Mets

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.

Get Your Post-Traumatic Mets Disorder Here!

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

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

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

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

But perhaps you’ve seen this meme going around.

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Or maybe this one too…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Oh, and get off my lawn)

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Made of Stone

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

~ Made of Stone, Stone Roses

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

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

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

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

And let us not forget how bad ass Jacob deGrom is

And let us not forget how bad ass Jacob deGrom is

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

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

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

Ruby watches the NLDS with me

Ruby watches the NLDS with me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…

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…

QBC Preview In the Mets Lounge TONIGHT!

Hey kids!  If the cool kids hang out once a week on Wednesdays in the Mets Lounge, then you definitely won’t want to miss the cool cats at the second annual Queens Baseball Convention, being held this Saturday at McFadden’s CitiField.

Join the Coop and special guest Mark Healey from Gotham Baseball, who is moderating the State of the Mets panel at the QBC.  Oh and the Coop will be on the panel as well.

Mazzy Gunslinger of the Year recipient Healey along with the Coop will be an entertaining show for sure.  So dial in or join us in the chat room starting at 9 pm!

Doing It For David

If you remember, back in 2012, I trained for the New York City Marathon and raised funds for the Tug McGraw Foundation, a cancer charity that supports brain cancer survivors and those with traumatic brain injuries to have a better quality of life.  I chose this charity because not only did I have a good friend who also raised funds for them and spoke very highly of them, I wanted to mix my Mets fandom in there somewhere.

Of course, I knew many who were afflicted by brain cancer and traumatic injuries to the brain as well.  I had a friend who was running the marathon because her father had a traumatic brain injury.  Not only did my uncle pass away from a malignant brain tumor, my friend’s nephew passed away just a few days before the non-marathon (which was never run, because of a bitch named Sandy).  And my hero Gary Carter passed away earlier that year due to brain cancer.

When Gary Carter was alive, and playing with the Mets, I remember I made my mother donate something like 75 cents to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation, to get the signed Gary Carter poster I coveted.  Carter’s mother had died when he was a child of leukemia, and he made it his life’s mission to support and promote a cure by being active in the charity. He even had his own fundraisers, mostly golf tournaments, and I remember reading about these tournaments each year in the Mets Yearbooks when Opening Day would come around.

We know there have been many technological advances to treating cancers since Carter’s mother passed away.  But there is no cure. Whether we like to think about it or not, it impacts every single one of us.

And cancer sucks, big time.

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Leukemia impacted my family as well.  My dad had an older brother (half-brother, technically, but no one worried about those semantics while they were growing up.  They were brothers, period) who passed away several years before I was born.  So technically, my dad wasn’t my *dad* then, so I’ll just refer to him as Mr. E periodically for these purposes.

This was my Uncle Larry.  I didn’t have the opportunity or the pleasure to know him.  I’ve seen enough pictures of him to know what he looked like.  I also knew his wife Mary Lou, who is still close with the Cooper side of the family to this day, and his only child, David Alan Hicks, whose name I believe honored not only Larry’s best friend but my Pop Pop, who looked after Larry like he was his own.

I am a Mets fan because my dad introduced me to baseball as a very young age.  I was about seven years old, and I sat down and watched a Mets game, or what I found out was to be a Mets game.  I was in first grade.  I decided to root for the guys with the big blue letters on their uniforms because D-Man was.  That night, I had to write a “theme” (think: A Christmas Story) about what my likes and dislikes were (I believe likes included: cats and chocolate, dislikes included: spinach probably – but only because my mother force fed the frozen watery stuff to me. I’m a big fan of spinach salads, as an adult who works in wellness).  I also had to include what likes and dislikes my parents had.  A big “like” for D-Man was the New York Mets.  I had no idea what baseball actually was.  But my first grade teacher did.  And she wrote on my paper that her dad was also a Mets fan.

Back then, the Mets were bringing people together, even before social media did it, or made it easier to that end.

