MLB

I’m Listening

There’s a Facebook meme going around that says “LIKE if you think 10 years ago were the 1990s.”  I’ve never “LIKED” it, but it is hard to believe that 2002 was an entire decade ago.  See, in 2002, that was the hey-day of being a Mets fan.  At least in my eyes.  The team sucked, but usually in those years, the **true** fan comes out, and not the Johnny Come Lately (that you see all the time in October in the Bronx).

It was then that I met Frank, Brian, Tommy, Kim and the rest of the Woodside crew.  Those were the days of Section 22 in the Mezzanine which was absolute mayhem on the weekends.  There was Roger and his crew from Bensonhurst, and there was Richie and his “YEEEEEEEEEEE HAAAAAAAAWWWWS” at inappropriate times.

It was then that I knew I had a gift.  I had a gift of attracting the outside element, the misfits, the people who made being a Mets fan not only worth it, but the very iota of BEING a Mets fan.

I also knew that I had a gift of listening.  Like Frasier Crane would tell his callers, I listened all right.  I listened to when Richie said, “Hey! We’re down 6-0 in the bottom of the 5th to the Pirates…we got ’em RIGHT WHERE WE WANT ‘EM.”  Or when Tommy said, ” Hey look at this Mike Piazza ‘jersey’.  I might go home dry my dishes with it.”

It was also the last Saturday home game, when I had my Saturday plan with Pop in Section 22.   It was a chilly night, and it was the Mets winter cap night, so it was appropriate that most of us put the hats on.  When I suggested we wear them to the Jets games we planned on attending, Frank said, “Yeah the wint-uh Mets caps for our wint-uh Mets games.”  (Wint-uh Mets meaning the Jets).

I don’t remember who the Mets played that game, and not sure I remember much of the game.  I do know it was boring and by the 6th inning, we were talking about going to Donovan’s, a pub off the 7 train in Woodside (where the crew was from).  When the game just got unbearable to watch, Frank stood up and said, “FUCK THESE GUYS!  I’m going to Donovan’s.  Who’s comin’?”

Thus spawning a decade of me saying, “Fuck these guys, I’m going to Donovan’s.”

Perhaps it’s appropriate that I consider myself the Frasier Crane of the Mets fans, in that I listen.  I listen to what’s being said, I listen to the folks around me, I listen to what the fans think, whether I agree or not.

Perhaps it was fitting that it was the last home game of the 2012 season yesterday at CitiField, and I took it upon myself to call it “group therapy” (you know, us sadomasochists of Mets fans…we like to be tortured which I’m sure is some kind of psychological ailment…all I know is that most of us suffer from some form of post-traumatic Mets disorder).

Perhaps it’s more appropriate that after the last game of the year, my husband asked, “So…feel like going to Donovan’s?”

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  But 2012 differs in so many ways from previous years of futility.

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

The last two seasons, the Mets regular season ended at home.  In 2010, the year was just beyond awful but I won a game-used David Wright jersey after the game, so all was forgiven…well, almost all, since I had to witness the Oliver Perez white flag waving when they brought him into a tie game in the 14th inning.

Last year was a weekday day game, but most of the people in the house were there to give Jose Reyes a boost.  If you got caught in traffic (like many people did yesterday), if you were standing in the Shake Shack line, if you were walking to your seats, chances are…you could have missed Reyes’ last at-bat.  He rewarded our ovation by deciding to leave.

More often than not, I am sad to see a season end.  That’s not to say I didn’t feel that way this year, but it’s just different.  We had another weekday day game this year, but the Mets still have games to finish.  Last year, it was mostly bloggers in the stands.  I pretty much knew everyone who was there in 2011.  This year, I knew many people who were there, but as Steve Keane said today at Kranepool Society, “Closing day is where you separate the posers from the die hards.”

I took it upon myself to realize that what we needed was catharsis, a group therapy session to talk about the season and to share how we felt.  I jinxed myself because the other day, I mentioned that whenever I wear my Rangers colors, I get many comments.  But when I wear my baseball or football teams, no one says a word.  Yesterday, everyone was asking my opinion on David Wright or RA Dickey (should they stay? should they go?).  I guess because I wore that game-used jersey that I won two years ago to the game that someone might have considered me some kind of authority.  Honestly, I didn’t want to think about it.  I sat with Kerel from On The Black and Ed Marcus from Real Dirty Mets at the Apple tailgate (well, the pre-tailgate since most people showed up late due to an accident on the Hutchinson Parkway), before realizing I was drinking beer out of a bottle, no brown bag or any attempt to cover it up.  I said, “Wow, I’m talking to you guys like I’m sitting on my living room couch.”

Group therapy.  We don’t know how to process our feelings so we just go to the games to deal with them.  Anger.  Sadness.  Denial.  Most stages of grief, you name it, Mets fans have been there.

 

Sure we had some acceptance going on with the picture above, including new and old Twitter friends (that I really met for the first time) including Terence and THE Sean Kenny, a fellow writer from Metsmerized Online, whom we actually grabbed breakfast with before heading to the game (turns out we live in the same neighborhood).  And some old, like Kerel and Mediagoon and Metstradamus and Steve and Enzo.   And yes, there was some denial going on, as the Daily Stache was going to say goodbye to a big part of their site identity…uh…the “stache,” Keith Hernandez’s infamous one that has been as synonymous as the Mets are with 1986.

The energy going in was a celebration.  A celebration of a year that probably raised our expectations at some points but for the most part, met what most of us thought the team was capable of.  We were there to celebrate our future — David Wright will be the reigning hits leader in Mets history starting 2013 — and the present — R.A. Dickey and his amazeballs season.

Throughout the game, there were more to meet.  There was Sharon and Kevin and Judi and PAC Lady and Greg from Faith and Fear.  There was Damus and Stache and Kranepool Society and so many of The 7 Line army representatives.   And most of all, we said fare the well to our Richie till next season, who was always good to buy us a beer or two at the games this season (this game was no exception).

I tried to remember everyone I saw.  So apologies if I forgot about our interaction.

But mostly, we were there to see the Mets first 20-game winner in 22 seasons.  Many of the topics discussed in our group therapy were centered around keeping Wright or Dickey around.  Honestly, I didn’t want to talk about the future.  It’s scary enough being a Mets fan.  The future is sometimes too hard to contemplate.  Why not enjoy the energy of now, the energy surrounding R.A. Dickey’s massive 2012 season?

