Archives for posts with tag: fandom

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.

Ah, Mr. Noble.  Read here.

It’s at least the second time this season Marty Noble has written something about where his fan loyalties lie, and the second time he’s stated that he doesn’t have any, and that in fact it’s critical to his job that he remain unattached.

I wrote here about the first time I caught this (skip past the “Mets Poet” if you wish, but seek out his book–it’s worth having), and I’m tempted to write about it again, but I’m small potatoes and if the man’s found something that works for him, might as well just let him go for it.

The method he states he’s employing seems quite anhedonic, though.  And I do mean to couch that statement, because I don’t quite believe he’s without some sort of positive or negative bias. 

As to that bias, I’m inclined to believe that the Mets’ poor play and sad outcomes over the past few years has created something of a credibility gap for him re: them, in that he’ll need to see Luis Castillo have a 30/30 season and David Wright shoot lightning bolts from his fists in order to drop the “When will the other shoe drop?” cast that so many of his articles take.  I’m inclined to believe that more than that he’s a mole for the Yankees.  There are dozens upon dozens of his pieces that don’t mention the Yankees at all.  Reader bias assumes he’s comparing Met apples to Yankee apples.

And really, they’re apples and oranges.

I highlight the article only because I’d made prior mention, and it reminded me how strongly I still believe that one can be a fan of an entity and still write neutrally.  We should strive for objectivity and still keep our private joys and thus be better humans for it. 

Yes, Mr. Noble, we know you were old enough to visit Ebbets Field the Polo Grounds.  Yes, we know you’re not a kid anymore.  I’m not interested in that as defense for your work reading as moody and insolent, and I’m one of the readers your articles are meant to speak to. 

The information’s good, but the angle usually smells of fatalism, the quotes seem to be positioned to further that fatalism through analysis, and as such at least one member of your readership thinks YOU should do something about that.

I guess I should be glad, though, that you’ve not to date pulled a Jack Curry.  God, I still find that reprehensible.

Unless something substantial comes down the pike regarding Mr. Noble’s temperament, I think I’ve made whatever point was rattling around in my head.  But, if I may run the risk of torpedoing my point:

Mr. Noble, if for whatever reason you’re simply something of a misanthrope, and it’s gotten you to the point where you get to watch baseball for free and write about it for a living, then don’t let me stop you.  I’m not one to rock someone’s boat or tell them to stop feeling bad.  I may not read you much longer, but you’d never really know, and there are plenty of others who will. 

My weekend was overtaken by Bostonians and Bostonians by way of deep abiding love (as well as by way of North Bennington, VT) and by a special kind of lethal cough syrup known, quite coincidentally, as Castillo Rum.  All this, and a poorly formatted poetry reading on Vanderbilt Avenue..
 
I watched my Mets games late, but unfiltered by bloggitude. I don’t know that I even turned on my laptop once from Friday evening to Sunday evening.  My hands were busy with remotes and either food or drink. A football doubleheader and a baseball doubleheader on a single Sunday is, yes, a heady thing, and I’m kicking myself slightly for not grabbing a widescreen during the last sale bonanza–though, if I’m honest with myself, there’s no logical place to hang it.
 
In short, the Mets are now mathematically eliminated from the race for the National League East. I haven’t checked the wild card (and right now, my train is stuck between the 45th and 36th street stations in Brooklyn), but I’m fairly certain there’s no shot there, either.  The nails, however many there were, are now all present and at least in the coffin; getting to .500 won’t happen, either.
 
I’ve taken enough medicine this weekend. So I hereby give up all hope, as there’s no logic to support such a cause.

Shame. A damn shame, is what this garbage is.
 
But life’s too short to dwell, and I’m in the business of making reasonable suggestions, such as “Get rid of the spineless music played prior to game time,” or “intentional walks should be banned when the pitching rotation is decimated.”  Time to look forward.
 
I’ll offer team make-up thoughts in the weeks ahead.  But I’m delinquent on thoughts for a Mets museum, and as I wish there were such a beast there now as what I’m about to describe, I feel it’s appropriate to discuss.

