Archives for posts with tag: Faith And Fear In Flushing

guinness.JPG

On Tuesday, Danny Frisella was traded for a Guinness.

Thing about Two Boots hosting Amazin’ Tuesdays is that owner Phil Hartman offers you a free beer if you bring in a Mets baseball card.  Greg Prince of Faith And Fear In Flushing kindly brought in one of his four (four, Mr. Prince?  Really?) Danny Frisellas and cashed it in, in honor of my birthday.

I am now fully ensconced in my late twenties, so beer has more cache than birthday cake, especially considering the day I’d had, and the day that was to come. 

Forget the fact that I’m 0-for-6 on the year when it comes to Mets events outside of the ball park; forget the extended crime that was last night’s ninth inning (vs. Braves, L; 6-5)–and on that note, let’s have Frankie Rodriguez pitch occasionally in game situations, just to see if he can plunk and give up hits during the fifth or sixth inning; I’m talking about struggling with a camera not more than six months old, a computer not more than three months old, and a cable box that won’t cooperate when all I want to do is catch up on It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia before the premiere.

Come on, karma.  The Mets are guaranteed a losing season this year.  Haven’t I had enough?

The Mercury-in-retrograde-style hangups (The Wife is a big believer in that planet causing electronics to go goofy bananas) gave me time to think on some of what was said down on Grand Street the other night; make no mistake: the evening was packed with flavor.

phil hartman.JPGThat’s Mr. Hartman, above, extolling the virtues of an odd cocktail, shown below:

the kosher kid.JPGUnlike others I overheard during the evening, I’m avoiding any comment on the ethnic implications of Italian liqueur floating on top of Irish liqueur.  But take that comment to mean the comments were made.

On that note–reporting that things were said while not reporting WHAT was said–I give you Mr. Jeff Pearlman, who spoke third on Tuesday:

jeff pearlman speaks.JPGThat’s Mr. Pearlman (yessir: Mister; sorry that caught you off-guard, but better safe than sorry), standing, with Mr. Prince on the far left, in orange.  In case you’re unaware who Mr. Pearlman is and why he’s talking to a room full of Mets fans, here’s his Wikipedia entry, his website (which holds a link to his blog), and the article on John Rocker that everyone who loves sports and reads must’ve seen at least once.

There you are.  Context.

jeff pearlman and john rocker.JPGMr. Pearlman loves what he does, and that makes him a remarkably engaging speaker.  I like his prep style, too: the man was jotting notes to himself on a bar napkin minutes before he was to address the crowd (he sat to my left).  He’s off-the-cuff, he’s excitable, and he has a penchant for deep tangents that somehow doesn’t get in the way of him finishing a train of thought.

Tangents included:

  • “Always pay for lunch.”

  • Kevin Mitchell and Doc Gooden got into it about the cat incident, and he (Pearlman) watched the discussion unfold.  Actually, you can read all about it at that link.  Never thought I would link to Snopes.com, but there you are.

  • Jay Horwitz is a sweetheart of a guy.

  • The Mets are the ones putting the kibosh on any movie based on The Bad Guys Won, a move I find unfortunate.  It would be tremendous for business.  There’s such a fear of putting out anything that would make the Mets look bad, but we’re in an age where bad isn’t necessarily good, but humanizing, and thus interesting.  There’s a way to do that movie and leave feeling genuinely and positively proud to be a Mets fan.  Just requires a touch of finesse and imagination.

  • The guys who aren’t superstars are the guys with the best stories.

There were some other tangents, too, and that’s how we get out of my own tangent. 

Mr. Pearlman has more on John Rocker, if you can believe it.  Stuff that Rocker asked be off the record, stuff that came to him after the story came out.  Stuff you so badly wish you’d been at Two Boots to hear, because it’s deliciously excellent.  One story in particular which I will be redressing in order to use it as a joke in a screenplay; it’s too perfect.

