Month: February 2013

Parallels

I hate when I do this.  I start to compare my sports teams.  I start to compare seasons, that shouldn’t really have anything to do with one another.

Besides being a team sport, what exactly does hockey have to do with baseball?

They wear uniforms, they wear jerseys with names and numbers on the back, they have a common goal (to win) as a team.  Each have a rabid fan base (unless you are in Miami).

When I start to find eerie similarities with a team not only across sports, but historically too, I get a little scared.

What’s more though?  You know, than just comparing one shitty ass season (one, by the way, the Mets STILL have not recovered from quite yet) to another in a totally different sport?  It’s the expectation level associated with it.

NotGlen thinks that last year was the fluke.  I disagree.  They were built for the future, but when you have to part with guys like Dubi and Prust, the chemistry might be a little off.  The scoring was supposed to be strengthened with the addition of Rick Nash (you know, the very thing that killed them in the playoffs last year).  Oh but Nash is hurt…an undisclosed injury.  Sounds like 2009 for the Mets, right, when Jose Reyes got hurt and was out 15 days to the rest of the season.  And don’t get me started on Carlos Beltran that season.

Here’s the other thing that bothers me about this team.  Hockey guys are preternaturally tough.  Yeah, yeah, haha, they ice skate, how tough can they be?  I call them Smurfs on Ice sometimes.  But then I have to question their toughness…it wasn’t just me.

Marty Biron, a backup flippin goalie, questioned the team’s toughness when they didn’t avenge what seemed to be a dirty hit by Max Pacioretty on Ryan McDonagh in Saturday night’s game.

Funny.  Reminds me of when former Met Alex Cora called out his team in 2009 and 2010…a backup flipping shortstop.

Toughness. Seems like John Tortorella has a problem with it too.  He pulled the plug on their practice the other day, but it could go one of two ways.  One is he made them do push ups till their arms fell off.  Two is that he might have seen a malaise and pulled a Davey Johnson right before Game Three of the 1986 World Series…saw his guys were fatigued, and gave them the confidence to rest.

Either way, there are several red flags for this team.  One is their inability to score on a power play.  Even with a ramped up offense, they still can’t friggin score.  It’s sick.  They should just waive it off.  It’s more of an advantage for the other team, clearly.

But there’s also the underlying element of toughness.  They have skaters standing around holding their dicks while their own go down.  (Where’s Doug Glatt when you need him?)  They show no aggressiveness during a Power Play, and make it too fuckin pretty.  They almost seem afraid to score.

Oh yeah and the whole idea of them clicking on all cylinders, or rather, lack thereof.

So Torts tells us it’s not time to panic. In a shortened season, when every win or every loss is amplified. When losing a three goal lead in the fucking third period along with a shootout win is considered a moral victory, they may need to reevaluate where they stand as a team.

There are no moral victories in a season like this.

So Torts, I won’t panic just yet.  But it does give me pause about what, exactly, you are training these guys to think and do.

So Glatt (remember: it’s Hebrew for “Fuck You” according to Goon) to the 2013 Rangers, and the 2009 Mets.  I’d like to not watch a game with dread sometime this season, ok?  Thanks, bye.

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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.

Death, Taxes, Rangers Power Play Sucks

Why is it that the Rangers just can’t click on all cylinders?

Like last season, Marian Gaborik couldn’t really play his way out of a paper bag.  Yet Brad Richards’ first season was decidedly a good one.

It was critical during the playoffs last year, as we saw other teams’ forwards come through, and the Rangers did not.

So now that the “missing piece” in the name of Rick Nash is around, guess what?  Brad Richards is sucking wind.

But hey, Gaborik is doing well, right?

Then there’s the Power Play.  Or as my husband likes to call it, the Power-LESS Play.  I disagree.  The suckage continues.

You would think with the strong forwards the Rangers are sporting that the PP would at least be a tad better.  Feh.  It still sucks, and even in Tuesday night’s game, when John Tortorella decided to make it interesting and make a routine 5-on-4 power play a SIX-on-4, with an empty net.  This is what I said.

And guess what???

