Archives for posts with tag: Yankees

If you go to Keith Olbermann’s Baseball Nerd (linked on the right sidebar, or click here), you’ll find some pictures he took last night at Yankee Stadium.  One he took was of Sean Hannity taking a photograph of him.

There is an object lesson here.

Anyone who watches Olbermann or Hannity (or both, if you can somehow manage to do so without your brain exploding from the convergence of matter and anti-matter) knows that they’re not much for each other’s company.

At the ball park, however, they are civil.  Civil enough to take photographs of each other, in a way that by no means seems to signal a truce, but rather an understanding of rivalry and where its place is, and how it’s to be conducted.

Rivalry in baseball takes place in the ball park.  It takes place on the field.  For fans, the players we cheer are our weapons with which we attempt to achieve superiority.  That’s why we go. That’s why we do our best to show our colors and fill to capacity the place we know as our second home.

Fans can get caught up in thinking that cheering is not enough, and that energy turns into something harsher, and unwelcome.  While cheering and jeering is perfectly acceptable, fistfights aren’t.  Battery isn’t.  THROWING batteries isn’t.

Again, I’d like to point out this photo, of a Phillies 2008 championship flag being set on fire at Citi Field this past season.

burn.jpgSmeared and blurry as it may be, this is the image that sticks in my head as fandom gone horribly wrong.  It’s fandom pushed to this place by rowdy idiots, but not to be condoned no matter who’s responsible.

I’m pleased the Yankees won the World Series in part because I do believe it’s perfectly acceptable to root for a team based in New York if you live in New York.  That debate’s been had, and it seems that over the past week that rather than eat our young, Mets fans on any side of the issue have agreed to disagree.

I’m pleased the Yankees won the World Series because they beat the Phillies.  I think Jimmy Rollins has some thinking to do about his freelance gig as a prognosticator.  I think Cole Hamels needs some time to burnish his image with the team’s fans.  I’m pleased as all get-out that Shane Victorino grounded out to end the game.  That guy’s a jerk.  Empirical study has proven it to be so.

I’m pleased the Yankees won the World Series because it means Philadelphia today doesn’t look like a smoking hulk out of some Roland Emmerich movie.

But mostly I’m pleased because it provides me with the opportunity to make this extended announcement, to any fan of the Phillies who may have engaged in the kind of near-criminal abuse of other people who happen to come from elsewhere, and who may be reading:

“Fan”: there’s a time and a place to be a degenerate. 

New York has been home to MILLIONS of degenerates over the years.  They’ve burned parts of this city down over the course of decades.  They’ve been part of a culture of violence and decay that threatened to ruin it.

Yet while some today moan and complain about how no one in Times Square knows how to mug them right anymore, most of us are glad to have the pleasure of being concerned with how many Starbucks franchises constitutes the correct number for a five-block radius.  These are concerns of adjustment.  They’re not concerns of crisis.

The Yankees conducted themselves in a straightforward, business-like manner, and believe me, that’s infuriating to a lot of New Yorkers as much as it’s pleasing to others.  They did their talking on the field. 

They did their talking with their wallets ($201M in 2009), as the Mets tried to ($149M in 2009), and as the Phillies tried to ($113M in 2009), and as the Twins barely could ($65M in 2009).

When the Yankees won, their fans went as crazy as t.p.ing a tree a few blocks from my house, and dropping half-full beer bottles on the street.  I’ve not one report of a torched car, nor one report of some clown standing on top of a car that then takes off, leaving him prone and concussed on the asphalt.

Just because there’s no destruction of physical property doesn’t mean people didn’t drink so much they puked, or blared their horns as they drove down the street heading home, or conceived a child.  Or–sweet Jesus–all three.

(Section Five Twenty-Eight does not condone drinking and driving, or drinking, then driving.  Driving, then drinking, is the appropriate order.)

There’s a time and a place to be a degenerate, I say to those who’ve ever thrown a punch or urinated on a cap or verbally assaulted a minor while wearing the red and white. 

New York is not that place.

This is not a plea for you to change your way of life at home, though I’d certainly appreciate any further destruction attempted be kept away from our country’s national treasures.  This is a strong damn warning to refrain from acting like an animal when you come to the home of the Mets. 