My dad took me to my first game on May 6, 1984, versus the Houston Astros.  It was a Sunday, and I got to see Dwight Gooden pitch against Nolan Ryan.  Of course, I have no idea how significant that match up until MUCH later.  But I also knew that I loved Gooden, just the few times I watched him on TV.  And begged my dad to take me to a game, which he was more than happy to oblige.  I guess he lucked out with me, that he was able to enjoy a pastime such as this with his only child, a daughter, whose mother would rather she take ballet classes and comb her hair properly and go shopping.

The Mets lost that game.  A score of 10-1.  But hey, 30 something years later, I am still attending games, usually with the Mets on the blow out bad end of the game.  So I guess it didn’t mar my decision to be a Mets fan one way or another.

And I’m sure my husband, Ed, whom I met in 2009 after meeting the Mets 26 years prior, will appreciate that this game was 25 years and 364 days prior to us getting married.

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What I do know about my Uncle Larry and Mr. E is that they had an incredible bond.  They were about 10 or 11 years apart in age, but that didn’t stop them from hanging out together.  When Mr. E was six years old, the Dodgers and the Giants both left town for the west coast.  For the next five years, there was no National League baseball close by, and my Pop Pop would not STAND for rooting for an American League team (according to Pop, New York was a “National League city,” end of story).  When the Mets came around, and they went to the Polo Grounds, though Larry was a St. Louis Cardinals fan like my grandmother.  Shea Stadium opened was considered “state of the art” and all that jazz.  Mr. E was 10 years old when the Mets came into existence, and was 12 when they moved to the home we know now, in Flushing.

As I write that, I find it ironic that I became a baseball fan when I was seven, and my dad didn’t even HAVE a team to root FOR when he was that age.  He became a fan at the same age I was when I went to game seven of the 1986 World Series.  That’s something we’ll never get over.

But in the Kevin Bacon six degrees of life scenario, I am a Mets fan because my grandfather and Uncle Larry took Mr. E to baseball games and really got him to understand the nuances of the game.

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So I guess that I have Uncle Larry to thank for my baseball affiliation, since he got my dad into baseball, and I highly doubt I’d be the crazed lunatic fan of this sport if he was not one himself.  Yet, like my Pop Pop who passed away when I was three years old, he serves as a ghost in my life, someone I’ve heard so much about and would have liked to have known, but sadly did not get the opportunity to do that.

Larry and Mary Lou’s son, David, was himself about five years old when Larry passed away.  I never got to talk with David about his memories about his old man, basically because I didn’t know David all that well.  That is truly my loss.  But as many people who read my site or know me personally, my parents split up when I was in middle school.  And as things usually happen in a divorce, some familial relationships suffer as a result.  For years, it was my relationship with the Cooper side of the family.  There were literally cousins and family members that I did not know at all.  It wasn’t until I was in college, and after I graduated that I got really curious about my family.  I started asking questions, and got to know Mary Lou and my Aunt Babe and started a relationship with my cousins.

Christmas Time, 2007. One of the last times all the cousins were in the same room.

Christmas Time, 2007. One of the last times all the cousins were in the same room.

David was 10 years older than me.  I remember him when I was old enough to start having memories.  There’s a picture somewhere in my mother’s scrap book in Jackson, NJ, that has a pic of David, Michael and me.  I’m guessing I wasn’t quite a year old.  Michael is three months older than me.  David was 10 years older than both of us.  So I guess David was about 11, and Michael and I were roughly a year old.  I have a close relationship with our mutual cousin Michael and his sister Chrissy, then there’s my dad’s brother’s kids whom I also have a relationship with now.  David was married and lived pretty far from me, and I didn’t know him as an adult.

If I remember correctly, my dad stayed in David’s life to the extent that they themselves went to baseball games at Shea Stadium (I know that my dad did that to bond with my mom’s little brother, my Uncle Mike, around the time they got married).  I also know that David was a huge Nascar fan.  So is Mr. E.  I went to a race once in Dover, Delaware, just to say I went to one.  The next year, I had a big final to do for my masters, and decided it wasn’t in my best interests to go.  David took my ticket instead.  He was a huge Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan, like I am.

