Archives for the month of: September, 2009

Morning, all.

If you read my post re: expanding the baseball playoffs last night, scroll down the main page to re-read it.  It makes a wee bit more sense now.

Separately, Uni Watch Blog has something spectacular hidden in its News Ticker today (why does that sound dirty when I say it out loud?).

For the post in toto, click here.  For the upshot, click here.

See? Not all the good ideas have been taken.

You know what I think about when I think about meat?  Something that may or may not get me banned from MLBlogs for linking to:

That’s just a little clip to let you know that I’m quite lowbrow.

Got back not too long ago from Regis Courtemanche’s “Knock Cancer Outta Here!” event.  Thanks, Regis, for a great time.  The math I did in my head leads me to believe you made your goal of $5,000.  Truly wonderful.

Separately, I am still winless at organized Mets events outside the ball park (vs. Atlanta: L; 5-2.  ::Fist shaking:: TATIS!!!)

But I’m here.  Craving a Bailey’s hot chocolate, though it’s far too warm, and I have no Bailey’s.  Or chocolate.

So.  All right, Mr. Gammons.  Less’ go.

There is certainly no reason not to “think about having two wild-card teams per league.” I think about lots of things all the time.  I once thought about what it would be like if the world discovered that French was in fact an exercise in communal gibberish: a social experiment run internally by the Frogs and inflicted on the rest of the global population.  Wouldn’t put it past them.

There’ve been no hard and tight races for division leads, no.  Not ones that are down to the wire, save for whatever’s going on in the A.L. Central between Detroit, they of the 81-70 record, and Minnesota, of the 79-73 record.  Records like that don’t interest me.  If I were in Detroit, or in Minnesota, I might feel differently, as I’d have something to watch for.

But I don’t think baseball falls off America’s radar in September because there are so many other demands placed on their time, at this time.  I think it falls off America’s radar in September because, after one hundred forty or one hundred fifty games, every city’s got a decent sense of whether they’re in it or not.  So watching a mediocre team, in an awful division that’s not my own, wrestling for a playoff spot with another team, just as mediocre and just as not-around, would not interest me in the slightest. 

Ask me again in the event the option’s available and the Mets have a shot at getting in, and I might change my tune.

But honestly, this smacks of some sort of charity.  Baseball is a massive zero-sum game, wherein a team’s wins come with the price tag of other teams’ losses.  Here’s a look at the A.L. standings in 1998, when the Yankees won one hundred fourteen regular-season games.  Only Boston cracked ninety wins.  In case people are turned off by the mention of the Yankees (and I get that such a thing happens), here’s a look at the N.L. standings in 1998.  Two powerhouses and a strong division leader, and a whole lot of other teams left in the dust.

I’d argue about how confusing the logistics of the plan are on the surface–at least to me, at this late hour–but we shouldn’t shy away from hard.  I just don’t see this weekend wild-card play-in doing anything but sparking mild interest locally, which is best solved by seeking competitive parity between the teams so that regular season games are exciting.

But “competitive parity” could be interpreted as code for “salary cap,” and I just don’t want to go there tonight.

I wonder, in the absence of the Rockies winning twenty-one out of twenty-two games down the stretch, or the Mets losing division leads late, and with how competitive football has been this year (I’ve watched a lot of great football from surprising teams), if Mr. Gammons feels a little let down about the return of regular wrap-ups to the season.  But I don’t know that, on any given year, I need my baseball to make national news.  (It would be nice if it made local news.)  There are so many teams in baseball, and so many ways to play to rivalries, and play excitedly with the math of playoff spots, that one risks over-complicating that joy with a pre-postseason. 

It’s essentially the argument against the wild card in and of itself, but the difference is one of degrees.  We can have three divisions per league, have competitive seasons on the balance of years, and see about celebrating a team that has achieved a kind of legitimacy by winning the most games without being a division leader.

I don’t see that there’s a compelling argument behind us cheering to bring in the first-placer otherwise shut out by a team having a franchise year as well as cheering to bring in the best of the second-placers, with the belief that they’ll have to balance being even weaker going in, or be grateful that a team with greater resources emptied the kitchen at another, including the sink.

