Yesterday When I Was Mad

‘Darling, you were wonderful, you really were quite good
I enjoyed it, though, of course, no one understood
a word of what was going on, they didn’t have a clue
They couldn’t understand your sense of humour like I do’

You’re much too kind
I smiled with murder on my mind

There’s something to be said about when things click on all cylinders for a team.  Especially teams of mine, when I’m so used to disappointment and ennui.  I’ve been fortunate for the last few seasons with the Mets, that I don’t feel too down when they got off to a not-so-hot start this season.  And the Seahawks. well, I almost feel bad that I haven’t suffered for years like most of their fans have.  But I know dips and valleys happen in sports.  It’s cyclical.

By clicking on all cylinders, all aspects have to operate soundly.  Teams are a “sum of its parts,” as we like to say.  Sure, you can have an outstanding individual, but it’s not everything.  Depth is an aspect to consider.  Having proper backups.  Regulars need to operate at a high level.  Injuries happen, but one should not be enough to bring the entire team down.  All the way up to the coaching.  No excuses!  Blah blah blah.

The anger that usually comes about for me while watching my teams doesn’t usually come out until the spring.  I equate this time of the year to when the Rangers are in the playoffs.  Last year, I knew they weren’t going to make it far.  So I didn’t get too angry.  I reserved that for the Mets and their shitty handling of injuries in 2016.

Yet, my husband pointed out that while the Rangers have had an unusually successful regular season, and they’ve made the playoffs every year since after we got married (I don’t count 2010, the year we actually got married, because we got married after they didn’t make the playoffs), I’m still mad at everyone.

I consider myself a very happy person.  Sports fandom can make a person crazy.  I’ve often maintained that all I want is for my teams to do is be competitive, and then making the postseason will ultimately be a reward for said competitiveness.  Out of all the teams I root for, I’ve said that the Rangers would’ve been my first guess on winning a championship in the near term.  (Note: I said that five years ago).

Yet, every year my frustrations of not winning it all gets the best of me.  Though, on the surface, they are having a very well-maintained successful stretch.  And every year, I walk away disappointed, even though I’ve gotten what I’ve wanted, technically.

Why am I so angry?

‘You have a certain quality which really is unique
Expressionless, such irony, although your voice is weak
It doesn’t really matter ’cause the music is so loud
Of course it’s all on tape but no one will find out’

You hated me too
but not as much as I hated you

Well, to be fair, it’s games like yesterday’s that get to me.

YOU DON’T SCORE FIVE FUCKING GOALS AND LOSE THE FUCKING GAME IN OVERTIME THAT YOU WERE WINNING IN THE THIRD, YOU FUCKING ASSHOLES.

So yeah.  Because it’s all I fucking deal with in rooting for this goddamn team.  Being good, but not great.  Getting to the dance, only to not show up when it counts.

Remember this gem from 2015, when the Rangers tied up a 2nd round playoff game late in the 3rd period only to have the Capitals surprise score a goal, not sending the game to OT anyway?! It was the one fucking time I was actually rooting for a playoff OT game.

And when the Rangers allowed Ottawa to tie it up late in the 3rd, with an extra skater (not to mention the shit show that barely allowed them to keep a two-goal lead intact), I joked about that game in 2015.

But did the Rangers come back?  No.  As my dad later texted me, it was about as worse of a loss as he can remember for a long time.  Me too.  Momentum typically doesn’t carry over in hockey like it does in say, baseball.  But if playoffs are a crapshoot anyway, and that means Ottawa is now on a hot streak, are they now the team “who gets the hottest?”

If so, then fuck us all.

And who knew that of my teams playing at this point of the year, it’s the Mets who would be my darlings?? (NOTE: I started writing this post before the shitshow of a game started on Sunday).

Then we posed for pictures with the competition winners
and argued about the hotel rooms and where to go for dinner
and someone said: ‘It’s fabulous you’re still around today
You’ve both made such a little go a very long way’

I also told my dad in that same text that I’ve just about had it with Alain Vigneault.  He has no clue how to get the most out of this team at ALL.

