MLB

Can You Stand The Rain?

Sunny days, everybody loves them
Tell me baby, can you stand the rain?
Storms will come
This we know for sure (This we know for sure)
Can you stand the rain?  ~ New Edition, “Can You Stand The Rain?”

We are in the middle of winter.  There was snow last night; there was sunny weather today.

The weekend of the Super Bowl, it rained.  It rained so much, I joked that I needed a canoe to get around.  Pretty sure I saw one floating down Broadway.  Of course, I needed to be outside, taking care of pets and not hunkering down, eating bad carbs and watching a game where I had a healthy hate for both teams.

Being a dog walker can be fun and on bad days, when you love your pets, it can make them not so bad.  On a rainy day though, that separates the true believers from the poseurs.

And since my last post, which celebrated the life of my beloved furry baby, Cassie, I spent some time not only mourning her loss, but also mourning the loss of my sports teams.  Which was very palatable.  At least in the past, I’ve had sports as escapism.  With the Seahawks puttering out at the end of the season, the Rangers basically in back-up-the-truck mode now, and the Mets being not so cautiously optimistic for 2018, these teams haven’t done much to make me forget my pain.

This also marked the first year I haven’t seen the Seahawks in a postseason since I started following them in earnest.  Someone told me, though, early in the hockey season, that I better hope the Seahawks do something because the Rangers were looking maddeningly frustrating.

Well, I seem to not be able to exist without my teams frustrating me, so I figured bring it on.  Plus, out of all my teams, the Seahawks always leave me pleasantly surprised.  And the Rangers, well, we can find a way for them to make it to the playoffs.  Right?

It seems like Ray Ramirez’ golden shit touch has infiltrated my teams.  Well, the Seahawks since nearly everyone was injured, and it was tough to come out of that hole.

The last day of the season, they were officially eliminated from making it to the postseason, before they even officially lost a nail-biting heartbreaker of a game.  I suppose it was fitting.  2017 was a shitty year for me personally, it was motherfucking cold that day, and it was New Years’ Eve.  2018 had to be better by definition.

Then New Years’ Day, the Rangers played a Winter Classic game at my baseball summer home, CitiField.  If it was fucking freezing here, on Manhattan Island, it was probably polar vortex meets Antarctica gusts in Queens.

The Rangers won.  It was ice cold, but they played red hot that day.  If I felt concerned and not at all hopeful of their play, I felt like despite the unnerving weather, they had given us hope.

Turns out, it was the last time I felt any hope about this team’s performance.  Everything has gone downhill since.  As of February 18th, they lost 15 games out of their last 21.  Oof.  And the worst part is that letter to the fans, talking about a rebuild? It was sent on February 8th! 10 fucking days ago.   As we like to say on Twitter, back up the fucking truck, and they made it official in writing.  But it just seemed to have gotten worse and worse as time goes on.

So let’s talk about AV for a second, who had the understatement of the year above.  I notoriously defended and called myself a Terry Collins apologist while he was with the Mets.   It wasn’t his fault he was given mostly shit to work with in his years as Mets manager.  AV though, I’m sure Sonny from A Bronx Tale would have a word with him about “wasted talent.”  For a team that made it to the Stanley Cup Final in 2013-14, and all the way to Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Final in 2014-15, he has managed to not get the best of his team in his time as head coach.  Even in those years when they seemed destined for something big.  That’s a problem.  Especially with an aging Henrik Lundqvist.

Above all, Henke does not deserve this shit.

The first one on the flat bed truck is AV.  But Henrik must go too, for the betterment of himself and the team.  Unfortunately I cannot see the team being a success without sending him someplace else to potentially win.  And talk about squandering a talent while he was there.

When I was younger, I didn’t know much about what went into building a team, any team, be it baseball or football, even hockey.  I remember my dad making a rationalization about a player saying “You could build around him, though.”  The way I taught myself about sports is the way I relate to it, and I could relate to building around a player. I guess it’s apropos that an MLB Network documentary on Field Of Dreams, where the saying “if you build it, they will come” was coined, is playing in the background now.  Because if you build it, they will come.  And by “they,” it means talent and by “they will come,” means making the team attractive enough for players to want to be there.

I hate to see Henrik Lundqvist be the sacrificial lamb here.  And I know his contract terms might be a bit onerous right now.  It leaves basically everyone else to go elsewhere.  Yet, when it comes to the Rangers, how many times have we seen our all-stars go elsewhere and win?  Marian Gaborik.  The centerpieces that brought Rick Nash to New York.  Shit, even Ryan Callahan played in a Stanley Cup Final after he was traded.   Why is this?  Do we become too impatient for a rebuild that we sacrifice the future for the immediate gratification?  And guess what?   We still don’t fucking win.  Because you have one guy, and you can’t even fucking build right around him…it’s gonna be a problem long-term.

So it’s painful to watch.  But you know what, I’m back to what feels right.  And by “right,” I mean all my teams disappoint me again.  I have incredibly low expectations now.  This is what I am used to.  Sigh.

As a dog walker, I spent a lot of time outdoors.  I’m exposed to many different elements, I battle bad sinus infections in cold weather, and I have to wrestle dog shit out of the jaws of pups unwilling to relinquish said shit.  When it rains, no one wants to go outside.  This separates the real people who love their work though from the babies.

Riding out a rain delay at a baseball game?  It sucks! If you don’t like rain in the Pacific Northwest, you probably are better off not living there or attending an outdoor sporting event there.

After rain, you may be lucky enough to see a rainbow.  You can have a beautiful sunset once the rain stops.  Weather can become bearably cool after a rainfall.  Flowers and grass and all kinds of vegetation grows after rain.

If you can stand the rain, somewhere over the proverbial rainbow, dreams of your team winning a championship can come true.  So you wait it out.  The storm will pass, eventually.

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In My Life

Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

  ~ In My Life, Beatles

Memories work in curious ways.  Some of us remember every detail of a certain moment.  The human mind will work in ways that may add or take away from either pleasant or painful memories.  Some of us remember things that happen to others in vivid picturesque quality.  Sometimes it’s an event we all remember and what we were doing at that time.

But I think what’s most curious is what a person’s first childhood memory is.  That tells a lot about what type of person they are, how old they are and even give insight to their personality as to how they reacted to it.

December 8th is a significant date for my memories.  It’s my godmother’s (Mom’s best friend) birthday, for one.  Several years ago, I went to a hockey game and found Gabby, the loudmouthed New York Ranger fan.  So each year not only do I think of my Aunt Pam (who is still a significant figure in my life), we often have Gabby’s preferred meal of fried chicken and some kind of potato.  Hey, it’s only weird if it doesn’t work.

Yet, my oldest childhood memory surrounds one of the most memorable in just any kind of history, whether it’s popular culture or just general world events.  The day John Winston Ono Lennon was brutally murdered in front of his home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

I was only four years old, but I was two weeks away from my fifth birthday at that point.  What I remember most was being in my mom’s car, listening to all the radio stations playing Beatles’ and John Lennon solo tunes.  I didn’t know much about the Beatles when I was four.  But I do know my parents loved them.  I also remember being at my grandparents that day, and every television show had some kind of John Lennon tribute.  I’m not sure I knew was a “tribute” actually was at almost five years old.  But I do remember it being a sad and solemn day.

But out of death comes life.  Sounds cliche, but it is true.  John Lennon was no longer with us, but his music and art lived on in many different forms.  I remember watching the Imagine documentary at 13 years old.  My dad buying Julian’s album several years after John’s death, and remarking on the son’s songwriting and singing ability.  The rumors that Paul, George and Ringo would tour with Julian.  I always thought it was a good thing that they let the Beatles go with John.  It wouldn’t be right to do things as “the Beatles,” making them a sideshow act.  It was always those four.

I moved not too far from where John lived and was subsequently murdered.  I try to every year make it over to Strawberry Fields on John’s birthday and life celebration on 12/8 to sing some Beatles’ and Lennon songs.  Knowing that maybe I won’t see total peace and love in my lifetime, but for a brief moment we can Imagine it to be true.    I hopped by Central Park to sing a few songs with the group the day I went to the Ranger game where Gabby was “born.”

