Mike Piazza

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.

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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.

Faith (Not Fear) In Flushing

Faith and Fear

Another closing day has come and gone.  It used to be that days leading up to it were nostalgic.  Almost like a wake.  We got together to remember.  We got together to forget.  (This phenomenon is known as post-traumatic Mets disorder).  Then closing day comes and goes.  Sometimes they are happy.  Sometimes, they are sad.  More often than not, it’s a bittersweet event.

Sure, the Mets put us through a lot of shit in a season.  They’ve certainly given us a fair share of feces in the last six/seven years at least.  But we keep coming back every Opening Day.  But as Greg Prince once said, “Every poseur wants to be at Opening Day. Closing Day is a rite for the secret society of baseball fanatics.” Faith and Fear in Flushing

This Closing Day was special for Mets fans though.  It showed that on a deeper level, we all still care.  We care very deeply for the team that we’ve taken as our own, and has given us personality.  I often say, I’d be really boring if it wasn’t for being a Mets fan.  I don’t know is anything really compares.  Perhaps I had a life changing experience with football and soccer fans in Seattle (those people are CRAZY). Yet, nothing else in my life compares to being a Mets fan.  I made some of the best friends I’ve ever had in my life.  I met my husband through Mets blogging.

Greg and Jason may say that being a fan in Flushing can give you both faith and fear.  It’s a delicate balance for sure with us.  I suppose this is the root of all post-traumatic Mets disorder.  We “gotta believe,” but it’s “always the Mets.”  Faith.  Fear.

What’s more is that it wouldn’t be a true closing day if I didn’t see my blogging mentor/friend/cat parent.  It also wouldn’t be a true closing day, where we celebrated Mets great Mike Piazza, if I wasn’t wearing my Faith and Fear shirt.

I had bought two in 2006, when I was in a relationship.  I got his in a bad breakup, and I have two FAFIF shirts, that showcase retired numbers in Mets fandom.  By the hardcore Faith and Fearless, these shirts have showed up in several countries, and around the U.S.  I wore mine to Texas when we ambushed Howie Rose in the radio booth.  I wore it on the day I met Greg Prince in 2007, which was a total accident.  (We ran into each other a lot that week.  Sure you can search his archives for that).

There is one number conspicuously missing from the four.  We have 37 14 41 42.

Sunday should have seen 31.  My shirt should have been outdated.  But I wore it to make a statement, that the number should be retired pre-emptively.  I honored the present with my Niese 49 jersey.  I wore numbers that are retired with the hope that another number will be with it soon.

Fans still cared.  It turns out Mike Piazza still cares.  He came.  He spoke.  He still is a rock n’ roll bad ass, something I realize has been sorely missing since his departure in 2005.

Here’s the thing with post-traumatic Mets disorder.  Or the Faith and Fear disorder that effects us all.  There is a great amount of self-loathing involved.  We get a hard-working player and hitter like Daniel Murphy, in the vein of fan favorite Edgardo Alfonzo, and vocal minority wants him gone.  Travis d’Arnaud has a lackluster beginning, and people are already clamoring to trade him.

Guys, guys.  And gals.  It’s okay.  We DESERVE good players. We DESERVE guys like Wheeler, Harvey, Murphy, d’Arnaud, den Dekker.  Even Wright.  Self-loathing is not productive.

It also does not allow us to appreciate what we do have when it’s right in front of us.

Like Mike Piazza.

I freely admit that I did not fully appreciate him while he was on the team.  Only after he was gone, did I miss him.

And this is totally my loss.  Today, you will not see a bigger defender of Mike Piazza than me.  He should not only be in Cooperstown, he should be in there as a Met.  He shouldn’t just have his plaque in the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum, he needs to have his number on the wall in left field and a section of the park named after him (I vote “The Piazza” in the upper deck promenade food court, behind home plate, a nod to his monster home runs, and his position).

I’m through with the self-loathing part of being a fan.  Yes, it makes me funny, and I do love curse words.  But let me reserve the bulk of those for Cody Ross, Shane Victorino and hockey players, like Ovechkin and Crosby.  (Also for the New York Rangers.  Those assholes deserve all my angst).

