Month: March 2012

Married to the Mets: We Never Met

CitiField hasn’t had a lot of good moments in its short history.

I can think of maybe a handful.  Yet in its short history, we haven’t had a defining moment.

No Piazza bringing-baseball-back-to-New-York home run.

No seven-run-deficit-in-8th-inning comebacks versus the Atlanta Braves in the middle of a heated rivalry on Fireworks Night.

No Game 7 of the 1986 World Series to get over.

No Game 6.

No Jerry Koosman leaping into Jerry Grote’s arms.

No Grand-Slam-Singles.

No Hendu Candu walk off.

Most generations of Mets fans have that defining moment from Shea Stadium.  Yet, not from CitiField.

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We discussed the games we’d been to.  The last game at Shea was a bittersweet memory in 2008.  The John Maine game in 2007.  The Mets NL East clincher in 2006.  Fireworks Night in 2000.  Several home openers.

We never met.

I sat in the Mezzanine at Shea Stadium for nearly eight years.  I was on the third base side, he was on the first base side.

We never met.

I was on MySpace and Facebook, but gravitated towards Facebook.  I had a built-in network of bloggers I was friends with, and was a fixture there pretty quickly.  He was a MySpace fixture.  We became friends on Facebook, but neither one of us could pinpoint when we became friends.  Suddenly, it seemed, we appeared on each others feeds.

We never met.

I had blogged on the Mets for a few years, and it gave me not only an outlet but a new network of people I had never dreamed of meeting.  Sure, I went to many Mets games, and I had a close-knit community in the sections I sat.  But the new network went to new people, close and far.  I was visiting friends on the west coast, and recognized people at games in the midwest.  He was distinct.  He carried bears around, and took pictures of them and wrote stories on them.

We never met.

You know where we met?

Ironically, it was Build-A-Bear Day, August 1, 2009.  I was sitting in the Promenade that day, as was he.  He was sweet, a little shy.  But we bonded over our new bears.

I wouldn’t say there was love at sight.  But we were friends.  And three weeks later, I had completed my West Coast road trip, and we attended our first game together.

As irony would have it, that was the 1969 Mets reunion game.  That same night, a friend of ours was hosting her son’s bar mitzvah.  I had missed the “cut off,” but truth be told, it wasn’t a huge deal.  I had met the child once, maybe twice, although later on that very friend who held that bar mitzvah that night later was a witness at our wedding.

We talked more than Mets that night.  After all, it was a game against the Phillies, and they kicked our ass as often as we changed our clothes.  We talked about comic books and Kevin Smith.  I told him a joke about Chase Utley and Taco Bell.  He told me there was such a thing as raspberry Pop-Tarts.  We also discovered that neither one of us heated up Pop-Tarts.  Mine were room temp; his were frozen.

The next day was a Sunday game, and I ended up going at the last minute.  He told me to come visit him.  So I did, and he had a gift for me.

It was a box of raspberry Pop-Tarts.

Looking back, it was sort of like when Lloyd Dobler gave Diane Court a box of Bavarian pretzels on their first date.

I can’t say that it was love at second sight.  But I do know it was sincerity at first sight.

As the season ended in 2009, he asked, “Well, what do you do in the offseason?”  That’s the first sign of a baseball fan: you classify the calendar year as “Season/Offseason.”  I kind of shrugged and said that I usually just go to the gym more, drink less and go to the movies.  I said that I usually go to movies by myself.  I wasn’t trying to elicit sympathy, because I actually kind of enjoy it.  I still don’t know if it was under the guise of “friends” or a “date” or if he felt bad for me, but he asked me to a movie.  It was a zombie flick.  I said, hell-to-the-no.

But I realized I could speak my mind with him.  I couldn’t do that with a significant other in the past without it blowing up in my face.

As time went on, we spent more time together.  As “friends.”  I’m not sure where the switch turned on from friends to lovers.  But I can tell you when I realized he was a keeper.

In the offseason leading to 2010, I needed to have routine outpatient surgery.  My doctor and his staff had prepared me, and I’d be out later that day.  He offered to stay with me.  I said no.  He said he’d be happy to take me back home.  I live about 12 blocks from the hospital.  I said no, thank you, I would be fine.

Till the nurse on staff said she wouldn’t let me sign my liability forms till I had someone there who agreed to escort me home.  A friend, a parent, a relative, anybody.

He had stayed in the waiting room with me, till he was given the okay that I was good to go.  I asked him for his work number that I hadn’t yet memorized and apologized for being so stubborn.

I equate that day to the time on Sex and the City, when Miranda needed help after her LASIK surgery, and she kept telling Steve she didn’t want to rescued.  “NO RESCUE!” she screamed at him as he tried to get her ready for bed.  That was me.  I didn’t feel like I needed to be rescued.  Till I realized, I could be in a partnership, and be in it together.

I looked at him differently after that.

By Opening Day, we knew we wanted to get married.  Four weeks later, we were.

He wore a Mets tie.  I wore a blue ring that was also “borrowed.”  Our friends and witnesses were Mets fans and we all had one goal that day.  After the ceremony, we needed to find the Mets game on a TV somewhere.  See, they had a weekday day-game against the Reds in Cincinnati.  The Mets lost that day.

Our one year anniversary was celebrated at another weekday day-game, against the San Francisco Giants.  He surprised me by getting our names on the scoreboard.

