Month: May 2014

I Wouldn’t Normally Do This Kind Of Thing

Senior Pics 

Ask me why, I’ll say it’s most unusual
How can I even try to explain…
why today I feel like dancing
singing like lovers sing
when I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing?
I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing

To say the spring of 1994 was chaotic for me would be an understatement.

I was weeks away from graduating from high school, but I hadn’t yet decided on a college. (That came in the first week of June)

I was having a public humiliating breakdown with the guy who was my high school sweetheart, but that was neither here nor there.

My mother and I weren’t getting along, and to add on top of all that, I didn’t feel like I had anyone else in my corner but my dad and my cat.  Maybe a handful of friends.

At age 18, this was as close to the end of the world as possible.

But the Rangers for the first time in my tenure as a fan were in the Eastern Conference Final.  Their opponent was the hated Devils.  But it was the first time I ever felt the word loathe for any other team.

The Mets had won the World Series just eight years prior.  But I was 10 years old.  What did I know about “rivalry” or “hatred?”  I had no idea of a Boston/New York rivalry at that age, let alone had any real deep-seated geographical rival except for the fact that as a National League fan, I had to hate the Yankees.  It was in my blood.

So each game of that series, I’d meet my dad in Neptune (where he was living at the time), we’d take a ride over to Kelly’s Tavern (ye of the infamous reuben) and watch playoff hockey.
Ask me when
I’ll say it started when I met you
and ever since then I knew that the past couldn’t last
For right now I think I’m running
a race I know I’m gonna win
and I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing
I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing

Dad and I had a pretty decent run at Kelly’s.  We had caught a few games in the first two series, from what I can remember.  I mean, this is 20 years of faded memories, and my age is catching up to me in some respects.

But I do remember drowning myself in music, in my drive to Neptune each of those games.  On the way there, I listened to my newest find, Very, by the Pet Shop Boys.  They were simply not a one hit wonder for me.  One of the most underrated bands of its generation, in my opinion.  On the way home, win or lose, I’d listen to Erasure’s Greatest Hits (I believe the album was titled “Pop!”).

As I contemplated my next chapter in life, I really took in the music.  Very was lyrically intelligent and really hit close to home with so much of the messages of the song.  It started off with “Can You Forgive Her?” and ended with “Go West,” the cover of the Village People song.  Though the ride to Neptune usually brought me to either “Dreaming of the Queen” or  “Yesterday When I Was Mad,” the fifth or sixth song on the album.

If I wasn’t arguing or butting heads with my mother, my high school boyfriend and I were falling apart.  Music had always been an outlet.

And as I’ve said before, along with music, came sports.  But this was the first time I had a horse in the race, a first time in a long time.   From the dramatic entrance of song number one, to the moodiness of every other song to the anger and empowerment, it succinctly said EVERYTHING that I had been thinking, feeling or wanting to say myself.  About breaking free from the norm, and following my heart.  Something, by the way, that I am doing right now, and trying to come to grips with.  Adulthood may be overrated sometimes, but following your passion is always something that needs to be done.

If people say I’m crazy
I tell them that it’s true
Let them watch with amazement
say it won’t last beyond breakfast
it’s a phase he’s going through
denigrate or speculate
on what I’m going through
because it isn’t the sort of thing I’d normally do

To this day, I listen to Very, and it still gets me everytime.  It’s what I deem one of my “desert island albums.”  When my car was stolen in 2000, this was one of the CDs that was in there.  They could take the car; Very needed to be replaced.

It not only gets me…I get IT.  And when I listen to it, it brings me back to one of the most treasured times in my sports-loving life, and that’s when the Rangers won the Stanley Cup in 1994.  The album empowered me to drive up to a school and make a decision on the spot.  It made me make amends with my mother.  It made me move on from my high school boyfriend.  And it made me a hockey fan.  I have given up on the sport in the past.  But I’ve been back long enough to say this is special, and as a fan, I’ve earned that shit.

