Day after day/I will walk and I will play
But the day after today/I will stop
And I will start
Growing up, coming into my own, I’ve had two pivotal years that really stand out for me. The first was when I was seven years old. I had discovered baseball, and I discovered Duran Duran and New Wave British 80’s pop. Both discoveries helped shape my personality even to this day. And yeah, seven years old for me…was a long friggin time ago.
The other time was when I was 16 years old. In the world of numerology (moons and goochers and all that stuff), it was an “endings” year for me. If you look at your change years, “endings” could mean a literal loss or even something figurative, like letting go of an energy or limiting belief, and they happen every nine years. So for me, when I was seven, the wheels were set in place to make this my life trajectory. When I was 16, I discovered punk bands and alternative/indie bands like the Violent Femmes. I started to straighten my hair, wear flannels and Converse sneakers, and I became a hippie. Also, Tom Seaver was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame that summer, so I guess baseball was also prominent that year, though the Mets were not…that…great.
I’m far from having an “endings” year today. But I have to say there was a change in dynamic with the way the current Mets team, and beyond, this week, that maybe they, themselves, are having a closing year. I have been through trade deadlines, I was old enough to remember when Gary Carter was traded to the Mets, I certainly would like to forget “Black Friday,” but not what it did for me, personally. Black Friday was a day that made me a “Blog Groupie.” That turned into me starting my own blog(s) several years later.
Yet, in my 33 seasons of being a Mets fan, I don’t think I will ever witness nor have I witnessed as zany a week as the one that transpired, unlike Sandy Alderson’s deal in principle for Carlos Gomez. In fact, I spent most of Thursday seething (and even attended a “group therapy” session as a guest on the Rising Apple Report podcast), and on Friday, the day OF the trade deadline, I kept singing in my head the lyrics to the Violent Femmes song “Add It Up.” It had been awhile since I listened to the Femmes, so I turned up the volume on my iPod (mostly because my ear buds had shorted AGAIN), and I started to think about everything. From a standing ovation for Wilmer Flores in what was presumed to be his final at-bat for the Mets on Wednesday night, to Flores’ tears in the infield, to Alderson and Terry Collins losing their shit towards the beat writers, to looking like nothing would happen (I even said on Twitter and the Rising Apple show as much, that I believed the Mets would stand pat)…
I felt like the non-deal for Gomez, while the Brewers beat writer suggested that the Mets wanted some partial salary relief for 2016 on Gomez’s already team friendly contract, and the Mets suggested it was injuries (when have injury risks ever stopped the Mets? See: Putz, J.J. See also: Santana, Johan. See also also: Beltran, Carlos. And while we’re at it, see also also also: Zambrano, Victor), I’m guessing it was somewhere in the middle. Gomez missed a lot of the year with his hip injury, and had a down year for him already…but adding him to the Mets lineup would automatically make him the biggest offensive threat (And that should tell you all we need to know about this zany 2015 year already). Though the fact that Gomez was in it for next year as well, and looked more like a Sandy move than, say, a partial year rental, it was nixed. The celebration of Gomez with his former Milwaukee teammates (who bade him adieu ~ or adios ~, anyway) and Flores’ tears were all for naught. Someone fucked up. Multiple somebodies fucked up.
Oh, ma-mama, mo-ma, mo-ma mother
I would love to love you, lover
City is restless, it’s ready to pounce
Oh, here in your bedroom, ounce for ounce
I’ve seen some weird shit as a Mets fan. I witnessed Black Friday, and Rick Peterson convinced he could fix Victor Zambrano in 10 minutes, even though his elbow fell off at about minute number three. Vince Coleman threw firecrackers at some kids. Bret Saberhagen threw bleach at reporters. Bobby Bonilla wanted to give someone a personal hand-guided tour of the Bronx. Duaner Sanchez got hungry at midnight. Carlos Beltran got surgery against the advice of the Mets’ medical staff. I heard Omar Minaya say “has lobby.” I saw a collapse in 2007, and a denouement in 2008 take Shea along with it. Needless to say, I have not had the warm fuzzies about Citi Field.
This year has been different. The NL East is ripe for the taking. While the Marlins won the offseason backpage World Series, the Washington Nationals were pretty much anointed the crown princes of the division. I mean, why wouldn’t they? They went for broke and added Max Scherzer to their already decent pitching staff. The Mets added Michael Cuddyer.