In a year that was an overall underachievement, there were so many stories to feel good about.  The legend of R.A. Dickey is one that is part Dickey, but all Mets.  Anyone could have been a 20-game winner (well, okay, maybe NOT anyone, but you get my point.  I hope).  Robert Allen Dickey, journeyman pitcher he may have been, is one of us.  He’s a guy riddled with quirks, is cerebral and probably is the most critical thinking of the athletes we know.

Even the bombastic Mets fans…tend to know their shit.  And those all showed up for closing day 2012.

 

I won’t go into specifics.  We all know how the game started and ended, even with some late inning hiccups by Jon Rauch (whom I actually really liked in the ‘pen this year!), but mostly, Robert Allen Parnell came in and saved the day for Robert Allen Dickey.  Robert Allen Dickey, 20-game winner for 2012 (and hopefully 21 game winner by next week). Cy Young Award candidate.  Mets fan favorite.

Don’t be fooled: Mets fans were there to bid farewell to the 2012 season.  They were also there to celebrate the guy we can all rally around, and that’s R.A. Dickey.

Kranepool Society turned to me at one point and said, “This team adds years to my life.”  It’s true.  We age in dog years too.

Yet, at the end of the day, when the game was over and we all walked out on a high from the outing…one thing hit us then.

The realization that the season was no more.  At home, at least.  Sure, the Mets are on the road and we can at least watch them on television.  But we won’t be seeing them at home till 2013.

In a way that’s good.  End on the high note.  See the good game, the game every single one of us deserved to see this year at home.

And even as I joked around earlier this year, Johan Santana’s no-hitter wasn’t even really the highlight of the year.  I’m sure to some, it was.  To us though, the season has been all about Dickey.

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

 

When we got out of the park, we headed to Woodside to have our celebratory meal.  Usually, I opt for the “best burger in New York City,” Donovan’s Pub’s specialty.  But they did a menu change a few months ago…they eliminated some of my favorites including their crab cake platter.

Sigh.  I really love them there.

That was also the last meal I had there post-2002 Saturday’s game.

Crab cakes with potatoes and mixed veggies.

I went in with the burger in mind…but when I saw that crab cakes were on the specialty menu…

That was all she wrote.

In the past 10 years as a Mets fan, I’ve come full circle.  Shea Stadium is no longer with us, but the true die-hards, the real fans are still coming to CitiField.  We may miss Shea every day, but we’re moving onto the acceptance phase.

The 2002 season was littered with disappointment with many more lows than highs.  As for 2012, sure the season could have been better team wise but we go for the defining moments that make being a Mets fan a METS fan.

And by listening to the fans, I’ve caught more catch-phrases or understand what makes a Mets fan tick.  And who knows — if I didn’t listen to Woodside Frank all those  years ago, I’d have never heard of Donovan’s Pub.  And to me, that’s the greatest travesty.

So thank you, fans.  Thank you for giving me material all these years, and when the team doesn’t give me much reason to cheer, you give me reason to keep coming back and related to this band of merry misfits.

Go ahead, Mets fans.  I’m listening!!

Join Me TONIGHT for the Gal For All Seasons Podcast at 7 pm ET!!

Just when I think we won’t have much to talk about…Melky Cabrera gets pinched for a 50-game drug suspension and King Felix Hernandez gets a perfect game in front of his hometown crowd.

Please join me in talking about baseball with some fabulous guests,  including Mr. Nate Corbitt from the Wait Til Next Year podcast, Joe Hamrahi from Baseball Prospectus and Cory Schwartz from MLB’s Fantasy 411.

Sign in at 7 pm ET!!!

Sucks To Be Them

Well, hello, everyone.  I’m back.  I apologize a) for the brief hiatus and b) for not really leaving an explanation.  Truth is, I was moving, and had the attention span of a three year old.  Even if I wanted to write, if I could string a coherent sentence together, that would have been enough of a win for me.

But I’m ready now.  After my break, I plan to come back this Wednesday with my first podcast in about a month, and then broadcast regularly.  Also, something else interesting happened.

Baseball wasn’t doing it for me.

I was a little shellshocked from the New York Rangers season, to the extent that it took me awhile to get back to baseball.  That’s not to say that I wasn’t paying attention or enjoying it.  From R.A. Dickey’s spectacular start to Johan Santana’s no-hitter to other events in baseball, I have to say I was preoccupied.  But in a conversation I had last night with Tweeter @Gardenfaithfull, this is what I had to say.

And that was that. This was after all, right after David Wright hit a walk-off single to win the game and blown save of Jonathan Papelshmear, oops, Papelbon.  It was the first time that I shrieked watching baseball this year.  It was the first time I was afraid my neighbors thought I’d be murdered since watching hockey.

So I guess All-Star Break came at an opportune time, since I have a better feeling of how the Mets should be performing, but also with the other indicators in the NL East.

And what I can say about the Braves, the Phillies, the Marlins and the Nationals?  Sucks to be them.

Hear me out.

So there’s the Braves. The Braves are currently in third place in the division, but have an interesting thing going on.  Famed Met killer (not to mention Phillies killer) Larry Wayne Jones is going on his retirement tour.  So in essence, with Bobby Cox gone, and Chipper near done, it’s the end of an era.  But the Braves will always have young talent coming through their ranks to keep things interesting.

Sucks to be them.

Recently, they lost their young stud starter Brandon Beachy to a season-ending injury requiring surgery.  This led them to sign Ben Sheets, the oft-injured once-upon-a-time wunderkind starter himself.  I have kind of a thing for Sheets, I just always loved him, but I know his limitations as a pitcher.  So they replace an injured pitcher with a perpetual injury risk himself.   The Braves will always be somewhat of a threat to the Mets, but to be honest, I don’t see them being much of a threat this season.  Jonny Venters has not had a dominant season, coming back down to Earth as he was pretty much bullet proof in the ‘pen last year.

The Marlins.  Or the MarLOLins as you’re apt to see on Twitter.  Miami has proved that, once again, championships or divisions are not won by backpage headlines.  In fact, I’m sure with a cast of characters like Hanley Ramirez (not exactly known for playing nice with people), Jose Reyes (whom we all loved as Met), Carlos Zambrano (nuff said), Heath Bell (bwahhahahahahaha), Mark Buehrle (actually, I don’t have a problem with him, but he was on the FA list so there), and manager Ozzie Guillen, we all thought this could go one of two ways: Jeffrey Loria was trying to garner interest in his new park by spending money on top names, or the team would peak in year one, only to have the contracts take them down and have a fire sale in a few years.

