New York Mets

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.

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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…

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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.

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)

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

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.

Everybody Wang Chung Tonight

“I’ll drive a million miles, to be with you tonight
So if you’re feeling low, turn on the radio
.” – Everybody Have Fun Tonight, Wang Chung

One of my favorite television shows of all time is Cheers, and also up there is Frasier.  Thus, Frasier Crane is probably one of my favorite characters in television history.  I can watch that video clip above over and over, and laugh every single time.  Certainly a dry humor guy with no interest in pop culture, who loved a good scotch, opera and high art.  Yet, when he deadpans this line, “everybody Wang Chung tonight,” I lose it.  EVERY. TIME.

I felt like a drove a million miles last weekend.  The husband and I do like to take road trips, and we really wanted to get to Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, especially this year since the series was over a weekend.  It just so happened that the games were meaningful in and of themselves.  When we had planned to go, we hadn’t really thought about implications if the Mets were going to be in first place or a potential clinching game.  It was more of a…we really need to get Cincinnati out of the way.

Last year, we had planned on going.  Although there was one glaring condition: I’d have to drive.  Since the hub doesn’t have a license, 10+ hours of driving was all on me.  That’s not very enticing for me.  Plus when we checked out airfares, we couldn’t find any fairly prices nonstop flights.  Moreover, we couldn’t find connections that didn’t take like 10 hours themselves.  I figured, we could just drive.  I live in the city so I don’t have to drive all that often or rely on a car.  Again, not an enticing idea.

So we started to scope out airfares early on.  While we found some fairly priced, once again we were faced with not finding decent connections anywhere.  Some people in that area have recommended flying into Columbus, Indianapolis, Lexington or Louisville, all within a two hour drive.  Again, didn’t make much sense, logistically.  Plus I HATE flying.  So deciding to drive was actually the easy part.  Especially since I’ve done the Pittsburgh trip, once as a passenger, once as a driver.  I figured, if I could do that, what’s another 4 1/2 hours?

Of course, I underestimated it.  We had to stop a few times, naturally, but mostly, by the time we made it to Cincy, I was done. DONE.  And I had to do it again.  Thankfully, we had the thought of mind to book a room in West Virginia, about four hours out.

We would leave after the last out of the Saturday game.

When I drive, I need tunes.  We splurged in the rental car for Sirius XM.  I love 80s and New Wave music, and since I was driving, hubby didn’t mind listening to it (also interspersed with some E Street Radio).  I heard “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” by Wang Chung several times on the ride.  And every time I hear it, I deadpan the line from Cheers in the Frasier voice.  “Everybody…Wang CHUNG tonight.”  (And I also found out recently that Wang Chung actually means “Yellow Bell.”  So they’re telling you to Yellow Bell tonight.  I don’t know what that means.  Wang Chung tonight to the ears of the imagination sounds a lot better and more fun).

But something else.  The song “Everybody Have Fun Tonight,” originally came out in the fall of 1986, right before the Mets went on their whirlwind clinching, then historic postseason.  I was 10.  Instead of the hokey “We Are The Champions” or even Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration,” I always thought of “Everybody Have Fun Tonight,” as a more appropriate song to describe what it was like to be a New York Mets fan then.  It was crazy.  People kissed and high-fived strangers.  The 1980s were a fun time.  For my birthday this year, I’m going to have a 1980s dance party.  It was just different.  The music is ageless.  And I always think of the 1986 World Series when I hear “Everybody Have Fun Tonight,” because I’m certain I listened to it in the Shea parking lot after the Mets won the Series.

Great American Ball Park   Celebrate

I didn’t think much of the concept of the Mets clinching the NL East while I was out there.  Many things had to go right, like the Nationals had to lose a game, and the Mets had to win both games while I was there.  Beating the Reds didn’t seem that hard of a task; seen their record this year?  There have been weirder things to happen to the Mets this year.

