NYM

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.

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.

A Celebration of Mets History and Academia

Starting Thursday, April 26. until Saturday, April 28, Hofstra University is hosting the Mets 50th Anniversary conference, which our friend and Mets brother Dana Brand was putting together before he unexpectedly passed away last year.

I’m pleased to announce that I will be one of the panelists for the “Bullpen,” which is a roundtable of bloggers discussing Mets centric topics, and for the “Passion of the Blogger” roundtable on Saturday.

This panel on Saturday will be moderated by Greg Prince from Faith and Fear in Flushing, and I’m joining Steve Keane from Kranepool Society and John Coppinger from Metstradamus.  It’s funny, when I started as a “blog groupie,” these were the three main blogs I followed at first.  I’m honored and humbled at the same time.  Never in a million years did I think my fandom of this team would allow me to discuss them live with friends and “blolleagues.”

Tonight’s Gal For All Seasons podcast will be discussing the Hofstra conference, with my guests E.J. from The Happy Recap and Metstradamus himself.  ‘Damus and I might talk a bit of hockey.

If you have the time, definitely head out to Hofstra this weekend.  I didn’t want this to be an event that I looked back at and said, “Dang, I shoulda been there.”

 

Amazin’ Tuesday

Every one of us, at one point or another, was probably told by someone else that the latter thinks of the former at a certain instance.

For me, and I’m sure many others, it’s when they see a Mets game or something related to the Mets.

I’m sure there are many more fans crazier than I, perhaps none more than my husband though, who went to work at 5 am to take an extended lunch break in an effort to meet me to go to see R.A. Dickey at a book signing, and then later to catch his hetero-life-Met in Edgardo Alfonzo.

Since both were doing their appearances in midtown (though Dickey was slightly more East), we figured, what the hey.

These two Mets are special and endearing to the fan base.  They represent what it means to wear the orange and blue: they’re hard-working, have a blue-collar ethic, fan-friendly, are underdogs (meaning: they’re certainly not the best players on their team but that makes you like them that much more), and just seem like regular good guys.  While Dickey hasn’t been on widely successful Mets teams, Fonzie was part of the scrappy 1999 and World Series-bound 2000 teams.  Fonzie is also an incredibly underrated Met.  That goes without saying with Dickey, an eccentric knuckleballer.

R.A. Dickey and I have more than just the Mets in common: we were both English lit majors in college.  Probably the only baseball player I can think of who can use the word “dichotomy” in a sentence and correctly, at that.  If you haven’t read his book yet, if you are a Mets fan and are a sympathetic individual, there is no reason why you wouldn’t enjoy his inspiring story.

Perhaps though no one is crazier (and by “crazy,” I mean “certifiable”) than I am when it comes to R.A. Dickey.  When I have Twitter exchanges with him, it’s about literature and not really about the team.  I even asked him, once, if he thought Shakespeare was as overrated as I thought he was (short answer: yes, long answer: he likes his sonnets, which I agree with).

So when he writes in his book about perhaps becoming an English professor one day, my eyes lit up.  I’d LOVE to take an English class with R.A. Dickey; so many of his mannerisms remind me of my journalism and Medieval lit professor, Dr. John Marlin (both have very dry and witty personalities).  I get the idea that they would be friends in real life (even Dickey played for Marlin’s fave Minnesota Twins).

Wanna know how crazy I am about R.A. Dickey though?  I had a dream after finishing his book that I was in a lecture hall as spoke about Faulkner.

Does this R.A. Chickey know how to party or what?????

So hubs leaves work, and we head over to the east side for our first stop: Dickey’s book signing.

It’s pretty uneventful.  We wait in a long line but it moves surprisingly quick, we probably waited no more than like 45 minutes.  We passed the time by chatting with other Mets fans, about what players were nice or mean to fans (Al Leiter was kind of douchey, and we all heard Tom Seaver is very arrogant).  We all agreed that we were prepared for Dickey to be a nice guy.  And he was.

 

It was pretty quick and painless.  We got him to sign the book “To Coop & Ed – GO METS!” with his signature and #43.

