Archives for the month of: August, 2009

Had a tremendously long occasion this morning, waiting for my BlackBerry to update some sort of firmware something and my laptop to run through its resource-hungry virus scan process, to sit in my bedroom’s armchair and stare out onto a cloudy morning.

Literally cloudy.  It was fairly overcast in New York, and I don’t think the mercury’s dropped this much below 70 degrees in weeks.

“There are less than two weeks left until Labor Day,” was my most striking thought.  I have the awful inability to experience time as running faster or slower on any given day or in any given occasion: at a party; in a waiting room; at work; watching pasta boil.  It’s all the same to me.  All long, but never longer or shorter: all the same to me.

Larbor Day has not snuck up on me but I’ve completely forgotten to make any sort of plan to duck out for the weekend or crank up the barbecue, or any of that business.  My next game at the ball park is the day after, so I don’t suppose I will go anywhere.  Besides, I usually take some time on Labor Day to update my resume–you should do this AT LEAST yearly, those new to the b.s. that is the adult labor market–and change the batteries on my smoke detector.

Somewhere between labor, qualifications, and going up in flames, I got back to thinking about the Mets.

I’ve added two links to the “I Need Help” section: first, to the Mets.com “40-Man Roster” page, which should see at least SOME movement come September 1st, and to the Mets section of Cot’s Baseball Contracts (there are other sources out there, but Cot’s seems easiest to navigate, and has itself a thorough blogroll of sources).

With the rotation the way it is, and the free agents piling up, there’s already plenty of chatter about what the team will look like in 2010.  A lot of it is not positive.  And there’s a reason for that, certainly.  It’s scary looking at this team as it’s constructed, look at the salary and talent departing, and wonder if the rumors of the Wilpons’ dire financial straits are true.

My hope is that as we all play fantasy GM this September and heading into the off-season, that we do it from a competent reference point.  No one likes it when a guy demands that “Carlos Delgado be traded straight-up for Carl Crawford,” when buddy, that can’t really happen.

At a certain point early on in tonight’s telecast of the Mets-Marlins match-up (L; 5-3), SNY grabbed a shot of the Mets bullpen, in its current configuration:

  • Lance Broadway
  • Elmer Dessens
  • Pedro Feliciano
  • Sean Green
  • Francisco Rodriguez
  • Brian Stokes
  • Ken Takahashi

I watched from a bar, chin dripping with the juice of a fairly unsatisfying burger, pint glass greasy from my unwashed paw’s grubbing at it, and The Sister jabbering on about some nonsense about my aunt’s St. Barth’s guest house bathroom.

With all this discussion of adjacent opulence while I sank into sloth, I still could not help but feel scrubbed and dudded to the nines compared to those seven poor, damned souls.  Besides the drab gray uniforms, they were slumped. Slouched. Worn out and wasted.

If you haven’t seen the current starting pitcher rotation, it’s as follows:

  • Mike Pelfrey
  • Tim Redding
  • Pat Misch
  • Bobby Parnell
  • Nelson Figueroa

And here I once harbored wild delusions of the Mets trading for Roy Halladay AND Carl Crawford. 

But they’re dumping salary like I’d dump radioactive waste.  That is to say: quickly and hastily, and with little regard for the long-term consequences.  I once harbored delusions of both Carloses coming back.  At present… well…

At present both would provide a decent bat. It’s not like all these guys are not hitting.  It’s that none of them can reasonably be expected to move them over or drive them in.  Tonight’s game was eminently winnable, but for the lack of someone who can hit a ball at the fence against a woeful outfield.

But this is the hope I have.  The guys I watched in the bullpen may have struck those poses before, in less exposed environs, but tonight, behind their gum chewing and facial hair picking and cup scratching, I could see a lifelessness.  A “We’ve Been Through This Before, Don’t Ask Us To Try For A .500 Season” pall had settled on the sandy meadow.  Ain’t no home for them.

If their secret doesn’t involve drugs or working through the ranks of minor league ball, I’d sure like to know it.  I want to chew gum.  I… want to not care.

At the least, knowing their secret will allow me to scratch my groin area without fearing it’s impolite.

