New York Mets

Live Podcast Tonight!

Tonight is the debut of The Mets’ Lounge: Where the Cool Kids Hang Out.  Coop is back on the NDB Media network, with a new podcast devoted EXCLUSIVELY to Mets talk and other random baseball tidbits.

Join me tonight with my very special guest, Caryn Rose aka Metsgrrl, as we discuss her new book, A Whole New Ballgame, and Mrs. Met, among other things.  I’ll also be joined by my producer, Roger Noriega, who welcomed me back with open arms to the NDB fold!You won’t want to miss my straightshooting Mets talk, y’all.  Join us tonight at 9 pm.

Faith (Not Fear) In Flushing

Faith and Fear

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Like Mike Piazza.

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

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

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

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

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

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

— The Coop (@Coopz22) September 28, 2013

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

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

Full lot  Full house vantage point

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s **NOT** Only the Mets

“Typical.”

**Only** us.

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

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

little_rascals_hi_sign

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cubs – Yeah.  Moving right along…

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

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

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

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

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

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

You Belong To The City

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He lost nine games total that season.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then New York City got under my skin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I belong to all three.

Here We Go Again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s Play Two

Opening Week  Rangers Win!

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

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

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

Joey & Iggy  Joey and Gabby

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jon Niese  Henke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or one time, actually.

And that’s Jose Lima Time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh wait, now I remember.

Jose Lima!

…….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ah, the beauty of alcohol.

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

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

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

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

Can We Have Nice Things?

I call books, film, and pieces on Mets history “Mets porn.”  Ask blolleagues like Matt Silverman, Greg Prince and Jason Fry, or even my own husband about random Mets minutiae, and their eyes light up like Ralphie opening his Red Ryder BB gun on Christmas morning.

For a team that is 50 years old, there is enough quirkiness and fun stuff around that makes us unique, and gives us a firm identity in our Mets-ness.

When CitiField opened in 2009, I’m preaching to the choir about how Mets history was little to be found.  Yet, when the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum opened in 2010, with promise of a “1986 Day” honoring Frank Cashen, Davey Johnson, Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, it was a sign of things to come.

A sign that finally, that we Mets history porn obsessed folks would have something to look forward to each year.

Now…

Things are interesting.  Since 2010, we’ve seen one induction, for John F. Franco, though his given middle name is Anthony (You figure out what the F stands for), and that was last season.

It was a foregone conclusion that Mike Piazza, who besides Gary Carter is the best Mets catcher in their history (and prior to Travis d’Arnaud, haha), would be inducted.

Especially this year, with his first year on the HOF ballot.

Till he was famously snubbed because he might have done steroids. He along with a few others.

Here’s the kicker.  When Piazza came to the Mets via the Marlins after spending the first half of his career with Los Angeles, he was coming to greener pastures.  The Dodgers did him dirty.  In a turn of events, the Los Angeles media drove him out of town, questioning his loyalty to the team, and made him the superstar he is today to Mets fans.

I know plenty of Mets fans who were not “Piazza guys.”  Myself, I was a Piazza denier until he was no longer with the team.  It was only then that I realized as a fan, I consistently undervalued what he meant to the organization.

He would no doubt be a Hall of Famer, and he would no doubt be wearing a Mets cap.

When the Mets brought him back in 2008 and 2009 to close Shea Stadium and open CitiField, respectively, he posed with Tom Seaver, he himself done dirty once upon a time by the Mets organization.  We have The Franchise, and the Met Mercenary, but they helped create some of the best Mets memories and history that make us unique.

I get a lot of heat for supporting guys like Jon Niese, who apparently has the personality of gum found on the bottom your shoe.  My argument is – who gives a shit that he’s boring?  Quite honestly, Tom Seaver doesn’t exactly have a reputation of being a “great guy,” and he’s revered to this day.  It happens.

Mike Piazza is a different.  He was cool towards the fans, but seemed to understand his place in Mets history.  When he didn’t show for the Best Mets ceremony last year, it raised a red flag with me.

Not so much for Piazza.  I did hear that he needs to be “paid” for these gigs, but then again, so does Tom Seaver and you don’t hear about that, EVER.  But it was more like Walter Sobchek asking “Are you fucking this up, dude?”

Even the most minute of events the Mets can fuck up.  All we want is to be able to honor our past, put aside any bad feelings and celebrate what little pieces of heaven we have.

Now, of course, we hear that with Piazza’s new book and him rehashing old memories that guys like Jeff Wilpon and Jay Horwitz are butt hurt over some of Piazza’s perceptions, like being encouraged to play with an injury in spring training or not being protected enough by the media.