Ask me what
I’ll say I think it’s good for you
Believe it or not I know where it’s all leading to
I feel like taking all my clothes off
dancing to The Rite of Spring
and I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing
I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing
I wouldn’t normally do this kind of
this kind of thing

In recent years, before each game when the Rangers are in the postseason, I try to get in at least one song from this album.  It’s just one of those things I never get sick of hearing.  If I’m lucky, I will try to listen to the first five or six songs, like I used to when I’d go watch the games with Dad.

The 1993-94 Rangers are not just special in my heart because they won a championship.  It was because, as corny as it sounds, it gave me strength to move forward with my life.  That my world wasn’t crashing down around me…that things could and would be all right.  That like a caterpillar, I’d be a butterfly, floating off to my next chapter.

The spring of 1994 launched into what became the summer of my life.  The New York Rangers were a big part of that.  I did things that I normally wouldn’t do.  Like travel into the city with my friends to go dancing.  Like travel into the city to watch the Rangers on television close to the Garden, so we could be there for the celebration.

It’s very rare that I talk about alternatively being grateful or being pissed off at being a sports fan.  But last night’s win and subsequent playoff series victory made me so grateful for the Rangers. For my dad.  And for that spring of ’94.

This one is for Henrik and for McD.  For DStep and for Staal.  For Martin St. Louis.  For Grumpy Damus. For Chuck.  For NotGlen.  For Aimee.  For Katie.  For Anne Marie.  For Alvin and Kelly.  For Justine.  For DMan.  For Ciel Seidel.  And for everyone else in between (including my cousin, who came in later in life to love the Rangers).

And for especially the Pet Shop Boys, though I’m sure a British electronica band really would never see why they’d be forever linked with a U.S. hockey team.  They helped me get through a rough patch in my life, and so did the Rangers.  And they still do to this day.

Sam Rosen said in 1994, this one will last a lifetime.  I hope that he is wrong, that 1994 was it.  Thank goodness that I am getting to see another “very” amazing postseason run.

This is something we normally wouldn’t see.

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A Podcast Doubleheader!

The Mets aren’t the only people to have a doubleheader this week!

I’ll be a guest on the Rising Apple podcast, at 8 pm ET TONIGHT.

Alternatively, Sam Maxwell, the “Converted Mets Fan,” and cohost of the Rising Apple podcast, will join me on MY show – the Mets Lounge – at 9 pm-ish ET.

I’ll be drinking a Raz-ber-rita…what’s in your glass?

Talk to you soon!

Not To Worry

I say, I got nothing to worry about…

Because the Rangers play Thursday.  And they will win on Thursday.

They will win because I’ve felt in my bones all along this would go to six games.

I’ve felt all along that they will win.

It’s game like last night they need to have that proverbial glitch in the matrix.  It’s something that’s off but it will rectify itself.

In 1994, I had one guy telling me, “No doubts, no doubts” in game 5 1994 Stanley Cup Finals.

In 1994, I had a guy telling me during Game 6 of 1994 Stanley Cup Finals, “Not.  To. WORRY!”

The Rangers lost both those games.  But they won the games that mattered, of course, and went on to win the Cup.

But just because there was a fucked up game in Montreal last night doesn’t mean that there is a momentum “shift” or any of that crap.

Let’s talk about Momentum Shifts with this video.

Yes, I know I’m looking at shit that happened 20 years ago. But like that year, we cannot deny that this is a special time to be a Ranger fan. It’s a special time for the Rangers. This is a special team.

They’ll have motivation in the form of Henrik Lundqvist, who was pulled just before a game-tying rally, only to have his replacement give up three more goals in a blow out.  But when Rene Bourque says that Lundqvist hasn’t been “much better” than Dustin Tokarski…well, to say that shots have been fired would be an understatement.  This has been a dirty series, a hard fought series.

I just can’t help but think…

The Rangers play Thursday.

They’ll win Thursday.

Finish the damn thing.

Go Rainjuzz.

 

GTFO

“Don’t boo your own team.”