Another Mets fan and writer, present at the event, wanted to ask why Mr. Pearlman would discuss these off-the-record happenings in an open forum, knowing full well that there are writers present.  He (Mets fan and writer) and I discussed this at length; I thought about it quite a bit more while alternately wondering how it could possibly be so packed at Pacific Standard on a Tuesday night.  Here’s what I came up with:

I don’t know that Pearlman’s mentioning that the stories were off the record when they were told means that they should be off-record when told to a room of folks eating slices of a pizza called “The Pig,” underneath a giant poster of Hubie Brooks. 

I know that while anything involving John Rocker’s ridiculous opinions is funny to me, it may not be funny to others. 

Additionally, I know his nonsense occurred about ten years ago, and whatever Neanderthal ideas he holds close to his heart may be fueled by ire toward the Mets but weren’t crafted by the Mets.  In other words, it’s not like the guy came running out of the bullpen, heard the boos, and thought, “You know what?  I’m gonna become a spitting-mad bigot.”  That’s screwing with the chronology a bit.  But to put it another way, he’s old news.  And not even Mets old news, really.  Just old news.

So it’s funny, like hearing a “Priest, Minister, and Rabbi” joke that ends with no one in that mix looking particularly good.  But I’m not ready to repeat said joke, and I’m not looking to cast aspersions on the guy who told it.  You should be sorry you missed it, though.  Oh, man… classic.

I have a lot more to say on Mr. Pearlman; his notes on what he does and how he does it were of great interest, and again, he was a presence before the crowd.  But I think best to keep that business in my back pocket.  I’ve gone on enough about him, and
I’m not even halfway done here.

jon springer and number 6.JPGJon Springer (above) gave the crowd his compilation of the best Mets to wear the number 6.  A full list can be found at his site, here.  (UPDATE: read the whole piece posted at his Mets By The Numbers site by clicking here.)

I don’t remember that he made the list (why would he), but I have zero recollection of Manny Alexander.  This is important because I took a minor hiatus from baseball in 1996, and came back with an artificial dedication in 1997.  I remember Lance Johnson leaving, and Turk Wendell coming.  My mind is a complete blank on Manny Alexander. 

This should teach the kids out there that if your mind won’t let you think about anything other than a woman who may become your future wife, you should probably just let it run its course.  That I spent any time thinking about some guy I wouldn’t remember at all twelve years later… though I do remember the first Zero bar I ever had.  Funny what sticks and what doesn’t.

metstradamus.JPGIf you don’t know John Coppinger’s work as Metstradamus, you should.  In fact, I’ll be adding his blog to the link list after I’m done with this epic.  He’s the gentleman presiding over the free-wheeling discussion on the 2010 iteration of the Mets in his Todd Zeile pinstripes.  Getting to that discussion means we’re halfway through.  Thanks for sticking around.

discussing the mets.JPGIf the level of discourse held on Tuesday is the level of discourse being held about the Mets in the majority of bars and living rooms, then the Mets as an organization are in fine shape.  I had a meta-moment sitting behind the crowd, realizing just how smart and hard everyone was thinking about a thing that’s that horribly wonderful hybrid between a game and a business.  It was said by Mr. Coppinger and I wholeheartedly agree: the Mets have one of the smartest fan bases in all of sport. 

I’ll exclude myself from that assessment; I don’t wish to toot my own horn, and while I love the game and love the players and fans, I don’t have a head for stats and whenever the Mets make me feel like jumping off a bridge, I take a break.  I think if I were smarter about the Mets, I’d either jump off that bridge, or not even want to jump in the first place.

You know, depending on the height of the bridge, jumping might classify me as a die hard.  But I’m afraid of heights.

That went a little Mitch Hedberg.  I’m sorry.  Someone please feed me a leaf.

