Alternate verses as titles included:

Roses are red,

Violets are blue;

The Mets lost 11-0 last night.

Goddamn it.

And:

There once was a Met from Nantucket,

who slipped in the shower and was placed on the 60-day DL.

And:

Let us go then, you and I,

where the diamond is spread out against the sky,

like an athlete prostrate upon the trainer’s table…

That last one comes courtesy of T.S. Eliot, a poet of great renown and a whack job late in life. But that’s what happens when you write Cats.  But what happens when you helm a team that can only score three runs over nine innings then only manages two hits the following night?  I don’t know the answer to that question.  Stop asking me.

Chowdah At Foley's.jpg

This was part of the scene on Thursday at Foley’s NY, where Frank Messina, the “Mets Poet” and author of Full Count: The Book Of Mets Poetry, regaled the back room with some verse, delivered in the best Beat tradition, just before the game against Atlanta.
(Links to various characters in this story will follow at the end of this post.  To your left is Chowdah, speaking to Kevin Burkhardt prior to the game’s start.)
I’m fairly new to the art of showing up with camera and note-taking capacity; as I’m not covering a session of the General Assembly or the death of an elected official or even a community board meeting, I find it best to show up, act respectful and casual, and go with the flow.  For a reason unknown to me, I ratchet up my deference whenever I walk into an Irish bar.  I might as well be in dress uniform.
I don’t get it; I’m not generally disrespectful in any other public setting, so it’s not like I’m bringing my game up to par.  But most places will elicit from me a “Thanks, friend,” or an, “I’m fine; how’re YOU doin’, guy?”
But in an Irish bar, I become a halfway-timid collection of curt head-nods, “sirs” and “ma’ams” and “thank-you-most-kindlys.” Stranger still to be this way at Foley’s, which is what ESPN’s set and costume warehouse would look like if the world were suffering under the heel of a massive conspiracy called Organized Sport, arranged and executed by all manner of media.  
Foley’s owner, Shaun Clancy, greeted me and introduced me to Mr. Messina, who made sure I was where he was told the action was going to be.  Before long I was drinking a beer and chowing down on the David Wright Sandwich.  (I recommend it if you like buffalo sauce and bleu cheese dressing.  Otherwise, stay away.)
Frank Messina Reads.jpg
Mr. Messina read perhaps five or six installments.  Most notable was a poem titled “Psycho Chick,” which tells the story of a woman less interested in the game she’s brought to by her date than with causing trouble for the man, in the name of fun.  I’ve never been on the Kiss Cam, but if I were, I’d like it to be without the stigma of having “METS SUCK” written on my forehead in lipstick.
Mr. Messina read to the delight and, on occasion, participation of those there, and afterwards, stuck around for the game, at one point inviting me to join his group.  You can see part of that group seated at the table with the gentleman in the white Mets jersey.  It was a fine way to spend a Thursday evening and eventual Mets loss.  
Howard Johnson Baseball Card.jpg
I sat at the Howard Johnson table, thinking perhaps this would bring some free-swinging mojo to the team.  Sadly, I have no mojo to impart.  Such is the way this season’s going.  In fact, about a block away from the bar I tripped on what I have to think was a rat, and messed up my shoe in the landing or messed up my foot.  Either way, I’m wearing Sperry Top-Siders until further notice, as the thought of walking with any arch support sends shockwaves through my sole.
My thanks to Mr. Messina for his hospitality and gregariousness.  It’s not necessarily uncommon to find such a person or group of persons in New York; what disarms time and again is just how similar our experiences can be, even in a town as large as this.
Additionally, Mr. Messina, my thanks for your patience as I told the story of last year’s Caribbean Night at Shea–a story I always start off by saying, “Let me tell you about the most obnoxious I’ve ever been at a baseball game.”  I’m sure at some point in the lean off-season months I’ll need material, so I’ll save that story for then.  But Thursday night left me eventually so comfortable that I could relate a tale of utter awfulness to a near-complete stranger.  A great little recharge for a guy who sometimes gets so bogged down in the details he neglects to consider the masses he passes daily.
**
They say Sheffield has a cramp.  I believe nothing that comes from the trainer’s room these days.  Nothing.  Day in and out I’ll watch the boys go to war with whomever they have, but in the interstices?  Dead to me.  That whole training crew.  Even if it isn’t their fault.
And that blanket statement will serve as a nice eventual segue to my other point, which I’ll make in a bit. 
I believe it is acceptable to indict a crew for perceived ineptitude.  The stories of J.J. Putz and Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes unfolded like a coffee drip in zero-G.  Those daily updates before their respective shut-downs were sins of omission.  
No, Ray Ramirez isn’t running out to talk to the press every day; that’s not his job.  But if he or anyone on his team are watching this train wreck unfold and not looking within to discover a larger problem, then they’re deluding themselves.  If they are and find their words being distorted by the front o
ffice, they have an obligation to speak up independent of that office, to save their hides.  The Mets are not the Mafia; speaking truth to power will not earn you cement shoes and a trip to the Hudson.  At the worst it’ll earn you a dismissal and a clear conscience, and a subsequent consultation with a civil attorney.
A not-insignificant percentage of this roster has gone down to injury, yet that is not what sticks in my craw.  Injuries happen.  Even a raft of injuries such as what we’ve seen unfold.  The communication of the NATURE of such injuries is what’s GODAWFUL, and plenty fixable.  Damage is being done due to poor internal judgment of the timbre of the wail outside the gates.  It is not noble at this point to hold to the party line and watch that line shift day in and day out.  I’ve quit jobs because management couldn’t communicate effectively its dire straits; both times I was right to have done so.  Both firms are in fairly deep trouble now.
There is a perception held by Mets fans that the training crew is incompetent and the PR team works as a disinformation machine, and that perception does not serve the fans or the club.  If someone in there cares about what they’re doing and can explain what’s going on, they should get out and speak up, and damn the consequences.  Even if what’s going on is nothing save examinations which initially reveal one thing, then later reveal another, and indecisiveness as to handle the situation.  At this point, the silence is what’s deafening.
If you can’t fix the team, fix yourself and be honest about it, and you’ll fix the fans.  Else seek a merge with the Nationals.  They, too, have come to a point where individual troubles have mounted to become a desperate reality, and can’t seem to get out of their own way for the sake of rational, reasoned, professional operation.
Ergo segue:
**
While waiting for Mr. Messina to begin reading, I took out the BlackBerry and read Marty Noble’s mailbag segment on the Mets.com website.  Something I read there continues to bother me.  Link at the end of the post, but here’s what’s pertinent:

One of the comments at the end of one your stories said you’re a Yankees fan. Is that true? How can you be a Yankees fan and write about the Mets?

— Allen S., Jersey City, N.J.

Some place in the past five years, I said or wrote that I was a Yankees fan as a kid. That was true and remains true. I still am a fan of the Yankees of the 1950s and early ’60s. But the “Lone Ranger” was my favorite show then, too. Some things change.

But you don’t have to be a fan of the team you cover. Indeed, you shouldn’t be. Objectivity is critical and impossible if you’re rooting. I’m a fan of good baseball and games with good, writable angles. And yes, a fan of the Mickey Mantle-Whitey Ford-Yogi Berra Yankees. And I have Lone Ranger DVD’s.

No, you don’t have to be a fan of the team you cover.  Objectivity is critical.  Right on those scores.

However, I disagree with Mr. Noble’s statement that one shouldn’t be a fan of the team one covers, and that objectivity is impossible if you’re rooting.  In fact, I disagree vigorously with that.
Rather, one should be a good enough reporter to set personal differences or common interests aside to tell the story objectively.  If you’re a fan; if you’re not a fan.  Humans DO have that capacity.  It doesn’t stop at reporting; it doesn’t stop at one’s profession.
The Wife used to work the butcher counter at Whole Foods.  The Wife’s a strict vegetarian.
A colleague went upstate this past weekend to marry a good friend to a woman who, by all accounts, is a MAJOR harpy.
If I attended a Braves game versus the Cardinals (I have problems with characters on both teams), and the Cardinals had led 11-0 going into the eighth, but the Braves roared back and won the game 12-11 (legitimately; not by Yadier Molina catching Mackey Sasser Syndrome or something), I’d be stoked to have been witness to such a feat.  There’s no joy in the Cardinals’ misfortune there.
If the Mets spit the bit during a game with playoff implications, it is possible to still love the Mets and speak evenly about how they so unabashedly screwed several pooches, a goat, and Acts Three and Four of Rush’s “By Tor & The Snow Dog.”
I’ve stated publicly and on this blog that I’m no Yankees-hater.  Were I around when the Dodgers played in Brooklyn, I’d probably be a Dodgers fan, but how can one not admire the Yankee teams of Mantle and Ford and Berra, before and after the Dodgers split?  
Dislike people who are soundly reported to be of poor character.  Find suspect those whose reputations are on the line yet seem to do nothing to repair them.  Be sure they answer to you in some way, whether through investment or inseparable proximity, or whatever you choose.  But I find it lazy to use one’s job as a reason not to engage in the same reality of interest and passion that most the rest of us share.
I feel as though I should extend this to a discussion of relativism.  We’ll see if I’m still annoyed later.  For now, I think I’ve at least started to make my point.
Let’s go Mets!
*Here come the links.  PLACES, everyone!

Frank Messina’s website is here.  You can buy his book from Amazon.com by going here.  Pick it up, and seek Frank out; he’s a great guy.

Foley’s NY is on 18 West 33rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, and you can see/read more about the place by going here.  If you enjoy a pint and have mild and undiagnosed Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (as I do), you’ll be hard-pressed to find such a busily decorated place in the city.  They’ve got a life-sized cutout of Don Zimmer by the urinals, for chrissakes.  Good thing it’s laminated.

Marty Noble’s Inbox article for Mets.com, from July 16, 2009, can be found here.
Advertisements