Additionally, if a wild-card play-in isn’t going to siphon viewership from college football or cause football to share some of its excitement, then why suggest it as a solution?  If it’s about team revenues–and Mr. Gammons brings up money early and often–then there are other ways to drum up money.  Have a bake sale.

Football’s an aggressive game for an aggressive country, with few teams, a short schedule, and amorphous and diffuse fan boundaries.  That speaks to a fan of a certain temperament; the fan that watches baseball day-in and day-out for six months might be a different animal.  Those who have a foot in each world will ratchet up or crank back their excitement based on their available options for continued joy/masochism.

There’s my response.  I’d be remiss if I talked about baseball’s postseason without complaining about the late start times for games, so consider yourselves complained-on.

At least it’s not hockey or basketball.  Those playoffs DO go on forever.

**For those who want to vote on what my off-season profile pic will be, check out the rules and options here and email your choice to omniality [at] gmail [dot] com.

I’m in the middle of lunch at present, but I’ve just read something I’m sure I’ll want to talk about this evening.

So head over to ESPN and read a piece by Peter Gammons on expanding the baseball postseason by two teams.

And then, for a fun and informative graphic, check out work by Craig Robinson of Flip Flop Flyball, noting the best records in baseball since the start of the wild card era, along with division winners, wild card winners, league champions, and World Series winners.  (This was also linked to by Amazin’ Avenue in today’s “Applesauce.”  Fantastic.)

So read, get the knee-jerk vitriolic reaction out of your system, then come back here and get my take sometime tonight, before the Night Man grabs hold of me.

Honestly, the cooling-off period applies to me, too.  I had an immediate reaction, then thought to myself, “Why are you getting so worked up?”  Growth, my friends.  Personal growth.

Anyway, read, and then we’ll talk.

(ERRANT UPDATE: Been tracking the Times‘s fecklessness with regard to the Mets for a couple weeks now, not so much because they’re perceived to have a bias, but because they have a responsibility to cover Things Which Happen In New York, and they’re simply not doing that.

I didn’t want to point it out in the morning when I saw it because I wanted to give them a chance to fix it, but as I spend my thirtieth minute on hold with a credit card company, I’d like to point out that their Sports page incorrectly states the score of last night’s game [ignore what’s grayed out]:

nytimes.jpgI don’t know that I’d feel better if:

  • the article were written by a staffer (it’s the AP wire story), or 

  • if the headline of the article, after the jump, got the score wrong, too (it doesn’t), or 

  • if this hadn’t stayed this way for OVER SIXTEEN HOURS, or 

  • some combination of those, or all three.

This is unconscionably lame.  I know for certain the sports guys aren’t busy covering President Obama and his trip through the city.  The U.S. Open is over.  The Yankees have been guaranteed a playoff berth since about 12:30a this morning.

You’re telling me the guy in charge of making sure the sports board’s legit can’t find five seconds to get the score right on the link?

Next time I read a piece in the Times about Mets players’ lack of fundamentals, I’m going to mail the paper a box of baseballs wrapped in examples of their incompetence.

Thirty-five minutes on hold.  That’s it.  I’m hanging up.

By the way: yes, I’m still upset.)

**For those who want to vote on what my off-season profile pic will be, check out the rules and options here and email your choice to omniality [at] gmail [dot] com.

I enjoyed Fernando Tatis for a couple of years.  I really did.

But he’s now been responsible, too many times, for taking a game I wanted to watch and stomping all over it.

There was the streak of grounding into double plays back when he was playing regularly and there was still something to play for.  Now that games are played primarily for instructional purposes and out of contractual obligation, he’s killing that desire with pop ups and single out grounders: rally-wounders; at this point just as bad as rally-killers.

But think about my point for a moment: I work a long day.  I write and edit on my way into work, I spend all day pulled in nine different directions, I write and edit on my way back from work.  I sit down to ENJOY A 2009 METS GAME.  No pressure, all wistful thinking about the wistful thoughts I’ll have in less than two weeks.  Do you understand just what kind of personality and energy it takes to sit down AT THIS POINT and expect to ENJOY a game this season?


And then the Mets put runners in scoring position on some heads-up play.

And then I see Fernando Tatis, and Gary, Keith, and Ron are already talking about what I already know: that Tatis is a strange choice to pinch-hit in this position, given Jair Jurrjens minor struggles against lefties during the night and his relative facility with righties.

