Archives for posts with tag: David Wright

I’ve read a few things, from several sources, about how October is a great month for sport.  I can understand it, but I can’t tap into it.

Given the choice between college football and nothing, I will watch college football.  But I went to a college where the only organized team–playing soccer–allowed a drum circle to break out on a corner of the playing field.  So understand, there was no NCAA affiliation.

I’ve never been much of a fan of hockey, and that’s my fault, not hockey’s.  I can’t get behind the three periods, the power plays.  Some of the rules seem beyond arbitrary.  I relished in the lockout a couple years back; also my fault.  But that was Dolan-related glee at misery; I figured with the Knicks gagging, the Rangers idle, and boxing losing ground by the yard to mixed martial arts, the Dolan family would soon back out of poor investments, and stick to duping people with their shoddy cable service.

I used to be a basketball guy.  I was a Bulls fan for twelve years, starting in 1988, and lost track of them and basketball when I went off to school.  (Friends of the blog will know that Bennington doesn’t provide rooms with cable hookups; antenna reception ranged from laughable to starkly impossible.)

I love football, and though I’ve made a pact to root for the Jets this year, I’m looking forward to being unaffiliated next year; I don’t know why I was fighting it–it’s the place to be.  However, football mainly occurs on Sundays, with a game played regularly on Mondays.

What the hell am I supposed to do with my Tuesday night?  Or my Wednesday night?

I sorely needed baseball tonight.  Making a creative breakthrough in the wee hours of the morning only to have to leave that work and spend the day digging through eighteen months of expense reports was enough to make me put my head through a brick wall; coming home to a corrupted DVR copy of an early episode of The X-Files and… well, that’s it.  That’s all I had for fresh entertainment.  I can’t sink into a movie after a frustrating day; that’s not where my mind goes.  My mind goes to athletic skill.  Plays at the plate.  Monstrous catches and cannon-fired relay throws to third.  Busting heads, in a manner more gentlemanly than hockey.

(Speaking of baseball and gentlemen, you know that remote Conan O’Brien did once upon a time, where he played at being an 1860s baseballer?  It was his all-time favorite bit for his old show, and he presented it again during the last week of Late Night With Conan O’Brien.  Remember the woman he was so fond of–Nell?  He called out her name before managing a hit?  I went to college with her.  Nell Stewart. 

It wasn’t an act.

So now, if I ever run into Conan O’Brien on the street, I have something to say.)

Baseball returns tomorrow, in the Russian nesting doll form of the League Championship Series.  Tonight, on the eve, I’m caught up in the anxiety of impending loss.  There’s this, then the World Series, then three or four months of The Barren Wastes.  This glass of scotch is helping, sure, but scotch is not an appropriate long-term coping mechanism.  Writing?  I’m red-lining on my maximum daily output as it is.  Holidays?  Bogus. 

I think I’m stuck, until the return of Lost and Chuck.  If I mix in a night out for dinner; I think I can cover the week quite nicely, until the return of warmer weather.

If you’ll all allow me another tangent, let me say that ABC’s Flash Forward is like heroin.  It makes me tired, disoriented, and violently sick to my stomach, and as much as I plead with my body to avoid it, I wind up back with it.  Dollhouse, at least, is like cocaine, in that for a couple of seconds each episode, it makes me feel sexy.

…That sound, by the way, was me losing half my audience.  If the remaining two persons would care to move to the front, I can turn off this microphone and keep from having to shout.

Your League Championship contenders are:

Los Angeles Angels Of Anaheim
Los Angeles Dodgers
New York Yankees
Philadelphia Phillies

They are not only presented alphabetically by city, but in my general order of preference, descending. 

I need to see more of Torii Hunter to know why he’d be a bad idea for the Mets, or a good idea for the Mets, or a middling idea for the Mets, or a decent understudy to Jude Law in the umpteenth version of Hamlet, or the guy I want making guacamole out of those tasty Haas avocados I just picked up.  Mmm, Haas avocados…

Besides, if the Angels win, I say we get at least two made-for-TV movies out of it.  I demand casting against type. James Marsden as John Lackey!  Horatio Sanz as Scott Kazmir!  Danny Glover as Mike Scoscia!

Having watched most of the Dodgers-Cardinals series, I find the Dodgers have all of the fight and most of the skill of the Philadelphia Phillies, without the studiously obnoxious fan base and odious, miserable town-as-home.  I’ve made my feelings (scroll to near end) on the Phillies plain; as soon as they learn not to throw up their hands in despair but punch people in the back of the head as those hands come down, they will earn some measure of respect from me.

The Yankees are still New York and they were not the ones who hosed the Twins.  The Twins hosed the Twins, with a little assistance from Phil Cuzzi, who, as reported by Steve Politi of the Star Ledger, was “too close to the [Joe Mauer hit]” to call it right.

