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What’s unfortunate about that Omar Minaya/Adam Rubin flap is that the reporter became the story. 

When that happens, too many are pulled into the realm of the meta, and unless one has a firm grasp on (among other things) elements of post-modernism, semiotics, and the works of the Wachowski Brothers, the meta becomes too much to handle. 

“Some of us are world-class thinkers,” a college friend once wrote me.  “Some of us are bankers, and lawyers.  Some of us pump gas, some of us grow fat on the couch and collect a government check. 

“And some of us are potheads.”

With that, I urge you to visit this discussion of the Sheffield mess from yesterday, as sparked by Adam Rubin’s Daily News Mets blog entry.  If you follow blogs ravenously, I’m sure you caught Mr. Rubin’s take.

However, what’s evolved since 8:48a is a comment thread as long as my right arm (I discovered recently that my right arm is decidedly longer than my left).  Despite more-than-occasional name calling, I’ve found this comment thread to be not only delightfully PG-profane, but, in aggregate, a full cover on the matter of Sheffield and the matter of Rubin’s alleged lackeyism.  And on, and on, and on.

It’s remarkable people accuse the man of brown-nosing, even after he’s said on camera that his livelihood had been messed with.  Red pill, blue pill: does it matter?

I agree with most of Mr. Rubin’s take; I wouldn’t hold him just to
release him spitefully, but he’s being paid.  So he’s needed.  If
Sheffield wants to slip in the shower or sprain his pinkie toe, that’s
his business. 

I am not paid by the Mets or Adam Rubin, by the by.  I’m also not paid by the New York Daily News, I’m not advocating the use of marijuana or any illegal drugs.  I’m not trying to denigrate gas station attendants, nor am I advocating the use of fossil fuels in this dangerous political climate or given the nature of our fight to keep this planet from suffocating us all.  I’m also not saying the effort to turn back climate change should be a confrontational fight.

It’s at this point that, were I a cartoon, my head would inflate to six times its already-massive size, and pop like a balloon, leaving only scraps just above the knot.  Would the Mets front office hire a guy like me?  Late twenties; a profiler of their ineptitude; scraps for a head?

Mr. Minaya, I hereby lobby for a job.

Normally I’d be getting jazzed to leave work in about ninety minutes, for the horrors glories of the Mets at Citi Field.  Instead, I’m prepping for a trip out to LaGuardia with my mother-in-law, to pick up The Wife and, more likely than not, go see Julie And Julia at the movies.

First off, it’s a testament to this blog’s readership that my desire to keep my change of plans a surprise isn’t hurt by open discussion of same.

Second, my mother-in-law’s a wonderful woman.  Lots of fun.  I’m being serious; I lucked out there.

Third, it’s been a long week.  Julie And Julia could be Jules et Jim or Freddy Vs. Jason; as soon as my butt hits a seat not surrounded by screaming fans and the piercing, wretched sound of Alex Anthony (I apologize: I just can’t stand his voice), I’m falling asleep.

I may try and get there tomorrow; else I’ll be there Tuesday afternoon and evening.  In the meantime, I’m making like a tree and getting out of here.  Hasta Sunday or Monday.

Until then, enjoy, and let’s go Mets!

So he walked six and gave up the same number of hits, yet struck out seven, yet YET escaped with one run.  And the Mets avoided the sweep against the Diamondbacks (W; 6-4).  That’s supposed to be positive?

He threw 5 1/3 innings and 111 pitches.  Sean Green, for all the good he’d do the next day, threw 19.  Feliciano 17.  Stokes 13. 

You know what that’s like, telling me Oliver Perez was not terrible?  That’s like telling me the unemployment rate ticked down slightly in July and wholly ignoring the fact that the rate does not reflect the number of people who’ve given up looking for work

Yes, I’m on his case.  But I’m on his case because I don’t think he’s a good pitcher, and using this start to tell me (middle of page) the man relishes pitching with men on base (doghouse, Omir Santos–doghouse) and that he’s showing signs of, if not greatness, then at least usability, ticks me off.

Bad contract.  BAD.

And while I’m on the subject of Sean Green, an open letter to the man:

Paul Vargas
Section Five Twenty-Eight
http://omniality.mlblogs.com

August 13, 2009

Sean Green
New York Metropolitans Baseball Club @ Citi Field
Roosevelt Avenue
Flushing, NY 11368-1699

Dear Mr. Green,

STOP.  HITTING.  BATTERS.