 

 

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Michael’s sister and my beautiful cousin Chrissy took up running and decided to run a marathon a few months ago.  Like many who run races, there’s an emotional meaning behind it, and it keeps one focused while they train.  Chrissy ran to raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation.

She decided to do so after David, our cousin, was diagnosed with a very aggressive yet treatable form of leukemia.  The same type of cancer that had taken his father from us over forty years prior.  Chrissy kept her running journal on a blog called Do It For David!

Chrissy was able to finish her race and raised a respectable amount of funds for the foundation.

Training for a marathon is incredibly emotional (not to mention physical, of course).  Believe me when I tell you, it consumes your life, everything you eat, drink or think about.  To tie that training into a family member who is diagnosed with a scary disease is something unfathomable to even me.

My family lost David Alan Hicks on Tuesday, December 23, 2014.  Chrissy has closer memories with David in her life than I did, and she was able to craft a very meaningful and heartfelt tribute to our cousin, who unfortunately was just too weakened to fight the blood cancer anymore.

I didn’t know much about David except that he was truly a decent man, a good person, who loved his wife, Lori, his daughter, Courtney and his mother, Mary Lou, who is just about one of the nicest people you will ever want to meet.  Please keep them in your thoughts this holiday season.  He also loved his Nascar, but I also know that my family loved him very much.

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When George Harrison (you know, the Beatle) passed away, the first person I called was my dad when I found out.  I left him a message.  Mr. E, who had taken up the guitar again that year after probably a 30 year hiatus, would tell you that Harrison was his favorite Beatle.  He would also tell anyone who wanted to hear about how he first heard the song, “I Want To Hold Your Hand” on his transistor radio, and the energy from the radio parted his hair down the middle.  When he watched the Beatles make it to the Ed Sullivan show, he sat in front of the TV, wanting like millions of teenage boys did who also watched that night to play the guitar like George, bang a drum like Ringo or have a hair cut like John or Paul.

When D-Man called me back several hours later, he left a long message about how George was at peace now, he wasn’t suffering anymore, and that he was a spiritual guy.  If anyone was going to find peace in the afterworld, if there was one, it would be George Harrison.  But in the middle of all this, my dad said, he felt like part of his youth was gone.

I know that when my favorite Mets player from the 80s era, Gary Carter, had died, I had a podcast the next night, and I cried on the air. (There’s no crying in baseball, Coop!!)  I also know that I thought of my dad and what he said about his youth being gone with the passing of George Harrison.  I knew what it meant because when Kid died, a part of me did too.

I can’t be with my family today, physically, but I can understand the loss they are all feeling today as they say goodbye to David for the last time.  My dad was very young when David’s father, his brother Larry, passed.  I also remember him telling me that because they were so young, it was sad, and they had their lives to live.  Five years later, my cousin Michael and I were born within months of each other, my aunt got remarried, Chrissy was born, and my parents got divorced.  We went to college, got married, had kids, and honored lost family members along the way.

We all know that death is a part of life.  That doesn’t make it easier with the loss of a loved one.

Yet, we also know that life does indeed go on.  David may be gone, but we have our memories of him, no matter how close or far apart we may be.

In a world full of coincidences, fate, sliding doors, six degrees and other minutiae, he may not have known it, but David is in part responsible for helping me be the person I am today.  So thank you for that, David.  And as my dad once told me, we have our lives to live, and our own battles to face even with the loss of a loved one, no matter how hard that loss is.  It’s all right to be sad, and our loved ones are never truly gone when we have their memory to honor.

The Mets and the Myth of the Milquetoast Good Guy

Matt Harvey takes in Derek Jeter's last ever home game in 2014 .  His hat may as well say, "#ZeroFucksGiven"

Matt Harvey takes in Derek Jeter’s last ever home game in 2014 . His hat may as well say, “#ZeroFucksGiven”

I’m looking forward to the end of the regular baseball season.  Though I’m kind of excited to see teams like the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles play in the postseason, and even more relieved that teams like the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees are NOT going to be playing, I’m a little sick of the marketing overdrive campaign of Derek Jeter’s retirement tour.  Gosh, any amount of constructive criticism or objective opinions about Jeter, and people act like you kicked their dying dog.  But in all the accolades, all the sensation, one piece of rhetoric gets repeated-repeated-repeated again.  The idea that “Derek Jeter is SUCH a GREAT GUY.”