So here’s my first draft, woefully lacking in some crucial research but, paradoxically, not hurt by the failing.

That was almost a sentence.
 
**

It begins with grit.
 
Jayson Stark’s article on ESPN about how to fix the Mets has been taken to task for a heavy reliance on anonymous sources, who can be cherry-picked to reflect whatever agenda the storyline demands.
 
I’m not accusing Stark of having an agenda; regardless of the book he’s written or how he made his bones before his DUI mugshot of a profile pic was taken (that’s a cheap hit, but it’s staying), he’s entitled to his opinion; he’s alowed to try and steer the conversation any way he wants to do it, and within the bounds of journalistic ethics, allowed to use whatever or however many anonymous sources he wants.
 
There’s nothing factual about what anyone said in that piece save for the reporting of signings and trades, salaries and stats. Past that, it’s opinion. I think he’s looking at the situation the wrong way, and thus many of his opinions are… if not wrong, then destructive rather than constructive.  Fortunately, Jayson Stark has just about as much experience running the New York Mets as any blogger writing presently (if Steve Phillips has a regular column, please include the man).
 
The danger is in taking Stark’s word as gospel. It’s not. I’m actually glad the sources were anonymous; he could have cherry-picked sources willing to go on the record, and I’d’ve had reason to be irritated at any number of baseball organizations. I have too many axes to grind to hate on those with whom he spoke, as well–
 
[And to that end, does anyone think he called the GM of the Kansas City Royals? If you’re Jayson Stark from ESPN looking for anonymous quotes about the Mets, aren’t you calling anyone you can from the NL East, anyone from the other division and wild card leaders, and scouts who have had or continue to have dealings with those clubs? In other words, in analyzing failure, wouldn’t you seek out sources of success?  I think this is a fair assumption; unlike other cases of anonymous citation, there is not a nearly-infinite pool of sources from which to choose.]
 
–so, yes, I’m glad they were anonymous. His opinions are easier to dismiss that way.
 
This includes, but does not remove irritation from, the idea that the Mets are packed with superstars and need, instead or in part, gritty role players who won’t… what? Dog it on the field? Stop playing when they’re injured?  Play like mercenaries?  Tell me: what?
 
Stats are the closest one can come to analyzing the performance of a player and project their impact on one’s organization. Watching Fernando Tatis play semi-regularly makes me believe that the Mets are all about this grit and passion (“grission,” a delightful portmanteau for which I give Amazin’ Avenue full credit) argument.  Same with Gary Sheffield, Alex Cora, Omir Santos… who else?

Daniel Murphy seems gritty to me.

Mike Pelfrey gets his grit out running laps.

Johan Santana is a man, damn it.

Sample size on grit re: John Maine is too small, and I hear rest would clear it out during the off season. 

So allow me to use a construction I loathe in registering my sarcasm: Oh. You meant gritty and GOOD players. My mistake.
 
Enough with the grit. The Mets have had gritty players throughout their history. They continue to have gritty players. That’s what makes them enjoyable to watch. In 2006, there were three games I went to in a row wherein knock-kneed Moises Alou hit meaningful home runs, in an effort to avoid having to run hard around the bases. After those three games, I was fully convinced he was Zeus come down from Mount Olympus. Endy Chavez, Damian Easley, Jose Valentin–there’s been recent grit. Shut your damn pie hole.
 
The legacy the Mets bring to baseball is precisely one of grit.  ’69, ’73, ’86, ’88, ’99, ’00, ’01, ’06: these are years etched in collective memory, despite only full success in two. Watching the Mets means learning to love the thrill of victory in what is often a vacuum of reasonable expectation of same.
 
What’s more, the Mets are a franchise that has always existed in the glow of media coverage: the Mets came after the advents of big-time radio, color film, television.  There exists footage–decent footage–of at least some parts of those early campaigns, and most (if not in some cases all) of the later.