Regards,
Paul Vargas

enclosures: one (1) photo of me, shaking my fist angrily.
cc: Omar Minaya, General Manager
Jerry Manuel, Manager
Nelson Figueroa

**

Separately: Section Five Twenty-Eight endorses loud booing, heckling, and other non-physical forms of abuse at people who roundly deserve it.  Shane Victorino?  Roundly deserving.  Throwing an elbow at a player while deeming yourself and your team as the vaunted overlords of taste and class makes you deserving of my invectives.  Hell, you could just be there and the opposition, and deserving of a li’l sumthin’.  See: Gregor Blanco, 2008.

But should I ever be within shouting distance of Victorino (he’s not getting a Mister), he’s getting the deluxe treatment.  ‘Cause he’s a no-account whiner on top of his dirty tricks and vindictive showboating and general attention-paid-to-anything-but-baseball-so-the-spotlight-is-on-him-as-often-as-possible.  Boo, Shane Victorino.  Boo.

No, trolls, I am not discounting skills.  Plenty of wastes of time have remarkable skills.  Karl Rove is a genius, for example.

Knowing, as I’m sure readers do, where this is going, I should say that while I condone certain violent acts when appropriate, and enjoy petty vandalism when the results are not permanent or costly to reverse (this excludes grafitti and scratchitti), I don’t know that I condone Victorino’s beer shower.

You can see it, if you haven’t (I watched it live at a bar and nearly choked on my grilled chicken sandwich) by clicking here.  I suffered for that link, by the way: that level of red, applied to Phillies or not, burns the crap out of my corneas.

I don’t condone it because it makes the Cubbies look bad, and I bear no animus toward the Cubbies; I don’t condone it because it looks cheap in the face of an eleven-run deficit; I don’t condone it because it’s a waste of beer. 

To paraphrase Chris Rock: if you are one of the fortunate few on this earth to get your hands on a beer, drink the s**t out of it.

All that said, you gotta admit that from that angle, past the ball-catch on the wall, and with such an oddly-shaped projectile: it was one hell of a shot.**

Way to file the complaint, by the way, Shane-o.  “We’ll get the guy”?  Slow down, McGruff.  Chicago PD will get the guy.

**For the record, I’ve been doused with beer, whiskey, pillow feathers, and shaving cream.  I’ve also been sprayed with a fire extinguisher, been shoved down a flight of stairs (that was in good humor), and swung into a concrete wall, suffering a light concussion (that too, with best intentions).  In all occasions, I was able to find at least one aspect of my behavior I could’ve changed that would have kept me dry and/or uninjured.

Thing about a doctor’s orders to “relax” is that one can never be quite sure what form relaxing should take.  There are certain red lines:

  • don’t do anything which would make you want to jump up and down, angrily;
  • don’t do anything which would make you want to put your fist in anything (in anger; settle, children, settle);
  • don’t do anything which would lead to a headache.

Thus I’ve been without significant word from the Mets since Tuesday, when, among other things, Luis Castillo forgot how to put one foot in front of the other and sprained his ankle.  How to keep track?

Check the word on my Mets BlackBerry widget.  Loss, brake, honk.  Loss, brake, honk.  Honk, honk, punch.  Gas, gas, gas.

Occasionally catch a glimpse while stationed at a bar, “relaxing” after a bleak, monochromatic film.  Erase that relaxation by losing a game of pool, then getting schooled in darts, then discussing the finer points of web marketing and audience share.

Glimpse at the back page of tabloid sports sections Squint to see if there happens to be some diagonally-applied Mets-Orange banner across the corner of a full-color photo of Yankee bliss at Boston’s expense. (“Yankee bliss” is not stated with a dash, dollop, or deluge of bitterness; in other remarks, that Okajima guy looks about four years old.)  Determine if banner is positive or negative.  Excise all memory of squinting, so ophthalmologist doesn’t give YOU the stink-eye.

There was little real peace, even when getting word while at a sparsely-attended yet quite fun house party late Saturday night.  The party wrecked all chance of decent sleep that night; against further orders, I took down a twenty-ounce bottle of soda and was wired.

Yes.  I’m that guy.  Beer, liquor, greasy foods, sure.  Caffeine?  Rarely.  Very rarely.