While posing for our pics though, I did tell him I had to be the only baseball fan who finished his book and wanted to hear him give a lecture on Faulkner.  To which he replied, laughing I might add, “Oh man, I’d LOVE to do that!”

We pretty much floated to our next stop, which was Citibank on 6th Avenue in midtown, where Mets alumni Edgardo Alfonzo was visiting.  We weren’t expecting as big of a turn out here as there was the Barnes & Noble, and we were correct.  There were still quite a few people there.

Fonzie was what the rumors said: very nice, humble and gracious to his fans.  Possibly no one loved Fonzie more than my husband who had his #13 Mets jersey inspired by him.

 

When you find out one of the guys who wears (or wore) the laundry for your team and you liked him enough, you find a way to attend their book signing or go to a bank you don’t even do business at to meet them and take pictures.  Or you know, you scream at them during warm ups till they acknowledge you.  Hi Jon!

It’s funny the lengths my husband and I go to for our teams.  We’ll follow them around the country, we’ll go to their home games, we’ll traipse in midtown Manhattan in the lunch hours to get some pictures and spend 30 seconds with a fan favorite.

Back in 2010, there would be a literary roundtable and speakers called “Amazin’ Tuesdays.”  We brought back our own Amazin’ Tuesday for one day at least.

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!!!

Meet The *New* Jets (Same As The *Old* METS)

Perhaps The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” is one of the most plagiarized songs in sports.  If you think about it, the whole “Meet the old boss/same as the new boss” line gets rehashed over and over…and over and over…and over some more, and once again, in the sports lexicon.  No matter what sport, team or pro/amateur, whatever, we can always use that line to describe how a team we follow has performed.

I promised myself never to do that, since I believe it to be cliche.  Yet, I haven’t weighed in on the whole Jets performance at the end of the season for that very reason: it’s a cliche.  You have a semi-new “boss” who has talked a big game and practically predicted a championship  each year since his hiring.  You have a young stud hotshot whose hopes for the future have been pinned upon.  You have a bunch of mercenaries playing on a team that really just care about personal performance, but aren’t “team” guys.

Factor in a New York (“big market”) team facing a Miami (“small market”) team on the last game of the season with playoff implications for the big team and what do you have?  A recipe for disaster.

You may think I’m talking about the Jets, but I’m not entirely.  You see, I’ve read this story before.  It’s happened to the Mets as well.

I’ve often argued that 2006 for the Mets was the aberration: the year that should have never happened.  Yet, at the time, I was drinking the Kool-Aid like everyone else, or rather, I was just enjoying the time and place in front of me.  But who believed they wouldn’t at least *MAKE* the playoffs that year?  I can say until I’m blue in the face that the last series of 2007 for the baseball Mets was not the killer — we could point to any series lost against the Phillies after All-Star Break that year, not to mention the series before against the Washington Nationals where if they only won just ONE goddamn game, we wouldn’t be even blinking an eye about their floundering now — but rather it was indicative of the whole season.  The giant falls, and we’re not talking baseball or football giant, we’re talking a big market team, no matter what the pro sport.

But look at the Jets.  A team that simply got too big for its britches.  A team that believed everything its big talking coach told them, a team that believed its young stud quarterback wasn’t actually overrated.  Hey, you know what, I don’t apologize for liking Mark Sanchez.  He’s young, and may even be successful without the fish bowl of New York media.  But I’ve gotten attacked on Twitter for saying Eli Manning was overrated (so the fuck what about a Super Bowl title), but I was also saying that the Jets aren’t much better in that department.

Then look at how the Mets floundered in 2007.  I’ve often said the denouement of that quasi-dynasty was Carlos Delgado.  And he was barely a Met.  Yet, he came to the team, and they rode his confidence.  Yet, the second he started to slump, so did the team right behind him.  Perhaps Billy Wagner put it best when he looked to his locker after a game in 2008 and said, “f**kin shocker” in response to being interviewed in a game where he didn’t even play.