But they’re smart.  Smart and opinionated.  Smart and opinionated and mad as all get out.  Goddamn.  Fewer heads were called for at the Bastille.  Turns out I was mad, too; here are my notes, taken on or after I shouted something about mercilessly heckling Gregor Blanco (Mr. Blanco, I sense a meme developing at your expense…)

The organization is incompetent? Without a plan? Reality time: This is a multimillion dollar operation, with a multinational presence. If you think they don’t have “a plan,” then you’re out of your mind. (Stress the ridiculousness of this “rudderless” assessment.)
 
The problem, manufactured or not, is communication. The plan, as it’s called; the injuries; the Bernazard.
 
How much communication is the fan base owed?
 
How much is this locked down by the organization to create family friendly and accessible fare?

Allow me to explain: it was my birthday and I was on my third beer.  Sure, I’d eaten.  But Tommy Hanson was running a clinic down in Atlanta and people were shouting and using the F-word.  How could one NOT get excited?

But allow me to explain further.

springer discusses.JPGSome advocated the ouster of General Manager Omar Minaya, and some went as far to suggest that if Jerry Manuel got the axe, Minaya would be Dead Man Walking.  As a simple “if –> then” premise, I have to agree, and would even go so far as to make it a bi-conditional: if Mr. Minaya goes, Mr. Manuel goes with.

…Here’s my tangent: if you’re talking about somebody’s job security, the least you can do is use a formal prefix.

But if the general manager is let go, who’s to say another GM wouldn’t want their own guy coaching the men on the field, and have their own opinion of the farm system, and make their own changes and have their own plan?  If Mr. Minaya gets the boot in 2010, are the Mets in for another few seasons or more in the tall grass?  Who’s so crazy as to come in after the past three seasons (four if you count 2006) and make any declaration of imminent success?

This was the argument made on Tuesday, not necessarily in favor of keeping the current regime, but in worry that the organization would suffer a far worse fate if it wasn’t kept.

By the way, just because Jon Springer and Jeff Pearlman are featured in this photo doesn’t mean they were arguing this point.  It’s just an action shot.

I have to believe, though, that an organization this large, employing this many people across so many states and in so many countries, with this extensive a public presence, has a plan.  The plan my not be good; it may not be sound as you see it.  Jeff Wilpon may be buying lottery tickets.  I highly doubt he is, though that Mega Millions jackpot a few weeks ago was a doozy.

The problem is not, “The Mets don’t have a plan.”  The problem is actually, “The Mets don’t appear to have a plan; not knowing that plan is infuriating.”

I don’t know what to do about that. 

I’ve mouthed off separately on how poorly I believe the string of injuries to key Mets players was communicated; there, too, I’m sure there was a plan but it was kept close to the vest–not necessarily to keep trade value up, because everybody has to pass a physical–because the goal was not to start a panic.  Frustration is panic’s kissing cousin, and that’s what we got.  The team looked bizarrely inept, and the suggested “crazy like a fox” stance appeared less and less plausible.  Some biting of the bullet and strength in the face of potential panic would’ve gone a long way there.

I think things like Mr. Bernazard’s pulling a Randy Marsh (cartoon, not umpire) would be better handled when the team isn’t falling apart at the joints, but when things snowball, they REALLY snowball.

But I don’t know what to do about a lack of communication about a plan.  This thing is a business, and the same is true throughout baseball: newspaper titans; gum manufacturers; phone companies; rea
l estate barons.  They don’t have to tell us what they intend to do about the lack of a true left fielder, though one can easily assume they think, at the least, that it would be nice to have one.  I’m sure they think, perhaps correctly, that no one would be clamoring about “hearing what the plan is” if the team were cranking out seven- and ten-game winning streaks.