Most of the marquee guys are still around, and lucid.  This is good.  Provided they’re not currently the president of another franchise, ostracized from the franchise, or awaiting assignment to federal prison–or hell, even if they are–they’re the perfect ambassadors.

So what’s to be done with all of this?  Make a museum. 

A Mets museum. 

A modern Mets museum.

Not just a Hall Of Fame.  A Hall Of Fame’s too limited.  A Hall Of Fame reeks of finality, and finality can be debated.  A Hall Of Fame gives one access to very tangible but very finite items: a game-worn Tom Seaver jersey; a lump of Lenny Dykstra’s chaw.  A Mets Hall Of Fame, specifically, is thin.  There’s no two ways around it.  Ed Kranepool holds stats that are the baseball superstar equivalent of exemplary, but not perfect, attendance.  Dwight Gooden won his Rookie Of The Year Award here, but didn’t pitch his no-hitter here.  So good for the Mets.  But not great for the Mets.

The Mets have memories: grand, crazy, amazing plays.  Remarkable runs of games.  Context within the game, from season to season, not flash in the pan like
the Expos or meta-statistical anomalies like the Yankees (when a team wins twenty-six championships over the course of a near-century, they’re not playing with the same deck).

The best example I can provide is that of The Catch, which is an absolutely thrilling thing to watch for Mets fans.  No, they didn’t win the game and go on to the 2006 World Series.  That did not happen.  But it’s still an outrageous thing to watch.  The athleticism.  The forward-thinking.  The hope which welled in all of us.

The Mets have dozens–many dozens, if not hundreds–of plays which run the gamut from: “Well, that’s really wonderful that they managed to pull off that grab,” to “OH-MY-GOD-THAT-WAS-THE-GREATEST-THING-I’VE-EVER-SEEN!”

Add to this players that have been with the club through the years, who may not have been career Metsies (see, kind of, aforementioned Gooden; add Nolan Ryan, Rickey Henderson, and on), whose profiling would be interesting for viewers but not necessarily Hall Of Fame material.

Add to this the rich histories of fans, and connection to New York history.

**

Museums as non-profit organizations require mission statements, and this one should be no different; just having “The Mets” as an organizing theme is not enough; “great plays in Mets history” still falls short. 

What this museum needs to be seen as is the Mets as teaching tool, both directly and by execution of the plan.  The Mets reach far and wide in baseball’s history during the latter half of the 20th century (I’m counting the move of the Dodgers and the Giants out west as part and parcel of that history), and figure to be a factor in the first half of this one.  Postwar through 9/11 and beyond, you can teach baseball and its impact on the American gestalt (meta-pun!) well by watching the Mets.  Whether the viewer is a fan of the team or not, there is great value there.  There’s uniqueness.

  • The Mets Museum should seek to teach baseball and represent takes on the game, in an effort to breed continued love of, and passion for, the game.

  • The Mets Museum should do this through a unique partnership with Major League Baseball and the owners of the various broadcasts, opening up the various Mets archives to persons who would develop these broadcasts for use as teaching tools.

  • These persons would include, but not be limited to: writers; producers; video editors; sound designers; voice-over artists; photographers; videographers; actors; statisticians; historians; reporters.

  • These persons should be students of high school/college age, showing specific aptitude in their field, love for and respect for the game, and a demonstrated drive/desire to be incisive in viewing the material.  

  • These persons should be mentored by a rotating cast of professionals in the various fields, who will guide them not just in the editing of available content, but in the creation of new content, such as player/fan/reporter interviews, and development of commentary that seeks to demonstrate reasoned and applied knowledge of the material.

  • These persons should work two-year contracts, with “upperclassmen” working in concert with “freshmen” to determine the editorial thrust for subsequent years, creating continuity of purpose.

  • The Mets Museum should seek to provide added incentive to these persons by partnering with municipal institutions such as the NYC Mayor’s Office Of Film, Theatre, And Broadcasting; the Museum Of The Moving Image; The Paley Center For Media, for the purposes of adding professional credentials, college credit, salary, or some combination of same.  The project should also be sponsored (SUBTLY) by corporations with a direct, vested interest in the methods, media, or manpower of the project [Nikon makes sense.  Sony makes sense.  Carvel makes no sense.]

