Archives for posts with tag: Billy Wagner

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.

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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.

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.

**Written prior to reports in the local New York papers that allege certain unsavory behaviors undertaken by Mr. Sheffield.  Catch the drama from the Daily News here, Newsday here, and because I was tipped off by Metsblog but find lame the Post‘s assertion that “sources” are viable without explaining if it’s the batboy or the guy guarding the door or what, Mr. Cerrone’s reporting on the Post article here.

Yes, yes, citing second and third-hand sources.  I know, I know.  I don’t do this for a living.

If Gary Sheffield truly asked out of the line-up last night to clear his head, that’s one thing.
 
If he asked out of the line-up in order to show Mets management what they’d be missing, then, well, to quote Chad Ochocinco: child, please.
 
Odd, this business of holding out hope for a reclaimed season and understanding that the hope is based purely on the math.  Got a comment on a previous post saying the Mets should pack it in and plan for 2010, but they’d still have to overcome the daunting injury obstacles facing them in 2009.  Planning for 2010 is difficult when you don’t know what kind of shape your shortstop will be in, after missing most of the year.
 
I will now pile on regarding planning for 2010.  I don’t mean it as a piling on of the commenter at all.  I mean to pile on the sentiment, which is held by many.

Perhaps planning for 2010 means shutting certain players down for the year, even if they’re not injured.  But I get the sense you’d have to break Johan Santana’s kneecaps to keep him out, and even then, the man pitched on a bum knee and three days’ rest last year. If you broke his kneecaps, he’d probably pitch and catch.

Omir Santos is auditioning for a job and Brian Schneider is doing the same. Chowdah’s got nothing better to do but work on his swing. And the Mets paid too much money for Luis Castillo to sit him.  Pelfrey and Perez need to figure their business out on the mound. Same with Bobby Parnell, but with a lot more “aw, shucks,” and a lot less, “listen here.”
 
Really, I’d posit that injury has taken the choice out of the Mets’ hands; they HAVE shut down their best players for the year.
 
(This excludes Carlos Beltran, who is still pushing for a return. As I’ve intimated: sheer idiocy, from my vantage point. Even if they were in the hunt, he should be undergoing whatever procedure/regimen is dictated for his injury, and think about getting healthy. Ye gods, man. Do you do EVERYTHING that mole tells you to?)
 
Planning for 2010 may mean attempting a trade. Which they’re doing. But any trade to bring in a backup at short, or a first baseman for next year, or a catcher, or or or–would be highway robbery at the prices the Mets can pay, or ill-advised at the prices they might be asked to pay. Anyone on waivers is on there because they’re not that good or they’re not now worth the salary they’re drawing. Billy Wagner may be one of the scant few that can bring a player of equal value. We’ll find out soon enough.
 
Planning for 2010 may mean playing the organization’s youth. What youth?
 
I’ll be a little less glib, for the sake of killing time on the train now CRAWLING into Canal Street (I write these posts on my phone most days): anyone at triple-A lighting things up would be up. Injury has warranted the call-up of players who were closest to lighting things up. Fernando Martinez is at home, resting comfortably. One could call up a player from double-A, but one could also sign one of the kids heading to Williamsport; I hear the Little League World Series is all about the parties and not about the work, anyway.
 
No, sirs, the Mets are over a barrel and are doing, essentially, what they should be doing. Everyone who should be playing is playing. That they haven’t completely cratered is a testament to the talent on the field, such as it is.
 
Planning for 2010 means more for the fan than the team at this stage. I’m on record as saying that, even without baseball, there are still things like lemonade and barbecues and sunsets. If the team on the field is not worth watching to you, don’t watch. There are precious few days of warmth and beauty to justify spending your time on something that’s only going to prove an aggravation.  They don’t watch in Washington all the time.
 
Maybe Gary Sheffield’s thinking along those lines. Difference is, if he’s on the team, he has to be in uniform unless he’s injured. I suppose the fact that he didn’t go out there last night and tear his Achilles on a ladybug, or a napkin that drifted in from the left field landing, is a testament to his character. As a nod to that strength of person, I will not start a Gary Sheffield Hangnail Watch.
 
But man, either play or fake the hangnail to get out. Don’t be an abscess. That’s not cool.

Took the morning off, and now have just about forty minutes left before I have to head out.  