And I implore you all to do the same.  It’s okay to want and have nice things.  See, Travis d’Arnaud might not be a hitter like Mike Piazza.  But where Piazza lacked as a defensive catcher, we can appreciate in d’Arnaud.  There was a play over the weekend where d’Arnaud’s position disallowed a run to score.  Sure, Juan Lagares’ arm helped (at least, I think he was the one with the assist).  Travis d’Arnaud knew instinctively where to block the runner.

So Sunday was hopeful.  I was relieved to see the season end.  With all the extra innings, the delays, even all the nine inning games that took FOREVAR to finish…I think it took a toll on me, as a spectator.  I can only imagine what it did to the players.  As Lou Brown once said, even tough guys get sprains.  Saturday’s game was one that did me in.

I’m so angry I’m ready to cut off Cody Ross’ dick and shove it up all the Mets’ asses

— The Coop (@Coopz22) September 28, 2013

That was the loathing part.  By Sunday, all was forgotten.  I got to see family.  I got to see friends.  Everyone came to send the team off.

As my husband said, this is what it would look like when the Mets are good.

Full lot  Full house vantage point

A full parking lot.  A full house.  It was like the ghosts of Shea were brought to us all over again.

The Mets sent the Shea Faithful vibe home with a win.  The self-loathing part of me would say, a win on closing day in 2007 or 2008 would have or could have changed the trajectory of this team dramatically.

But then, we wouldn’t have the faith and the hope that 2014 and beyond will provide better times to come.

I was happy to recharge my batteries which are resembling my broke-ass iPhone these days (cannot hold a charge to save its life) with 2013 ending.  I was happy for the pregame ceremony, I was happy for the win.  I was happy to see it end…until, of course, it was over.

I said goodbye to some friends.  We joked around about the offseason, and how we are boring, but we all wait.  We wait.  We stare out the window, and we wait for spring.

For the first time in a long time, Greg and Jason, I have faith.  I have no fears, but faith in the team for 2014.  I was happy to see 2013 end, but like many on closing day, it’s not without some kind of regret or bittersweet feeling.  I feel like we’re finally being honored for our unwavering faith to this team.  And the best is yet to come.

The Old Curmudgeon In Me

BUT OMG WHAT WILL WE TELL THE KIDS????!?!?!?!

Grinds my gears Welcome to an episode of “Coopie is an old curmudgeon,” where I don’t talk about things like my stool or my heart meds, but I talk about things that piss me off in sports.

I’ll state for the record, that PEDs, steroids or HGH never bothered me in baseball. You’d think it would, since I do talk about things like “keeping the sanctity of the game” by not having instant replay (I have modified my stance in certain situations).

Sure it bothered me a little in 1998, when I knew Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire had to be using. But you know what – no one gave a shit then, only when it was confirmed. Then EVERYONE talks about sanctity of the game. Because they all looked like assholes supporting it when it was under their nose. And dropped the scoop of a lifetime.

Then we have Barry Bonds and the HR record (both single season and overall record), we have the Mitchell Report, Congressional hearings, Rafael Palmeiro, more shit hitting the fan.

I didn’t care anymore.

You know why? Because cheating in baseball is as American as Chevrolet, apple pie, hot dogs, and yes…baseball.

And I’d be a hypocrite if I thought PEDs were any different for this era.

BUT OMG WHAT WILL WE TELL THE CHILDREN????!?!?!?!

I grew up in an era where the heroes I idolized did coke (Keith Hernandez and Dwight Gooden), greenies (most of the 1986 team), binged on alcohol (Darryl Strawberry), or killed innocent kittens (“allegedly” Kevin Mitchell). I grew up in a rough-and-tumble family where shit happened, and you learned to fucking deal with it. My parents didn’t feel the need to explain everything to me. Maybe things were different in that we didn’t have the connectivity that we do today. But we heard all sorts of things — especially relating to Keith Hernandez, and this coincided with the “Just Say No” era of Ronnie and Nancy Reagan. And drugs were bad, m’kay?

I guess there is something to be said about not being raised in a fucking bubble where everything was all Ward and June Cleaver and hunky dory and peaches and every other cliche you could think of.

Shit, maybe that was why I liked guys like Gary Carter and Cal Ripken growing up.

Yet it was not for me to judge.