Nationals were beset with injuries. The Mets and they have been neck and neck basically all season. So then what? The team lost David Wright and R.A. Dickey-lite Jerry Blevins from the get-go, and Travis d’Arnaud also had made several trips to the DL in the already over-halfway-done season. How much wiggle do the Mets have? They’ll never publicly admit it, but Alderson has always maintained “Flexibility” for spending, but then says, “It could go higher…or it can go lower.” (Translation: It will go lower, mostly)
The city is restless, and it’s ready to pounce. Hard to believe that I would find a song that’s about lust and sex, and turn it around on Sandy Alderson’s looking for an impact player to not only compete but take the damn thing. The city is restless in that, the Mets are a springboard alert. Ready to pounce in that if no moves are made after all (and very low-risk/high-reward moves were made with adding Kelly Johnson, Juan Uribe and Tyler Clippard, and losing some low-level prospects no one will miss), there wouldn’t be the buzz that’s been around Citi Field this entire season.
Oh, ma-mama, mama-mo-ma-mum
Take a look now at what your boy has done
He’s walking around like he’s number one
Went downtown and you got him a gun
Warts and all, there is no General Manager or team Manager who is going to be perfect. While Sandy has made some questionable free agent signings (I’ve never been a Curtis Granderson lover or I don’t understand what the big deal with Cuddyer is…), his trades have always been creative and clearly thinking outside of the box. Trading R.A. Dickey may have very well been one of the most impactful trades in team history. Needing to stay creative and keeping in line with the “non-existent/nothing-to-see-here” budget constraints, he pulled a rabbit out of his hat.
I started a new job last week, where I became a pet caretaker and dog walker. I was going between jobs on the train, and there’s a big dead zone underground where I was going. Yet I know there is always one little itty bitty pocket where I can get updates or texts. I hear an update. I grab my phone instinctively. “Mets trade for Yoenis Cespedes,” was the gist of it.
This was the very definition of torture. Not just being a Mets fan, though it has qualified as such in my years. I could not get any updates. THEN my stupid fucking phone wouldn’t open. I ducked into a Starbucks to get some Wifi action on. And it looked like a deal finally got done. Something to really get excited about. I have to give them credit. I thought a deal like this was antithetical to what the Mets MO was these days. To the extent that barely any dollars were added, but they got a gun to compete for this year. Which I think anyone with eyes would see that’s not a bad thing.
Day after day/I get angry/And I will say
That the day /Is in my sight /When I’ll take a bow
And say goodnight
Mets history will look at Sandy Alderson’s leadership at where he’s had to make do with very little. He’s had very little flexibility, despite what the owners and he, himself, might try to tell us. They’ve had to get great drafts in order to be attractive to other teams for trading chips, as well as make us very excited about the future. We see a glimpse of Steven Matz and channel our inner Billy Idol: we want more-more-more. We can try to cast the fault of Matz to Minaya, who actually drafted him. But it was Alderson who had no choice but to hold onto him. Zack Wheeler calls and has a passionate plea that he wants to remain a Met because he’s excited about the team’s future, even if it means a slow return for him post-Tommy John surgery. Wilmer Flores cries on the field (though I have no idea if the tears were for the response by the fans or the fact he thought he was traded).
For the first time in a long time, I am excited about the year. Not to say there is not a lot of work ahead of us (denial is not just a river in Egypt, but we have to remember that they are going for it NOW, and have no obligations for the any of the moves they’ve made after 2015). Yet, attendance is up on the weekends. Harvey Days are endless summer nights.
And this zany week, that actually saw a 3-HR night by Lucas Duda be an “Oh, by the way, this happened” footnote in the insanity of Metsville, was capped off by a walk-off home run by the same Wilmer Flores who hadn’t had a home run in a few months, who had thought he was going to the Good Land in Wisconsin, who basically told the Nationals, this aint YOUR house.
There are several people who can take a bow and say goodnight after this week. And hopefully that goodnight will be in later October. Not the early part, you know, because the season ends then anyway.
I won’t go so far as to say the Magic is Back. But if we add up what’s happened in Queens this week, it was a special and memorable time to be a Mets fan.