  • The Mets Museum should be onsite at Citi Field, with entrance/egress from the exterior and an egress into the park, so it may be enjoyed on off-days as well as on game days.  On game days, it should be open two hours before game time and shut after a specific, proscribed time (say 8p during night games and 2p during day games) to ensure fans stay true to the enjoyment of live baseball.

  • The Mets Museum should be open during the off-season, with an expanded program.

  • The Mets Museum should seek, whenever/whenever possible, to connect with other ball clubs and local organizations and institutions to produce similar programs/concurrent materials for other clubs, thus fomenting both increased knowledge of and love/respect for the game.

That’s about all I have for a mission statement.

**

A museum such as this one is a living entity.  It dovetails with the Mets’ dedication to community affairs, which is almost always above reproach (I’m whistling past Vince Coleman).  Best of all, in brings in traffic at low design cost.  How?

Take either whatever this space is supposed to be:

construction.jpg
…out by center field and the chop shops–or else refit underperforming souvenir shops–and follow the art gallery model:

  • matte white walls;
  • separate viewing rooms with benches or seats for an appropriate number of folks (twenty is often a good number; any more and the ambient nose gets far too loud);
  • digital projectors wired into a media control room or space.

Hall Of Fame-worthy real materials (the jerseys; the bats; the balls) can be displayed, sure.  There won’t be–can’t be–too much of that.  As I’ve intimated, this isn’t the kind of club that builds specific superstars.  This is a club that, historically, puts together a team of talented individuals who–excuse the retread–win on grit.

Ten viewing rooms.  Pick a theme each month and produce ten segments based on that theme: “The Mets Salute Base-Stealing” or “The Mets Salute Monster Home Run Blasts.”  Each segment runs six minutes or less.  People can watch sequentially, or pop in for ten minutes, then pop back out.  These are just spitballed suggestions.

But imagine: over the course of a six-month season, sixty segments are produced.  Compile them over the off-season and create a viewing/lecture series.  Open up whatever concessions you’d like.  It’s a living library, sustained by its low cost and reliance on the student community as compensated labor.

Moreover, it soon cements the Mets historic dedication to great baseball, great involvement in community support, and through that, to the great fabric of the City of New York.

If we’re going to have a museum, let’s have that baby MEAN something, besides dust and faded glory.  Let’s celebrate the Mazzillis and McGraws and Mookies; the Chavezes and the Cliff Floyds and–why not; I’m sure he’s got five minutes of tape somewhere–the Coras; the Tom Seavers and Tim Teufels and Tommie Agees.

If we’re not going to generate much traffic by having a Tommie Agee bat on display, let’s see what showing video of that catch off Elrod Hendricks’s bat does.  Or Paul Blair.

That’s all I’ve got for right here.  I’m feeling more emphatic foot-stomp than rousing cheer, so excuse the lack of exclamation point when I say:

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.

At a certain point early on in tonight’s telecast of the Mets-Marlins match-up (L; 5-3), SNY grabbed a shot of the Mets bullpen, in its current configuration:

  • Lance Broadway
  • Elmer Dessens
  • Pedro Feliciano
  • Sean Green
  • Francisco Rodriguez
  • Brian Stokes
  • Ken Takahashi

I watched from a bar, chin dripping with the juice of a fairly unsatisfying burger, pint glass greasy from my unwashed paw’s grubbing at it, and The Sister jabbering on about some nonsense about my aunt’s St. Barth’s guest house bathroom.

With all this discussion of adjacent opulence while I sank into sloth, I still could not help but feel scrubbed and dudded to the nines compared to those seven poor, damned souls.  Besides the drab gray uniforms, they were slumped. Slouched. Worn out and wasted.

If you haven’t seen the current starting pitcher rotation, it’s as follows:

  • Mike Pelfrey
  • Tim Redding
  • Pat Misch
  • Bobby Parnell
  • Nelson Figueroa

And here I once harbored wild delusions of the Mets trading for Roy Halladay AND Carl Crawford. 

