NYM 2012

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!!

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Autumn In New York

Like many business people in New York City, I work for myself and I’m able to make my own hours.  In that vain I’m able to attend to real life issues such as declaring whether the Whole Foods Market salad bar is better than Westside Market’s, or to make my Trader Joe’s shopping list (which being able to go in the afternoon rather than after traditional working hours is a godsend, since everyone and their uncle goes after work).

And like many people in New York, I’m often running errands boasting my team colors.  Today, I was bumming around in my New York Rangers shirsey, bearing the number and name of one Bradley Glenn Richards.

So it’s autumn in New York.  It’s not just a one sport town, but a multiple sport town.  There is not one but several phenomena occurring this time of year. Typically, you can count on Yankee fans getting ready for the postseason, and Mets fans get ready to root for whomever plays against them.

Football season is a few weeks old.  Jets fans typically change their mind on the team more than the weather.

Yet there’s a gaping hole this fall, and it’s not the fact that I left the Giants out of the equation (come on, no one fucking talks about them until the playoffs)…and that’s hockey.

I’m a Mets and Jets fan, yet when I wear their attire, not much gets said to me when I’m walking down the street (unless I’m with my husband, and we get the “Hey, going to the game today?” comments).  I would gather that Yankee and/or Giants fans might feel the same when they sport their team colors.

Today, as I’m walking in Trader Joe’s, not one, not two, but THREE people (each from different walks of life — one an employee, one guy who looked like he just came in from the gym and someone who was probably working in an office setting still in their business casual clothes) made a comment about the team.  Whether it was, “Man, what do you think about the lockout?”  Or “We got Nash, and now we’re not playing?”  Or “Brad Richards, huh?”  (I get that a lot, but sue me, I was excited to have him on the team last year).

Come to now with the threat of no hockey this seasons I would be willing to argue that the true heart of a New York sports fan lies in their hockey allegiance.

That’s not to say that I don’t think there are super passionate Yankees, Mets, Giants, Jets, hell even Knicks and Brooklyn Nets fans.  They certainly exist.  Hockey fans are from a different cloth.  There’s a deep rooted passion, and it’s almost as if being in a room with 18,000 like minded people, indoors mostly, makes it seem like we’ve survived a war.  Perhaps we’ve survived several different battles, each game a mini battle in and of itself.

The battles these days aren’t being drawn out in the ice, but rather in board rooms, with Gary Butthead, the owners and players.  Someone pointed out to me that it’s probably not the best sign that players are going back to their homeland (Russia, Sweden, Czech Republic) to play in those leagues.  It dictates that they expect this to be drawn out for a long time.

Do I need to break out the world’s smallest violin, again, for the millionaires who are arguing over pennies while the diamonds are being passed over.  Diamonds in the form of long-term relationships with the fans who support and buy into the product.

What’s most nauseating being here in New York is that I know it’s not James Dolan’s fault.  He’s a money guy, sure, but he knows that the only way he’s gonna MAKE money is if his team gets out there and plays and his fans are happy.  Fans are not happy.

But what’s more.  I am a Mets, Jets and Rangers fans.  These three teams have brought me more sorrow than joy, but there are glimpses of hope as to why I stick around long term even though they are destined to break my heart more often than not.  Two years ago, and two years in a row, the Jets made the conference championships.  The Mets…well…let’s not go there.  But let’s just say that I do remember ’86 and think that sometimes those feelings are what keep me around.

The Rangers though.  For a fan with the teams I have, this is the closest I’ve had to a championship for a long time and a team I looked forward to the last few months to watch.  A team that could take me away from the drama of Rex Ryan land and the Wilpon Follies.  As someone else pointed out to me, we get Rick Nash, and pieces are falling into place, and now these people are just agreeing to disagree and getting absolutely nowhere.

Today would have marked the first preseason game for 2012-13 season.  Yet the only thing we are marking is time.

It’s autumn in New York.  And before we know it, it will be winter in New York.

As the seasons change, one constant may not be there.  And that’s not a pleasant thought.

Fitting In With The Misfits

“Dear Ma,  You might find it hard to believe…But I think I finally found a home.  The weather’s lovely, there’s so much to see, and people who know what I know.  Now I’ve got friends that do want me and take me as I am.  Now I’ve got friends that do love me.  I’m all right with them.  Fittin’ in with the misfits.”