BUT OMG WHAT WILL WE TELL THE CHILDREN????!?!?!?!

Here’s an idea: maybe we don’t have to explain shit to our kids. They can figure it out on their own. They should instinctively know right from wrong or learn it by fucking up every now and then. Instead of this “everyone gets an award” bullshit. You didn’t get a participation award back then, you had to earn that shit. Everyone does not get a trophy for just showing up in life.

So you know what grinds my gears? This idea that baseball players are supposed to be perfect. Here’s a newsflash: players have cheated since the beginning of time. Does it make it right? Absolutely not. But to think this is some kind of isolated incident is foolish.

BUT OMG WHAT WILL WE TELL THE CHILDREN????!?!?!?!

Let the children make their own decisions. And by the way, if you are not your child’s “hero,” then you are doing something wrong. (Yes, I just judged you, a little bit.)

Here’s the deal: I grew up knowing my heroes were not exactly heroes. I turned out okay. I realize that athletes are people, they are not perfect. While there is an obligation to hold yourself to a higher standard as a public figure, there is also the human element that comes into the game or all sports that we also must acknowledge.

BUT OMG WHAT WILL WE TELL THE CHILDREN????!?!?!?!

The Hall of Fame committee missed the ball a few months ago. What we had to “tell the kids” when no one was voted in, was that all of a sudden, due to years of lazy journalism and putting on pedestals the very players they are now vilifying, that all of a sudden, players are now guilty until proven innocent.

So Alex Rodriguez is facing a year-to-lifelong suspension, and Ryan Braun is out for the year despite neither of them failing a drug test. Bartolo Colon is under suspicion. Barry Bonds is still a dick. Craig Biggio and Mike Piazza, despite decorated careers, are kept out of the Hall (for at least a “statement”) because they might have done steroids.

I say let ’em all in. Believe it or not, there is a level playing field, throughout baseball history, because cheating is as “pure” as the game itself.

What do you tell the kids? Get over yourselves, really, because the sanctimony isn’t helping the game either.

Now get the FUCK OFF MY LAWN!!!!!

Can We Have Nice Things?

I call books, film, and pieces on Mets history “Mets porn.”  Ask blolleagues like Matt Silverman, Greg Prince and Jason Fry, or even my own husband about random Mets minutiae, and their eyes light up like Ralphie opening his Red Ryder BB gun on Christmas morning.

For a team that is 50 years old, there is enough quirkiness and fun stuff around that makes us unique, and gives us a firm identity in our Mets-ness.

When CitiField opened in 2009, I’m preaching to the choir about how Mets history was little to be found.  Yet, when the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum opened in 2010, with promise of a “1986 Day” honoring Frank Cashen, Davey Johnson, Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, it was a sign of things to come.

A sign that finally, that we Mets history porn obsessed folks would have something to look forward to each year.

Now…

Things are interesting.  Since 2010, we’ve seen one induction, for John F. Franco, though his given middle name is Anthony (You figure out what the F stands for), and that was last season.

It was a foregone conclusion that Mike Piazza, who besides Gary Carter is the best Mets catcher in their history (and prior to Travis d’Arnaud, haha), would be inducted.

Especially this year, with his first year on the HOF ballot.

Till he was famously snubbed because he might have done steroids. He along with a few others.

Here’s the kicker.  When Piazza came to the Mets via the Marlins after spending the first half of his career with Los Angeles, he was coming to greener pastures.  The Dodgers did him dirty.  In a turn of events, the Los Angeles media drove him out of town, questioning his loyalty to the team, and made him the superstar he is today to Mets fans.

I know plenty of Mets fans who were not “Piazza guys.”  Myself, I was a Piazza denier until he was no longer with the team.  It was only then that I realized as a fan, I consistently undervalued what he meant to the organization.

He would no doubt be a Hall of Famer, and he would no doubt be wearing a Mets cap.

When the Mets brought him back in 2008 and 2009 to close Shea Stadium and open CitiField, respectively, he posed with Tom Seaver, he himself done dirty once upon a time by the Mets organization.  We have The Franchise, and the Met Mercenary, but they helped create some of the best Mets memories and history that make us unique.