Also, this would potentially by the fifth clinching game I have seen the Mets play: 1986 Game 7 of the World Series; 1988 NL East Champs (#PostTraumaticMetsDisorder); 2000 Wild Card; 2006 NL East.  Now 2015 NL East.  Hopefully more.  Which leads me to…

The 2015 Mets have provided one of the zaniest years I care to remember.  If this team were a movie, we’d never believe it, because it would’ve never been true enough for us.  Think about it.  A relatively “okay” first half.  Great pitching.  Not enough offense.  Getting swept by the Cubs and Pirates…series swept, mind you.  Wilmer Flores “traded to the Brewers.”  Wilmer Flores cries.  Wilmer Flores stays and hits a walk off home run two nights later, proud to be a Met.  YOENIS FUCKING CESPEDES is traded to the Mets.  And bonus points: he MAKES A DIFFERENCE.  That shit happens to other teams; NEVER the Mets.  Imagine if the Carlos Gomez trade DID go through.  I’m certain the Mets wouldn’t have won the division with well over a week to spare.  Matt Harvey saying, oh by the way, I have an innings cap.  When he was like 10 away from said arbitrary cap.  Oh and how could I forget, the whole elusive three home runs by one player in a home game.  Happened TWICE within weeks (and Kirk Nieuwenhuis?  Really?).  And above all, a career year for one of my all time favorite Mets, Daniel Murphy.

They were written off on day one.  They would have an “okay” team, but clearly, 2015 would be the Nationals year.  And they were a decent team, with a top flight ace pitcher and a bona fide MVP candidate.  Yet, the Mets treated them this year they way the Phillies treated the Mets in 2007.  IT WAS FUCKING BEAUTIFUL MAN.

When I say “Zany,” if you were around for 1986, you might remember the game against the Reds, which featured an easy fly ball out that was dropped by Dave Parker, that led to extra innings, that led to Ray Knight punching Eric Davis, which led to Roger McDowell and Jesse Orosco platooning in the outfield and pitching, AND ultimately led to George Foster (former Red) to be released from the team.

In a year where the impossible was possible, that game pretty much encapsulated what it was like to be a Mets fan and following that great team in 1986.

I’ve seen a lot of the Mets, and the Reds have figured into a lot of their history.  Probably most significant happened before I was born, and that was when Buddy Harrelson and Pete Rose got into a scuffle on the baseball diamond in 1973.  Then the fight in 1986.  Then the one game playoff in 1999.  There were many Reds who became Mets, and vice versa.  Foster, Knight, Steve Henderson, to name a few.  Of course, there was Tom Seaver, Randy Myers.

Tom Seaver Quote

The stadium was pretty nondescript, as far as more of the “recent stadiums” go.  This was stadium number 22 for me.  (Twenty-two is also my lucky number, go figure).  We also didn’t eat at the stadium at either game.  We ended up meeting my godmother before one game, and she bought us dinner.  The area by the stadium was pretty cool, lots of bars and restaurants to hang out at.  The Ohio River was pretty cool to see.  The only thing I really wanted was to try the infamous funnel cake fries at GABP.  But they were up in the 400 levels.  Really?  I was not walking to the upper deck to get funnel cake fries!

The Skyline Chili is supposed to be the bomb…however, our friend Fred “Stradamus” introduced us to Camp Washington and well, we didn’t need to be convinced that Coneys and chili cheese fries were meant to be consumed anywhere else.  (But the chili in Cincy is a ritual, so you must have it if you do visit).

And definitely visit the Reds Hall of Fame beforehand.  It is worth every price of admission to see it.  So much bad assery with Reds history.

We literally stayed to watch baseball.  Which is weird because in recent years while we’ve traveled or even been to home games, we rarely sat in our seats.  The New York Mets are playing can’t miss baseball right now.  It’s insane.  The last six years could have defeated me.  But as I said on Twitter a few weeks back, I’m going to ENJOY this shit.  Good or bad or ugly.  Sometimes all three…

In 1988, I thought the Mets were going to win it all.  I mean, that’s what dominant teams do, right?  After the Mets clinched the NL East on September 22, 1988, Uncle Gene, Aunt Melissa and Mr. E were drinking champagne.  They said I could have some.  I was only 12, you guys.  But I did what the team did: I started spraying it everywhere in the Shea parking lot we were parked.  My dad got upset with me; probably thought I was wasting some good alcohol.  After seeing the 1986 party hearty Mets, I was waiting a LONG ass two years to do that myself, like the big guys did.  But the champagne toasts were halted that year.  We’ve been waiting for the World Series ever since.

I managed to get champagne sprayed on me while the Mets fans who stayed behind after the win were greeted by the team.  This year may have been zany; it’s also been one of the most fun years I’ve had since 2006, when I’d get so drunk after a Jose Lima start, I’d have to be carried out of the stadium.  Hey, none of us are perfect.