A Man Called E!, “Fitting In With the Misfits”

I know you might find someone like me who talks and drinks like a sailor surprised to find that growing up, I was very much a loner.  I didn’t have many friends and the shit I liked was NOTHING like what anyone else liked.  I was into New Wave and Brit Pop bands way before it was ever cool or emo.  I listened to music no one else was listening to.  I was a baseball fan when girls weren’t supposed to like it.

Instead of encouraging it, I feel that I was made to feel like there was something wrong with me as a result.  Kids thought I was weird and well, I guess I sort of agreed with them.

So I kept to myself mostly.  But being an only child, it wasn’t that difficult, especially an only child of divorced parents where both worked.  I had a lot of downtime for sure.

But the funny thing was, as I got older and met more people, I found that baseball was a connecting fiber for communities of people.  I remember during the Brooklyn Dodgers documentary “Ghosts of Flatbush” that was on HBO a few years ago, Louis Gossett Jr. said that when the Dodgers left Brooklyn, there was nothing to homogeneously identify with being in Brooklyn.  Baseball brought different races, creeds, characters from different parts of Brooklyn together, and nobody questioned it!

My baseball community started small, with my dad and his best friend and their family.  Then it grew when I started going to more games.  Then it blew up really during the era of social media.  I started my blog and met some amazing people, and even got a husband out of it.

But mostly, this was my happy place.  It’s sometimes not easy being a Mets fan.  It was the fans and the people who drew me in.

These days, I rarely go to games alone.  I’ve had no problem doing it, but usually just traveling to the game is a joint effort, with myself and Ed and the bears that usually come in tow.  There were two games recently that I traveled to CitiField all by myself, though, which is odd.  I’m used to traveling on trains and around the city by myself.  So I had my iPod queued up and ready to take the 7 train on Monday night.

I was invited to the game by a friend who was able to get four seats together.  Our friend Ray Stilwell, aka Metphistopheles, was joining us from the north and we got the Grand Poobah of Mets blogging to join us too, Greg Prince from Faith and Fear in Flushing.

You may remember my misadventures with Metphistopheles in May, when I got stranded in Buffalo, and he volunteered to drive me across the border.  To this day, I’m still grateful (though my trip didn’t exactly pan out the way I wanted it to).  Ray doesn’t make it down here all that often, so to take in a game with him is a treat.  Three out of the four of us made to the Hofstra conference in April.  This was the first time we got the band back together since then.

 

(Photo to the right was taken by Sharon Chapman)

The game itself was uneventful.  R.A. Dickey was masterful again, and deserved better from his offense as per usual.  Yet, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a song as I sat there with my friends.  Mostly me banishing Greg to the Caesar’s Club corner (for reasons I won’t disclose here, but it was pretty funny).  We talked about my husband and I almost got divorced over Angel Pagan (he’s Pro-Pagan, I’m Anti-Angel).  Talked about the previous game where our friend Sharon’s son was celebrating a birthday and he got the Carvel gift card they give out in the birthday inning.

On the way to the park that day, I had some time to kill on the train.  And I found an old album (gosh, it’s 20 years old at this point) that I once upon a time had on a cassette tape.  Ouch.  The artist was “A Man Called E!” and the song was “Fitting in the with Misfits.”  It’s interesting listening to that song 20 years after the fact.  At the time in my life, I was very alone.  I was a sophomore in high school.  I never fit in really anywhere.  That song always kind of struck a nerve with me.  I never quite liked it as one of my favorites, but I did like it enough. It was fresh in my mind as I sat at the game Monday.

Mets fans are an interesting lot.  We stick with the team, when sanity could reason that we should not be.  We root for a perfect game each day, knowing that our team is far from perfect.  And yet, CitiField and the Mets is where I belong.

Thanks to Sharon Chapman for the great photo!

This was us on Monday night.  At some point our Mets fandom and baseball fascination has brought us ridicule from others, but we found each other, in the “lost and found” as A Man Called E! sang about his misfit friends 20 years ago.

Later on that night, I went to go visit a friend of a friend…the infamous Darth Marc, from Metstradamus fame.  Turns out, he and I have a larger connection than Metstradamus…we know a lot of the same Blondie’s gang who hang in the Brooklyn Met Fan forum.  Talk about a bunch of “misfits” right there.  These are the guys who encouraged me to be myself and to blog, and were my very first supporters in the blogosphere.

