NYM

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.

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.

Post-Traumatic Mets Disorder: We Remember

tom_lasordaDid you know that all-time great Dodger manager Tom Lasorda is, like, BFFs with Mike Piazza’s dad, and serves as godfather to one of Piazza’s brothers? True story.

When Piazza broke the catching home run record in 2004, Lasorda came to Shea Stadium to say a few words for his BFF’s son, on a night the Mets honored him.

When Lasorda wobbled his way (he didn’t walk) to the podium, I clapped.  I mean, he’s not a former Met or even a manager for the team, but show some respect for the guy.

Not to Uncle Gene.  He bellows a big BOOOOO and yells in cupped hands, “WE REMEMBER EIGHTY-EIGHT!!”

I probably cringed.  But 1988 was the first known chain of events that led to my chronic post-traumatic Mets disorder.

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The year was 1988.  I was in my fifth year of being a Mets fan.  I first started to pay attention to baseball in 1983, when my dad couldn’t stop talking about some guy named Keith.  In 1984, I had attended my first three games.  In 1985, I felt like I went to Shea every Sunday game.

By 1986, I had punched my Mets loyalist card, by attending game seven of the 1986 World Series.

In 1987, the Mets had become a form of escapism.  I had talked about that year in a previous series, when I realized that the end was nigh for my parents as a couple.

If 1987 was the test for me learning that the Mets wouldn’t win the World Series (or even win the division) every year, 1988 renewed my faith in being a Mets fan.  They were not just good, they were dominant.  Again.  So dominant that Darryl Strawberry and Kevin McReynolds canceled votes from each other in the MVP voting that year.  A budding young pitcher by the name of David Cone won 20 games.

Their opponent in the NLCS that year was the Los Angeles Dodgers.  A Dodger team, I’d like to add, they beat 10 out of 11 times that year.

This was the first playoff series that I remember watching mostly with my dad.  I do have some warm fuzzies associated with it, mostly, namely when my hero Bart Giamatti tossed Jay Howell out of Game Three for his tar-ball.

There was no doubt in my mind that the Mets would win the series and go onto the World Series again.

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I often wonder what it would have been like had the Mets won that series and went to the World Series.  I wonder if they would have dropped to the Oakland A’s, like they did in 1973, or would they be a two-time champion in the 1980s?

Alas, that would have meant a series win in the NLCS.  Just one more win in the series would have made the difference.

And to that I say, FUCK MIKE SCIOSCIA.

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I begged my dad to take me to Game Four.  I truly believed they would win the National League Championship in Game Five.  But I wanted to be there for a playoff game.  We went, with just one ticket.  Not sure what we would have done had I not been able to get in.  But I did.  It was, of course, the ’80s.

Who knew that a home run would be not just a game changer, but a series changer?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Davey Johnson’s Mets management legacy, is that he was a very emotional manager.  He was emotionally attached to his “guys.”  Guys like Doc and Darryl, Keith and Ronnie.  Mostly, these same guys would call Davey a “player’s manager.”  Yet, sometimes the manager needs to be the grown-up, the adult in the room, and make the big boy decisions.  That wasn’t done in this instance.

True, Doc looked good.  He had only given up two runs at that point.  Pitch counts weren’t nearly as critical as they are in today’s game.  Yet he had thrown well over 100 pitches by the time he faced Mike Scioscia, with one runner on.

I guess it’s sort of like the captain of the Titanic.  Years of experience would trump all.  Whatever fate was for the Mets, Johnson as manager was certain to face in due time.

In a way, I wonder if 1986 World Series Game Six was somehow a blessing and a curse.  A blessing in that the Mets won and they lived to play another day, and ended up winning the series.  A curse in that, I guess they truly believed that somehow, they’d always emerge victorious.

But Doc was Davey’s “guy.”  Doc, up to that point, hadn’t a win in any postseason game as a Met.  Probably against reasonable judgment, there Doc stayed.

I was diligently taking score during the game, as I was wont to do in those days.  I was so excited…two outs away from being up 3-1 in the series!!  This was gonna be awe….

Shit.

Mike Scioscia hits a game tying home run.  TWO FUCKING OUTS AWAY FROM WINNING GAME FOUR.  Unfuckingbelievable.

And yes, I believe at age 12, I was saying those exact words.

When you are a Mets fan, you have nothing else but to believe.  I think we all believed, at that point, the Mets would not win that game.

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I sometimes like to imagine a world where Scioscia didn’t hit his home run.  Maybe Doc had pulled through and officially won his first postseason game, or maybe Davey put in a reliever for the 9th inning who went 1-2-3.  Mike Scioscia was never a huge home run hitter.  This was easily the most clutch in his career.

That home run doesn’t get hit, they go up in the series 3-1.  They win Game Five on the momentum at home.

kirk_gibsonKevin McReynolds has his Kirk Gibson Moment during the World Series, endearing himself to Mets fans forever.  But then, we would never know a Kirk Gibson Moment.  Because had the Mets won that series against the Dodgers, we’d never see him limping around the bases.

Shit.  The Mike Scioscia home run changed baseball COMPLETELY.