Suffice to say, both were off for me.  While the park has lost some interest with dwindling attendance some nights, the team is certainly not peaking.  In fact, whoever had the over/under of team turmoil happening before the season started won with Guillen making some controversial comments on Fidel Castro, when his team plays right in the heart of Little Havana in Miami.  Oops.

But that’s not all.  Two days ago, Guillen ripped into the pitching staff of his team for giving up 13 runs to the Milwaukee Brewers, losing a game in extra innings via walk off when Heath Bell blew a save (something we hear about quite a bit, actually).  Bell is getting paid an average $9mm per year for three years to close in Miami, and he has five blown saves to record as of today.  That’s nuts, as my friend Sully says, don’t let his contract ruin the season.

Sucks for them.

For everyone who anointed this team as world beaters at the beginning of the season, I told my friends on a podcast of predictions that I didn’t think they were going to go anywhere.  I was in the minority.  I did, however, say the Phillies would win the division until they gave me good reason not to think they would.

I think they’ve given me reason.  Roy Halladay was hit with the injury bug in May, but he should be nearing his return soon.  That didn’t take away from the fact though, that Chase Utley and Ryan Howard were both out, formidable threats in the lineup.  Utley returned, kicking off a six-game losing streak with him on the active roster.  Then there was the curious case of Clifton Phifer Lee, who couldn’t buy a win with his $24 mm (till, you know, the Mets gift wrapped his first win for him).  Then Howard shows up, well on a return from his Achilles tendon injury, looking like he could be the next spokesperson for the bacon sundae at Burger King.

Sucks for them.

I know it’s only July, I know better than anyone that ANYTHING can happen between All-Star break and the last regular season game in September.  But honey, let me tell you, Rome is burning and Nero is fiddling, but substitute “Philadelphia” for Rome, and a fiddling Nero for I don’t know, some cheesesteak eating Eagles fan who got tired of waiting around for them to win a Super Bowl.  Look, Cliff Lee can go on a tear and win every single start from here on out.  Halladay could be the rug that ties the room together, and Howard might start smacking the crap out of the ball in his return.  It will also account that they are WAY behind in the game, Jimmy Rollins isn’t getting any younger, Shane Victorino’s days are numbered in a Phillies uniform (good riddance to that prick-torino), and Jonathan Papelbon is signed for four years, $50mm…and it’s as good as an automatic blown save for the Mets (okay, I’m exaggerating, but you get the point).  Oh and the beauty part?  Howard signed a gargantuan contract two years ago, that kicked in THIS YEAR: 5 years/$125mm.

Join me in a hearty BWAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

For the Nationals, though, it’s kind of curious.  I know, as it turns out, many good folks who are passionate about the Washington Nationals (follow @cnichols14 and @dugoutdiva for some good Nats tweets).  Though they are a division rival, I’m actually quite curious and kind of excited to see how they pan out this season.  I mean, I love Davey Johnson, that’s for sure.  As a Mets fan, I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for him to do well no matter where he goes.  Then there’s the future is so bright, we gotta wear shades kids.  Of course, I’m talking about Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper.  But yeah.  Sucks to be them.

Of course, Harper is tearing shit apart and kicking ass, taking names, etc.  But then Strasburg thing is a curious case, as he’s infamously been given an innings limit of 160 innings, maybe a few innings more according to GM Mike Rizzo.  I guess when it was imposed (at the beginning of the season) or suggested, the Nationals making the playoffs might have been a pipe dream.  The reality is, no one is running away with the division now AND with the advent of not one but two wild cards, it warrants some serious consideration about Strasburg’s usage, coming off an injury to being used full-out to win a division, which could happen.

Sucks for them to be put in that situation.  Sacrificing the future, or going with the win-now? Oh and I almost forgot, the beauty part.  Remember when Jayson Werth bolted Philly and signed a ginormous contract with the Nats, for a guy who never had 100 RBIs ever in his career (99 was his peak)?  Well, he got hurt earlier this season, and has spent significant time nursing a broken wrist.  Yet, Ryan Zimmerman, with a 6yr/$100 mm extension last year (till 2019 with a 2020 club option), has not been having a great prove-my-contract-worth year with a whopping .241/.304/.374 and 7 HRs and 38 RBIs.  Ouch.

Well, what about the Mets, you may ask?  Well, they are not without their warts either.  In a conversation with Kerel Cooper from On The Black last night, I told him that I was happy to be dead wrong about the starting pitching this year.  (Video will be posted in a few days).  Doesn’t mean I won’t have my concerns about going into the second half.  Johan Santana may not have a Strasburg-like limitation, but he did come off a devastating injury last year.  R.A. Dickey has been the man, but according to the New York Post, Dickey is 1-1 with a 7.79 ERA against teams he’s faced previously this season.  That’s kind of an ouchie, considering we really need someone like Dickster to step up his game against NL East teams down the stretch.  Then there’s Jon Niese, whom you all know I love, but he often has conditioning issues (and a heart surgery coming up during All-Star Break…as minor/outpatienty it sounds…yeesh).  Chris Young and Dillon Gee have been holding down the fort, but with Young’s propensity for the long-ball, and Gee’s youth, they need to also step their second half up.  Oh and the bullpen.  It sucks.

Moving right along though, David Wright has been having an outstanding season and he’s not even playing for a contract!  But then, there’s someone like Ike Davis, whom most Mets fans are rooting for, but his bout with Valley Fever and an injury comeback has hampered his play significantly.  We have a dude named Duda in RF who clearly has no clue how to play the position, and my ass is on Scott Hairston’s wikipedia page.  What’s worse?  Daniel Murphy has improved at his role as an infielder…but may be trade bait for the deadline.

Which leads me to….sucks for them all.

Each of these teams have to think about whether they will be buyers or sellers at the deadline.  That will determine of course how much it sucks to be these teams.  Let’s recap, no one is running away with the division.  The Nationals are clear frontrunners, but anything can happen in the next half.  The Mets have been surprising, but can’t count our chickens as R.A. Dickey comes down to Earth and the bullpen with as many question marks as it has.  The Marlins…I doubt they will be buyers at the deadline, since they were already buyers in the offseason.  The Braves and Phillies look to be active in the trade market, but the Phillies are looking to be active sellers with names like Victorino being tossed around, or even Cole Hamels who is in a walk-year, and giving millions of reasons why he is worthy to be signed long term.