We can wax intellectual about the last streak, and even the strong games against the Lightning and Islanders (of course, their win, and not the shootout ugly loss), but the reality is they blew two critical leads, especially a three goal lead against the Bruins a few weeks back.

I’m sorry, but I’m not buying this shit show.

And then the cherry on top?  They can’t score on a fucking power play.  When you can’t score, you can’t score.

Hmmm.  Sounds like the coach in American Pie.

As with everything Rangers, if they can’t score on the power play, they can’t expect to win.  That’s what doomed them last year, and that’s what’s dooming them this year.  They better fucking figure it out before it’s too late.

P.S. Rick Nash sat Tuesday night with an undisclosed injury.  Of course he did.

Post-Traumatic Mets Disorder: Fuck Pedro Martinez

I went to Port St. Lucie for spring training for the first time in 2008.  It was a different point of view, to say the very least, from a fan who watched her games solely from the sightlines at Shea Stadium (or wherever I happened to catch the Mets on the road), where players seems very inaccessible, and they have a job to do.

At PSL, players seemed more accessible, willing even to commiserate with fans.  I got many autographs, photos and even got Moises Alou to acknowledge me when I started chanting his name.

I attended open workouts one morning, and saw the players bonding in their morning drills.

During the offseason leading into 2008, the Mets had a lot of work to do.  From 2006 and going within one game of making the World Series to an epic collapse late in the 2007 season, they had some work to do.  Omar Minaya orchestrated a trade for Johan Santana, who was arguably one of the best pitchers in baseball.  Trading away a bunch of scrubs who haven’t really amounted to much to Minnesota, and negotiating an extension with El Gocho, easily the Mets became a force in 2008.

Yet what led to the Mets dominance in 2006 was the offseason in 2005.  Forget signing Carlos Beltran (who has contributed to some of my post-traumatic Mets disorder in more ways than one…and I loved the guy).  Some would argue that the Mets signing Pedro Martinez, fresh off his championship with the Boston Red Sox, was the catalyst that allowed the Mets to pursue Beltran, easily the crown jewel of that market of free agents.

When that signing went down, I was like – huh?  I do remember emailing Dad and Uncle Gene about the deal.  See, we had an inside joke with Pedro Martinez, from the 2003 ALCS, the mythical series where Aaron Boone broke the heart of millions of Bostonites.

During that series, a brawl broke out between the two teams, and Pedro Martinez threw Yankee coach Don Zimmer to the ground as Zimmer charged Martinez.  Some people would argue that Pedro was a “thug,” that it was cheap that he threw down an old man.

Dad and Uncle Gene had a different perspective.  I believe the terms “Fuck that fat fuck, Don Zimmer!” and “If I was Pedro Martinez, I’d have thrown Don Zimmer on the ground too” or my personal favorite “I’d not only have thrown him down, I’d have kicked Zimmer in the nuts, and done a victory lap around Fenway, on national TV, in front of all of America.”

To say they were excited about the prospect of Martinez being a starter on the Mets would be a massive understatement.

I was like – Meh.  I guess, as Omar Minaya put it, Martinez was certainly better than the other options on the team, which was re-signing Al Leiter.  Once the deal with Martinez went through, it was evident that Leiter had no use on the Mets either.  In fact, while Leiter was one of my faves on the late-90s teams, he had outgrown his usefulness.  Watching games with him starting was almost as bad as Steve Trachsel.  At least you knew Trachsel would take long, but he’d give you innings.  Five Innings Leiter was no longer useful.

Some people point to 2006 for the Mets as that one special year, and I have to admit that as a Mets fan, it was one of the most fun years in recent memory.  I think what was most fun was that it wasn’t expected.  That said, 2006 has provided more post-traumatic Mets disorder, when I think about it, either relating directly to that year or post-2006.

But 2005, that was a FUN year.  The race for the Wild Card, the emergence of David Wright and Jose Reyes as the future of the team.  I found myself going to more Mets games in recent memory.

Mostly, what stood was every fifth day, when Pedro Martinez started.  The very first night he pitched, the Mets famously had 10,000 walk up sales at the ticket booth.  You never knew what to expect with Martinez.  Whether he danced in the dugout, or got sprinkled from the sprinkler systems during a game, it was also entertainment in the highest form.