I’ve been too close to a burger before shoving it in my mouth, but I have years of training in food consumption.  I’ve always made split-second adjustments and brought medium-well beef, cheese, lettuce, onion, and bun to my chomp-chute without incident.  Even when there were more dinner guests around than usual.

I’ve said my piece about the Phillies.  I can only add that I implore their fan base to chill the hell out.  I would like not to have to think of this ridiculous rivalry anymore.  The Braves are the Mets’ legitimate extended rival in the division; I would like to go back to altering The Chop chant to suit my hilariously vulgar needs without twinges of nostalgia and good feeling.  I’d like to go back to thinking I’d sooner spit on Larry Jones’s grave than applaud him during his last at-bat ever.

…I actually will still applaud Larry Jones’s last at-bat ever.  Part of me will be sad to see him go: he’s been a workhorse for the Braves and for baseball, and quite the serviceable villain.  Part of me will be enormously glad that he’s gone.

(In the nesting doll tradition, let me speak to a certain thing about Larry Jones. It is perfectly acceptable to call the man “Larry” as loud and as often as possible.  It is not, as I’ve seen occur, proper cricket to call the man out for an affair he had over ten years ago.

I’ve been holding that admonition in since 2005.  Hopefully the fan I meant to chastise read this, and is sufficiently chastened.)

So there you are.  Postseason special.  I’ve programmed my television to emit a high-pitched whirring sound whenever Tim McCarver speaks.

**

As for this:

profilewright2.jpgI’m missing the appropriate tank, the sneakers, and the bat.  The bat I’m buying.  The sneakers I can borrow.  But the tank top?

I’d almost rather Reyes beat me with his bat.

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As it’s been a slow news day and I’ve been on hold for the past thirty minutes, occasionally having to enter the same ten-digit code to ensure I keep my place in line, allow me to conduct a little more business.

Readers voted to select my off-season profile pic; the choices were presented here.  If you don’t like clicking, this was the winner:

profilewright2.jpg…with me standing in for David Wright.  I was hopeful the winner would be one of the Santana photos, or even the one where John Maine looks like he’s just about to, or has just finished, passing a kidney stone.  Let the record show that I don’t rig my own votes.

I gave myself until November 1 to reproduce the shot as best I can, and I stand by that; work is underway, including the effort to find a suitable (or suitably hilarious) stand-in for Jose Reyes.

In the interim, however, I needed a shot of myself that didn’t include the “I’m Calling It Shea” shirt, which as I’ve stated is a fine message for 2009 but not for any part after the 2009 season.  I’ve put together a series of vaguely sports-related shots to stand in, each with their own funny–and blessedly short–story.

The first one you see on the page (below “About Me”) was taken at Bennington College, sometime around March 17th, 2005, when I visited a friend for his birthday.  The time was roughly one-thirty in the morning; some time later, I found myself wandering around the campus, kicking a rock like a soccer ball. 

To this day, I am unsure as to whether I broke a couple of toes in the process.  It was cold.  My foot hurt the next morning.  A LOT.  I never went to the hospital.

The hat belonged to my friend’s now ex-girlfriend.

Success!  I’m being transferred to the next available representative.  Cable-speed internet access, here we come!

crowd sky.jpgThe thing about The Wife attending grad school in the South is that whenever she comes up for a week-long break, weekday mornings are a bear. This may be too saccharine for a blog about the Mets, but I find it exceedingly difficult to WANT to get out of bed and go to work, and do all the things that take place via muscle memory on any given Monday.

Difficult, too, is the day after the end of Baseball I Truly Care About. They’ve been rough the past couple of years. This one’s worse, somehow, despite the profound lack of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. I want to throw on jeans and a t-shirt, get some people together, and play some ball (by the by, the David Wright GQ photo won in Steelers-like fashion, surviving a late surge from Santana’s soulful warm-up shot, in the battle for off-season profile pic).
 
This year, with the end of the season occurring one week later and her vacation one week earlier, I’ve been hit with a double-barrel shot of I Don’t Wanna Go.  But go I do, riding on the local train as I type to vision loss on a tiny screen.
 
I think I’d be happier if I were on my way to Citi Field; I’d also be happier if The Wife were done with grad school and she were somehow gainfully employed in marine matters up here, up North. Today is a red-letter day in “dang.”
 
There are bright spots in memory. Yesterday was gorgeous.
 baseball sky.jpgI can’t recall the last beautiful day I spent at the park, and that’s partly a function of all the night games I managed to go to this year, and partly a function of the awful weather that the city’s been saddled with.
 