Perhaps he would have struck out in embarrassing fashion.  Never to be seen again after this series.  Scioscia would then never get the tutelage of Lasorda and wouldn’t have become a well-respected manager for the “I’m Calling Them California” Angels.

Perhaps Kirk Gibson wouldn’t be the manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

You just don’t know.  Baseball is a game of chances and odds.  What are the odds that Scioscia doesn’t hit that home run?  The odds were against him for sure.

And this has led to several years of post-traumatic Mets disorder for not just this Mets fan, but several.  Metstradamus still shudders when he hears Scioscia’s name.

I think to that night.  I was a pre-teen taking score at a game that I was sure the Mets would win.  It was the first time I learned that my team could break my heart.  Sure, I lived through 1987.  The team wasn’t the same.  The 1988 team though looked like a rebirth.  Like they would rise from the ashes and be the dominant team that Frank Cashen had set out to make.

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As a baseball fan second, I will always respect and admire both Tom Lasorda and Mike Scioscia for what they’ve done and accomplished as major league managers.  But as Uncle Gene said at that game in 2004, we’ll always remember what happened in 1988.

A little part of me died that night, as a fan.  I’m sure most Mets fans in attendance thought that, still think it.  The Mets after that night were never the same.   They never quite rebounded.

I learned what it truly meant to be a Mets fan.

Make Love, Not War

Mets 50th Anniversary CollectionI have what we deem as a “Christmas birthday.”  While everyone on planet Earth (okay, maybe just **here**) is prepping for the holidays and transition into the New Year, a day celebrating me is thrown in the mix there.

Being a sports fan, it’s never been out of the realm of possibility to get a sports-related gift to celebrate.  This year, the big “get” was the Mets 50th Anniversary DVD collection, which was kind of a family gift (my husband has had his eye on this sucker for a WHILE now).

I was super excited to see that in the collection, one of my favorite Mets videos, An Amazin’ Era (a chronicle of the first 25 seasons of the Mets), was available on the DVD set.  Super excited probably doesn’t get it – super-duper is more like it.  Of course, the DVD was extended to include the 1986 championship and the NL East run in 1988…something that was a “To Be Continued…” part of the original VHS.  And yes, I still have that thing somewhere.

I often take for granted that the Mets won a championship in my lifetime.  Sometimes though I imagine what life might be like if I didn’t have that year.  If watching the 1969 highlights is all we’d have for going all the way…but so many close calls, like the 1973, 1988 and even the late 90s.

Mark Messier 1994Then the night my husband and I watched the video, he fell asleep, and I was there in insomnia land.  Not only did I get to relive the Mets championship years, I got to see a retrospective on the New York Rangers 1993-94 Stanley Cup run.

I guess I’m a little more than fortunate when it comes to my teams.  Some fan bases have never seen a championship in their lifetime.  I’ve seen one for each of my teams.

I said last year that the team closest to a championship would have been the Rangers.  It’s only cruel and unusual punishment that they have not been able to drop the puck this year.

The Mets seem to be making some moves to ensure that in the future, championships will be dancing in our heads.

I suppose it is only fitting that when I look at the last time the Mets had “relevance,” it was 2006…life would be so much different if they were able to make it the World Series, let alone win it.  Yet, 2006 was a long time ago.

The same could be said for my third team, the Jets.  Two years in a row, they did not make it to the playoffs despite high expectations.  The two years PRIOR to that though, they made it as far as they could go without going the furthest, if that makes sense.

I’m trying to take the football victories where I can.   I can be happy for my friends and family who root for different teams.  My husband is a big Seahawks fan.  We even went to see them play the Jets in Seattle in November.  He was in Hawks Heaven…I’m typically found in Jets hell.

Today, though, I heard that while Mike Tannenbaum was let go, Rex Ryan is staying on  I really don’t know how to feel about it.  I know the buck stops there, but ultimately, how many times can changing the coaching staff really help?

My thought was…I was brought back so many good memories of having my teams winning in my lifetime.  This is a gift I not only cherish but also do not take for granted.

Yet, I don’t have the warm fuzzies with the Jets, except maybe the time from 2009 and 2010.  Some other years there, but I guess deep down I knew it just wasn’t their year.  I had such high expectations only to be dashed at the last moment.  I would then have higher hopes for the future, only to get pooped on later.

My point is wondering why I stick around.  Sometimes, especially after seasons like this, make me wonder why I just don’t go root for another team.  I wonder if things will ever change.  I doubt they will.  Yet, I don’t want to be that fan who gave up when it was so close.

I could only imagine what it was like for people like my dad, who stuck around with the Rangers though they didn’t win till he was a long-time fan and was even lecturing me on the prospect of the Rangers not making it past game six in the 1994 Eastern Conference final versus the Devils.  It became evident, watching the highlights, that the blueshirts were “going for it all” that year.  They wouldn’t have had a better chance after that season.

The Mets started to fall apart after 1986.  I sometimes wonder why I stick around with such inept management and even more inept finances.  Then I think there’s no way they can be that bad forever, right?

But I have the championships from those teams.

