, so what?  He had two good years and helped win a championship.  I get that.  He also had admittedly better years outside of a Mets uniform.

Let’s be fair folks: maybe the Mets have a tough time honoring their history because some of the players just weren’t good enough.  I mean, who will we put on a pedestal?  Tom Seaver is the only player wearing a Mets cap in the Hall of Fame, and potentially Mike Piazza will be too.  I guarantee his number will be retired one day, so what’s the harm in waiting another year to officially do so?  My point is, we need to take a reality check here and realize that we’ve honored the players we could with our version of the ring of honor in the Mets Hall of Fame.  For me, that’s good enough for the players who were good enough as Mets but not Hall of Fame material.

I have done my fair share of Larry Jones mocking, but he gets the rivalry and realizes his place.  He’s comfortable with it.  I’m comfortable with some kind of send off.  Let’s be nice and give him his due, but also never let him forget his name again.

Por El Amor De Pedro

I use a lot of catch phrases that some of you may be familiar with, some more than others.

“Holy Sheepshit and Balls” is one of them.

“Goddammit anyway.”

“Just forfeit.”

One of the biggies is “For the love of Pete” or shorthand “Love of Pete.” Sometimes I’ve been known to say “Love of FUCK.” But that’s neither here nor there.

Yet, when I start saying “Love of Pete” at baseball games, it means one thing.

That I’m back.

I had a tough time coming around on this season. Not that I’m incredibly pessimistic or anything like that, mostly because I’ve been distracted. The Rangers are actually pretty good and kept me occupied this offseason, and now it turns out that baseball, for once, is coming between me and hockey. It’s just something new to me. The last time the Rangers were this special in my life, I was a teenager, I certainly wasn’t blogging and the Mets also weren’t any good. So it was a no-brainer then. Rangers all the way. Now, though, I am inundated with social media updates and multiple methods of getting games without being near my television.  (Also, not to mention, the Rangers had already locked their playoff spot up and their regular season is now officially done, so we’re just waiting for the playoffs to begin this week).

Plus, I get a special dispensation for this weekend.  After all, it was opening weekend.

It was a summer family reunion for the books as Opening weekend came and went at CitiField.  It was a reunion of the family-we-choose and the family-we-have and a little bit of both.

   

Opening Day is almost stressful.  It’s the one day a year that everyone I pretty much know goes to the games, and we always try to get together.  Some happen.  Some don’t.  Yet, we need to get to the ballpark early so that we actually have time TO tailgate, and to make it into the park to see the opening ceremonies.  The parking lots are vast, and not everyone is parked by one another, so it’s tough to get to everyone.  We did a good job though.  We started off with the great Chapman tailgate, featuring the Housewives of CitiField edition (and the infamous margarita maker), visited Randy’s tailgate for Read the Apple (where we had a mini blogger summit featuring Media Goon from Mets Police, The Apple author himself, Dee from Metscellaneous, my husband from Studious Metsimus and yours truly), then onto Uncle Gene and Aunt Melissa’s, bringing me back to my childhood days when they would take their kids out of school to go to Opening Day at Shea.  (Of course, only ONE kid had to be taken out of school Thursday.  I’m old).

So we managed to get everything done that we wanted to prior to going into the park. Then came the actual finding of the area to take pics of the pregame, which included a tribute to my hero, Gary Carter. Now, we all know how much Coop loves Kid. We headed to the Promenade to get our shots of the entire field, and it ended up being a good idea until the Pastrachos incident.

   

See, some asshole not paying attention to the field ceremony decided that getting back to the seat before his pastrachos got cold distracted my husband from getting the first pitch and almost got Dee to miss her opportunity too. Because he wanted to sit.  And eat fucking nasty-ass pastrachos.

I know this is a first world problem. After all, we weren’t in seats that were our own, and if someone came to us as they were getting on the field, I would have gladly moved. That was the plan the whole time. But…not even fucking paying attention or paying respects to Kid’s family to eat your fucking PASTRACHOS????

That gets a big patented Coop middle finger.

The game goes on without incident.  I have to say, especially in the last few years, this has to be one of the most memorable if least stressful 1-0 Mets games I have ever attended.  If the Mets had lost 1-0, I’d have been all pissed off.  But they won, and the bullpen kept things together after Johan Santana made his pitch count quota for the day.  We did manage to have a Shea Bridge Blogger Summit Lite, since many of the blogging community representatives weren’t able to get Twitter during the game.  Or any social media type outlets.  More first world problems, but this is the fucking 21st goddamn century, and this happens every goddamn year with the Mets and CitiField.  Get us some wifi passwords or get better service.  THE END.

But hey, the bloggers I met up with are pretty goddamn fantastic.  Here’s me and Richie from Random Mets Thoughts toasting our first beer of the season, and Dee and Metstradamus joined us for more fun and excitement.