It sucks to be all of these teams.  Yet it sucks in a good way, because some of them can improve and it can easily become a two-horse race after the trade deadline.

Must Be The Season Of The Pitch(er)

There is a big story in baseball this season, and it’s not the long ball, it’s the pitcher’s duel.

It’s the season of the pitcher, folks, and to me, baseball is only as good as its pitchers are.

Think about it.  On a team, there’s often the old school adage of “pitching wins championships.”  Mostly, of the starting pitching variety. Even the bullpen figures in, occasionally, since a strong bullpen is depended upon during the long postseason if your team should be lucky enough to participate.

Look at my team.  The Mets have been blessed with great starting pitching, from Seaver and Koosman, to Doc, Sid, Bobby O and Ronnie, Al Leiter, even Fresno Bobby Jones.   But for years and years, it was always about the no-hitter.  The goddamn NO no-hitter, I should say.

But forget about Johan Santana’s no-hitter two weeks ago.  Okay.  Remember it.  But that’s not the point.  Clearly, the story this year has been the knuckleball and most importantly, R.A. Dickey’s renaissance surge to not only make his case to start the All-Star Game this year, but quietly mounting a strong campaign for the NL’s best pitcher hardware.  Time will tell, but although Santana’s no-hitter will christen the Mets’ books as the historic one, if you saw R.A. Dickey’s start on June 13th against the Tampa Bay Rays, clearly, that was the more dominant pitching performance…BJ Upton bedamned.

The funniest part of that story is that the Mets actually put in an appeal with MLB to get the first hit (an infield variety by Upton) charged as an error by David Wright.  So let’s see — go 50 years without a no-hitter, than two in two weeks!  Okay, gotcha.  I doubt that MLB will reverse it, but hey.  Goes to show just how dominant pitching has been.

Jered Weaver started the trend in Anaheim with his no-hitter.  I remember my friend Sully, from Sully Baseball, telling everyone to turn the game on, as the 9th inning approached.  He was so excited, Weaver had to pee between innings!

Then came a potentially cruel joke, with former Mets pitching prospect Phil Humber pitching a PERFECT GAME for the Chicago White Sox.  While he’s been lackluster (at best) since, the guy who was traded to get Johan Santana was pitching a perfect game, and the Mets didn’t even have a stinkin’ no-hitter.  Point is he can suck for the rest of his natural born life, and he pitched a perfect game.

Then came Johan.  Then came the Seattle Mariners’ combined no-hitter effort of the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Really?  What is fascinating about those two no-hitters is that they were against strong offensive teams.

Lastly, Matt Cain of the San Francisco pitched a perfect game on June 13.  MATT CAIN who walks, like, everybody.

Some pessimists may say that the achievement isn’t as notable now.  Other say that the change in data sharing in baseball has improved for the defensive side of the game, and not the offense.  Yet at the same time, fans dig the pitchers duel.

It’s true.  A home run derby in the most literal sense is a reason to drink at games because you really don’t need to pay attention.  Great pitching performances leave you on the edge of your seat.

Give me a call when the San Diego Padres break their no-no-hitter drought, but in the meantime, I think the season of the pitcher is about friggin time.  It’s more than just the stats, with Dickey leading the NL in wins.  The pitching landscape is just so interesting right now, and the pitching performance is back.

I love it.

Crazy 3s

One of the drawbacks of being a hockey and baseball fan is that if one sports is in the playoffs, it impacts the start of the season of the other.

In fact, I gave up following basketball because of the conflict it would provide between hockey playoffs.  See, back in the 1990s, I used to follow the Utah Jazz, mostly for the John Stockton and Karl Malone combo.  Once they retired, I kind of lost interest.  Then again, the strike in hockey kind of threw me off for a while.  Then the Mets collapsing two years in a row brought me back.

Now, it’s special.  I’m married and as irony would have it, he’s a Utah Jazz fan.  He never cared much for hockey till I started making him watch.  So I guess it’s up to me to be the open one, and allow him to watch the basketball games on television.  They are in this market though, so it’s not often.

Till the crazy threes happened recently.  The Rangers are in the playoffs, and making it interesting.  The Mets are also an interesting and fun team to watch, and we’re both big baseball and Mets fans.  And then, there’s Maude, or rather, the Utah Jazz.  See, they were in the playoffs too.  Unfortunately, they were eliminated last night.

But the weekend proved interesting.  Our two year wedding anniversary was on Saturday, coincidentally, it’s also Cinco de Mayo (because we need an excuse to drink margaritas on our anniversary).  This year was also nuts because hubby, being a comic book geek, had Free Comic Book Day, which falls on the first Saturday of May every year.

 

Tom Seaver Bobbleheads being brought into the Jackie Robinson Rotunda prior to the game.

It was also Tom Seaver bobblehead day for the 4 pm start at CitiField, and the Rangers were playing the Capitals at 12:30 pm. Throw in the Utah Jazz later that night, and we had ourselves a party.

To say it was a busy day would be an understatement.

It started with me picking up breakfast from our favorite diner to bring to him as he waited in line at comic book day.  Because the line was very long about 2 hours before the place opened, they started to let people in earlier than the open.  So we were able to bring breakfast to the park and eat like normal people, and not on the sidewalk.

From there, though, we had some time to kill.  It was off to CitiField to hang at McFadden’s to claim our seats for the Ranger game.

 

The first two periods flew by, but I needed to actually go into the stadium twice.

A friend couldn’t make the game, so I needed to pick up a ticket for him that he called in for me, and I went into the stadium, twice.  Even as I found out the Rangers lost.

Son of beech.  Sheet.

From there, we met up with some friends who wanted to buy us celebratory margaritas.  How could we say no?  From there, it was to the Taqueria to get our margs, and from there, to our seats.  Then there’s the game.  Which took FOREVER and a day to finish, but it finished.

But since we were running around since the word “go” in the morning, our Cinco de Mayo/anniversary celebrations were cut short by me after the Mets game.

In fact, I was up in the Caesar’s Club for the last few innings to stay warm and recharge my batteries, both on my phone and for myself.  Plus hubby was able to find a Nieuwenhuis shirt in the bullpen store on the Excelsior level…I just want to point out there were plenty there, but you still can’t find Niese.