(David Wright’s ears and his four hitless at-bats are burning.  If Chowdah ever listened, his ears would be burning, too.)

There’s a shot of Jerry Manuel, there’s a one-pitch at-bat, there’s Cory Sullivan, and then there’s the eighth inning.

Fernando “Grand-Slams” Tatis.  I wonder if Mr. Manuel believes that Fernando Tatis works from muscle memory obtained a decade ago.  I’m here to say that the man, undeniably, does not.

Allow me to crib from one of King Of The Hill‘s few truly twisted and ingenious episodes, “Plastic White Female”:

Paul: You’re just using Tatis as a crutch.

Jerry Manuel: He’s not a crutch, Paul. He’s someone I’ve come to rely on to help
me through life.

And then I cut Fernando Tatis’s batting helmet in half with a table saw.

The only true joy that came out of this game was watching Nelson Figueroa’s increasing levels of “You gotta be kidding me,” as he faced Jair Jurrjens at the plate in his last batter. Jurrjens fouled off pitch after pitch after pitch, only to finally ground out to Figueroa.  When Figueroa trotted the tag to Jurrjens personally, I laughed so hard that I think I made a little water.

Also, for those who couldn’t hip to the broadcast tonight: head out to Sag Harbor.  Find Paradise Restaurant on Main Street.  Ask for Howie, and tell him Keith Hernandez sent you.  Best revelation of random fact since I learned that HBO Boxing’s ringside scorer Harold Lederman doubles as a pharmacist somewhere in Poughkeepsie, NY.  The world is a strange, strange place.

Anyway. Ten games left.  Fernando Tatis, I will not feel bad if you find your way to another team next season.  Time to relieve the Mets of the crutch.

**For those who want to vote on what my off-season profile pic will be, check out the rules and options here and email your choice to omniality [at] gmail [dot] com.

This was not Pat Misch’s night.

One and a third innings pitched.  Eight runs, all earned, on seven hits, and three of those hits home runs.  Forty-two pitches, and six of those to Adam LaRoche, who struck out.

I don’t know why I want to subtract those, but I do. 

So seven hits in thirty-six pitches.  Eight runs on thirty-six pitches, which means he gave up, on average, one run every four and a half throws to the plate.

For all the talk of Pat Misch being “Tom Glavine-like,” it’s important to point out that Glavine was somewhat of a punk until 1991.  Misch has pitched about 140 innings.  Glavine pitched many more than that at the end of his first four seasons. (Click here for the summed stat line on Glavine, 1987-1990.  I know it’s off to compare the two this way, but hopefully you take this to mean I don’t think they should be compared.)

I don’t know if it’s going to work out for the guy; I hope it does.  I think, though, that with the Sword of Damocles dangling over homeboy’s career, it’d behoove him to work things out at least a LITTLE, and quickly.

Lots of guys are gunning to carry the dirty laundry that’s owned by the guy who carries Santana’s dirty laundry.  And if things are really working out, one would hope that Mike Pelfrey, John Maine, Jon Niese, Bobby Parnell, and, what the hell, Nelson Figueroa are working to fill that laundry carrier’s laundry carrier position.

Your advantage, Pat Misch and underperformers, can’t just be that you’re cheap.

The game has started out in Flushing, but I’m in the middle of waiting for some nonsense to wrap up at work.  So while I do, allow me to conduct a bit of business:

The Mets’ inaugural season at Citi Field is coming to a close and with it any lasting joy in wearing the “I’m Calling It Shea” T-shirt as a sign of impish protest.  While I love it both as a quality clothing item, its somewhat esoteric message, and its ability to make me instant friends with people at bars, I’ve come to think that announcing that via my profile pic in 2010 would be like making Kanye-storming-the-stage jokes sometime after the next forty-eight hours.

(My favorite one of those was, “Yo, Ernie Anastos, I’m really happy for ya, and I’ma let you finish, but Bill O’Reilly had one of the best F-bomb drops of all time!” …A local New York anchor dropped the F-bomb.  Search “Ernie Anastos chicken”; you’ll find it.)

I need a new profile pic–at least for the off-season–and it came to me while reading about various votes for Mets MVP that I should try for some similar audience participation.  Not for Mets MVP; I think that’s a bit silly this season, though I respect a desire for continuity by those who’ve been at it awhile.