How many franchise players are asked to aggravate an injury to appease fans by Palm Beach Community College’s finest?  By some guy who had to host an “I’m a Heterosexual” press conference.

It’s a travesty that Mike Piazza isn’t in Cooperstown or at the very least an HOF-elect for 2013.  But what is the real travesty is that Mets, a team that has a hard time honoring their own history if not for the fan movements for bringing it back, won’t even consider retiring his number or putting him in their own ring of honor before he’s honored by Cooperstown.

To me, this shouldn’t even be a question.  Piazza is a Hall of Famer by number, and the Mets need to do him right and bring him for a Mike Piazza Day/Night, retire 31 and get his plaque at CitiField.  And since there are already entrances for Seaver, Stengel, Hodges and Payson, name the Tastes of the Citi section “the Piazza.”

Do Mets fans and Piazza right.  Stop being so butt hurt about things, and honor the guy already.

And P.S.  According to that David Lennon piece in Newsday, Jeff Wilpon has final say in retiring Mets numbers and Hall of Fame inductions.

Jeff Wilpon.

Jeff Fucking Wilpon.

WHAT THE FUCK BUSINESS DOES JEFF WILPON HAVE ON THE SAY OF RETIRING NUMBERS AND HALL OF FAME INDUCTIONS????? SERIOUSLY??!?!? 

Shouldn’t that shit be done by like a Fan Committee or Mets Alumni?  That makes more sense, doesn’t it?

Fucking idiots.

Post-Traumatic Mets Disorder: Don’t Let It Fall On Me

“When Black Friday comes/
I’ll collect everything I’m owed/
And before my friends find out/
I’ll be on the road” – Steely Dan, “Black Friday”

Traditionally, the Mets have always overvalued their own prospects, to the extent that they’d cling to those that had value until they no longer had any.  Or had a higher trade value as a younger prospect, then rush them so that they couldn’t develop properly.  Yeah, that seemed to be the Mets’ MO until recently.

What happens when you don’t value your prospects?

You get Black Friday 2004.

In an odd circle of events, it was the events of Black Friday 2004 that set me into the path of blogging.  When I heard about Scott Kazmir being traded, and fan favorite Ty Wigginton being turned around for Kris Benson (which I wasn’t too bent about at the time), I needed an outlet.  It was frustrating being a Mets fan at that time.  They were boring and terrible to watch, behind their boring and terrible manager Grandpa Art, and a team that couldn’t get its act together.  Remember when Jose Reyes was always hurt and David Wright was a baby?  This was then.  There was stuff to look forward to, but the team itself then was blah.

Black Friday, in and of itself, was a special Mets event.  We still talk about it and cringe.  But it’s more than just how it set the Mets back (and it did, which I will explain, even though within two years they made the postseason and were oh-so-close in 2007 and 2008).  It’s how they destroyed the career of Kazmir before it event started.

The shorthand of it was because of the backlash of Black Friday — how John Franco and Al Leiter were in the ear of Jeff Wilpon, who had more of a hands-on approach to day-to-day operations with the team, and claimed that Kazmir’s music tastes weren’t appropriate and he was out of line (by changing the channel in the weight room) — this led to the rehiring of Omar Minaya, who then in turn cut ties with Franco and Leiter (the right move at the time).  Then he signed Pedro Martinez (and FUCK Pedro Martinez), and signed Carlos Beltran to a long-term deal which was riddled with injuries and blocked the development and career of Lastings Milledge.  Then there was the line about fixing a pitcher in ten minutes, uttered by pitching coach extraordinaire Rick Peterson.

Yes, Scott Kazmir and his trade for Victor Zambrano and Bartolome Fortunato was the snowball effect of all post-traumatic Mets disorder for this fan.

I remember one fan blogger (no longer in existence or just hard to find) said that Black Friday was this generation’s Midnight Massacre.  Now, I’m not going so far as to say the trade of a highly rated pitching prospect for crap is like trading away the Franchise Tom Seaver.  But the betrayal behind, and though process, were indeed the same.  Save David Wright, we haven’t had that type of move with a “Franchise Player” unless you count Jose Reyes, which was purely business.

But it’s more than just the betrayal of the fan base.  It was the betrayal of Scott Kazmir himself.  Trading him to the Tampa Bay Rays (then Devil Rays) was probably the worst thing for his career and in effect, it’s ruined him.

One of the grumblings behind the trade was that Kazmir was an injury risk.  And looking at how he’s performed since the trade would lead us to believe it would have been more of the same had he stayed with the Mets.  I don’t think that’s necessarily true, and there’s more than meets the eye with this one.