I get a lot of heat for supporting guys like Jon Niese, who apparently has the personality of gum found on the bottom your shoe.  My argument is – who gives a shit that he’s boring?  Quite honestly, Tom Seaver doesn’t exactly have a reputation of being a “great guy,” and he’s revered to this day.  It happens.

Mike Piazza is a different.  He was cool towards the fans, but seemed to understand his place in Mets history.  When he didn’t show for the Best Mets ceremony last year, it raised a red flag with me.

Not so much for Piazza.  I did hear that he needs to be “paid” for these gigs, but then again, so does Tom Seaver and you don’t hear about that, EVER.  But it was more like Walter Sobchek asking “Are you fucking this up, dude?”

Even the most minute of events the Mets can fuck up.  All we want is to be able to honor our past, put aside any bad feelings and celebrate what little pieces of heaven we have.

Now, of course, we hear that with Piazza’s new book and him rehashing old memories that guys like Jeff Wilpon and Jay Horwitz are butt hurt over some of Piazza’s perceptions, like being encouraged to play with an injury in spring training or not being protected enough by the media.

How many franchise players are asked to aggravate an injury to appease fans by Palm Beach Community College’s finest?  By some guy who had to host an “I’m a Heterosexual” press conference.

It’s a travesty that Mike Piazza isn’t in Cooperstown or at the very least an HOF-elect for 2013.  But what is the real travesty is that Mets, a team that has a hard time honoring their own history if not for the fan movements for bringing it back, won’t even consider retiring his number or putting him in their own ring of honor before he’s honored by Cooperstown.

To me, this shouldn’t even be a question.  Piazza is a Hall of Famer by number, and the Mets need to do him right and bring him for a Mike Piazza Day/Night, retire 31 and get his plaque at CitiField.  And since there are already entrances for Seaver, Stengel, Hodges and Payson, name the Tastes of the Citi section “the Piazza.”

Do Mets fans and Piazza right.  Stop being so butt hurt about things, and honor the guy already.

And P.S.  According to that David Lennon piece in Newsday, Jeff Wilpon has final say in retiring Mets numbers and Hall of Fame inductions.

Jeff Wilpon.

Jeff Fucking Wilpon.

WHAT THE FUCK BUSINESS DOES JEFF WILPON HAVE ON THE SAY OF RETIRING NUMBERS AND HALL OF FAME INDUCTIONS????? SERIOUSLY??!?!? 

Shouldn’t that shit be done by like a Fan Committee or Mets Alumni?  That makes more sense, doesn’t it?

Fucking idiots.

Married to the Mets: The Primitive Version of the Internet

I can’t tell you how many nights, days, weekends were spent sitting on the floor of my living room as a child, watching Mets games on the old WOR.  Remember that?  It’s funny watching the commercials pilfered from YouTube.

Catch the rising stars…watch them shine on Channel 9!

Baseball like it oughta be!  Bring it home, Mets! TV-9, bring it home!

There were many more, mostly celebrating championships past (1987) and less bravado as the steam came down.  One of the common threads in those boisterous Mets years of the 1980s was that my dad and I spent countless hours watching games in the old place we lived at while my folks were still together.  During the playoffs in 1988, we spent most of the NLCS watching them at Uncle Gene and Aunt Melissa’s old house in North Middletown, New Jersey, with their then-toddler Paul.  (He’s 25 years old now.  Ugh.)

During the amazin’ 1986 run, I remember hearing raucous stories of my dad and his friends at Gene and Melissa’s, doing the pogo hops as the Mets rolled over Houston, and wishing I was there.  My mom, for whatever reason, wished to keep me away from that atmosphere.  Try as she might, I had a lot more fun with my dad.  He was a permissive parent, and my mom was stricter, though she let me get away with a lot more than most parents I suppose.  I was lucky to watch Mets games when I got home from school.  But I was a good student, so I could be trusted to finish my homework during the games or afterwards.

In 1988, we watched Game Three of the NLCS over at Gene and Melissa’s house.  It was a chilly Saturday afternoon, and I remember seeing my hero, A. Bartlett Giamatti, toss Dodgers starting pitcher Jay Howell out of the game for a tar ball.  (The headline the next day my mother actually saved for me: “Tar-Rific,” a play on my first name).