It’s tough.  When I think about Pedro Martinez and his time with the Mets, I can’t help but think about how much he fell short of expectations.  I don’t give a shit about how old he was, whether Omar Minaya had to offer that fourth year, whether his arm fell off.

The truth of the matter is, we’d be looking at a totally different Mets history in that time had Pedro Martinez been healthy.  Maybe they would have won definitively in 2006.  Maybe they had more consistent starting pitching in 2007, and didn’t rely on getting lightning in a bottle as they had in 2006 (a strategy that ultimately worked with the likes of Jose Valentin), and they would have not collapsed they way they did.

But 2008 is when I really started to dislike Pedro Martinez.

He did not prove useful in 2006.  It was too little too late in 2007 when he finally returned in September that year.  Like many, I felt that his injuries were limitations, that it was just the luck of the draw, etc etc.

When I was visiting Port St. Lucie, I saw Pedro Martinez waltz into camp like he had all the time in the world.  I saw his futzing around, being his usual Pedro-self, the one that made the headlines and had entertained millions.

I got pissed off, watching this as a fan.  The Mets just came off a historic collapse, after going so far in 2006, and he was injured both times.  I could even point back to 2005, when the Mets were in the Wild Card hunt, when I started to notice there was nothing in it for Pedro.  Late in 2005, the Mets had a series against the Phillies, and Ramon Castro hit a late game home run to take the lead.  Pedro started the next day.  Yet, the Pedro who was around that season didn’t show up, and got shellacked.

When it was evident that the Mets weren’t making the playoffs, Pedro Martinez shut himself down.  Not the Mets.  Not the coaching staff.  Not his agent.  But HIMSELF.  He was scheduled to start the last game of the season, and he didn’t even stay with his team.  He was back at home, watching the game on television, as we saw Mike Piazza’s last game ever as a Met, and Victor Zambrano make the last home start.

Talk about your post-traumatic Mets disorder.

Most of this disgust came about though, when Pedro made his first start in 2008 against the Florida Marlins.  See, Johan Santana made the opening day start on the road…euphoria led to Pedro.  Who barely made it out of the game with his shoulder intact.

I saw Pedro for who he was: a clown with a great pitching career previously, but with an entertainment quotient.  He didn’t care whether the Mets were successful.  He called the shots, the Mets allowed him to, and again he didn’t factor into another Mets season where one game would have made a huge difference.

Some people accused me of expecting too much.  But what was the point of signing Pedro Martinez to a four year contract if they didn’t expect him to contribute on some level.  And don’t give me that crap that it was ALL worth it for 2005.  No.  It would have been worth 2005 HAD he come through when they needed him to during the Wild Card hunt.

To me, Pedro Martinez was yet another Hall of Fame caliber player who lost his mojo by coming to Queens.  Pedro Martinez was the king of too little, too late.

The truth is, Pedro Martinez never came through when his team needed him most.

Whether it’s an injury cop out, or whether we’re told that we expected too much from Pedro because of his age or his injury history.  Had I never seen Pedro Martinez jerking around during his workout sessions in a year that his conditioning got him into trouble early in the season, maybe I’d be none the wiser, and I’d always just wonder what would have happened if Pedro stayed healthy.

It could be argued that Pedro Martinez didn’t take his time with the Mets seriously.  And if that happened, we may be looking at an entirely different history.

Disappointment in Pedro Martinez’s time with the Mets is just part of the post-traumatic Mets disorder.  His time overlapped some of the most inefficient and post-traumatic Mets disorder inducing period.  To me, he could have helped the team.  Instead, he just copped out of his responsibilities, and didn’t believe he needed to improve anything.

So fuck Pedro Martinez.

Are Championships The **Only** Thing That Matter?

It’s easy to make fun of the Miami Marlins.  My husband did yesterday, and I’ve been known to dabble in it a few times myself.  After spending a shit ton of money on free agents that Jeffrey Loria later turned into Canadian currency, the Miami Marlins are bottom feeders.