More irony is when he posted this pic on Facebook, a mutual friend from Blondie’s and Brooklyn Met Fan, IrishMike, commented.  I never knew his last name.  We were only friends in Blondie’s name only.  Regardless, I was surprised to him friends with Darthy, though I dunno, I probably shouldn’t have been.

“Coop’s a brunette, Marc is at a Met game – I don’t know what’s going on. Well the Mets sucked again so there is some normalcy.” – IrishMike

The game sucked balls.  There’s no nice way to put it.  But hanging out with some of the misfits I know makes the games more enjoyable.

I was asked last night on a podcast why I was still watching games.  It has nothing to do with “believing” or thinking something might happen.  It’s not even about being mathematically alive or dead at this point.  But I’ll say this:  I watch because I know in a few months, there will be no baseball.  I may have hockey.  I may have football.  But baseball is my heart and soul and comprises so much of my personality.

I watch because it’s finite.  If you don’t stop and take a look once in a while, you might just miss it.

But on Monday night, I got to hang out with mostly Mets folks (disclaimer: Darth is an “Evil Empire” fan – figuratively and literally.  Or literally and literally.  Whatever).  People who are like me.  People who get it.  “For lost souls don’t know where they’re bound,” as E! once sang.

But we’re only lost when baseball isn’t around.

Thank You, Sir, May I Have Another?

  Most of you know that I am a Mets fan.  In fact, I’m that person that when something Mets-related happens, people tell me later, “You know, I thought of you when such-and-such happened.”

What most of you might not know is that I am a season ticket holder.  I have been since mid-season 2006.  I was going to so many games, that it made sense for me to invest in it then, since it was evident they were making the playoffs.

I held onto them in 2007 and in 2008, the big carrot dangle was guaranteed seats in CitiField, which opened in 2009.

None of this is probably “news” to you.  But in 2009, I invested in Promenade seats.  I wasn’t given much of a choice because it was either there or $9000/seat in the Excelsior level.  Yeah, no thanks!!

When the Mets didn’t perform and fell off a cliff that year, the Mets’ form of an apology was to lower ticket prices, and I actually was able to invest in field level seats (outfield level, but still, I could market them as field level and have a pretty decent resale value).

Each year since 2009, the Mets ticket sales folks have worked to lower ticket prices, but also make the experience more enjoyable for the fan overall by instituting some things as “Amazin Mets Perks,” which got me to take the field with a player (perhaps you’ve heard me talk about my ass being on Scott Hairston’s wikipedia page) and I also got to take the field during batting practice.

My ass might be on Scott Hairston’s Wikipedia page, but I got on the field because of my status as a season ticket holder. Photo credit by Sharon Chapman.

This year, I got a customized Niese jersey for being a plan holder.

This year, 2012, was also the lowest price I’ve paid for Mets season tickets since CitiField opened, but also since my Shea days when I had seats on the Mezzanine level.

As the saying goes, it’s no secret the ticketing department has been selling ice to Eskimos where Mets tickets are concerned.

Yet this year was interesting.  The Mets got off to a rollicking start, and it was announced that the All-Star Game would be held at CitiField in 2013, possibly the worst-kept secret in, well, the universe really.

So I guess it wasn’t a huge surprise that I got a notification from the sales department and my ticket rep, whom I have a very good relationship with, that in order to secure your seat with the All-Star Game, you would require a $250 deposit per seat per account.  The kicker, though, being “the deposit goes towards your 2013 seats” and “2012 Mets Full Season Ticket Holders who commit to 2013 Full Season Tickets by taking advantage of this offer by July 10, 2012 will lock in 2012 season ticket pricing for the 2013 season.

Uh, hello, that’s not only a “no-brainer…” Hell it was a YES brainer!  Of course, I want to hold onto my season tickets for not only personal reasons but also to cash in on the All-Star Game festivities.  But locking in my price now for 2013?  Man, that’s just icing on the mother f’ing cake.

I paid the $500 (since I have two seats) deposit by the deadline and figured I’d be good to go.

Now over the years, the Mets’ ticketing department has come under fire for a few reasons, one of which is their invoice due date each year being around Christmas time.  If I remember correctly prior to the 2008 season, invoices were due around January 15.  Don’t quote me on that, but I’m pretty sure of it.  Yet, after the flailing at the end of 2008 and the opening of CitiField, they leaned on the ticket plan holders for early payment.  Some people complained that it was “too close” to the holidays.  For me, though, I guess it didn’t bother me as much personally.  I kinda figured, you know, that people are usually monetarily wounded around the holidays, what’s the difference a month makes?  (Of course they required back then to pay in full, now there are payment options).