So it came to pass that after a fitful sleep led me to sticky Sunday sun, and The Wife’s desire to have me find some sort of sewer grate or manhole cover or some kind of something with a striped bass on it (for a presentation she’s working on down in North Carolina), and a few episodes of Californication, I found the couch and a blissful nap.

When I came to–one wakes in the fall, rises in the winter, stirs in the spring, but comes to in the summer–the double vision and haloing were, essentially, gone.  Not being one to allow grass to grow under his feet, I switched on the Mets game taking place in San Diego.

Johan was there.  Luis was there.  It was like I’d hit the pause button on Tuesday’s 6th inning, and resumed on Sunday, in a different park, state, and time zone.  Johan went eight, again.  Frankie Rodriguez came in, again.  The Mets were done, again (this time, W; 5-1).

The double-vision and the haloing are still gone and tonight, Pelfrey gets the start against current low-level pain-in-the-neck Doug Davis.  I don’t get a chance to extort a clean bill of health until Wednesday, so my watching is incumbent upon how infuriating the group performance is.

If nothing else, I’m annoyed at the Mets for presenting such a Catch-22: watch them play; perhaps not see well at all for awhile.  Don’t watch them play; see all too clearly that other people care more about pool and darts and the Yankees and shots of something called Cynar than the Mets, and wonder just what is wrong with them.

All that said, I’m skipping my Friday game.  The Wife flies into New York (and LaGuardia, for Christ’s sake) at 6:30p Friday night.  Big bags which say, “Take us home,” and not, “Run into Manhattan, leave us at the office, then pick us up after the game.”  Should’ve planned better.  Hell, should just live in Queens.

I have not flat-out made some of these statements, though I may have made insinuations, “jokes,” or the like.  Here we go, in no particular order:

  1. Chowdah makes a poor addition to the Mets: he’s been with the club for fewer than twenty-one days and has 16 RBI.  He’s been no-hit three times in those fifteen games, all gut-wrenching, hat-eating losses for the team as a whole.
  2. Cory Sullivan is less interesting than Cuby & the Blizzards: he is slightly more interesting than Cuby & the Blizzards.  I would have to pay for Cuby & the Blizzards entertainment.  Cory Sullivan’s salary is listed as $0.  Yes, I’m employing some fuzzy math.  But let’s see Cuby connect for a triple against Juan Rincon.
  3. It’s hard to hit triples off Juan Rincon: this one’s brand-new.  But the guy’s got a 6.20 ERA.  I’m trying to square myself on the fly, here.
  4. Luis Castillo is a creature of ill-repute: the man’s just doubled-up on fatherhood, and he’s headed to the park for Game Two of the doubleheader.  That along with his gaudy OBP makes him okay.  Not $24-million-over-four-years-okay, but okay.  I’m sorry I threatened to run to the field and assault you for showing bunt this past Memorial Day.
  5. Tim Redding is Teflon: this is just housekeeping; he hasn’t been Teflon in some time (Ian Stewart double-plays to keep the shutout intact notwithstanding).
  6. David Wright should not bat third: I’m not so much wrong about this as the line-up’s been good enough to provide some protection, thus making the point moot.  The team is running on several cylinders at present.  Daniel Murphy remains a semi-beast.  Luis Castillo is, as mentioned, not a horrible man.  And given that Chowdah looks and smiles a bit like David Wright and is hitting in the five-hole, maybe pitchers are just confusing the two.
  7. The Mets should look into acquiring Doug Davis: I don’t recall if I made mention of this on the blog, or to people within shouting distance.  But Mr. Davis hasn’t been any great shakes, and his salary leaves a bit to be desired given what seems to be dangling out there now.
  8. And 9. And 10. The Mets bench cannot afford to be so short as to only hold four players, let alone three: According to Jerry Manuel, Livan Hernandez took batting practice yesterday just in case he’d be called on to pinch-hit.  Why the hell not?

Note that I’ve been wrong about these things thus far.  I could be proven right.  But I’d love to be proven wrong about my negatives and right about my positives.  I’d be the happiest wrong guy in New York.

Game Two starts in a little under three hours.  Your line-up, as reported by Metsblog (sorry, Mr. Cerrone, for cribbing off your paper; I’m in a pinch and can’t find it elsewhere):

Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
David Wright, 3B
Jeff Francouer, RF
Fernando Tatis, LF
Daniel Murphy, 1B
Angel Berroa, SS
Omir Santos, C
Jon Niese, SP

I’ll be sleeping off this headache after the game, then at tomorrow’s game against the Diamondbacks. 