I’ve often said that sports has been escapism for me.  Music has been a form of creativity and sometimes inspires me in ways sports simply cannot.  Sometimes, they intersect here on Gal For All Seasons.  And like knowing my first childhood memory was surrounded by a musician I deeply admire and whose artistry I loved, sports and music often give me comfort in my life.

Death is a part of life, but life does indeed move on.  Lennon was with us 40 years, and has been gone 37 years.  Even my sports teams who have lived and been born again — 1986 Mets, 1994 Rangers — have probably more significance now or as much as they did when they were current.  Though my first memory was entrenched in a very sad world event that shocked many, sports and music have brought me incredible joy and passion ever since.

In recent years, I’ve been able to follow another one of my passions: pet care.  When I was younger, I thought I might be a veterinarian, but being the empath I am, I don’t think I could bear to see any animal in pain.  As much as vets help them, I just didn’t think I could be a funeral director either.  But I got to work with dogs and cats in providing their care, and I still had my cats, Cassie and Napoleon Dynamite, at home to keep me company (and most often, on my toes).

Cassie’s been with me since 2002.  She was separated from her litter and was yowling for food and attention at two weeks old behind my old Jersey City apartment.  We found a nursing mother and litter, she stayed with them, she was weaned and became my cat and life mate at about eight weeks old.

She and I went through a lot together.  She lived with me for 15 years through six different apartments and in four different cities.  Napoleon Dynamite Kitty joined our family in 2005.  They didn’t always get along, but thank goodness for Jackson Galaxy in helping get them to at least coexist in our small space.  There was a bad break up somewhere in there, and then a fun and happy marriage to her Pawppy.

As I relate to my earliest childhood memory, I related her life to certain sports milestones.  She came into my life in the Mo Vaughn Mets era.  She was there for three postseason runs for the Mets, the late season collapse in 2007, with both cats wondering why I paced so much watching late season games, needing every game to be a win.

I made the decision to move to New York City in 2008 after spending lots of time in the city due to work and play related to sports social media.  I remember when she went hiding after I celebrated a Rangers postseason win a little too loudly during their 2012 run.  And I’m pretty sure both cats wondered why I threw a box of perfectly good Domino’s boneless Buffalo chicken nuggets after Russell Wilson threw an interception in the last moments of Super Bowl 49.

She was a nurse when husbo couldn’t go to an early season Mets game in 2011 due to an illness, so she stayed in bed with him while I was able to go.  She’d get annoyed when I wanted to sit on the same couch with her during a game, so I could, you know, watch said game.  Or when I was trying to write a blog post or even Tweet from my desktop, she’d be like, I’m sitting on *MY* computer chair, Meowmmy.  “I only let you sit on it when I say so,” her saucer-like eyes seemed to be telling me.

CassieI’d like to think she was happiest in my latest home on 84th Street, where I finally feel connected to the city, my life and maybe that every shitty decision I made since 2009 came to some kind of pass.  She had big windows and wide windowsills to lay on.  As she got older (and fatter…), she couldn’t jump as high or as much as she wanted to.  Earlier this year, we had an Asdrubal Cabrera bobblehead Mets giveaway.  We kept the bobblehead AND the box.  Cassie decided the box was a perch in which she’d alternately lay her head to watch the birds who sometimes congregated outside our windows.  Or where I’d set her food dish, so that she’d eat her dinner before her greedy brother tried to say, “Yo, you gonna eat that?”

A. Bartlett Giamatti once said that baseball is designed to break your heart.  Being a pet parent does that too.  Along with bringing joy and if you’re lucky euphoria and laughter.  We have no control over game outcomes, only our teams can do that.  Sometimes as pet parents, we need to make difficult but necessary decisions to ensure that they are not in pain.

CCCAt 1:05 pm on Saturday, December 9th, we said goodbye to Cassiopeia Cat Cooper.  Cassie.  Poo Kitty.  CCC.  She was 15 years old.  She was a sweet but sassy girl who had strong opinions about everything.  She wasn’t always the friendliest cat, but she was a good cat and friend.  I like to think I gave her a good life, and that she was happy when she crossed.  In turn, as pet parents, we know we have the option to give them a peaceful and painless death.  Unfortunately, we had to exercise that option today.

I noticed on Wednesday, she seemed a little off.  Thursday, I was concerned.  By that evening, I had decided to take her to the emergency vet.  She wasn’t able to come home.

Death is an inevitable part of life.  And today is the kind of day we always dread as pet parents.  Yet it is a necessary evil.  I brought her to the hospital on the anniversary of John Lennon’s death.  Due to my life and memories I think of this event every year, even without the multiple tributes.  Now I have a very personal reason of pain and loss to memorialize it as well.

Music and sports have helped me get through a lot of pain and heartache in my life.  (And we all know sports have contributed to a lot of that heartache as well.)  Cassie has been a great companion.  Through the ups and downs in life and sports and art, I could come home knowing she’d be there (along with the boy cat).  Eventually, I know I will instinctively stop trying to look for where she is hiding in the house. So will Napoleon.

Until then, I’ll give Napoleon a few extra love scritches, watch the Sounders, Rangers and Seahawks, and know that one day I will wake up, and this pain won’t be the first thing I think of.  (And hey, if the Seahawks could win this weekend, that wouldn’t hurt either.)

Some pets leave an indelible paw print on your heart.  I had Cody when I was growing up.  And Cassie was my companion animal for my adult years.  I will miss her for the rest of my days.

pookitty

In my life, Cassie, I love you more.

Cassiopeia Cat “Cassie” Cooper
April 4, 2002 – December 9, 2017 

 

As Seasons Roll On By

Summer nights and long warm days
Are stolen as the old moon falls
My mirror shows another face
Another place to hide it all
Another place to hide it all
Sunday, May 21, 2017.  We are well into the Eastern Conference Final of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  I’m sure most of you are well aware that my team, the New York Rangers, did not make it past the second round.  I wasn’t going to write about it, make it all “okay” or anything typical of what you are to see here on Gal For All Seasons.  I kind of did the Five Stages of Grief, but backwards.  I let everyone know that once the Rangers lost Game Five, after gutting out two wins on home ice to get the series against Ottawa 2-2, that I had made peace with the outcome.  And late into the game, it appeared as though that outcome was a loss.  And it was.
Then literally the next day, I had sadness, and anger came and went.  As I said, I did my five stages in my own unique way.
So once again, I see a team that is not mine playing for a trophy that each season that passes, seems more and more unlikely that I will see this generation win a Stanley Cup.  I don’t want to get peaceful about it and say it’s all good, because it’s not.  As I was saying to NotJeff and Will the night they were eliminated, we will be the same assholes next year who watch and don’t see another championship.  Because I can pretty much guarantee that they won’t do right by Henrik Lundqvist and won’t win while he is on the team.
That, my friends, is acceptance.
Sleeping with a full moon blanket
Sand and feathers for my head
Dreams have never been the answer
And dreams have never made my bed
Dreams have never made my bed
Yet, this time of the year, while baseball is in full swing, I get nostalgic.  If you have been following this site as long as I’ve had it up and running, you will know that the Pet Shop Boys hold a place near and dear to my heart when it comes to watching Rangers playoff hockey.  Which is odd because I highly doubt when they wrote and produced the album “Very,” they had an 18 year old hockey fan in mind.
But mostly, I get to thinking.  Not so much nostalgia, but what my life was like as a fan of a team that won a title.  Sure, the Seahawks won one not too long ago.  But I felt as though I was on the peripheral, that I hadn’t yet quite paid my dues.  And when the Mets won in 1986, I was 10 years old.  I had only been a fan three years at that point, sure.  But I certainly had no idea that to be a Mets fan, there is usually a lot of pain involved in the process.
With the Rangers though, it’s more an exercise in futility really.
I’ve been thinking a lot about 1994 lately, and it has nothing to do with the Rangers.  Certainly, that was a significant event in my life that year, including graduating from high school and going away to college.  A coming of age process for sure, and the Pet Shop Boys were a huge soundtrack in my life then.
Now I wanna fly above the storm
But you can’t grow feathers in the rain
And the naked floor is cold as hell
This naked floor reminds me
Oh the naked floor reminds me

And then there’s Soundgarden and the Seattle “sound” of the ’90s.  I disliked Nirvana, but I loved the other significant bands that grew out of that era.  That summer, Soundgarden’s Superunknown was a significant portion of my playlist (before I even knew it was a term).