I hear this mantra repeated over and over for the fans in Flushing.  This is hardly unique to the area; it’s a New York thing, for sure.  But I think even St. Louis Cardinals fans, you know the “Best Fans in Baseball,” have booed their own players, contrary to popular belief.

Look at hockey.  I am a Rangers fan, and the fans are BRUTAL.  I challenge any baseball player who has butthurt feelings to play hockey in an intense town like New York City.  They’ll be running home to their mommies, crying and sucking their thumbs.

So to boo or not to boo, that is the question.  I think when I was a kid, I used to think it was funny that players would get booed.  But when I was eight or nine years old, I thought the players were superhuman.  They could handle the cheers, the boos, any distractions.  Even the airplanes that flew consistently overhead.

It wasn’t until I was much older (probably older than I care to admit) that I realized that these were people who were coming up to bat.  People who were pitching, throwing the ball.  What other industry or job can one have that you can have a 70% failure rate and be GOOD at it?

Yet, here we are, with the age old question: “To boo or not to boo?”

According to former Mets hitting coach, Dave Hudgens, booing is a BIG problem at home.  (Mind you, I’m sure the team hears boos on the road…and they play just fine there).

“I really just think guys tried too hard at home,” Hudgens told MLB.com after his firing. “I think the fans are really tough on the guys at home. How can you boo Curtis Granderson? They have no idea how hard this guy works and how he goes about doing his business, doing his job. He gets off to a slow start and they’re booing him? Come on. It’s tougher at home to play than it is on the road, there’s no doubt about it. And they’re trying really hard at home.”

Wow.  I mean.  Just WOW.

Of all the things I’ve heard my team blame their poor play on…the fans are all of a sudden “the problem.”

From not going to enough games, to voicing displeasure, to not being loud enough.  I’m just at a loss.  I have no idea how to even broach this topic anymore.

I’ve been a Mets fan for 30 years.  I’ve been through more down years than up.  Never have I felt more condescended to by the ownership, front office and team in my life.  And this is after two ginormous collapses in 2007 and 2008, then sub-.500 years in CitiField.  All of a sudden…it’s the fans who are the problem.  Yes, that’s the one constant.

In the parlance of my time…#SMH.

And then, I have to hear the self-righteousness of the people who claim to never “boo” their own team.  And I mean, I might applaud fans booing, and yell a sarcastic, “Lets go METS” every now and then.  The only people I suppose I’m hurting, would be the players themselves.  Players, by the way, that get paid a shitload of money to listen to a few people boo IF THEY CHOOSE TO DO SO.  Because at this point, I’m sorry to admit, the laundry is going to get the brunt of the discontent here.  I mean, the ownership doesn’t take the field.  (And if they did, I’d probably cheer Saul Katz for the sheer news that he’d sell his shares of the Mets).  There is a larger picture here.

But over the years, I’ve thought of players who have been loathed by their own fans.  And I mean, I can think of at least a dozen players that Mets fans CANNOT STAND.  Two pop into my head, actually.

And I got to thinking…if everyone is claiming, “I don’t boo my own players.” Then those players are subsequently booed…who’s doing it?

It’s like the rhetorical question (that was literally translated) by Sally Albright, when she told Harry Burns most women fake orgasms at one point in their lifetime.

If most women have done it, chances are, they’ve done it with him.

And chances are, you’ve done it too.

I admit, I’ve been particularly harsh with Curtis Granderson.  I heckle him in the appropriate fashion: via social media.  But here’s the kicker: I want him to do well.  But I can’t fathom why anyone would think a guy who hit home runs at Yankee Stadium is all of a sudden “surprised” that this same guy hits long fly ball outs at CitiField.

Here’s a thought.  And it’s always been this.

It’s not CitiField.

It’s never been about the fucking walls, despite numerous attempts to make it about that.

It’s not about the coaches.

And it’s certainly not about the fucking fans and whether they voice displeasure every now and then.

GET BETTER PLAYERS.

Maybe they need to talk to guys like Troy Tulowitzki or Chase Utley (Utley’s corner, anyone?) and see why they manage to hit well at CitiField.