Come in as many numbers as you want, or you feel you need.  Spend your money. Do your worst in jeering the players on the field if you think they’re overrated showoffs.  The Mets have a laundry list of problems to fix for 2010, but that doesn’t make them any less capable of stomping the Phillies at Citi Field, or Citizen’s Bank Park.  THAT is the fight that I and Mets fans like me–and there are thousands like me–are looking forward to. 

We’re NOT looking forward to telling you to shut your mouth when you start berating US and not the players on the field, and having to do so to the point where only a fist to the face will shut you up or keep our children from crying.  Our past is not so far from our minds that we’ve forgotten how to defend ourselves, and we will.  But fights are not why we go to the ball park.  If that’s why YOU go to the ball park, then DON’T come to our ball park.

My overarching hope with a Yankees victory was that people like you, the degenerate, will have gotten out of bed today, stared into the mirror, and found some humility.  There’s no one–not even Yankees fans–who can’t find their humility. 

As one who’s been humbled many, many times, I can say with certainty that THIS lesson in humility is one you deserve.  Not the Phillies fan down the street who goes to New York and cheers the Phillies and boos the Mets, but talks baseball, not pure obscenity.  Not the Phillies fans who celebrated 2008 by cheering Ryan Howard’s power or Jimmy Rollins’s skill.  Not those guys.

You, the guy who in 2008 thought it was great fun climbing up a lamppost and chucking beer cans at the world.  You, the guy who was looking forward to doing it again this year.  You, the guy that clapped as Jose Reyes took Chase Utley’s knee in his head, then cheered as he lay there.

You, guy.  There’s a time and a place to be a degenerate.  That you can’t even be one in the privacy of your own home is what I’d hoped would be taken from you, at the unfortunate expense of fans who deserved a championship a hell of a lot more than you or your ilk.  Look in that mirror, and think about what you’ve done in the past. 

Understand that, karmically, YOU caused this.  The team you proclaimed homegrown and gritty lost to superior numbers and superior dollars.  That, in my book, reads as success spoiled.

I don’t state this case cheerfully.&
nbsp; There is no tone of gloat, here.  I have no real problem with the Yankees or the fans I’ve met and are friends with.  But they’re not my team, so I can’t really share in the celebration.  Your loss this year is only the means to what I hope will be a more civil end.

Next year, Phillies fan, for both our teams.  Come correct, or don’t come at all.

**Someone please pass this along to the genius who wanted one put in Jose Reyes’s neck.

**Editor’s note: Updated November 9th, because I can’t tell the difference between Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity.

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Caught only the latter half of the Yankees-Twins game last night; walking by the Church of St. Yankee of Bay Ridge (otherwise known as the Salty Dog), the score was 3-2 and Alex Rodriguez was up. 

By the time I’d turned the game on at home, it was 4-2. 

By the time The Wife got home, it was 6-2.  Obviously she’d boarded the R train following mine.

Hearing Ron Darling’s voice did me good, though.  Despite his repeated claims that certain pitchers were “unhittable,” …you know, that criticism might just be through the lens of a less-than-spectacular morning.  He’s fine.  No problem.  Yankee die-hards who’d rather die than listen to an SNY broadcast, take note: this is one-third of the way baseball should be enjoyed on television.  Add Gary Cohen, and Keith Hernandez, and you’re set.

My postseason man-crush on Nick Punto grew with some acrobatic play last night, throwing off balance and on target to first to snag an out in the bottom of the sixth.  Watch it here on the Twins’ MLB site.  Of course, I then checked out his page on Baseball Reference, which you can do yourself by checking out the B-R link somewhere down the page on the right.  Go on; I’ll be here. 

Yeah.  Yikes.  Man-crush over.

And speaking of irrational loves, please allow me to pass along some notes to the production crew over at TBS:

  • I am not “there” when you send a camera guy out to trail a player who’s just hit a home run.  The below-crotch-level shot of Hideki Matsui does nothing to me, and is far too shaky to do anything for anyone who’s actually interested in doing something with it.  I blame FOX for this, as they’re the ones I caught doing it first.  Stop it.  It’s POINTLESS.