But the highlight of the day came after the game.  The post-game wrap up was being conducted outside CitiField for SNY.  So we hung around and figured, hey, maybe we’ll get on TV.

Does that answer your question?

By Saturday, things were somewhat back to normal.  Going to so many games, I kind of get jaded by going to so many games.  I generally get there about just a few minutes before first pitch.  While I like to watch the game from my seats, I’m not averse to getting up a few times during the games.  In fact, it’s almost essential because I need to charge my phone at some point and eat.  #FirstWorldProblems.

This time I was able to run into more bloggers for an impromptu blogger summit on the bridge.

 

Don’t be fooled: the two Coops of bloggers on the right are not twins (though we tried our best to fool people, with our matching sweatshirts and last names).

Anyhoo, few things of note besides a great R.A. Dickey start and another *yawn* Mets win on Saturday.

One was I found a new entrance to CitiField…sort of.  See, I have no idea what purpose it serves.  It seems like a secret handshake or password society door, between the Jackie Robinson Rotunda and Hodges entrances.  It’s the “Payson” entrance, presumably named after the Mets first owner and original Mets diva (and only woman honored in the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum), Joan Whitney Payson.  See, I wasn’t around when this woman was.  Let me tell you something: this is the type of owner I’d want.  Everyone had her respect.  To this day, Tom Seaver even calls her Mrs. Payson.  A Hall of Fame pitcher and World Champion with the Mets, and still refers to her with that title.  I think that’s awesome.

Anyway, I have no idea what purpose this entrance serves but if someone can find out, it would be cool to know.

 

Now what you see on the right of the Payson entrance is not an apparition.  It is not a mistake.  It is not a mirage.  It’s the Niese Chick with the Niese jersey.

Yes, I have found the only way to get anything remotely related to showing your fandom for Jonathon Joseph Niese, besides being his long-lost twin, is to actually get it customized.

But not to worry.  I didn’t actually buy it.  Sort of.  Well, I paid for it all right.  As a season ticket holder, the Mets have given you “Amazin’ Perks,” one of which is the “Super Fan Package” and your choice is the 50th anniversary customized jersey.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted.  I definitely wanted someone on this team.  By then, it was a foregone conclusion that Reyes wasn’t on the team.  I have a David Wright jersey (it was actually WORN by him at one point).  And I don’t know, who else?

Jon Niese – 49.

I have to practice what I preach.  Absolutely, because you cannot find a Niese shirt ANYWHERE.  ANYTIME.  Even at the Mets Clubhouse by Bryant Park.  Spare me the whole “Well, you can get whatever you want on MLB.com.”  The man has a contract extension, for fuck’s sake, let’s get some shirts made up in the Mets gift shops.  So I have set the trend.  (And after his performance on Sunday, I can tell you more people will want him items in stock, mark my words).

The beauty part was my sales rep met me during the game to give me my “goodie bag” including my brand new Niese jersey.  In time, though, because I was able to sport it on his first start of the season.

We got to the park early again, if only to meet up with some friends we really couldn’t see on Opening Day, but also to meet up with Mr DyHrdMet from Remembering Shea, who also had one thing on the agenda with Ed.

To take stalking photos of Jon Niese.

Well, okay.  I was down with that.

 

 

I took it a step further though.  I decided I was going to try to yell.  And get his attention.

And I did.

“I’m WEARING YOUR SHIRT JON!!!”

Hey, you know what, I can pretty much guarantee I’m one of the only people who do that besides someone with the last name NIESE.

He laughed, and kept doing his gallops in his stretching routine.

Then I yell at one point, “MEMBERS OF THE JONATHON JOSEPH NIESE FAN CLUB YEAH!!!!”

DyHrdMet was able to get the only shot of his reaction.

Photo credit to Jason Bornstein

He did smile and laughed at one point.  Go us.  Hopefully, he’ll hug his twin on the west coast.

So some special things happened on Niesester Sunday.  First, he had a shaky start then leveled out to no-hit the Braves for six-plus innings.  The Mets did manage to make the game interesting, a seven-run blow out to a nail-biting 7-5 in the 9th inning.

Yet, something else that shows me this ain’t yo’ mama’s Mets.  First, the bullpen has been without incident.  Save Manny Acosta giving up a home run, there hasn’t been much incident with the bullpen.  Hell, even Frank Francisco has been closing out fine.  Yet, when I see him out there, I don’t cringe, I don’t get palpitations.

What did give me palpitations was the no-hit bid.  When I’m in situations like that, I get flustered and to the point where I don’t even want to get up.  Same with my husband.  He said that it was nice to see that he married someone who “gets it.”  Oh, I get it all right.