Additionally, I don’t think you can reasonably legitimize what went down at Two Boots by slapping a Mets logo on it and holding regular salons at the Caesar’s Club, or some other sort of thing.  They’d be mobbed, or would cost an arm and a leg to get into and STILL be sort of mobbed, on the thought that any Johnny Crackpot or Sally Gottaplan could wield some influence. 

the crowd at two boots.JPGNo, there must be a level of accountability there that begins with the organization paying employees for their input and hard work.  The product of that relationship shows on the field and in the press.  We know what’s happened on the field, to an extent.  We don’t know why what’s happened in the press has happened in the press, aside from what was relayed; again I’m citing communication of injuries and the Bernazard incident, but also continued questions of lack of “grit.”  And that, reasonably, has colored what we’ve seen on the field.

Again, success is the fastest way to cure dissatisfaction; evincing a belief in imminent success is not enough because of the old “fool me once” trap.  But besides offering the usual bread and circuses: batting helmets brought to you by Harrah’s; awful music videos by teen pop stars; “Everybody Clap Your Hands!”–how does one satisfy a rabid fan base that demands answers to questions one doesn’t want to answer?

…That’s not a rhetorical question.  I’m actually asking it.

If I had the reins, I think I would start by thinking about what I could do to re-frame the questions, so that they’d be ones I WOULD want to answer.  That’s if I cared.  I don’t do the sacred work of the Mets, but in my little bit of the earth I get plenty of questions that are the wrong questions to ask, and spend much of my day re-framing the debate, and educating.

That, and staring at databases.  Seems I do a lot of database work these days.  Not what I signed up for, let me tell you.

I would urge ownership to care about the questions coming up at events like these, if they do not currently.  I wouldn’t urge them to release private data, or put the whammy on their behind-the-scenes moves by telling us how great that Carl Crawford guy is, or some other such thing.  But I would urge some sort of education: not condescension, not lip service; an actual explanation of how the business operates, why it operates in the way that it does, and what questions they think we should be asking.

Truly no idea how to present that conversation, but if they could do that, and do away with the Miley Cyrus music videos at the start of some home games, and turn off the canned noise for an inning a game, AND please the ya-yos by giving away something not branded by Aflac or Premio Sausage–

–That’s right; I called you ya-yos.  I’d prefer the end of ALL giveaways and a reduction in the price of tickets, and have that brought to me by Corporation, Inc.–

…then that’d please all manner of folks.

glee.JPGThis is not an endorsement of a show I find visually arresting but otherwise stultifyingly awful.  I just like to be artsy.

Anyway, more on that to come, I’m sure.  Otherwise, I’d like to offer my thanks again to Greg Prince, who along with his partner-in-crime, Jason Fry, put together these events.  An additional thanks to Mr. Prince for reading about his experience in 1977, and talking with me a bit about blogging, the upcoming off-season, and what Felix Millan brought to the ball club.

Word is Two Boots would like to do more of these in the off-season, and I imagine if that does happen, the discussion will be similar to what was held the other night.  Don’t miss it.  Unless the Mets begin hosting blogger-only press conferences with a rotating cast and a pre-determined subject of discussion, events such as these will be the only place you’ll get to hear intelligent wrangling, however ridiculous you may think the opinions to be.

Ridiculous or not, I’d be so much more worried if people stopped caring.

Advertisements

However, before my body succumbs to the ravages of a full day of work and sitting on my duff, please to note: this guy needs to learn about the inside voice…

shut up, guy.jpg
…this show marks the end of Western civilization…
cougar town.jpg
…and my iPod chose Pearl Jam’s “Alive” to play on shuffle as I boarded the D train and came upon this scratchitti message:
still alive.jpg
Weird.
Any night owls curious as to the nature of tonight’s Two Boots affair must wait a few hours. However, what will be germane to at least part of the post is the New York Mets career of Rich Sauveur.
Look over his statistics here.  It won’t take you long.

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.

Those having followed since at least the weekend know I skipped last Friday’s game to meet The Wife at The Airport, and quite possibly go to The Movies.
 
I met The Wife at The Airport, but going to The Movies did not happen. There was traffic, of the sort which implied that people had heard a young starter-turned reliever-turned starter named Robert Parnell was shutting down the San Francisco Giants. We got to Bay Ridge and settled by the time the movie was to start in Chelsea, and had dinner at a place that deemed Jets preseason football more important than the game out in Flushing.
 
