Month: January 2016

Let It Yo, Let It Yo, Let it YO

I’ll admit: I didn’t think it would happen.

I’ll go a step further:  I wasn’t sure if I wanted it *to* happen.

The “it” I am referring to is, of course, the Mets bringing back Yoenis Cespedes.

I was totally against the “7/$150mm” years and dollars being bandied about.  I don’t care who the player is, I’m just not a fan of “throwing money” at a problem or just placate a bunch of loudmouth idiots (media and fans alike).  It seemed as though other teams were not only happy about that prospect, but teams that had experience with Cespedes had that thought process too…

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Mets fans were able to celebrate Christmas in July at the trading deadline last year, with the acquisition of Cespedes (in addition to Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe, which were pretty decent acquisitions for us).  But what’s lost in the mix is what we *didn’t* get.  One and a half seasons of (injury prone) Carlos Gomez for Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores, or Jay Bruce.  I think that’s pretty fuckin awesome.

Late Friday night, as the eastern seaboard prepared for a “snow day,” what we didn’t expect was to become “YO-ed” in, as right before bed time, we got news that the Mets reacquired Yoenis Cespedes.  Sometimes stupid baseball makes me miss sleep.

You can’t always get what you want?  Sometimes, though, you get what you need.

I will admit…I could have taken or left Yoenis Cespedes, as I said to JB on Twitter.  Despite what the general public may think, the success the 2015 Mets had post-trade deadline is often over-correlated to acquiring Cespedes (read Mets Daddy‘s great piece on that for more info…I don’t believe the title is accurate…but the content is on the money for being impartial).  People don’t want to hear this either, despite whether or not he was playing “hurt” (he never confirmed or denied it), he didn’t come through when the team needed him in the postseason.  Yes, I realize it wasn’t just on him.  But Mets Daddy’s post does bring into the spotlight what his numbers truly brought out.  But I won’t get into all that, you will simply have to read his post to figure that out.  Besides his take on the pitching, (I won’t nitpick an otherwise great post) I couldn’t agree more that Cespedes wasn’t the be-all end-all.

I don’t know if the last few years have just left me jaded, or the fact that players I’ve legitimately wanted have faltered (see: Bay, Jason or Santana, Johan) in the limelight here.  At the end of the day, I don’t think that I truly believed he would take a win-win scenario as a contract, and would go for the “sure thing” (e.g. Money and Years).

People who know me know that I am a fan of Terry Collins and the Sandy Alderson-led “dream team” of front office professionals.  What I really love is that we are in a position where we can actually trust their judgment.  Because I have to believe that even if they are being financially prudent for the sake of the owners who don’t know shit about running a baseball (but like the perks that come along with it), Alderson really believes in what’s best for the team.  And thank goodness, he doesn’t engage with #MetsTwitter.

Here’s the thing about Cespedes though…with one fell swoop, everyone was happy.  He gets a nice dollar amount and can test the waters again next season, so he actually has incentive to play well so that he can potentially get a bigger pay day and years for the 2017 season.  We didn’t break the bank nor do we find ourselves with a backloaded contract if he does indeed wish to stay.  Those of us who strongly criticize (rightfully so) ownership sees they actually did reinvest fan spending to bring that goodwill feeling back.

But push all that other shit aside.

Let’s look at how the players actually WANT to be here.

Let’s also take a look at Mets history…

41KVDFGDN3LIn the 1986 Mets video An Amazin’ Era, Tug McGraw saw the decline of fan interest and the franchise as a visitor in the late 1970s.  When his teammates would say, “We have to go to New York and play…”  He would scream, “Don’t you people know how great of a town this is to play in???”

In 1983, St. Louis Cardinal Keith Hernandez cried in the shower as he found out he was traded to the lowly Mets.  A team, by the way, that won a World Championship three years after that, and an NL East pennant in five years later.

In the hot stove season going into 1985, Jesse Orosco said he jumped around in his living room once he found out all-star catcher Gary Carter was traded to the Mets in a blockbuster deal with the Montreal Expos.  In a loose paraphrase from an interview I saw him in around 2006, he said at the time, “We’re really putting this thing together.”

David Wright blasted reports that Cespedes was a “bad teammate,” and made an impassioned plea to bring him back just before the deal was finalized.

Wilmer Flores cried on the field as he thought he was traded from the only team he’s ever known.

Zack Wheeler is itching to return to pitching after his Tommy John surgery, saying he wants to be a part of this.

And Bartolo Colon is so happy, he’s doing head-shoulders-knees-and-toes in response to it…

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New Met Alejandro de Aza had this to say on his Facebook account:

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Players want to be here. It’s not about a 24 + 1 mentality or 25 players taking 25 different cars to get home.  Hell, even Noah Syndergaard offered to be Cespedes’ roomie…AFTER the Thor family wore “Big Sexy” shirts for Christmas Eve.  For the first time in a long time, the players are there for the names on the front, not the names on the back.