I guess the good news was, I was able to try a burger from Keith’s Grill for the first time this year.  The “Mex Burger” to more precise: burger with cheddar and pepper jack cheeses, guacamole, jalapenos, bacon and chipotle aioli.  And yes, it was as delicious as it sounds.  Looking forward to eating it again.

 

Ballapeno was none too happy, though, with me eating a burger with his family members on it.

The most important part was that the Mets won.  The Mets won, for the love of Pete, the Mets won!  Let’s not get ahead of ourselves…they won a series against a Braves team that is still, for all intents and purposes, are reeling from a late-season collapse from 2011.  This ain’t yo’ mama’s Braves, either.

While I wait for the Stanley Cup playoffs to start, I’ll watch my baseball games and stalk the players and enjoy it while I can.  The Mets have put us through a lot these last few years, and while we may be suffering from post-traumatic Mets disorder, there was something interesting going on at CitiField.

It felt like we belonged there.  We belonged as fans, the Mets belong there.  It felt like a place I can look forward to watching games at for the next 40 or so years.

And hopefully, that asshole with the pastrachos will learn baseball etiquette by then.

The Greatest Game(s) Ever Played

I usually get all warm and mushy for the last game of the season.  This year was weird.  Typically, the baseball season ends on a Sunday, and I get all weepy and nostalgic the last weekend.  Since the Mets’ season ended on a Wednesday, the last weekend didn’t hold the same feelings of sadness and longing as in previous years.

The Mets finished their season around 3:30 pm on Wednesday.  Little did I know, that the last day of baseball had yet to begin.

The greatest thing about baseball are the different subthemes in each game.  Every game has a story.  This year, we had four stories to watch.  The starring roles were to be played by: the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees; the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox; the St. Louis Cardinals and the Houston Astros; and the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves.

To say that this Mets fan had a vested interest in these games was an understatement.  I have a thing for the Red Sox, as in the “enemy of the enemy is my friend,” etc etc.  Although I have to say, I wouldn’t have minded them not making the playoffs; after all, they were pretty much anointed the World Series Champs with the signing of Carl Crawford in the offseason and trading for Adrian Gonzalez.  I like the Orioles too; I had just spent a day at Camden Yards with a Yankee fan that we called the “Bird Bowl” (as the Blue Jays were their opponent), and she even chronicled that trip in this column (follow Amanda on Twitter @amandarykoff…she is a good Yankee fan and super cool).

 

I also happened to fall in love with Robert Andino that day…they have this great mid-inning entertainment clip called “Andino at the Movies,” where he regales us with movie reviews.  Trust me, it’s comedy in its highest form.

Did I like the way the Yankees just laid down for the Rays?  No.  But I did like the Rays’ team (although they were eliminated from their amazing late-season run earlier today).  I certainly would have liked them to make the Wild Card over the Red Sox, but I guess that’s because the Sox have become a more “moneyball” version of the Yanks (which I guess makes no sense, but I guess if you follow baseball, you get it).

I certainly wanted to see the Cardinals make the postseason over the Braves.  Which meant a win by the Cards and a loss by the Braves.

There was something else eating at me too here.  The fact that if the Sox and the Braves both lost their playoff bids, this would mean I wouldn’t have to hear about the Mets “choking” in September anymore.  I mean, talk about losing their playoff bid on the last day of the season.

Yet, I couldn’t even script how Game 162 would end for these teams.  I thought for sure we’d see some Game 163s going on.  No, these teams decided to take care of business the traditional way: backs against the wall and no shortage of drama.

At the beginning of the day, I’d thought the only dramatic thing I’d be watching was whether Ryan Braun would go 3-for-4 and Jose Reyes’ bunt single in his only at-bat on Wednesday would be for naught.  For Mets fans who wanted something cheer, we got it, and Braun was a non-entity. But hey, his team had already been decided to go to the playoffs, plus he’s almost as close to a lock for MVP if there ever was one.

On a night like this, I can thank goodness for MLB Network.  This gave us the opportunity to keep tabs on all the results.  Since it was technically the last game of the season, I didn’t realize just how glued to my TV I would be.

I was.

I guess the easiest game of the night was the Cardinals.  They won, fair and square, and the only thing they had to do was wait for the Braves to win or lose.  Braves win, they’d play the next day.  Braves lose, Cards were going to play the Phillies in the NLDS.

The real drama occurred over the AL East though.  It looked like the Yankees forgot they were trying to do their part in trying to eliminate their Boston rivals.  Pretty soon though, Rays’ late inning heroics shined through, and they scored seven runs to tie the game up.  I thought for sure the Yankees were throwing meatballs to the Rays to will them to win.  Think what you want, but it was suspect they didn’t bring in their lights-out arms in the bullpen at this juncture.  Then again, the Yankees really didn’t have anything to play for except make Boston suffer.  I’d say they succeeded.

