My weekend was overtaken by Bostonians and Bostonians by way of deep abiding love (as well as by way of North Bennington, VT) and by a special kind of lethal cough syrup known, quite coincidentally, as Castillo Rum.  All this, and a poorly formatted poetry reading on Vanderbilt Avenue..
 
I watched my Mets games late, but unfiltered by bloggitude. I don’t know that I even turned on my laptop once from Friday evening to Sunday evening.  My hands were busy with remotes and either food or drink. A football doubleheader and a baseball doubleheader on a single Sunday is, yes, a heady thing, and I’m kicking myself slightly for not grabbing a widescreen during the last sale bonanza–though, if I’m honest with myself, there’s no logical place to hang it.
 
In short, the Mets are now mathematically eliminated from the race for the National League East. I haven’t checked the wild card (and right now, my train is stuck between the 45th and 36th street stations in Brooklyn), but I’m fairly certain there’s no shot there, either.  The nails, however many there were, are now all present and at least in the coffin; getting to .500 won’t happen, either.
 
I’ve taken enough medicine this weekend. So I hereby give up all hope, as there’s no logic to support such a cause.

Shame. A damn shame, is what this garbage is.
 
But life’s too short to dwell, and I’m in the business of making reasonable suggestions, such as “Get rid of the spineless music played prior to game time,” or “intentional walks should be banned when the pitching rotation is decimated.”  Time to look forward.
 
I’ll offer team make-up thoughts in the weeks ahead.  But I’m delinquent on thoughts for a Mets museum, and as I wish there were such a beast there now as what I’m about to describe, I feel it’s appropriate to discuss.

So here’s my first draft, woefully lacking in some crucial research but, paradoxically, not hurt by the failing.

That was almost a sentence.
 
**

It begins with grit.
 
Jayson Stark’s article on ESPN about how to fix the Mets has been taken to task for a heavy reliance on anonymous sources, who can be cherry-picked to reflect whatever agenda the storyline demands.
 
I’m not accusing Stark of having an agenda; regardless of the book he’s written or how he made his bones before his DUI mugshot of a profile pic was taken (that’s a cheap hit, but it’s staying), he’s entitled to his opinion; he’s alowed to try and steer the conversation any way he wants to do it, and within the bounds of journalistic ethics, allowed to use whatever or however many anonymous sources he wants.
 
There’s nothing factual about what anyone said in that piece save for the reporting of signings and trades, salaries and stats. Past that, it’s opinion. I think he’s looking at the situation the wrong way, and thus many of his opinions are… if not wrong, then destructive rather than constructive.  Fortunately, Jayson Stark has just about as much experience running the New York Mets as any blogger writing presently (if Steve Phillips has a regular column, please include the man).
 
The danger is in taking Stark’s word as gospel. It’s not. I’m actually glad the sources were anonymous; he could have cherry-picked sources willing to go on the record, and I’d’ve had reason to be irritated at any number of baseball organizations. I have too many axes to grind to hate on those with whom he spoke, as well–
 
[And to that end, does anyone think he called the GM of the Kansas City Royals? If you’re Jayson Stark from ESPN looking for anonymous quotes about the Mets, aren’t you calling anyone you can from the NL East, anyone from the other division and wild card leaders, and scouts who have had or continue to have dealings with those clubs? In other words, in analyzing failure, wouldn’t you seek out sources of success?  I think this is a fair assumption; unlike other cases of anonymous citation, there is not a nearly-infinite pool of sources from which to choose.]
 
–so, yes, I’m glad they were anonymous. His opinions are easier to dismiss that way.
 
This includes, but does not remove irritation from, the idea that the Mets are packed with superstars and need, instead or in part, gritty role players who won’t… what? Dog it on the field? Stop playing when they’re injured?  Play like mercenaries?  Tell me: what?
 
Stats are the closest one can come to analyzing the performance of a player and project their impact on one’s organization. Watching Fernando Tatis play semi-regularly makes me believe that the Mets are all about this grit and passion (“grission,” a delightful portmanteau for which I give Amazin’ Avenue full credit) argument.  Same with Gary Sheffield, Alex Cora, Omir Santos… who else?

Daniel Murphy seems gritty to me.