As I noted on the Rising Apple report podcast on the snow day, my favorite Yoenis Cespedes moment almost had nothing to do with his individual performance.  The 2015 trade deadline also happened to kick off the heated divisional rivalry series versus the Washington Nationals.  The Friday night game was the Wilmer Flores walk off.  By Sunday’s game, though Cespedes didn’t do anything so totally dramatic himself, there was a buzz not heard in Flushing since Shea Stadium was around.  It had to do with Thor and beating the rivals and basically going on a tear and wouldn’t look back.

As a Yankee fan friend of mine said to me after that weekend, “Who the FUCK is this guy Syndergaard?  Holy shit, that kid’s for real.”  And how could any Mets fan not get the feels when Flores pumped up his Mets jersey in his walk off?

Despite my initial reservations about Cespedes, I say, why not us?  This is a team, despite what we may think of ownership, the front office, the manager, the “franchise” third baseman…we’ve got a team of supremely confident men who give zero fucks and what to finish what they started.

That’s something we can all get behind.  Including me.  Opening Day can’t get here fast enough.

And I’m not just saying that because there’s a shitload of snow on the ground.

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‘Cos It Already Is

My dad was in attendance at Shea Stadium when the Mets mounted one of the biggest comebacks in baseball history in “Game Six.”  If anyone says “game six,” whether or not they are a Mets fan, you know they are referring to the World Series Game Six in 1986.

We were also at Shea in 2006 when the Mets were playing the Cards in the NLCS game seven.  After Carlos Beltran struck out looking to end the game and sent the St. Louis Cardinals to the World Series, we had gone separate ways to leave that motherfucker as quickly as possible.

My cell phone rang as I walked to the train.  It was Dad.  He made the first train out of dodge.  He said, “I was there for one miracle. I didn’t think there would be another.”

If you recall, the Mets came back to score three runs in extra innings to beat the Red Sox in a game that would’ve brought a championship to Boston for the first time since 1918.  In 2006, fortunes changes when Yadier Molina hit a devastating home run for the go ahead in the ninth inning, in a game that was tied for-fucking-ever. 

Even when the Mets had put tying runs on base in the bottom of the ninth, you had ’86 game six in your head.  But you also remembered that this team was not the ’86 team. And then Wainwright threw his curve.

But whether you are a Mets fan or a Red Sox or even an Arizona Cardinals fan, you believe till the very last second.  Because it’s never quite over till it’s over.

I started thinking of the game in 2006 as I watched the Seahawks in their matchup against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.  While the Panthers looked as though they were a team headed for destiny all season, if anyone who follows football knows that if any team was going to stop that, it would be Seattle.  And I’m not even saying that as a fan of the team and someone who has followed them through really no choice of my own (I married into it and really couldn’t care less about watching football games on TV) for over five years at this point.  I’m saying that because there’s something special about Seahawks “devil magic.”

We saw it in the NFC Championship game last year when everyone was salivating over Russell Wilson looking almost “human.”  They came back and won.  But they lost Super Bowl 49 on a controversial last play call.   Most 12s have moved on.  Mostly because we knew that was not our destiny.

Yay, if any team was going to knock down the Panthers a notch or two, it would be Seattle.

But the only team they were beating was themselves.

I was okay with it.

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I’ve been kind of in hiding since the Mets lost the World Series.  Looking back, I think I was very much in denial about the outcome of it.  It was tough because of the deja vu of the series (it reminded me a lot of the New York Rangers Stanley Cup run in 2014).  It was tough because the team I had gotten so used to fighting back tooth and nail in each game did not do so.  I also knew it was the last time I’d see Daniel Murphy is a Mets uniform.  Now that was way more upsetting than losing the World Series.  They could theoretically be back.  But I wanted Daniel Murphy to be a lifelong Met.  Now he’s a National.

I even went to a Seahawks game where they were the visiting team, in Baltimore.  I didn’t even want to write about it though it was quite possibly one of the most fun sports road trips I had taken in my life, but also in such a short time period (when I visited Cincinnati in September to follow the Mets).  Sometimes, I do lose perspective and forget how good I have it as a sports fan, that I have the ability to travel and do things to support my teams.  This trip was not one of those times.  I told Ed after the game that I was so happy he had brought this wonderful team into my life.

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12341219_10153717735675900_4882726763268094010_n   In happier times...and after yesterday's game...

Ed and I got married in 2010.  From a sports perspective, I’ve seen three Rangers visits to the Eastern Conference Final, and they won only one of those to advance to the big dance.  I know Ed has not been too happy with how the Utah Jazz have performed (and I used to root for them back in the day, because I loved Stockton but also I didn’t want to be a Chicago Bulls fan, like every fan in America was back then).  The Mets were more mediocre with the exception of this year when they actually looked like world beaters.  To say the majority of our teams have let us down is an understatement.  Especially being a Mets fan, you get used to it.