But OHHHHHH! HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT??!?!  THEY WON A CHAMPIONSHIP IN 2003!!  THEY WON TWO CHAMPIONSHIPS IN LESS THAN 10 YEARS OF EXISTENCE!!! BLAHHHHHH!

The Marlins have never won a division championship either.  They never built for the future and quickly dismantled those teams just for shits and giggles.

They won those championships by accident.

So the Mets have won two championships in a 50 year existence.  Guess what? So have the Phillies, in over 100 years of existence.  They also have over 10,000 losses in their history.

The Atlanta Braves also have existed since 1966 (but existed in many other forms for over 100 years too).  As the Atlanta Braves (I’m not looking at their entire existence, get over it), they won ONE championship in 1995.  Remember how dominant that team was in the ’90s?

And the Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos? Not a one.

Out of the Phillies (a team that is well over 100 years old), the Mets (51 years young) and the Marlins, whoever wins the next championship will be the winningest National League Eastern Divisional team.

Funny how that puts things into perspective, right?

So when someone comes back at me with history, it’s a very limited history scope, and it’s a very revisionist one as well.

My question then is: are World Championships in baseball the be-all, end-all?

Look at the Houston Astros.  They’re a fucking train wreck and a half now.  They’ve never won a championship in their 51 year existence either (they’re the same age as the Mets).  Yet, they’ve had such greats as Nolan Ryan, Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, hell even Roidger Clemens play for them.  Biggio and Bagwell were the “Franchise.”  They may not have any hardware, but their history certainly is not irrelevant.

Fans still love the Chicago Cubs.  They haven’t won in over 100 years, and they, too, only have two championships to their credit.   Billy Williams, Ferguson Jenkins, Ron Santo, Ernie Banks, they all played for the Cubs.  Know what else they have in common?  Never played in a World Series.

A team like the Mets has Tom Seaver in the Hall of Fame, who won a championship with the team.  Mike Piazza, who should be in the Hall, played in a World Series just once.

The Marlins have Jeff Conine.  They traded away a future Triple Crown winner and MVP in Miguel Cabrera.  They got rid of Josh Beckett who was instrumental in bringing a World Series to Boston in 2007…another team, mind you, that didn’t win in 86 friggin years at one point.  (Though they had exorcised that demon prior to Beckett going there).

The Mets happen to share a city with the team that has won the most championships throughout sports, the New York Yankees at 27.  The second winningest franchise?  The St. Louis Cardinals, with 11.  Third and fourth are the Oakland A’s, and the San Francisco Giants.  Funny this is that the Giants didn’t win a championship in San Francisco until 2010, after over 50 years of relocating to the Bay Area (till 2009, they were tied at 5 with the Cincinnati Reds).

I don’t think we’d be as hell bent as a fan base on winning, or measuring our pee-pees with other teams in the division, if we saw the larger picture.  That larger picture is that your existence isn’t solely based on winning it all.

Oh don’t get me wrong.  It’s nice.  I’ve been through two, and I really wanted my husband to experience for another one of his teams this year since none of his teams have won anything since 1986.

But I’d take the Mets, post-traumatic Mets disorder and all, and their quirky yet rich history any day over the Marlins luck of the draw in winning championships by accident any day.

Post-Traumatic Mets Disorder: A Brave In Mets Clothing

Early this week, the Mets announced that they had signed outfielders Corey Patterson and Mike Wilson to a minor league deal.  I kind of brushed it off.  I knew I had a weird connection to Corey Patterson, but I think it’s because I used to work with a man with the same name.

Maybe my post-traumatic Mets disorder blocked it out, because it turns out I should have had a vivid memory of Patterson…namely of him killing the Mets on Opening Day of 2003.

Lest I forget, Metstradamus certainly took time to remind us all about the trigger.

I also remember that that 3/31/03 game was the only major league game I ever left in the sixth inning. Why? Because the Cubs were winning 105-2, it was -49 degrees, and most importantly, there were three assholes in front of us that made the same dopey Mike Piazza/Sam Champion joke at the top of their lungs for three freaking innings. Leaving Shea Stadium was the only way to avoid a Metstradamus murder charge, because these three idiots deserved to die … and probably still do…So screw you, you asshole frat boys. And by association, screw you Corey Patterson … because you indirectly caused this with your seven RBI’s and your two home runs….