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Maybe our marriage isn’t perfect, but whose is?

We make it work, and the crux of our relationship is making each laugh and talking baseball.  In my life, as I had relationships with significant others, maybe a piece might have lacked.  I was always the bigger sports fan and had to make concessions to not watching games or talking baseball all the time.  That’s probably why I became a blog groupie when I did.  He understands that it’s not only a part of my life, but that I need someone who is just as passionate about them as I am.

I might not have needed to marry a Ranger or a Jets fan.  But I did need someone who was just as devoted to baseball as I was.  I was lucky enough to find a guy who loved the Mets just as much as I did.

It takes a special person to be a baseball fan.  I’m not talking about a Johnny-Come-Lately person who goes to games occasionally.   I’m talking about a fan who lives, breathes and eats baseball, is connected to their teams’ games 162 games a year, from April to September.  If your team is lucky enough to make the playoffs, you’re preoccupied till November.  Factor in pitchers and catchers and spring training, we’re talking eight months of the year, that there are some kind of game being played.  Even when there is no Major League Baseball, you’ve then got hot stove, and trades, and free agency…chances are, from February until December, it’s baseball season for you.  And then some.

If you’re lucky enough to have a friend or family who is just as knowledgeable and passionate as you are, baseball is your passion, your religion for lack of a better term.  It’s a religion that preoccupies you 365 days of the year, and 366 in a leap year.  The only difference between an organized religion and baseball is that we worship 162 games per year.

We get older.  We get married.  We have kids.  At least, that’s what the greatest romance novels of all time have told us.   Baseball isn’t supposed to be as “important” as it once was.  Yet, in the Mets community, those who are in committed relationships are in just as much as committed relationship with the team as with their significant other.  Furthermore, a non-negotiable for many Mets fans is that they find someone who understands, or is as passionate as they are about their team.  (And most of all, not a Yankees fan).

I met my Mets soul mate in the summer of 2009.  Yet, despite all the commonalities we had over the years, our childhood memories being so similar and centered around baseball, we never met.

We met the Mets, then we met each other.

If you are a couple, and you’re fans, chances are, you’ll understand.

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Mascots, Road Trips and Baseball – Oh My!

Please join me for the Gal For All Seasons podcast tonight!  I have a very special guest, my friend Amanda Rykoff from ESPNW (and Twitter personality) joining me tonight.

We plan to discuss her recent ventures in running for President (no, not that kind…the Presidential Race at Nationals Park) and her obsession with team mascots (we stalked the Oriole Bird ourselves), plus her thoughts on the MLB Fan Cave.  I’m sure our talk will turn to the upcoming baseball season and road trips!

We’ll be on live at 7 pm ET, so please log into the chat room then!

 

The Holy Sheepshit and Balls Videocast: Tim Tebow Is a Jet (And Others)

Hellloooooo everyone, and thank you for your patience.  I’d blown off my first v-log for over a week, and I have two parts to the Holy Sheepshit and Balls video of the week.

Topics: My Nolan Ryan interview with the lovely folks at KinersKorner.com (The Kult of Mets Personalities podcast) was a Holy Sheepshit and Balls moment for me.  Please go the interview and listen for yourself!

Tim Tebow is a Jet.  I try to wrap my head around it.  And I can’t.  But I applaud Mark Sanchez for taking the high road for a guy who can potentially take his job.

Watch and pass around…and enjoy! (And here’s the link from YouTube)

Married to the Mets: The Blog Groupie

It was really the Red Sox that got me into blogging and following sports blogs.

True story.  Though it was inspired by the Mets a bit.

In 2004, I needed an outlet.  A place to read, discuss and muse on the Mets.  I was working full time on Wall Street at the time, and the Mets were disappointing me.  It was the Art Howe years, and the Mets were just boring.  A state of ennui.   These years were really the true test of the fans, to go to Shea Stadium at times like those.  Looking back, it was the hey day of baseball games.  You went to games with real fans and not frontrunners like they were in the Bronx.

The Mets had made one of their most famous deadline deals that same year.  Kris Benson joined the team, and then-projected pitching phenom Scott Kazmir was traded for Victor Zambrano in what was called “Black Friday.”  In the previous season, I had become engrossed in New York National League baseball history.  The New York Giants.  Brooklyn Dodgers.  I had devoured Boys of Summer and Bums.   Later in 2003, the Rangers had opened their home season at Madison Square Garden.  That same night, I ran into a friend at the game who wanted to watch the baseball game.

You might know of it.  It’s known in the Yankee (and Red Sox) lexicon as “The Aaron Boone Game.”

I sat at the bar as I was outnumbered by Yankees fans, for sure.  I was told because of my New York National League roots that I was the “Coolest chick in the bar.”  Too bad, because I felt like I was being left alone at the lunch table, while my friend celebrated that Yankee walk-off victory that night.

So fast forward a few months later.  July 31, 2004, came and went, and I was upset.  My team had failed me, again.  Bob Ojeda was on the FAN, talking about how he believed that the Mets organization just had “bad information,” when Zambrano blew his arm out just a few days after the trade.  While Kazmir went on to stupify the Red Sox, who were on their way to making the playoffs a second year in a row.

I spent many hours in the office that year.  Yet, I couldn’t get on chat rooms or forums.  Most of them were blocked in corporate America.  I did find something a bit unusual, while clicking on some story links following the fall out of the Mets season, and following how the Red Sox were doing.