Let’s go Mets!

These are the thoughts I have when the Mets are rained out and the Yankees are playing under a dome.

I’ve been gone for awhile.  I cannot be blamed.  I worked nine straight days.  Sure, this was the view from my hotel room for the last two:
beach.jpg
But by no means was it all fun and games.  Those who may know me may know I enjoy a bit of a tune-up when the workday ends.  The proceedings made need for a bottle of Scotch.  I usually abstain from any liquor I can’t see through during summer months.  I made an exception, and a serious dent was put in the thing as I watched the only ball game available to me: Dodgers-Cardinals (on Monday, STL over LAD 6-1).
So if the three of you who read were torn up over the lack of material, know that I was torn up as well.  Mets game via BlackBerry.  Reading up on the Minaya-Bernazard-Rubin nonsense while riding NJ Transit back to civilization.  Falling asleep just after the blown call that had Castillo safe on Tuesday (against Colorado; W 4-0).  Painting my hallway today–TODAY, of all days, where the heat and humidity drenched me repeatedly.  Good thing it’s just latex paint.
At any rate.  Back.  Stretch run.  Sparkle, sparkle.  I geared up for the Mets game but switched it over to the Yankees game after the rain-out for a number of reasons:
  • I was starved for baseball that bore ANY connection to New York.
  • I’d already watched The Ruins, which a friend DEMANDED I DVR and watch.  Wrong call, Sheriff.  Movie was well-done, but lame.  I take my horror schlocky with two sugars.
  • It was raining hard, so going out was not an option.  It’s still raining.  Going out is absolutely not an option.
  • There was almost nothing else on.  The exception was KVC: Komodo Vs. Cobra, co-starring a pre-Tell Me You Love Me Michelle Borth.  But I missed this being on until the near-end.
  • I’d read on the Post‘s website that the Rays might trade Carl Crawford and Scott Kazmir.
I start salivating when I start thinking about competent left fielders.  It’s been far too long for the Mets.  Carl Crawford was 2-for-4 tonight, notching a triple off Brian Bruney and scoring from there on Evan Longoria’s home run in the ninth.
As for Kazmir… well, Maine doesn’t look like he’s long for this season.  You should know how I feel about Perez.  Kazmir’s still young and his performance in ’09 will dim the salary lights a little.  Santana-Kazmir-Pelfrey-Niese-Perez.  I can live with that.   A bit lefty-dominated, but that can be solved by jettisoning Oliver Perez.
I’m just sayin’.
But competent fielding and hitting in left?  Delightful.  Forgive me if I don’t want to bet the farm on Cory Sullivan.  Or Gary Sheffield.  Don’t hurt yourself trying to remember the last full-time Mets left fielder.  Christ, Trot Nixon played outfield for the Mets last year.  That’s not a joke.
Counting on Carlos Beltran, who, according to reports filtered through Metsblog is working out despite the bone bruise on his mole knee not being healed, seems chancy to me.  Chowdah has thus far proven himself.  I have been saying my mea culpas and will shout them if he becomes the beast he was in a past life.  But counting on that, and Sullivan, and a not-quite-100% Beltran to patrol center at Citi Field, and trying to make a run for it, is asking for trouble.  Nick Evans was the Mets’ starting left fielder during the last game of the 2008 season.  Endy Chavez replaced him, for defense.
The last good guy out there was Moises Alou, and he wasn’t even legitimately good.  Just lightning-in-a-bottle, astound-you-with-that-batting-stance good.  Crawford-Beltran-Chowdah, with Pagan off the bench, makes me feel a hell of a lot better.
One hopes the symptoms of foot-in-mouth include remorse, humility, and visible shakes yet exclude inability-to-get-on-the-horn, and Omar Minaya can do just that and get a guy.  Crawford isn’t the best left fielder in the world, but he’s a damn sight better than what’s out there right now.
No offense, Mr. Sullivan.  I want you to know, however, sir, that the following “Cory”/”Corey”s have more interesting Wikipedia pages:
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try and prove me wrong.  I will gladly add berating you to my list of venal sins if you show me up.

I am told that this is the sound a car engine makes when it’s about to fall out.

My mind has not so much been wandering as it’s been speed-jogging through vast wastes of half-remembered things I’ve done and things I’ve seen.  This could either be the result of an unusually busy time at work or an extended stroke. 