  • Additionally, I am well aware that celebrities exist in New York.  One of the greatest thrills of my year was sharing a corner with Woody Allen, waiting to walk down Madison Avenue.  And I’m aware that Kate Hudson, a celebrity, is dating Alex Rodriguez, a baseball player of some renown.  You may feel free to cut to her once, after he does something spectacular.  And indeed, breaking a postseason 0-for-18 with RISP slump hits the low end of the spectacle spectrum.  But repeated cuts to Kate Hudson are not warranted; in fact, they are as lazy as her acting choices since The Cutting Room in 2001.  Stop THIS, too.

Surprising fact after checking for the release date of The Cutting Room: Sigourney Weaver is 60 years old today.  Definitely changes Ghostbusters for me.  I don’t know how, but it does.

Game Two is tomorrow, and we can only hope that the forecasted rain keeps the Hollywood types from sticking around, and the rest gained today allows the Minnesotans to gear up and make a game of this one.  Really, that’s all one can ask.

On the Cardinals-Dodgers game, I can only say I watched a few minutes.  It was already late, and Ike was seeing dead celebrities on South Park.  Reading the recap, I’m surprised Randy Wolf lasted as long as he did, and that wasn’t very long.  The Dodgers have to hope Clayton Kershaw’s got some gas in the tank.

Almost pulled a George Foreman and typed, “got the tiger in the tank.”  But tigers haven’t gotten much done this year.  ::Rimshot.::

Ah–Chris Carter is a Met now.  Knew there’d be something Mets-ish to say. 

If he comes up to the majors at any point in 2010, and his walk-on music isn’t something by Mark Snow, I’m walking out.  Wherever I am, whatever I’m doing; if there’s no synthesizer, it’s not getting done.

**Ted Berg of SNY has a new blog, called TedQuarters, and it’s hopping with material.  You should read it regularly, not because he’s a Mets fan, nor because he’s given me a link on his blogroll (but many thanks, Mr. Berg, for that), but because the posts are written thoughtfully and with earnest purpose.  If you’ve been following his work for SNY, you know this to be his hallmark.  Thanks again, Ted, and best of luck with the venture.

I’m going to ramble, spitball, and generalize.  Bad ways to start a post-2009 entry.  But I have very general, very nebulous things on the mind.

If you’re desperate for the punch line, scroll down until you see, in bold, “This brings us back to the banana peel.”  But I’m no short-order cook, and this is a long boil, so read it all for full flavor.

I’m hungry.

As is often the case, I’ll start with the Times, which I keep swearing I’ll stop reading for baseball purposes, but can’t seem to get away:

“Back to the 2009 Yankees: they are quite likable as a group. The
players are, anyway. Their owners and top management are all too often
defined by haughtiness, greed and entitlement. In that sense, the
Yankees embody New York, where hauteur, avarice and entitlement are
hardly unknown. The Mets are almost polar opposites. Their fans know in
their bones that even when things seem to be going well, someone is sure to throw a banana peel in their path
.”

Emphasis mine; find the piece here, written by Clyde Haberman.

I don’t want to be that kind of fan, though I know sometimes I can be.  I know plenty of Mets fans who are, and they range from the remarkably astute and articulate to the “could you perhaps try breathing with your nose and NOT your mouth?”

But perhaps more importantly, I would like to no longer be perceived as that kind of fan.  I’ve written on a few occasions (do your own search on “fandom;” too lazy this morning to dig for links, and you might enjoy sifting) about the schism between Mets and Yankees fans, the level of entitlement, of perceived entitlement, and how I conduct my business as one who enjoys baseball.

I don’t grant the premise that to be a Mets fan means to be long-suffering, though many have suffered greatly.  I don’t recall on any occasion, after scanning my ticket for entry, being handed a promotional cross to bear, sponsored by Church’s Chicken.

Yes, there’s a Church’s Chicken franchise in New York City.  It’s on the corner of 44th and Eighth.

I thought, and to an extent still do think, that right thought will lead to right action, which will lead to right perception.  And while I batter the Buddha to my own baseball aims, I see that I’m going to have remarkable trouble making baseball friends this way, or managing not to sound like a know-it-all, or a smarmy sort of patzer, peddling his nonsense to people who are genuinely distressed, getting them to think positively until something bigger bursts their bubble.  Misery and company, you see. 