But I couldn’t help but think of the song I was listening to several times in the car on the way to, where I’d think of my favorite television show and one of my favorite television characters of all time.

“There was a passage from one of those trifle songs that I feel is the keynote for this evening…

Everybody have fun tonight.

Everybody Wang Chung tonight.”

Just like the show, the 2015 Mets make me smile every time.  Sure, they aggravate me (what love affair of 30+ years doesn’t?).  But so much more to smile about than be angry about.

As someone said a few nights ago, this is the 2015 Mets.  They’ll either get swept out of the first round, or win the whole damn thing.

Tune in to see what’s next…

Add It Up

Day after day/I will walk and I will play
But the day after today/I will stop
And I will start

Growing up, coming into my own, I’ve had two pivotal years that really stand out for me.  The first was when I was seven years old.  I had discovered baseball, and I discovered Duran Duran and New Wave British 80’s pop.  Both discoveries helped shape my personality even to this day.  And yeah, seven years old for me…was a long friggin time ago.

The other time was when I was 16 years old.  In the world of numerology (moons and goochers and all that stuff), it was an “endings” year for me.  If you look at your change years, “endings” could mean a literal loss or even something figurative, like letting go of an energy or limiting belief, and they happen every nine years.  So for me, when I was seven, the wheels were set in place to make this my life trajectory.  When I was 16, I discovered punk bands and alternative/indie bands like the Violent Femmes.  I started to straighten my hair, wear flannels and Converse sneakers, and I became a hippie.  Also, Tom Seaver was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame that summer, so I guess baseball was also prominent that year, though the Mets were not…that…great.

I’m far from having an “endings” year today.  But I have to say there was a change in dynamic with the way the current Mets team, and beyond, this week, that maybe they, themselves, are having a closing year.  I have been through trade deadlines, I was old enough to remember when Gary Carter was traded to the Mets, I certainly would like to forget “Black Friday,” but not what it did for me, personally.  Black Friday was a day that made me a “Blog Groupie.”  That turned into me starting my own blog(s) several years later.

Yet, in my 33 seasons of being a Mets fan, I don’t think I will ever witness nor have I witnessed as zany a week as the one that transpired, unlike Sandy Alderson’s deal in principle for Carlos Gomez.  In fact, I spent most of Thursday seething (and even attended a “group therapy” session as a guest on the Rising Apple Report podcast), and on Friday, the day OF the trade deadline, I kept singing in my head the lyrics to the Violent Femmes song “Add It Up.”  It had been awhile since I listened to the Femmes, so I turned up the volume on my iPod (mostly because my ear buds had shorted AGAIN), and I started to think about everything.  From a standing ovation for Wilmer Flores in what was presumed to be his final at-bat for the Mets on Wednesday night, to Flores’ tears in the infield, to Alderson and Terry Collins losing their shit towards the beat writers, to looking like nothing would happen (I even said on Twitter and the Rising Apple show as much, that I believed the Mets would stand pat)…

I felt like the non-deal for Gomez, while the Brewers beat writer suggested that the Mets wanted some partial salary relief for 2016 on Gomez’s already team friendly contract, and the Mets suggested it was injuries (when have injury risks ever stopped the Mets?  See: Putz, J.J.  See also: Santana, Johan.  See also also: Beltran, Carlos.  And while we’re at it, see also also also: Zambrano, Victor), I’m guessing it was somewhere in the middle.  Gomez missed a lot of the year with his hip injury, and had a down year for him already…but adding him to the Mets lineup would automatically make him the biggest offensive threat (And that should tell you all we need to know about this zany 2015 year already).  Though the fact that Gomez was in it for next year as well, and looked more like a Sandy move than, say, a partial year rental, it was nixed.  The celebration of Gomez with his former Milwaukee teammates (who bade him adieu ~ or adios ~, anyway) and Flores’ tears were all for naught.  Someone fucked up.  Multiple somebodies fucked up.