It was called a “blog.”

I found one called Metsblog, and NJ.com had its own called Always Amazin’.  While clicking on those sites, it brought me to other blogs.  SellTheMets.com.  FireArtHowe.com.  Kranepool Society.  The Metropolitans (where I frequented and probably made my mark as a “blog groupie”).  Metsgeek.  Y2K: Promote the Curse.   Some of these links exist to this day.  Others have gone by the wayside.  Many others have expanded or rebranded.

During the 2004 post season, I found many Red Sox blogs.  Sons of Sam Horn.  Surviving Grady.  Misery Loves Company, which was a Mets/Red Sox joint blog.  I loved the self-deprecating and dark humor of the Old Towne Team’s fans.  The Mets fans were just funny though.  The blogging community was easier to follow, simply because there were fewer blogs to follow. When the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, it was special.  It was not only special to see the evolution from walking off the field, defeated, just one year prior, but special to see all these blogs serve as a community for these fans to congregate and make the large world smaller and closer.

I was pretty useless at work.  I spent most of the days trying to feed my lust for Mets information, and trying to craft writing styles, and even stealing some jokes that I found at these forums.  Like how I have borrowed “Just Forfeit” or “Fuck these guys, I’m going to Donovan’s” from other fans, some people think they are my own.  I don’t make a habit of stealing material.  But I found that people weren’t hiding behind the screen of the computer by saying daring things that they would never say in the face of these people (though, truth be told, I see plenty of those people now).  I found that sports and especially baseball fans really wore their heart on their sleeves, and bared their souls in the comments and in response to the blogs that were objective in some ways, but came from the fan experience, so there was a lot of soul to the posts.

The Metropolitans was a place I congregated.  From there spawned many spin off blogs, like Frasier to Cheers.  Ed’s Blue & Orange Cafe.  Yes, Joe, It’s Toasted!  The Metropolitans invited me to join my first ever Fantasy Baseball team.  I was the token female, but it took them awhile to realize I was a girl.

In fact, I had chosen the moniker “Coop” so I wouldn’t be “the girl” in the forums.  Most of you follow me or became friends with me because of my writing style, which is how I talk, really.  When I was throwing certain players under the bus or screaming about Willie Randolph, they got me.  There was no male/female dynamic or even worrying that they would think of me different or that I was after a player because he was hot.

In mid-2005, I had gone to a game by myself and had taken score.  Some were surprised that I had been a fan just for the game.  Some were surprised I knew how to keep score.  Nobody would have paid me any mind if I was there with a man, like my dad or my boyfriend.  Meanwhile, my dad had taught me to keep score, and I had gotten my boyfriend into baseball.

I didn’t have to explain myself.  Till I did.

One day, in mid-2006, during the Mets tear on the NL East and baseball, I had been a frequent visitor to the site Yankees 2000: Promote the Curse, which was a Mets blog claiming that the Yankees win of the World Series in 2000 on Mets home field was the reason why they hadn’t won since.  (Makes sense, with 20/20 hindsight, since Shea no longer exists).  One of the bloggers called me “Man” or “Hey dude” or “My man Coop.”  I got a kick out of it, but I had to come clean.  I said, “Hey, I’m a chick, for the record.”  The next day, I got a marriage proposal, sight unseen, from one of the co-bloggers.

That same year, Brooklyn Met Fan gave me a whole new family.  There was not only BMF, there was Matt the Met Fan, Blondies Jake, Irish Mike, USMF, Bill L, El Duderino, Ft. Greene Met Fan.  Plenty of women in the forums, and could keep up with the Mets and baseball talk with the boys.  Gender mattered, but it didn’t.  They were always so open and friendly and treated me as an equal.

The Metropolitans was my second home though.  I felt like I was friends with everyone on there.  Toasty Joe’s blog was fun too.  Sort of a Metstradamus-lite, whom I had become friendly with as well.

I had commented so many times on these sites that I thought…maybe I could do a blog of my own.  I had opened an account on Blogger, and I could name it anything that I wanted.  The name, the name, the name…

Since people had told me since I was very young that I looked like Drew Barrymore, I had watched many of her movies.  My favorite around that time was Fever Pitch, the movie centered around the character played by Jimmy Fallon’s fandom of the Red Sox.  I loved the banter between Red Sox fans, I loved how he changed during the baseball season, when he saw all his friends that he missed in the offseason.  And how when after years of darkness, comes light.  As a Mets fan, though we had taken care of some of that dark period by beating the Sox in 1986, Red Sox Nation got over it by slaying the dragon of 1918.

Jimmy Fallon’s character said something at the beginning of the movie.  “This is my summer family.”

And I had my name.  I had reached out to the Mets blogging community in 2007.  They had saved me that year, from myself really.  My long-term relationship had fallen apart, and I had custody of 81 Mets home games in the form of tickets.  I had to find people to go with me.  Bloggers came to my rescue.  I had met Metsgrrl, who saved my Masters completion gift of going to see the Mets play in Milwaukee and Chicago that summer.

I had run into Greg Prince from Faith and Fear in Flushing several times at Shea, and we had become fast friends.  Irony was that the very first time I met him, I was wearing the FAFIF shirt to a game.  It was also the beginning of the end in 2007, against the Phillies.  I met Dana Brand through my work at Flushing University, and I had met a whole new world where people actually asked to see my writing.  Joe D of Metsmerized Online compared me to a cross between Alanis Morrisette and Courtney Love, if they were Mets bloggers.