Black Hole Sun.  Day I Tried To Live.  Fell On Black Days.  Some of it very dark, dreary (much like the weather that inspires the Seattle 1990s sound).  Heavy.  I’d belt that shit out as I drove like no one’s business.
I went through a lot that year, personally.  My high school sweetheart and I called it quits after being together since freshman year, I was going through some home turmoil because I was leaving to go to school,

I also had great joy.  The Rangers won a championship.  I had a new set of friends.  I dated a lot of cute boys.  I went to a lot of concerts. I borrowed my mom’s car (without permission) to go to Woodstock.  Now, that was a fun summer.  Two dark albums though got to the heart of my conflicting feelings, feelings in dealing with the inevitable changes that were happening in my life whether I liked it or not.  The Crow soundtrack still makes me sit and listen, which was a biggie that year.  And there was Superunknown, through several moves and maybe someone “borrowing” and never returning it, it’s been misplaced.  I haven’t listened to it in years, unfortunately.

But I loved Chris Cornell’s voice.  I still have a copy of Singles, the quintessential early ’90s movie soundtrack that was required listening of Generation X.
When I heard about the death of Chris Cornell last week, I thought of several things.  Of course, the first thought was loss, and my own regret of having never seen him or Soundgarden live when I had the chance.  (Note to self: your rock gods do indeed pass away at some point).
I thought about that summer when I really started to listen to different music and go to different shows.  And I realize I always tie in my love of sports and music together.

My next thought was sadness.  While it’s always sad to lose a rock icon, you can’t help but think due to his age, that he still had more to do and more to say in this lifetime.  His music catalog is what remains, his art will live on and blah blah blah.

I couldn’t help but feel connected to a song that die hard Cornell fans would know about, but also one that struck me at a very poignant time in my life.

If I should be short on words
And long on things to say
Could you crawl into my world
And take me worlds away?
Should I be beside myself
And not even stay

Three years ago, the Rangers made it to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since that fateful 1993-94 season.  I was at a weird spot in my life, professionally.  I was building a business, participating in the “sharing” economy, and not very sure of what my next steps were.  Huge difference from when I was 18 years old, ready to face the world and pretty much thought I knew everything.  (Spoiler alert: I didn’t).  Though they were down in the series 3-0, I had a chance to jump at discounted tickets (in the sense that they were nearly a grand less than they were before game three).  I went with my friend Joanne, and they won their only game, a home game.  Even though I had a lot of tumult in my professional life (and subsequent personal life), I just knew I had to go to that game.  Mostly because I was pushing 20 the last time they made it, and I was then pushing 40.  I didn’t want to be 60 the next time they made it, regretful I didn’t take my shot in 2014 to see them play live in a Stanley Cup Final.
In the hot late spring of ’94, I spent a lot of time traveling to the city to watch the Stanley Cup Final games with my dad.  On my way home, I’d listen to bands like Rage Against The Machine, Violent Femmes, Live, Pet Shop Boys, Mother Love Bone, Green Day.  Different styles, yet they totally made sense to me.
Each year, I think about the pain and agony that ultimately succumbed to absolute joy, only to have things change so dramatically by leaving home and starting school.  Basically, I went from comfort to not knowing shit.  But I’d get in the car, put on some Pearl Jam or Soundgarden, and I was ready to get introspective.
I think about that time, and wonder if I’ll ever have that payoff again with my team.  Any of my teams.  Which is why I turn to that year (1994) a lot in my writing.  Basically because it’s something I have.  But it was also a year that I grew, as a person, and the Rangers and music made me that way.
And I’m lost behind
Words I’ll never find
And I’m left behind
As seasons roll on by
Chris Cornell, Seasons
Another sports season has come and gone in the life of the Gal For All Seasons.  I spend 365 days a year obsessed about where and how I will watch my games, or figure out a way to get to find out what’s happening.  One of the struggles I had with being a blogger who followed sports was thinking about my angle for when I would write about it.  I spent a few days after the Rangers were eliminated wondering if I would ever want to talk about it.
I thought about how I can think about football season and when my next trip to Seattle will be.  While some people may wonder how it was easy to jump ship at a later age to a different team and city, it wasn’t difficult for me.  I often say I was born to be a Mets and Rangers fan.  But I was meant to be a Seattle Seahawks fan because of my ties to a city I didnt know I had.
A big part of that why is my association with music and sports is so closely intertwined.  One of my first thoughts on hearing Chris Cornell’s death was how my Seattle friends would feel, and what the city would do to honor one of their sons who put the city on the map, musically.
Seasons change, and people change and grow.  Chris Cornell’s “Seasons” changed me in ways I had no idea how, until today.  It was a song on the Singles soundtrack, and believe me, if you’ve made it this far, you can wonder how I can be “short on words and long on things to say.”
Every year that I am reflecting on a season that could’ve been, I will think of potential of years, time and people lost.  I’ll think of thought processes I’ve shed that make me evolve and not exist.  How my life has changed dramatically in ways in 10 years, let alone since I was 18 years old.  It’s not good or bad, just different from what I expected.  And that’s okay.
Music and sports though, that’s the one constant I can rely on.  Sure, each year I shake off losses, but as I get older, I realize how finite our time is here on Earth.  And wonder if I’ll get that euphoric feeling again of sharing in that moment of a great win.  And the seasons get harder to pass, and I’m not getting any younger.  But it makes me feel as though the journey will ultimately make it worthwhile.

Smile On Your Brother

Some may come and some may go
We shall surely pass
When the one that left us here
Returns for us at last
We are but a moment’s sunlight
Fading in the grass

~  The Youngbloods, Get Together

I usually approach the last home game of the regular baseball season with sadness but joy.   But as I related here, this season was very different.  In fact, it was quite possibly one of the saddest and weirdest weeks of baseball if I can ever remember.

I described what went on with my team, and the perspective I had with watching them after they closed their regular home season.

We anticipated some sad news that was about to happen: Vin Scully, voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers, was retiring.  His last home game we knew would be Sunday, September 25.

What we didn’t know was that we would awake that day to some horrific news that crushed Major League Baseball, and that was the death of young phenom, former Rookie of the Year and All-Star pitcher, Jose Fernandez, who died in a tragic boating accident early Sunday morning.  The story could end right there, and it would be tragic.  Yet, it was more so not just because of his age and the potential he had to be one of the all-time greats, but because we also knew his back story. How he attempted to defect from Cuba four times, and the last time when he was successful he dove into the rough waters to save his own mother, who had fallen overboard.  And the news that he had just announced mere days before his death that he and his girlfriend were expecting a baby girl.

I don’t think my generation can even come close to thinking or feeling any loss like this that hit so close to home.  I guess maybe when Clemente died in 1972.  Yet, that was in the offseason.  I’m sure that it didn’t make the fact he was gone any less tragic.  Two others passed during the season, Thurman Munson and Darryl Kile, that all sent shockwaves.

Nick Adenhart was killed in a drunk driving accident after his very first start as an Angel in 2009.  The Adenhart happened early in the season, and yet the pain was still so very raw when I happened to visit Angel Stadium late that same season.

cimg2526 cimg2525

But also I couldn’t help but be reminded of Bobby Ojeda, who was the lone survivor in a boating accident that took two of his teammates in 1993, Steve Olin and Tim Crews of the Cleveland Indians.  Mets fan favorite Ojeda rarely talks about the incident, has endured flashbacks since and describes the feelings he’s had since as a “black pit.”

Baseball is a family that we can feel as spectators, but the close knit communities really hit close to home.

We saw Keith Hernandez break down on the air, talking about how the time to talk to your loved ones is now, mentioning his good friend Bobby O.  Gary Cohen cracked after the memorial service on Monday at Marlins Park.  Dee Gordon visibly cried as he ran the bases after hitting a home run off of Bartolo Colon on Monday night.  Many teams around baseball had ways of honoring Fernandez, whether it was creating jerseys in his honor, writing his initials on their caps…there was something special about Jose.