Also can’t recall the last time Alex Anthony, the Mets’ P.A. announcer, had to tell me about a pitching accomplishment.

fig pitch 01.jpgfig pitch 02.jpgfig pitch 03.jpg1010 WINS’s sportscaster called it this way at 7:45a: “Mets end their season with a sweep of the Astros, winning 4-0 on a good start by Nelson Figueroa.”
 
fig pitch 04.jpgIn fact, Figueroa threw the first complete game shutout in Citi Field history, a fact that would’ve explained away my surprise at seeing him come up to bat in the bottom of the eighth. I just kept looking at the pitch count and thinking, “He’s thrown for a million years and that arm hasn’t quit yet. If he gets lucky in the ninth, I doubt he goes much past 120.” He threw 113 pitches to dispatch with the Astros.
 
fig dugout.jpgYesterday’s game was also a demonstration of the style of play the park “was built for”: hits in the gaps; speed on the base paths.  Hassling pitchers.  In the bottom of the fourth with Beltran on third, Jeremy Reed walked on ten pitches; Josh Thole grabbed his single to score the run on nine. 

thole bat 01.jpgthole bat 02.jpgthole bat 03.jpgthole bat 04.jpgthole bat 05.jpgthole bat 06.jpgThat’s nineteen pitches over the course of two batters, accounting for nearly twenty-five percent of Wilton Lopez’s final total on the day.  Good work.  More next year, please.

Still would’ve enjoyed it if Pagan had hit for the cycle.  Regardless, a masterful effort offensively and defensively for the man.
 
In the past two years, Pagan and Figueroa have shown themselves to be two good soldiers. In the afterglow of a great effort, a win on the last day of the season, and a jolt of immediate nostalgia for this ragtag group of intergalactic rebels–which, given the season record, one could call criminally psychotic–I had Pagan penciled in as the opening day left fielder, and Figueroa as the fifth starter.
 
Then I woke up.

thole crouch.jpgThese guys–a lot of the guys on the Mets–are good soldiers. But the good soldiers have to be the last line of defense on any game in which the elite squad’s either put the game away or have been put away themselves.

last line.jpgPagan and Figueroa are not a foundation on which to build. 

Neither are Thole or Murphy or Santos or Parnell, or Misch or Evans.  Not yet, at the very, very least.

Neither are Maine or Pelfrey or Chowdah, as much as it pains me to say about Maine and Pelfrey, and as much of a soft spot I have now for the right fielder.

They’re who you use to clear wate
r out of the foundation when all you can do is wait for the morning, when the river’s receded.  How’s THAT for an overextended metaphor?
 
Truly, the next Mets team that comes to Flushing with championship aspirations must be a team that can soundly batter, not merely play good and close. All Mets starters should be eminently capable of throwing complete game shut-outs. I want a threat for the cycle at least once a homestand.  I want 30/30 seasons from my center fielder, third baseman, AND shortstop.
 
I want my wife to finish grad school and move back to New York. I want to work for/around/in/about baseball.  I want to write screenplays. I want a nutritious breakfast.
 
end of year crowd.jpgAny and everything is possible, save for a Mets no-hitter; I was convinced I’d see that this season as karmic recompense for the siege on the team’s health, and was denied it.  Today the Mets begin working on getting me what I want. The cruel fact of life is that, in order to get what I want, I have to get up and go to work. Gotta be a good soldier.
 
fan sign.jpgI like my job; I like the people there. But it sure isn’t baseball.
 
**
 
Section Five Twenty-Eight won’t shut down for the post- or off-season; there will certainly be fewer photos, but I’m certain that without necessarily having to apply the artifice of baseball to my random pandemic twiddlepoopings, the posts will be fluid reads.
 
That said, I do watch as much as I can of the post-season. I said I wouldn’t declare those loyalties until the teams were decided, and Minnesota has made it impossible for me to do that today. I’ll definitely be watching their game on Tuesday, as well as watching/reading/listening to any developments on the Mets front.
 
I imagine that much of my Mets commentary in the fall and winter months will be focused on dissecting the dissection of various team moves; I’m hot on this “we should be responsible fans” kick. If you’re new here I strongly urge you to visit the folks I’ve linked to in the blog roll on the right; I find that together they present a fine and balanced picture, easily understood and always fun to debate.
 
Let’s go Mets in 2010!

mr met.jpg

So after fifteen games of screaming for Section Five Twenty-Eight, and chugging more beers than should be anatomically possible, Mets security chose the top of the eighth on Friday to have a conversation about Big Man’s antics, and the top of the ninth–with the score 7-1, mind you, to try and remove him from the premises.
 
You gotta be kidding me.
 