 

I was just so friggin tired.  Plus, the Jazz was game was on at night, and he wanted to watch.  Which hubby was more than happy to eat tacos and tortilla chips from the local greasy taco spoon and watch.

So for those of you keeping track at home, Saturday was Rangers – L, Mets – W, Jazz, – L.

Leading to Monday, it was a three-peat of extraordinary measures.  The Mets game was starting at 7, Rangers 7:30, and the Jazz somewhere around there (needless to say, their preference was a little low on the totem pole…sorry honey).

The Mets game looked like it was going to be annoying, a Roy Halladay start, and Jonathon Niese not his normal self at first (but he recovered, thank goodness).  I thought we were lucky to get A hit let alone a run.  I mean, it’s Halladay.

But things got interesting.  When I turned on the Ranger game, the Mets started to come back and they tied the game after being down 2-0.  Meanwhile, the Rangers allowed to be tied at one point, 1-1.

The Jazz were in the background, on the computer, with hubby following the CBS Sports scores.  Since between hockey intermissions, we turned the Mets game back on.

Something funny happened on the way to the Garden though.  Early in the third period, the Capitals went ahead 2-1.  The Rangers meanwhile decided to do their best impression of Ice Capades.  But here’s the kicker though.  For me, though I watched the game, and I wasn’t very happy with how the Rangers were playing, I had an eerie sense of calm over me.  Like, I wasn’t worried.  I figured, even if the Rangers lost, they’d just win the next two games.  THAT’S HOW MUCH I BELIEVE IN THE TEAM.

But then there’s Maude…

A penalty working in the favor of the Rangers?  Just seconds away from regulation being done?  Brad Richards, king of the last minute dramatics, scores the tying goal, and I was never happier to see overtime, ever.

I told my husband to not turn the Mets game on just yet.  I guess I was being paranoid, like, I didn’t want the goal to be waived off because I turned off the game.  Yes, I’m weird.

But then, Twitter blew up in my Mets people.  “JORDANY VALDESPIN!”  “SHADES OF OMIR SANTOS.”  Most Mets fans remember when Omir Santos took Jonathan Papelbon to school in 2009, when he hit a go-ahead home run in the 9th inning, leading to a blown game opportunity for Papelshmir.

I yell, “Ohmygoodness, honey, turnonthemetsturnonthemets TURN ON THE METS!!”

He had no idea.  He was shocked, I was like – whoa.  Imagine how happy he’d be if the Jazz won?

The Jazz, meanwhile, were one game away from elimination from the San Antonio Spurs, who had thus far dominated the series.  Meanwhile, I was just glowing from the Rangers.

I knew, then, that I must have felt some kind of energy.  Like, it would be okay for them no matter what.

Then.  It happened.

Marc Staal scores the game winning goal, overtime is over, and the Rangers are suddenly up three games to two, and it’s like 1986 all over again for me.

I related that last night’s win was like Game Six for the Mets vs Red Sox.  It was to an extent that I had given up hope that the Rangers would win, they would head into DC losing the series, and they would have to lean on the flair for the dramatics.

Not anymore.

The Mets won, the Rangers won…The Jazz, sadly, lost their game and the season last night.  But it’s okay.

I mean, maybe not for hubby.  But at least now, we won’t have to worry about fitting that crazy three into our schedule now.

They say two’s company, but three’s a crowd.  And perhaps in a way it’s like that for spring sports, especially if you have many horses in different races.

We had several ways to get these games, get these scores, but we managed to make it work.  And make it fun too.

March Madness

Most of you probably think of college hoops when you think of the term “March Madness.”  The reality is, I don’t have a horse in that race.  My husband is a St. John’s fan, but if it’s any indication I went to an all-women’s school for my undergrad.  Nuff said.  Although truth be told, I used to really be into hoops in general.  I followed John Stockton and Karl Malone on those great Utah Jazz teams (and ironically, married a Jazz fan, as he actively follows them to this day), but since they retired, I haven’t had much use for the sport professionally. My dad used to live down the street from Monmouth University and those basketball games were always fun.

I guess it was the survival of the fittest, in my life anyway.  Being a gal for all seasons, I don’t have a “break” per se in my sports world.  If you were to look at things from a calendar perspective, I’m booked pretty much from Jan 1 to Dec 31.  I may not have games every day for my team but I may have vested interests in other games to follow.  Basketball kind of fell by the wayside because since that season overlaps with hockey, a sport I like a great deal more than hoops, and ends well into baseball, my number one love, hoops took a hike.

Yet, March is a bit maddening, as a hockey fan and a baseball fan.  I’m looking at the Rangers schedule for the next few weeks and it is JAM PACKED.  We’re in the home stretch of the playoff push, and it’s pretty certain they will get a high ranking in the Stanley Cup playoffs.  I’ve often told my dad that hockey season ends when the Rangers are out of the playoffs and baseball season starts that same day.  In the fall, hockey season starts when the Mets are no longer playing (but I have to admit, I’ve watched most of the baseball playoffs in the last few years, just to torture myself I suppose since the Mets are almost certainly never a factor).  Somewhere, football comes in, but as you know, it’s not that much of a commitment.  So for me, the biggies are hockey and baseball due to the time commitments of being a fan.

So herein lies the problem.  It’s March.  My hockey team is doing extraordinarily well.  It seems like they’re playing every other damn day in the month of March.  Yet, my husband, whose baseball love trumps everything else, accepts my love of hockey, but there may be some games conflicting.  Hey, it’s baseball.  Baseball makes everything right.

Except when the Rangers are doing so well.  They had a great game against the Boston Bruins over the weekend, and it seems like this is the start of a new rivalry judging by how the game ended.  In speaking to my Ranger blogosphere buddies Nick Montemagno and Kevin DeLury on last week’s podcast, the general consensus is that the hot team gets hot at the right time and ultimately, rest is for the non-weary in hockey. Unlike baseball when you try to rest your regulars, the playoff push expects more of them.  And more of the fans who support them.

This leaves me with not a lot of free time going into the spring.

I never miss baseball Opening Day.  It’s like my High Holiday.  After that, it’s fair game till the Rangers are done.  But March will be a true test for me, given that the spring training broadcasts are so few and far between and that I have Ranger games many nights.  Should lead to an interesting household to say the least here.