Then there’s the Jets.  There are certainly bigger Gang Green fans than I am, but we explain it all away when love a team, we make excuses but the reality is…we all want the same thing.

To survive the war together.

So when people ask me why I am a sports fan, it’s the prospect of winning it all…that’s one thing.  It’s the surviving of it together.  It’s the experience of it together.

I named my first Mets blog “My Summer Family,” after a line in the movie Fever Pitch, which is what Jimmy Fallon’s character says about his Red Sox family.  He later said that he wanted to be involved with something bigger than himself.  It’s why I’ve stuck around with the Mets, the Rangers and the Jets.  To experience that feeling again.  I’ve been fortunate to experience it with two of my teams.

I guess I have to believe there is some payoff at the end.  That during the wars, and the battles, we stick around for the love of the team.

The love of the team though trumps most of the wars and battles forged though.  It’s part of our life, it’s part of our culture.

It’s part of who we are.

We Are Young

Tonight we are young
So let’s set the world on fire
We can burn brighter than the sun

- FUN

To everything, there is a season…

And this season is called “the offseason of Mets 2012-13.”

I bid farewell to R.A. Dickey, but I say hello to the next generation of New York Mets.

And it’s certainly a different feeling than I’ve ever had as a Mets fan in my lifetime.

Over the years, we’ve been conditioned as a fan base to like deals because we were able to justify big ticket/big name players.

Shit, I even liked the Jason Bay deal at one time (Back off – I really liked the guy before he came to Flushing).

Mike Piazza – traded for a bunch of scrubs.

Gary Carter – traded for a bunch of scrubs.

Johan Santana – traded for a bunch of scrubs (even though one of those scrubs pitched a perfect game before Santana threw his no-no, they were still a bunch of scrubs).

Frank Viola – traded for a bunch of…

You see a pattern.  Most of the time, the Mets ended up on the receiving end of getting the big name, and ended up with a depleted farm system.  Not to mention, they got maybe a few good years out of them.  The prospects had their careers ahead of them.

Up till this point though, none of the prospects really broke out, except for maybe the Frank Viola deal, where Rick Aguilera held the Minnesota Twins’ record for saves until Joe Nathan left, and Kevin Tapani won 143 games in his career AFTER the leaving the Mets, best years were with the Mets.  They both won World Series championships with those teams too.

Possibly the worst thing about being a Mets fan is knowing that a deal would have a cap of a certain amount of years.

What’s odd is that R.A. Dickey holds the distinction of being one of the most popular Mets of all time, while we’re sad to see him go, we know that to everything turn,turn, turn, and there is a season.  And a time to every purpose..

When I was a kid, the Mets were celebrating their 25th anniversary, which was in 1986 as ironic as that sounds.  In conjunction with that season, there was a video called “An Amazin’ Era,” chronicling their history up to 1985.  They made their own fate in 1986 and beyond.

Now that I am a adult, and celebrating my something-th birthday today, the Mets have turned 26 additional seasons.

I’m getting older. The Mets, well, they are getting younger.

While I’m sad about R.A. Dickey being gone, I can take comfort in knowing that the Mets are going to be better in the future.

And they are getting YOUNGER.

I was on the Sully Baseball daily podcast, and we talked about how this deal is almost antithetical to what the Mets have done operationally in the past.

And now we’re young.

Age is nothing but a number, yet age has mattered for the Mets, and most of all the numbers (meaning: numbers not made, or numbers of contracts that didn’t pan out, or years for that matter).  This can be a deal that can not only be beneficial for the Mets, but will make them age gracefully.

Something I’m not used to seeing as a fan.

I was 10 years old when I saw the Mets win their last championship.  Wait, scratch that.  Don’t pay attention to how old I was.  Anyway, the next few years weren’t pretty for a fan.  They got older, more broken, and a few years after, there were barely any members of that gloried bunch.

We went from having a fun year in 1999 to seeing youthful guys like Robin Ventura and Mike Piazza break down.  Hell, even perpetually youthful Edgardo “Fonzie” Alfonzo broke down too early.

I’m convinced the reason why the Mets fell apart was because of Carlos Beltran’s balky legs and Jose Reyes’ balky hamstrings.

Yet, the guy who was considered by all intents and purposes an “elder” on the Mets, aged backwards.  He got better as he aged, won a coveted Cy Young and won 20 games to boot, all the while reinventing himself.

It seems as though the Mets took a cue from him to age backwards, but literally.

So tonight, we may be young.   Like the Mets though, in 2013 and beyond, I’d like to promise to myself that I’ll set the world on fire.  We should all have that sort of promise to ourselves.

The Passion of the Tebow

You all know me.

DSCN5633I am not a Tim Tebow aficionado.  I probably make more excuses for Mark Travis John Sanchez than his own mother (or worse, his coach Rex Ryan).  Yet, I’m pretty much done with him too.

But I have to say, I feel bad for Tebow.  He did not deserve to be a part of this green shit show this year, at all.

He has served as a pawn in a clueless management that seeks to win headlines over actual games.

He has served as an icon for a hype-driven market.

But most of all, it’s one that has been completely unfair to him.