Fortunately, Big Man’s either a silver-tongued devil or the crew came to its senses, because he was allowed to stay. 

end of plan.jpg
They may have assumed that leaving him to witness Sean Green’s performance would be punishment enough, but to everyone’s abject shock, Green pitched a 1-2-3 ninth.
 
walk off.jpgCongratulations, Sean, you’ve graduated. Way to pitch to contact against a swing-happy basement-dwelling team that’s not your own.  Now kindly leave the stage, and never come back, you miserable… So and so. You miserable so-and-so.

the blase family.jpg

Friday night felt like the last day of school, from the slap-happy vendors, to the single folks with roving eyes, to those in the stands taking last pictures with their plan mates. If for no reason than this kind of camaraderie, there’s logic behind re-upping for next year. 
 
citi end of game.jpgRegardless (or “regahdless,” as it came out of my mouth late), there’s got to be hope for the next season of Mets baseball. If Chowdah can learn to pick up the ball better out of the glove, and Murphy can find a solid stroke, and some protection can be found for Wright and Beltran in the line-up, then the Mets will only have pitching and defense to worry about.
 
My hat’s off to John Maine, who pitched seven very solid innings in front of a crowd of dozens. I am truly excited for today, and Lord, was I not excited for Friday night.
 
Let’s go Mets!

This’ll be a short one; I burned most of my time this morning watching ABC’s Flash Forward, mainly because I had quite a similar idea I put pen to paper on about six years ago.  Not that I enjoy dumping on ABC, but man, am I glad I was convinced not to pursue it. 

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a television show that’s turned me off completely before its first commercial break.  Premise is fine… -ish, but within ten minutes you’ve got me questioning whether your two lead actors are supposed to be British or doing a horrible job of getting rid of their accents; you’ve shown me a vision of one of those cliched “big case” boards, complete with red strings tied every which way, and crime scene photos, and scrawled notes underlined desperately; you’ve played the “kid says something creepy” card.

Worst of all, you’ve firmly placed Kenny Rogers’ and Dolly Parton’s “Islands In The Stream” in my head.  And on a Friday, that thing ain’t goin’ nowhere.

And what was Seth MacFarlane doing there?  I know he’s a big Star Trek fan and perhaps he’s tight with Brannon Braga (who worked on Star Trek variations for years with diminishing returns), but come on; did he lose a bet?

Enough.

Eight fleshed out emails worth speaking to, six of which are notes of appreciation for the blog.  I thank you all kindly.

This one, about 2010:

“What do you think about Zambrano for #2 pitcher?”

I’ll put it as plainly as I can: one Zambrano was enough. 

One Hernandez brother was enough, too, though if somehow they could have taken the best from El Duque and the best from Livan Hernandez, and melded the leftovers together–now THAT would’ve been a sight.  Tubby guy with a high leg kick; slap a uniform and a giant foam baseball head on him, and you’re golden.

Perhaps Carlos Zambrano is the Michael to Victor’s Fredo, but the point is to get a front-line pitcher with some staying power.  Fire in the belly doesn’t erase two trips to the disabled list and a suspension this year.  Something’s been up with him for awhile, and the team doesn’t need another headcase.

I know that’s not a statistical analysis, and I know I’ve argued for the entertainment value of the whackadoo in the past.  Sometimes you go with your gut, and thank God you’re not in the business of making roster moves.

And this, which is surprisingly the only email vote about the off-season profile pic that wasn’t just “Murphy A” or “Santana B”; remarkable considering the number of wise-guys I know to be out there:

“Obviously [y]ou need to use the GQ shot of Wright.”

Lots of people want this one, though I think some of the votes are gags: I got a cluster of them, poorly-worded and profane (“f***in Wright with the bat”), around the same time my visit tracking account showed a blitz of traffic from a college out West.  I miss college.

The next highest vote-getter is Santana A, and he’s a distant second.

I’m down with the high-tops and the hair gel, but as I’ve told most of you already, the search is on for someone to stand in as Jose Reyes.  We don’t need anyone exact, or even close; if a septugenarian is willing to dud up as the Mets starting shortstop, I think it’d be hilarious.

**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?

Exactly.

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.

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.

Onward!

**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:

profilesantana2.jpg
Maine A:

profilemaine1.jpgMaine B:

profilemaine2.jpgMurphy A:

profilemurphy1.jpgMurphy B:

profilemurphy2.jpgWright A:

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

profilewright2.jpg
There you are.  Voting is open through October 4th.  Send your choice to omniality [at] gmail [dot] com.

Let’s go Mets!

“Their season is over.”

“It’s not over.”

“What are you talking about?  They’re out of it.”

“They’re not out of it.”

“Paul, they’re out of it.”

“They haven’t been mathematically eliminated.”

“…Yes, that’s true…

deserted stands.jpg…they haven’t been mathematically eliminated.”

Whether due to the weather or the emptiness of the ball park or the fact that I rode home alone the whole way–7 train to N train to R train–I felt pretty damned surly all last night and into the wee hours today.  My usual Mets batterymate was also not in attendance.  So the balance was shifted towards Yankee fans, with his seat taken by the girlfriend of the third member of our usual party.