Mike Pelfrey gets his grit out running laps.

Johan Santana is a man, damn it.

Sample size on grit re: John Maine is too small, and I hear rest would clear it out during the off season. 

So allow me to use a construction I loathe in registering my sarcasm: Oh. You meant gritty and GOOD players. My mistake.
 
Enough with the grit. The Mets have had gritty players throughout their history. They continue to have gritty players. That’s what makes them enjoyable to watch. In 2006, there were three games I went to in a row wherein knock-kneed Moises Alou hit meaningful home runs, in an effort to avoid having to run hard around the bases. After those three games, I was fully convinced he was Zeus come down from Mount Olympus. Endy Chavez, Damian Easley, Jose Valentin–there’s been recent grit. Shut your damn pie hole.
 
The legacy the Mets bring to baseball is precisely one of grit.  ’69, ’73, ’86, ’88, ’99, ’00, ’01, ’06: these are years etched in collective memory, despite only full success in two. Watching the Mets means learning to love the thrill of victory in what is often a vacuum of reasonable expectation of same.
 
What’s more, the Mets are a franchise that has always existed in the glow of media coverage: the Mets came after the advents of big-time radio, color film, television.  There exists footage–decent footage–of at least some parts of those early campaigns, and most (if not in some cases all) of the later.

Most of the marquee guys are still around, and lucid.  This is good.  Provided they’re not currently the president of another franchise, ostracized from the franchise, or awaiting assignment to federal prison–or hell, even if they are–they’re the perfect ambassadors.

So what’s to be done with all of this?  Make a museum. 

A Mets museum. 

A modern Mets museum.

Not just a Hall Of Fame.  A Hall Of Fame’s too limited.  A Hall Of Fame reeks of finality, and finality can be debated.  A Hall Of Fame gives one access to very tangible but very finite items: a game-worn Tom Seaver jersey; a lump of Lenny Dykstra’s chaw.  A Mets Hall Of Fame, specifically, is thin.  There’s no two ways around it.  Ed Kranepool holds stats that are the baseball superstar equivalent of exemplary, but not perfect, attendance.  Dwight Gooden won his Rookie Of The Year Award here, but didn’t pitch his no-hitter here.  So good for the Mets.  But not great for the Mets.

The Mets have memories: grand, crazy, amazing plays.  Remarkable runs of games.  Context within the game, from season to season, not flash in the pan like
the Expos or meta-statistical anomalies like the Yankees (when a team wins twenty-six championships over the course of a near-century, they’re not playing with the same deck).

The best example I can provide is that of The Catch, which is an absolutely thrilling thing to watch for Mets fans.  No, they didn’t win the game and go on to the 2006 World Series.  That did not happen.  But it’s still an outrageous thing to watch.  The athleticism.  The forward-thinking.  The hope which welled in all of us.

The Mets have dozens–many dozens, if not hundreds–of plays which run the gamut from: “Well, that’s really wonderful that they managed to pull off that grab,” to “OH-MY-GOD-THAT-WAS-THE-GREATEST-THING-I’VE-EVER-SEEN!”

Add to this players that have been with the club through the years, who may not have been career Metsies (see, kind of, aforementioned Gooden; add Nolan Ryan, Rickey Henderson, and on), whose profiling would be interesting for viewers but not necessarily Hall Of Fame material.

Add to this the rich histories of fans, and connection to New York history.

**

Museums as non-profit organizations require mission statements, and this one should be no different; just having “The Mets” as an organizing theme is not enough; “great plays in Mets history” still falls short. 

What this museum needs to be seen as is the Mets as teaching tool, both directly and by execution of the plan.  The Mets reach far and wide in baseball’s history during the latter half of the 20th century (I’m counting the move of the Dodgers and the Giants out west as part and parcel of that history), and figure to be a factor in the first half of this one.  Postwar through 9/11 and beyond, you can teach baseball and its impact on the American gestalt (meta-pun!) well by watching the Mets.  Whether the viewer is a fan of the team or not, there is great value there.  There’s uniqueness.

  • The Mets Museum should seek to teach baseball and represent takes on the game, in an effort to breed continued love of, and passion for, the game.