If it’s a stroke, I have to hand it to my neurons, who’ve sought to bring me back to the days when I watched The Naked Gun 2 1/2 every other day for nearly a year.  I left the house Thursday singing the film’s version of “Besame Mucho.”  That brought me to O.J. Simpson, who, if you recall, had a supporting role in each of the Naked Gun movies before the… unpleasantness.

Where were you when O.J. Simpson and Al Cowlings were “fleeing” the authorities in the white Ford Bronco?  I was in a van myself: a brown Chevy, owned by a family friend who was driving a group of guys up to a house in Sullivan County, NY, to build a deck.  My father went; I came along.  I was in sixth grade.  Sat on a milk crate in the back, with the tools.  Bob, another Bob (but we called him Robert to distinguish), Frank, my dad, and me.  Up the highway from Brooklyn in a two-seat Chevy van.  And we followed the news via radio (we left the city at 7p).

Lest you think this post a less-than-tasteful rehash of the Simpson trial, I’ll have you know that I was annoyed that we were listening to the coverage of a low-speed car chase, the whup-whup of helicopters only enjoyable when WATCHING ON TELEVISION.  No, I wanted to listen to the Mets game.  They were playing the Marlins that night out at Dolphin/Joe Robbie/Pro Player/Pro Player again/Dolphin/LandShark Stadium, and I had the fool notion that this would be Pete Smith’s chance to shine.  Nevermind that he was already 3-6 on the year.  Also, I’d rarely listened to baseball in the car, and being there with “the guys” made me think we’d be “the guys” riding up and listening to the game.

But these guys, to a man, are jokers and wise guys, and there was not much fun to be had in baseball that year.  And certainly not with the Mets.  In the Mets’ defense, they walked off the job just three games below .500.  Our current crop of Mets are seven below, which is chilly even in the dog days of summer.

See what I did there, with the double meaning?

As it turned out, however, it wouldn’t matter what we were listening to.  When we broke out of getaway traffic, Bob hit the gas to make up for lost time.  Thirty-five miles an hour.  Forty.  Forty-five… what’s that hum?  Fifty… Dad, something doesn’t feel right here.  Fifty-five… it’s not a hum; it’s a rattling.  Is something shaking loose back there?

Sixty: BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRAP!  The thing shook like a gallon can of Benjamin Moore in the auto-mixer.  But we weren’t going to drive forty-five miles an hour up to the house; we’d get there in the middle of the night (and “middle of the night” reminds me that Billy Joel’s “River Of Dreams” came out that year; what the hell is going on with me?).

So we dealt with it.  Robert got car sick.  My dad was hoarse from laughing so hard.  Bob, ever the even keel, went on like nothing was wrong.  He even waved at the people passing us, most of whom, I’m told, were laughing and pointing.

We got to the place around eleven, which is about when O.J. was taken to jail and well after the Mets had lost; Retrosheet tells me the game was played in a tidy 2 1/2 (see?) hours.  They’d fallen to 30-36.  There were no highlights worth watching, but I had to wait until the next day to find that out, because TV was wall-to-wall lurid that night.  My father said, “Eh.  They’re gonna strike anyway.”

His biggest concern, and frankly mine as well, was whether we’d make it back at the end of the trip with our respective fillings still in our heads.

There.  I’ve just told you a more interesting story than last night’s game (vs. Astros, L; 5-4), which I watched via fast-forward recap, mildly hungover from a colleague’s housewarming the night before.  I caught a glimpse of Gary Sheffield in one of the freeze frames, and thought about how, fifteen years ago, I thought he’d be a remarkable improvement over Joe Orsulak.

Why the hell do I remember now that I thought fifteen years ago that Sheffield would be an improvement over Orsulak?  Why do I get the feeling that if Sheffield didn’t have his endless cramp, he’d be batting third now, just like he did then?  Why are the Mets a van that rattles like the Rapture’s coming whenever you need them to go the speed limit?

Again, I am told this is the sound a car engine makes when it’s about to fall out.

I’m locked in the death throes of a staff retreat until Tuesday evening.  And then I go to a seminar on retirement planning.  Until then, and after, let’s go Mets!  Trading deadline’s coming; avoid cheap gas.

*I know I’d said that I’d write something on Bernazard, but it’s been rather busy.  Besides, the thing’s been talked to death already.  Fire him or trade out one of the T-shirt launches for a regular mid-inning fight between him and Batdad.  That’s essentially my opinion.