And now he’s gone.

I think I only saw him pitch once at CitiField.  He did have one year that he was out due to injury.  We saw him on the parade route for the All-Star Game in 2013, which was held here in New York.  The time was short, sweet and oh so memorable.  There wasn’t a person in baseball he didn’t touch and namely, his Cuban compadres (like Yoenis Cespedes, who apparently didn’t even know him all that well, but had a fellow Cuban bond automatically).

Sadly, I have to say I don’t think I appreciated him enough when he played.  Some of it had to do with the fact that he played for our enemy but also he was out for an entire season of his short career.  I didn’t make it a point to see any games against the Mets when he started.  Sadly, that was all my loss.  I’ve had this sort of regret cast a pall over several instances in my life.  I said earlier this year that I always regretted never seeing the Ramones when I had a chance.  After Glenn Frey died, I lamented the fact that I had never seen the Eagles.  I had plenty of chances to do either.  I just didn’t.

Seems silly to think this way.  It just never occurred to me that they might be gone one day.  I said as much early this year, when Frey passed away.

And especially in the case of Jose Fernandez, it is the idea of wasted talent like Sonny talked about in Bronx Tale that will probably haunt me as I get older.

What added another level of sadness was that we were losing Vin Scully, who we knew was retiring.  When I was in college, someone told me that when her mother was a little girl, she said that she had no idea that anyone else besides Franklin Delano Roosevelt could have been President, since he had been all of her life (till he passed).  It didn’t occur to me that Scully would ever want to retire.  I guess there comes a time for everything though.

Luckily, for me, I’ve had the opportunity to hear Scully.  As a Mets fan, you can’t help but think about the 1986 World Series that he called.  Famously said after the Game Six heroics, after allowing the fans’ reaction do the talking for him, he said…if a picture is worth a thousand words, you have seen about a million! 

If you are reading this because you follow me for the Mets…tell me the thought of that quote in Scully’s voice did not put a big smile on your face.  I know it always does for me.

I had a tough time getting through Sunday.  It was supposed to be a happy time for us fans, celebrating our team and their accomplishments.  Yet, the moment was so much bigger than any shellacking of the Phillies could be for me.

Not one person had a harsh word for Fernandez, and later we celebrated Vin.

I had felt sick to my stomach most of the day.  Then we got home and finished watching the Dodger game, which ended on a walk off.  Because Vin Scully’s last game had to have additional baseball at no extra cost.

Of course it did.

I smiled.  As the Dodgers not only celebrated their walkoff win, but their NL West championship clinching, they took a moment to honor Vin.  As he addressed the crowd, he should have warned me, thatt I was about to cry as audio of him serenading the crowd with the song “Wind Beneath My Wings” played in the background.

I can’t actually believe that after the horrific way Sunday had started for baseball fans everywhere, I finally broke down and cried during Vin Scully’s last stand.

Baseball has brought generations of fans and families together.  Families we choose.  Families by blood.  Yet, the biggest family in baseball are the actual teams, and how each player feels loss.  We seem to think that these guys are robots.  They are not.  This was evident by how everyone came together and lifted one another up to get through this difficult time.

While our hearts broke for the loss of Jose Fernandez, baseball players lost a friend, a brother, a teammate or fellow countryman.  We said so long to Vin Scully, but his voice will be alive I’m sure in many Dodger classics.

I have to say, it was such an odd day of loss and feelings I won’t forget for quite some time.

What I will most remember is how we all came together as a family to say some sad goodbyes and saw just how healing and good that baseball could do.

We Are Stardust

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By the time we got to Woodstock, we were half a million strong,
And everywhere was a song and a celebration.
And I dreamed I saw the bomber jet planes riding shotgun in the sky,
Turning into butterflies above our nation.

We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion year old carbon,
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.

 

Today marks the 47th anniversary of Woodstock, the music festival in upstate New York, held at Yasgur’s Farm.

Three days of peace, love and music.

I had a Woodstock of my own, just a few weeks ago, in Cooperstown.  We celebrated the induction of new members Michael Joseph Piazza, enshrined as a New York Met, and George Kenneth “Ken” Griffey, Jr, forever a Seattle Mariner.

For baseball fans, baseball’s holy grail is Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Prior to four weekends ago, I was there last in 1992, there to celebrate the first ever Met to be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame, and that was George Thomas Seaver.

Up until that time a few weekends ago, as big a baseball fan as my husband is, he’d never been there, period.  I had at least been there twice before: once when I was seven (and really way too young to appreciate it) and in 1992, when I was 16, and there was construction going on, so I didn’t get to see a lot of it.

All I can say is…give yourself about a day.  And maybe go in late fall or in the winter, when nobody is in Cooperstown.

Because EVERYBODY was in Cooperstown on the weekend of July 22-24.

What I feel is special about the two ceremonies I’ve been to in Cooperstown were not only celebrating the two Mets who have gone in, but I also had the distinction of seeing two players go in who were the first ever as a representative of that team (and both with the first name “George” and did not go by that name).  I think that is pretty fuckin cool.

13640727_10154208408738280_7394126211724188538_oAnd I got to share this moment with not only my dad and my husband, but 50,000 of my closest friends (plus a few close friends who made the trip with us, of course).

I would call it my Woodstock.  A place where generations get together and not only love each other right now, but celebrate something they are passionate about.  In 1969, it was peace and music.  In 2016, it was New York baseball and the Pacific Northwest.

In accordance with most Hall of Fame traditions, Piazza’s number was retired by the Mets a week later, and Junior’s was retired by the Mariners (and in an unprecedented move, 24 can no longer be worn by anyone in the Mariners organization, even the minor leagues) while I was taking another baseball trip in Detroit.

I wanted to wait to write about it…but I had a lot going on.  I got sick about a week after we returned from Cooperstown, and then I had another trip to take (which was probably ill-advised, but I got it done).

A few things stood out.

Everyone came together and picked each other up where they left off.  It was really quite amazing and really the definition of a community.  See the picture of the wacky Mets fans above?  That’s myself, my dad, Ed, and our friends Tracey and Maria with her son Antonio.  We all found our ways of getting up there.  If someone didn’t have a room, we shared our room.  Someone didn’t have a way to get around?  We piled into a car to get from point A to point B.  (We did a lot of driving…and cursing too…that was mostly me though….well, maybe my #SistersInObscenity joined in too).  Too lazy to go out to eat?  Get Taco Bell from a shady town in upstate New York!  Hotel breakfast sucks?  DUNKIN FOR ALL!

Want a snack?  Go into Maria’s bag.  Want a blue or orange Gatorade?  We got the cooler over there.  Put anything you want in there.

Water.  Water water water water.  It was hot.  Oppressive.  Believe me when I say…there is no heat or humidity on this planet than when you are by a lake.

I’m mildly obsessed with Barry Larkin and Johnny Lee Bench.  I’m going to have to go into an entire blog post of why I will always lament that Larkin was never a Met.  And as for Bench, I had a thing for him while watching the Baseball Bunch back in the day.  But I kind of forgot about that till I visited Cincinnati last year.

Seeing baseball heroes up close and personal at the Main Street parade gave us all the warm and fuzzies.  Juan Marichal simulated a leg kick when people chanted at him.  Randy Johnson filmed US.

I had no idea how many people I actually knew.  I ran into so many people on the streets, at the parade randomly, and at the Clark Field where the ceremony actually was held (and you’d think with 50,000 people, you wouldn’t be as visible).  It was like a family reunion.  A Summer Family reunion.

All we needed was a few jam bands and a peace pipe to pass around, and it’s Woodstock all over again.

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My dad turned around to give me a high five as soon as Piazza started to give his speech.  We’ve seen many special things together, including Seaver and Piazza going into the HOF, as well as many concerts like seeing Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney multiple times.

Since I got married, Ed and I have been to multiple stadiums together.  I’ve been to 23 total, he 18 . Since we got married, we’ve hit 17 of those stadiums he’s been to.  It’s pretty amazing.  We’ve even visited a few of them multiple times.

