Month: February 2012

I Am A RANGER Podcast Tonight

Join the Gal For All Seasons podcast at 7 pm EST for a fun-filled hockey show, featuring our love for the New York Rangers (Devils and Islanders fans can listen in to heckle).

My guests tonight include Nick Montemagno from the Rangers Tribune and Kevin DeLury from the NY Rangers blog.  Be sure to check them out on Twitter – NickMonteRT and NYRBlog.

Looking forward to discussing my less-depressing team in 2012 tonight!!  See you then.

Till There Was You

I was in a bad mood today.

I shouldn’t have been, but I was anyway.  I finished a highly anticipated but nonetheless dreaded nine mile run yesterday.  It’s a gorgeous spring-like day, even though it’s not even March yet.

I sometimes get in a mood because I haven’t worked since September.  Today was no exception as I had a phone interview with someone that should have taken place on Friday, but my appointment got screwed up.  I was tired of people implying there is something wrong with me.  I didn’t sleep well either.  I had an appointment with a financial adviser.  Don’t worry: not taxes (yet, though that’s sure to be F-U-N with a capital F).

All I wanted was a cup of coffee.

So I heard that the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf was no opened by Bryant Park.  However, turns out my sources weren’t entirely on.  They’re a little below Bryant, but no worries.  The Mets Clubhouse Store is there, and I figured I’d report on the fact they still do not have Jon Niese shirts in the store (confirmed) and that I figured me investing in an Ike Davis shirsey was in my cards.

But so much more happened.  I didn’t get a shirt.  Perhaps I was too distracted by Mr. Met.

The second I saw him, a big smile was on my face.  That did it.  My bad mood was all of a sudden lifted by the appearance of the guy with the baseball as a head.

He gave me a high-four and we posed for a picture together.  Then, his “muscle” told me that John Franco was in the store signing autographs.


I totally had a brain cramp that Franco was visiting some stores today.  Again, one of those things that was unexpected.  I had gone in looking to buy something but instead I find the mascot and the guy who is being inducted in the Mets Hall of Fame.


Forget Disney World.  Today the Mets Clubhouse was the happiest place on Earth.

How can anyone be in a bad mood after seeing Mr. Met?  Seriously, how?  I went from scowling to smiling ear-to-ear in no time flat.

Then I remembered something.  It’s not spring on the calendar but it’s in the air.  Rita’s Water Ice is opening soon, the Mets are in spring training, and the weather is very mild.

And I see Mr.  Met.  This is what we call “Winning,” people.

Till I saw Mr. Met, I would have just been another pissed off New Yorker.  I walked away without an Ike Davis shirt but with an extra skip in my step reminding me of the good I have in my life, and how much baseball is a part of that.

Thanks Mr. Met.  My advice to you is that if you have any worries, just find Mr. Met.  You can’t help but smile when you see him.

Brains > Braun

Before I go any further, I wanted to state up front that I happen to be a big Ryan Braun fan.  When Jose Reyes was in the thick of a batting race with him, I wouldn’t have minded if he lost to Braun.  That’s how crazy I am about him.

That’s something you have to know about me.  Though I am a Mets fan true and through, there are some players that get to me that I have to follow since my love for baseball transcends my team sometimes.  I’ll root for the name on the front of the jersey first and foremost.  But there are guys that I tend to watch because of their names on the back of the jersey.  Ripken.  Lincecum.  Now Braun.

I’ll still continue to watch him, if only to feed my own curiosity as to how he responds to this whole drug testing drama.

I guess in real life, I happen to be a little more on the optimistic side of realist.  In my optimism, I tend to want to see the best in people, and believe in the best side of people.  However, I’d be silly to not acknowledge that Braun was looking out for the best interests of himself in this process, under the guise of what’s best for baseball and what he found to be an incredibly flawed analysis of drug testing.

I’m just as much against performance-enhancers as the rest of us, but let’s be fair.  When Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were smacking the crap out of the ball in 1998, when they both looked like the Incredible Hulk, didn’t we all just turn a blind eye and watched for the love of the game, despite what the naysayers said?  When Jose Canseco came out with his Juiced book a few years back, I actually turned up my nose.  I felt that what went on in the clubhouse should have stayed in the clubhouse.  It’s one thing if he wanted to come out and say, “I fuckin’ did steroids.”  To throw his teammates under the bus just wasn’t cool to me.

Yet, it doesn’t mean I think those years he players should be considered tarnished.  There’s a lot going on behind the scenes in baseball that we aren’t privy to.