Mark Sanchez clearly cannot handle whatever it is he can’t handle (the voices in his head telling him he sucks, or the “death threats” he received on Twitter after Monday night’s loss).

Tebow did not deserve what he’s gotten from the Jets, which is a big gigantic ZERO.  Nothin’.  A turd, if you will.  A big fat smelly turd.

Do I like Tebow?  Look, I’ll be the first to say he’s all hype and a self-promoting media marketing machine.  Does that mean I think he’s a bad person?  Quite the contrary.  I don’t believe he’s a bad guy at all.  And he’s certainly not the bad guy in this story.

What did he do to deserve the treatment that he’s gotten from the Jets?  I certainly think at age 25 it’s unfair to pigeonhole him as “finished,” as the Washington Post said today.

First, John Elway made his role obsolete by “going for it” with Peyton “I-Look-Like-A-Milwaukee-Racing-Sausage” Manning when Manning’s job was obsolete in Indianapolis.  This was AFTER Tebow had given the Denver Broncos the chutzpah to make it in the playoffs last year.

Second, what the frigg was Mike Tannenbaum thinking?  Whatever warts and all Rex Ryan has as head coach, clearly he is Mark Sanchez’s number one supporter.  I’m sure it was with a heavy heart he decided to go with Greg McElroy in this week’s game, rather than Sanchez or Tebow for that matter.

Which leads me to this.  I’m not a Tebow fan, but I was of the frame of mind that if he was capable, he should certainly be in there, at least when Sanchez was floundering.  Which is entirely possible, as we’ve seen.  Talk about mixed messages.  First, Sanchez was given an extension, THEN Tebow was traded to the Jets.  What the hell were they thinking?  I don’t even know if THEY know what they were thinking!

All at the expense of a man’s career.  Beautiful.

Look.  You all know I am a Mets fan, right?  (If not, whose blog have YOU been reading??)  It reminds me of the situation with Aaron Heilman (before you laugh, I happen to have some Stockholm Syndrome going on with him, deal with it).  Remember he was a starter?  Typical Mets story when they rush a prospect, only to see him fail, then not know what to do with him.  They brought him back for a start, and he rewards them with a shutout one-hitter.  How do they pay him back?  By putting him in the bullpen, a role he was NOT suited for, with the carrot dangle of “If you do well, you’ll be a starter again.”  Well, guess what?  He becomes too valuable in the ‘pen, which didn’t say much because the Mets notoriously NEVER have a good bullpen.  Then what happens?  Heilman ends up blowing some significant games, and cannot gain the confidence coming into a game.

Sure, I can call him a pussy, but the moral of the story is, just another one biting the dust of Mets mismanagement when they don’t know what the hell to do with a player.

I can adapt that story to the Jets.  Why ruin a team when you can ruin the career of a decent guy who is talented and can succeed and do so much more?

Look no further than Tim Tebow.

As I’ve said, I am no Tebow fan, but he does not deserve this smear of his young uprising profession this soon in his career.  Shame on the Jets for making him a pawn in this situation.

I’m Listening

There’s a Facebook meme going around that says “LIKE if you think 10 years ago were the 1990s.”  I’ve never “LIKED” it, but it is hard to believe that 2002 was an entire decade ago.  See, in 2002, that was the hey-day of being a Mets fan.  At least in my eyes.  The team sucked, but usually in those years, the **true** fan comes out, and not the Johnny Come Lately (that you see all the time in October in the Bronx).

It was then that I met Frank, Brian, Tommy, Kim and the rest of the Woodside crew.  Those were the days of Section 22 in the Mezzanine which was absolute mayhem on the weekends.  There was Roger and his crew from Bensonhurst, and there was Richie and his “YEEEEEEEEEEE HAAAAAAAAWWWWS” at inappropriate times.

It was then that I knew I had a gift.  I had a gift of attracting the outside element, the misfits, the people who made being a Mets fan not only worth it, but the very iota of BEING a Mets fan.

I also knew that I had a gift of listening.  Like Frasier Crane would tell his callers, I listened all right.  I listened to when Richie said, “Hey! We’re down 6-0 in the bottom of the 5th to the Pirates…we got ‘em RIGHT WHERE WE WANT ‘EM.”  Or when Tommy said, ” Hey look at this Mike Piazza ‘jersey’.  I might go home dry my dishes with it.”

It was also the last Saturday home game, when I had my Saturday plan with Pop in Section 22.   It was a chilly night, and it was the Mets winter cap night, so it was appropriate that most of us put the hats on.  When I suggested we wear them to the Jets games we planned on attending, Frank said, “Yeah the wint-uh Mets caps for our wint-uh Mets games.”  (Wint-uh Mets meaning the Jets).

I don’t remember who the Mets played that game, and not sure I remember much of the game.  I do know it was boring and by the 6th inning, we were talking about going to Donovan’s, a pub off the 7 train in Woodside (where the crew was from).  When the game just got unbearable to watch, Frank stood up and said, “FUCK THESE GUYS!  I’m going to Donovan’s.  Who’s comin’?”

Thus spawning a decade of me saying, “Fuck these guys, I’m going to Donovan’s.”