But I remember that day for other reasons.  I remember participating in the passing-Paul-around-celebrations that took place after the Mets scored runs.  (Another item of note I’d heard about during the ’86 run).  Afterwards, Gene fired up the barbecue grill and made burgers.  Melissa sent me down the street to the local corner store for some soda, chips and said to get something for myself with the ten-spot she gave me.  I chose a Chocodile.  It was one of the best memories of my childhood (up to that point), that day.

The next night, my dad had tickets to the game.  ONE ticket, for himself.  Yes, my puppy dog eyes worked, and I went.  I wished I didn’t.  This was the infamous Mike Scioscia game.  We sat in the Mezzanine on the third base side.  I started a chant inspired by the big ladies we met in Philadelphia in September of that year.  “ONE DOWN! TWO TO GO! ONE DOWN! TWO TO GO!”  The Mets promptly got the Dodgers to hit into a double play.

By 1989, my dad had moved out and whenever I stayed at his place, I’d watch the old SportsChannel on game nights.  In 1990, I made my mother cancel our HBO account so I could watch the Mets games that were on SportsChannel (we couldn’t afford both, but HBO was back on in the offseason).

In 1994, I went off to college.  We didn’t have cable in our rooms on campus, but it didn’t matter.  This also coincided with the “Strike,” you know, the one that cancelled the World Series that year.  I know there was a year or two I didn’t go to Opening Day.  Honestly, I have no recollection.  But I do know for a fact that I didn’t go in 1998.  I was working two internships and finishing up my independent studies.  I had more on my mind than just baseball.  It was a move later that year, the trade for Mike Piazza, that got me going to more games.

Then 1999 came around.  I was living in Red Bank at the time, with a roommate, but with adult responsibilities and my first “real” job.   My dad and I were going to more games, and it was a fun time to be a Mets fan.  In fact, it was the first Opening Day I had been to in at least two years. From 1999 onward, it set the most consecutive string of Opening Days since for me.  We went with Uncle Gene, Aunt Melissa, Paul, his brother Kyle and their little three-year old brother, Brett.  I remember watching Robin Ventura.  Uncle Gene liked him.  Dad called him, “Ace” after one of our favorite movies.  I responded with, “All righty then.”

We laughed.  A lot.  That’s something Dad and Gene do.  They laugh.  A LOT.

That year was a special year, 1999.  For obvious reasons for most Mets fans, that I won’t insult your intelligence by detailing.   It was special for me for a few reasons.  One was I spent more of my time sitting on the living room floor of my own apartment, watching Mets games again.  I was going to more games, mostly with my dad, but I also attended games with my mom’s two brothers, my “real” uncles, Mike and Scott.   Then I watched Game 163 that year over at my then-boyfriend’s house.  The relationship didn’t last; but my memories of that postseason did for certain.

The NLDS was special.  We made it a point to watch Game Four (the “Todd Pratt game”) over at my new place.  Melissa wanted to see my new place anyway, and to get an idea of what she could charge in rent for her house.  See, they were looking to sell the old grey lady of a house.  I didn’t think I’d actually believe it, till it actually happened.

But the little one, Brett, got sick during the first inning, and Melissa took him home.  Kyle and Paul stayed behind, along with my dad and Gene-oh.  We watched, and watched and watched.  I probably bit my nails to the nub.  We didn’t really say much.  There wasn’t much to say.  They were going into extra innings, and the prospect of going to Arizona to face Randy Johnson was almost as bad as the idea of facing Mike Scott in a forced Game Seven in Houston during the ’86 playoffs.  Almost.

But then…could it…is it…could is possibly be…Hineys cautiously lifted up from the couch or lounge chair, as we watched Steve Finley’s puppy dog face, when he realized the ball he was certain was caught was not.

Thus the celebrations.  The pogo hops.  Zorba the Greek-like dances.  This time, though, we couldn’t toss Paul around like a football in celebration.  In fact, he was 13 years old, he probably could have tossed US around.  This meant that we were facing the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS.

It also meant we were back at the old house in North Middletown for the NLCS.  It turned out it was the last time, as Melissa was serious about selling it.  They would be out by the year 2000.