The only reason the Rangers made it as far as the Stanley Cup Final in 2014 was guys like Martin St. Louis and the heart of other players.  They overachieved that ONE year.  Though they have had relative success in his years as head coach, they have consistently underachieved after that.  And if they don’t make this series interesting and at the very least win, it will be another squandered year.

I have maintained that the Rangers have squandered away Henrik Lundqvist’s talents and his best years.  He turned 35 earlier this year.  He is not getting any younger.

By squandering his best years, the coaches and front office have squandered OUR chances of seeing a Rangers’ Stanley Cup championship and subsequent parade.

If you want to know why I get so angry and curse up a storm on Twitter, THAT is why.  As a fan, yeah, it fucking sucks that I’m used to seeing my teams fall short every goddamn fucking year.  But what I really hate is wasted talent. Squandering away Hank’s best years doesn’t do him or the team or the people who support them any good.  And they’ve certainly failed him.

By failing him, we have also been failed.  That is why I am the way I am, as a sports fan.

Yesterday, when I was mad
and quite prepared to give up everything
admitting I don’t believe
in anyone’s sincerity, and that’s what’s really got to me

Then when I was lonely
I thought again and changed my mind

The Pet Shop Boys saved my sanity in 2015, and they saved me yesterday.

While walking home from that game against the Capitals, I purposely didn’t want to listen to Pet Shop Boys (my go-to album during the hockey playoffs is Very, explained here).  Yet, my iPod knew how I was feeling and put up another song of theirs, “What Have I Done to Deserve This?”  It inspired me to write again, and try to reconcile how I felt about the ending of that game.

The Rangers ended up winning the series.  Momentum didn’t of the Capitals at the end of that game didn’t change the narrative of the series.

And outside of sports, I typically reserve my anger to go towards the MTA here in New York City.

Yet, I went to go pick up dinner after the game and took a much needed moment to myself.  Listening to my music, what comes on?  Oh, my iPod knew once again what I needed to hear.  It was a song off my favorite Pet Shop Boys album.  And thankfully, one that didn’t inspire a title for a post on this site.

I guess my parable in life is this.  I don’t get too jacked up about small stuff.  Like waiting in line.  Have you ever been standing in a line, and the person in front of you starts complaining about the line.  I mean, what the fuck are you gonna do about it, am I right?  I remember once a woman was complaining about a line at a bank (back in the day, when we actually stood in line to transact in banks).  She asked why I was so calm.  I said, “Look, when I walk out of here, I’m never going to remember waiting an extra five minutes at this bank.  In fact, I’ll be in my car going to my next destination.”  She told me that she liked that philosophy and got quiet.  I mean, I’m certain I never saw that woman again.  So I wonder how she took it to heart.  But think about it.  Is it something you can control?  No.  Let it go.

(My husband would disagree, as he thinks I’m very impatient.  That’s not entirely true.  I have my moments.  And usually in my defense, he sees me upset about losing time with the shitty transit system here which is where he gets this).

I purposely wrote this post the day after the loss, because now Saturday is “Yesterday.”  And yesterday, I was “mad.”  I figure at this point a Rangers’ devastating loss in the playoffs is my penance, and something I just need to deal with because I didn’t think they’d sweep the Senators or any team, for that matter.  But I mean, I was pretty pissed off.

Admitting I don’t believe in this team is tough, because I do believe in them.  Russell Wilson once said, “Why Not Us?”  And I often think that about my teams when they have a chance to win something.

But I would be really sad if they blew their chance.  If they blew Henrik’s chance.  And anyone else.  Even if AV wins something, that’s fine.  I can handle a coach I can’t stand getting a ring.

I got lonely without sports to watch and realizing we have to wait till Tuesday to see another hockey game.

I thought again, then changed my mind.