Instead, I’m going to see if we can’t all speak to my lesser angels of grand delusion, and open up a vote on which Mets star I should try emulating in an off-season pic.

Here’s how this will work: 

  • I’m going to put up two photos each of Johan Santana, John Maine, Daniel Murphy, and David Wright.

  • You email me at omniality [at] gmail [dot] com and tell me which one you like.  

  • I will work between the end of the Mets regular season and November 1 to reproduce the image with me in the starring role (some will be easier than others).  Why those four?  I can make my hair do what’s required for those four.

  • Unless I’m taken to task or sued or ripped apart by wolves or whatever, the image will stay up until the 2010 season begins. 

There.  Isn’t that more fun than choosing between a shut-down Johan Santana, an achy John Maine, an ineffective Daniel Murphy, or a concussed David Wright?

Never mind.


**Photos found through Google Image Search, all third-hand.  If there is a deep need for credit on one or more photos, I’ll be more than happy to kill myself trying to find the originals.

Santana A:

profilesantana1.jpgSantana B:

Maine A:

profilemaine1.jpgMaine B:

profilemaine2.jpgMurphy A:

profilemurphy1.jpgMurphy B:

profilemurphy2.jpgWright A:

profilewright1.jpgWright B (he’s the one on the left):

There you are.  Voting is open through October 4th.  Send your choice to omniality [at] gmail [dot] com.

Let’s go Mets!

Songs will be sung about the day Frankie Rodriguez came in and threw a five-pitch save (vs. Nationals: W; 6-2).  The song will be to the tune of “Yakety Sax,” but don’t sweat the details.

It’s a busy day in the world of me, and I got about two hours of sleep last night.  It truly feels as though I’ve been up for three days.  Out of sorts?  Sure.

But I leave you with a question, which you can mull privately or email me about:

The Mets have come close to no-hitting teams, but have yet to actually achieve this goal.  Besides a Santana game against Tampa Bay in the middle of the season, I seem to keep seeing the possibility at the beginning of a season or at the end of a season, against teams that swing for the fences and rarely connect when they flail like that.

In other words, the best chances have come against scrubs during garbage time.

The question: if the Mets manage to put together a no-hitter–and note that only the most lights-out no-hitters are fully owned by the pitcher–would it cheapen the achievement if it came against the major league equivalent of the Washington Generals?

Would we hear “Well, good for your guys finally bringing one home, but it’s not like you did it against the ’75 Reds”?

Just something I’ve been thinking about, along with Nolan Ryan.  Occasionally my thoughts stray to Ryan, who has seven no-hitters but only one World Series win under his belt.  Wonder if he cares about that.

I’ve been up since about 2a.  My electronics are cooperating; I watched a load of Miami Vice on Hulu and battled one of the few surviving mosquitoes in Bay Ridge.  The damn thing actually got me, among other places, on the pad of my middle finger.