But they’re dumping salary like I’d dump radioactive waste.  That is to say: quickly and hastily, and with little regard for the long-term consequences.  I once harbored delusions of both Carloses coming back.  At present… well…

At present both would provide a decent bat. It’s not like all these guys are not hitting.  It’s that none of them can reasonably be expected to move them over or drive them in.  Tonight’s game was eminently winnable, but for the lack of someone who can hit a ball at the fence against a woeful outfield.

But this is the hope I have.  The guys I watched in the bullpen may have struck those poses before, in less exposed environs, but tonight, behind their gum chewing and facial hair picking and cup scratching, I could see a lifelessness.  A “We’ve Been Through This Before, Don’t Ask Us To Try For A .500 Season” pall had settled on the sandy meadow.  Ain’t no home for them.

If their secret doesn’t involve drugs or working through the ranks of minor league ball, I’d sure like to know it.  I want to chew gum.  I… want to not care.

At the least, knowing their secret will allow me to scratch my groin area without fearing it’s impolite.

Like Lastings Milledge to a ball park, I was later than I thought I’d be to Two Boots Tavern yesterday; unlike Lastings Milledge, I have no shards of face to lose or save.  Besides, I had an important software pickup to make.  And then, an important barge to drink beer on while staring out onto the Hudson (note two separate links there).
 
And to the cyclist in the salmon-pink shirt who thought I cut him off crossing Twelfth Avenue, two things: your responsibility at that crosswalk is to yield to me; also, you came out of nowhere.
 
Nevertheless, Two Boots was arrived at and Two Boots was had.  Below, your hosts.
 
jason fry and greg prince.jpgThat’s Jason Fry on the left and Greg Prince on the right, of Faith And Fear In Flushing.  Also in attendance were Caryn Rose of Metsgrrl and Dana Brand of the eponymous Mets fan blog.  Also in attendance, via satellite, were the New York Mets and the Florida Marlins (and repeated shots of the Marlins projected new home, which looks fine if a bit stout); some attendees; beer; the Larry Tate pizza.
 
Those who are unaware, take note: the Larry Tate is spinach, tomato, and mozzarella on a white (ricotta) pie.
 
As Greg Prince read his recent post about the friendly hazing/rousing welcome Andy Green received from the remaining dozens of Mets fans at Citi Field immediately PW (Post Wright), I noticed to my limp amusement that the SNY update zipper–that little doodad at the bottom of the screen showing sports scores–has a sponsor. Yesterday, its sponsor was the Rums Of Puerto Rico.
 
I’d only had two beers at the time, but when something like that grabs my attention, sober or some number of sheets to the wind, I tend to paint all things with the same brush.  So the piece Mr. Fry read, covering an almost-endless, anguished search for a Rich Sauveur card, was sponsored by Topps.  (The photo is mid-rant.)
 
jason fry.jpgMs. Rose’s piece, like much of her great work detailing games and her experience as a game-going fan, would’ve been sponsored by the Mets Fan Local 162, if such an entity indeed existed.
 
caryn rose reads.jpgAnd Mr. Brand’s piece (near as I can tell, it’s not on his site, so buy the book already) was sponsored by Citi, seeing as how they were somewhat responsible for one of the biggest laughs of the night.
 
dana brand reads.jpgHe read of his experience at Shea during the last game there (from his new book; go here to pre-order), and of the numbers ceremony at center field, which ended when Mr. Met pulled down the last numbered card to reveal the Citi logo; he should’ve reacted “like Mr. Bill from Saturday Night Live” when the crowd remaining pelted him with boos.
 
I’ll take his word for it. I couldn’t get tickets to the last game so I hunkered down with a good friend (an Indians fan) and her sister (an Indians/Mets fan) at Mercury Bar in Hell’s Kitchen–there was some good juice left in that place then–and minutes after the end of the game we found ourselves at Rudy’s down the street. Good juice in that place, always.
 