One of those cities and stadiums we’ve adopted as our own was Seattle.

While we are Blue and Orange through and through, there is something really special about the city of Seattle to us.  To hear Ken Griffey Jr’s speech on how proud he was to be a Seattle Mariner, plus his number retirement in Seattle (where they brought out all the Seattle sports greats like Steve Largent, Cortez Kennedy, Spencer Haywood, Gary Payton to honor him).

I know what Piazza did for the Mets in the late 90s and early aughts.  But I seriously sobbed during the Griffey part of the ceremony and got nothing but the feels when it came to my second city honoring him.

I don’t know what about baseball reduces us to sobs.  Listening to Junior talk about how much he loved Jay Buhner, every time, gets me right in the feels.  Piazza, when talking about his family, just shows how much of baseball takes a village to be successful.

And up to this weekend, I really didn’t think I played well with others.  It turns out I just need to coin new curse words to be a real team player.

Then can I walk beside you
I have come here to lose the smog
And I feel to be a cog in something turning
Well maybe it is just the time of year
Or maybe it’s the time of man
I don’t know who l am
But you know life is for learning

I wasn’t around for Woodstock.  As a Mets fan, I know it was a super special time to be alive in 1969.  It meant that the underdog could win.  It meant that something bigger than themselves can bring people together.

And though I had gone up for a few sets in Woodstock 1994, I had a hard time trying to figure out what Crosby Stills and Nash were singing about, and what Joni Mitchell had written about that historic weekend in upstate New York that shut down the New York Thruway.

Experiencing the Hall of Fame ceremony this year was a special time.  I won’t soon forget it.  But this was our Woodstock.  We were merely billion year old carbon.

Let’s Go Crazy

1983-new-york-mets-official-score-book-keith-hernandez-6a2b27c1b71dcecfc0bc142f1e7cd7d8When I talk about my sports fandom, I often refer to the year 1983.  I was seven years old, just finishing up first grade.  I had to write a stupid little “my favorite things” essay (well, what a seven year old could anyway).

I wrote about what I liked (cats, chocolate and the beach).  But I also had to write about my mom and my dad’s likes.  My mom said that my dad liked the Mets.

I didn’t know what “Mets” was.  My teacher did though.  When she graded it, she wrote on the paper, “My dad is a Mets fan too.”

Pretty sure it was a short time later, my dad was watching TV, and I sat on the couch with him.  I asked him what he was watching, and he said he was watching the Mets game.  He took it upon himself to tell me that under no circumstances was I to ever be a Yankees fan.  And to a kid, especially in the tri-state area, the Yankees logo was crammed down our throats as much as McDonald’s or even Kellogg’s cereals.

I liked my dad, though.  So I figured, if he liked those guys (the Mets), then I liked those guys too.

And thirty something years later, I still like those guys.  Thanks, Dad.

Looking back, when I wrote the essay (which I remember was late in the school year), and the year (1983), it was a significant time for the Mets and their fans in general.  “The Franchise” Tom Seaver was brought back as a sign of goodwill for fans on the direction of the team.

Probably also around that same time, a beloved folk hero was traded to the team.  His name was Keith Hernandez.

maxresdefaultMy sports fandom often intersects with my love for music.  My dad is a blues musician, and my mother has a pretty great singing voice.  I’ve probably been exposed to everything from Beethoven to Beatles from the time I was in the womb by the time I started school.   The same year I started to understand what baseball was, I discovered something else…two things, actually.  Music Television (I WANT MY MTV!) and new wave music.

Mostly Duran Duran.

School shopping for second grade that summer, my mother would bring me to the mall.  The Macy’s kids department was an annex of the big department store.  I hated going shopping with her.  Mostly because she’d make me, as a seven and eight year old, stand around and wait while she discount shopped.  The only little bribe I’d get is that she’d sometimes get me cookies from the cookie stand.  And no, Monmouth Mall did not have a food court at the time.

One day we had to go to Macy’s kids store, I saw something on the televisions that played identical simultaneous videos.  I saw a bunch of little girls, around my age, congregating around the video display.  I told my mom (who never could understand that I was a tomboy and most comfortable in stuff that wasn’t a dress, and really didn’t care for shopping) that I was going to the video display.  She had no objections.  Looking back, she could probably get more of my school shopping done without my snotty attitude about not wanting to be there.

The video playing was “Hungry Like The Wolf” by Duran Duran.  I had heard the song several times on the old Z-100.  It was catchy.  I liked it a lot.

However, I had no idea what the band who played said song LOOKED like.

I developed my first crush.  And a girl standing next to me asked if I had heard of Duran Duran.  I remember what she looked like.  Freckles, brown hair, probably at the horrible awkward stage I’d later hit at age 10.  I told her I had.  She then proceeded to give me a crash course about the band and the names of the members.  Simon.  Nick.  John.  Roger.  Andy, who was married.

Funny how much of this conversation I remembered, since these days I barely remember what I had for breakfast.  I was really captivated by the imagery of the videos.  Chances are, if you grew up in that time period, you were too.

The song and video that stood out for me was “Save A Prayer.”  The haunting song and melody, the soothing synth played by Nick, the sensual dance of Simon and Clare, who according to this girl I was watching the videos with, were “boyfriend and girlfriend.”

After that visit, I started buying magazines like Tiger Beat and 16.  They were the only places I could get my Duran Duran fix.  At the Collingswood Auction, I bought “Rio” with my allowance money.

When I was seven, I was introduced to two things that helped shape my personality forever.  At the time I didn’t know it, of course.  It took me several years before I did realize this.

Also as a girl from a small town in New Jersey, liking a British new wave band and Major League Baseball team?  Yeah.  Made me a little weird.

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While 1983 might have shifted my personality, it wasn’t until 1984 that I went to my first live sporting event at Shea Stadium.  Of course, it was a Mets game.  I was destined to be a Mets fan.  This was one of Dwight Gooden’s few starts that he was shellacked in that year (where he went on to win Rookie of the Year), but it was also a game against the Houston Astros whose starter was none other than former Met, Nolan Ryan.  Now, I had literally no idea who that guy was then.  But boy, when I look at the history of this team, of course he would teach little Doc a lesson on the mound the day.

The Mets lost, 10-1.  We left probably around the 8th inning to beat traffic.  I dozed off in the car, and woke up somewhere probably in Brooklyn.  The old WHN was on, because we listened to the end of the game as we left.  My dad said, the game is over.  I asked if the Mets won.

Yeap, I was a fan.

I noticed there was a giveaway in a few weeks.  If I remember correctly, it was Memorial Day weekend.  Sports bag day.  See, a 10-1 loss wasn’t enough to keep me away.  I wanted to go back.  Seriously.  I was a masochist even back then.

Yet, 1984 was one of the most memorable summers I can remember as a child.  If you are old enough to remember it, it was an influential time for you too.   Besides learning about the Mets, and what pennant races were, Ghostbusters was a popular movie that came out that summer.  I remember listening to bands like The Cars, and Duran Duran had a popular song called “The Reflex” (not one of my favorites, even to this day).  Videos were becoming the norm.

What was also influential that I think if you were a young child, really gave you a crash course in Americana.  It was not only the Reagan – Mondale election year, the Summer Olympics were also held in Los Angeles.  I really had no idea how powerful that was for American pride that year.  Basically, we all shit out red, white and blue.  It was ridiculous.

Two American music artists had captured our imagination.

One was my New Jersey hero, Bruce Springsteen.

Another was an enigmatic artist named Prince.

I can’t listen to either Born in the U.S.A. nor Purple Rain without thinking how that year influenced me not only as a child, but how much it holds over me as an adult.

I always kind of associated both of those musicians together.  I didn’t realize why, until I read this great post that was written two years ago by Ryan McNutt, about how their artistry intersected, though being completely different styles of music.  You could appreciate and love both.  They were artists of the people.  Vastly different musicians, but influential around the same time.

I didn’t know this at age eight.  All I know is that I really dug songs like “When Doves Cry” or “Purple Rain,” and I really loved “Dancing in the Dark,” and hoped that one day I’d be all like Courteney Cox and dance with The Boss on stage.