I think another thing is the timing.  The Mets just came off two years of narrowly missing the playoffs.  How DARE they ask us for money when we’re still in mourning?

Since 2009 though things have marginally gotten better, with the institution of the perks program, and making the season ticket and partial plan holders a part of the family.  As well they should.  That was probably my biggest complaint at the time, was that season ticket holders were taken for granted.  I would say a big change in the philosophy of the department happened when Leigh Castergine took over for longtime Mets fixture Bill Iannicello.

But now, I’m seeing some shades of previous Met establishments, and I’m not liking it.

Go back to what I said about locking in prices for 2013 seats by putting a deposit down on your account.  There were two things there: the All-Star game and 2013 tickets.  I get that you should have a plan to be able to reap the rewards for the game, and I have no problem with that.  But last week, plan holders were sent an email about putting yet ANOTHER deposit down by AUGUST 31st  (meaning: like 17 days from now).  A minimum 20%, and as my ticket rep explained, the next payment wouldn’t kick in till October.

Either the first email was in error about locking in prices by opting for the deposit in July, OR they’re just conveniently forgetting they told some fans this.  I mean, I can’t be the only season ticket who was verbally told this, emailed this AND given this new email that’s all passive-aggressive.  “Deadline?  Oh, this deadline?  Of course, that’s new.” (Oh, and before I forget to mention, we were encouraged to put a deposit down, even in the event that ticket prices were lowered in 2013 we would get that new price.  But promised it wouldn’t go higher).

Normally, I wouldn’t give a shit.  But the pricing is very essential for 2013 for me.  For one, each year since I’ve been at CitiField has resulted in me having a lower ticket price AND (something they didn’t do before) is give season ticket holders a discount over the regular cost of a seat to compensate for those days we have to eat tickets or sell below face.  Now, while I was pleased with that revelation, I shouldn’t applaud the Mets for simply doing what other sports and teams have done since the flood.  They needed to do what they could to keep us happy.  I get that.

Don’t tell your most loyal fans that by putting a deposit on your seats in July for games that won’t happen for at least another nine months will guarantee a price lock, then say, “Oh that whole thing, we’re forfeiting that and you have to give us another deposit in less than a month.”

Pardon me if I tell you to kiss my pucker.  I’m pretty upset about this.

In years past, I will acknowledge that the Mets have done the right thing by treating their season ticket holders better, giving them more perks and making us more appreciated.  Each year, the Mets have fallen far from expectation, and each year as a courtesy our ticket prices have been lowered.  In the meantime, would it KILL them to keep ticket prices steady for a year?  Let’s be fair: we know this money isn’t going to be used to improve the team any time soon.

And what’s worse is this whole not-so-much-of-a-warning that your prices may go up if you don’t give into their extortion deposit demands.

Your loyal customers.

Your loyal fans.

For what?  Because we’re riding high on euphoria for having the first no-hitter in Mets history?  Because R.A. Dickey may win the Cy Young this year?  Because you really prepared yourself with a backup catcher this year? Oh wait, that didn’t happen.  Mostly, it’s due to the All-Star Game in 2013.  Fine.  I didn’t mind giving that deposit.  But what I do mind is that I was told one thing, now I’m being told something IN ADDITION to that.

Hell, if I had known I would have to lock in my 2013 prices with or without the stupid $250 deposit, I might have been more okay with it.

I know these are total First World Problems, and most of you could give a shit about my status as a season ticket holder.  But this isn’t just me we’re talking about.  We’re talking about loyal fans who were probably told one thing, and thought one thing, only to have something blindside them.

Over the years, the Mets have ridden goodwill into the ground with their loyal fan base.  In the 1980s, it was due to the 1986 championship.  When the Mets were shitty, they did everything in their power to bring us back with different promotions.  When the team did well in the late 1990s, the Mets rode for years that goodwill in the form of ticket prices.  Only to see the team falter again.  But oh look! The year 2006 came along, and once again, ticket plan holders were taken for granted by locking us in again.

The last four years have been a real test, I have to believe.  The owners, despite what we may or may not know intimately about the financial situation, clearly are not in a position to freely spend.  I’m actually okay with that overall, but the reality is if you see what’s going on in LA after their owners were bankrupt and driven out of baseball, they’re spending and making investments in the team.  Makes me wonder what would happen if MLB actually intervened.  Maybe then we’d have a good team.

