MLB

A “Friend of Bill” Is A Friend Indeed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

QBC Preview In the Mets Lounge TONIGHT!

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

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

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

Women And Children “First?” No, Not Really

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s more complicated than that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Give me a break.

Dancin’ In The Streets

PNC Park  Mazeroski Way

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

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

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

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

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

 

Block Part Beers Summer Shandy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clemente Statue Cool Papa Bell Mazeroski Kiner's Hands

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t Let Them Take Our Bags!!

no_bags_allowed I am a girl.

I am a woman.

I carry a handbag.  I have several of them.  I never understood how I could accumulate so much stuff, but hey, I’m like a Girl Scout: always prepared.  I have my wallet, sure.  I have keys, I carry around a sample of Advil (not for me, necessarily, but for other people. Because you just don’t know).  Tissues.  Gum, mints.  I have emergency supplies of feminine products.  Because trust me, no woman should be without access to that stuff.  I have a hairbrush, maybe some lip gloss.  My phone, charger (both car and traditional electrical outlet).  Diffferent types of passes, like my Metrocard or even a ZipCard in case I need a car.

When I go to a sporting event, I usually have a smaller bag with me, one that’s across my body, and not a shoulder bag in the traditional sense.  One that doesn’t weigh like 90 lbs, but one that is able to give me basic needs. Like a small wallet, my keys, my phone, a charger if it fits, and my tickets since of course you can never get into your section without a check or interrogation, depending on the section you are seated.

In case you were not aware (I am aware, I just didn’t give a shit enough to write about it at first), the NFL across the board prohibited traditional handbags or types of carry-alls that typically women (let’s be fair, some men do too) bring into stadiums.  I guess the people who implemented this fabulous idea (note: sarcasm) didn’t really think that up to four hours is a long enough time to go without certain items, like tampons or maxipads.  Oh, sure, people can bring in clear bags.  But who wants all their personal shit out in the open?  I mean, they are called “discrete” products for a reason.

I have not been to a football game this year, I plan to, but I am not sure how successful or unsuccessful this practice has been. But I’m guessing that if it does save the time, aggravation and “security” aspect of the games, perhaps this can be implemented across the board in all sports.

I say FUCK that.  It’s more than just “where will I put my tampons” issue. It’s for anyone who wants to be remotely comfortable at a sporting event for several hours.  I’m standing up for everyone who has ever brought a bag into a stadium setting.  And not just one to carry personal belongings.  There are bags that carry cameras and other items that are not banned in games.  Where do you plan to carry these items?

The rule is flawed for several reasons.  I’ll try to enumerate each of them, if I can.  But I’m sure I’ll forget some.

1.) It provides the bias that most fans are driving to games.  Football games, perhaps, since they are mostly held on Sundays.  In the New York City area, I can take public transit.  I can’t exactly leave things that I may need for a game (unless I have a friend there with a car that I can pitch my shit). But it’s routinely a bad idea to leave anything of potential value — even the teams say they cannot be personally responsible for any theft on their property).  Think about it.  This is New York, it gets cold here.  I have to carry blankets or layers.  Sometimes we get lucky, and we have mild winters.  But Green Bay, Chicago, where the second the calendars turn, it’s colder than a mofo. I’m sure relaxed bag restrictions would work in their favor.

2.) It provides the bias that most fans are coming straight from home. How many people do you know, in a major metropolitan area, are able to have enough time to go from work, to home, to a game, being able to safely put their items in a place before going?  Not many!  I carry a large city bag, as I call it, since I work for myself and go from meeting to meeting.  Sometimes, I don’t have time to go home before going to a game.  Someone like my husband travels somewhat of a distance via mass transit.  He certainly wouldn’t have enough time to drop his stuff off and change.  Like many folks, we carry stuff via bag to work.  Where the hell do we plan to leave these things if we don’t have a car and/or time to do that? You’ll have more people opting to go straight home, and staying there.