The bloggers became a secondary family to me, people I enjoyed seeing.  My network expanded and expanded where I was recognized in other cities, like Philly in 2008.  Or when I was at Dodgertown in 2008, and Metstradamus introduced himself to me.   The expansion went into Facebook and Twitter, where I had taken like a fish to water.  With how big the world wide web had expanded, I’ve gotten many haters.  The haters make it worth it for me to love my new friends, my secondary family that the blogging community has provided me.

By the time I retired My Summer Family in 2010, every schmoe had their own blogger or WordPress account, claiming rights to the once tight knit community.  Hey, more power to them.  I stepped away because I wanted to find my most authentic voice again, which was what made My Summer Family special back in 2007.   Maybe it was special to some of the people who followed me.  For me, it became work, tedious and wasn’t unique anymore.

I do sometimes like to look at the site, like it’s a relic from a former era.  It takes me back to how much I loved having my own blog at the beginning, and how I was feeling back then.  Much like a diary or photos from a year gone by, my thoughts on the Mets still appear from time to time.  Much like listening to a song from my childhood, the years 2007 and 2010 on my Mets fandom are still catalogued for me to review.

And if anyone knows what happened to Mike and Benny and everyone else from the Metropolitans, tell them I miss them and wish they’d reappear.

Dubya Te(bow) Eff? Jay! Ee! Tee! Ess!

So, did I miss any news while I was out jogging today?

If I could wrap my head around WHY it happened, or WHY it is necessary, than maybe I could be supportive of it.  But…

Yeah, I don’t get it.

Earlier today, SNY’s Jets Blog did a very good recap of the pros and cons of bringing Tebow to the Jets.  It was very well done, but I can’t even say that I agreed with some of “pros.”

Tebow, a first-string QB who probably shouldn’t be, on a new team with another first-string QB?

Um.   Yeah.  Okay.

The Jets are enough of a media circus by themselves.  Do they really need the distraction of Tebow?

Look, I hear Tim Tebow is a really lovely guy.  Nice guy.  We all know that he’s a spiritual dude.  He’s worshiped in the Bible Belt.  I don’t think he’ll last six seconds in the New York media.

A few months ago, my friend Jon Presser from Rant Sports Jets blog discussed Mark Sanchez on my podcast, and we both agreed that warts and all, Sanchez is our guy. Sanchez, to me, had enough panache, charisma and balls to bring a title to the Jets, or at the very least be a big part of it.  I’ve been a Jets fan for a long time, but in my lifetime, I’m not entirely sure I could say that about anyone on the team in the past.

A few days ago, there was rumor that Peyton Manning would come to the Jets.  Manning, a living legend in Indianapolis and a likable dude somewhat, did not make a ton of sense to come to New York when he was up for grabs.  I mean, remember bringing Brett Favre here in 2008?  That totally backfired, right?  And Favre was a success, just as Manning was, prior to coming here.  Then the Jets gave Sanchez a new deal, and the point seemed moot.

I even told my cousin, a die hard Broncos fan, that I didn’t agree that Manning was a good fit there either.  My cousin, I should also mention, is a Tebow guy.  Now we have pissed off Broncos fans and REALLY pissed off Jets fans.

(Jon did a very good job, prior to the deal by the way, on why Tebow wouldn’t be a good fit on the Jets.  Basically, make everything present-tense and I could have written it myself.)

People can say what they want about Tebow.  The good stuff, the bad stuff, the polarizing personality, the overratedness, at the end of the day, he doesn’t make the team ANY better.  They are nowhere near closer to winning a championship without him than with him, if that makes any sense.

And that’s why I want nothing to do with having on the team.  But I can’t do much about it.  In a few days, we’ll be seeing a press conference, and I’ll just have to sit and smack my head repeatedly about yet the next dumb move the Jets are going to make.

My Twitter buddy Swirlywand had this to say on the Gal for all Seasons Facebook page:

“Picture it…Opening Sunday…Mark throws 3 incomplete passes and Tebow Maniacs are going to be Tebowing in the stands and chanting Tebow’s name. I’m trying to be supportive (because) this is MY TEAM DARN IT….but I am sure it’s going to split the locker room as much as it’s splitting fans.”

That’s about it in a nutshell for me.  WTF, J-E-T-S?  Unless they are going to say PSYCH in a few days and trade him for somebody else…this makes ZERO logistical sense.

Running on Rangers

We’re hitting the home stretch of regular season hockey games, especially for the Rangers as it seems they are playing a game every other day.  Originally, I had two games to go to: Sunday, March 11, and Friday, March 23.  Also odd because I rarely do two games in a month, much less miss a month of live games.  That’s what happened this year.  I had tickets to the Rangers/Devils game in February at home, but I sold my tickets for a hefty ransom.  Hey, if I can make some money off the supply/demand issue at those games, I’ll take advantage of it.

But then I had a friend who came into town this weekend.  Our story is kind of funny, like many in this world.  We went to school together.  We had a lot of the same friends, but I don’t remember hanging out with her solely.  (If I did, I apologize, ha ha).  I didn’t know she was a Rangers fan till a few years ago, when we reconnected on Facebook, as many are wont to do, especially due to our mutual friends.  Another layer that added to our friendship was that we were long distance runners; I’m still a novice, she’s definitely more experienced (not to mention, faster!) than I am.  She gets the intensity that goes into both the fan perspective and being an accidental athlete.