Here’s my take on a few of the themes in the Braun case.

Many prominent MLB players back his side of the story, even those who aren’t on his team.  Matt Kemp, a runner-up in the MVP balloting that Braun actually won in 2011, was happy that Braun won his appeal, and even went so far to say he wouldn’t want the MVP title if Braun had to forfeit it for any reason.  Remember when Mike Greenwell said that he felt that he should have won MVP when Canseco won it admitting he did steroids to enhance his numbers?   Kemp wouldn’t have wanted a tainted MVP win any more than Braun, I suppose.  Many other players not named Corey Hart (a teammate of Braun’s) have come out in support too, such as Mark DeRosa on the Nationals.

I guess it’s two-fold.  At the end of the day, players are “union brothers,” so this is sort of a win for the player’s union.  Anyone who doesn’t back another player is just a scab, I suppose.

Then there’s the MLB side, the only side who are really bashing the system…you know, the system they put in place.  And of course, beat writers and fans with a soapbox (especially those in the NL Central, rightfully so to question it, of course) who all know better than the players.

This isn’t some kind of blind-eye fan girl optimism.

Okay, maybe it is.

This might be an unpopular view, but after reading some of the articles today (especially the New York Times), I happen to think that Braun has exposed a huge hole in the testing policy in MLB.  I mean, it’s bad enough it took them forever to acknowledge that, hey, this actually IS a problem, it seems like they’re using some antiquated methods in handling the specimens that could effect the process.  At the end of the day, these players have livelihoods and families to support and all that jazz.  Do we really want a Homer Simpson-like courier to handle the specimen of a high profile player who could easily be taken down because there’s a flaw in the process?

I’m not saying that’s happened…but Braun did bring up a technicality that could impact the testing system.

I hear some people say that Braun should just give a test sample to clear his name anyway.  That’s also flawed for many reasons.  I used to be in a Union, and there are things that a member can do that the Union will not support.  The Union doesn’t have to support, for example, taking a lie detector test, and I’m guessing along those lines that if a player doesn’t have to submit a DNA test to clear his name, why would they support him if he wanted to do that?  In a way, his name has been cleared, albeit on a technicality.

At the end of the day, this was a news story that should have not even been a story in the first place.  We’re raised with the idea that we’re all innocent until proven guilty, except in the era of PED-testing where you just might as well hang up your cleats and call it a career the second your name gets anywhere near tainted.  Yet, at the same time, in the instant-gratification of journalism, we still go with the old adage if it bleeds, it leads.  What better to spice up a pretty dead winter with “OOOOH the reigning MVP might be taking PEDs.  FILM AT 11!!”

I’m not saying he took them, didn’t take them, whatever.  All I’m saying is that there are no winners, no losers in this drama.

So Ryan Braun got off on a technicality.  What can we do?  MLB will have to make their process more bulletproof.  Players will have to still monitor what they put in their bodies.  (They should do that anyway.  Idiots).

I still happen to like Ryan Braun a lot and wish him well in the upcoming season.  He’s gonna need it with the extra scrutiny and lack of a big power bat missing in his lineup now that Prince Fielder is gone.

Married to the Mets: 1987

I’ve been thinking a lot about the year 1987 recently.  When a child of the ’80s is asked about the Mets, 1986 is often talked referred.  As well as it should be.  Yet, there was something about 1987 that holds a special place in my heart.  It was the first in a long stretch of home Opening Days that I’d started going to.  This was also the year that the Mets had their Championship Ring ceremonies prior to their home opener.  I sat in Upper Deck in Row Z that day.  I’m sure Row Z didn’t actually exist but rest assured, it was specifically the last row.  So with my piddly Kodak Disk camera, I couldn’t get a good shot of the field ceremony if I tried.  To be in digital cameras in that time period…

I found myself spending a lot of time at Shea Stadium this year, which was slowly becoming my summer home.  As I mentioned before, my dad and Uncle Gene had a ticket plan in the Loge, Section 22, on Sundays.  The third ticket was for Aunt Melissa, who was staying behind more and more with the baby, Paul.  Typically, that third ticket was given to me quite a bit.  I’d go in threes with Dad and Gene.  Sometimes my mom would go too.  Most of the time, it was my dad and me making the drive to Shea every Sunday morning.

As a child, I loved getting a car as a passenger.  As an adult, I drive simply out of necessity and convenience, not necessarily because I want to.  I moved to a city simply so I wouldn’t be forced to drive as much.  Yet, over a recent long weekend, I trekked through the borough of Staten Island a bit, crossed the Verrazano and into Queens to drop off a rental car, and it brought back memories of driving to Shea with my dad on Sundays.