And screw you Tom Glavine. You know why.

~ Metstradamus, Oh I Remember

So there it goes.  I had two ideas in the queue for this week’s PTMD post.  Yet, it’s only appropriate that I talk about Tom Glavine’s less-than-distinguished time with the New York Mets, which ended in 2007 much like the way it started that -49 degree day back in March of 2003: getting shellacked at Shea Stadium.

Yes, T#m Gl@v!ne (as Greg from Faith and Fear calls him) came around full circle with the Mets.  Just shows how unfortunate the once great Atlanta Brave turned into such shit for the Mets.  From Opening Day 2003, to Questec, to turning it around, to 2006, to #300, to September 30, 2007, there is nothing but post-traumatic Mets disorder with Glavine.

Yet, at the same time, he pretty much represented our hopes and fears, being Mets fans.

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I, too, was at that game on March 31, 2003.  I had a coworker who was also a Mets fan.  When the signing went down, he dropped the newspaper on my desk, thinking I’d be thrilled.  I shrugged at the news.  He asked why I wasn’t happy, this was a guy who always kicked our ass, blah blah.  Meanwhile, I was pissed off that Edgardo Alfonzo was no longer a Met after that offseason, clearly one of my all-time faves.  Glavine, I could take or leave.

I must have felt something was amiss.  When has consorting with an enemy EVER worked out for the Mets?  (See: Coleman, Vince)

There were times of course that Glavine came close to growing on us.   Like the time he pitched that one-hitter.  That was truly special.  Otherwise, it was pretty much an un-noteworthy first two years with the Mets.  Remember when he tried to blame Questec on his problems?  See, smart pitchers who gave a shit would have learned to adjust.  All we heard from Glavine was boo hoo, I want to go back to Atlanta.  Maybe he didn’t explicitly say that, but we ALL know he thought it.

Come 2005, the Mets had changed managers, management and ultimately got a new ace on the staff, Pedro Martinez.  Well, I use the word “ace” loosely.  (Don’t worry, Petey will have his moment of PTMD).  Anyway, it took Martinez to point out that it looked as though Glavine was tipping his pitches.  Derp, derp, that would have been almost too easy to identify, right?

But 2005 was not just a renaissance for the Mets, with the emergence of Jose Reyes and David Wright, and the addition of Carlos Beltran, it was also a rebirth for Glavine.  After this discovery, we had a flashes of brilliance once again of the old Glavine, part of the big three in Atlanta.

I predicted he would win 20 games in 2006.  I was close…sort of.  He did win 15.  At the beginning of the season, I thought the Mets would be lucky to win a Wild Card.  They proved me wrong, by winning the division and getting within a game of going to the World Series.

Retroactively, I was disappointed.  For a team that was clearly in win-now mode, this was their chance.  Yet, when Carlos Beltran took strike three looking, that actually hasn’t served as a source of post-traumatic Mets disorder for me.

What happened in 2007, yeah, that’s done quite a bit.

Tom Glavine, believe it or not, was a bright spot as he won his 300th game with the Mets, during the same Chicago trip that I saw them (though I didn’t see that particular game).  At the time, I remember seeing it as a reward, for our own Tom (Seaver) who won his 300th game with the Chicago White Sox, when he clearly should have done that with the Mets.

Since 2005, Glavine had spent a lot of time building some goodwill with Mets fans.  It seemed as though he should have been there, should the Mets go into the postseason, he would have been a big part of it.

And you know, as much as the last game of 2007 hurt, as much as I wanted to hate Tom Glavine for blowing it…the team had plenty of opportunities to win one, just ONE MORE FUCKING GAME in that month, let alone that season.  And they didn’t.

Tom Glavine was, fairly or not, the whipping boy for that game.  He didn’t give them a fighting chance, the reality was, it shouldn’t have even COME to that game.

It was fucking douchebags like Carlos Delgado saying things like they become too “bored” because they were so talented.