(…Perspective eluded me there.  Mark Sanchez’s Jets debut is a lot more important at this stage of Bay Ridge’s dealing with the 2009 season than Bobby Parnell’s start against the Giants.  My bad.)
 
Anyway, we didn’t get to The Movies. Last night, though, was the rain check. And by dint of working during the afternoon on the Upper East Side, I was spared the onrush of traffic leaving Flushing as this time Bobby Parnell was meeting a team with offense, wearing the pinstripes and blue cap everyone’s always so on about. Bobby got jacked for nine runs before I left Jake’s Saloon for the theater down the block. But at least he was well-dressed.
 
Saw Julie & Julia, and not exactly by choice. Much like Mets games I’ve watched lately, I sat through it out of an admixture of essentially blind devotion, curiosity, and hope for something great. 
 
It’s a fine enough movie; if you find yourself stuck in the house on a Saturday afternoon in about six months (remember when it took Jurassic Park two YEARS to come out on VHS?), and this happens to be on a movie channel, turn it on.  It’s a great nap movie, too, and I say that without snark: I am a fan of nap movies.  Make a sandwich. Turn the movie on. Eat the sandwich. Stretch out on the couch. Drift in and out. Jolt awake whenever Meryl Streep’s Julia Child impression drifts from Meryl Streep Butter to Dan Aykroyd Ham. Fine for that.
 
We all sat too close to the screen and I’d had a long enough half day to make the experience less enjoyable than that, and Amy Adams has yet to capture my interest in a role. But as I stated, a fine enough movie.
 
When the movie ended and politesse allowed for the checking of BlackBerry widgets, I’d found no saving of Bobby Parnell’s performance, which had not matched Robert Parnell’s for poise. He just wasn’t very good after the first inning. His pitches didn’t sink late, and the Braves ate him alive.  Because, unlike the Giants, the Braves can hit.
 
He seemed to lose his composure after the defensive lapses behind him led to two more runs than had any right to score. Bobby’s meltdown was portrayed much more subtly than Julie’s, though that’s not saying much. There are no hissy fits in baseball.  No crying, no tantrums, no hissy fits. Please to note, however: giving up eight runs in one inning in front of thousands is more worthy of a hissy fit than a failed aspic.
 
(An aspic, by the by, is a dish composed of your choice of ingredients in a gelatinized stock, most often meat-based. And I will pitch a FIT if that’s ever served me.)
 
Hopefully Bobby will watch some tape of his game against the Giants, of his better relief outings, and find the Robert within. He was pitching more for himself than anyone else last night anyway, and that’s fine if this season’s indeed come to that. Besides, rubber matches are why they invented Johan Santana.

As long as he doesn’t try to feed me aspic, whine about cooking, or marry that schlub from the last season of Six Feet Under, I’ll enjoy watching Bobby’s next outing.

**Those in the New York City area should come out on Tuesday, August 25th, to the next Amazin’ Tuesday hosted at Two Boots Pizzeria on Grand Street, and presented by the good people at Faith And Fear In Flushing.  By my count, this will be the third event they’ve had there, following one in late July and one in mid-June.  I should be there, and if you’d like to come say hello I’ll be the one taking the photos and drinking the beer and, if he’s there, chatting with Kirby behind the counter.

Check out details on the event here, and come out.  Barring any rambunctious children celebrating a birthday, it should be a fun time.  Yes, the game will be on: should be Johan in Florida.

The other of my two roommates returned from extended travels last night, and in deference to his Red Sox fandom, the house flipped between the end of the Boston game against the Detroit Tigers, and the Mets game against the Does-It-Really-Matter?.