As I crossed Staten Island, I remembered sitting in Dad’s truck, with a book in my hand or maybe notepad and pen, reading my Nancy Drew paperbacks or jotting down some thoughts.  I pointed out the building that looked like steps going into a mountain.  The Verrazano, while not nearly as breathtaking as the Golden Gate Bridge (my favorite bridge in the world), still takes my breath away.  If all goes according to plan, I’ll be running across that bridge in November of this year.  I remembered crossing into Brooklyn via I-278, known as the “BQE.”  I remember seeing a train in the background while crossing I guess what is part of Bay Ridge, and made the connection that it’s the F train.  There was a sign for Bruno Truck Sales that towered over the road, but I always thought the sign was funny for some reason.  It’s still there, and it still makes me smile.

Looking across the East River, you can see Lower Manhattan and the South Street Seaport, the first time place I ever visited in Manhattan.  Someone told me as a kid that you could walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.  The idea seemed so foreign to me, but I did manage to do it a few times in my adult life.  Tillary Street exit, the Manhattan Bridge, the Williamsburg Bridge, finally we cross into Queens.  Inevitably, I’d hear about the time Bob took a wrong turn and ended up on the Long Island Expressway on the way to a game.  They missed the first inning, and of course Darryl Strawberry hit a grand slam that same inning.

All these names and streets, neighborhoods and pictures in my head all hit close to home.  Since they are part of my home.  I may have grown up in New Jersey, but I’ve lived in the greater New York area for several years now, and feel as though this is the place I should have been all along.

I fell in love with New York while driving to Shea Stadium as a child.  I always knew I would be here someday.

I’ve also become jaded, going to baseball games so often.  I get there with maybe just minutes to spare, and in an ideal situation, it will be either during or after the Star Spangled Banner.  Hey, I’m as patriotic as the next person, but I typically go to games now to watch said games, and then complain about the train ride home.  When I was a kid though, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility to get to Shea several hours before a game started.

My dad, famously, got to Shea almost as soon as it opened.  I guess back then, at 10:30 am, one could get a beer fresh off the tap (as the beer vendor in the stands used to say).  I found out from my friend Steve at CitiField that the stands wouldn’t sell him beer till the clock hit 12.  I remember this because as soon as the clock hit 12, he said he’d see me later.  I also remember that Shea Stadium used to sell those Dolly Madison Dixie Cup ice cream, chocolate and vanilla with the wooden spoon.  RC Cola with the plastic on top that you peeled off.  My dad used to make megaphones out of the soda or beer cups, and we’d chant “Let’s go Mets!  Let’s go Mets!”  When it was cold, hot chocolate was sold.  And one day while we sat in field level, one of the vendors found a great sales pitch: “WOULD SOMEBODY PLEASE BUY SOME POPCORN!!????!”  I think Dad bought two boxes to shut him up.

There was something I look back as being special about 1987.  It was different, almost sad in a way, to be at Shea Stadium.  One of my heroes, Doc Gooden, started off the year in rehab…not for injuries, but for drugs.  Gary Carter was starting to deteriorate.  There were rumors of clubhouse turmoil with Keith Hernandez, the veteran leader of the team, and young guys like Darryl Strawberry, who had attitude problems.

They were still good, but even as a child I could tell the magic and dominance was gone.  It was a different mission in 1987.  Yet, I was a part of it, and in the thick of it for the first time in my life.  It was the first time I realized that my team could disappoint me.  Sure, I knew about falling short in 1984 and 1985, the first two years I really understood baseball, but wasn’t every year supposed to be like 1986?  Even if the answer was no, it should be.

This was also the first year that I really started to understand who I was.  Believe it or not, I was kind of a shy kid.  I was shy around kids my own age, but around adults I was fine.  Pretty ass-backwards.  To say I didn’t have many friends my own age was an understatement though.  Baseball was an escape for me.  My dad would take me, and just leave me to my own devices.  I’d cheer, I’d keep score, I’d drink my soda.  Yet, there were some games I was just too cool for school.  I’d have my Walkman and listen to mix tapes as the games went on.  In my mind, these are the games the Mets lost.

In September of 1986, there was lettering in the outfield that said, “A SEPTEMBER TO REMEMBER.”  I remember the three guys who sat in our section, Dominic, Rob and Mike, said they should have “A SEPTEMBER TO DISMEMBER” in the outfield.  I still don’t know if they picked that up from somewhere, but I certainly never forgot it.  I think I stopped paying attention that year around the time of the Terry Pendleton home run.  I don’t remember going to many games that year in September.