It was Baseball Intellectually Challenged “BIC” Willie (thanks to Blondies Jake for that one) talking about champagne and sweetness and comparing every victory to the Yankees.

It was Tom Glavine saying something about disappointment and devastation and shrugging off September 30, 2007, as just a routine loss.

Yeah, it was fucking Tom Glavine.  His signing represented a change for the better, then grew with the Mets as they changed philosophies, then represented the denouement of the good time Mets.

As Greg Prince once upon a time said, “Fucking Brave can go fuck himself straight back to Fucklanta.”

Tom Glavine spent his time with the Braves beating on the Mets, not much different from his time on the Mets, allowing the Braves to not only beat on them, but allowing the likes of the Marlins to beat them in such horrific fashion.  Who gives a shit that one game here or there in 2007 would have made a difference, that September 30, 2007, wouldn’t have even fucking mattered.

As soon as the season ended, he went right back to the arms of Atlanta.  Though their fans hated him more than they loved Julio Franco.  But his wife loved them, so that’s all that mattered.  (Just ask Cliff Lee about wives liking a place).

Tom Glavine ended his career the way he started it: as an Atlanta Brave.  His detour with the Mets started and ended the same way: in humiliating fashion that started out with such hope.  And launching a thousand tears of post-traumatic Mets disorder, that he’ll never be devastated or disappointed about.

Post-Traumatic Mets Disorder: I Survived Lastings Milledge

“Escobar, Ochoa, Milledge, (Fernando) Martinez.  They were all deemed ‘untouchable’ at one point or another, then they were untradeable.”  – Random fan at Mets season ticket holder event Q&A with Sandy Alderson and crew.

I know that Alex Escobar, Alex Ochoa, Lastings Milledge and Fernando Martinez were not part of Sandy Alderson’s time with the New York Mets.  Yet, a common thread emerged with each of those players.  They were either let go with little to no fanfare (F-Mart), or traded for crap or players on the downturn of their career (basically, everyone else in that list).  At one point or another, they were considered so untouchable that they were held onto for way too long, then desperate for any kind of warm body to take his place.

I really paid no mind to Ochoa or Escobar.  Ochoa, especially, was involved in some crap-for-crap trades involving the Mets and other teams, but was hardly considered an impactful player.

Two of the biggest disappointments in recent memory would have to be Milledge and F-Mart.

I have nothing by warm fuzzies with F-Mart.  I remember seeing him at Spring Training in 2008, and singing ABBA’s “Fernando” as he took his at-bat.  When he made his debut in 2009, I hadn’t been planning on attending the game, then at the last minute decided I needed to be there.  He didn’t really do anything of note that night, or any time with the Mets really.

But to give up on him at age 24 was something of which I was not a fan.  Young players, especially prospects, get hurt a lot.  They’re still conditioning.  Shit, look at Reese Havens, who was once more highly touted by prospect experts than Ike Davis (now a Mets fan favorite, and a legitimate “untouchable”…well at least in MY opinion, and you know, my blog, my rules).   And to let him go to next to nothing.  Okay, LITERALLY nothing.

I think one of the biggest travesties and mismanagement of a Mets’ prospect’s career has to be Lastings Milledge.  This guy was so highly valued by other organizations, he was the centerpiece in many armchair GM trades, including Manny Ramirez or Barry Zito.  The difference being, the Manny deal was close to going down several times over.  The Zito deal, I feel, was speculation by bored beat writers (Billy Beane said he’d never even talked to Omar Minaya).

Usually, there were extenuating circumstances as to why these trades didn’t go down.  Third party validation (including Peter Angelos of the Baltimore Orioles nixing his part of the deal, therefore, making the rest invalid) or the debate over the “half-year rental,” which is essentially what Zito would have been at the time.

Milledge was a flashy player, a throwback almost to the 1980s, with his armbands, bling and dreads, he exuded a certain attitude that was missing from the 2006 Mets (and Mets team, I feel, is now seen as incredibly overrated), an aura that could have given them an “edge.”  Which is funny…then-GM Omar Minaya said on later teams that the Mets were missing an “edge.” Or was it Steve Phillips on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball?  I dunno.  I seem to combine the two together (talk about your PTMD with those two GMs).