  • The Mets Museum should do this through a unique partnership with Major League Baseball and the owners of the various broadcasts, opening up the various Mets archives to persons who would develop these broadcasts for use as teaching tools.

  • These persons would include, but not be limited to: writers; producers; video editors; sound designers; voice-over artists; photographers; videographers; actors; statisticians; historians; reporters.

  • These persons should be students of high school/college age, showing specific aptitude in their field, love for and respect for the game, and a demonstrated drive/desire to be incisive in viewing the material.  

  • These persons should be mentored by a rotating cast of professionals in the various fields, who will guide them not just in the editing of available content, but in the creation of new content, such as player/fan/reporter interviews, and development of commentary that seeks to demonstrate reasoned and applied knowledge of the material.

  • These persons should work two-year contracts, with “upperclassmen” working in concert with “freshmen” to determine the editorial thrust for subsequent years, creating continuity of purpose.

  • The Mets Museum should seek to provide added incentive to these persons by partnering with municipal institutions such as the NYC Mayor’s Office Of Film, Theatre, And Broadcasting; the Museum Of The Moving Image; The Paley Center For Media, for the purposes of adding professional credentials, college credit, salary, or some combination of same.  The project should also be sponsored (SUBTLY) by corporations with a direct, vested interest in the methods, media, or manpower of the project [Nikon makes sense.  Sony makes sense.  Carvel makes no sense.]

  • The Mets Museum should be onsite at Citi Field, with entrance/egress from the exterior and an egress into the park, so it may be enjoyed on off-days as well as on game days.  On game days, it should be open two hours before game time and shut after a specific, proscribed time (say 8p during night games and 2p during day games) to ensure fans stay true to the enjoyment of live baseball.

  • The Mets Museum should be open during the off-season, with an expanded program.

  • The Mets Museum should seek, whenever/whenever possible, to connect with other ball clubs and local organizations and institutions to produce similar programs/concurrent materials for other clubs, thus fomenting both increased knowledge of and love/respect for the game.

That’s about all I have for a mission statement.

**

A museum such as this one is a living entity.  It dovetails with the Mets’ dedication to community affairs, which is almost always above reproach (I’m whistling past Vince Coleman).  Best of all, in brings in traffic at low design cost.  How?

Take either whatever this space is supposed to be:

construction.jpg
…out by center field and the chop shops–or else refit underperforming souvenir shops–and follow the art gallery model:

  • matte white walls;
  • separate viewing rooms with benches or seats for an appropriate number of folks (twenty is often a good number; any more and the ambient nose gets far too loud);
  • digital projectors wired into a media control room or space.

Hall Of Fame-worthy real materials (the jerseys; the bats; the balls) can be displayed, sure.  There won’t be–can’t be–too much of that.  As I’ve intimated, this isn’t the kind of club that builds specific superstars.  This is a club that, historically, puts together a team of talented individuals who–excuse the retread–win on grit.

Ten viewing rooms.  Pick a theme each month and produce ten segments based on that theme: “The Mets Salute Base-Stealing” or “The Mets Salute Monster Home Run Blasts.”  Each segment runs six minutes or less.  People can watch sequentially, or pop in for ten minutes, then pop back out.  These are just spitballed suggestions.

But imagine: over the course of a six-month season, sixty segments are produced.  Compile them over the off-season and create a viewing/lecture series.  Open up whatever concessions you’d like.  It’s a living library, sustained by its low cost and reliance on the student community as compensated labor.

Moreover, it soon cements the Mets historic dedication to great baseball, great involvement in community support, and through that, to the great fabric of the City of New York.

If we’re going to have a museum, let’s have that baby MEAN something, besides dust and faded glory.  Let’s celebrate the Mazzillis and McGraws and Mookies; the Chavezes and the Cliff Floyds and–why not; I’m sure he’s got five minutes of tape somewhere–the Coras; the Tom Seavers and Tim Teufels and Tommie Agees.

If we’re not going to generate much traffic by having a Tommie Agee bat on display, let’s see what showing video of that catch off Elrod Hendricks’s bat does.  Or Paul Blair.

That’s all I’ve got for right here.  I’m feeling more emphatic foot-stomp than rousing cheer, so excuse the lack of exclamation point when I say:

Let’s go Mets.

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