It’s either too early or I’m too disinterested in rehashing the thought to make that clear.  Suffice it to say I sat next to two people who could give a damn about the game, and so I felt like a third wheel most of the time.  I didn’t know one could spend $300 on six months’ worth of a fan experience and still feel like a third wheel.

Maybe I just needed a second set of ribs.

deserted shake shack.jpgI walked up to the Blue Smoke counter and ordered, and so was in and out of the center field concourse within two minutes.  This is dangerous; if Mets games are to be this poorly-attended from here on out, I’ll need to do my damnedest to fill up before the game and stick to the beer, which is considerably less expensive.  Speaking of:

t-shirts 01.jpgThat’s the one that just makes me look like a goob’.  THIS one:

t-shirts 02.jpgShould please The Wife no end.

“Please to note”: I don’t know any of their names.  I’m not even kidding.  I have no clue.  We’re all dressed alike; we all enjoy beer.  That’s all I need to know, really.

They have a Facebook page.  I don’t have a Facebook anything, so I can’t check this.

Last night’s game against the Marlins (L; 4-2) leaves five or six nails left for the coffin, depending on your perspective; either you nail the coffin in five and bury, or you seal the coffin with the sixth and burial is incidental.

What’s been running through my head, though, besides wild ideas of how the Mets can save themselves from a losing season (think their competition turning into reverse vampires that can’t play night games and thus have to forfeit), is some light calculus on just what kind of record makes, generally, a playoff-bound team.

Example of what I mean:

  • in one hundred sixty-two (162) games,
  • a team can alternate wins and losses for seventy-six (76) games,
  • earning them a record of 38-38,
  • then run off a ten-game winning streak,
  • earning them a record of 48-38,
  • then return to alternating wins and losses for seventy-six games,
  • coming out of the season with a record of 86-76.

The 2008 Mets had a ten-game winning streak and ended with a record of 89-73.  Look where that got them.

“Dominance,” at least of a division as currently woeful as the NL East, would be a record of 96-66.  Which would be like:

  • staring down the barrel of 162 games,
  • alternating wins and losses for 44 games (22-22),
  • breaking off a ten-game winning streak (32-22),
  • alternating again for 44 games (54-44),
  • managing another ten game winning streak (64-44),
  • alternating AGAIN for 44 games (86-66),
  • then wrapping up with a final ten-gamer (96-66).

My point with all this nonsense?  Baseball is MUCH harder than it looks. 

Take a ball most people can fit decently within the palm of their hand. 

Try and hit it with a wooden bat as it’s hurled at you really fast. 

Then, if you hit it, try and make it three hundred sixty feet back to where you started, without anyone taking that ball and tagging you with it, which is entirely possible unless you manage to whack that thing safely out of bounds, which, if you ask Angel Pagan after last night, must take something like nine offerings to Ba’al and a carton of smokes to whomever decides where the fences should be.

Now get nine guys together who can do this over the course of three hours, almost every day, for six months.

Make sure they don’t get hurt, or if they do, that you have someone good enough to replace them.

And do it well enough to win as much as you lose, except for those instances wherein you play a team so bad or so not on their game that you can manage to steal a few.  Have as many of those instances as you possibly can.

Do all this well enough to do it over again when it starts to get really cold, except with more scrutiny, increased pressure to perform, and absurdly late start times (because it’s SO important to cater to people who would gladly watch at 7p or are upset that you’re preempting their programming anyway).

And do this with the expectation that, win or lose, if you got this far you’d better come back better, faster, and stronger, else some numbskull–raising my hand here–will label you forever a bum, who has no business doing any of the above.

I’m not saying it’s not worth it; I’m not saying these guys don’t get paid to do just this job.  I’m just saying, like one stops to really notice a bed of tulips on the first warm afternoon or really appreciates sleeping in their bed after a long day of work or really gets how good a perfectly charred burger tastes, it’s REALLY hard.

And that Carlos Beltran worked hard to get back to this life, in the face of not-yet-mathematically-impossible odds…

beltran in the lineup.jpg…that earns some REAL appreciation from me.

Even if he did go 1-for-4 with a strikeout.

betran prepping.jpgbeltran timing.jpg

beltran citi at the plate.jpg
Pictures of David Wright’s hitlessness are unavailable, due to the author’s desire not to screw up this stiff-upper-lip thing he’s got going on.  Hell, I’ve even got a sarcastic shot of Brian Stokes’s winning “Pitcher Of The Month,” but I’m not even in the mood.

I’m in the mood to watch Josh Thole stalk away from the plate in slow-motion after tagging out Dan Uggla.  I could watch that plenty.