*************************************************************************

I kept saying that our heroes were going away.  In 2011, we found out that a Mets legend from 1986 was diagnosed with brain cancer, and he passed away soon after.  When I heard about Gary Carter, I called my dad and cried.  Everyone has a cliche story about Kid Sunshine, and mine was that I met him after a game where he served as a guest coach for the Brooklyn Cyclones.  I basically babbled about how much I loved him in the ’80s and how much he meant to me.  Right before he was diagnosed with cancer, he sat in for a Mets podcast with my old Kiners Korner team, and I told him about one of my fondest memories of being a Mets fan was about him (Mets home opener in 1985).

If you like narrative, he hit that home run off Neil Allen, who was one of the trade chips for the guy indirectly responsible for me being a Mets fan today, and that’s Keith Hernandez.

Seeing Doc Gooden pitch in 1984 is why I stayed a fan.

Some of the most influential years of my life happened while I was a child.  Many of my likes and dislikes, and outright loves, happened to come along in 1983 and 1984.

When I heard about Prince Rogers Nelson’s death today, I was sad.  More than that, I thought of the arc his music had served in my life.  The intersection of music and sports for me, takes it all.  Minnesota sports teams also felt an impact from his artistry.

 

 

 

I wouldn’t say I was the biggest Prince fan.  But I was a fan.  I had seen Prince, thankfully, in 2004.  When I heard he passed, I sat on a city bench and watched videos of some live shows.  You just needed to get close to Prince when you heard about it.

When Joey Ramone died, I had enormous regret that I had never seen the Ramones live.  I had plenty of opportunity.  I figured the Ramones would never die.

I really liked the Eagles.  Then Glenn Frey had to go and die this year.  Never saw the Eagles live.

I remember telling my dad in 2005 that we needed to see Paul McCartney.  Dad’s favorite Beatle, George Harrison, died, having never saw him live (he didn’t tour much, but that’s besides the point).  My first show was Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band in 1989.  The Beatles have served as a soundtrack in my life (no pun intended).

From 2004 to 2006, I went to so many live shows that had influence on my adult life.  (McCartney was one, and Duran Duran’s original line up reunited in 2004, which was good because I wouldn’t see them until they reunited with Roger Taylor…I’m weird, leave me alone).

The way I described Prince was like attending a party for tens of thousands of people, where the guest of honor was celebrated all night.  When George Harrison died, my dad said he felt as though a part of his youth had gone. I felt as though a part of my youth was gone when Gary Carter passed.

And today, a big part of my identity as a sports and music fan has gone with Prince due to that one crazy summer and year of 1984.

The postscript to my Prince affinity happened in Halloween of 1986.  Just four days prior to October 31, the Mets had won the World Series.  If you know me five minutes, you know how much this influenced my personality then and now.

I had gone to a Halloween Party where there was a DJ, and I was dressed as a Met.  (My mother always made these elaborate costumes, and this was one of the lazier costumes I had worn, but whatever).  The DJ made a special shout out to “all you Mets fans out there!”  Clearly, that was me (no one else was a vocal about being a Mets fan than I was, plus I was wearing the costume, so there).

The song she chose was “Let’s Go Crazy.”

It’s tough to think of a world without Prince in it.  As I said after Michael Jackson’s death, Michael will never truly be “dead” because his music lives on forever.

Same with Prince.  And my memories tied to him and my love for sports will stay with me as long as I am here on Earth.

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…

FullSizeRender(1) FullSizeRender(2)

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…

MatureSelfreliantAtlasmoth

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.

Waiting For That Day

Now everybody’s talking about this new decade…Like you say the magic number…Then just say goodbye to the stupid mistakes you made…Oh, my memory serves me far too well…

I noticed George Michael sings a lot about “waiting.” He teamed up with the queen of soul, Aretha Franklin to claim he knew *you* we’re waiting for *him*. 

While he wanted to heal your pain, he waited for the day to make you his.

But the song that got me as I listened to my George Michael / Wham! mix was a song entitled “Waiting For That Day.”

I listened to this mix on Sunday as I got ready for game five of the World Series that my beloved Mets were playing. Like many of my teams in recent memory, they were on the brink of elimination that night. And since the last out was recorded on Sunday, and the Kansas City Royals were named World Champs, I’ve been waiting myself…waiting for the right words to post here in response to the crazy and zany ride that 2015 was for the New York Mets.

I started to write this post on Monday, as a stream of consciousness.  And with the zaniness of this year (and that’s how I described this year a lot: ZANY.  If you’ve been a Mets fan for several decades like I have, 2015 would have stood out for several other reasons besides the improbable run to the World Series), I’ve had a hard time putting this into words.  Which is difficult for someone who fancies herself as a sports content blogatrix.  I don’t think it got any easier over time, either.
Don’t you know that the years will come and go…Some of us will change our lives, some of us still have nothing to show…Nothing, baby, but memories

Okay, so if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I struggled with this World Series, like, a lot.  Please don’t misinterpret that as I was ungrateful or unhappy that my team made it.  Make no mistake: I was THRILLED that my team was in it.  I know this shit does not happen every day. But as I discussed in my post-traumatic Mets disorder post (which transcended just Mets, since I noticed similarities with my other teams), I went from wanting to scream if someone made a mention of 1986 or wanting to deck someone if they even claimed it was over.  Such is life as a Mets fan.  Believing up to the very end is in our DNA.  But sometimes, reality does like to bite you in ass on your way out.

Why was I so upset about the 1986 references?  For starters, the teams were totally different.  Yes, I do realize people were using it as an example to say, hey, even good teams go down two games to none and can still win the World Series.  But it completely ignored other historical standpoints.  For example, that shit rarely happens.  And I had seen this unfold in front of me not too long ago.  As a Rangers fan, when they lost the first game in the Stanley Cup Final in 2014, I thought, whatever.  They’ll bounce back.  I was upset that the team had the lead and relinquished it at the end.  But I said to myself, meh, the 1994 team lost the first game.  It’s not critical.  Till they repeated that same shit over and over again.

So I rarely like to use past performance as a dictation of future events.  Because towards the end, we really were grasping at straws.  See, the 1986 team was made to dominate.  They had a bunch of boozing and brawling guys who would go to war for one another.  They didn’t have the pitching staff we have today.  For all the emphasis on home grown players, the 1986 team was led by a couple of mercenaries.  They had a break out “career year” by one of their starters whom they traded for in that offseason.  They were not shrinking violets at all.  But if I were to make a comparison of this 2015 Mets team specifically in the World Series, look no further than the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, Rangers vs Kings.  My dad even pointed it out, mostly just how aggravating the losses were.  Because they were all winnable games.

This series though I was pretty pleased with how it was set up.  I knew the Kansas City Royals would be a tough team to beat.  I really had no beef with the way they play the game or any of their players.  It’s not like I was out for blood for a scumbag like Chase Utley or something.  Plus, I was really happy that the Mets played in a series where they wouldn’t be overshadowed by their cross town rivals.  It was nice to just be able to root for the home team, and not have to worry about bragging rights.  Also, I really like KC fans.  They seem like pretty all right people.  I started to follow a few after last year’s run.  A few even congratulated ME on the Mets and said they were not “chumps” at all.  Their fans are not outright jerk offs, like, say, San Francisco (sorry, Tina).

Here’s what gets me.  At the end of the day, we are trained to just say, “Well the better team won and blah blah blah and you just sometimes have to tip your cap.”  But I’ll always be plagued with some ongoing post-traumatic Mets disorder about this one.  As the sayeth goes, this one will sting for awhile.  Because it didn’t have to be that way.  Good teams do find a way to win, and certainly the Royals did just that.

So what now?  My mother even called to check up on me, to see how I was after game five.  To say she doesn’t pay attention to sports is an understatement.  This time, though, I was impressed with the questions she asked me, she asked me about David Wright and his back injury, and how I felt about Daniel Murphy.  I told her that if you put 25 Mets fans in a room, and asked a generic question about Daniel Murphy, you’d probably get 25 different answers.  But mostly, you have the Murphy lovers and the Murphy loathers.  You all know me, as a Murphy lover.