We talked about what football team I should root for this coming season.  If I’m not mistaken, I may have mentioned on this blog that I’m a man without a team, finding it impossible to root for the Jets for the pain it would cause; being banned from rooting for a number of other teams because of friends’ Jets-framed ire.  No Giants, no Cowboys, no Patriots, no Steelers.  I mentioned the Kansas City Chiefs.  I bear no animus towards the Chiefs; I think, despite the Herm Edwards business–or perhaps because of it–the Jetstock hold no grudges, either.

Then it was revealed to me: “My cousin was a catcher for the Royals.”

“Really?  Who?”

“Brent Mayne.”

For those who don’t know, Brent Mayne was a catcher for the Mets back in 1996.  I barely remember him on the Mets because while Todd Hundley had a bit over six hundred plate appearances, Mayne had barely over 100.  He struck out almost as many times as he hit safely.  He did have a home run that year, which is more than I can say for some Metsies hanging about right now.

But he was quite a citizen for the Royals, and Wikipedia rides the rail (but is technically correct) with his trivia claim to fame, being the only MLB catcher in the 20th century to have won a game as a pitcher.  He had only 131 days left to do it.  Hell, from the most highly technical perspective, he only had 39 days left in that season to do it.  The year 2000 was in the 20th century.  Pennies are money.  The bus fumes are free.  Et cetera.

Fourth all-time in fielding percentage is a gaudy stat, as well.

He has a great blog to boot: see it here.  Spent most of the night reading through it.  HIGHLY recommended.

So, yeah, Brent Mayne.  My roommate’s story checks out.  Who the hell knew?

** 

I have to think he’d’ve done better than Omir Santos last night.  Or had the presence of mind to argue against walking Augie Ojeda in the bottom of the second.  Miguel Montero on second with two out and the score freshly 1-0.

In the bottom.  Of the SECOND.

Look, if the Mets are at the stage of baseball in 2009 where they can’t trust their onetime second act to Johan Santana to get Augie Ojeda to fly out, ground out, or otherwise show his human frailty, and save the pitcher’s spot for the bottom of the third, then I just don’t know what in the hell to do. 

And don’t give me playing the percentages.  Mike Pelfrey should, at this stage in his career, know how to get right and left and switch-hitters out, even in pressure situations.  And I’ll remind you again: it was the BOTTOM of the SECOND.  Yikes.

I don’t like getting this heated about something like this, but since the overmanaging of the game against the Cardinals on the 4th, I’ve worried about coming back to baseball and seeing only the heavy hand of Jerry Manuel.  I don’t like disliking the manager.  But now I do. 

What’s the score if you take away Doug Davis’s hit in the bottom of the second and replace the dessicated remains of Elmer Dessens for a competent relief pitcher in the seventh?  It’s a fallacy; a weather balloon could’ve crashed in the outfield and suspended the game.

But if I’m truly one of the last few with hope for the season, and the name of the game is seeing what they guys have got, then why not let Pelfrey pitch his way out of trouble, and send Elmer Dessens (a known and unhelpful quantity) back where he came from?

I won’t accuse Mr. Manuel of giving away the game.  At this point, I’m accusing him of doing a poor job with admittedly limited options at best, and at worst betraying an inside directive to see what parts of this team can do for 2010.

*Soon you’ll see a few new I-Can’t-Do-Without links on the sidebar.  I’ve come to Jesus and Baseball-Reference, as well as the MLB-based stats pages.  Thanks, CBS; it’s been real.

**Be well and rest easy, Mrs. Mantle, who passed away yesterday.  A true example of how strong men are backed up by stronger women.

***You don’t need help from me to visit Faith And Fear in Flushing, but a point Jason Fry makes in his post today bears browbeating.  He’s stated my case in a fashion with more concision than I have:

Doctor’s Orders: You could fold this one into the
question above, but let’s go over it anyway. The Mets either have
incompetent doctors or competent doctors whose recommendations are
ignored by incompetent baseball executives. It’s one or the other, and
neither answer is acceptable. The question isn’t why there have been so
many injuries, but why so many injuries seem to have been misdiagnosed
and/or mishandled, leaving guys sliding with excruciating slowness from
Day-to-Day to We Don’t Know to Being Re-evaluated to Finally on the DL
to Still on the DL to Out for the Year. The Mets have consistently
taken the field with 22 or 23 guys available, which is a dereliction of
someone’s duty. Fix. This. Now.