Speaking of Uggla: in front of us last night sat a couple who seemed fairly even-tempered, until it was learned that the duo’s better half was combining her rabid hatred of Dan Uggla (which I enjoyed and stoked) with surreptitiously scrap-booking a Mets Program Guide and furiously doodling on a green-and-black Marlins cap (which I guess was promotional).

Now, Dan Uggla’s crimes against the National League are the stuff of legend: three errors, three strikeouts and a ground-into-double-play during an All-Star Game that the NL could’ve won if he’d’ve gotten his head together.  But it was as if she’d left an evil spirit after her departure.  The air felt colder in that seat.

Or, to quote and summarize from my friends, who were closer to her: “Yo, that girl was bats*** CRAZY.”  Fair enough.

I’ve little else to say, so I’ll leave with this:

a new board.jpg…which is the Mets Out-Of-Town Scoreboard.  Usually there’s some ad on the far left.  Last time I was there, it was an ad for MLB Network.  However:

a new board enhanced.jpgI believe this is the last of the game-action screens to go up.  Either that, or they’re planning for the next time a team scores twenty runs and the general board is not up to the task.  Either way, if it’s to someone’s benefit, I’m for it.

Next game for me is September 18th; I may try and stick a visit to the Bronx somewhere between that and October 2nd, versus the Astros, but I’ve been trying like hell to get out to Chicago all year, and if it’s between the Miracle Mile and River Avenue, I’m picking the Miracle Mile.

Adios, adieu, and away.

Labor Day is nearing its end.  Time to get back to work.

coney island.jpg

There’s a large part of Coney Island that can be called a hole, and that’s being charitable.  When my mother would take My Sister and I out to Astroland Park on too-warm summer weekdays, my father out working, I would try my best to enjoy it, but even then there was a seediness I could not abide.  The water in the flume ride reeked of oil; the bumper cars squealed and shrieked.  I couldn’t escape the feeling that the adults around were having a lot more fun than I was.  Maybe not so for my mother, who toted us about.  But the wacky ones on the dilapidated boardwalk: sure.
the dock.jpg
These days, there’s a patina of theme park on all the elements that make Coney Island a disagreeable, damned place. Feel the grime in the air as you use a restroom!  Chuckle at the locals, surly to the point of assault!  Wander through the urban desert which lies just beyond Surf Avenue!  And live to tell the tale!
This crystallized for me on Friday.  And it felt good to feel right about what opinion I’d formulated while being splattered with gear grease from the Cyclone.  The place is a dump.  Let people keep their homes, and don’t wreck the view of the ocean.  Besides that, take it down.  Raze it.  Salt the earth so nothing so obscene grows again.
Don’t know why I’m so belligerent about it; I had fun doing what I’d set out to do: drink beer, eat hot dogs, watch sailboats, and cheer on Carlos Beltran.  I guess I’m still not over that Jerry Koosman thing.  Ugh.  
I want to put my fist through a door every time I think about it.
No, I’m not drunk.  Last I was drunk, I was at a bar on the Lower East Side, watching a fifth NYU co-ed try to stay on a mechanical bull.  Add that place to the list of what should be scrubbed from history.  (By the by: there, no one knew who the hell Jerry Koosman was, either.  Pay your taxes, kids.)
All right, enough.  Carlos.