Perhaps it’s appropriate that I consider myself the Frasier Crane of the Mets fans, in that I listen.  I listen to what’s being said, I listen to the folks around me, I listen to what the fans think, whether I agree or not.

Perhaps it was fitting that it was the last home game of the 2012 season yesterday at CitiField, and I took it upon myself to call it “group therapy” (you know, us sadomasochists of Mets fans…we like to be tortured which I’m sure is some kind of psychological ailment…all I know is that most of us suffer from some form of post-traumatic Mets disorder).

Perhaps it’s more appropriate that after the last game of the year, my husband asked, “So…feel like going to Donovan’s?”

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  But 2012 differs in so many ways from previous years of futility.

**********************************************************************

The last two seasons, the Mets regular season ended at home.  In 2010, the year was just beyond awful but I won a game-used David Wright jersey after the game, so all was forgiven…well, almost all, since I had to witness the Oliver Perez white flag waving when they brought him into a tie game in the 14th inning.

Last year was a weekday day game, but most of the people in the house were there to give Jose Reyes a boost.  If you got caught in traffic (like many people did yesterday), if you were standing in the Shake Shack line, if you were walking to your seats, chances are…you could have missed Reyes’ last at-bat.  He rewarded our ovation by deciding to leave.

More often than not, I am sad to see a season end.  That’s not to say I didn’t feel that way this year, but it’s just different.  We had another weekday day game this year, but the Mets still have games to finish.  Last year, it was mostly bloggers in the stands.  I pretty much knew everyone who was there in 2011.  This year, I knew many people who were there, but as Steve Keane said today at Kranepool Society, “Closing day is where you separate the posers from the die hards.”

I took it upon myself to realize that what we needed was catharsis, a group therapy session to talk about the season and to share how we felt.  I jinxed myself because the other day, I mentioned that whenever I wear my Rangers colors, I get many comments.  But when I wear my baseball or football teams, no one says a word.  Yesterday, everyone was asking my opinion on David Wright or RA Dickey (should they stay? should they go?).  I guess because I wore that game-used jersey that I won two years ago to the game that someone might have considered me some kind of authority.  Honestly, I didn’t want to think about it.  I sat with Kerel from On The Black and Ed Marcus from Real Dirty Mets at the Apple tailgate (well, the pre-tailgate since most people showed up late due to an accident on the Hutchinson Parkway), before realizing I was drinking beer out of a bottle, no brown bag or any attempt to cover it up.  I said, “Wow, I’m talking to you guys like I’m sitting on my living room couch.”

Group therapy.  We don’t know how to process our feelings so we just go to the games to deal with them.  Anger.  Sadness.  Denial.  Most stages of grief, you name it, Mets fans have been there.

 

Sure we had some acceptance going on with the picture above, including new and old Twitter friends (that I really met for the first time) including Terence and THE Sean Kenny, a fellow writer from Metsmerized Online, whom we actually grabbed breakfast with before heading to the game (turns out we live in the same neighborhood).  And some old, like Kerel and Mediagoon and Metstradamus and Steve and Enzo.   And yes, there was some denial going on, as the Daily Stache was going to say goodbye to a big part of their site identity…uh…the “stache,” Keith Hernandez’s infamous one that has been as synonymous as the Mets are with 1986.

The energy going in was a celebration.  A celebration of a year that probably raised our expectations at some points but for the most part, met what most of us thought the team was capable of.  We were there to celebrate our future — David Wright will be the reigning hits leader in Mets history starting 2013 — and the present — R.A. Dickey and his amazeballs season.

Throughout the game, there were more to meet.  There was Sharon and Kevin and Judi and PAC Lady and Greg from Faith and Fear.  There was Damus and Stache and Kranepool Society and so many of The 7 Line army representatives.   And most of all, we said fare the well to our Richie till next season, who was always good to buy us a beer or two at the games this season (this game was no exception).

I tried to remember everyone I saw.  So apologies if I forgot about our interaction.

But mostly, we were there to see the Mets first 20-game winner in 22 seasons.  Many of the topics discussed in our group therapy were centered around keeping Wright or Dickey around.  Honestly, I didn’t want to talk about the future.  It’s scary enough being a Mets fan.  The future is sometimes too hard to contemplate.  Why not enjoy the energy of now, the energy surrounding R.A. Dickey’s massive 2012 season?

In a year that was an overall underachievement, there were so many stories to feel good about.  The legend of R.A. Dickey is one that is part Dickey, but all Mets.  Anyone could have been a 20-game winner (well, okay, maybe NOT anyone, but you get my point.  I hope).  Robert Allen Dickey, journeyman pitcher he may have been, is one of us.  He’s a guy riddled with quirks, is cerebral and probably is the most critical thinking of the athletes we know.

Even the bombastic Mets fans…tend to know their shit.  And those all showed up for closing day 2012.

 

I won’t go into specifics.  We all know how the game started and ended, even with some late inning hiccups by Jon Rauch (whom I actually really liked in the ‘pen this year!), but mostly, Robert Allen Parnell came in and saved the day for Robert Allen Dickey.  Robert Allen Dickey, 20-game winner for 2012 (and hopefully 21 game winner by next week). Cy Young Award candidate.  Mets fan favorite.