Then the unthinkable happened.  It might not have been that outlandish, but seeing Jonathan Papelbon blow another late inning save wasn’t that story.  It was the fact that Robert Andino is going to haunt Red Sox fans’ dreams (or nightmares).  My friend @2131 and Beyond (an Orioles focused blogger) calls this night “The Curse of the Andino.”  I hope he knows, I do plan to use that one.

I felt bad for friends like Sully, who is as die hard for Boston as they come.  I also know how much they irk Yankees fans.  But to me, the collapse was redemption for me, as a Mets fan, who has been the butt of so many jokes since 2007.  Kranepool Society said “It gets better” to Red Sox fans, but I disagree.  Things have gotten progressively worse for us Mets fans, but I can hope that since other teams have taken the pressure off, perhaps we can all move on.

Same for the Braves.  I think most Mets fans dislike Chipper Jones, but respect the hell out of him.  I know I do.  Some folks were upset that they wouldn’t play in another postseason.  Why, so they won’t make it out of the first round?  I think the Cardinals are certainly more worthy, they worked very hard to get there.

The best part was watching the Rays game unfold.  I said on Twitter that I was going to call it, that the Rays would win it right after the Red Sox lost.

And they did.  Evan Longoria continued to build up his rep with a walk-off home run.  I’d like to think they won that game on pure guts, but I’m pretty sure they were gifted that win.

But who cares?  You might have been able to script these games the way we wanted to, or you might not have.  The thing is, each team kept us guessing to the very end.  Some people might argue that there is nothing more dramatic than a Game 163 or a Game 7 situation.  I’d disagree.  Game 162 2011 version was potentially one of the best nights of baseball I have ever witnessed in my many decades as a fan.  I may recognize October heartbreak, I may not have seen my team win anything in recent years and be humiliated.  That does not mean I have not seen the best that this game can give me.

This is my song for the 2011 season.  The Mets may have not finished where I wanted them to…but I wouldn’t have wanted the season to finish any other way.

Wins Count No Matter When They Happen

I am about to hit the bricks for the evening, but I have one thing to say to Red Sox fans and to a lesser extent Braves fans.  Actually, I could give a shit about Braves fans.  I guess I feel for Red Sox fans more, you know, the enemy of my enemy, etc.

Remember at the beginning of the season, the Mets got off to a very slow start with 5-13 record. Remember all that hullabaloo?  Around the same time, Fred Wilpon conducted an interview with the New Yorker and made a comment about how shitty the team was?

Around the same time, a team with much higher expectations, the Red Sox (who orchestrated a trade for Adrian Gonzalez and signed the most coveted Carl Crawford in the offseason) started with a 2-10 record.

Many of the common refrains we hear at those times include: Oh, it’s only April.  Oh, there’s plenty of baseball to be played.  Oh, we’ll get our act together.  Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.  I’m beginning to think it’s a rationalization of worse times to come.

The reality is, I think the Red Sox clearly understand the importance of winning games early on in the season.

I speak from experience.  Actually, my friend Steve Keane at Kranepool Society made a comment on Twitter about how it “will get better” for Red Sox fans.  Well, I think Mets fans can attest…it has NOT gotten any better, in fact, things have gotten progressively WORSE since the Mets ended the 2007 season 5-12 in the last 17 games (when they had a fucking SEVEN GAME LEAD at the time over the hated Phillies, who went 13-4 in that same stretch.  Assholes).  Anyway, I remember telling people, who thought I was crazy, that when the Mets weren’t winning critical games midseason, that they weren’t leaving a margin of error for the playoff run.  I guess at the time, they figured the playoffs were within reach and I was nuts for even venturing to think the Mets would collapse.  Well, they did and now we are on the verge of finishing our third consecutive fourth place finish.  Behind the Nationals.  THE NATIONALS!

The Red Sox probably wish they won some of the games they SHOULD have won now.  I spent a weekend in Boston early on in the season where they lost a game to the Seattle Mariners, and it was very close.  This was an example of a game they should have dominated.  They did not.  See my point?

People are making such a big deal about their epic collapse, specifically now that the Rays are playing the Yankees, and it seems like the Yankees are deliberately blowing the games so the Red Sox have to play much harder.  My philosophy is, it shouldn’t have even come to this.

In 2007, people point to the last game of the season that Tom Glavine started for the Mets, but the reality is there were plenty of games they SHOULD HAVE won but DID NOT before that.  Including that week.  The same goes for the Sox now.

I will always have these seasons in mind provided the Red Sox completely implode, or even if they don’t, it’s something to argue.  Wins count no matter when they occur.  Just something to bear in mind when your team with high expectations comes to a slow start.

Oh and for the record.  I don’t want to hear anything about 2007 ever again.  EVER.  If the Braves and the Red Sox don’t make the playoffs, nobody ever say BOO about it.  Kthxbye.