But I digress.  In the meantime, they’ve really had to suck up to us and do everything in their power to bring us back.  I’m paying nearly 50% less than my final season at Shea Stadium now for better seats in a nicer stadium.  I can’t complain about that.

My point is, now that the Mets are doing marginally well, they’re technically allowed to ask more of us as fans.  Because they can.

What I can complain about is the blatant advantage taking by the Mets ticket people of their season ticket holders.  As I like to say when the Mets are down 6-0 in the bottom of the 5th: they got us where where they want us.

What am I supposed to do here?  Not pay by the deadline, and risk my ticket prices going up?  When the original plan was that the deposit essentially said that I’m locked in?  Because I wasn’t prepared for this.  Now, I have interested partners in my ticket plan, and I’m appreciative of their offer, but that’s not the point.

I feel used.  The Mets played me.  They drew me in by treating me well and giving me nice things only to shit all over it because they can.

I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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.

Fine Line Between Pessimism and Low Expectations

I have unusually low expectations for the Mets in 2012.

Usually, I look forward to Opening Day with such giddy anticipation as a child would look forward to waking up on Christmas morning, going out of their bedroom and seeing their prized bicycle under a tree.

This year it’s weird.  There are things I am looking forward to, such as seeing the friends I haven’t seen since the last game of 2011, seeing friends I see all year round, eating lots of bad food (not “bad” food, but “bad-for-you” food), and drinking alcohol.  It’s mostly the camaraderie I am looking forward to.  The blogger summit on Shea Bridge that we’ve taken to most games.

And yes, to an extent I am looking forward to seeing baseball played again.

Yet, I don’t want to sound pessimistic.  I think Mets fans have been put through the wringer with this team in the past few years.  Okay, maybe me.  I’ll never stop loving them, but DAMN BABY!  Make it stop!

I’m not pessimistic.  I have optimism for certain parts of the team.  Like Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, seeing Daniel Murphy play a full season (or at least attempt to), see how Jason Bay reacts to the new walls, see Johan Santana return, and see our young stars develop.  Whether I think that will be moxie enough to keep me interested all season remains to be seen.

I can be excited and love the team and love baseball games, but until they start showing me some changes, I’m not expecting much.  And I guess that’s a good thing because it seems like each year when we have high expectations they just temper them to the extent that we just get angry.

I guess what I’m trying to say is…it can only get better from here.

I hope.

PLAY BALL!!!

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.

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

I’ve been a Mets fan since I was seven.  I’ve seen a lot in my not-so-short yet not-quite-as-long as others.  I’ve seen the Mets win a World Series in front of my own eyes, but I also saw Mike Scioscia sucked the life out of a team and a fanbase on a cold October night in 1988.  I’ve seen two celebrations for an NL East at home, but I also saw Carlos Beltran take strike three.  I was at “Closing Day” at Shea Stadium, but I’ve been to many many games at CitiField, where we’ve yet to create our fond memories.

I was in diapers when Tom Seaver was traded, but rumor has it I was snoozing in my crib while my dad cried watching the evening news that night.  I was in first grade when the Mets were on WOR and some guy named Keith was playing for them, and my dad had baseball on more often than he had before.

I saw Dwight Gooden fall to his demons many many times.  I saw Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell traded for Juan Samuel.  Darryl Strawberry, nicknamed the “Black Ted Williams” when he was being scouted, walked away from the Mets to go home to L.A.  Generation K never lived up to our expectations, and Bobby Jones started out as overrated but became underrated as he left the team. The great dream of Scott Kazmir was dashed away when the Mets decided to become a “win-now” team with missing puzzle piece Victor Zambrano.

So is life, as Harry Belafonte once sang on The Muppet Show, for a Mets fan.

In the offseason leading to the 2008 season, I wrote a piece at my inaugural Mets blog My Summer Family when Johan Santana was traded to the Mets.  Its Always Darkest Before Dawn, I called it, because it was right after 2007 and the collapse and everything sucked.  And I just remembered that it’s never easy being a Mets fan.  And look…Johan Santana hasn’t quite lived up to our expectations either.  Then again, we should not be surprised.