beltran in the field.jpgbeltran throwing.jpg

beltran to the dugout.jpg
Watching major league players in rehab stints is relatively new to me.  I mentioned in an earlier post that I watched Angel Pagan play last year, but then I considered him a bench player, and quite young.  He’s still grade-A bench player material, and still quite young.  Beltran took it easy.  I didn’t see him sprint, really.  He jogged carefully to the dugout; he jogged carefully to the outfield.  Best thing he did during the game was move a runner over in the first.
beltran hits.jpg
That’s him running out from the box, stage right.  Beltran went 0-for-3 and the Cyclones lost, 8-2, victims of a seven-run seventh and a pre-game collective reading of Dr. Seuss’s Go, Dog. Go! 
I don’t know; that kind of thing would unman me prior to playing an adrenaline-fueled game.
keyspan board.jpg
Those with the means to take in a Cyclones game during their playoff run should do so; it’s a fun park and the team is not half-bad.  I’m slammed with work and the boys out in Flushing, myself, but now that I know they’ve done away with the nutso sound effects following every visitor gaffe (SPROING!!! CLUNK!!!), I no longer have to worry about lapsing into a decibel-heavy Thompson-esque hallucination.  They DID keep the hot dog race.
are those beans.jpg
Brought a colleague from work to the game, who wasn’t paying attention until roughly this moment, and asked, honestly: “Are those supposed to be beans?”
I’d like to point out the Lowell Spinners third baseman, Michael Almanzar, whose expression you can’t see but who must’ve had money on the gig, as his attention is obviously directed at the hot dog runners.  Ketchup was sucking hind Relish until a beat before the end, when somehow it found a burst of speed and took the race.  Fix.
beltran swings.jpg
Word is Beltran will be back for the game on Tuesday against the Marlins.  Same word has John Maine in action on Sunday in Philadelphia.  Roger Rubin (any relation to Adam?) reports Gary Sheffield and Carlos Delgado are probably done for the year.
beltran about to swing.jpg
I’m most concerned about Beltran.  It was fun to have Sheffield while it lasted; it’s sad to think I’ll most likely never see Carlos Delgado in a Mets uniform again.  
Maine is out to sea.  I’ve no idea what to make of shoulder pain, except that I imagine it hurts worse when trying to throw a ball at ninety miles an hour.  It hurt
s when I sleep on mine for nine hours.
Perhaps it’s not about the machismo, this business of Beltran coming back for increasingly irrelevant games in September.  What the press has reported him saying–he’s a baseball player; he has to play because he knows nothing else–may come closer to it.
I wonder if it’s about needing to get that sense of anticipation back, that instinct that doubtless takes over when the pitch is thrown and a millisecond of fear gives way to more milliseconds of action.  That’s what I always considered to be at the core of getting one’s “timing” back.  To an extent, perhaps all that is the same as the reason given: he’s a baseball player.  He has to play if he can play.  The alternative–NOT playing–can be counted on to extend that millisecond of fear.  It must worry a man like hell to have such a livelihood taken away.
So very well, Mr. Beltran.  You want to play baseball? I’ll keep my mouth shut and hope for the best.  Produce, though, man: stand tall in the batter’s box and swing at pitches you can hit.  Do NOT challenge that bone bruise for supremacy; it knows no logic, it seems, and in Citi Field, there be some damned dragons.
**
lounging.jpg
A grab-bag of notes (that image is the view I had from The Frying Pan on Friday; the end of baseball season means new shoes that I don’t have to worry about getting shelled, and I’m excited for that because these are starting to hurt like a mother):
  • David Wright ditched the Rawlings S100. He said it was an uncomfortable fit.  While some may ream him for this, I’m willing to take that at face value.  I watched the guy take hacks with it and it looked like it was sliding every which way.  
The helmet is supposed to make things safer for him; his protective gear rattling around on his melon doesn’t achieve that goal.
No excuse for getting the kinks worked out during the off-season, though.  I expect to see it and laugh all over again during Spring Training.
I miss the ’80s.  If Keith Hernandez had determined the better part of valor was to wear that helmet, and he got razzed hard for it, he’d’ve probably flipped some guys off.  I don’t see David doing that, nice guy that he is.
  • Greg Prince of Faith And Fear In Flushing wrote about the lack of Mets coverage in The New York Times.  His piece mentions Sunday’s paper, in a way that’s almost Fred Exley-esque.  But Mr. Prince, if you’re reading this: they’ve been quite late in posting material to the website, and this has been the case since at least last week.  Usually game recaps post within two hours of a victory.  All last week, they were coming in late morning/early afternoon-ish.  I would leave a comment on your site, but my browsers are wonkifying your comments module.  I would send you an email, but I’m afraid of what else lurks in that inbox.  My BlackBerry’s been blinking at me for days.
  • Speaking of the Faith And Fear folks: there’s another Amazin’ Tuesday event being held on September 15th at the Two Boots on Grand Street in Manhattan.  Though it’s my birthday and I’m winless at Mets events outside Flushing and my own living room and favorite bars, I’ve decided the Fates owe me one, so I will be there.  Jon Springer of Mets By The Numbers (see right blogroll for a link to his site) spilled the beans about who’s going to be there, and confirmation by Mr. Prince has only whetted my appetite.  I think it’s going to be a really fun night run by some quite engaging, and level-headed writers.  Plan to be there, if at all possible.  You are not obliged to say hello to me, or join me for post-game birthday karaoke.
  • Daniel Murphy was a double short of the cycle yesterday against the Cubs (W; 4-2).  He’s got nine home runs this season (eight + one: Subway sign-aided).  He’s committed, focused, and not a horrible embarrassment on the field.  If the Mets are destined to wander in the wilderness for a couple more years, and he maintains a level of competence, there’s no earthly reason to ship the man off.  Keep him within the organization.  At present, he’s at least deserving of a nickname more imaginative than Murph, and what we shout at him from the upper deck would be wildly inappropriate for consistent use.
  • I finished watching the first season of Commander In Chief.  Glad they changed the opening theme, which was bordering on plagiarism.  Shocked at the overuse of firing as plot device.  If the Mackenzie Allen Administration were a ball club, there’d be no NOBs on their uniforms.
  • There are some old posts that need some tweaking.  Less than a handful.  If you’ve found this blog and have been working to catch up, and notice an error, my bad.  They’ll be fixed Thursday night.
  • There’s this continued business of a Mets Hall Of Fame been discussed in and around the intertubes.  I had an idea from way back that, if time permits this week, I will attempt to explain cogently.  I’d planned to write about it in the off-season, but I feel inspired.
  • Nathan’s is delicious.  Mmm… nitrates.
nathan's.jpg
I will be at the park tomorrow for Mets-Marlins.  This game will be a Tim Redding joint, featuring more likely than not the return of Carlos Beltran, and hopefully the purchase of my very own Section Five Twenty-Eight T-shirt, which will be much appreciated, as I never washed my jersey after that last monsoon, and it reeks of urban rain and desperation.
Hope your Labor Day was fun and safe.  Time to kick it into gear for the stretch run.  Yes… the stretch run.
Let’s go Mets!