Then my mom asked me how I felt about sweeping the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series…well, first, I was massively impressed that she even paid that much attention.  But also, she seemed to also know that the Cubs had the Mets’ number in the regular season.  I said, “You know what, Mom?  That’s baseball.”

That’s baseball.  A. Bartlett Giamatti said the game is designed to break your heart.  I said right before game five of the NLDS, that no matter what happened that night, I knew they left everything on the field.  And when they won, I was pleasantly surprised.

And when they swept the Cubs, I was again pleasantly surprised.  Mostly because as I told my mom, the Cubs “kicked our ass” in the regular season.  I also knew (rather, thought) they’d be a tough team to beat.  Guess what?  The Mets fucking swept them.

When they won, I didn’t want a fucking participation trophy anymore.  The National League pennant, sure it’s nice.  I’m glad the Mets are the National League Champs of 2015.  But it was then, and only then, that I had allowed myself to truly believe that this could happen.  How could it not?

And I will never stop believing that 2015 was our year.  It should’ve been.  And as the above “tweetster” said, Mets gift-wrapping something to the Royals made them the fucking World Champions.  That’s what was disappointing to me.  This one is going to sting for awhile, I’m sure.

I can’t complain about how good teams take advantage of other team’s mistakes.  That’s what happened here.  I’m sure if that shit had happened to the Mets, I wouldn’t mind.

Here’s the thing.  It’s never our fucking year.  It’s never our fucking time.  And it was then I had asked myself, is getting a pat on the back for making it there when no one believed they would make it all “okay?”

The only thing making it “okay” for me right now is the future.  The Mets’ arms…have me giddy for the future.  These guys embrace the spotlight.  They understand that baseball is show-biz.

So in a way, the good parts of the ’80s that had melted away due to the excesses of the time are finally arising from those ashes.  That’s a good thing.

But once again, we find ourselves at a crossroads.  Today, the Mets had extended a qualifying offer for Daniel Murphy.  While I don’t necessarily think that if he walks, that would be a bad thing.  I would be incredibly sad.  But if he stays, I can cheer on one of my all-time favorite Mets for at least another year.

Without committed ownership to improving the team, we may be back at square one in April.  Meaning, potential squandering of opportunities of the young studly pitching staff.

And I came around to this conclusion about how I felt about 2015:  this is my fear.  This is why I didn’t want to piss away chances in the World Series.  The 2016 Mets could very well be the 2015 Royals.  I wouldn’t complain.  Let the idea of staying hungry and having unfinished business keep them feisty.  Or they could fade away and waste opportunities like the ’80s teams.

Because I have seen this story unfold several times with my teams.

The Mets have brought me a lot of heartache over the years, but they've also brought me such great happiness, along with my partner in crime

The Mets have brought me a lot of heartache over the years, but they’ve also brought me such great happiness, along with my partner in crime.

Seems to me the peace I search to find ain’t gonna be mine until you say you will…Don’t you keep me waiting for that day
I know, you hear these words that I say
I know, you can’t always get what you want…

I haven’t worn any Mets gear since.  That’s how much this has affected me.  I just don’t feel like talking about it, let alone having total strangers comment on them.  I’m sure when the smoke clears, I will be active on Twitter again.  I’ll threaten to give up sports for knitting during the football playoffs.  I’ll curse up a storm watching the Rangers this year. And before I know it, pitchers and catchers will report.

At the end of that song “Waiting For That Day,” George Michael repeats a familiar refrain.  “You can’t always get what you want….You can’t always get what you want…”

It’s another year of waiting.  It’s another year to think about what ifs and how to get that elusive hardware.  Sometimes, we can’t always get what we want.  I’m pretty sure though, we got what we needed this year with a successful Mets team that went far into the playoffs and went neck and neck with the best and gave us some of the fondest memories we’ve had in years.

Until that day, whenever it will be, we will wait.  Wait, because we have no other choice.  Wait, because we know nothing else.  Wait, because we will stare out that window and look for spring to come.

Get Your Post-Traumatic Mets Disorder Here!

Sometimes, it’s hard to be a Mets fan.  Maybe all the time.  We’re constantly straddling the line of being afraid to let ourselves be happy, yet at the same time marrying our belief that “believing” and “hoping” is part of our DNA.  I think I’m somewhere in the middle.  I’m not an optimist, nor a pessimist.  I consider myself a realist.  Optimists think I’m too negative.  Pessimists think I’m too positive.  I guess I consider myself “right.”  For me, anyway.  I couldn’t give less than two shits if a fan is either one.  Just don’t be surprised if I call you out on either.

Here’s the reality: this Kansas City Royals team is REALLY good.  Like, seriously, the biggest competition and realest threat that the Mets have seen this year.  Of course, the “realest” threat is because they’re meeting in the World Series, and the stakes are very high.

Perhaps most of us are not rational beings.  But I like to keep things in perspective.  Like wanting to deck someone who tells me to cheer up because the Mets are in the World Series, and we totally didn’t think that shit would happen on Opening Day.  While true, now that my team is in the big dance, I don’t want them to roll over like teams in the past, take it in the ass and get a trophy for just showing up.  That’s not how any of this works.

On the other hand, I want to throw shit (like, literally *poop*) if someone says the series is over and see you next April.  Uh, no.  This is the best of seven for a reason.

But perhaps you’ve seen this meme going around.

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Or maybe this one too…

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This is my problem with it.  I see very faint similarities with how the 1986 team and 2015 team operate.  The 1986 team was SUPPOSED to win it all.  If they didn’t, and remember they were very close to losing game six, it would’ve been considered not only a massive failure, but a loss would’ve been more difficult to overcome because their veterans weren’t getting any younger.  (And to think we didn’t know about Doc Gooden’s problems with drugs at that time).  I could point to the year 2000, and, well, there is a reason we don’t really have a soft spot for them.  It was the 1999 team who we all loved, they were truly the little team that could.  The 2000 team had Mike Bordick.  Nuff said.

I’ll take it a step further.  The Mets lose game one in 2015 on an error by their star third baseman.  The Mets lose game one in 1986 on a run caused by an error by their second baseman.  Let’s not try to compare David Wright, someone who will be a Mets legend and Tim Teufel, who is only a legend because he played on the ’86 team.  Meanwhile, the Mets should not have even been IN that position of Wright making an error in extra innings because Jeurys Familia had ONE bad pitch in the 9th.  (And hey, did game one of the ’86 World Series have a lead four base error that was scored as an inside-the-park home run? On the VERY FIRST PITCH????).

Or was game one of 2015 like the 2000 World Series where Armando Benitez blew a save.  Even better, Timo Perez to this day is still vilified for not running hard around the bases, causing the Mets to not score in a hot inning.  Yoenis Cespedes was the defensive version of Perez, la-la-la-ing in centerfield on that play.

The 2015 team is much better in so many other ways.  Take the pitching.  Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard, Matz and Wheeler when he’s healthy is a HOLY FUCKING SHIT rotation.

So we’ve got the optimists pointing to 1986, you know, a team that was SUPPOSED TO WIN IT ALL.  Or the pessimists on the other side saying the last two games were like the year 2000, a team that was in WAY over their heads.

Know who/what I think this team is playing like RIGHT now?  The Chicago Cubs, circa a week ago.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsSo you wanna know why people are concerned? THIS IS WHY.  Our stop em, drop em ace got shelled.  The Mets squandered a Harvey start.  Bears repeating that Jeurys Familia had ONE BAD PITCH. 

So yes, “ya gotta believe” and all that shit.  I was on a podcast a week ago, and I said, “Why Not Us?”  Repeating the refrain that got Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks all the way to the Super Bowl championship in SB 48.  Except the Seahawks made it look so easy that year.  Oh yes, 30+ years of being a Mets fans reminds me that shit does indeed happen, and the Mets have literally not made anything easy for me ever as a fan.  Literally.  Ever.

I can look at how the New York Rangers got to the Stanley Cup Final in 2014, and squandered two leads whilst complaining about officiating instead of just growing a pair and winning the fucking game.  Then they went home down two games, and made game three a “must win” game.  And they didn’t win it.  And they lost the SCF in five. 