I digress.  I liked Milledge.  I was so excited when he was activated after Xavier Nady was sent to the hospital for appendicitis.  He hit a double in his debut, a game the Mets ended up losing, but that I was in attendance at, just to see ‘Stings play.  By this time, the advent of social media in the form of blogs had contributed to his hype.  I was excited to see him play.

A few days later, he hits a game tying home run against the San Francisco Giants’ Armando Benitez.  To add to this feat, he decided to take his position in right field by giving WWE-inspired high-fives with the fans down the field level.

I thought it was cool.  The butt-hurt Mets didn’t seem to think so.

I loved the 2006 team.  It was one of the most fun years, unexpectedly, I’ve had as a Mets fan.  A player like Milledge was a welcome distraction from the David “say and do everything” Wright and the goody two-shoes on the team.  On a team in desperate need of a bad ass or a player with some swag, Milledge’s attitude fit the bill.

Was he rushed though?  Of course he was.  He wouldn’t be a valid Mets prospect if he wasn’t rushed.  Ruined, in a sense, by the lack of depth on the Mets major league team that year, and the expectation level that he was supposed to provide.

The Curious Case of Lastings Milledge, in my opinion anyway, was one of a Catch-22 variety.  With all the hype surrounding him, he was only doomed to fail.  Yet, when he didn’t play up to expectation, the team and the fan base were quick to throw him under the bus, about how they could have gotten Manny or Zito for him during his hype.  And who knows…maybe it would have been worth it.

Whether we liked it or not, the Mets were a win-now team then.  And if that was the case, they should have cut their losses with Milledge and traded him.  Yet, we know he would have been a star someplace else, because another team might have taken the time to develop him properly.  Might have taken the time to let him be who he was.  Yet, like many Mets GMs, the prospect hype was overvalued to the point that when they had to cut ties with him, it was for scraps off the heap.

In one way, it was a good trade for me.  Brian Schneider was received in the deal, which launched a thousand hashtags (#ButterPecan, #TwoScoops).  I was never crazy about Ryan Church, but felt bad for him once the Mets exasperated a head injury by flying him cross-country.  I think it was over at Faith and Fear in Flushing, when someone said “Feed a cold, starve a fever, fly a concussion cross country.”  (I’d like to give credit to whomever wrote that, believe it was in a column).  It was the same old story, ruin a prospect, and ruin the gains received in any deal involving said prospect.

Lastings Milledge futzed around in the Major Leagues after being traded in the , and last we heard was playing in Japan, for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows.  He is now 27 years old.  Sometimes, 2006 seems like a lifetime away, yet, he was just barely 21 years old.  Think back to when we were 21.  Did we make some questionable choices?  If you didn’t, I’d call you out as a liar.

Lastings Milledge’s time with the Mets doesn’t necessarily conjure up any painful memories.  Rather, it makes me a little sad.  It brings my hopes and fears, as a Mets fan, to the forefront.  It makes everyone skeptical of prospects, no matter how highly touted they are.  I mean, shit, if you look at it, Billy Beane (not the GM of the Oakland A’s, a team that was reported in the mix for Milledge when the Mets were looking for a good pitcher to shore up their rotation, like Barry Zito in his walk year) was once that highly regarded prospect who didn’t amount to much as a player.  It’s the stories like Lastings Milledge that makes every fan wonder if Travis d’Arnaud would be the next big thing, or if he’ll be the next Steve Chilcott.  You’ll just never know.

What I do know is that this front office is making it a point to develop their prospects properly, and not rush them.  This seems to be a common thread with the Mets in their history, where the prospects are not fully trusted, and thought to be a means to an end of winning now.  A vicious cycle, if you ask me.

So yes, I have some post-traumatic Mets disorder associated with Lastings Milledge and Fernando Martinez.  F-Mart to a lesser extent, though I had some warm fuzzies associated with a good memory of CitiField in its inaugural year.

But Lastings Milledge will always represent to me the dynasty that never was, the overvaluing of a player but only ruining by rushing him.  A Catch-22 indeed.