Fortunately, I spent about eight hours at the ball park yesterday and managed to grab some interesting photos that have little to do with the true joys of last night.  
So, yeah.  Flickr can go take a bath; here are shots from yesterday afternoon’s batting practice. Fred Wilpon, Omar Minaya, and Billy Wagner make an appearance at the end:
daniel murphy.jpg
I’m Daniel Murphy, and I stand in the infield with my arms slightly akimbo.
mike pelfrey.jpg
Mike Pelfrey walks on stilts.
pedro feliciano.jpg
Absence of a mole confirms this is, in fact, Pedro Feliciano and not Carlos Beltran.
jerry manuel.jpg
This is ALSO not Carlos Beltran.
And now, the Wilpon series:
fred wilpon.jpg
fred wilpon signs.jpg
fred wilpon waves.jpg
wilpon and wagner.jpg
wilpon minaya and wagner.jpg
wagner and minaya.jpg
wilpon and minaya.jpg
More to come on last night’s game, which started with polka music and only got more bizarre from there.

Those asterisks are my own. 

Anyone see 28 Days Later?  Anyone?  Anyone?

Bike messenger wakes from a coma to find London and, indeed, most of England, taken over by fast-moving zombie-like creatures.  If you saw I Am Legend, you saw the conceit yanked to an unfortunate computer-generated extreme; this Danny Boyle movie of which I speak does proper service to fear.  Though it was a shame to see the German Shepherd succumb in Will Smith’s vehicle (they are not two movies with the same plot; just similar-ish symptoms to a vague disease).

The problem I have with both films is I find it hard to believe that anyone THAT sick can move THAT fast, regardless if they have issues with ultraviolet light.  When I see guys go down, they move fairly slow.  Sometimes, they need carts to help them out.  Not intimidating.

The list of currently disabled Mets (or, if you prefer, Mets with disabilities):

  • John Maine
  • J.J. Putz
  • Billy Wagner
  • Carlos Delgado
  • Ramon Martinez
  • Jose Reyes
  • Carlos Beltran
  • Fernando Martinez

Add to that Gary Sheffield, who is day-to-day, and Fernando Nieve, who will be day-to-day, then placed on the DL once they find enough change to load up the MRI machine and stick him in there.

I’ve already excoriated the Mets front office with playing fast and loose with either their facts or their process of information gathering or their responsibility to level with the fans.  At this point, the training staff will need to book a crew from the HBO documentary set and give them unfettered, twenty-four hour access to the training room, the Hospital For Special Surgery, and any vehichle used to transport injured Mets across our local bridges and highways.

When David Wright wakes up from his daily coma, though, he doesn’t find terminally-ill position players given superhuman strength through dint of their virus.  Even if he did, I don’t believe Jerry Manuel to have the talent to persuade crazed neo-zombies to properly settle under a pop-up and catch with two hands. 

Luis Castillo has that going for him: he’s better than a neo-zombie.  But I kid Castillo, whose hitting streak is still alive.  Double-digits or bust, Luis. …Wait.  No.  No bust.  Do not bust.  Far too much busting lately.

So no open review of the Mets training staff is going to help the guys on the field.  But as no help seems to be imminent for the guys on the field, I do not withdraw my demand to get something of the sort.  The real hard work for the Mets is keeping confidence for this year in the face of long odds so that more confidence is not lost in the fan base next year.

I will gladly sit in cushy field level seats, don’t get me wrong; if fan confidence takes a nosedive then I expect I’ll be able to buy tickets for sixty bucks and take in the game within earshot of David Wright.  But if the fan base deserts, there may be scant money to get players in the house that will bring fans back that will give the Mets a chance at the postseason that will bring fans back the year after.  See what I’m saying?  Of course you do.

So aside from still trying to make a run this year–and as I’ve lived through a team losing a seven-game lead with seventeen to play, I’m not discounting such a run in the opposite direction or even interested in calling the hypothetical a miracle–the Mets have a responsibility to weigh actions to make next year a better one.  This is a tough thing to do.  But not impossible.

However, that job’s being botched by injuries and the treatment of injuries.  It seems even David, our bike messenger awakened to find a horror shop of pain and abject misery, has settled on injuries and plowing through those injuries as this year’s story.  Jerry Manuel’s joking out of turn about it (find it on Metsblog here and the Daily News here and… well, where have you been?) cements the point.  This is the story.

Mets, your job: control the story.  At this point in D.C. politics, an injury czar would’ve been appointed.

It may be that, as declared by frantic writing on the church wall, “the end is extremely ******* nigh,” and it may be that the only thing to do is to survive and plot and plan for escape.  But this movie’s gettin’ real dull without the cavalry.  Let’s just hope the season doesn’t follow 28 Days Later too closely.  I’d hate to think that Omar Minaya has Carlos Beltran chained up somewhere.

Given Beltran’s angry despondence over his knee, though, it may be wise for him to be so chained, for Mr. Minaya’s protection.