This is my friend Aimee. When she found out she was chosen in the NYC Half lottery, like I was, she needed a place to stay.  ***HI!!!***  But it’s all good.  I love having guests and if I can help them save some money and stay in a cool neighborhood, that works for me (they also need to like cats though but that’s no problem for Aimee – she has three).

Anyway, a few weeks before the half, Aimee realized that the Rangers were playing a home game the night before the race.  She decided that though we like to keep things low key the night before a race, she rarely makes visits to the city anymore for games, and she couldn’t give up an opportunity to go to a game when she happened to be in town.

So then, there were three.  Three games, for me, in the month of March now.

Originally I had planned on writing about this recap after the game on he 23rd.  Yet, the two games had such differentials that I felt the need to go over it now.  The first game was a dramatic overtime win with the help of the RUN-BMC line (Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik and Carl Hagelin) and most specifically an almost literal last second goal in sudden death by Gaborik.

 

The game on Saturday was almost a killjoy.  Former Washington Capital goalie now on the Colorado Avalanche, Semyon Varlamov, absolutely stupified Rangers goal scorers.  I forget the exact amount, but it was like 41 shots-on-goal to the Avalanche’s like 20.  I am not joking.  Henrik Lundqvist had a bad game, by giving up two goals.  The Rangers offensive unit was worse and couldn’t help their goalie.  Turns out this wasn’t the first time Varlamov has done this to the Blueshirts.  During the game Aimee had asked that question, whether he had given us trouble in the past.  Well, the answer was yes.  And the worst part was that Mats Zuccarello’s first goal was almost forgotten because of the unprecedented performance.

We didn’t let that bad news get us down for our race Sunday morning.  We had to be at Central Park before 7 am, so for runners with rituals, we need to be up earlier than THAT.  By 5 am, we were up and at ’em, George McFaddam.  And you know, the Rangers loss didn’t translate into a grumpy run for me.  My friend Chuck always says that he likes when I run angry.  I don’t know if I’m necessarily an “angry” runner.  I know when people piss me off on the course, I get that way.

The corral took over 40 minutes to even get to the starting line.  By 8:15 I was heading to the first mile.

Roughly, the first half of the course takes place in Central Park, killer hills and all.  I train there, though, so I feel like I have an advantage to some who don’t train there.  Of course, if you’re a good runner and fast, then you have all the advantage in the world!

The course brings you through the heart of Manhattan – Times Square, then runs downtown to South Street Seaport.  I admit to dragging but I knew my husband would be meeting me at designated places on the course, with some words of encouragement and photos.  Mostly, with bears.

If you don’t follow my husband on Twitter, or on his blog, you should be.  He’s one of the most generous and creative people I’ve ever known.  I often say that he serves as my personal assistant, water boy and photographer for my races.  If the shoe was on the other foot, I’m not sure I’d do the same thing.  But he brought along three bears to cheer me on — Angel, a Mets bear; Nicky, the running bear; and Gabby, the Ranger bear.

Gabby greeted me at Mile 12 with this sign.

 

I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw it (hence the picture next to it).  Needless to say I had a big smile on my face, and I knew even though I was dragging, getting to Mile 13 would be a piece of cake because I had the back wind and momentum to power me forward.

I run to a music mix of Paul McCartney’s greatest hits, Abbey Road, Sgt. Peppers, and usually it brings me to Paul McCartney and the Wings’ Band on the Run.  The second song of my music mix is Jet, and the second song on the Band on the Run album is the same.  So I hear some of the same songs twice.  Not to worry though, as these songs are welcome and I don’t get sick of them.  But I was being guided into the finish line by Jet once again.

When I saw my husband and my friend snapping my pics at the end, I was inspired.  I was inspired by the song, by the runners, by my sports affiliations.  Before each Jets game, some of the players go out, looking like planes and zooming onto the field.  So I do that.

Sometimes my teams disappoint me.  Yet I believe in momentum and that power that carries you forward into the finish line for every season, every day, in every part of our lives.  The Jets gave me a bit of inspiration, the Mets have shaped my life, and the Rangers have made it possible for me to be thankful that I am a sports fan at this point in my life.

There are things in life that give you momentum.  For me, the running has given me a distraction from the daily stuff in life that could keep me down, like rejection.  Other times, sports have given me the opportunity to connect with people I never would have, or reconnect with people I’ve known for a long time but on a different level.

 

These pictures represent the fact that sports has brought to me some of the most special people I’ve ever met, or brought me to another level with others.  Both of the women in the pics with me were brought together, on some level, from sports.  Sharon for baseball, Aimee for hockey.  Then all three of us are runners, and we are each others own support network!

Thank you New York, and thank you sports!

Luck of Dee Coop

It’s only taken me a week but I took the CitiField “behind the scenes” tour last weekend.  Unlike other stadiums, CitiField has restrictions on when they conduct them.  Like, every single day they have restrictions.  When I go to any other stadium, I can guarantee that I can get in at least twice a day, every day (unless it’s a game day).  CitiField is either feast or famine.  There are like ten on one day, then none for like three weeks.

