Archives for posts with tag: Greg Prince

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.

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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.

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.