Till There Was You

I was in a bad mood today.

I shouldn’t have been, but I was anyway.  I finished a highly anticipated but nonetheless dreaded nine mile run yesterday.  It’s a gorgeous spring-like day, even though it’s not even March yet.

I sometimes get in a mood because I haven’t worked since September.  Today was no exception as I had a phone interview with someone that should have taken place on Friday, but my appointment got screwed up.  I was tired of people implying there is something wrong with me.  I didn’t sleep well either.  I had an appointment with a financial adviser.  Don’t worry: not taxes (yet, though that’s sure to be F-U-N with a capital F).

All I wanted was a cup of coffee.

So I heard that the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf was no opened by Bryant Park.  However, turns out my sources weren’t entirely on.  They’re a little below Bryant, but no worries.  The Mets Clubhouse Store is there, and I figured I’d report on the fact they still do not have Jon Niese shirts in the store (confirmed) and that I figured me investing in an Ike Davis shirsey was in my cards.

But so much more happened.  I didn’t get a shirt.  Perhaps I was too distracted by Mr. Met.

The second I saw him, a big smile was on my face.  That did it.  My bad mood was all of a sudden lifted by the appearance of the guy with the baseball as a head.

He gave me a high-four and we posed for a picture together.  Then, his “muscle” told me that John Franco was in the store signing autographs.

OOPS.

I totally had a brain cramp that Franco was visiting some stores today.  Again, one of those things that was unexpected.  I had gone in looking to buy something but instead I find the mascot and the guy who is being inducted in the Mets Hall of Fame.

 

Forget Disney World.  Today the Mets Clubhouse was the happiest place on Earth.

How can anyone be in a bad mood after seeing Mr. Met?  Seriously, how?  I went from scowling to smiling ear-to-ear in no time flat.

Then I remembered something.  It’s not spring on the calendar but it’s in the air.  Rita’s Water Ice is opening soon, the Mets are in spring training, and the weather is very mild.

And I see Mr.  Met.  This is what we call “Winning,” people.

Till I saw Mr. Met, I would have just been another pissed off New Yorker.  I walked away without an Ike Davis shirt but with an extra skip in my step reminding me of the good I have in my life, and how much baseball is a part of that.

Thanks Mr. Met.  My advice to you is that if you have any worries, just find Mr. Met.  You can’t help but smile when you see him.

Brains > Braun

Before I go any further, I wanted to state up front that I happen to be a big Ryan Braun fan.  When Jose Reyes was in the thick of a batting race with him, I wouldn’t have minded if he lost to Braun.  That’s how crazy I am about him.

That’s something you have to know about me.  Though I am a Mets fan true and through, there are some players that get to me that I have to follow since my love for baseball transcends my team sometimes.  I’ll root for the name on the front of the jersey first and foremost.  But there are guys that I tend to watch because of their names on the back of the jersey.  Ripken.  Lincecum.  Now Braun.

I’ll still continue to watch him, if only to feed my own curiosity as to how he responds to this whole drug testing drama.

I guess in real life, I happen to be a little more on the optimistic side of realist.  In my optimism, I tend to want to see the best in people, and believe in the best side of people.  However, I’d be silly to not acknowledge that Braun was looking out for the best interests of himself in this process, under the guise of what’s best for baseball and what he found to be an incredibly flawed analysis of drug testing.

I’m just as much against performance-enhancers as the rest of us, but let’s be fair.  When Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were smacking the crap out of the ball in 1998, when they both looked like the Incredible Hulk, didn’t we all just turn a blind eye and watched for the love of the game, despite what the naysayers said?  When Jose Canseco came out with his Juiced book a few years back, I actually turned up my nose.  I felt that what went on in the clubhouse should have stayed in the clubhouse.  It’s one thing if he wanted to come out and say, “I fuckin’ did steroids.”  To throw his teammates under the bus just wasn’t cool to me.

Yet, it doesn’t mean I think those years he players should be considered tarnished.  There’s a lot going on behind the scenes in baseball that we aren’t privy to.

Here’s my take on a few of the themes in the Braun case.

Many prominent MLB players back his side of the story, even those who aren’t on his team.  Matt Kemp, a runner-up in the MVP balloting that Braun actually won in 2011, was happy that Braun won his appeal, and even went so far to say he wouldn’t want the MVP title if Braun had to forfeit it for any reason.  Remember when Mike Greenwell said that he felt that he should have won MVP when Canseco won it admitting he did steroids to enhance his numbers?   Kemp wouldn’t have wanted a tainted MVP win any more than Braun, I suppose.  Many other players not named Corey Hart (a teammate of Braun’s) have come out in support too, such as Mark DeRosa on the Nationals.

I guess it’s two-fold.  At the end of the day, players are “union brothers,” so this is sort of a win for the player’s union.  Anyone who doesn’t back another player is just a scab, I suppose.

Then there’s the MLB side, the only side who are really bashing the system…you know, the system they put in place.  And of course, beat writers and fans with a soapbox (especially those in the NL Central, rightfully so to question it, of course) who all know better than the players.

This isn’t some kind of blind-eye fan girl optimism.

Okay, maybe it is.

This might be an unpopular view, but after reading some of the articles today (especially the New York Times), I happen to think that Braun has exposed a huge hole in the testing policy in MLB.  I mean, it’s bad enough it took them forever to acknowledge that, hey, this actually IS a problem, it seems like they’re using some antiquated methods in handling the specimens that could effect the process.  At the end of the day, these players have livelihoods and families to support and all that jazz.  Do we really want a Homer Simpson-like courier to handle the specimen of a high profile player who could easily be taken down because there’s a flaw in the process?

I’m not saying that’s happened…but Braun did bring up a technicality that could impact the testing system.

I hear some people say that Braun should just give a test sample to clear his name anyway.  That’s also flawed for many reasons.  I used to be in a Union, and there are things that a member can do that the Union will not support.  The Union doesn’t have to support, for example, taking a lie detector test, and I’m guessing along those lines that if a player doesn’t have to submit a DNA test to clear his name, why would they support him if he wanted to do that?  In a way, his name has been cleared, albeit on a technicality.

