Like Lastings Milledge to a ball park, I was later than I thought I’d be to Two Boots Tavern yesterday; unlike Lastings Milledge, I have no shards of face to lose or save.  Besides, I had an important software pickup to make.  And then, an important barge to drink beer on while staring out onto the Hudson (note two separate links there).
 
And to the cyclist in the salmon-pink shirt who thought I cut him off crossing Twelfth Avenue, two things: your responsibility at that crosswalk is to yield to me; also, you came out of nowhere.
 
Nevertheless, Two Boots was arrived at and Two Boots was had.  Below, your hosts.
 
jason fry and greg prince.jpgThat’s Jason Fry on the left and Greg Prince on the right, of Faith And Fear In Flushing.  Also in attendance were Caryn Rose of Metsgrrl and Dana Brand of the eponymous Mets fan blog.  Also in attendance, via satellite, were the New York Mets and the Florida Marlins (and repeated shots of the Marlins projected new home, which looks fine if a bit stout); some attendees; beer; the Larry Tate pizza.
 
Those who are unaware, take note: the Larry Tate is spinach, tomato, and mozzarella on a white (ricotta) pie.
 
As Greg Prince read his recent post about the friendly hazing/rousing welcome Andy Green received from the remaining dozens of Mets fans at Citi Field immediately PW (Post Wright), I noticed to my limp amusement that the SNY update zipper–that little doodad at the bottom of the screen showing sports scores–has a sponsor. Yesterday, its sponsor was the Rums Of Puerto Rico.
 
I’d only had two beers at the time, but when something like that grabs my attention, sober or some number of sheets to the wind, I tend to paint all things with the same brush.  So the piece Mr. Fry read, covering an almost-endless, anguished search for a Rich Sauveur card, was sponsored by Topps.  (The photo is mid-rant.)
 
jason fry.jpgMs. Rose’s piece, like much of her great work detailing games and her experience as a game-going fan, would’ve been sponsored by the Mets Fan Local 162, if such an entity indeed existed.
 
caryn rose reads.jpgAnd Mr. Brand’s piece (near as I can tell, it’s not on his site, so buy the book already) was sponsored by Citi, seeing as how they were somewhat responsible for one of the biggest laughs of the night.
 
dana brand reads.jpgHe read of his experience at Shea during the last game there (from his new book; go here to pre-order), and of the numbers ceremony at center field, which ended when Mr. Met pulled down the last numbered card to reveal the Citi logo; he should’ve reacted “like Mr. Bill from Saturday Night Live” when the crowd remaining pelted him with boos.
 
I’ll take his word for it. I couldn’t get tickets to the last game so I hunkered down with a good friend (an Indians fan) and her sister (an Indians/Mets fan) at Mercury Bar in Hell’s Kitchen–there was some good juice left in that place then–and minutes after the end of the game we found ourselves at Rudy’s down the street. Good juice in that place, always.
 
In fact, that experience crystallized for me my current phase of Mets fandom: we split a pitcher of Rudy’s finest, and whereas I’d spent late September 2007 alone and charmless, I spent late September 2008 flush with new marriage and new jobness.  There was all the desire in the world to add another pitcher to the pile and yet, we didn’t, coming to the conclusion that this would be the day we each exercised some self control in the face of maddening loss.  We were adults.
 
So they went home. I went home. Folded laundry, I think. Watched some football, I know. Put baseball in a drawer for a couple days, then came back when my head was clearer.
 
Of course, as I was thinking about all this last night, in the flash of a matter of moments, I caught on the Two Boots flat screen this representation of the current state of my head:
 
paul's head feels like this.jpgClarity is relative based on your proximity to, or length of time away from, an anthropomorphic sponge.  That image brought to you by Nickelodeon.  

Johan’s done for 2009; J.J. Putz is done for 2009 and fairly gone afterward; Billy Wagner’s gone. Even he who throws three straight balls to Pedro Martinez and is taken out mid-count is in New York for an MRI. So the Mets pitching roster is brought to you by the Hospital For Special Surgery and Bob Arum’s Top Rank, Inc., which is no doubt working hard to secure rights to Wagner-Papelbon I: The Melee At Fenway.
 
When Bobby Parnell is a starter this late in the season, and he’s arrived because Jon Niese can do a split but he can only do it once, you wind up with Sean Green on the mound.  Green tried real hard to give the game completely away, too.  Last night’s episode of Sean, You Almost Hit A Coupla Guys And No, Sean, Omir Santos Is Not Set Up Nine Feet Off The Plate was sponsored by Tums and whatever keeps me from performing the matter-energy conversion needed to transport myself to wherever he is and shake him like a Bond martini.

That was a long sentence with a couple of genre cues dropped in there.  Thanks for hanging in.

Gary Sheffield needs some Icy-Hot and any Met batting in the late innings of a losing game always appears to need some Red Bull.  Reading about Omar Minaya’s press conference as I rode the subway over the Manhattan Bridge made it clear to me some brand of ginkgo biloba should be stocked in the front offices.  C’mon.  You don’t remember what was up with your star acquisition back in March and April?  Are you mad, man?

The game was over in under three hours (L, 2-1).  Never blessedly; perhaps, though, for the best.