Oh, ma-mama, mo-ma, mo-ma mother
I would love to love you, lover
City is restless, it’s ready to pounce
Oh, here in your bedroom, ounce for ounce

I’ve seen some weird shit as a Mets fan.  I witnessed Black Friday, and Rick Peterson convinced he could fix Victor Zambrano in 10 minutes, even though his elbow fell off at about minute number three.  Vince Coleman threw firecrackers at some kids.  Bret Saberhagen threw bleach at reporters.  Bobby Bonilla wanted to give someone a personal hand-guided tour of the Bronx.  Duaner Sanchez got hungry at midnight.  Carlos Beltran got surgery against the advice of the Mets’ medical staff.  I heard Omar Minaya say “has lobby.”  I saw a collapse in 2007, and a denouement in 2008 take Shea along with it.  Needless to say, I have not had the warm fuzzies about Citi Field.

This year has been different.  The NL East is ripe for the taking.  While the Marlins won the offseason backpage World Series, the Washington Nationals were pretty much anointed the crown princes of the division. I mean, why wouldn’t they?  They went for broke and added Max Scherzer to their already decent pitching staff.  The Mets added Michael Cuddyer.

Nationals were beset with injuries.  The Mets and they have been neck and neck basically all season.  So then what?  The team lost David Wright and R.A. Dickey-lite Jerry Blevins from the get-go, and Travis d’Arnaud also had made several trips to the DL in the already over-halfway-done season.  How much wiggle do the Mets have?  They’ll never publicly admit it, but Alderson has always maintained “Flexibility” for spending, but then says, “It could go higher…or it can go lower.”  (Translation: It will go lower, mostly)

The city is restless, and it’s ready to pounce.  Hard to believe that I would find a song that’s about lust and sex, and turn it around on Sandy Alderson’s looking for an impact player to not only compete but take the damn thing.  The city is restless in that, the Mets are a springboard alert.  Ready to pounce in that if no moves are made after all (and very low-risk/high-reward moves were made with adding Kelly Johnson, Juan Uribe and Tyler Clippard, and losing some low-level prospects no one will miss), there wouldn’t be the buzz that’s been around Citi Field this entire season.

Oh, ma-mama, mama-mo-ma-mum
Take a look now at what your boy has done
He’s walking around like he’s number one
Went downtown and you got him a gun

Warts and all, there is no General Manager or team Manager who is going to be perfect.  While Sandy has made some questionable free agent signings (I’ve never been a Curtis Granderson lover or I don’t understand what the big deal with Cuddyer is…), his trades have always been creative and clearly thinking outside of the box.  Trading R.A. Dickey may have very well been one of the most impactful trades in team history.  Needing to stay creative and keeping in line with the “non-existent/nothing-to-see-here” budget constraints, he pulled a rabbit out of his hat.

I started a new job last week, where I became a pet caretaker and dog walker.  I was going between jobs on the train, and there’s a big dead zone underground where I was going.  Yet I know there is always one little itty bitty pocket where I can get updates or texts.  I hear an update.  I grab my phone instinctively.  “Mets trade for Yoenis Cespedes,” was the gist of it.

WHAT???!!!!?!?!?!?!?!?

This was the very definition of torture.  Not just being a Mets fan, though it has qualified as such in my years.  I could not get any updates.  THEN my stupid fucking phone wouldn’t open.  I ducked into a Starbucks to get some Wifi action on.  And it looked like a deal finally got done.  Something to really get excited about.  I have to give them credit.  I thought a deal like this was antithetical to what the Mets MO was these days.  To the extent that barely any dollars were added, but they got a gun to compete for this year.  Which I think anyone with eyes would see that’s not a bad thing.

Day after day/I get angry/And I will say
That the day /Is in my sight /When I’ll take a bow
And say goodnight

Mets history will look at Sandy Alderson’s leadership at where he’s had to make do with very little.  He’s had very little flexibility, despite what the owners and he, himself, might try to tell us.  They’ve had to get great drafts in order to be attractive to other teams for trading chips, as well as make us very excited about the future.  We see a glimpse of Steven Matz and channel our inner Billy Idol: we want more-more-more.  We can try to cast the fault of Matz to Minaya, who actually drafted him.  But it was Alderson who had no choice but to hold onto him.  Zack Wheeler calls and has a passionate plea that he wants to remain a Met because he’s excited about the team’s future, even if it means a slow return for him post-Tommy John surgery.  Wilmer Flores cries on the field (though I have no idea if the tears were for the response by the fans or the fact he thought he was traded).