At the end of the day, this was a news story that should have not even been a story in the first place.  We’re raised with the idea that we’re all innocent until proven guilty, except in the era of PED-testing where you just might as well hang up your cleats and call it a career the second your name gets anywhere near tainted.  Yet, at the same time, in the instant-gratification of journalism, we still go with the old adage if it bleeds, it leads.  What better to spice up a pretty dead winter with “OOOOH the reigning MVP might be taking PEDs.  FILM AT 11!!”

I’m not saying he took them, didn’t take them, whatever.  All I’m saying is that there are no winners, no losers in this drama.

So Ryan Braun got off on a technicality.  What can we do?  MLB will have to make their process more bulletproof.  Players will have to still monitor what they put in their bodies.  (They should do that anyway.  Idiots).

I still happen to like Ryan Braun a lot and wish him well in the upcoming season.  He’s gonna need it with the extra scrutiny and lack of a big power bat missing in his lineup now that Prince Fielder is gone.

On Paper

I’m not a person who blogs to “report” on shit.  Seems self-defeating right?  But not to me.  Quite frankly, I’m not going to write about something that you can get information on from like 500 different sites at the time it happens.  And they all tell you the same thing.

Plus, I’m an observer.  I like to think and mull things over before making an opinion or even an informed decision.  So when crazy contracts were being doled out back in December like free ice creams cone day at Ben & Jerry’s, I wasn’t going to weigh in right away.

But I can now.

Being a Mets fan, I’ve had my share of winning in the offseason versus the actual winning games on the field happen.  More often than I care to admit.  The Mets were also in the thick of things during the winter meetings and hot stove happenings, but mostly on the “wrong” side of them, simply by not dishing out a six-year contract to Jose Reyes.  My friend Sully from Sully Baseball even said that he didn’t think it was the end of the world for the Mets and I agreed with him.  I don’t have to like it, but I’m not going to jump off a bridge.

Besides, what are the odds that the Miami Marlins will actually hold onto Reyes for the duration of his contract?  Slim and none, and slim’s out of town, right?

There were many more moves besides Reyes.  There was Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson to the I’m-Calling-Them-California Angels, Prince Fielder to Detroit Tigers and Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell to the Marlins as well.

Until this little nugget of turd came out from the Sporting News, and I really had to analyze where they were going.  Basically, the gist of it is, if your team signed overpriced and payroll-choking talent that has had its hey-day (as Sully put it, paying for John Travolta’s Saturday Night Fever years when you might get at least one year of Pulp Fiction if you’re lucky), you got an A.

The rest of your teams, though.  You’re all fucked.

Seriously, how fucking hard is it to definitively identify where a team’s strengths and weaknesses are.  Let me throw out the Mets for a second.  I’m not expecting much here.  Yet, Sandy Alderson has to make do with what he has, which is basically a bucket of shit.  There’s no mention in this piece about the trades he had to make, like Angel Pagan and then signing bullpen help to short-term deals with little risk and very high rewards.  He has very little wiggle room.  Do I expect much from this team this year?  No, but at least there’s some flexibility now.  It’s like this piece didn’t even address what the Mets had to work with.

What I love most though is the emphasis on the free agent signings.  Marlins and Angels get A+++++++ because they dished out more money than a sailor on leave in Amsterdam’s red light district.  What it doesn’t tell me, though, is what these deals are going to do to these teams long term.  You know, like prohibit them from making other moves and then being underwater with these contracts in two-three years.  Because trust me, this is going to happen.

Then there’s the obligatory Yankee ballwashing.  They made a good trade though and if they can trade AJ Burnett for a breathing human, I’d say it was a coup.  Yet, here’s what gets me: the Yankees always make these under the radar moves (like Curtis Granderson a few years back) to make them loss-proof in the playoffs.  Has that happened yet?  No.

The next best teams in the offseason were Detroit and the Boston Red Sox.  The Red Sox gets brownie points for getting a good manager.  Now, they neglect to address one very small item: their team hasn’t changed all that dramatically except for the managerial spot, which was the least of their problems last season.  Terry Francona essentially stepped down for trying to do a good job.  He walked away because of unrealistic expectations put on a team that WON ON PAPER last offseason.  Remember how that panned out?  Oh yeah, they lost Game 162 to a team with absolutely nothing to play for since like MAY of that year.

As for Detroit, I have no idea how Prince Fielder makes them a 162-0 team, but hey, more power to them I guess.

I could go on and on, but I’ll address one more team on this list: the Washington Nationals.  The Nats are an intriguing team to me for a few reasons, but they also added the tutelage of Davey Johnson (whom you all should know I love), but they added former Oakland A’s-fan fave Gio Gonzalez via trade.  Now here’s the thing: when this trade went down, there were two factions.  One which thought Billy Beane was fleecing the Nationals for the four prospects he obtained in the trade, the other which went crazy when Gio left the Bay Area.  Neither one of those sides I’ve mentioned seems to think to the extent that this deal might actually work out in the Nationals benefit.  Sure, they might actually finish over .500 this year.  And I agree that maybe the deal does give them a “B” offseason.  Is this the type of deal that might hinder them long-term?  Perhaps.  I mean, it’s not like they’re making a bunch of moves that’s going to put them on a sustained path to a championship.

In fact, that’s not something I’m reading about ANY of these deals.  I see these deals working out like most long-term/high-dollar deals or trading the future for maybe one-to-two good years of a talent before they themselves become a free agent, like, never.

So that brings me back to my position as a Mets fan.  Could the offseason been any better?  Oh, absolutely, it could have.  As much as I hate to admit it, I don’t like the idea of not having Jose Reyes on our side, and feel that as a big market team they could have, under better circumstances, kept him around and it wouldn’t have been such a huge commitment, even six years.  The deal is what it is, and I’ve already let it go.

Then again, look at the deals that the team that did land him made.  Heath Bell: 3yr/$27mm.  Mark Buehrle: 4yr/$58mm.  The piece de resistance was the Carlos Zambrano trade.  I know from my fan base that Mets fans thought it might have been a good deal to swing, especially with the amount of money that the Chicago Cubs paid to essentially have him play for another team.  The Cubs didn’t make out too badly.  Theo Epstein, fresh off his revamping and rebranding the Boston Red Sox image over the past several years, got a once highly-touted prospect.  They might have eaten a lot of a bad contract but the idea is that this prospect could be a low-risk/high-reward type.