Hey, remember this guy?

reyes photo.jpgYeah, you do. 

No sooner than after I re-sized that image and wondered what was going on with Jose did I come upon this report from Ben Shpigel at The New York Times, and that paired with this makes me wish I could catch the next plane to Florida.  If you don’t believe in click-throughs, this for me is the money callout:

“This is really the first day that I feel like I’ve made a lot of
progress in everything I did on the field,” Reyes said. “Taking ground
balls, very good. Hitting from both sides, very good. When I run now,
I’m able to pick my knee up higher. Before, I felt like I was running
with one leg.”

Con respeto, Jose: I think “running with one leg” is called “hopping.”

Two Boots Pizzeria (now Tavern) down on Grand Street is starting to grow on me.  I met the owner, Phil Hartman, prior to the “Amazin’ Tuesdays” event and the concurrent Mets-Nationals game (L, 4-0), and he seemed like a swell guy.  A swell guy who can push a mean cocktail.  A swell guy who knew from the get that the rumors about Roy Halladay were just that.

A swell guy who sure likes his baseball cards.  They grow on his walls like kudzu.

baseball cards.jpgI question the reasoning behind placing Luis Castillo within the Bob Ojeda/Doug Flynn/Ron Darling trio; I can’t imagine what a conversation between those four would be like. 

Swap out Doug Flynn for Lenny Dykstra, and I think you have the makings of a brawl or an odd stoner comedy.

If you then swap out Ron Darling for Mookie Wilson, you’ve got the cast of Police Academy 9.

Which brings me to this: I tell anyone who’ll listen to me that Doug Flynn was actually Steve Guttenberg in disguise.  No one ever listens.  Ever.  I believe this baseball card confirms my suspicions, and I hereby demand a Senate select committee be organized to investigate the subject. 

Or, at the very least, for someone to listen to my “Doug Flynn Is Steve Guttenberg, Goddamn It” Theory.  It fits.  It ALL fits.

Last night’s event, hosted by the aforementioned Hartman, Faith and Fear in Flushing‘s Greg Prince, and Mets By The Numberss Jon Springer, sported a line-up that held infinitely more interest than the line-up presented by Jerry Manuel for the Mets tussle with the Nats.  Greg Prince read selections from his book and his blog; Jon Springer walked us through Tom Seaver’s (eventual) signing with the Mets; Paul Lukas of Uni Watch had the sadistic thrill of giving us a quiz on Mets uniform history; Matt Silverman (co-author of Shea Good-bye) came bearing costume props.

By comparison, no two Mets got back-to-back hits.  Omir Santos went hitless through three at-bats and six pitches.  Chowdah dropped a decently-easy flyout.  Oliver Perez walked six and hit Nyjer Morgan, and gave up four earned runs, yet in an example of why I should pack my bags and move to Bartlesville, Oklahoma, managed to LOWER his ERA a few ticks (7.99 before the game to 7.68 after).  I mean, I think I just heard my brain make a squelching sound.  That can’t be good.  It just can’t.

phil hartman.jpgMr. Hartman, above, speaking to the crowd which was a bit restive, honestly.  I blame it on a child’s massive birthday party jammed into a few booths in the unseen foreground.  

Mr. Hartman made it known that every Two Boots is a Mets safe harbor.  That’s for your edification; when I need to hide away as a Mets fan, I run out to New Haven, CT.  It’s been my observation that few people there seem to care about baseball.

greg prince reads.jpg

Greg Prince’s first selection prepped the crowd for the rest of the night’s direct baseball experience: some fans, when faced with daunting odds and dispiriting conditions, watch for the simple reason that “there’s no use giving up now.”  
What a statement.  A bizarre oxymoron of a paradox, that when applied to the current Mets season seems to cry out for a force majeure abbreviation of the year: vacant Citi Field hit by meteor; the sudden and utter bankrupting of the Mets holding company, leaving their employees unpaid until such a time as a Kirk Kerkorian-type comes in to mop up the remnants like a slice of white bread on a Thanksgiving dinner plate; a plague of locusts.  Any of these would be unwelcome occurrences.  But certainly spectacular in their uniqueness.  As I’ve said, the Mets in their current state are in Crisis.  But it ain’t Ragnarok.