That’s what happened to me.  In fact, this post could have easily been a “Fuck the Mets and their mothers” post, but it’s not.  In fact, my season ticket sales rep rocks and gets nothing but love in this.

A few weeks ago, I asked my sports gal partner-in-crime Metscellaneous Dee if she was interested in doing a tour.  When she said “YES” before I was even done asking the question (I probably finished with “tour of the bathroom” to be a wise ass), I figured it was a good idea.  The bonus is that when you’re a season ticket holder you get four passes complimentary.  In the past, I’ve never had a problem getting the tour I wanted.  Plus my husband was dying to see the progress on the new walls.  See, he and I have done the tour twice — once before there were restrictions on taking photos in the Mets clubhouses , then once after.  I had asked a friend if she also wanted to go, who was not as big a baseball fan as any of us (but she does root for the Mets when she does, simply because she knows I’ll kick her ass if she doesn’t), so we were set.

Till the booking people screwed up my reservation.

I looked on the website, and it looked as though the only weekend available was the second weekend in March, when we decided to go.  Fear not, I thought, because I never had a problem getting into the tours.  However, I noticed in literally a blink of an eye, none of the tours were available.  I was trying to see if I could book it online, which was my first mistake.  I should have just called.  So when I called the office, they were the blind leading the blind.  This is what happens when you let go of like 50% of your ticket staff and hire college students who don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground.

So I call my rep, who once again comes through in the clutch (when a last minute trip was canceled last year for me, and I had sold my tickets to the weekend’s games, he gave me complimentary tickets.  Like I said – clutch), and he says that because of the demand he can only get two people in.  When I explained that I had not only tried to call but book the appointment online, he said that because of this understaffing, the tours were not updated accordingly.  So basically, I was lucky to get those two spots.

More luck I guess on my side.  Then again, I’m a Mets, Jets and Rangers fan, so there goes that philosophy.  My friend graciously bowed out but wanted to do the tour again in the future, and my husband said, “Well, hey, just bring Dee because I can go anytime.”  So it was just us girls.

That’s cool because girls have more fun.

I do have to say that of the tours I’ve done, this one by far one of the best.  Billy from Oakland, NJ, was our tour guide.  He rocked.  It didn’t feel overly rehearsed or mimed.  The tour is supposed to be an hour but this was well over that one hour mark.

Few things…

We were there Saturday, March 10th.  Typically this time of the year is chilly, especially in Flushing, but again with luck on our side, we had good weather.  The tours were obviously jam packed but my rep did mention that.  I guess because the Mets refuse to have more than TWO TOURS in the month before the season opens, that’s a problem.  I suppose the reason could be of the construction that happened, but the tour goes nowhere near it.  In fact, I was at Camden Yards in the fall for their tour, and we walked right through a construction zone.  Methinks the Mets are just cutting costs and creating a demand.

But if you ask me, one of the few things creating demand is the tour these days.

Moving right along, about those walls…there were no walls to speak of!  Señor Coop wanted to get pics of the walls, so he would have been in for a huge disappointment.  There were corners of the new blue walls.  It looked like the construction was nowhere near completion.  I did hear this week that there was a lot of headway made there  (see The 7 Line‘s photos and videos of it – none of that stuff was up when we were there).  Good, I was getting worried that Habitat for Humanity would have to come in to finish up with some donated Home Depot supplies.

   

I would post more pics, but I have to admit I’m a bit jaded.  I’ve been to CitiField so many times since it’s opened, but I’ve also done the tour.  If there was some great revelation that occurred by me going on this tour maybe.

Oh! I remember.  The Empire Suites level features a large baseball card of a prominent player of each year of the Mets.  In 2010, the player at the start of the season was Jeff Francoeur, but since he was traded late in the season, it became Mike Pelfrey (his last good year, IMO).

 

More irony: Ike Davis was the 2011 candidate.  Who barely played!  Oy.

 

So here are the obligatory photos of us on the field, and me in the dugout.  If you want to see Dee’s take on it, visit her post.

 

During the tour you see each Mets yearbook since their birth in 1962, and we were able to see the 2012 yearbook cover.  Plus any self-respecting tour ends in the Museum and gift shop.  I purchased an Ike Davis shirt (note to Mets: PLEASE STOCK NIESE SHIRTS IN 2012), and saw the 50th anniversary video — something new in the Museum and Hall of Fame this year.  Howie Rose narrates the video, as well he should, and I was smiling and verklempt at the same time.  I guess that means what I saw was pretty good.

I guess with age, the CitiField tour keeps getting better.  Though there were some things I wanted to see, I got to see a top notch tour with a good friend, and it made me itch for baseball season to start, whether the Mets are world beaters or not.

The Holy Sheepshit and Balls Moment of the Week

Last week, I made my foray into video blogging by posting my reactions at the Garden following a dramatic Rangers’ OT win over the Islanders last weekend.

I hated it.  I hated my facial expressions, and my voice.  But hey, I believe that practice does indeed make perfect, and overcoming one’s fears is critical to personal development.

For those of you who follow me on Twitter, I have coined the phrase “Holy Sheepshit and Balls” for an exciting moment or something unbelievable in sports.  Well, maybe not coined the phrase, but I’m certainly identified with it.

Without further ado, I will be making a short video each week on my “Holy Sheepshit and Balls Moment of the Week.”  It will be very egocentric, usually having to do with my teams, but can include some other sports items that people are talking about that I’ve taken notice.