Don’t be fooled: Mets fans were there to bid farewell to the 2012 season.  They were also there to celebrate the guy we can all rally around, and that’s R.A. Dickey.

Kranepool Society turned to me at one point and said, “This team adds years to my life.”  It’s true.  We age in dog years too.

Yet, at the end of the day, when the game was over and we all walked out on a high from the outing…one thing hit us then.

The realization that the season was no more.  At home, at least.  Sure, the Mets are on the road and we can at least watch them on television.  But we won’t be seeing them at home till 2013.

In a way that’s good.  End on the high note.  See the good game, the game every single one of us deserved to see this year at home.

And even as I joked around earlier this year, Johan Santana’s no-hitter wasn’t even really the highlight of the year.  I’m sure to some, it was.  To us though, the season has been all about Dickey.

**********************************************************************

 

When we got out of the park, we headed to Woodside to have our celebratory meal.  Usually, I opt for the “best burger in New York City,” Donovan’s Pub’s specialty.  But they did a menu change a few months ago…they eliminated some of my favorites including their crab cake platter.

Sigh.  I really love them there.

That was also the last meal I had there post-2002 Saturday’s game.

Crab cakes with potatoes and mixed veggies.

I went in with the burger in mind…but when I saw that crab cakes were on the specialty menu…

That was all she wrote.

In the past 10 years as a Mets fan, I’ve come full circle.  Shea Stadium is no longer with us, but the true die-hards, the real fans are still coming to CitiField.  We may miss Shea every day, but we’re moving onto the acceptance phase.

The 2002 season was littered with disappointment with many more lows than highs.  As for 2012, sure the season could have been better team wise but we go for the defining moments that make being a Mets fan a METS fan.

And by listening to the fans, I’ve caught more catch-phrases or understand what makes a Mets fan tick.  And who knows — if I didn’t listen to Woodside Frank all those  years ago, I’d have never heard of Donovan’s Pub.  And to me, that’s the greatest travesty.

So thank you, fans.  Thank you for giving me material all these years, and when the team doesn’t give me much reason to cheer, you give me reason to keep coming back and related to this band of merry misfits.

Go ahead, Mets fans.  I’m listening!!

Autumn In New York

Like many business people in New York City, I work for myself and I’m able to make my own hours.  In that vain I’m able to attend to real life issues such as declaring whether the Whole Foods Market salad bar is better than Westside Market’s, or to make my Trader Joe’s shopping list (which being able to go in the afternoon rather than after traditional working hours is a godsend, since everyone and their uncle goes after work).

And like many people in New York, I’m often running errands boasting my team colors.  Today, I was bumming around in my New York Rangers shirsey, bearing the number and name of one Bradley Glenn Richards.

So it’s autumn in New York.  It’s not just a one sport town, but a multiple sport town.  There is not one but several phenomena occurring this time of year. Typically, you can count on Yankee fans getting ready for the postseason, and Mets fans get ready to root for whomever plays against them.

Football season is a few weeks old.  Jets fans typically change their mind on the team more than the weather.

Yet there’s a gaping hole this fall, and it’s not the fact that I left the Giants out of the equation (come on, no one fucking talks about them until the playoffs)…and that’s hockey.

I’m a Mets and Jets fan, yet when I wear their attire, not much gets said to me when I’m walking down the street (unless I’m with my husband, and we get the “Hey, going to the game today?” comments).  I would gather that Yankee and/or Giants fans might feel the same when they sport their team colors.

Today, as I’m walking in Trader Joe’s, not one, not two, but THREE people (each from different walks of life — one an employee, one guy who looked like he just came in from the gym and someone who was probably working in an office setting still in their business casual clothes) made a comment about the team.  Whether it was, “Man, what do you think about the lockout?”  Or “We got Nash, and now we’re not playing?”  Or “Brad Richards, huh?”  (I get that a lot, but sue me, I was excited to have him on the team last year).

Come to now with the threat of no hockey this seasons I would be willing to argue that the true heart of a New York sports fan lies in their hockey allegiance.

That’s not to say that I don’t think there are super passionate Yankees, Mets, Giants, Jets, hell even Knicks and Brooklyn Nets fans.  They certainly exist.  Hockey fans are from a different cloth.  There’s a deep rooted passion, and it’s almost as if being in a room with 18,000 like minded people, indoors mostly, makes it seem like we’ve survived a war.  Perhaps we’ve survived several different battles, each game a mini battle in and of itself.

The battles these days aren’t being drawn out in the ice, but rather in board rooms, with Gary Butthead, the owners and players.  Someone pointed out to me that it’s probably not the best sign that players are going back to their homeland (Russia, Sweden, Czech Republic) to play in those leagues.  It dictates that they expect this to be drawn out for a long time.

Do I need to break out the world’s smallest violin, again, for the millionaires who are arguing over pennies while the diamonds are being passed over.  Diamonds in the form of long-term relationships with the fans who support and buy into the product.