Mr. Prince would read a few more times in the interstices–and for those unfamiliar with his ability to paint a picture with words, I highly recommend his blog and his book–but as the evening wore on it saw the arrival of other faces:

jon springer speaks.jpgJon Springer’s treatise on Tom Seaver’s Mets Eightfold Path was quite thorough.  I was halfway through a slice of pizza and so I had to look it up myself later.  But what YOU can do is either write to Mr. Springer through his website (he seems like an approachable fellow); visit Tom Seaver’s Wikipedia page, or pick up Mets By The Numbers or Peter Golenbock’s Amazin’: The Miraculous History Of New York’s Most Beloved Baseball Team.  

However, if you’re going to drill through Wikipedia’s sources and pick up the Golenbock book, pick it up in a library.  Why?  Here.  Getting Tom Seaver’s full name INCORRECT is INEXCUSABLE.  And if your editor made the change, what are you doing not catching something like that?
Lord.  Anyway, any way you can get this story without me making a hash of a retread on a shingle. Essentially, it’s a wonder how the Mets’ most legendary pitcher and one of the premiere pitchers of the game came to them literally through luck of multiple draws.

springer and lukas.jpgSpringer then introduced Paul Lukas, of Uni Watch, who proceeded to hand out sheets of paper.  Quiz time.

Now, I went to Bennington College, and Bennington regularly cranks out professionals who break into a flop sweat whenever quizzes, tests, or full-on exams are in the offing.  The school is home to the narrative evaluation, which is hell on anyone who decides they’ve had enough lack of structure and splits for a school with, you know, grades.

So I can’t stand quizzes.  I let paper pass me by and listened.  My guess is I could’ve answered five or six of the questions, based not on observation but inference and intuition.

Observation: no Met has worn number 98.  Not that I’ve seen, anyway.
Inference and intuition: I don’t recall well the second verse of “Meet The Mets,” but I figure “All the fans are true to the orange and blue” is a lyric, while “when they suit up to play, the other team runs away” is more than likely not.  Teams are not often in the habit of running away from the Mets.
You can find the quiz at Mr. Lukas’s blog here.  He will post answers tomorrow, but tonight you can see the winners there.
lukas's stirrups.jpg
And hell, while I’m linking to every other webpage in existence, read thoughts from one of the winners over at the blog Mets Police.
…Almost makes me wonder if the Mets have a higher ratio of blogging fans to fans who don’t blog than any other sub-.500 club.
(By the by, I spoke with Mr. Lukas at the end of the event, and he was kind enough to pose with his ’70s era Mets stirrups, which you can see on your right, there.  I’m just about done with society if stirrups make any sort of pop-culture comeback (were they ever in? My sister seems to think so), but I’m all for team pride, however it manifests itself.
Besides which, he seemed to accept my reasoning for wearing black Mets paraphrenalia, i.e. I’m a messy eater.  So there’s that.  General fealty paid to a man whose attention to detail simultaneously awes and deflates me.  Fantastic.
Speaking of Mets paraphrenalia…)
Matt Silverman wound up the night with an extended passage from his book, co-authored by Keith Hernandez.  Now, I didn’t notice this last night, but in going over my photos from the event, I found something delightfully shocking.  Ready for more pictures?  Are you even answering these questions aloud as you read?  Am I that hard up for comic material?  It never ends.
matt silverman.jpg
Ignore the dude in the lower right-hand corner, who looks as though he’s posing for a freeze frame in the title sequence for Boston Public.  Focus on Matt Silverman’s shirt.
Magnify, and enhance!
matt silverman's shirt.jpg
Yes.  Matt Silverman owns a Mets tropical leisure shirt.  And to boot, it looks as though it’s been worn lovingly over the course of several years; unless they come like that.
Mr. Silverman cemented his legend of cool when, upon quoting Keith Hernandez’s recollection of shooting his epic episode of Seinfeld, he pulled out the coup de grace:
matt as keith.jpg
Keith Hernandez mustache.  Brilliant.
I haven’t read Shea Goodbye, but I have an interminable Sunday at Newark Airport ahead of me, and I’m done with A Fan’s Notes, which, again, has very little to do with sports and nothing to do with Mets baseball, having been written before the Mets had ever put together a winning season.  I think it’s up next.
All in all, though, a great time, despite the fact that I am now 0-4 at Mets events outside the confines of a ball park.  The next event is scheduled for late August, and I imagine I’ll be there.  The September event is to be held on my birthday, and I can’t say as I’ll be in any decent shape to attend.  However, if that night’s honored guests should include any former Met, or Steve Guttenberg, I’ll be there, too.
But you, dear reader, have no excuse.  Unless you live outside the Greater New York metropolitan area.  Or you’re not necessarily a Mets fan.  Or you’re in jail, or visiting your sick grandmother, or have an insanely hot date planned that night.
In those instances and those instances ALONE, missing these events is acceptable.