Yet, Zambrano is a known head-case.  I mean, this should go down as some must-see TV between Zambrano, new manager Ozzie Guillen and Marlins sandwich-short-of-a-picnic owner Jeffrey Loria.  Meanwhile, if someone like Alderson pulled off a deal like that, he would have been vilified by the fan base for trading away any prospect for Carlos Z with his known issues.  Damned is he does, etc etc.

This leads me to my conclusion.  As a Mets fan, I’m not unaware that their issues are more deeply rooted than not making the moves they should make to make the team better.  On the same point though I feel like they could be an exciting team to watch since I do believe that if we’re gonna lose, might as well do it with the young guys.

I suppose this rant is about my expectation level for a publication called “The Sporting News” to provide maybe a bit of detailed sporting analysis as to WHY these deals should work for these teams instead of just saying, “This team spent a lot of money this offseason, therefore they are going to rule.”  Maybe this year, but no one is addressing the pink elephant in the room, and how after year one, the majority of these deals simply won’t work in the team’s favor, just the players’.

Clearly, The Worst Team Money Could Buy was not required reading in their Sports Journalism 101 class.

What Do I Know? I’m Just A Girl

I am a woman.

I am a woman and I happen to be a sports fan.  A “Gal For All Seasons,” as you can see.  I spend most of my year following sports, and living and dying by what my teams do.

Yes, Virginia, women CAN be sports fans.  Sports nuts, if you will.  Yet, it’s clear that sports networks, agencies and leagues haven’t the first clue about how to market, treat or respect female fans.

I don’t begrudge women who don’t like sports.  As a post-feminist era, erm, feminist, I would be a hypocrite if I thought women who didn’t like sports were some sort of aberration.  But I hate when women act the “shrew” if their husbands like sports.  Like Stacey Tavor Merwin, who famously wrote for Huffington Post on how she voted that her first wedding anniversary took precedence over the Super Bowl.  When her husband works in sports photography for his livelihood.  After he brought up that there may be conflicts with the date in the future with the day SHE chose they get married.

As Metschick mentioned on Twitter, this is the same type of person who would purposely get pregnant in three months from now exactly and schedule a C-section for Super Bowl weekend JUST so her husband would not be able to watch it.  It’s fine if they agreed they wanted to make their anniversary special.  Yet, when you blast it on Huffington Post and talk about sacrifices you make over the year, like walking the dog (something you’re supposed to do) and giving your husband a massage (really? I bet that only happened once), sorry if I find this a little insincere and emasculating for your husband.

Look, women (or men) have every right to either vote their anniversary a higher precedence…if perhaps BOTH parties don’t care about football (especially if you’ve married Frasier Crane).  But it’s women like her that make every single woman who chooses not to like or watch sports look bad.   You don’t like the Super Bowl?  Fine.  But don’t be a shrew who makes her husband, who enjoys the contest, miss it simply because you’re threatened by a FOOTBALL GAME.

Yet, just when I think feminism can’t be set back any further, it gets worse.  Much worse.

CBS Sports, in their infinite wisdom, announces their big launch of a new app called…

Baseball Boyfriend?

Womp, womp, womp.

Just to make sure that women ONLY watch sports because the players are hot or hoping that some day they too can become a Baseball Wife (or Baseball Ex-Wife), CBS Sports puts up this insulting website for women to create female-friendly “Fantasy teams.”  Items of note include: hottest player, and then you can “dump” him.  I mean, how cool is that?? /sarcasm

One of the fringe benefits of being a female sports fan, I can attest to, is being able to watch the games and WATCH THE GAMES, if you know what I mean.  My friend @hildachester and I talk about Chris Capuano now that he’ll be on the Dodgers next year.  I drool over Henrik Lundqvist.  The women I know who also do that are second to none in their hockey knowledge.  I have dubbed catcher Brian Schneider as “Two Scoops,” in deference to his two scoops of butter pecan butt.  But ask people like me and Hilda about baseball and we’ll keep up with the best of them.   Women like us could teach some men a thing or two about baseball.

But sites like these clearly miss the mark in essentially thinking that ALL women are ONLY into these sports because men are hot.  I mean, I guess Baseball Boyfriend is way catchier than say, “Baseball Guys I Want To Boink.”

The irony is that women like myself and Hilda, as examples, is that we LOVE the game.  We may joke about “fantasy teams,” but the reality is, women like us keep up with the best of them by actually having real fantasy teams that we agonize over starting certain players or pitchers over one another.

Please don’t insult our intelligence AND tastes.

I get that it’s supposed to be a fantasy baseball primer for women…but this is seriously offensive to any woman who has ever rooted for a team.  Especially for someone like me, since I’ve been a baseball fan since I was seven and know nothing else.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse…I find out something else.  Just when I think that women’s standing in sports are growing by leaps and bounds (after all, we do represent 45% of the fan population)…ESPN launches a place to complain about female commentators.  Yes, you read that right.  JUST FEMALE COMMENTATORS.

My response?  I take it they’ve never listened to Tim McCarver.  Perhaps they were unfamiliar with the old site FireJoeMorgan too.  And maybe they haven’t heard Jon Miller say “Bel-TRAN” or “Bel-TRAY” one too many times on a Sunday.  **SMH** in the parlance of our times.

Here I thought that maybe things were getting better for female fans or women who work in sports media just slightly.  With the advent of sites like Aerys Sports and espnW (yes I see the irony in ESPN starting a female commentator blasting forum), I thought that maybe showcasing women in a positive sports light would essentially go mainstream.  Guess not.

I can’t even say that I am angry.  I am sad.  Sad that women still get delegated to the cleanup work and still get the most abuse on sports forums when they’re knowledgeable and fascinating and are just as passionate, if not more, than most male fans.  What’s worse?  The major sports media owners (CBS Sports is, well, CBS and ESPN is Disney, for crying out loud) actually AGREES and PROMOTES this behavior!  Sickening.

As Julie DiCaro from Aerys Sports and League of Her Own said succinctly, “Not a good day for women in sports today.”  No, my dear.  Not good at all.

They may not know how to promote to us, but I’ll tell you what: you’re going about it all wrong.  Try treating women sports fans like SPORTS FANS, and not people who need a “female-friendly” option or dumbing down.  It’s not becoming nor is it necessary.

I’m sure at the root of it all is a hope that women just don’t want to be fans anymore.  You’re not getting off that easy, bucko.  I’m not going anywhere.  You can still hear me bitch about this on my podcast tomorrow night and probably in future times.