Brothers In Arms

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These mist covered mountains
Are a home now for me
But my home is the lowlands
And always will be
Someday you’ll return to
Your valleys and your farms
And you’ll no longer burn to be
Brothers in arms

~ Dire Straits, Brothers in Arms

Prior to the multiple hats I wear now in my professional life, back in the dizzay, I worked in financial services.  One of my old bosses was an Brit via Australia, and we used to talk about music a lot.  We liked a lot of the same bands.  We talked about the “best shows” we’ve ever been to, and he told me that hands down, the best show he ever saw was in Sydney and it was Dire Straits.

And his passion really came through when he talked about the show.  Plus I loved the way he said it.  “Di-uh Straits.”  But Dire Straits…the “Money For Nothing, chicks for free” band?

To this day, whenever I hear a Dire Straits song, I think of my former boss and his description of the show.  So imagine my surprise when I was on a flight to Seattle to not only celebrate the husband’s birthday but to see the Seahawks play a Monday Night Football game, the media and entertainment system in my seat had the Brothers in Arms album on demand to listen to while we flew cross-country.  I guess I forgot how good their songs were.  Very 80s.  “You play the guitar on the MTV.”  But I had it on as background music, which of course leads me to think.  Think about my past, my future.  Even on my present time, as I was heading to my spiritual home in the Pacific North-left.

I left the comfort of my home with a very certain and hopeful present and left Seattle on a vibe that had a very uncertain and shaky future.  As our trip overlapped with an election that rocked my very core, but started with an amazing nail-biting and dramatic Seahawks win.  Sure…we are still feeling the after-effects.  Nothing has changed, but everything has.  Have you ever felt that before?

Seeing the “Brothers in Arms” the Seattle Seahawks, it made me think.   About the importance of being a team, being around people you love, having each other, focusing on the desirable end-result, and most of all, what linking arms can do to provide one with a hopeful future.

Now look at them yo-yo’s that’s the way you do it
You play the guitar on the M.T.V.
That ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it
Money for nothin’ and your chicks for free.
Now that ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it

Lemme tell ya, them guys ain’t dumb

~ Dire Straits, Money For Nothing

There are many tired narratives with watching the Seahawks and most noticeably reading about them.  Many experts count them out.  Oh and the whole playing bad against east coast teams, especially on the east coast and early Pacific hours.  But this was a home game against the Buffalo Bills…a decent team that beat a Tom Brady-less New England Patriots earlier this season…but most of all, has one of my all-time faves, Rex Ryan, along with twin brother Rob, happens to be running the show there.

There wasn’t a conflict per se, for me.  But I did remark at one point that I felt like my weird-ass crush on Rex would somehow torture me during the game (only a little, but it did).  I never cared for the Bills.

We also had a conflict between the marrieds.  See, we’ve never seen the Seahawks lose while watching them live and in person.  Going to Seattle against the Bills, a team that “beat the Patriots,” as hubby liked to point out, was going to not be easy.  I didn’t think it would be easy either.  But I did think the Hawks would win.

It was Ed’s birthday.  They HAD to win.

He got the action, he got the motion
Yeah the boy can play
Dedication devotion
Turning all the night time into the day

~ Dire Straits, Walk of Life

I turned into a Seahawks supporter sitting in a totally different uniform and actually supporting a team that Rex Ryan was coach of back in 2012.  I’ve had friends that lived in Seattle not caring about football or thinking they also liked a team that had no idea that a fan base could be like the 12s.  I don’t think I can put it into words, which is unfortunate, you know, being someone who blogs about the goddamn team.  You just have to go to a game to see it yourself.

You’re forever changed.

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I mean, look at those faces above.  So youthful and hopeful…and then after the 12s and the loudest stadium EVAR gets to you, you kind of lose your fucking mind.

Prior to becoming a 12, I didn’t care much for football.  I didn’t have a family of fanatics.  Football was NEVER a Sunday thing in my household growing up.  I couldn’t relate to it.  If you know me, baseball was always my one true passion and love.  In my adult years, I worked on Sundays, and then just up till a few years ago, I worked during the east coast games.  So it’s easier for me to follow a west coast team, go figure.