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.

Sandwiched between Thursday night’s loss to the Dodgers (11-2) and Friday night’s loss to the Reds (3-0) came the trade to the Braves of Ryan Church for (wait for it) Jeff Francoeur.  No truth to the rumor that Omar Minaya also received a DeLorean from Atlanta GM Frank Wren, set to the year 2005.

The subtitle for this blog mentions its stats-lite leaning.  So I tell ya who paints a pretty picture of this is Ted Berg of SNY.  Find his analysis here.

I got the alert while walking down a staircase from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s roof garden to the glories of the building’s first floor.  Got the alert on my Blackberry.  Let out an immediate, “Whoa!  What?!”  This endeared me to the surrounding bluebloods.

I can hope that moving Ryan Church is part of some ridiculous master plan Mr. Minaya’s cooking up to get a better deal for a different player.  I can’t even form the hypothetical, though; it’s such an impossible consideration.  Who’s going to want Jeff Francoeur?  Or, excuse me, Jeff Francoeur and cash?

How ’bout this: maybe you go and get Jeff Francoeur and cash because you need to eat part of Alex Rios’s salary.  Alex Rios, in case you don’t know, is an outfielder (RF) for the Blue Jays, who came down to Earth as fast as I’ve been telling anyone who would listen two months ago they would (that’s almost a sentence).

Trade Francoeur for Alex Rios and Alex Rios’s salary, then add a pitching prospect or two, and get Roy Halladay.  Also of the Blue Jays.

That’s it.  That’s the way this makes ANY sense.  I’ll know I’m right if I’m awakened by Mets goons in a few hours, and dragged to the bowels of Citi Field and beaten soundly.  Or if the blog is hacked and the post is taken down.  I should print and mail this to a media outlet for my own security.  Or put it in a safe-deposit box.  AL pitching would eat Francoeur alive; that level of machination would be preposterous.  I’m not even going to spin my wheels on it anymore.

(But if that’s what happens, I’m telling EVERYONE I know that I called it.  Check the timestamp on the post.)

(UPDATE: Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse believes the cash was to cover the difference in salaries between Church and Francoeur.  Read that here, and thanks to Metsblog for providing the link

Alex Rios, by the by, makes $6.4 million this year, is halfway between Francoeur and Church in age, and has produced at a slightly-to-somewhat better rate than Francoeur has while playing in the AL East, where players know not to stretch borderline doubles into Neverland triples.  So there’s what makes the hypothetical next move tantalizing yet RIDICULOUSLY IMPOSSIBLE.  I hate that I just spun my wheels more on this.)

Wow.

Mr. Minaya went out and got a guy who’s hit three more home runs than who he replaced, and who hasn’t yet been exposed to the Mets medical staff.  As health care professionals, those guys seem about as competent as Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.  (You may find a staff photo of Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem here.)  A note to Francoeur: wear your batting helmet at all times.  In the box, on the field, in the dugout, in the showers, at your nephew’s birthday party.  Always. 

Did Howard Johnson pull a Rick Peterson and declare that he could fix Francoeur in five minutes?  I can’t imagine Bobby Cox hasn’t already tried the only sane thing, which is to slap the boy upside the head and say, “STOP SWINGING SO DAMN HARD AT EVERYTHING!”  Bobby Cox strikes me as the kind of man who would try that first.

Nope, not understanding this here.  A severe comprehension shortage.  I thought last night’s line-up was bad.

I don’t even know how to cheer for Francoeur.  What do I shout?  “Frenchy”?  That seems rude.  I’d already broken in my “Church” to “Churchy” to “Chachi,” and was digging it.  Goddamn it.  Maybe I can stay within the “Ch”s, pay homage to The Simpsons, and call him “Chowdah.”

Too tough to explain.  That seems to be a theme, here. 

Time for bed.  Things are usually better in the morning.

*UPDATE 2: I reference CBS Sports’ MLB Players Page so often that I’m just going to put a link to it on the sidebar.  CBS Sports stats; Andy Rooney references.  I’m the oldest twenty-six year old I know.