Something else had happened, though, bigger than me just going to more Mets games.  My dad and I became buddies.  I think he started to like me then.  Okay, fine, he probably liked me before, especially when I begged him to teach me to play baseball since I never got chosen for teams in school.  I wanted to be good, hopefully to someday play myself.  Yet, looking back, it was also an odd time not just for the Mets and their home life, but my home life.  I started to pick up that things at home weren’t exactly pleasant.  My parents were not in a happy marriage, and I could tell.  You know, that whole business about staying together for the “kid’s sake” is just a bunch of crap.  The kids know something is up.  Or maybe just me.  It was something you didn’t talk about, but I knew.

By 1989, my dad had moved out, and it was just my mom and I, and our cat, Cody.  I know the Sunday ticket plan wasn’t much longer for the world either, as I’m sure they were no longer ours in 1991.  My dad and I still bonded over the Mets though, when I stayed at his place we watched SportsChannel, and we’d go to games.  By that time, we had discovered that driving through Manhattan and taking the Williamsburg Bridge was a better route for us than going through Staten Island.

Those long Sunday morning drives though.  It gave me two things: love for baseball and love for the city.   I’m deeply committed to both right now as an adult.  I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Nash Bridges

Is Rick Nash the bridge to get the New York Rangers to the Stanley Cup? (See what I did there?)

I’ll come right out and say it….NO.

Do I think he’ll be a Ranger?  Yeah, probably.

Here’s what I think.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this Ranger team is very special.  I think they have a pretty good shot of going very far in the playoffs without him.  I also think they have a pretty good shot of going very far in the playoffs with him.

The Rangers are not one guy away from being world beaters.  THEY ALREADY FUCKING ARE!  Take a look: number one in the Eastern Conference by a lot.  Dominating rivals like the Flyers and winning critical games they should be winning against the Bruins.  There are games like the other night where they just looked severely overmatched, against the Penguins.  Take a look though: they’re the Penguins, not a bad team, with one of the league’s top scorers in Evgeni Malkin scoring a goal against Henke.  SHIT HAPPENS.

My point is this: the Rangers have been beating the teams they’re supposed to beat this whole season, there have been some shitty games they should have won but did not, but that’s cool.  That happens to teams who do well.  The team has formed some chemistry and seem to really enjoy playing together and feeding off each others energy.

I can’t say that Nash will change the dynamic either way.  They’ll stay pretty much the same.  My philosophy is that if the Rangers don’t have to give up much to get him, I say, why not?  The deal though is more of a “let’s keep him away from Philadelphia” than “we need him to win the Cup.”

We’re doing just fine with Gabby, Henke, Cally and the rest of the gang.  Nash will just be ornamental.  But either way, it will be fine.

It Gets Better

In the last year or so, there has been a push of special public service announcements conducted by Major League Baseball players, to help combat teenage and children bullying, especially in the LGBT community and in general, any child who may experience bullying to a degree that it seems like there’s no way out.

Unless you are a baseball player, of course.  That doesn’t apply to you.

Let me back up here.

There’s no secret that possibly my favorite Met right now is Jon Niese (okay, it’s a three-way tie between Niese, Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy).  I’m also one of those Mets fans who actually liked Carlos Beltran, though admittedly it took me a long time to come around to him.  Turns out, in the offseason, Niese had a nose job.  I’m not against plastic surgery — I’m against it as a “quick fix” but for someone who has low self-esteem.  Yet, rhinoplasty is performed not just for cosmetic procedures but for health reasons, such as deviated septum or sinus/breathing issues.  Niese has even said that he can tell his performance is up and can breathe better.

The backstory to the Niese’s nose procedure is that it was Beltran who suggested it.

Not just said, “Hey, if you’re having breathing problems, maybe getting this procedure will help.”

No.  It was teasing and making fun of Niese’s nose.  Beltran, as they say, was kind of a jerk about it.  The same guy who has a mole the size of New Jersey on his face.  I hope that Niese came back to him with that. But Beltran did offer to pay for it.  Well, that was kind of nice.  With Beltran’s millions, he should visit a dermatologist!

But no.  Niese took the high road.  He took it under advisement and got the procedure.  Beltran offered to pay for it, but hasn’t paid up yet.  Time will tell.