Now, I’m enjoying the game, learning about the history of the game, and mostly how teams come together.

There is something very special going on in the Emerald City.  I was just remarking a few days ago that there will be SEVERAL Ring of Honor candidates from this team in the future.  During the game against Arizona earlier on, I said that “This is almost like Largent’s game against Miami in 1983.”  I’ve paid my dues in such a short amount of time.  It’s a passion that’s different and like no other.

Surprise that a team that caused a “controversy” by openly discussing taking a knee, like rival Colin Kaepernick did, but deciding against it, linking arms instead.  Well, linking arms is a parable for this team.

The boys who can play are Doug and Jimmy and Richard and Bobby and Tyler, and most of all Russell, and everyone who is supposed to contribute is contributing.

In this game against Buffalo, we had tremendous showings by Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham, two guys we need to play well in order to win.  The chemistry with the team is just sick.

There’s so many different worlds
So many different suns
And we have just one world
But we live in different ones

~ Dire Straits, Brothers in Arms
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On paper, the Seahawks won.  But the events on the field while watching it,  it was probably a lot more dramatic than it had to be.  I mean, it literally went right to the very last second.  Ed kept trying to get video of how loud the 12s can be on 4th down, yet Bills kept converting.  He did get the video successfully…on the very last play of the game.  I said..are you KIDDING ME?! PUT THE FUCKING CAMERA AWAY!!!

But he was right, I was wrong and most of all, despite having less than TWENTY MINUTES OF TOTAL POSSESSION TIME in the game (seriously: the numbers don’t lie above), the Hawks won.

It was Ed’s birthday and our fifth live game, and we are 5-0 and the Seahawks are mowing down their competition.

It was a win, but it felt hollow.

But a win is a win, and we take it.

Tuesday was Election Day.  The nastiness and stress that had preceded it and what lingers has made me even have to take a break from Facebook just because it’s been so bad.  I went to Seattle thinking the worst that could happen would be a Seahawks loss.  I went to bed Tuesday night drunk on Seahawks margaritas (seriously, the double margarita was in a Seahawks glass) and woke up Wednesday in my spiritual home, not wanting to face the day.

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It rained in New York on that Wednesday.  It stopped raining long enough to give us a very beautiful dusk and sunset in Seattle.

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But besides the beacon of the Space Needle that still beckons me, I saw that like baseball did in my youth, the Seattle Seahawks can provide me with enough escapism from the real life that I desperately want to escape.

On a non-game day, the area by CenturyLink Field and Safeco Field is pretty dead.  Stark contrast from the craziness we experience on our marches to the stadium.  Fans are probably just as focused as the team is.  We are able to get some unobstructed photos of the players outside the stadium.  Seeing Bobby and Doug and Jimmy make my heart soar.  There is hope, there is fantasy.  Life can get better and we can expect better of ourselves.  Just ask Doug, whom I personally believe is the heart and soul of this team, what he thinks of his Brothers in Arms.

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I may have been leaving the next day to approach a New York that was changing.  At least I am saying goodbye to my Seahawks, and I don’t know when I’ll see them again in person.

Unfortunately a trip that we would have liked to take this weekend to Tampa was kibboshed because of my job that keeps me in town on holiday weekends.

Here I am again in this mean old town
And you’re so far away from me
And where are you when the sun goes down
You’re so far away from me

~ Dire Straits, So Far Away

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I landed to chaos in New York.  My phone had about a million text messages, all work-related.  What was supposed to be a relatively slow Veteran’s Day blew up, and I had to hit the ground running.  My first thought was…and I’m serious…”What would Russell Wilson do?”

I knew he’d say, “There’s no time to sleep, Coop.”

So Ed and I have another successful and not to mention fun Seattle trip in the books.  It’s our fourth time in the city, and third game at CenturyLink (two of our all time wins took place in road stadiums).