3.) Sure, this rule unfairly targets women, who usually carry some kind of handbag…but men carry bags too.  I’m not talking about “murses,” my husband, as an example, carries his lunch, reading materials, keys for work, and maybe some other preparatory stuff.  What’s he supposed to do with that stuff?  If there are restrictions on bags, then the things we are allowed to bring into the stadium, like water, snacks, soft drinks, aren’t too far behind.  Most people do not have lockers they can leave their stuff in overnight, either.  Some days I work, and have a big bag that I carry with me.  If I can’t lock it up anywhere, I have no choice but to bring it to a game with me.  I dont like it, but what else can I do?

4.) Cameras.  I have friends who have like professional looking cameras and like taking pics at sporting events with different lenses.  Sure, we’re just regular Joe Schmoes, but they’re called spectator sports for a reason.  I don’t see anything contrary, but if this rule applies to people with cameras, they’re screwed.

There seem to be looser restrictions on those who need to carry diaper bags, as an example, or even medications.  But I truly believe these rules, overall, serve one segment of the population: the glorified Paul Blarts who work one fucking day a week and don’t want to do their jobs.  Quicker lines, my big fat ass.  They’ll still manage to take their sweet ass time making sure fans get in for kickoff.  Here are two novel ideas: go in a little earlier, or have more people at the bag check (there are express and “local” lines at entrances…they were working fine).  I can’t tell you, even at a baseball game, when they have basically two people wanding people or patting down and one person doing bag checks.  PEOPLE DO BRING BAGS TO GAMES.  Stop being cheapskates and pay more personnel to do their jobs.

Lastly, look at the type of items I numbered that we typically use bags for.  Soft drinks, blankets, sweatshirts, snacks.  You know what I think?  It’s a profit thing. You can’t bring things into the stadium?  BUY THEM SUCKAS!!!!! They’ve been doing it for years at baseball games for water and drinks, why not extend it to basically anything else?  Seriously, where the fuck else you gonna go??  You can’t leave and get re-entry.  (I also find it very telling that they suggest logo bags for the clear bags. Really, guys?)

I know I may jump to conclusions, and perhaps if more people complain about the restrictions, they’ll knock it off.  Chances are, if successful, it could be implemented across the board for all sports.  That’s bad.  It unfairly penalizes people who HAVE LIVES, and often can’t make a handoff.  I feel like if more people aren’t talking about this, Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, among others, could easily follow suit.  Problem here, is that they have more than 16 games per year.

And it unfairly penalizes the fan who wants to spend their discretionary income at sporting events.

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.

The Old Curmudgeon In Me

BUT OMG WHAT WILL WE TELL THE KIDS????!?!?!?!

Grinds my gears Welcome to an episode of “Coopie is an old curmudgeon,” where I don’t talk about things like my stool or my heart meds, but I talk about things that piss me off in sports.

I’ll state for the record, that PEDs, steroids or HGH never bothered me in baseball. You’d think it would, since I do talk about things like “keeping the sanctity of the game” by not having instant replay (I have modified my stance in certain situations).

Sure it bothered me a little in 1998, when I knew Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire had to be using. But you know what – no one gave a shit then, only when it was confirmed. Then EVERYONE talks about sanctity of the game. Because they all looked like assholes supporting it when it was under their nose. And dropped the scoop of a lifetime.

Then we have Barry Bonds and the HR record (both single season and overall record), we have the Mitchell Report, Congressional hearings, Rafael Palmeiro, more shit hitting the fan.

I didn’t care anymore.

You know why? Because cheating in baseball is as American as Chevrolet, apple pie, hot dogs, and yes…baseball.

And I’d be a hypocrite if I thought PEDs were any different for this era.

BUT OMG WHAT WILL WE TELL THE CHILDREN????!?!?!?!

I grew up in an era where the heroes I idolized did coke (Keith Hernandez and Dwight Gooden), greenies (most of the 1986 team), binged on alcohol (Darryl Strawberry), or killed innocent kittens (“allegedly” Kevin Mitchell). I grew up in a rough-and-tumble family where shit happened, and you learned to fucking deal with it. My parents didn’t feel the need to explain everything to me. Maybe things were different in that we didn’t have the connectivity that we do today. But we heard all sorts of things — especially relating to Keith Hernandez, and this coincided with the “Just Say No” era of Ronnie and Nancy Reagan. And drugs were bad, m’kay?