In fact, that experience crystallized for me my current phase of Mets fandom: we split a pitcher of Rudy’s finest, and whereas I’d spent late September 2007 alone and charmless, I spent late September 2008 flush with new marriage and new jobness.  There was all the desire in the world to add another pitcher to the pile and yet, we didn’t, coming to the conclusion that this would be the day we each exercised some self control in the face of maddening loss.  We were adults.
 
So they went home. I went home. Folded laundry, I think. Watched some football, I know. Put baseball in a drawer for a couple days, then came back when my head was clearer.
 
Of course, as I was thinking about all this last night, in the flash of a matter of moments, I caught on the Two Boots flat screen this representation of the current state of my head:
 
paul's head feels like this.jpgClarity is relative based on your proximity to, or length of time away from, an anthropomorphic sponge.  That image brought to you by Nickelodeon.  

Johan’s done for 2009; J.J. Putz is done for 2009 and fairly gone afterward; Billy Wagner’s gone. Even he who throws three straight balls to Pedro Martinez and is taken out mid-count is in New York for an MRI. So the Mets pitching roster is brought to you by the Hospital For Special Surgery and Bob Arum’s Top Rank, Inc., which is no doubt working hard to secure rights to Wagner-Papelbon I: The Melee At Fenway.
 
When Bobby Parnell is a starter this late in the season, and he’s arrived because Jon Niese can do a split but he can only do it once, you wind up with Sean Green on the mound.  Green tried real hard to give the game completely away, too.  Last night’s episode of Sean, You Almost Hit A Coupla Guys And No, Sean, Omir Santos Is Not Set Up Nine Feet Off The Plate was sponsored by Tums and whatever keeps me from performing the matter-energy conversion needed to transport myself to wherever he is and shake him like a Bond martini.

That was a long sentence with a couple of genre cues dropped in there.  Thanks for hanging in.

Gary Sheffield needs some Icy-Hot and any Met batting in the late innings of a losing game always appears to need some Red Bull.  Reading about Omar Minaya’s press conference as I rode the subway over the Manhattan Bridge made it clear to me some brand of ginkgo biloba should be stocked in the front offices.  C’mon.  You don’t remember what was up with your star acquisition back in March and April?  Are you mad, man?

The game was over in under three hours (L, 2-1).  Never blessedly; perhaps, though, for the best.

**

Some things I came away with: I grow more convinced that deep-seated Yankees hatred is generational, like what I hear when talking to someone who grew up w
atching the Brooklyn Dodgers.  I just don’t know anyone in my age group in New York who hates the Yankees with the passion those older than I do. 

As I’ve said, I have no beef with anyone’s beef.  But I’m on about something else here.  I won’t quote anybody (because my eyes were fixed on the game after the readings, and I’m no reporter), nor will I name names of those I heard discussing a seemingly unrelated issue.  However, there was the question last night, and it’s relevant with just over a month left and the Mets pitching rotation Swiss cheese: why do Mets fans stay?  Why do they stay and watch, after Art Howe, and after 2006, 2007, 2008, and soon, 2009?  Why, after the blunders and miscommunication, after the obstructed views and the paltry giveaways and the Draconian, dunderheaded security policies?  Why, after the Aflac this and the Lincoln Mercury that and the Rums of Puerto Rico and Geico and Citi and Just For Men?

I suppose that’s four questions, at least.   But all the same theme.  The answer given last night was, essentially, who knows? 

I guess that’s fine, and if I write that, you know I don’t fully buy it. 

When I lie awake at night, thoughts are rarely about the Mets, as I don’t work for them or base my livelihood on their ability.  When they win big or lose bad, my thoughts may stray.  When they’re in the playoff hunt, sometimes I’ll do the sort of mathematical gymnastics that always put me to sleep when I’m horizontal.  They’re the Mets.  I don’t analyze my need to breathe and I don’t analyze my need to eat.  I try hard not to analyze my need to have fun, or why I have fun doing what it is I do.