What’s most nauseating being here in New York is that I know it’s not James Dolan’s fault.  He’s a money guy, sure, but he knows that the only way he’s gonna MAKE money is if his team gets out there and plays and his fans are happy.  Fans are not happy.

But what’s more.  I am a Mets, Jets and Rangers fans.  These three teams have brought me more sorrow than joy, but there are glimpses of hope as to why I stick around long term even though they are destined to break my heart more often than not.  Two years ago, and two years in a row, the Jets made the conference championships.  The Mets…well…let’s not go there.  But let’s just say that I do remember ’86 and think that sometimes those feelings are what keep me around.

The Rangers though.  For a fan with the teams I have, this is the closest I’ve had to a championship for a long time and a team I looked forward to the last few months to watch.  A team that could take me away from the drama of Rex Ryan land and the Wilpon Follies.  As someone else pointed out to me, we get Rick Nash, and pieces are falling into place, and now these people are just agreeing to disagree and getting absolutely nowhere.

Today would have marked the first preseason game for 2012-13 season.  Yet the only thing we are marking is time.

It’s autumn in New York.  And before we know it, it will be winter in New York.

As the seasons change, one constant may not be there.  And that’s not a pleasant thought.

Fitting In With The Misfits

“Dear Ma,  You might find it hard to believe…But I think I finally found a home.  The weather’s lovely, there’s so much to see, and people who know what I know.  Now I’ve got friends that do want me and take me as I am.  Now I’ve got friends that do love me.  I’m all right with them.  Fittin’ in with the misfits.”

A Man Called E!, “Fitting In With the Misfits”

I know you might find someone like me who talks and drinks like a sailor surprised to find that growing up, I was very much a loner.  I didn’t have many friends and the shit I liked was NOTHING like what anyone else liked.  I was into New Wave and Brit Pop bands way before it was ever cool or emo.  I listened to music no one else was listening to.  I was a baseball fan when girls weren’t supposed to like it.

Instead of encouraging it, I feel that I was made to feel like there was something wrong with me as a result.  Kids thought I was weird and well, I guess I sort of agreed with them.

So I kept to myself mostly.  But being an only child, it wasn’t that difficult, especially an only child of divorced parents where both worked.  I had a lot of downtime for sure.

But the funny thing was, as I got older and met more people, I found that baseball was a connecting fiber for communities of people.  I remember during the Brooklyn Dodgers documentary “Ghosts of Flatbush” that was on HBO a few years ago, Louis Gossett Jr. said that when the Dodgers left Brooklyn, there was nothing to homogeneously identify with being in Brooklyn.  Baseball brought different races, creeds, characters from different parts of Brooklyn together, and nobody questioned it!

My baseball community started small, with my dad and his best friend and their family.  Then it grew when I started going to more games.  Then it blew up really during the era of social media.  I started my blog and met some amazing people, and even got a husband out of it.

But mostly, this was my happy place.  It’s sometimes not easy being a Mets fan.  It was the fans and the people who drew me in.

These days, I rarely go to games alone.  I’ve had no problem doing it, but usually just traveling to the game is a joint effort, with myself and Ed and the bears that usually come in tow.  There were two games recently that I traveled to CitiField all by myself, though, which is odd.  I’m used to traveling on trains and around the city by myself.  So I had my iPod queued up and ready to take the 7 train on Monday night.

I was invited to the game by a friend who was able to get four seats together.  Our friend Ray Stilwell, aka Metphistopheles, was joining us from the north and we got the Grand Poobah of Mets blogging to join us too, Greg Prince from Faith and Fear in Flushing.

You may remember my misadventures with Metphistopheles in May, when I got stranded in Buffalo, and he volunteered to drive me across the border.  To this day, I’m still grateful (though my trip didn’t exactly pan out the way I wanted it to).  Ray doesn’t make it down here all that often, so to take in a game with him is a treat.  Three out of the four of us made to the Hofstra conference in April.  This was the first time we got the band back together since then.

 

(Photo to the right was taken by Sharon Chapman)

The game itself was uneventful.  R.A. Dickey was masterful again, and deserved better from his offense as per usual.  Yet, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a song as I sat there with my friends.  Mostly me banishing Greg to the Caesar’s Club corner (for reasons I won’t disclose here, but it was pretty funny).  We talked about my husband and I almost got divorced over Angel Pagan (he’s Pro-Pagan, I’m Anti-Angel).  Talked about the previous game where our friend Sharon’s son was celebrating a birthday and he got the Carvel gift card they give out in the birthday inning.

On the way to the park that day, I had some time to kill on the train.  And I found an old album (gosh, it’s 20 years old at this point) that I once upon a time had on a cassette tape.  Ouch.  The artist was “A Man Called E!” and the song was “Fitting in the with Misfits.”  It’s interesting listening to that song 20 years after the fact.  At the time in my life, I was very alone.  I was a sophomore in high school.  I never fit in really anywhere.  That song always kind of struck a nerve with me.  I never quite liked it as one of my favorites, but I did like it enough. It was fresh in my mind as I sat at the game Monday.

Mets fans are an interesting lot.  We stick with the team, when sanity could reason that we should not be.  We root for a perfect game each day, knowing that our team is far from perfect.  And yet, CitiField and the Mets is where I belong.