Yet, I see the real work needs to be done in the real world.  Whether it’s with my work, or in the country or societal changes, this Seahawks team has taught me that despite any difference, despite any disagreements, we can enact positive change, starting from within.

Now the sun’s gone to hell and
The moon’s riding high
Let me bid you farewell
Every man has to die
But it’s written in the starlight
And every line in your palm
We are fools to make war
On our brothers in arms

 ~ Dire Straits, Brothers in Arms

In a time that I can see becoming tumultuous, rough and even getting worse before getting better, I can hear Richard Sherman telling us we can be better as the team rallies around him and jumps up and down.

If people tell Jimmy Graham that his injury from last year is supposed to impact his game negatively this year, I’m going to be like Jimmy…and against all odds, catch that fucking ball with one goddamn finger.

And in this topsy-turvy world, if I can see Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin switching up their comfort zones and still managing to lift each other up…we can too.

Dire Straits, man.  Who knew my fucking former boss’ favorite show would be an inspiration to a painful blog post that took me nearly three fucking weeks to write?

In this crazy-ass time, I choose to be a 12.  I choose to be like a Seahawk.

#WeAre12.  Go Hawks.

Break It Down Again

I think I might take Russell Wilson for granted.

There.  I said it.

It’s not because he’s positioning himself to be an elite QB.  It’s not because he won a Super Bowl title in his very second year of playing professional football.

It’s because since I follow him so closely, it’s not a “rare treat” to see him in person as much as, say, someone who follows the local teams here in New York.

Prior to last Sunday’s game against the New York Jets, many Jets and local pundits were pooh-poohing Wilson’s not only effectiveness, but that of the Legion of Boom and much-glowed about defense of Seattle was not all *that*.

I thought they were all crazy.  I mean, roll my eyes kind of crazy.  Certainly if you watched this team as closely as Ed and I do, you’d see there is nothing overrated about Wilson or Richard Sherman or Doug Baldwin or Jimmy Graham…and that Seattle gets help even from role players, like Tanner McEvoy.

Plus…Did they seriously believe the Jets were a superior team?  The last time I seriously followed the Jets, Rex Ryan was the head coach, Mark Sanchez was the starting QB, Tim Tebow was the BACKUP, and I literally turned into a Seattle fan at CenturyLink as we saw them play there.

Lastly, this was the first time back at MetLife Stadium since, well, Super Bowl XLVIII.  So there’s that.

Why am I going through all this back story?  Basically because prior to the Seahawks visiting New York for the first time since winning SB48, a few notable “hot takes” said in not so many words that the Seahawks were overrated and especially that quarterback of theirs.  Seeing only his weekly highlights, of course, focus on his amazing footwork and his running game…stuff that quarterbacks aren’t supposed to rely on.

According to Mehta, prior to week four, “Wilson isn’t nearly as awesome as his Puget Sound loyalists believe, so it’s ludicrous to think that he’ll be able to hobble into MetLife Stadium on a gimpy left knee and right ankle on Sunday and have his way with the Jets.”

There is also this “narrative” that the Hawks don’t seem to do well not just on the road…but on the east coast or “10 am PST” start times.  (And touching on Russell’s leg and knee issues, which were legit concerns going into the week…yet when no backup QB was called to replace him…I knew we were in biz and we’d be seeing him on Sunday).

Pete Prisco felt the wrath of 12s with his lazy journalism on these narratives prior to week four.

This is a long trip for the Seahawks, and Russell Wilson is battling a knee injury. How healthy will he be against a good Jets front? The interesting battle will be to see if Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick can battle back against a good Seattle defense. I think he does. Jets take it,” Prisco wrote.

I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that the so-called “experts” in New York and Seattle haters were wrong, dead wrong.

Hawks won 27-17.  I was surprised it was that close, but considering the Jets gave up towards the end (even after scoring an accidental touchdown at one point!), maybe they just took it easy? Why blow them out when they have a week off? (And you know, not kill our ELITE QB AMIRITE?!)