Substitute Santonio Holmes on the Jets for Carlos Delgado on the Mets, and you have yourself a good comparison. I have to admit that I like Holmes, and even past tense, especially when he was on the Steelers (for some reason, I have a lot of friends who are Steelers fans).  He’s been criticized by Joe Namath, but also by his own teammate LaDainian Tomlinson.  Injured reserve rookie QB Greg McElroy didn’t name names, but didn’t really have to when he said that the Jets locker room was infiltrated by selfish personalities.

If you look back to the reasons why the Mets faltered late in the season in both 2007 and 2008, there were rumors that a faction led by Carlos Delgado kind of undermined their “boss” Willie Randolph.  To be honest, I was not a fan of Willie Randolph, but it seemed like a bit of a longshot that Delgado or anyone on the team woud have tanked on purpose just to get him fired.  On the flip side, there was almost a direct correlation to the team doing better (especially specific players) after Randolph’s midnight firing.

So does this mean that the rumors were true — that Holmes, among others, were just tanking to get Brian Schottenheimer fired?  If that’s the case, then fuck ’em, these are professionals who should be playing to win.  Not lose to spite a coach they are not fond of IF IN FACT that is the case.  Yet, it’s doubly wrong and implies that Holmes, a team captain, wasn’t even trying for whatever reason, mostly selfish.

Back after the 2006 season, the Mets came out of nowhere to come within a game of making the World Series.  Each year after that, their performance has gotten worse and worse, and more embarrassing by the season.  Now, they are almost in a rebuild mode (a hybrid of cutting ties with “dead weight” and ties to previous losing seasons, and letting the young guys play, whether they win or lose).  Taking a cue from the public service announcement that “It Gets Better.”  For the Mets, though, it’s gotten progressively worse, and should continue to get worse before it ever gets better.

In 2007 and 2008, the Mets had respective season-ending series against the Florida (Now “Miami”) Marlins that could have swayed their playoff position.  I’ve argued that there were games each season that they SHOULD HAVE won and COULD HAVE won but DID NOT.  So when those series were lost, yes, it sucked, but I just took it.  The same goes for this big market football team, losing to a subpar team located in Miami, in a game where a win could have changed everything.  By the same token, a win anywhere else in the preceding three weeks could have changed everything too.

I root for three major New York teams — the Mets, the Jets and the Rangers.  Each one incompetent in their own special way.  But the Mets and Jets have more similarities than I care to admit.  And yet, I have to wonder if after a taste of almost success in making it to the conference championship could have been just enough of a taste for a team that didn’t make it quite as far as they should have.

The Jets are in a bind.  They believed their own hype and became too big for their britches and then what happens? Players start to quit.  And it becomes a bigger story than the team itself.  They lose games they should be winning by considerable margins.  But that’s just it: THE ENTIRE FUCKING SEASON WAS LIKE THAT.  I could go back to when they started 2-3 after losing three straight on the road.  Winning just ONE of those road games would have made a difference.  The shitshow back in November after Thanksgiving.  All in all, the Jets have no one to blame but themselves, since it’s a team loss.  But if you are having individual players making individual decisions about how the team should operate…then expect more of the same, as long as Mark Sanchez, whipping boy du jour, is around.

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.

A Series Teaser

I’ve been pretty quiet about the Mets this offseason.  Mostly because they, themselves, have been quiet.  As my friend Richie S over at Random Mets Thoughts says, wake us when there’s news.

The last thing I want to do though, is become complacent in my Mets writing.  I mean, when something does happen, it’s easy to be reactionary.  Which I realize has been part of my problem in the last few years: too reactionary, not enough creativity.  Even when I’m reactionary though, I can be creative.  Yet I started A Gal For All Seasons to be proactive and come up with original content.  It can be stifling at times, but it forces me to think out of the box.  Sometimes, though, forcing yourself to do something can be counterproductive.  But I keep plotzing on.

In the middle of the 2011 season, over at sister site Kiners Korner, I did a series on the Most Notorious Mets.  It was fun and lively and generated a lot of dialogue.  Then someone approached me about writing a book.  Granted, it wasn’t anyone in the publishing industry, but when I was tapped to add a piece about our friend Dana Brand in his memorial book last summer, I knew I could probably do it if I had a better focus.