I have NEVER been stung on the pad of a finger before.  It’s remarkably painful.
Throughout all this, I debated about putting up the following photo, taken near the end of Friday’s game against Washington (L; 6-5).  It’s up–you see it out of the lower corner of your eye, so you know it’s there.  Just understand that while it pained me terribly to see–I’ve never been stung on the pad of the finger, I’ve never seen this sort of business in person–it needed to be shown.  Shying away from images such as these would, for me, be like the Mets wrapping up the season at 81-81, in some alternate reality, and taking the argument that they weren’t SO bad.  I mean, .500 season’s got some merit.  They must’ve battled.
Nay, nein, nyet.  No battling here.  Only guys wearing paper bags over their head.
Guys wearing paper bags and chugging beer, with a guy who looked vaguely like John Olerud behind him.  
Observation and Interrogation revealed that it was not, in fact, John Olerud.  For one, John Olerud does not chug beer.  He drinks it, steadily. …There’s a “Facts About Chuck Norris” style bit in there, somewhere, about John Olerud.
John Olerud never “takes” a base.  He always asks permission.
John Olerud once drove over the speed limit.  Once.
John Olerud asked for an order of wheat toast at a diner.  He was given rye by mistake. He ate the toast anyway.
Other photos from that night, with limited commentary:
pelfrey warms up.jpg
That’s Mike Pelfrey.  He, along with chicks, digs the long ball.
giant head.jpg
I have a MASSIVE head.  And I think my face is getting thicker.  This can’t be good.
it's a standings board.jpg
That video board seen at the last game turned out to be a standings board, which until I saw it I’d not given a thought to.  Seems somewhat mocking, now, but one hopes it comes in handy next year.
The thing did suffer an attack of Mercury in retrograde as the game wore on:
board breakdown.jpg
That “M.L.” should say something about Boston being ahead of Texas not in the “M SEVENTH” but in the “A.L. WILD CARD.”  It was turned off eventually.  Better that way.
jerry dior.jpg
On the screen at center there, Jerry Dior, designer of the MLB logo (read this post for more).  I’m assuming he and his wife are wearing No. 40 in honor of the logo’s fortieth anniversary, and not in honor of Robinson Cancel or Tony Tarasco.  MAYBE Randy Niemann. …Wait.  No, not even Randy Niemann.
(Believe that’s MLB president and COO Bob DuPuy to Dior’s right/your left.)
From bagmen to batting helmets to beer, we all find our joys at the park where we can.  I think fans have to own it; we’ll get through this if we don’t run away from the misery and misanthropy.  Odd, though, that I’m known now in the section for not being a fan of Sean Green:
Me: (after Green throws a pitch gone wide of the strike zone) “Hey, Green!  The strike zone’s about three goddamn yards to your left!”
Fan Seated Four Rows Down: “What is it with you and Sean Green?  You’ve been on his case all year!”
Me: “He’s been horrible all year!”
Fan Seated Four Rows Down: “True, but jeez, man!  Ease up!”
I will ease up.  He’s not been horrible all year.  He’s been horrible MOST of the year.  The only thing I got out of the J.J. Putz trade was a few glorious nights of singing “Thunderstruck” at the top of my lungs and the mild competence of Jeremy Reed.
Vitriol feels good when you’ve been up for seven hours and the sun’s been up for two.
Tim Redding pitched an efficient gem yesterday (vs. Nationals: W; 3-2) while I followed via Gameday, too tired and irritated to stray from my bed until about 5p.  There are thirteen games left to play, and doubtless more feeling like this.  
As I am not John Olerud–who replaced all the incandescent light bulbs in his home with energy-saving fluorescents–I am sure I will get angrier before I get better.  I don’t wear paper bags; that is the province of those who laugh to keep from crying, and I’d forget to bring one anyway.  
But I appreciate the sentiment, and the desire to do so.  Misery, company, yada yada damned yada.
**Visit Jon Springer’s Mets By The Numbers to read his piece on the Top Ten Mets #6s Of All Time, which he read at last week’s Amazin’ Tuesday event over at Two Boots.  You can find my write-up on the whole event by clicking here.  My thanks to Greg Prince of Faith And Fear In Flushing for pushing my coverage of the event.  Hooray for page views!

I’ve been so caught up in my electronic nonsense that I almost forgot about Jerry Dior.

Mr. Dior designed the logo for Major League Baseball, which began appearing on baseball uniforms in 1969.  He was honored at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, and will be at the ball park today to be honored by the Mets.

Mr. Dior’s baseball love began in Brooklyn, watching the Dodgers in the ’30s and the ’40s.  His logo style’s been jacked honored by a number of other sports, notably the NBA/WNBA and the ugly stepchild of the NHL, the AHL.

Red, white, blue, with a silhouette and a ball.  Remarkable how simple enduring design can be.  Let that be a lesson to whomever developed the graphics for 2006’s MTV Video Music Awards (or was it 2007 with the odd solid-action lines, like we were in a puke-neon version of Tron?).

Here’s an article about Mr. Dior, from MLB’s website, which includes a neat video interview with the guy. 

Here’s one by Paul Lukas of Uni Watch, who worked to kill the minor fracas over who actually designed the thing (and kudos to Mr. Lukas for being a level-headed reporter, and James Sherman for being a man about being wrong).

And as for where I learned the news that Mr. Dior will be on hand tonight, head to the Uni Watch post here.

Not much to look forward to in Flushing lately, but being in the same building as this guy will be something neat to put in the pocket.

Letters.  I get letters. I get half a dozen letters.

**These have been sanitized and edited, lightly, to keep my head from blowing off. There’s such a thing as a difference between a plural and a possessive, folks. 