Three balls to Pedro Martinez after two three-run homers, and he was pulled mid-count.

And now he’s gone for the year. (Linked to Metsblog because as fantabulous news as this is, I can’t seem to find it elsewhere as of 3:47p.  Also, why am I eating lunch at 3:47p?)

(UPDATE: Click here for MLB.com’s coverage; I imagine Mr. DiComo’s article will be updated with news and reaction as it comes in, so refresh or bump up my returning page views and come back here occasionally.)

“The Mets expect Perez to be ready for Spring Training.”  He wasn’t ready for Spring Training 2009; besides there being no World Baseball Classic; what makes them think 2010 will be any different?

::Sigh.:: So long, Fauxhawk.  Glad I won’t have to project whether I’ll see you again at the ball park this season.

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.

However, before my body succumbs to the ravages of a full day of work and sitting on my duff, please to note: this guy needs to learn about the inside voice…

shut up, guy.jpg
…this show marks the end of Western civilization…
cougar town.jpg
…and my iPod chose Pearl Jam’s “Alive” to play on shuffle as I boarded the D train and came upon this scratchitti message:
still alive.jpg
Weird.
Any night owls curious as to the nature of tonight’s Two Boots affair must wait a few hours. However, what will be germane to at least part of the post is the New York Mets career of Rich Sauveur.
Look over his statistics here.  It won’t take you long.

Here you go.  Read it.  It’s true.  Go on.  Read it.

Oh, and a friend who bought tickets to see J.J. Putz down at Keyspan tonight tells me there’ll be no J.J. Putz at Keyspan tonight.

So, given today’s spate of horrible, no good, very bad news, I embed for you the following.  Between this and “Dramatic Chipmunk,” either you’re smiling or you’re dead.

http://www.hulu.com/embed/rrlnSgLU8UUXFJlpdCsllw

He’s shipping off.

My regret, now, is I didn’t try to go see his first start after rehab.  Or his second, though I was with The Wife for the first (and unable to reasonably finagle a second ball park visit in the week) and delirious during the second, so really I can be excused.

Here’s what’s interesting about monitoring this: Wikipedia’s entry for Billy Wagner now shows he’s a pitcher for the Red Sox.  Meanwhile, I can barely get it together to find my belt fifteen minutes after putting on my pants. 

I can only hope that whomsoever’s got the time to update Wagner’s Wikipedia entry–within fifteen minutes of actual details of the deal being released–makes it their business to wear pants.  And while we’re at it, a clean shirt.

The man has committed his share of gaffes and no-nos.  But at present, he appears to be someone else’s problem, while the Mets have enough of their own.

I’ll toast Wagner tonight for the fun I had watching him, and move on.  Later tonight, I’ll consider lighting a votive for Johan.

A brief note: I thought it might be time to pay some solid homage to other Mets fans blogging within the MLB sphere; tag searches pick up everything and anything.

So you’ll note the creation of a new link list on the right, with all the Mets MLBlogs I could find.

If you have one, I’ll be happy to add it to the roll.  Cheers.

First, a bit of business: I’ll be at Two Boots Tavern tonight for the second installment of Faith And Fear In Flushing’s “Amazin’ Tuesdays” series.  If you enjoy feedback loops, click here; Mr. Prince not only gives you a rundown of who’ll be there and how you can get a free beer, but he’s also been kind enough to link to my reviews of the first Amazin’ Tuesday and the earlier “Metstock.”

Those of you who are in the area are probably going to be eating pizza and drinking beer anyway.  You should do so on Grand Street.  If you do, say hello.  I will not buy you a beer, unless you buy me one, but somewhat tangentially, I’m not contagious anymore and indeed, my head is quite nearly clear of congestion at this point.  That alone should throw the proverbial wheel hard in the direction of approachably genial.

So, yes, Amazin’ Tuesday.  Two Boots Tavern.  What I like to do from the Upper East Side is take a Lexington express train down to Union Square, transfer to the local, and transfer at Bleecker to a Sixth Avenue express.  Three trains, yet the ride somehow takes about fifteen minutes.  I’m somewhat attention-deficient, so the movement keeps me upbeat.