Kazmir was only 19 years old and had only been in the minors for barely two years at that point.  One of my biggest gripes with the Mets historically is how they’ll rush prospects in the name of appeasing the fans.  The Rays had orchestrated a heist of the top pitching prospect for two pieces of donkey dung.  They were also on the cusp of changing their culture, one that had been a losing one up to just about a few years ago.  They needed to have something there to show their 15 fans they were serious about the future.  They did that by having Kazmir pitch for the rest of the 2004 season.

He probably pitched over his head, and then hurt himself.  He has not pitched since 2011.  And even then he only pitched 1 2/3 innings with the Angels of Anaheim, Planet Earth.

If the Mets rushed him, he’d have had the same thing that happened to him with Tampa and with the Angels.  Yet, if he hadn’t been traded, who knows, he may have had time to mature and been the highly touted pitcher he was supposed to be.

Perhaps there wouldn’t have been a need to sign Pedro for four years.  Kazmir would have been that pitcher.  With Kazmir, there wouldn’t have been a need for Duaner Sanchez and then for Oliver Perez.  Perhaps there wouldn’t have been a need to lean on El Duque in 2006. Kazmir could have gotten those important starts down the stretch in 2007 as he honed his craft.  There wouldn’t have been a mad scramble to replace Pedro Martinez or anyone else who got hurt in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Inadvertently, the trade of Scott Kazmir led to a downward spiral that the Mets still haven’t quite gotten out of.  Even with prospects like Travis d’Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler in the Mets system and the excitement around them, we always wonder when the shoe is going to drop…whether they will step on the sensitive toes of a veteran, whether they will thrive in New York, whether they will be rushed or injury prone or whatever.

It’s taken nearly 10 friggin years to get out of that.  All because of Black Friday.  If I knew Black Friday were coming back then, I would have asked for it not to fall on me either.

But it did.  Yet for the first time in a long time, things are looking up for the Mets.  However, if Scott Kazmir had been given a chance to grow and thrive with the Mets, maybe the faux dynasty of David Wright and Jose Reyes would have been solidified with Kazmir heading up the rotation.  Of course we’ll never know.  But that won’t stop me from having post-traumatic Mets disorder associated with Black Friday for years to come.

Post-Traumatic Mets Disorder: Strongly Vaginal

“I bet you’re worried. I was worried. That’s why I began this piece. I was worried about vaginas. I was worried about what we think about vaginas, and even more worried that we don’t think about them.” — Vagina Monologues

They never played on the same team.  But in their time, played for two of the same teams (Kansas City and the Mets, natch).  They played on division winners that didn’t win a World Championship.  They were both outfielders, but one played left field, the other center field.  They were later appreciated by their fan base, yet while playing some fans simply couldn’t relate to them because of what was perceived as a disassociated personality.

Two players I associate together and compare probably more than two players in Mets history, yet they never played a game together.

And those two players are Kevin McReynolds and Carlos Beltran.

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“The dunk contest is as exciting as Kevin McReynolds reading the vagina monologues.” – Dave Singer, concerned Mets fan

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Less than two months after the Mets won the World Series in 1986, Frank Cashen declared himself over Kevin Mitchell, and decided to spice things up…by trading one of the most colorful and stand-out characters on the team (on a team of characters, that in and of itself is a feat) for the “new guy.” There really was no other way to describe to McReynolds or “Big Mac” as we fans liked to call him.  Kevin Mitchell was a fan favorite, a guy who would play whatever position you put him at, a spark plug, the guy who famously went up to bat in the biggest comeback inning in baseball history without wearing a cup.

Kevin McReynolds?  Whatever.

On a team of bad boys, grizzled vets like Kid and Mex but young guys like HoJo, Straw and Doc, Kevin McReynolds’ personality didn’t really mesh with the rest of the team.  These guys would have taken a bullet for one another.  If they were playing the Cards, they’d go out with a limb hanging off before scratching themselves from a lineup.  Kevin McReynolds, famously, started getting dressed during a comeback inning in 1989, and Davey Johnson had to fine him for not being ready when they needed him.

Some of McReynolds’ time was bittersweet.  I remember him being incredibly clutch, winning an extra inning game in 1987 with a timely single.

He had such a great season in 1988 that he was in the top running for NL MVP.  Since his team was so solid, his votes were actually cancelled out with another teammate, Darryl Strawberry.

That same 1988 team were SO close to going to the World Series for the second time in three seasons.  McReynolds was second highest in team batting average (the team was led by, of course, the player who cancelled out his regular season MVP votes too), and I’m convinced had the Mets won the series, he’d had been NLCS MVP.