If you’d like, email me at omniality [at] gmail [dot] com.

“Like your idea about the Mets Museum, but it’s just too small. 200,
300 people? That park holds THOUSANDS. Space is too small and they’ll
never do it. Even if, I could just see them ****ing it up like
everything else.”

Think I should work backward here:

  • I don’t grant the premise that the Mets **** up everything.

  • They either will or they won’t. I think space is the least of the concerns with the idea. Harder still is the thought that they’d be into putting together the workforce to produce these segments, to say nothing about handing over some editorial control to these guys.

  • Putting this together would appear to require a sea change in the way the ownership and management thinks about the team. It’s hard to put yourself in the position of teaching tool, showing your team’s great plays even if they came in a loss.  That’s before wrangling together all the permissions and partnerships.  That doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s worth it; that just means it’d be hard. Shouldn’t shy away from hard, though.

  • I think the viewing rooms should hold two to three hundred in aggregate. The museum itself (adding the Hall Of Fame stuff to it) could hold a hundred or a couple hundred more. I’ll take a look at the spot I posited again, but that was really just a general suggestion of where to put it, if on the current property.  I don’t think you want it any bigger than four hundred; that becomes a bear to evacuate in case of emergency. Additionally, people should be coming to see the game, not the museum. This should be a novelty.

There were a couple of other emails that fell into the same general category.  In fact, two were nearly identical:

“They’ll never go for it. Too expensive and Madoff Madeoff-ha-with too much of their $$.”

That Madoff/Madeoff thing is getting old. Guy’s in prison; it’s done.
But given what could be made on DVD compilations of the sets (“Watch May’s Mets Museum Series from the comfort of your own home! Only $15.99!”), and the uptick in concessions sales you’d see by getting people to the park a couple hours earlier, I think the trade-off is worthwhile.
What we’re really talking about is a way to get more people to the park, increase revenue and develop new streams of it, and changing the way people perceive ownership/management when it comes to handling the Mets’ image.
I’m not saying it’ll ever happen. I’m just saying it’s more interesting for me to think about than trying to gin up trade ideas. Not that I don’t do that, either. And on that note:

“Why don’t you ever talk about what the Mets need for next year? Your guys are in for a world of hurt”

Quickly? Left fielder, righty off the bench. Second, third starters. A way to get rid of Fauxhawk’s (Oliver Perez’s) contract. A legitimate first baseman. A quality backup infielder that’s SPEEDY.
A time machine for Fernando Tatis. A deal with the devil to lock Luis Castillo into his 2009 form. A cage in which to lock Sean Green whenever he’s been bad. A clue as to what to do with Bobby Parnell.
That’s for starters.
I think I mention it subtly. I don’t have their ear, and I don’t know diddly about what’s out there save for what I read on ESPN and MLB and various Mets blogs that suggest trade ideas. I’m trying to be original. Last time I ham-handedly thought a big trade was in the offing, I thought the move for Chowdah was the first step to getting Roy Halladay.
THAT… was incorrect.  And speaking of Chowdah:

“Like the blog! Good writing. Who the hell is Chowdah?”

Chowdah is Jeff Francoeur. Somewhere on this site is a clip from an episode of The Simpsons where Diamond Joe Quimby’s nephew berates a French waiter.
“Say it, Frenchy! Say ‘Chowdah’!”
And speaking of that:

“Ur a moron.”

True, but not for the reasons you may think, and not for anything listed above.

I once tried to get a friend to eat a sandwich that was just two slices of white bread and a huge honkin’ schmear of vegemite.  He said he would but we never got around to arranging a date and time to do this.  So, one lonely night, I decided I would.  And I did. And I nearly died.
Yet another shining example of why The Wife should wrap up grad school as soon as possible: I’m liable to kill myself if she’s away much longer.
I’m out to the game tonight, to catch the Mets playing the Washington Nationals in what I’m sure will be dubbed “The Blind Leading The Blind Bowl.” Seeing as how my camera is once again responding to external stimuli, but my laptop is now literally held together by duct tape, I can’t promise pictures and a recap right away.

But as the Mets are now only getting the AP and second-stringer treatment from the Times, perhaps everyone’s bar for coverage has been set a little lower.
Let’s go Mets!