During the game, we had a lot of fun.  New York fans are known as being tough as nails.  But you don’t fuck with a 12.

You’d think after 48, the legend of Russell Wilson might have grown.  Yet, people are looking at him in the Northeast like they’ve finally SAW him.  Now, watch out.

Let’s recap what an awesome display we’ve seen, not just on Sunday, but going into the Bye week in week five.

Some words from a friend…

In case you didn’t get it the first time…DangeRuss got the last laugh.

I can’t say it’s anything surprising to Seahawks fans.  We know what we have in Russell.  It was also refreshing to see Jimmy Graham being utilized to his fullest potential.  Also…12s travel well.  I’m fortunate I live so close.  We were well-represented.  SEA! HAWKS!

What I wasn’t expecting was the defeatist attitude coming from Gang Green.  It was shocking since I know so many Jets fans, and they are die hard to say the least.

I can’t believe what a sad state of affairs it’s been since I crossed enemy lines.  Michael Bennett even said something to the effect that 12s would have never left when the Jets fans were leaving in droves.  I remember at one point thinking the Jets were still in the game (and I was more positive about going into the game than my copilot on the NJ Transit).  There’s no way I would have left if the shoe were on the other foot.

Play to the crowd with your big hit sound
And they won’t simmer won’t simmer, won’t simmer down
Play to the crowd
Play to the crowd
Play yeah yeah
It’s in the way you’re always hiding from the light
Fast off to heaven just like Moses on a motorbike
No revolution maybe someone somewhere else
Could show you something new to help you
With the ups and downs
I want to break it down
Break it down again

In fear of jinxing things, I’ve been to four Seahawks games in person.  They’ve won all four.  I’m very fortunate, but I do know once the odds are raised, I have a better chance of seeing them lose.  I realize how fortunate I am to root for this team.  Thank you all for accepting me into the fold.

(Good 12s Twitter follows include: @DaynaOG, @DKSB17, @hipeegrl…also @Studi_metsimus if you can get over the geeky baseball stuff he posts).

Yet, going out on a high note on such a big stage has made people not only shut up, but now realize, hey!  The Pacific Northwest has got a machine here, and they show no intentions of slowing down.

Is it Week Six yet?!

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.

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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.

Dreaming Of The Queen

Dreaming of the Queen
visiting for tea
You and her and I
and Lady Di

The Queen said: ‘I’m aghast
Love never seems to last
however hard you try’
And Di replied that

‘There are no more lovers left alive
No one has survived
so there are no more lovers left alive
and that’s why love has died
Yes, it’s true
Look, it’s happened to me and you

If you’re into reading your dreams, a dream about a queen or meeting someone in power (royalty) can take on certain meaning.  One of the encapsulating summaries I read on the topic was this:

If you’re a queen in your dream, it’s likely that you have an as-yet unrealized desire for power, influence, and increased social standing or status. If you’re present in the dream but someone else is queen, especially someone you know, you may be expressing repressed envy for that person, or more specifically, qualities that this person embodies that make them fit and right to be a queen. (Your Dream Interpretation)

The Pet Shop Boys on their Very album had a song called “Dreaming of the Queen.”  I realize now that the title and most of the lyrics were intentional, that they had used the parable of meeting both Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana, using dream sequences like being in the nude (I thought it might have been an Emperor’s New Clothes reference, but we’ve all had dreams about being naked in situations that didn’t warrant such an outfit).  Even the song itself was about waking up from a dream, inconsolable that love had died.

This song was written over 23 years ago.  The album made a huge impact on me, personally, in the spring and summer of 1994.

This was the last time the Rangers won the Stanley Cup.

The album framed my first year of college, and was rounded out by Princess Diana’s tragic death as I was about to start my senior year.

Both the Rangers and Diana had an enormous impact on my life, and two events that I often intertwine with those life events.  (Think of when Kennedy was shot, or where you were on 9-11).

As it all ended yesterday…I was at a bachelorette party, for one of my best college girl friends.