So I’m using this platform as a vehicle to help me refine my craft.  It may not be the Great American Novel I swore to my English professors that I would write someday…but it could be a fun lively story that is appreciated by the Mets community.  Which is all I really need is to write something to connect with the community.

Despite whatever negative, positive, or somewhere in between there will be in Mets news this offseason, I will try to keep things light and original and try to post a new synopsis weekly about my ideas.  Stay tuned!

Giving Thanks

This might have been a phone conversation I had with my dad the other night.

Me: “So I’ll be seeing my friends Fred and Jenn this weekend.”

Dad: “Fred Solomon??? Man, I feel like I know that guy.”

Funny, because “Solly,” as we like to call him, has never met my dad (neither has his wife, Jenn).  Yet, because of this wonderful thing called social media and Facebook, it’s introduced me to a universe of friends that I probably would not have known otherwise.

And at the root of it?  It’s our shared fandom of certain teams.

Fans at a Jets game (From L to R): Kevin, Coop, Mr. E and Kace

When I was a kid, my dad would take me Mets games at Shea Stadium.  Mr. E, as we call him, has a natural approachable and friendly personality.  Anyone who meets him loves him.  He’s just the right mixture of lovably wacky and heart-of-gold.  This weekend, he turns 60. He’s showed me what it’s like to be a die-hard fan of sports and what it takes to be a friend.

I’ve probably loved him and hated him equally for making me a Mets, Jets and Rangers fan though.

Yet, when we used to go to these games, he’d go with his best friend, affectionately known as “Uncle Gene,” and I’d tag along.  They’d keep me occupied with Cracker Jacks, fountain sodas and ice cream (did I mention how hyper I’d be at these games too?).  They used to sit in a section with these guys Dominic, Rob and Mike.  You’d never know it, but they just met and socialized at the games.  They always seemed like they knew each forever.  But it was sports.  Sports is what drew them together, and what was an initial common bond.

Sadly, they lost touch over the years, but I can’t tell you how many times Dominic, Rob and Mike popped into a conversation with Mr. E or Uncle Gene while we talked about going to Mets games.  I always remembered though that I loved the in-the-trenches humor that Mets fans have, and it kept me around, even in down times because it was always a common thread we have.

My dad also got me going to Rangers hockey games and into the Jets a long time ago.  After the Giants won the Super Bowl in 2008, I said, “It’s bad enough that you made me a Mets and a Rangers fan…but a JETS FAN???”  Pops took me to my first Mets baseball game and Rangers hockey game…but I took him to his first Jets game last year.  So I guess one good turn deserves another.

Mets Fans at AT&T Park (From L to R): Ed, Coop, Senor Solly and Mrs. Senor Solly

So this brings me back to Fred and Jenn, or Senor Solly and Mrs. Senor Solly.  I don’t know if I’d know them outside of sports.  I’d like to think somehow our paths would have crossed but outside of our mutual fandom, sadly I don’t think that would be the case.  So even when my teams are horrible and they suck and they piss me off, I have the relationships and bonds I’ve formed as a result of them.  Yet, because my dad has been “introduced” to them as a result of tools like Facebook or even about me bringing them up in conversation, they are kind of like my versions of Dominic, Rob and Mike.  Though maybe if Facebook existed back in the ’80s, we wouldn’t be wondering “What happened to those guys??” and maybe seeing them at games more regularly.  Last we heard, Dominic got married and was living in Greenwich, Connecticut, and had two kids.  That was back in 1994.  His kids might have graduated college by now.

This is the time of the year we are supposed to give thanks to what we have and friend we have met and for our family, but most of all I am thankful that my dad got me into sports.  I may get mad at him for rooting in exercises in futility sometimes…yet, I also know the thrill of winning, which is why I stick around and it makes the bad times worth it.

But most of all, it got me to meet some lovely people over the years.  If you are not a sports fan, then perhaps this is a bit out of the realm of your comfort zone.  There may be common bonds you form with different groups of people.  For us, we get together, and bitch about our teams, and reminisce about the good ol’ days, and then we find we have more in common than we ever thought.