So consider yourself warned!  This will probably go up Sunday night for Monday morning’s release.

Please hold your applause to the end.

Oh and you can follow my YouTube Channel here.

And here is the awful first video I did.

Married to the Mets: There’s No Crying In Baseball

Years after the fact, my dad told me a story entitled “The Midnight Massacre.”  He said that on June 15, 1977, while I was asleep in my crib, he cried while watching the nightly news.

If you are a Mets fan, I won’t insult your intelligence about what that night was.

Yet, when he told me this, I couldn’t help but giggle.  A grown man crying at another grown man getting traded to play for another baseball team?  Concept seemed foreign to me.

Until a while later, the Mets won the 1986 World Series, and I was blubbering like an idiot.  I was ten.  I still haven’t forgotten that feeling.  Probably the closest I felt to that at Shea Stadium was when it shut down in 2008.

So I guess Jimmy Dugan was wrong.  There IS crying in baseball…but with shades of grey.

Fast forward to 1988.  The date was July 24, and it was a Sunday.  “The Franchise” Tom Seaver came back to Shea Stadium, if only to be honored one day for his induction to the Mets Hall of Fame, a precursor to his ultimate induction to the big house, Cooperstown (the name, however ironic, is merely coincidental).  I’ll never forget how I never saw him pitch for the Mets, but I saw him take the mound one last time.  I thought he was gonna throw, but instead he bowed to the edges of the stadium.

Wow.  It was chilling.  And I cried.  I never saw the guy pitch for my team, but I cried.  Of course, this was no different from the water works my dad supposedly shed in 1977.  He partook in that ritual too.

I didn’t just cry for the moment.  I cried for what I missed.  I cried that because of selfish reasons, for me and for the selfish reasons why Seaver was cast away several years before I became a fan.  I cried because so many Mets fans were able to see the greatness of Tom Terrific, in person and all those special years, and I missed it all.

Yet, this was also the power of the story of Mets fans.  I could listen to the old days from the fans’ perspective, any fan, about the past.

One story I liked to hear was when Uncle Gene and Dad would talk about when Keith Hernandez was traded to the Mets in 1983.  I can’t really think of something similar that was so game-changing in my generation.  Johan Santana kind of shut down the blogsosphere when the trade went down, but given how the team has performed (and not to mention his unlucky injury history since then), it’s vastly different from how Mex changed the landscape of the 1980s Mets.

I heard stories about Tommie Agee’s Upper Deck home run, I heard stories about the Polo Grounds, I heard about the black cat at Shea Stadium that ran behind Ron Santo in 1969.  I’d only heard stories about 1973, as I was only minus two years old.  Yet it was Tom Seaver’s retirement ceremony that got me thinking that I missed something very special, and I didn’t have to.  I was certainly old enough to appreciate what he would have been had he never been traded and retired around the time I was starting to be a Mets fan.

Selfish reasons, natch.

By 1992, we had word that George Thomas Seaver was going into the Hall of Fame.  My dad was pretty much on the horn arranging our pilgrimage to the place of baseball worship.  I was there once as a child.  I was simply “okay” with baseball at that time and didn’t appreciate it.  This time, baseball and I were totally cool with each other, and I appreciated its part in my life a lot more.

That same year, the song “This Used to Be My Playground” by Madonna was on top of the charts, the theme song for A League Of Their Own.  I remember telling Dad that we should see that movie, about the All-American Girls’ Professional Baseball League and their triumphs during a time when the world was at war.  Yet, I don’t remember seeing it in the movie theaters with him, but I do know we both ended liking it a lot.  Anyway, the song by Madonna, along with countless other baseball-themed songs like “Centerfield” by John Fogerty, was played on a loop during the pre-ceremony.

It’s funny what my dad remembers about that weekend that I don’t.  I remember driving up during basically a monsoon.  I remember we ate like the best wings I ever had in my life, at a place called Burger Heaven, go figure.  I remember spending a long time at the Museum, but what I didn’t remember is why we had to go to a field in the middle of nowhere to see the ceremonies.  I thought maybe that’s the way they did things.  Dad reminded me there was some construction at the museum, otherwise it would have been held there.  Heh.

I do remember it was warm out, and like a moron, I had decided to wear jeans.  I was fine with it though.  We sat for a long time, as we had staked our spot out hours before.  A gentleman with a flag that simply said “41” was next to us.  I remember seeing some highlights on ESPN later, and saw the “41” flag flapping around (but I didn’t see us).   I remember someone telling us that he felt bad for Rollie Fingers, who was also inducted that same day.  The crowd was clearly blue and orange.  (I might have seen a few Reds 41 in the crowd, though.  Dad might remember better than me.)

I remember Rollie Fingers talked about his mother in the middle of his speech, who was deceased.  Seaver, in a later interview, said that he could have never done that, whose mother was also no longer with us.  Seaver did mention her, however, at the end of his speech.  His voice cracking as he ended with the two words, “My mom.”  It was touching, to see these players that most of the crowd considered heroes to show that they, themselves, were capable of showing emotion.  Certainly, it wasn’t the only time fans had seen Seaver overcome with emotion.

They had seen it live on June 15, 1977.  He admonished himself.  “Come on, George.”  He allowed himself this one break, though.