The sun will come out tomorrow.  Little Orphan Annie sang this about better days to come.  I think we can gain a lot from this message for a lot of aspects of life.  If you’re still breathing, you have a bad day, you get dumped, whatever, chances are the days will go on and you’ll overcome it.

And we’ll overcome our loss of Jose Reyes.  It won’t be easy, and it won’t be fun, but it will happen because…it will happen.  It just has to.  When Beltran’s caught looking ended an improbable run in 2006, and then started a chain of events for failure with the team, we’re still here.  We’re still breathing.  We’re still rooting and believing just like we normally do.

Is it horrible to lose Reyes?  I won’t lie to you: it is.  But not for the reasons you think.  To be blunt, this is a business.  Free agents come and go and Reyes was no exception.  It happens. We root for the laundry and not the player (just the players who wear the laundry).  Sadly, this team was not winning with Reyes…they can keep not winning without him.

That can be simplistic I know.  Especially for a man who was the Mets’ first batting champion and is beloved by fans all over.  At the end of the day, Jose Reyes will be a Miami Marlin…and we’ll have to get over it.

The sun came out this morning, and will continue to rise in the east and set in the west every day after.  So fare thee well, Jose.  We’ll miss you, it will be hard to get over you, but we’ll do it eventually.

Mission: Accomplished

See this?  That picture was taken in July, in celebration of our friend and brother in the Mets community, Dana Brand.  Dana passed away earlier this year.  He was a real hero and champion to the Mets community, especially the Meterati, who fancied themselves as sort of writers with feeling and emotion, and tying in our love for the Mets with our daily zest for life.

Mets fans are a quirky bunch, and hey, it takes one to know one.  Or several.  Back in 2007, I was invited to a reading by Dana Brand for his then newly-released Mets Fan book.  The Mets literati was a club I desperately wanted to pledge.  When I walked in that day, Dana looked at me, recognized me right away, and motioned for me to join in on the fun.  I’ll never forget that.  If you want a real-life example, if you ever saw the movie Independence Day, when Judd Hirsch’s character is forming the prayer circle, and tells everyone to join hands, THAT was Dana Brand.

 

If you noticed in the first photo I posted, I was speaking in front of a sign that said, “Bring Back Banner Day.”  Perhaps it was done a little tongue in cheek, perhaps it was a little wistful.  Yet, the idea of banner day is very Metsian in its roots, and perhaps defines the very essence of being a Mets fan.

I attended my first Banner Day in 1986, which used to be in between a scheduled doubleheader (try getting that done anymore).  At the time, I didn’t understand the history and roots behind it, but it does remain one of my fondest memories.  After all, how could I forget the one sign that has been a Cooper family punchline ever since: “Shea’s Bathrooms Are Worse Than Chernobyl.”

Things are different now.  Mets fans can be snarky and wise-asses, but we’re a little more educated now and attuned to the inner-workings of the team.  I didn’t think Banner Day would fly again.  Sure, I am a fan who certainly wanted it to return.  For a stadium that has a strict banner and sign policy (and CitiField is hardly the ONLY place that does this), I didn’t think Banner Day would ever be again.

Till the 50th anniversary festivities were announced and Banner Day IS returning for 2012!!!

Can I get a WOOOOO?? WOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Of course, no good deed can go without wondering what it’s ulterior motives are, perhaps Bitter Bill asked with are Mets pulling the sheets over our eyes?  What, covering a crap cake, as I like to call things nowadays?  This, I feel, is a step towards making us fans happy.  We wanted something like this for years.  Wanna hear my theory on questions like that?  Mets fans are afraid to allow themselves to be happy about anything.  I’m not afraid.  I’m really thinking about what kind of Banner Day I want to make.  The 50th anniversary is bringing the fun back.

Fun is something that has been missing for quite some time, especially since CitiField opened up.  When the Mets were the Loveable Losers in the ’60s, Banner Day was something for everyone to enjoy and to forget how bad the team was, it was for the fans and BY the fans.  If you think about it, blogs and podcasts and videos are done as a way of expressing our love and even our frustrations with the team, and how they impact our lives.  I guess that it’s like with any relationship, you give, you take, you love, you hate.

I said when I heard of Dana Brand’s passing this year, that I was sure he would be one of the first people some of us would think of when the Mets won a championship.  His name was the first person who popped into my head for this announcement about Banner Day, that he would have loved to see it.  Along with many of us who fought the good fight to get Banner Day back where it belonged: in CitiField, with the Mets, once again.