Starts at seven.  Go.

Now then: I wrote this post on August 12th, about the new Rawlings S100 batting helmet (use your back button to return).

On August 17th, I wrote this post hoping that Johan Santana wouldn’t suffer at my bony, cloak-wearing hand.  Not “hands,” as the other is busy wielding a scythe.

However, he’s now with Dr. David Altchek at the Hospital For Special Surgery.  I meant to take a spin by there and see if there’d been anything laid at the foundation.  Perhaps it’s just enough that someone spent last night behind the gates somehow, clad in black and holding a single thorny rose.

Billy Wagner will probably not accept a trade to the Red Sox because he wants to be a closer, and Jonathan Papelbon already jigs-it-up for the Fenway folk.  I think his particular brand of hard luck (and ours) will be at the negotiating table.

Luis Castillo’s taken his lumps already.  Chowdah’s got the ligament issue (and Chowdah didn’t even show until July).  Sheffield’s got his/has his/will get his; I can’t keep straight what’s bothering that guy anymore.  But at least he’s gone out there.  This is good.

Schneider’s a ghost already; predicting his doom would probably only RAISE his batting average.

If you’ve seen a Star Wars or an Indiana Jones movie–or even Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds (which, if you enjoy a ruthlessly bloodthirsty matinee, I recommend)–you’re familiar with something called “The Wilhelm Scream.”  It’s reserved for the death of cannon fodder: a foot soldier who you KNOW is going to go down in a hail of whatever fired by whomever our hero is.

If you do a search for NPR Wilhelm Scream, you’ll come across the On The Media transcript for an interview on said scream.  Read (and listen? I don’t have the player) here.

The Mets are not the bad guys, though they’ve been made out to be.  But at this point, all the Mets have are redshirts: guys who really should be faceless.

(“Three balls to Pedro Martinez after two three-run homers, and he was pulled mid-count.”)

I can’t, therefore, try my hand at predicting the next Met injury because, to the extent that the guys out there are pretty much all the same redshirt, it doesn’t matter.  Luke and Leia are going to manage to swing onto the other side of the bridge; Indy will get the better of Belloq.  Good guys or bad, that’s the script.

This is obviously not their year.  As I’ve stated several times now, one should watch Mets baseball if Mets baseball is still fun.  I will still watch, because it allows me time to decompress.  And I enjoy a win whenever they do.  Besides, after baseball comes football, but after football comes a whole lotta nothing.

However, while I will not predict the downfall of another Metropolitan, once my voice fully recovers, I will be practicing my “AIIIEEEEEEE!!!”

**I’ve been pulled from tonight’s game, by the way, in favor of Nelson Figueroa.

Chowdah tore a ligament in his thumb on that catch yesterday.  Shades of Alex Cora.

Pat Misch has left the scene in exchange for Ken “The Executioner” Takahashi.

Johan Santana will miss tomorrow’s start because something’s up with his pitching elbow.  Where did I see this information? Everygoddamnedwhere, damn it.

21st century mural.jpgYou realize that now every one of the players visible on the above Nikon photo montage has SOMETHING wrong with them, yes?

At least Angel Pagan is a one-man pinball wizard versus the Phillies defense.  Jesus.

I’ve decided to build my own line-up.  I figure watching this group play ball until the first weekend in October would be just as–if not more–entertaining than what we’ll likely see.

SS: Jon Cryer.
1B: Madlib.
2B: Osbert (Snarf) from Thundercats.
3B: MacGyver.  Not Richard Dean Anderson from MacGyver or the guy Richard Dean Anderson played in MacGyver.  The SHOW, as entity.
LF: A 1977 Topps baseball card featuring Texas Rangers outfielder Jeff Burroughs. (For those who take issue, click here.)
CF: The disembodied mole of Carlos Beltran.
RF: Bob Capano. This does not constitute an endorsement of Bob Capano.  I’ve just seen his picture everywhere.
C: …

I will be tomorrow night’s starting pitcher, which means I must be off for the airport.  I throw left-handed.  If I do well, I might be signed to a three-year deal worth $36 million.

At least I hear that’s how that stuff goes.