But it’s just so funny to me that a sport that promotes acceptance and non-bullying, a guy who can easily get bullied for a lunar eclipse on the side of his face is calling out Niese’s nose.  If you look at Jon Niese’s profile, his nose gave him character. If it was done for health procedures, then I applaud him especially if it was done in mind of performing better.

Even if it was good-natured ribbing, that wasn’t cool, Carlos.  Not cool at all.  It seems like Niese is pretty cool about it, but making fun of one’s physical appearance just isn’t something I’m on board with.  Of course, I am not privy to what’s going on in the clubhouse…

But Jon, let me tell you.  I loved your nose.  It gave your character and a certain charm.  If you made the decision without being made fun of more power to you, but you have my permission to make fun of Carlos right back.  Someone needs to give it to him, too.

TONIGHT!!! The Gal For All Seasons Podcast BASEBALL Show!

The Gal For All Seasons podcast goes live tonight at 7 pm EST with special guests Sully from Sully Baseball and Bill Ivie from Ivie League Productions and I-70 Baseball.  Our topics tonight are, what else, talking baseball, the upcoming season, offseason topics, Red Sox, Cardinals, Pujols, Valentine, Manny.  Whatever floats our boat, we’ll discuss.

Join some knowledgeable baseball fans in discussing the 2012 season tonight!


Married to the Mets: That Old VHS Player

If the “Married to the Mets” series was ever put into a book, this chapter would be a postscript, an epilogue if you will, a footnote to the series.  See, I hadn’t planned on writing this yet, or at all.  This week I had planned to write on some of my Shea memories but as John Lennon once said, life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.

It was April 9, 1985.  My dad couldn’t go to Opening Day that year for whatever reason.  This was the time before smartphones, spoiler alerts and simply by staying away from the TV or radio for a few hours.  We had set our VCR to tape for the few hours on WOR-9.  “Catch the rising stars…”  That was the slogan that year and the silly jingle before the games.

For the next few years, that VHS would be my closest friend and confidant.  It knew what I wanted when I got home from school (soap operas), when my mom would take me to the mall (one of my least favorite activities at that age…trust me, I’d have rather been making mud pies) and there was a show that was on, or when my dad and I couldn’t watch a game.

The VHS was there for us on Opening Day 1985, when Dad couldn’t go to the game.  So we watched and learned that not only the Mets won that day, but that their new catcher, Gary Carter, hit the game-winning home run in the 10th inning.  I didn’t know it at the time, but after the game I certainly learned about how Neil Allen, the pitcher who gave up the home, was one of the pieces in the deal that brought one of Dad’s favorite players over to the Mets: Keith Hernandez.

See, the story behind Opening Day 1985 was one that Mets fans geek out over, the type of thing that I call “Mets porn.”  The type of story that lasts and takes a life of itself in Mets folklore.  One of those moments that we had at Shea Stadium, whether you were physically present or not, you could have that connective factor with another fan.

The VHS was a substitute, an absentee parenting tool for me.  If I couldn’t watch games, I could catch them later.  If I just wanted to tape games, I could watch them over and over.

That contraption in the living room (where I also sat on the floor watching many Mets games as a kid) was also one that allowed to relive these moments.  Have us recapture former glories, for better or for worse.

In 1986, I probably sat my ass in front of the television, cued up the VCR and had it play games over and over.  Dad attended the NL East clincher game in 1986 with Uncle Gene, I had to tape it, just in case he said, he was on TV.  I didn’t get those two tearing up the field or standing on second base, as per Gene-oh’s wishes.

The entire National League Championship Series was taped as was the World Series.  Dad was also at a few of those games, most importantly, he was at Game Six (which ultimately got us tickets to the definitive and final Game Seven).  We had to tape Game Seven, after all, we were going to be there.  No, we did not see ourselves on TV.

But when the Mets had failed glories in the ’80s and missed chances, I was able to watch those tapes and reminisce.  I was getting a crash course in the idea that being a Mets fan wasn’t always about domination, it was about ennui and falling just short of it.  I was led to believe that 1986 was the beginning of an era…turns out, it was the climax, with the denouement happening shortly after.

Those tapes allowed me to shape my Mets story, to shape my Mets fandom.  I was able to pop in a tape and remember how cool it was, and how young I was to not fully grasp everything that was happening around me.  I may have been in the stands on Game Seven…but I really couldn’t tell you what it meant to me until I was much older.