Though the team lost, and it was most certainly a team effort (or lack thereof) that had them fall short, McReynolds was made the scapegoat.  See, he made a comment about whether the Mets win or lose, he wins.  If they win, he gets to play in the World Series.  If they lose, he gets to go home and hunt.  So it’s a win-win.

Whether he was making a “funny,” as they say (and trust me…this guy doesn’t do funny), or whether he truly liked hunting as much as playing baseball, he gets paid for playing baseball…in a very passionate baseball city.

That was 1988′s version of “disappointed, not devastated.”

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“The word itself makes some men uncomfortable. Vagina.” – Maude Lebowski, The Big Lebowski

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I wrote last week about Pedro Martinez and how his signing actually set the Mets BACK several years, instead of helping them.  He certainly put a drain on resources and a drain on the team.  Yet, some Mets aficionados would argue that with no Pedro signing, a Carlos Beltran signing would have NEVER happened.

Call me crazy, I believe that Beltran would have gone where the money was.  And the Mets were certainly offering a lot of money, and most of all, the most in YEARS.

He had a lackluster first year in Queens, but then the whole “New York adjustment” excuse was used.  Meanwhile, that “adjustment year” bullshit doesn’t fly in the Bronx.  I mean, Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia managed to win a goddamn ring in their “adjustment” year.  Beltran would have been MVP had he gone to the Bronx.

I digress.  But while he didn’t have the best year, he managed to make a web gem by smashing faces with Mike Cameron while diving for fly ball guided towards the outfield.  He played with a broken face basically.  But I still shrugged.  Someone told me Beltran had the opportunity to be the best player in baseball in a few years.  The Mets were lucky to have him.

^Shrug^ Whatever.

This led to 2006, and an unexpectedly fun season.  I remember sitting at Opening Day with Uncle Gene and Dad, and I remember when Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran didn’t have such a great game, and they said, “Two of the best hitters in baseball, and we want to cut them the first day of the season.”

When Beltran hit a home run a few days later, and Mets fans begged him for a curtain call in the second game of the season, Julio Franco coerced him to acknowledge fans.

When asked about it post-game, Beltran had this to say:

“Put it this way: I’m a friend not only when you’re doing well, I’m a friend when you’re not doing so well,” Beltran said.

I’ll be the first to admit, Beltran rubbed me the wrong way.  I didn’t think he played hard enough.  That when he struggled, he blamed phantom injuries that no one on the team’s brass seemed to be aware of.  He guesstimated to be about “85%.”  And I mean, aren’t baseball guys supposed to be TOUGH?  “I’m your friend.”  What kind of mushy-ass bullshit is that???

Despite my personal feelings about Beltran, it was a team effort that got them to win 97 games and the division in 2006.  I guess I’m the sort of rational fan who never held Aaron Heilman responsible for the Yadier Molina home run nor was the loss squarely on Beltran’s shoulders for taking strike three looking.  I mean, if he swung, would we have felt better about it?  Of course not.  I like to think I’m the rational fan who realized that the game was lost because Jose Valentin sucked and was lightning in a bottle that season.

Yet, I was loathe to come around on Beltran for reasons other than the curveball.  I thought he was a pussy, basically.  He always bitched about his legs.  There’s that whole “playing hard” image that comes to mind.  While I don’t think he particularly “loafed,” I felt like he begged out of critical games because he wasn’t “100%.”  Looking back, it wasn’t just him, some baseball players just feel like they can’t contribute.  However, it rubbed me the wrong way when he did it.  For one, he’d sit for one or two games at a time, and refuse to go on the DL.  While I understand that 15 days is a little different than one or two games.  But one game is fine, for a day of rest.  As Lou Brown said, even tough guys get sprains.  But two to three games?  Go on the goddamn DL.

I was pretty hard on him.  I got truly annoyed in 2007, when one or two games would have made a world of difference in Mets history, and he planned on sitting for about five games.  If my memory serves, he did eventually go on the DL.  Too little, too late, in my opinion.

The narrative goes, the Mets lose the division by one game in 2007, and narrowly miss making a Wild Card position in 2008.

I saw something different in Carlos Beltran in 2008.

Prior to that season (and most importantly the end), I never had a problem with the numbers Beltran put up.  He won Gold Gloves for his defense, and his play was almost flawless.  It was what I perceived to be a flippant attitude.  It reminded me of Kevin McReynolds.  He treated the game (a game we fans have a passion and heart for) like a jay-oh-bee.  Alex Rodriguez is one of the most despised players in any sports, and that’s what he does.  Takes a talent he was born with and has a 24+1 mentality.