Yes, absolutely.  Fix it.  Who’ll accept a trade to the Mets (and we need the kind of players that can fetch no-trade clauses) with the mess this place looks like?  ::strangled, irritated, impotent groaning.::  Goddamn it.

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.

A roommate of mine (while The Wife’s in extended grad school mode, I keep the house stocked with rent-paying professionals) lived a good portion of his life in a part of West Virginia which is on the extreme fringes of commuting distance from D.C.  He is aware of the Nationals’ existence.

I work for an organization which has an office in the District of Columbia.  I also enjoy giant foam representations of our monument-worthy presidents.  I hear they’ve taken on Beatle-like significance: Washington is John; Lincoln Paul; Jefferson George.  Roosevelt is Ringo.

As the eighth inning began, we mused on the possibility of going down to see a game.

Me: My God. It’s deserted out there.
Roommate: Truth.
Me: I wonder how much tickets are.
Roommate: It’s a new ball park.  But I wonder if they’d care if you bought seats in the nosebleeds and moved down.
Me: I’d think they’d want to do that for safety’s sake.  Cut the security squad down, but keep everyone together.  It’s not safe to wander the upper deck of Nationals Park alone at night.

There, but for the grace of God, go the New York Mets.

No sooner did our conversation devolve into serious derision of the Nationals and their plight did Nick Johnson drop a single into left, bringing the tying run to the plate in the form of Adam Dunn.  Shut me up but quick.

However, Daniel Murphy hit to both sides of the field today.  He scored runs.  Hell, he even made an error, just to keep things interesting and Mets-like.  And with Dunn at the plate and Feliciano on the mound, he was the key to turning a 3-6-1 double play. 

Daniel Murphy: beast.  Daydream of cheap field level seats in a different ball park: untainted.  Sean Green threw seven pitches to rid the Mets of Cristian Guzman and, most importantly, Ronnie Belliard on third.  I’m almost willing to let Sean Green out of the doghouse (see walking-in of run in May, while I watch, on vacation, via jacuzzi).

Frankie Rodriguez closed it out, but not before Chowdah hit his first Mets home run to rob the man of his save opportunity.  I think Frankie’s just glad to be getting regular work.

Tickets are not severely discounted, but they’re not bad.  We’ll see.

Tomorrow sees the arrival of the first Amazin’ Tuesday, hosted by Two Boots of Grand Street and Faith And Fear In Flushing/Mets By The Numbers.  Details here.  I will be there, with full knowledge that I am now 0-3 at organized Mets events not held in a ball park.

Reverse the curse!

Lord, I’m tired.  If any readers are interested in attending, I will be the exhausted-looking chap with the David Wright T-shirt and the lager in his hands.  But Paul Lukas of Uni Watch will be there.  That goatee he’s got means he’s a fun guy.

Let’s go Mets!

If you’re coming to this blog for late-breaking updates on the Mets game, you’re coming to the wrong place.

I was at Faith And Fear In Flushing’s METSTOCK event tonight at Two Boots Pizza on Grand Street this evening.  Watched the Mets game with them, and Mets By The Numbers, And Pick Me Up Some Mets, and Dana Brand.  I have photos.  Tomorrow, tomorrow.

Frankie Rodriguez couldn’t get his first pitch in place for a strike.  They’d dip low and then he’d be behind in the count.  Regardless of how much the Mets SHOULD have scored, this loss is on him.  Everybody gets one.

Gee, thanks, Spidey.

More tomorrow.  Sleep now.  Huzzah.

Goddamn it, Frankie.