I remember having the Making of the Let’s Go Mets video…that video played on a constant loop almost. I used to love the beginning of it, when Gary Carter would give the kid a packet of Mets baseball cards, which started the song.  Ah, the age of innocence, as it was in Jeff Pearlman’s book The Bad Guys Won told us about how the Mets behaving badly in the making of the video.  After the “First” Game Six against the Astros, I read about how they tore up an airplane.  I guess I could see how that would happen.  When I watch that game, I, too, have a primal energy to swim across the ocean or run a marathon.

We bought the 1986: A Year To Remember video too.  I was heartbroken when the VCR got hungry one night and chewed it up.

Prior to the ’86 season, we had bought An Amazin’ Era, about the Mets first 25 years of existence.  That tape actually taught me a lot about the history of National League baseball in New York.  I still have that somewhere, and bought a VCR just so I could watch it again.  Now I think there’s a DVD on it.  I especially loved watching the build up to the ’80s years, which only covered up to and including the 1985 season, my first visibly remembered season.  I especially loved the emphasis on Gary Carter.

I loved watching those VHS tapes when the Mets weren’t that great and when they weren’t quite worth watching.  That was quite a bit.  I also taped the 1988 NLCS.  Perhaps not surprisingly, I didn’t watch those games over again.  Except for maybe Game Three.

I have no idea if those tapes even exist.  Several moves and my mother having a penchant for throwing stuff that bothers her out may mean they no longer exist.  Luckily for us, there are those who wish to make a profit by packaging these games in DVD sets.

That VHS player would keep me company and give me hope for the Mets when I didn’t have much hope or interest in the team.  It brought me back to a simpler time, when I was young, and sometimes seeing them makes me think of a time gone past, not so much of when the games actually occurred, but what I might have been thinking one night when I was left to my own devices, and wanted to see a game.  I could think back to cold winter nights when I didn’t want to watch anything on television, and perhaps wished baseball season was closer.  I could think back to when I was feeling lonely and wanted to recapture a fonder time in my life.  I could be sad and just wanted to put a smile on my face and watch the films, and remember just how good it was.

It’s funny because I’ve been watching a lot of old videos on the Mets recently, due to Gary Carter’s passing, and I love hearing the old broadcasts, and having the smile on my face because I know what to anticipate.

These games have shaped the narrative of my life, and much of it was sitting in front of a VCR with a remote control and recapturing the past and perhaps part of my youth by keeping them around as long as I did.

On Paper

I’m not a person who blogs to “report” on shit.  Seems self-defeating right?  But not to me.  Quite frankly, I’m not going to write about something that you can get information on from like 500 different sites at the time it happens.  And they all tell you the same thing.

Plus, I’m an observer.  I like to think and mull things over before making an opinion or even an informed decision.  So when crazy contracts were being doled out back in December like free ice creams cone day at Ben & Jerry’s, I wasn’t going to weigh in right away.

But I can now.

Being a Mets fan, I’ve had my share of winning in the offseason versus the actual winning games on the field happen.  More often than I care to admit.  The Mets were also in the thick of things during the winter meetings and hot stove happenings, but mostly on the “wrong” side of them, simply by not dishing out a six-year contract to Jose Reyes.  My friend Sully from Sully Baseball even said that he didn’t think it was the end of the world for the Mets and I agreed with him.  I don’t have to like it, but I’m not going to jump off a bridge.

Besides, what are the odds that the Miami Marlins will actually hold onto Reyes for the duration of his contract?  Slim and none, and slim’s out of town, right?

There were many more moves besides Reyes.  There was Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson to the I’m-Calling-Them-California Angels, Prince Fielder to Detroit Tigers and Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell to the Marlins as well.

Until this little nugget of turd came out from the Sporting News, and I really had to analyze where they were going.  Basically, the gist of it is, if your team signed overpriced and payroll-choking talent that has had its hey-day (as Sully put it, paying for John Travolta’s Saturday Night Fever years when you might get at least one year of Pulp Fiction if you’re lucky), you got an A.

The rest of your teams, though.  You’re all fucked.

Seriously, how fucking hard is it to definitively identify where a team’s strengths and weaknesses are.  Let me throw out the Mets for a second.  I’m not expecting much here.  Yet, Sandy Alderson has to make do with what he has, which is basically a bucket of shit.  There’s no mention in this piece about the trades he had to make, like Angel Pagan and then signing bullpen help to short-term deals with little risk and very high rewards.  He has very little wiggle room.  Do I expect much from this team this year?  No, but at least there’s some flexibility now.  It’s like this piece didn’t even address what the Mets had to work with.