You know why?
They don’t make excuses.  And excuses, if you remember, are like assholes.  Everyone has one…and they ALL stink.

Can You Forgive Her?

I can’t say I’m a superstitious one.  I did adopt some superstitions, which in reality probably had less than zero impact on the outcome of this year’s Super Bowl, but that was because I could look forward to eating my cheesy bread each week during the football playoffs.

This year was kind of an accidental superstition in hockey.  I adopted the #ItsOnlyWeirdIfItDoesntWork philosophy because I had a migraine during Game 7 of the conference quarterfinals.  If you remember, the night of Game 7 against the Flyers, it rained like a mofo all day.  Cats, dogs, horses, cows, every type of farm animal.  I had a bad migraine.  I even cancelled my podcast at the last moment, though I had stuff I wanted to talk about.  Originally, I thought I’d be watching the playoffs, and be either really happy during the show, or really pissed off.  Either way, I didn’t know.  Because I ended up not watching.

I had laid down a bit, since I cancelled the show, and waited for my husband to return home.  Only problem?  He didn’t get home till after the puck dropped.  So I didn’t even have the television on.  And he was following the game on his radio.

Before I knew it, it was the second period.  I was going to turn the game on, but much like Keith Hernandez did in Game 6, he stayed in his chair because, “There were hits in that seat,” as he cracked open a Bud with coach Darrell Johnson in Davey Johnson’s office.

onlyweirdSo in the history of Keith Hernandez before me, I know I was not the only superstitious one during the hockey playoffs.  If you follow hockey, you know the tradition of hockey beards.  There are some weird fuckin rituals in hockey.  But cool rituals too, like the handshake line, handing the Cup to the captain.
The second round, I got desperate.  I was convinced that outside of the Pittsburgh metro area (and the five Devils fans), mostly everyone in America was rooting for the Rangers.  I know, it’s an oddity, because there is a New York superiority complex that other cities try to knock down.  But I’m pretty sure that if you are a) not a Pittsburgh Penguins fan, 2) not from Pittsburgh or D) just a fan of hockey not falling under A) or 2), chances are, you hate Sidney Crosby and it’s your civic duty to not want that team to win.
So there’s that.  I had to go for some gusto.  After Game 4, I became desperate.  One game from elimination, plus with the Rangers’ habit of winning one, losing one…this shit wasn’t going to fly.  Even if they did win Game 5…EVEN if they managed to pull to a Game 7…how would they win?
And yet they did.
And somehow, we were all part of it, by participating in our stupid game rituals that we are convinced helped them win.
For @NotGlenSather, he kept his McDonagh jersey on his couch (only during road games though…it wouldn’t work at home for obvious reasons…reasons, none of us know, of course).

For Metstradamus, he had to take the bus for at LEAST one period (he was lucky that was it…the first time, he was going to pick up an air conditioner).

So my superstitions became the stuff of legend.  When I opted out of Game 5, I figured the worst that could happen was that the Rangers lose.  If they won, I’d play by ear to watch Game 6.  Then they won Game 6.

The irony is, Game 7 wasn’t tough for me not to watch…because I wasn’t home at the beginning.  I had a weekly networking meeting, and I knew I wouldn’t be home till the second period, at the very earliest.

Even so, my husband forbade me from watching the game at all.  I was DYING.  It was absolute torture.  But Twitter did a good job of keeping me updated.  So I got the feel of watching the game.  Then…the unthinkable happened.  They WON. Holy shit, did it WORK???

Truth is, this little superstition I worked up…was only for elimination games.  So I’ll be back for the Eastern Conference Finals.  It feels different this time.  I stress out each series, until this moment.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say…I can pretty much guarantee a Stanley Cup appearance or win, at the very most.  Why is that?

I didn’t get my Rangers seat option this year.  I backed out of it.  It didn’t feel right this year.  I knew I should have held onto it.  But whatever.  I felt like, what were the chances they’d get to the ECF AGAIN?

Yup.