**

Some things I came away with: I grow more convinced that deep-seated Yankees hatred is generational, like what I hear when talking to someone who grew up w
atching the Brooklyn Dodgers.  I just don’t know anyone in my age group in New York who hates the Yankees with the passion those older than I do. 

As I’ve said, I have no beef with anyone’s beef.  But I’m on about something else here.  I won’t quote anybody (because my eyes were fixed on the game after the readings, and I’m no reporter), nor will I name names of those I heard discussing a seemingly unrelated issue.  However, there was the question last night, and it’s relevant with just over a month left and the Mets pitching rotation Swiss cheese: why do Mets fans stay?  Why do they stay and watch, after Art Howe, and after 2006, 2007, 2008, and soon, 2009?  Why, after the blunders and miscommunication, after the obstructed views and the paltry giveaways and the Draconian, dunderheaded security policies?  Why, after the Aflac this and the Lincoln Mercury that and the Rums of Puerto Rico and Geico and Citi and Just For Men?

I suppose that’s four questions, at least.   But all the same theme.  The answer given last night was, essentially, who knows? 

I guess that’s fine, and if I write that, you know I don’t fully buy it. 

When I lie awake at night, thoughts are rarely about the Mets, as I don’t work for them or base my livelihood on their ability.  When they win big or lose bad, my thoughts may stray.  When they’re in the playoff hunt, sometimes I’ll do the sort of mathematical gymnastics that always put me to sleep when I’m horizontal.  They’re the Mets.  I don’t analyze my need to breathe and I don’t analyze my need to eat.  I try hard not to analyze my need to have fun, or why I have fun doing what it is I do.

Milton Green: “Jack, we’re having a catch!”
Jack Donaghy: “Don’t ruin it, Milton.”
Milton Green: “Just like father and son!”
Jack Donaghy: “Did you hear what I said?”

My answer is not “who knows,” but “who cares?” 

Your answer may vary.  And that’s okay.  It’s okay for us to have different reasons for doing what we do.  We’re each of us our own special flower, and most of us residing in the concrete-and-steel, garbage-soaked, noise-polluted halls of 2009 Mets fandom city of New York.  We have, each of us, our own stories about how we came here, what we need to get out of this, what would trigger our eject button.  And, holy crap, do we have opinions. 

Keep David Wright out for the rest of the year.  Let him play. 

Put Carlos Beltran in a straitjacket.  He could still run in one and catch fly balls with his teeth–I say let him. 

Let K cards be taped to the electronic zipper board (this wail brought to you by Utz).  But they’re covering the Wise Potato Chips ad (this retort brought to you by Wise).

Barring the creation of some Mets fan union, which would send a representative to the table for discussion and a vote on any and all decisions affecting Sterling Mets, LP, I don’t see Metsdom keeping a unified voice on anything past, “Yay! They’re winning!” or “Damn, they’re losing!”  That’s New York for you.

And yes, that can represent any number of other cities and towns as well, but having spent extended time in a few towns and cities, I can say with reasonable surety that New York does it with a special sort of schizophrenia.

This is the place where people will bemoan the lack of police presence when they’re mugged with one side of their mouth and bemoan the “Disney-fication” of Times Square with the other.

By extension, this is a place where, currently, registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by five-to-one, yet a staunchly Republican mayor was elected twice.

Bringing it back to baseball matters, this is a place where people will say, over and over, “I’m done watching the Mets; I’m done going to the games: they treat their fans horribly and their management is a wreck…” and yet, they’re there. 

They’re there mixed in with kids who are maybe going to their first game or couples sharing their first game together.  Mixed in with die-hards who buy the special non-media guide scoring book.  Mixed in with visitors from other cities.  Mixed in with those who just need to get away please for the love of God. 

A blind family has tickets on the Friday plan; I see them all the time walking up the steps to Section 530.  At the other end of my row, there’s an older gentleman who’s been sporting jean shorts since the weather got warmer.  Keeps to himself, barely claps, but watches the field intently.  There’s Big Man.  There’s the group three or four rows up who’ve made T-shirts worrying more about beer than the performance on the field.

Some who cry for escape actually manage some level of backbone and split, and that’s their prerogative.  I think the best of that lot are those who don’t think themselves missionaries, come to spread the good word of Life Without Baseball. 

But if they want to, they’re within their rights.  That’s New York.  As long as you don’t break a law or force me to break a law (which is against the law in itself), you can do whatever damn fool thing you want: boycott, desert, hang in when it’s ludicrous, whine about the beer koozie you didn’t get, or push real hard for a refund when you realize your view must pierce alternating layers of Plexiglas and steel railing.  Again, with justifiable beef or not, you may also try and rally others to your cause.

Your success or failure may change things or not.  But full participation or full agreement is never assured.  I’m quite certain I’ve heard from a few people who thought Vince Coleman’s firecracker stunt was funny.

You know all this.  I’ve said all this, in one form or another, repeatedly in the short life of this blog. 

What you need to remember, readers, is the following: just because you don’t agree with someone out there doesn’t make you wrong, and just because you choose when and where to engage doesn’t make you a bad or lazy person.

This is New York.  The Mets are New York.  Feel privileged to be a part of it.

I will now take a Craftsman-brand hatchet to my soapbox.

Advertisements