What I love most though is the emphasis on the free agent signings.  Marlins and Angels get A+++++++ because they dished out more money than a sailor on leave in Amsterdam’s red light district.  What it doesn’t tell me, though, is what these deals are going to do to these teams long term.  You know, like prohibit them from making other moves and then being underwater with these contracts in two-three years.  Because trust me, this is going to happen.

Then there’s the obligatory Yankee ballwashing.  They made a good trade though and if they can trade AJ Burnett for a breathing human, I’d say it was a coup.  Yet, here’s what gets me: the Yankees always make these under the radar moves (like Curtis Granderson a few years back) to make them loss-proof in the playoffs.  Has that happened yet?  No.

The next best teams in the offseason were Detroit and the Boston Red Sox.  The Red Sox gets brownie points for getting a good manager.  Now, they neglect to address one very small item: their team hasn’t changed all that dramatically except for the managerial spot, which was the least of their problems last season.  Terry Francona essentially stepped down for trying to do a good job.  He walked away because of unrealistic expectations put on a team that WON ON PAPER last offseason.  Remember how that panned out?  Oh yeah, they lost Game 162 to a team with absolutely nothing to play for since like MAY of that year.

As for Detroit, I have no idea how Prince Fielder makes them a 162-0 team, but hey, more power to them I guess.

I could go on and on, but I’ll address one more team on this list: the Washington Nationals.  The Nats are an intriguing team to me for a few reasons, but they also added the tutelage of Davey Johnson (whom you all should know I love), but they added former Oakland A’s-fan fave Gio Gonzalez via trade.  Now here’s the thing: when this trade went down, there were two factions.  One which thought Billy Beane was fleecing the Nationals for the four prospects he obtained in the trade, the other which went crazy when Gio left the Bay Area.  Neither one of those sides I’ve mentioned seems to think to the extent that this deal might actually work out in the Nationals benefit.  Sure, they might actually finish over .500 this year.  And I agree that maybe the deal does give them a “B” offseason.  Is this the type of deal that might hinder them long-term?  Perhaps.  I mean, it’s not like they’re making a bunch of moves that’s going to put them on a sustained path to a championship.

In fact, that’s not something I’m reading about ANY of these deals.  I see these deals working out like most long-term/high-dollar deals or trading the future for maybe one-to-two good years of a talent before they themselves become a free agent, like, never.

So that brings me back to my position as a Mets fan.  Could the offseason been any better?  Oh, absolutely, it could have.  As much as I hate to admit it, I don’t like the idea of not having Jose Reyes on our side, and feel that as a big market team they could have, under better circumstances, kept him around and it wouldn’t have been such a huge commitment, even six years.  The deal is what it is, and I’ve already let it go.

Then again, look at the deals that the team that did land him made.  Heath Bell: 3yr/$27mm.  Mark Buehrle: 4yr/$58mm.  The piece de resistance was the Carlos Zambrano trade.  I know from my fan base that Mets fans thought it might have been a good deal to swing, especially with the amount of money that the Chicago Cubs paid to essentially have him play for another team.  The Cubs didn’t make out too badly.  Theo Epstein, fresh off his revamping and rebranding the Boston Red Sox image over the past several years, got a once highly-touted prospect.  They might have eaten a lot of a bad contract but the idea is that this prospect could be a low-risk/high-reward type.

Yet, Zambrano is a known head-case.  I mean, this should go down as some must-see TV between Zambrano, new manager Ozzie Guillen and Marlins sandwich-short-of-a-picnic owner Jeffrey Loria.  Meanwhile, if someone like Alderson pulled off a deal like that, he would have been vilified by the fan base for trading away any prospect for Carlos Z with his known issues.  Damned is he does, etc etc.

This leads me to my conclusion.  As a Mets fan, I’m not unaware that their issues are more deeply rooted than not making the moves they should make to make the team better.  On the same point though I feel like they could be an exciting team to watch since I do believe that if we’re gonna lose, might as well do it with the young guys.

I suppose this rant is about my expectation level for a publication called “The Sporting News” to provide maybe a bit of detailed sporting analysis as to WHY these deals should work for these teams instead of just saying, “This team spent a lot of money this offseason, therefore they are going to rule.”  Maybe this year, but no one is addressing the pink elephant in the room, and how after year one, the majority of these deals simply won’t work in the team’s favor, just the players’.

Clearly, The Worst Team Money Could Buy was not required reading in their Sports Journalism 101 class.

Take Those Rings And Shove ‘Em

There’s a curious thing happening here in New York City.

The Rangers are playing some stellar hockey, to the extent that it’s time to think about playoffs, and I mean *deep* into the playoffs.

