Month: July 2013

The Old Curmudgeon In Me

BUT OMG WHAT WILL WE TELL THE KIDS????!?!?!?!

Grinds my gears Welcome to an episode of “Coopie is an old curmudgeon,” where I don’t talk about things like my stool or my heart meds, but I talk about things that piss me off in sports.

I’ll state for the record, that PEDs, steroids or HGH never bothered me in baseball. You’d think it would, since I do talk about things like “keeping the sanctity of the game” by not having instant replay (I have modified my stance in certain situations).

Sure it bothered me a little in 1998, when I knew Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire had to be using. But you know what – no one gave a shit then, only when it was confirmed. Then EVERYONE talks about sanctity of the game. Because they all looked like assholes supporting it when it was under their nose. And dropped the scoop of a lifetime.

Then we have Barry Bonds and the HR record (both single season and overall record), we have the Mitchell Report, Congressional hearings, Rafael Palmeiro, more shit hitting the fan.

I didn’t care anymore.

You know why? Because cheating in baseball is as American as Chevrolet, apple pie, hot dogs, and yes…baseball.

And I’d be a hypocrite if I thought PEDs were any different for this era.

BUT OMG WHAT WILL WE TELL THE CHILDREN????!?!?!?!

I grew up in an era where the heroes I idolized did coke (Keith Hernandez and Dwight Gooden), greenies (most of the 1986 team), binged on alcohol (Darryl Strawberry), or killed innocent kittens (“allegedly” Kevin Mitchell). I grew up in a rough-and-tumble family where shit happened, and you learned to fucking deal with it. My parents didn’t feel the need to explain everything to me. Maybe things were different in that we didn’t have the connectivity that we do today. But we heard all sorts of things — especially relating to Keith Hernandez, and this coincided with the “Just Say No” era of Ronnie and Nancy Reagan. And drugs were bad, m’kay?

I guess there is something to be said about not being raised in a fucking bubble where everything was all Ward and June Cleaver and hunky dory and peaches and every other cliche you could think of.

Shit, maybe that was why I liked guys like Gary Carter and Cal Ripken growing up.

Yet it was not for me to judge.

BUT OMG WHAT WILL WE TELL THE CHILDREN????!?!?!?!

Here’s an idea: maybe we don’t have to explain shit to our kids. They can figure it out on their own. They should instinctively know right from wrong or learn it by fucking up every now and then. Instead of this “everyone gets an award” bullshit. You didn’t get a participation award back then, you had to earn that shit. Everyone does not get a trophy for just showing up in life.

So you know what grinds my gears? This idea that baseball players are supposed to be perfect. Here’s a newsflash: players have cheated since the beginning of time. Does it make it right? Absolutely not. But to think this is some kind of isolated incident is foolish.

BUT OMG WHAT WILL WE TELL THE CHILDREN????!?!?!?!

Let the children make their own decisions. And by the way, if you are not your child’s “hero,” then you are doing something wrong. (Yes, I just judged you, a little bit.)

Here’s the deal: I grew up knowing my heroes were not exactly heroes. I turned out okay. I realize that athletes are people, they are not perfect. While there is an obligation to hold yourself to a higher standard as a public figure, there is also the human element that comes into the game or all sports that we also must acknowledge.

BUT OMG WHAT WILL WE TELL THE CHILDREN????!?!?!?!

The Hall of Fame committee missed the ball a few months ago. What we had to “tell the kids” when no one was voted in, was that all of a sudden, due to years of lazy journalism and putting on pedestals the very players they are now vilifying, that all of a sudden, players are now guilty until proven innocent.

So Alex Rodriguez is facing a year-to-lifelong suspension, and Ryan Braun is out for the year despite neither of them failing a drug test. Bartolo Colon is under suspicion. Barry Bonds is still a dick. Craig Biggio and Mike Piazza, despite decorated careers, are kept out of the Hall (for at least a “statement”) because they might have done steroids.

I say let ’em all in. Believe it or not, there is a level playing field, throughout baseball history, because cheating is as “pure” as the game itself.

What do you tell the kids? Get over yourselves, really, because the sanctimony isn’t helping the game either.

Now get the FUCK OFF MY LAWN!!!!!

You Belong To The City

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He lost nine games total that season.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then New York City got under my skin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I belong to all three.