The Seahawks have been interesting.  Though I had attended Jets games and even wore my Mark Sanchez jersey that I still have laying around somewhere (that I also wore to my first visit at CenturyLink Field in 2012), I followed Seattle more because whenever they were on, Ed made it a point to watch them.  As I told Michelle MsDodgrBlu yesterday, I didn’t care about football for a very long for two reasons: one, my dad is a Jets fan, and I just didn’t care about watching football (baseball was a lot easier for me to understand and enjoy).  The other is that while the rest of America gets to lounge around, watch TV and drink beer and eat wings on Sundays, I worked for several years in my adulthood on Sundays, so I missed many games.  It just was not a priority to me.

If you ask Ed or super fan Ramona, Seahawks blogger whose posts on being a 12 I truly enjoy, being a Seahawks fan for several years almost mirrored mine as being a Mets fan.  Years of ennui, and the times of joy were also sort of peppered with disappointment along the way.  When Ed gave me my Steve Largent lesson, he described him as being both the “Ed Kranepool and Tom Seaver of the Hawks” (longest tenured and “Franchise” player to boot).  Yet, I’d almost equate Largent with a Mike Piazza type, the truly talented guy who never won a championship (oh and that’s another bright spot for being a Mets fan in these last few weeks: Mike Piazza will be wearing a Mets cap in Cooperstown).

In contrast with the time period I’ve been following, since late 2010, I’ve witnessed such Seahawks stuff of legend, like “Beast Quake” and breaking the Guinness Book of World Records for noise, and even the NFC Championship game last year against Green Bay and the shanked field goal attempt in Minneapolis last weekend…yes, I’ve kind of borne witness to some really crazy shit in my time.  If they ever become “basic” I don’t know what I’ll do (that’s almost a joke…basic will be either winning or losing a game regularly without drama or some shit).  The wild part?  I wouldn’t have even called myself a “12” or a “fan” at that point.  I was just casual.  It was visiting Seattle that I really got the essence of being a football fan and why people were crazy about the sport.

Despite all you hear about New Yorkers being crazy and the “best fans,” we are not without our faults or worse (need I remind people that I almost had to break up SEVERAL fights amongst Rangers fans in the playoffs last year), I was forever changed visiting Seattle.  I can only imagine what it would be like in Pittsburgh or Green Bay where I know their football is almost like a religion.  But there was something special about the city too.  I visit other cities to do things.  I go to Seattle to just be.  Very similar to how I am at home in New York City.

I found my home.

My second home, but home nonetheless.

I’ll stick around.

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So take your lessons hard and stay with him
And when your car crash comes, don’t be misled
Convince yourself that everything is alright
‘Cos it already is
Yeah it already is

~ Pete Yorn, For Nancy (‘Cos It Already Is)

My feelings on the football season could almost be washed away very quickly.  Maybe it’s from my years of being a sports realist and knowing that my team cannot win everything every single year.  Maybe it’s because I know my teams will lose some games, and they will win some games, but maybe just maybe we will have some fun along the way.  And there has been a lot of fun along the way.

When the Seahawks were down 31-0 at the end of the first half (seriously), I thought…as long as there is light, there is hope.  And I don’t care what anyone says, I’m certain the Panthers had fear that the Seahawks’ devil magic was going to work once again.

What I felt for the Mets as they approached game five in the NLDS this year was that, win or lose, I knew they left it all out there.  Then they won the series.  Then they swept the NLCS.  You wanna know why I felt nothing after they lost the World Series?  Because once again, the team that has disappointed me over the years returned.  This was the Mets team I knew and came to love.  Only love can break your heart, as the saying goes.  Sure, I was hurt, but the realist in me says, well, what do you expect, Coop?

The disappointment set in because they didn’t leave it on the field.  They basically laid down and died.  The only thing that will fix that is by winning in 2016.  And I’ll leave it at that.

I was sad yesterday as the Seahawks couldn’t win, sure.  I was sad, yet hopeful.  As I told Ramona on her Instagram account later, I felt a lot better right after the loss, but it got hard over time.  I guess at that point, I knew there was nothing else that could be done.  They left it all out on the field, though.  They didn’t lay down and die.  And really, how many teams would have down 31-0 at the half??

As a fan, you really can’t ask for more than that.

But hours after the game ended, it set in again.  Like last year after the Super Bowl loss, it wasn’t the losing and HOW they lost that got to me.  It was the loss of that awesome and fun team.  I was sad because football season goes on, like life always does, but the Seahawks season did not.  So goes life, again.

I go to a hockey game Tuesday night, and Ed will be joining me for the first time in several years.  Cursing about the New York Rangers is a state of mind for me.  In a few weeks, pitchers and catchers report.  Then we will have baseball and summer and all the good stuff that comes along with it, plus an amazing trip to Cooperstown that not only will honor one of my own, but Seattle’s favorite son Junior.  Then football season will start again and maybe a miracle Mets run again?  Maybe?

Yeah.  Everything is all right.

‘Cos it already is.