Milton Green: “Jack, we’re having a catch!”
Jack Donaghy: “Don’t ruin it, Milton.”
Milton Green: “Just like father and son!”
Jack Donaghy: “Did you hear what I said?”

My answer is not “who knows,” but “who cares?” 

Your answer may vary.  And that’s okay.  It’s okay for us to have different reasons for doing what we do.  We’re each of us our own special flower, and most of us residing in the concrete-and-steel, garbage-soaked, noise-polluted halls of 2009 Mets fandom city of New York.  We have, each of us, our own stories about how we came here, what we need to get out of this, what would trigger our eject button.  And, holy crap, do we have opinions. 

Keep David Wright out for the rest of the year.  Let him play. 

Put Carlos Beltran in a straitjacket.  He could still run in one and catch fly balls with his teeth–I say let him. 

Let K cards be taped to the electronic zipper board (this wail brought to you by Utz).  But they’re covering the Wise Potato Chips ad (this retort brought to you by Wise).

Barring the creation of some Mets fan union, which would send a representative to the table for discussion and a vote on any and all decisions affecting Sterling Mets, LP, I don’t see Metsdom keeping a unified voice on anything past, “Yay! They’re winning!” or “Damn, they’re losing!”  That’s New York for you.

And yes, that can represent any number of other cities and towns as well, but having spent extended time in a few towns and cities, I can say with reasonable surety that New York does it with a special sort of schizophrenia.

This is the place where people will bemoan the lack of police presence when they’re mugged with one side of their mouth and bemoan the “Disney-fication” of Times Square with the other.

By extension, this is a place where, currently, registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by five-to-one, yet a staunchly Republican mayor was elected twice.

Bringing it back to baseball matters, this is a place where people will say, over and over, “I’m done watching the Mets; I’m done going to the games: they treat their fans horribly and their management is a wreck…” and yet, they’re there. 

They’re there mixed in with kids who are maybe going to their first game or couples sharing their first game together.  Mixed in with die-hards who buy the special non-media guide scoring book.  Mixed in with visitors from other cities.  Mixed in with those who just need to get away please for the love of God. 

A blind family has tickets on the Friday plan; I see them all the time walking up the steps to Section 530.  At the other end of my row, there’s an older gentleman who’s been sporting jean shorts since the weather got warmer.  Keeps to himself, barely claps, but watches the field intently.  There’s Big Man.  There’s the group three or four rows up who’ve made T-shirts worrying more about beer than the performance on the field.

Some who cry for escape actually manage some level of backbone and split, and that’s their prerogative.  I think the best of that lot are those who don’t think themselves missionaries, come to spread the good word of Life Without Baseball. 

But if they want to, they’re within their rights.  That’s New York.  As long as you don’t break a law or force me to break a law (which is against the law in itself), you can do whatever damn fool thing you want: boycott, desert, hang in when it’s ludicrous, whine about the beer koozie you didn’t get, or push real hard for a refund when you realize your view must pierce alternating layers of Plexiglas and steel railing.  Again, with justifiable beef or not, you may also try and rally others to your cause.

Your success or failure may change things or not.  But full participation or full agreement is never assured.  I’m quite certain I’ve heard from a few people who thought Vince Coleman’s firecracker stunt was funny.

You know all this.  I’ve said all this, in one form or another, repeatedly in the short life of this blog. 

What you need to remember, readers, is the following: just because you don’t agree with someone out there doesn’t make you wrong, and just because you choose when and where to engage doesn’t make you a bad or lazy person.

This is New York.  The Mets are New York.  Feel privileged to be a part of it.

I will now take a Craftsman-brand hatchet to my soapbox.

A brief note: I thought it might be time to pay some solid homage to other Mets fans blogging within the MLB sphere; tag searches pick up everything and anything.

So you’ll note the creation of a new link list on the right, with all the Mets MLBlogs I could find.

If you have one, I’ll be happy to add it to the roll.  Cheers.

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.

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

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

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

“And some of us are potheads.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Minaya, I hereby lobby for a job.

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

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

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

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

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