I guess there is something to be said about not being raised in a fucking bubble where everything was all Ward and June Cleaver and hunky dory and peaches and every other cliche you could think of.

Shit, maybe that was why I liked guys like Gary Carter and Cal Ripken growing up.

Yet it was not for me to judge.

BUT OMG WHAT WILL WE TELL THE CHILDREN????!?!?!?!

Here’s an idea: maybe we don’t have to explain shit to our kids. They can figure it out on their own. They should instinctively know right from wrong or learn it by fucking up every now and then. Instead of this “everyone gets an award” bullshit. You didn’t get a participation award back then, you had to earn that shit. Everyone does not get a trophy for just showing up in life.

So you know what grinds my gears? This idea that baseball players are supposed to be perfect. Here’s a newsflash: players have cheated since the beginning of time. Does it make it right? Absolutely not. But to think this is some kind of isolated incident is foolish.

BUT OMG WHAT WILL WE TELL THE CHILDREN????!?!?!?!

Let the children make their own decisions. And by the way, if you are not your child’s “hero,” then you are doing something wrong. (Yes, I just judged you, a little bit.)

Here’s the deal: I grew up knowing my heroes were not exactly heroes. I turned out okay. I realize that athletes are people, they are not perfect. While there is an obligation to hold yourself to a higher standard as a public figure, there is also the human element that comes into the game or all sports that we also must acknowledge.

BUT OMG WHAT WILL WE TELL THE CHILDREN????!?!?!?!

The Hall of Fame committee missed the ball a few months ago. What we had to “tell the kids” when no one was voted in, was that all of a sudden, due to years of lazy journalism and putting on pedestals the very players they are now vilifying, that all of a sudden, players are now guilty until proven innocent.

So Alex Rodriguez is facing a year-to-lifelong suspension, and Ryan Braun is out for the year despite neither of them failing a drug test. Bartolo Colon is under suspicion. Barry Bonds is still a dick. Craig Biggio and Mike Piazza, despite decorated careers, are kept out of the Hall (for at least a “statement”) because they might have done steroids.

I say let ’em all in. Believe it or not, there is a level playing field, throughout baseball history, because cheating is as “pure” as the game itself.

What do you tell the kids? Get over yourselves, really, because the sanctimony isn’t helping the game either.

Now get the FUCK OFF MY LAWN!!!!!

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.

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.

Post-Traumatic Mets Disorder: The Origins

I’m sure many of you find it hard to believe that in my household — in which resides two Mets bloggers and fans — there is a lot of baseball talk.  Not just Mets talk, but all of baseball.  From the Hall of Fame Snubs of 2013 to Breaking the Color Barrier to Babe Ruth, baseball talk around here is like, “So what would you like for dinner?”  It’s just natural.

But all baseball talk makes Coop and Ed a very dull girl and boy.  So we spice it up a bit.

Like each year since 2011, Ed has done a weekly post on a theme that brings us from the dawn of the New Year to Opening Day (which is like the New Year for baseball fans…the only date on the calendar that signifies the beginning of “something”).  I tried my hand at doing a column on how I was Married to the Mets last year.  That was fun, but I like to write about stuff that makes people laugh or smile.  Because if we know anything as Mets fans, if an event is painful, we sometimes just have to laugh it off.

If you follow me on Twitter, or anywhere else really, you’ll know that I have a catch phrase called “Post-Traumatic Mets Disorder.”  This is just as it sounds.  Many Mets fans have great memories, but then there are the memories that have a lot of heartache attached to it.  We can only but laugh at them.

But it’s not necessarily attached to the Mets nor a player.  It can be an outside force.  It can even be a player we LIKED or loved.  There’s typically a circumstance around why we suffer post-traumatic Mets disorder, but one thing is for sure: it has to do with an event or tied somehow into Mets history.

Starting this Friday, I’m going to go over some of the names or moments that make Mets fans cringe, cry, barf or smack their heads — sometimes, all four. Maybe more emotions if I can think about it.

The point is, I’ll be writing about some of my most famous interactions with post-traumatic Mets disorder, or PTMD, and the inspirations behind it.  And hopefully we can cringe, cry, barf and smack our heads collectively at the memories.