We may have watched the NLCS of 1999 in the same living room we watched the 1986 and 1988 playoffs.  Yet, so much had changed in that time period.  Kyle and Brett hadn’t been born until after 1988.  And while Paul was born in 1986, he had no visible memories of the 1986 championship.  This was for all intents and purposes their first run as Mets fans.  I had gone to high school and college, graduated from both, and was living on my own and doing adult things like drive and pay bills.  Yet, it was like nothing had changed.  The neighborhood had stayed the same, with the same corner store that I had bought my Chocodile 11 years before.

Something else curious happened.  There was a computer in the old living room.  Computers were not so mainstream at the time, and the Internet was fairly a new phenomenon.  During the playoffs, I helped Paul with his English homework.  By the end of the night, I was crafting an email to NBC about how horrible Bob Costas was during the game.  “Bob Costas is the winter of our discontent” got many laughs from the peanut gallery at Bray Avenue.  Aunt Melissa started to lament how much she missed Tim McCarver.  I wonder if she says that now watching him on FOX.

During Game Five, the infamous grand slam single game, we had ordered dinner early in the evening…till the game went on forever and a day.  Melissa swore that if they went to a Game Six, she’d make dinner and dessert, so that we wouldn’t be starving.  The kids begged to stay up to watch the end.  Both Paul and Kyle had vested interests in the game.  Paul was a Mets fan, Kyle for some reason was a Braves fan.  Of course, this was another game that had there been a toddler, we’d have tossed him or her around the round while the Mets won that game in dramatic fashion.  Instead, we did our pogo hops and Zorba the Greek dances.

For Game Six though, I remember Al Leiter starting off skittish.  I remember screaming at the TV.  I remember Paul and Kyle being sent to bed since they had school the next day.  Oh please, when you were that age, were YOU sleeping?  I was standing at the edge of the room where the living room and their bedroom door met, and Paul kept opening the door to see what the score was.  The Mets were slowly chipping away at the lead, but 1999 was demised that evening.

I wasn’t so much sad that the season had ended.  I was very proud of that team.  What I was mostly sad about was the prospect of Gene and Melissa moving.  Yes, I know I didn’t grow up there.  Yes, I know it was very selfish to think that way.  So many of my early Mets memories were formed there.  I had sat on the living room floor in front of the television during many baseball seasons, but the times we watched the games over at Gene and Melissa’s house was an event.  There were so many fond memories formed over there during the years.  I didn’t grow up there specifically, but I did grow up there in a sense.  So did my Mets fandom.

A year later, when the Mets were in the World Series, we watched Game One in the living room of the new house.  We sang The Star Spangled Banner before the game.  Infamously, we sent my dad to the kitchen when he got up to use the bathroom and the Mets led off the inning with a base runner.  He chanted “Lets go Mets” from the other room, while we chanted in the living room.

The vibe was different, but the family stayed the same.

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It was only fitting that we saw Gene and Melissa at the last game at Shea.  Eight years had passed, but so much had changed in those years.  I’d started blogging on the Mets almost two years prior.  The Mets had gone on an improbable run in 2006, only to fall in disappointment in 2007 and 2008.

Shea Stadium was coming down soon after the Mets finished up 2008.

Me with Aunt Melissa, Uncle Gene and Pop on Shea Goodbye Day

Coop and Mr. E in the Coop Box at Shea Mezzanine 14

There were many different ways to watch games with the advent of smartphones, Internet TV and streaming videos, among others.  I preferred to watch Mets games on their pretty new network, SportsNet NY, the old fashioned way: on the floor of my living room.  Oh, all right, I probably sat on my couch or lounge chair during games too.  Okay, fine, in a bar too.

I texted a lot too during games; Twitter wasn’t exactly in fashion yet.  My phone served as sort of a command post during games.  I had met a whole new group of family members through my blogging and newfangled media such as Facebook.

Prior to the Internet’s existence, my personality was shaped by being a Mets fan, but watching the games with so many memorable characters I’ve ever known in my life.

When the last “pitch” was thrown at Shea by Tom Seaver to Mike Piazza, my dad hugged me and said, “You grew up here.”  It got dusty for a bit.  Funny, they didn’t start to tear down Shea till a few days later.  Perhaps they got a head start on it during the closing ceremonies.

Maybe I grew up at Shea Stadium, but I became a Mets fan watching games the best way that I possibly could: with family and loved ones.

Some of the best memories are simple ones.