Then there’s the Jeremy Lin phenomenon on the Knicks, where it’s all anyone is talking about.  Even lay people who aren’t into basketball (like yours truly) have been jumping on the #LINning tweet hash tags and wondering what this kid can’t seem to do.

The Rangers are getting their due respect.  Henrik Lundqvist is finally coming into his own as an elite goaltender, Ryan Callahan is proving to everyone why he was named Captain of the team and these guys would take a bullet for one of their own teammates.  The Knicks are making their fans believers again, to the extent that people who had given up on them a long time ago are coming around again.

That’s not to say everyone is thrilled with these happenings.  I’m sure Devils, Isles and Flyers fans don’t care much about how the Rangers are performing (or Bruins fans, for that matter).  Is anyone outside of New York following Jeremy Lin-sanity?

So then when anyone brings up the fact that Henrik Lundqvist is a frontrunner for the Hart, Vezina and any trophy that can be anointed to any hockey player not a defenseman, or that anyone is a great player in New York…those who don’t care?  Those who like New York sports?

“How many rings does Henrik have again?”

“Has Jeremy Lin won any championships?”

Yes, folks, there are those people who want to piss all over the success of individual players by pointing out their shortcomings in the championship arena.

I could go the shorthand route and say, “Well it’s a team sport and any rings earned is based on team performance.”

But it’s something that any fan goes straight to, regardless of sport.  I mean, has everyone turned in Yankees fans to use their team’s overall success to diminish the greatness of a few individual players?

Look at the Devils’ Martin Brodeur.  Uncle Daddy Fatso has won three Cups under my watch and he was the star goaltender of those teams.  Yet, those teams won as a UNIT with the likes of Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko leading the way.  Without those players, I doubt you get to fully appreciate how good Brodeur was for those teams.  And yet, when we all point and laugh at Marty, any of their Devils fans are all, “Well, how many Cups has Henrik won?”


Then there’s the whole Eli Manning ballwashing that has occurred.  Not to diminish any of his accomplishments because I’ll even admit that he has shown the capacity to really come through for his team when they need him most.  Yet, a few months ago, weren’t his fanbase and the local media throwing him under the bus for…well…whatever reason?  Look, mad respect for him…but does he win those rings with any other team?  Maybe not.

But then, does that mean he’s one of the best?  That remains to be seen.  But then we can look at the careers of Jim Kelly or Dan Marino and see that sometimes, life isn’t fair in sports.  Some of the best QBs haven’t won ONE ring, let alone two. Then Tom Brady is known for his failures to lead his team to two Super Bowl title when he already has earned THREE with the New England Patriots.

Football is strange though, because there are smaller margins of error in a season, and most games are more critical because there are fewer to play.

Basketball also has those great players who never won a championship.  I was a fan back in the day when John Stockton and Karl Malone were the core unit of the Utah Jazz.  They’re both Hall of Fame players, and don’t have a ring to their accomplishments.  Does this mean they were horrible players?  True, they’re not Michael Jordans, but even Dirk Nowitzki won a championship last year with the Dallas Mavericks, when the Miami Heat were all but anointed champions before a game was even played.

And don’t get me started on baseball.  I live in New York City, where I have to bear witness to the Yankee ballwashing that goes on a daily basis, 162 games a year, and 365 days a year when it’s all anyone harps on.  Forget the “Miracle” 1969 Mets.  Forget the Amazin’ 1986 Mets that we still haven’t gotten over.  It’s Derek Jeter – BEST SHORTSTOP EVAH according to their fans and local media.  How about Mariano Rivera?  All-time saves leader and has five rings.  But look at the teams they played on.  Wouldn’t it stand to reason that those teams won because of the TEAMS and not because of one or two players?  Look at the Jazz again.  If it were up to one or two players, championships would be easier to come by.  Even the 1980s Mets were faltered because of the game of chance.

Which is all some championship seasons are.  Chance.

But then, look at the Rangers.  If they win the Stanley Cup this year, IF Henrik Lundqvist wins the Vezina or Hart (or that may be one of his teammates, Marian Gaborik), IF IF IF IF…

When someone talks about how great of a season and improbable run as Henrik Lundqvist has had, they’ll say, “Yeah…but he doesn’t THREE CUPS.”

To that, I only have one response.


To take a team accomplishment and make it into an individual accomplishment defeats the purpose of sports.  But hey, it’s a game of one-upmanship for fans to participate in.  But it’s a flawed argument and I hope that “real” fans understand the difference.