I realized that Beltran was a product of his time.  But something else:  the last game of 2008, I saw something different.  He hit a home run in the last game at Shea Stadium, and tied the game.  I screamed at my dad, “WE WILL NOT LOSE THIS GAME!!! WE WILL NOT LOSE THIS GAME!!!”

Uh.  Yeah.  About that…

But if the Mets lost that game (and they did), it was despite Beltran.  He did his best to put his team in a position to win.

Then I grew to love him, and probably became the biggest Beltran apologist outside of…well..my husband.  (who is a HUGE Beltran fan).

But like his effort I perceived in 2007, my love was too little too late.  I was too angry to appreciate his early years with the Mets.  And when the Mets moved to CitiField, I called Carlos Beltran a “Key To the Season” in my old blog, My Summer Family.

Carlos Beltran

I rarely picked “top” players in this series.  But Beltran made the cut especially.

Why?

Because I thought, finally, he had something to prove.  He was now a leader with his bat, and a leader on the team.  If 2008 never happened, then 2007 was the anomaly.  But 2007 and 2008 both happened.  It was on his watch.  It was payback.  I even projected him to be MVP of that season.

And MVP numbers put up, he did.  Until he got injured.  And was out the entire season.  Oh and the first half of 2010.

I don’t have post-traumatic Mets with Beltran, it’s more like Stockholm SyndroMets.  I despised him when he was healthy and playing, but when he got hurt, I defended him to the teeth.   When he returned, and the Mets had a shitty West Coast road trip in conjunction with his return, it was easy to #BlameBeltran with that underperformance.

Like 2006, it was a team effort.

See this picture?  I met Beltran at an event in the 2010 offseason.  Our friend, Kelly, is a HUGE Beltran fan who lives in Oklahoma.  We were planning on seeing her and him play in 2011 at the Ballpark at Arlington.  It was also one of the last stands I saw Beltran play in a Mets uniform.

I didn’t appreciate it at the time.  Mainly because I thought there was a good chance he’d be traded…but that I’d see him play again at CitiField.  It was odd timing, but I didn’t get to see him.

I had a tumultuous relationship with Beltran as a Met.  And I was so sad to see him go.  A big change from how I felt about him in 2006 – 2008.

Like many big trades or huge free agent signings, there is usually a dark side to them.  Like Robin Ventura is considered one of the best free agent signings; meanwhile, he gave the Mets only ONE good year.

Carlos Beltran had a back-loaded contract and could not be offered arbitration due to terms of his contract.  So they didn’t get value for him while he played, and they wouldn’t get a sandwich pick in the draft when he walked, which we all knew he would.  Beltran didn’t take to New York, and many fans didn’t take to him either.  But like Beltran’s time, I didn’t appreciate him until it was much too late.

And Beltran turned things around that season to the extent that the Mets were able to turn him into Zack Wheeler, who is projected to be a front line starter of the future.

Funny.  Like Beltran in 2011, many fans are hoping that Johan Santana gets off to a roaring start so that he can be traded prior to his contract ending.

But that’s another story for another time.

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Perhaps if the Mets had won either of those championship series that McReynolds or Beltran played, we wouldn’t even have these discussions.  Maybe Randy Myers would have won NLCS MVP since Strawberry and McReynolds both had a fantastic series.  Perhaps Beltran would have endeared himself to Mets fans had the Mets won, since Wainwright’s curve wouldn’t mean anything.

I see many similarities between McReynolds’ and Beltran’s time with the Mets.  They played on teams that overpromised but severely underdelivered.  They were very quiet underassuming men, and their perceived indifference rubbed some Mets fans the wrong way.  They played hard and flawlessly, yet it looked like they took it easy BECAUSE the game came so easy for them.  They both became scapegoats for team wrongdoings.   They got paid boatloads of money for doing an activity and entertaining crowds of tens of thousands.  But treated the role like it is: a job.

I can be very mean while writing about the Mets.  I can be very mean about certain players.  Loathing Beltran at first was something that came easily to me, and with the advent of social media, I was able to project that.  If only blogging existed when Kevin McReynolds played, perhaps I would have also made him part of the Big Pussy Posse.

Their strongly vaginal and sublime way of play allow me to comingle Kevin McReynolds and Carlos Beltran.  Two very underappreciated Mets players, two players that we don’t realize their value till much later.  But two players who, for better or worse, treat baseball as a job.  I think that’s something that fans need to understand to move on to future baseball generations.

Still doesn’t make it less sad.  Or less trauma-inducing.