So now there’s a chance they’ll win the Cup.  And I won’t be able to go to any of the stupid games.  I guess somehow I deserve NOT watching the games nor going to them at all.

Bad, bad fan.

So I’ll test the waters by watching the first few games…but of course, I’m traveling during the first game.  So that means I won’t be able to watch the whole thing anyway.

If they win, is it proof that my silly ritual worked?  Or merely coincidence?

Thank goodness for game ones…and game sevens.

A Special Mets Lounge Podcast TONIGHT!

Think you might need a Subway Series break tonight?  You won’t want to miss tonight’s special Mets Lounge podcast.  And if you’re a cool kid, you’ll certainly find a place here.

My special guest tonight will be Albert Dabah, owner of Simba Productions, and we’ll talk about his passion for baseball, and his pre-production feature film Extra Innings.

We’ll be airing live at 9 pm. Dial in for my pre-interview Mets rants (which is actually a bit happier than normal days).

…And Strawberry Sundaes For All

My Halloween costume from 1983, the year I became a Mets fan

My Halloween costume from 1983, the year I became a Mets fan

I’m guessing it was around June 1983.  The school year was winding down.  It was first grade, for me.  One of our parting assignments was to write about our favorite things (mine included: cats and chocolate and English muffins…still true to this very day, actually).  I forget what my mom’s were (probably chocolate as well…one thing she and I were agreeable on).  My dad was simple: he liked the Mets.

Being seven, I can’t say I knew what “Mets” actually were.  But I’m guessing that it must have been around or just after June 15, 1983.  Because all of a sudden the Mets were on ALL THE TIME.  And Dad couldn’t stop talking about a guy named “Keith.”  (Note: Keith Hernandez was traded to the Mets on June 15, 1983…ironically, my husband’s first Mets game was the day he was traded).  I think I was also aware of the Mets that year because my parents had gone to Opening Day (Tom Seaver returned), and my grandma told me she watched the game to see if she could see my mom.

My dad was rooting for the guys with METS written in script on the front of their uniform.  Well, then, that’s who I was rooting for too.

I started to ask my dad questions about baseball.  Mostly, how to play.  I was an awkward kid, and had two left feet when it came to anything physical.  I never took dance lessons, and I certainly wasn’t picked for sporting teams.  I wanted to learn something, and baseball looked kinda easy.  I guess.

So he’d pitch me meatballs, and I’d practice swinging.  All with him yelling, “KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE BALL!!!!”  (As he took a swig of a Budweiser).

As history has told us, my parents tried to take me to my first Mets game on June 15, 1980.  You may remember the date as the day game after what became the legendary “Hendu Cando walkoff” game.  It was, as history remembered, an unmitigated disaster.  We never made it to the park that day.  And as Matt Silverman has told us in many write ups on the day after, that walkups were discouraged because there were literally no seats in the Upper Deck of Shea Stadium to sit, due to renovations.

Less than four years later, I would be heading back to Shea.  This time, I suppose, with better directions than in 1980.

I wasn’t sure what to expect.  My dad kept calling it, “Shea,” yet in my head, since I was in second grade in 1984, I was learning about phonics and shit, and I kept thinking of the Long “A” that we’d use to pronounce.  But I was surprised, for some reason, that it was spelled the way it is.

I remember the way it looked.  So colorful.  So tall.  I think this was also the age that I discovered that I was indeed afraid of heights.  I asked my dad to not get me the “red seats.”  We sat in what I found out was the Loge, the blue seats.  I was mesmerized by the colors.  I was also wondering just what the hell that smell was (yes, I can still smell Shea Stadium).

The day was a blur.  The date was May 6, 1984.  It was a Sunday game against the Houston Astros, who wore those putrid orange/red/yellow colored uniforms.

The starting pitcher for the Astros that day was a gentleman by the name of Nolan Ryan.  I’m trying to remember if Dad told me that he used to be a Met, or if I found that out later.  I would bet on “later,” because I also was not entirely schooled on the whole “World Series” and “1969” thing either.

nolan-ryan-astros

The starting pitcher for the Mets that day, ironically, was a young phenom named Dwight Gooden.