Not Mike Pelfrey.  He’s angrier than a yak in heat, to borrow a phrase, which just makes me angry.  Effectively two days without baseball, and as of the first inning I’m already shouting profanities at my television, and–I thought–irritating my new upstairs neighbors.  Turns out they were out for the evening.

Kudos on not tromping about like madmen or hazing me with a baby who can’t seem to stop crying, even after eighteen months of life on Earth, New Upstairs Neighbors.  You’re princes and princesses compared to those nuts who left.  But, and I say this with respect: shut the front door already.  You’re letting in flies and ants and potential burglars. Were you raised in a barn?

But Pelfrey swore hard when he walked in that run, and I swore at him.  There’s no margin for error for getting to .500, and he’s now on the bill for one of those nine precious losses the Mets need to keep for a day when it not just rains–it’s been raining pretty hard–but it pours.  Pours like mad.  Last night was not supposed to be one of those days.

Do better, Mike.  That you’re aping Sean Green by walking in runners does not impress.  Rather, quite simply, it depresses.

(Mr. Green, please do me a favor and find an ingrown hair or a severe case of the bends to catch, and take yourself out for the year.  You are NOT helping.)

No, David Wright’s the guy who’s crazy like a fox, for wearing the new Rawlings S100 batting helmet.  It was the goofiest thing about last night, and as I enjoy the goofy and vaguely newsworthy, I’ll spend a few minutes on it.

First, in the event you haven’t seen it on someone’s head:


There you are, courtesy of David Zalubowski and the Associated Press through The New York Times.

Those watching the game would have seen Wright constantly reaffirming the helmet’s balance on the crown of his head during at bats, and in the third, seen him walked, then slide into second on what began as a stolen base attempt and ended up a retreat to first as Chowdah struck out.

Unremarkable that Chowdah struck out, even on that non-foul-tip interference business.  Remarkable that the aerial shot showed Wright sliding head first into second, and the new helmet catching in the dirt and bopping away from the bag at Ludicrous Speed. 

The suggestion in-house (mine, not SNY’s, the Mets’, or MLB’s) was that the hat’s bill is far too long for the overall shape of the melon-saver.  But I’m no aesthete when it comes to sports equipment.  I’m sure form followed function there. 

As far as it being funny, let’s consider the well-worn history of headgear in another sport–football–and in three minutes or less, with pictures.  Everyone likes pictures.

I present Red Grange, halfback for the Chicago Bears and all-around speedster, courtesy of Ultimate Bears Fan.

  http://ultimatebearsfan.com/media/playerpics/red_grange1.jpg

That helmet’s made of padded leather.
Now, Albert Haynesworth, who to me is still most famous for stomping on Andre Gurode of the Dallas Cowboys back in 2006:

http://www.espn980.com/upload/albert_haynesworth.jpg

Haynesworth is the one standing.  (Thanks to ESPN 980 for the photo.)
Physical players in a physical game.  But when a man like Albert Haynesworth could potentially SIT ON YOUR HEAD, a helmet like Red Grange’s isn’t exactly going to cut the mustard.

I’m sure Paul Brown’s initial concept for the modern-day football helmet had its detractors.  But over the course of football’s history, players have gotten bigger, stronger, and, not coincidentally, more aggressive.

All sports undergo a gradual transformation in that same respect.  Today’s fastball pitchers are running the game equivalent of driving Ferraris at one hundred fifty miles per hour down a mountain switchback.  Any small tic behind the wheel is widely reflected over the path’s course.  So a twitch in location can send a ball eight different kinds of elsewhere.

Keep on keepin’ on, David.  That helmet will feel comfortable eventually, and if there’s even a one percent chance of it saving your brain matter, it’s worth it.  If Chowdah decides he doesn’t care to wear it, that’s his choice. 

And if he gets beaned and screws his career up royal, I’m sure the Mets can find another outfielder who can go 0 for 3 with a sac fly and two strikeouts.