Fitting, as though one chapter of life was beginning, another one was ending for the New York Rangers.  And it all started when I was in college.

It was appropriate, in my opinion, given how the year would pan out.

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

Then carriages arrived
We stood and said good-bye
Diana dried her eyes
and looked surprised

For I was in the nude
The old Queen disapproved
but people laughed and asked
for autographs

I’ve been prepared for several months that they would not be out of the first round alive this year.  While I felt I was mostly being facetious and at best, putting up a defense mechanism for the team performance, I didn’t think they would go without at least the most minimal of a fight.

Even we saw signs back in November, when my gal pal, Tracey, and I went to a Rangers game.  I buy a few tickets from NotJeffGorton each year, and this was my first game of the year.

It was a few weeks after the Mets had lost the World Series.  I was still feeling the sting, but the Rangers and Seahawks were doing well.  It was a bunch of good distractions, to say the least.

The Rangers were actually doing pretty well at the time.  There were weird things going on in this specific game.  Rangers were hardly taking any shots.  Refs were calling penalties on imaginary fouls.  Tracey and I were having fun being snarky bitches, making comments a la Statler and Waldorf in the stands.

The Rangers ended up winning, definitively that game.  However, a Rangers blogger made a comment, basically about how the Rangers didn’t win enough for his liking.  That somehow, a 3-0 win in a game where they were getting called left and right on penalties wasn’t enough.

I started laughing.  Like come on, dude.

I do remember that same person in February commenting during a Rangers struggle stretch, saying that “he knew they were *this* bad back in November.”  To which another smart ass hockey fan responded about him being a hockey hipster, “I knew they were bad before anyone else did.”

It was funny.  But maybe, just maybe, the hockey hipster was onto something.  Usually, those hipsters, even if it’s not popular opinion, can see things the rest of us cannot.

No one likes being naked in public.  We try to wear clothes, even in the hottest of situations, but the Rangers’ uniforms were exposing a some very weak links.  And they were slowly but surely being exposed.

I remember this was also around the time I started to say, they’d be eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

Just because I was prepared for it didn’t mean I was ready.  It still stung.

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

I woke up in a sweat
Desolate
For there were no more lovers left alive
No one had survived
So there were no more lovers left alive
And that’s why love had died
Yes, it’s true
Look, it’s happened to me and you
I noticed that the Pet Shop Boys write a lot about “surviving.”  They note that no lovers had survived in their song.  There was also a song on a later album called “The Survivors.”
There was no doubt in my mind last season that the Rangers wouldn’t go to the Stanley Cup Final again.  That burned.  That stung.
Mostly, the sting part was about Henrik Lundqvist.  Here we are, we are 11 seasons into his tenure with the Rangers.  The whole not properly building around him.  Eleven seasons where Jim Dolan to Glen Sather to Jeff Gorton have not improved the team the way they should.  If anything, we did it.  We were happy with just making playoffs at first, since that was the team needed to do to compete.  Rick Nash? Bust.  Keith Yandle?  Bust.  Alain Vigneault?  A guy who caught lightning in a bottle his first year as coach.  (Lightning that, by the way, if it was fully contained, we’d have been very happy about).
It was weird this year.  There was less banter between me and my Rangers twitter peeps like NotJeff or Will, because we sort of knew already.  They were facing a very hot team at a very bad time.  Henrik’s 11 years have exposed him as well.  They had plenty of opportunities to not squander his talents and give him a worthy team.  Now we’re looking at an exit strategy.
So here we are.  It’s another year.  Another year where it is not our fucking year.  Another year where there is uncertainty for the future.
I’m sure along with Henrik, we can drift to sleep, and dream of the crowning achievement that we all believe is possible at the beginning of the season.  Only to see how reality decides to treat us in the end.

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.

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

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.

‘Cos It Already Is

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But the only team they were beating was themselves.

I was okay with it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I found my home.

My second home, but home nonetheless.

I’ll stick around.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah.  Everything is all right.

‘Cos it already is.

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.