In my lifetime, the Mets haven’t done a good job of developing their own players or keeping them around.  Case in point: Seaver, George T.   I certainly had favorites on my teams, I had projected to other lifer players on other teams — you know, those quintessential players who defined a team as much as the team defined him.  Cal Ripken.  Tony Gwynn.  (Sad to tell Montreal that we shared Le Kid, though.)  I started to follow the Iron Man around 1987, though I was aware of his existence prior to then.  I loved Ripken.  I was a Mets fan first, and a baseball fan second ultimately.  And ultimately, as a baseball fan, you had to love Cal Ripken.

He was born to be an Oriole, growing up in a suburb of Baltimore.  His daddy was a baseball lifer too.  I loved that he called his dad “Senior” instead of “Skip.”  It certainly helped too that in my 11 year old eyes, he was easy on them (yeah, I said it).  I remember I begged my dad to draft him in his fantasy league when he used to participate in that.  I was intrigued in 1987 when his father managed his two sons on the same team, when little brother Billy joined the Orioles.

Though I had kept an eye on the Orioles, I hadn’t gone to a game at Camden Yards (or any Baltimore stadium for that matter) until 1997.  I make it a point to visit there at least every other year.  Mostly as an homage to my favorite player.  Also, as a way to get me out of New York sometimes.  It happens, as New York City can wear thin on your patience at times.   Possibly my road trips to Camden Yards led me to give in to my wanderlust for baseball stadiums.  At current date, I’ve been to 18 stadiums, some still with us, some dearly departed, like our Shea.

Keeping with the trend of road trips and baseball worship, in 2001, Iron Man had gone on his farewell tour.  Many cities showed their respects for one of the last great heroes in baseball.  I’m sure there will be others.  Yet between Ripken and Gwynn, I’ve yet to see any other class acts that could have measured up to those gentlemen.  However, I had a great idea.  Sort of.

Dad said, hey how about we go see Cal Ripken’s last games at Yankee Stadium?  I had a better idea.  “How about we see his last game in BALTIMORE?”

That year was odd.  Baseball was shut down because of the terrorist attacks on the United States.  We banded together like no other time.  Mike Piazza for the Mets might have ushered baseball back to New York City with his home run, but Cal Ripken’s retirement ceremony befitting an all-American hero was postponed.  The last game in Baltimore was no longer.  It was now in October.

I traded in my tickets for others.  I mean, this is how SURE I was that I needed to be there to see him retire and his last game.  The opening ceremony was special.  They officially retired his number, and brought his family in.  Senior was long gone by then.  I only found out recently that his #7 was taken out of circulation with the Orioles, but not officially retired, after he passed away.  Mrs. Ripken, his wife, his kids, his brothers and sister.  The whole family.  Jim Palmer said a few words, a lifer Oriole himself.

The game ended with Ripken on deck.  The postgame ceremony showed him walking into the outfield, with Orioles greats such as Brooks Robinson.  It was a touching and moving ceremony, befitting a man how transcended the sport.  I got choked up only when Dad told me that we’ve seen a lot of these type of games together.  Like Seaver’s ceremony.  Cooperstown.  Ripken was my favorite though, because selfishly, I wanted a player like him on MY team.  Seaver may be the closest thing, but for me, it’s just not the same.  I never saw him play or when he was on the team, I didn’t know him from Adam.

I can see now, that crying does happen in baseball.  When Mike Piazza played his last game in a Mets uniform, I teared up.  I often admit to people that I didn’t truly appreciate what Piazza did for the team until his last season.  When we lost Shea Stadium, it was dusty for sure.  I was verklempt at the ceremony in 2010 when Doc, Darryl, Davey and Cashen were inducted in the Mets Hall of Fame.  I don’t know if I’ll get choked up at John Franco’s ceremony.  Unless, of course, the Mets give him a video remembrance and the good and fun memories I have of Franco are highlighted.

I never made it to Cooperstown for Cal Ripken’s and Tony Gwynn’s induction.  I don’t remember why I didn’t go.  Perhaps I didn’t think it was appropriate.  Maybe let my space go to other fans.  I remember what Gwynn said in his speech to his home crowd when they sent him off to Cooperstown.  He said, “You’ll all be there with me.”

Baseball players may come off as dumb jocks sometimes.  Yet, they can say things that are so poetic and carry so much meaning in our lives.  Or a simple self-admonishment like “Come on, George,” can speak to the frustration of a fan base for a lifetime.

Gal For All Media

I have lots of stuff to write about.  But goddammit, if I felt like it, that would be a different story.

 

Anyway, I went to the Rangers / Isles game last night at the Garden.  This post could have easily been a “Fuck these guys, I’m going to Donovan’s” kind of story…but a) I went to Donovan’s on Saturday (after the CitiField tour I went on…pics to come later, I promise) and 2) the Rangers actually won the game (trust me…it didn’t look like it would happen).

I tried something new last night.  I figure with every schmoe out there with a blog and soapbox can give you the same content over and over in different ways, I decided to branch out and do something new…Video.

No, not *that* kind of video, Senor Solly.  A video where I talk and stuff.  I need to hone my craft but it’s weird and my voice annoys me.

Check it out.  And for the record, QuickTime Player sucks ASS.

P.S. Apparently, one of my tweets made it to GardenVision AGAIN.  But I was in the audience this time, and I still friggin missed it!!!