For the first time in a long time, I am excited about the year.  Not to say there is not a lot of work ahead of us (denial is not just a river in Egypt, but we have to remember that they are going for it NOW, and have no obligations for the any of the moves they’ve made after 2015).  Yet, attendance is up on the weekends.  Harvey Days are endless summer nights.

And this zany week, that actually saw a 3-HR night by Lucas Duda be an “Oh, by the way, this happened” footnote in the insanity of Metsville, was capped off by a walk-off home run by the same Wilmer Flores who hadn’t had a home run in a few months, who had thought he was going to the Good Land in Wisconsin, who basically told the Nationals, this aint YOUR house.

There are several people who can take a bow and say goodnight after this week.  And hopefully that goodnight will be in later October.  Not the early part, you know, because the season ends then anyway.

I won’t go so far as to say the Magic is Back.  But if we add up what’s happened in Queens this week, it was a special and memorable time to be a Mets fan.

Happiness Is An Option

Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 1.59.57 PMI wanted to give myself a few days before fully addressing how I felt about the New York Rangers’ 2014-15 season.  I’ve gone through the emotions of of sadness to anger and being pissed off and near tears at the same time.  I saw a guy wearing a BLUESHIRTS playoff tee in the supermarket, and I got all choked up.  A friend of mine told me (not a Rangers fan, to say the least) that this is the most upset he’s seen me as a Ranger fan yet.  And it’s true.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt this way about this team, and it’s not even disappointment, though that’s part of it.

It’s not even my wanting the Stanley Cup – damn, how I wanted that fucking trophy this year – it’s more of a squandering an opportunity kind of thing.

This is the year I realized that it’s getting close to the later years of Henrik Lundqvist.  Glen Sather and James Dolan have dicked around to the extent that they could have possibly wasted his best years as a top flight goalie.  Guys like Henke don’t grow on trees.  He’s a one of a kind player and goalie, someone we’ll be rare to see in our history of Rangers greats.  And believe me, there are more players who were *great* but never got the championship than special players who actually did win a championship.  But I also think of losing guys like Darren Turcotte and Tony Amonte in 1994, great role players who were traded away for a “win now” attitude that did “win now,” yet ultimately set the team back decades.

Yes, I do realize that they won their only championship that year those two guys were gone.  They could’ve forfeited years of multiple titles had they held onto them too.  We’ll never know.

So my tears after the last horn sounded, signaling the end of the season, was not because of a loss of a game or a series.  It’s almost something of a loss I felt, like it’s the end of an era.  I don’t think things will be as storylike as they were this season.  When they lost in OT to the hated Devils in the ECF in 2012, I was optimistic.  Sure, I hated losing, especially to that team, but I was future thinking.  They had the goods, finally, it seemed.  Then 2013 rolled around and the abbreviated season just seemed like a wash and the team knew it.  Last year, that was a special year.  Though I was disappointed in their performance in the Stanley Cup Final, I knew they could hold their head high by being so close to elimination and never gave up till they ran out of gas.

See, THIS was supposed to be the year they had the axe to grind.  Losing this game and series, in my opinion, was nothing to be proud.  The same old, “Blah blah just to play there is an honor.”  Anyone who says they are “just proud to be nominated” is a lying BITCH.  My friend Will says that he hates losing more than he likes winning.  I could see on the faces of some of the players that the loss got to them.  So they could get that emotion, hated losing more than loving to win.  That loss last year was supposed to make them hungry for this year.  Then backs against the wall and turning it on against the Capitals this year.  Every fan I knew was confident that this was the motivation they needed (not, you know, the motivation of accolades and a championship and being beloved by the best city in the world).

And this was just more than how I felt after, say, the Seahawks lost the Super Bowl earlier this year.  It was more than a loss of the season or a championship, especially they way they lost.  A Seahawks blogger by the name of Ramona over at Dave Krieg’s Strike Beard summed it up eloquently after SB 49: “The sadness I’m feeling isn’t just from the defeat in XLIX, but also from the sudden absence of this wonderful team in my life.”

I felt exactly the same for that Seahawks team.  But the absence of the Rangers team from this season…yeah, not one I’m particularly endeared to right now.