My dad bought a program.  It turns out that I spent a lot of time reading it because the Astros scored EIGHT RUNS in the third inning. Looking at the box score, it was a bunch of singles.  Single after single after single turned into run after run after run.

I read the program cover to cover.  Had nothing better to do after that inning , I remember the Pabst Blue Ribbon advertisement.  The hot dogs that looked plump and delicious.  Cigarette ads, which I don’t think I thought much about as an eight year old, but find them so odd now.

I also memorized the Shea diagram. Though I sat in them in later years, and I decided to never ever sit in Upper Deck that year

I also memorized the Shea diagram. Though I sat in them in later years, and I decided to never ever sit in Upper Deck that year

The program had write ups on the visiting teams.  I remember asking why Jose Cruz’s name was pronounced “Hoe-ZAY” as opposed to “Josie.”  I may still call him that (and anyone else named “Jose”).  I also remember weird stuff from that day.  The smell of the hot dogs from the vendors.  The taste of the RC Cola.  The awful bathrooms.  My mom agreeing to get me Crunch N Munch, then “forgetting.”  The ginormous Budweiser ad that beckoned fans to drink.

This is the Bud ad I remember from 1984, though I'm sure some Shea historian will tell me otherwise

This is the Bud ad I remember from 1984, though I’m sure this pic is from 1988 or thereabouts (the bigger scoreboard)

Awestruck by the enormity of it all, really.

While going through the program, I also noticed that just a few days prior, had been a date called “Strawberry Sundae.”  A promotion sponsored by Carvel, fans attending a game honoring 1983 Rookie of the Year Darryl Strawberry received a strawberry sundae.  Well, dadgummit.

I don’t remember there being a lot of excitement.  Besides the barrage of singles and subsequent runs scored by the Astros, Doctor K had barely recorded an out in the third before being relieved by Craig Swan.  Swan didn’t yield a run.  Of course he didn’t.

docgoodensheaBut Doc Gooden ultimately became the reason why I was a Mets fan, or rather became one.

I take pride in having gone to one of his very few losses in his rookie year campaign, one where he ultimately won the ROY.

But I had no idea what rookies were or what an award was at that point.  All I know is…I was pretty pissed off that I missed free ice cream at Strawberry Sundae Night.

I still am.

So when I read the upcoming giveaways at that horrific game on May 6, I saw that sports bag day was on Memorial Day (which was Monday, May 28, an afternoon game).  Though the Mets were losing pretty bad, I knew I wanted to come back.  I asked Dad if we could go.  I think we got our tickets that day.

I also remember what it was like to leave before the game ended.  It was a blowout, and we had to go back to Jersey.  It was a long day already.  I do remember that I had dozed off in the car, and there was traffic heading out of the stadium.  That part has not changed, even if Shea is no longer around.  The radio was on, and I suppose the postgame was on too.  I asked if the Mets had won.  (I even knew that ya gotta believe, at such a young age).  No.  The Astros had tacked on two more runs.

10-1 Astros was the final score that day.

 

Screen Shot 2014-05-04 at 9.40.34 PM Screen Shot 2014-05-04 at 9.40.49 PM

I’ll always remember Shea in all her majesty. At Closing Day in 2008, my dad turned to me after the ceremony and said, “You grew up here.” Now, at that point, I hadn’t shed a tear. I had let Shea go in my mind. I was ready for a new stadium, and mostly ready to embrace change (something the Mets desperately needed to do after 2007 and 2008…though I didn’t think it would be, “GET WORSE”).

But my one regret with Shea Stadium is that I never got a strawberry sundae.  Now, that shit still pisses me off.

The irony of the Mets is that I always expected friends in the deal, but I never thought I’d gain a husband out of it.  He went to his first game on June 15, 1983, and that was probably when I first started paying attention to the Mets.  I was also supposed to have had a link to June 15, 1980, and was supposed to go to the game originally on June 16, 1980.

And I got married on May 5, 2010.  And my first game May 6, 1984.

How about that for some shit?