Thanks to Sharon Chapman for the great photo!

This was us on Monday night.  At some point our Mets fandom and baseball fascination has brought us ridicule from others, but we found each other, in the “lost and found” as A Man Called E! sang about his misfit friends 20 years ago.

Later on that night, I went to go visit a friend of a friend…the infamous Darth Marc, from Metstradamus fame.  Turns out, he and I have a larger connection than Metstradamus…we know a lot of the same Blondie’s gang who hang in the Brooklyn Met Fan forum.  Talk about a bunch of “misfits” right there.  These are the guys who encouraged me to be myself and to blog, and were my very first supporters in the blogosphere.

More irony is when he posted this pic on Facebook, a mutual friend from Blondie’s and Brooklyn Met Fan, IrishMike, commented.  I never knew his last name.  We were only friends in Blondie’s name only.  Regardless, I was surprised to him friends with Darthy, though I dunno, I probably shouldn’t have been.

“Coop’s a brunette, Marc is at a Met game – I don’t know what’s going on. Well the Mets sucked again so there is some normalcy.” – IrishMike

The game sucked balls.  There’s no nice way to put it.  But hanging out with some of the misfits I know makes the games more enjoyable.

I was asked last night on a podcast why I was still watching games.  It has nothing to do with “believing” or thinking something might happen.  It’s not even about being mathematically alive or dead at this point.  But I’ll say this:  I watch because I know in a few months, there will be no baseball.  I may have hockey.  I may have football.  But baseball is my heart and soul and comprises so much of my personality.

I watch because it’s finite.  If you don’t stop and take a look once in a while, you might just miss it.

But on Monday night, I got to hang out with mostly Mets folks (disclaimer: Darth is an “Evil Empire” fan – figuratively and literally.  Or literally and literally.  Whatever).  People who are like me.  People who get it.  “For lost souls don’t know where they’re bound,” as E! once sang.

But we’re only lost when baseball isn’t around.

Must Be The Season Of The Pitch(er)

There is a big story in baseball this season, and it’s not the long ball, it’s the pitcher’s duel.

It’s the season of the pitcher, folks, and to me, baseball is only as good as its pitchers are.

Think about it.  On a team, there’s often the old school adage of “pitching wins championships.”  Mostly, of the starting pitching variety. Even the bullpen figures in, occasionally, since a strong bullpen is depended upon during the long postseason if your team should be lucky enough to participate.

Look at my team.  The Mets have been blessed with great starting pitching, from Seaver and Koosman, to Doc, Sid, Bobby O and Ronnie, Al Leiter, even Fresno Bobby Jones.   But for years and years, it was always about the no-hitter.  The goddamn NO no-hitter, I should say.

But forget about Johan Santana’s no-hitter two weeks ago.  Okay.  Remember it.  But that’s not the point.  Clearly, the story this year has been the knuckleball and most importantly, R.A. Dickey’s renaissance surge to not only make his case to start the All-Star Game this year, but quietly mounting a strong campaign for the NL’s best pitcher hardware.  Time will tell, but although Santana’s no-hitter will christen the Mets’ books as the historic one, if you saw R.A. Dickey’s start on June 13th against the Tampa Bay Rays, clearly, that was the more dominant pitching performance…BJ Upton bedamned.

The funniest part of that story is that the Mets actually put in an appeal with MLB to get the first hit (an infield variety by Upton) charged as an error by David Wright.  So let’s see — go 50 years without a no-hitter, than two in two weeks!  Okay, gotcha.  I doubt that MLB will reverse it, but hey.  Goes to show just how dominant pitching has been.

Jered Weaver started the trend in Anaheim with his no-hitter.  I remember my friend Sully, from Sully Baseball, telling everyone to turn the game on, as the 9th inning approached.  He was so excited, Weaver had to pee between innings!

Then came a potentially cruel joke, with former Mets pitching prospect Phil Humber pitching a PERFECT GAME for the Chicago White Sox.  While he’s been lackluster (at best) since, the guy who was traded to get Johan Santana was pitching a perfect game, and the Mets didn’t even have a stinkin’ no-hitter.  Point is he can suck for the rest of his natural born life, and he pitched a perfect game.

Then came Johan.  Then came the Seattle Mariners’ combined no-hitter effort of the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Really?  What is fascinating about those two no-hitters is that they were against strong offensive teams.

Lastly, Matt Cain of the San Francisco pitched a perfect game on June 13.  MATT CAIN who walks, like, everybody.

Some pessimists may say that the achievement isn’t as notable now.  Other say that the change in data sharing in baseball has improved for the defensive side of the game, and not the offense.  Yet at the same time, fans dig the pitchers duel.

It’s true.  A home run derby in the most literal sense is a reason to drink at games because you really don’t need to pay attention.  Great pitching performances leave you on the edge of your seat.

Give me a call when the San Diego Padres break their no-no-hitter drought, but in the meantime, I think the season of the pitcher is about friggin time.  It’s more than just the stats, with Dickey leading the NL in wins.  The pitching landscape is just so interesting right now, and the pitching performance is back.

I love it.