I know it’s incredibly difficult to “blow the fucker up,” with salary caps and being able to move guys easily, but if there’s anything close that can be done for the New York Rangers to get Hank some players who aren’t treating GAME FUCKING SEVEN of the ECF like it’s a Tuesday night game in December, or as Will likes to say, “Get Hank some real bitches who can play.”  Because the lack of killer instinct or wanting to win or PLAYING NOT TO LOSE (I am a Mets fan…I have enough to deal with regarding that shit), that’s what gets to me.

We live in a world where Ryan Callahan, Brian Boyle, Anton Stralman or Brad Richards all have a chance for that crowning glory.  And we live in a world where Henrik Lundqvist may join the pantheon of great players who may never have an opportunity like this year to win it all.  And that just sucks.

If that doesn’t anger you as a fan, I hate to play the “you are not a real fan” card, because that shit pisses me off when it’s said to me…but it should make you upset at the very least.  Or as another Twitter buddy Cristina likes to say, it should make you feel as though a part of you has died.  Because I know that’s how I felt this year.

I’ve been through a lot of things, being a sports fan.  I got over the 2000 World Series pretty quickly.  The funny thing was, I felt like that Mets team was on the precipice of something great, then they did a complete 180 and by the way, fuck Steve Phillips and Mike Bordick (hey, my blog, my rules).  Yet, most fans would tell you that the 1999 team was the one that fell short and was disappointing. And I will always maintain that losing John Olerud was the hit the Mets should not have taken.  And I’m about to get all worked up about what an idiot asshole dickface Steve Phillips was, so I’ll just stop while I’m ahead.

So back to this year.  LAST Year was the “rah rah feel good get-em-next-year” year.  THIS was the take no prisoners, winner takes all year.  I almost threw a shoe at my computer when I read that Martin St. Louis said something to the effect of being proud and waiting till next year.  OH FUCK NEXT YEAR.  NEXT YEAR WAS SUPPOSED TO BE THIS YEAR.  My goodness, I am so angry right now.  I could probably throw something else in addition to my shoe.

And the regular season was a feat in and of itself.  They lost Henrik for a spell, and the team really stepped up their game to give Cam Talbot, who really has endeared himself to most Rangers fans for his performance in Hank’s absence.  It was really a lot of fun to watch them in the regular season.  No one seemed to pass the memo onto the team that the President’s Trophy means dick if you can’t bring home the real trophy.

My friend for over 20 years, NotGlen Sather handled it all in stride.  Like many, though, I want it to be just more than the 1994 Rangers.  But he takes comfort in it, saying that it’s something many generations of Rangers fans ONLY have too.  I was also kind of hoping that the year he expects his first child to coincide with a championship for his favorite sport.

I can’t say it wasn’t meant to be.  It could’ve been.  And that’s what makes me still so angry, two days later.

This one is going to sting for awhile.

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

It is not easy
the war within us
but it gets easier
the more we learn
I don’t need to win
You don’t have to lose
We can choose
happiness is an option

I bought a small bottle of Prosecco for the Super Bowl this year.  Needless to say, I did not open it.  While I had entertained using it for mimosas on a lazy Sunday morning, I decided to hold it for what I felt to be a formality in getting to the Stanley Cup this year for the Rangers.  I will be moving in a few weeks, and it looks like the Prosecco will be making the move as well.

I’ve always used sports as a form of escapism, and this hockey season has left me void of something.  The Chicago Blackhawks won their game seven last night and will be advancing to play the Lightning as well.  But I will always believe in my heart of hearts that this could have been the Rangers’ season.  You can’t even say they got beat by the better team.  They got beat by themselves.

That’s the worst loss of all.

My dad said he’s been a fan for over 45 years and bleeds Ranger blue.  This one sucked, but he said losing games like that doesn’t get easier over time.  I could choose happiness as my option, but the reality is, I’m too angry to even consider being happy.  I guess come back to me when the season starts again.  But I’ve learned to not get my hopes up with this team, ever.  And that, my friends, really sucks.

Mets Lounge Podcast – TONIGHT! The Mets Billboard

Join us in the Mets Lounge tonight (where the cool kids hang out) where the Coop will be joined by Gary Palumbo, aka Salty Gary, the brains behind the Mets Billboard movement.

Dial into the Lounge at (914) 338-0314 or simply listen in and throw us stuff in the chat room!  I’ll also be doing a QBC wrap and how the Mets were not as quiet this week as we thought…