How can I compare three different sports and three entirely different teams?  I’ve seen it, recently, but most of all, comparing and contrasting two teams in different years is just as asinine.  If I’m cautious, I have seen this with my teams.  So if I’m not thinking of 1986 here, it’s because I see no similarities with that team except maybe the difference in scores. And that is a stretch.  The Mets didn’t lose game one of the 2015 World Series 1-0.  If I’m thinking about 2000, and Perez and Benitez, I know the 2015 team is light years better than that team.  And will be for years to come. 

It’s because my teams have bitten me in the ass before, and I refuse to roll over and take it again. 

Russell Wilson says the Seahawks treat each week as “going 1-0.”  Just need to treat the next games as such.  In the meantime, I’ll realize that my love of sports and its accompanying history will somehow bite me in the ass and make me do weird things in the name of post-traumatic Mets disorder.

(Oh, and get off my lawn)

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Made of Stone

Sometimes I fantasize
When the streets are cold and lonely
And the cars, they burn below me
Don’t these times
Fill your eyes
When the streets are cold and lonely
And the cars, they burn below me
Are you all alone?
Are you made of stone

~ Made of Stone, Stone Roses

For a team whose motto is “Ya Gotta Believe,” I have to admit, I had a hard time believing what was happening in front of my eyes recently.

For those of you who follow this blog, you would know that in the last few years, I’ve had lots of disappointments in my life, not just sports-related, but in general.  And in early 2014, some fortunes began to change.  At least, sports-wise.  I saw a team that I had genuinely fallen in love with win a Super Bowl title, their franchise’s first ever.  In 2014, I had seen a hockey team win by guts and guile all the way to game five of the Stanley Cup Final.  Early on in 2015, though, it seemed to universe wanted to knock me down a few notches.  Oh hey, that football team you care about? Yeah, fuck you.  That hockey team you’ve been jonesing to see win a championship?  Yeah, they’re gonna fizzle.

And it never occurred to me that the Mets would even be a glimpse of my sports happiness, where I have been gleaning much of my happiness these days.  I still thought, probably like many others, that there may be a time in the near future I’d see them in a World Series…just not this year.

I tease my husband and many others for thinking about magic numbers and playoff options in April. For me, if I worried about all that shit, it would take away from my fandom, not add anything to it. I would barely be able to enjoy the season and how it unfolded. And boy did it.  I was on a podcast the day before the trade deadline.  The Mets had lost that day.  I said, look, I would not be surprised if the Mets stayed put at the deadline.  Once the Carlos Gomez deal was kaput, I didn’t think they’d make any move, and certainly not a move that got a player like Yoenis Cespedes. I was back on that podcast on Monday.  I said that it wouldn’t be like the Cubs (a team that owned the Mets in the regular season) to just roll over and not put up a fight.  Except that’s exactly what they did do. And after the last out was recorded and HOLY SHIT WE ARE GOING TO THE WORLD SERIES, I stood at the television.  I held one of my Mets bears (Iggy, for those of you who know them), and I smiled. I remember in January 2014, my husband and I watched the Seahawks play the 49ers in the NFC Championship game.  Once that game was won, I expected Ed to be breakdancing or something.  After 30+ years of being a 12, and going to the Super Bowl for the second time in their franchise history, I’ll never forget how he looked.  He held his hands together, as he stood, with a big ass smile on his face. I felt like that would be my reaction for the Mets, and it was.  Maybe it was because for the very first time in my Mets fandom life, there was literally zero drama in this series.  The Cubs never even had a **lead** in the series, and the closest they got was tying the game in Game Three.  Jeurys Familia was the “Anti-Benitez” (h/t to Metstradamus for that one).  The closest we came to any kind of drama was the potential third out in the ninth inning got on base, and we had to wait for it.  OH SHUDDER THE THOUGHT! And I mean, it was all good drama, the type of shit we see happening to the Mets all the time (that **one** player killing you, see: Victorino, Shane or Burrell, Pat) is now happening to other teams.  I’ve always believed in Daniel Murphy and will probably cry if he’s no longer a Met after this year.  Yet now the whole world knows who he is, and quite frankly, I can’t be more pleased about it.

And let us not forget how bad ass Jacob deGrom is

And let us not forget how bad ass Jacob deGrom is

How this team transformed itself in a few years…it’s really amazing once you think about it.  When Frank Cashen took over at Mets GM in the 80s, he had some very good drafts, but one of his defining watermarks was the trade that sent fan favorite Lee Mazzilli to Texas for pitching prospects Walt Terrell and Ron Darling.  Terrell was traded for Mets fan favorite Howard Johnson.  Darling is still calling games for the Mets and is a part of the Mets lexicon.  What the trade was for the 86 team was probably what we will look at for trading R.A. Dickey at his peak value for Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud: the batter of the future.  Yes, I’m quite well aware that there were other players involved in that deal.  But who cares?! Those were the names, and those are the players that people come to me…Yankees fans, mind you…and are like, “Holy.  Shit. Who IS that Syndergaard kid?”

As for me?  I truly believed this NLCS would go at least six games, and that they’d bring the series back to CitiField.  I believed this so much so that my husband and I made the joint decision to sell the first two games of the NLCS (I also had a scheduling conflict…I will get to that in a minute).  But in a year where they clinched the NL East on the road and advanced to the NLDS as the road team, why did I think that was a possibility?

This year, 2015, has been a year of change for me.  Ed and I moved to a new neighborhood, and things have been getting better each day.  I got a new job as a full time pet caretaker and dog walker.  As an introvert, this is really the best job.  You deal with animals all day, and you communicate via text messaging.  And I can travel to each job and listen to my iPod as much as I want.  This is also my 40th year.  I came of age in the 80s, and I listen to a lot of new wave and British pop music from the 1980s and 1990s.  Walking the streets of New York City at different times of the day makes me very much in awe of my life.  Sometimes, the disappointments can be unbearable and the type that make you not want to get out of bed.  Then sometimes I want to slap myself and say, “COME ON! You’ve always wanted to live in New York City, and you fucking made that shit happen.  Get over yourself!”

Ruby watches the NLDS with me

Ruby watches the NLDS with me

And the scheduling conflict I had?  I had a client leave town for over a week and needed someone to stay with his dog.  Which in and of itself is not a bad thing.  It just meant that the Mets didn’t consult my calendar to see if I would be able to attend to these games.  Fret not, my schedule is ALL clear for the Series.  However, I’ve been spending a lot of time with a pit bull named Ruby who is just a mush whom I love very dearly.  And we spend a lot of time walking the streets of the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

We get up early in the morning and cross Amsterdam or Columbus or even Broadway, depending on where I decide to walk her that day.  And I’m always just amazed that in a city where there’s hustle and bustle, that the streets can be totally free of vehicles and cars.  It’s like being of clear mind, which is incredibly difficult to do in Manhattan.

And after game five of the NLDS, I met with Ed (I’m staying only a few blocks away with Ruby), and we saw many other Mets fans walking down the streets and we stopped to give them high fives.

Yet, here we go.  Even at midnight, walking the streets of Manhattan, they may not be busy, but there are people.  And most of all, there are people who think like you do and care like you do too.

Like the Stone Roses song, I’ve felt as though I was made of stone this postseason.  Because I was prepared for the Mets to let me down, like so many others have, like so many of my teams have…and especially because 2015 was as big of a shit sandwich as I’d ever seen with any of my teams.  It was different this time.  I was okay with the Mets not advancing to the NLCS because I knew they played their heart out and left everything on the field.  I knew that the Cubs would be a tough opponent so if they didn’t win game one, I’d be okay with that.  Except I realized something: I was constantly underestimating the Mets, like many others have this year.  I did have zero to little expectations this year.  Now it seems I will underestimate them all the way to the Commissioner’s Trophy.

If you told me that when I bought a small bottle of Prosecco back in January that I thought I’d be opening for the Super Bowl championship, that I could be using it for the Mets instead, I’d have laughed in your face.  But truly the last laugh is on me, and I can finally watch and relax with this team.  And I know I’m not alone in this one.