Now, I don’t have much of a strong opinion either way on that sentiment.  What I will say is that on Thursday, at the last Yankee home game that Jeter played, the Mets own (season-ending injury) Matt Harvey sat in the field box, tweeting and Instagramming the shit out of his #RE2PECT experience at the House that Juice Built.

Once again, you’d have thought Harvey kicked someone’s dying dog or on the other end of the spectrum, malaise.  I was on the end of the malaise spectrum.  Harvey’s team was mathematically eliminated.  Harvey was injured all season.  I’m sure if this was a meaningful game with playoff implications, he’d have been in D.C.  And it wasn’t like Harvey was living out and proud.  If he had never tweeted or Instagrammed, we might not have realized it was him.

Who cares?  Derek Jeter may or may not have given Jessica Biel herpes or gave gift baskets to his conquests.  Matt Harvey has dated supermodels and flashed his middle finger prior to getting Tommy John Surgery and put it on Instagram for all to see.

See, though that is what makes Matt Harvey a “bad guy” in Mets lore.  This is also the same guy who got a quote tattooed on him to honor his aunt who died from cancer several years ago.

Sometimes, things aren’t what they seem.

Horrible, HORRIBLE person, that Matthew Harvey.

But this was what I absolutely love about Harvey, and what I think most fans like about him too.  He has a #ZeroFucksGiven attitude.  He’s a rock and roll bad ass.  And to thrive on a New York Mets team, one has to have that attitude to not only be embraced by the fans, but also to not be afraid to win.

For too many years, the Mets have invested their energy and not to mention money on players who have some kind of milquetoast bland personality, a counterpart to the tenured guy in the Bronx.  But when have Mets fans EVER responded to guys like that?  History has dictated that we like the assholes.

Tom Seaver, the Franchise himself, is revered in Mets culture; yet he is widely known as an insincere douchebag.

Jose Reyes and the Mets parted ways a few years ago, yet most fans loved his “play hard” attitude.  However, I think his play hard and **shock horror** fun attitude towards the game rubbed the highers-up the wrong way.

Mike Piazza loved heavy metal guitars and classic rock.  He was feared when he came to the plate, and had VooDoo Child as his entrance song and you just KNEW he was gonna kick some ass.  I said last year at his Mets Hall of Fame induction ceremony that we needed another rock n roll bad ass like him on the team.  Though in 1999, he was surrounded by characters with whom we could all find someone to identify.

Look no further than the boozing, brawling, drugging 1986 Mets as the most bad-ass of them all.  Shit, four guys got ARRESTED in a barroom brawl, and we fuckin loved it.  Funny how we point to a guy like Kevin McReynolds sucking the personality out of the team, while he was an incredibly underrated player, his lack of an attitude rubbed us the wrong way.

This is what gets me, though.  The Mets have positioned themselves as like this “family friendly alternative” with milquetoast boring guys like David Wright as the “face of the franchise,” when the teams we’ve endeared ourselves to had panache and shitloads of personality.  Much like New York City itself.  The only thing the Mets have failed at is being a poor man’s version of the Yankees.  And it’s an insult to poor men everywhere. Not to mention, an insult to most Mets fans’ collective intelligence.

Here’s my take.  Let’s stop trying to be this milk-drinking-wow-wee-golly-gee-whiz-milquetoast team.  Embrace the weirdness that is being a Mets fan, and let’s love the rock-n-roll bad asses for bringing something different to the table.

Do we really want a lot of boring David Wrights on the team?  Or bad ass Matt Harveys with a “IDGAF” attitude?

You decide.  I like the Zero Fucks Given personality on my sports teams, myself.