And someone with such a profound dislike of Sean Green and a fear that he may, somehow, return, should not be butchering Eastern religion so that he may get everyone off the page of “Woe is me,” or “This bites,” and onto the page of “We forgive you, Mets organization, but we have a list of grievances we’d like to file, in a collectively calm and reasoned manner.”

Lots of talk yesterday from Mets leaders reviewed by Mets bloggers, which, unless Will Leitch has scooped my idea to use Metsblog as a resource once more, you can find:

–here (Jerry Manuel at Citi Field; Michael Baron, why the long face? Who hurt you?);

–here (Omar Minaya and Jeff Wilpon from Citi Field);

–here (Messrs. Minaya and Wilpon on WFAN; read this while watching Monday Night Football. Green Bay, you embarrassed yourselves);

–here (germane to recent one-sided conversations I’ve had);

–and here.

There is little to find remarkably newsworthy in the conferences and interviews held.  Note that I did not state there was remarkably little to find newsworthy.  A subtle yet important difference.

Luis Alicea, first base coach, is out.  Sandy Alomar, bench coach, shifts about if he wants, or else splits.  Razor Shines, third base coach, stays pending re-assignment.  Dan Warthen stays.  Howard Johnson stays.  Jerry Manuel stays.  Omar Minaya stays. 

Payroll unaffected by Bernie Madoff’s criminality, but maybe Mr. Minaya will find some cost savings.  There will be more Mets imagery in the ball park next year.  There will be a prominent Mets museum (I’m now nearly convinced this will be over by that massively empty space behind center; just give me my museum as video academy and I’ll ride into the sunset).

Daniel Murphy will get better.  Oliver Perez (Fauxhawk) will have a good year again.  Injuries plagued the team.  Johan’s feeling great.

That’s the gist.

It is news that they came out and said these things.  But none of these things rise to the level of bombshell, and the presentation–I have to point out Caryn Rose’s excoriation, posted on her blog, as a prime example of “Yoikes”–left a bit to be desired.

I’m not trying to pull punches here.  I don’t feel as angry about this as others do because my expectations of upper management are different.  To an extent, my expectations are lower, but that’s mainly with with regard to their notes regarding the product on the field. 

And no, I can’t believe I wrote that either, but my observation in 2009 revealed to me baseball players who are fundamentally unsound and prone to injury.  Those grievances I take to the manager and the trainers.  I don’t expect Messrs. Minaya or Wilpon to break the matter down for me like I’m watching MLB Roundtripper or Baseball Tonight or SNY’s SportsNite. 

Instead, I expect them to have some idea of what they’re doing when they retain Jerry Manuel, who is responsible for the product on the field, as presented to him by the general manager.  Here we have the first of what will be many points in this off-season where I stop to suggest a question I believe should be asked.  (That was almost a sentence.  As I said: rambling.)

If the reason given to keep Jerry Manuel on was because his performance this year could not be adequately judged, and 2010 will provide the opportunity for a more balanced assessment:

  • was it argued–when discussing his larger body of work–that the product on the field this year could have avoided some of the errors in performance that sometimes led directly to losses, and if so, what was the outcome of that line of discussion? and,

  • is there a plan in place to re-evaluate matters if the 2010 Mets experience the same level of physical breakdown?

There’s more news in the answer of those questions than in simply saying he’ll be back because 2009 was atrocious and as such not appropriate for evaluation. 

It’s also easy to perceive a contradiction in describing the year as “unacceptable.” By not defining a root cause beyond injury yet retaining the training staff, you’ve either ignored or eliminated injury as a cause.  No one hears about reviewing training protocols or warm-ups or weight training.  They hear “unacceptable” and they want something equally stark done about it right just now. 

My concern is that no one in the Mets organization’s said Word One about what happens if these players, or other players, break down again, even with revised protocols and regimens.

On the whole, the conferences themselves seemed a way of quelling debate among fans and the media that was sure to grow coarser if silence followed Sunday.  Where senior management failed was in properly framing the debate prior to heading out there. 

Now, much like with the communication of injuries over the course of the season, I could ask whether failing to frame the debate was intentional or accidental; whether the goal was always to get the media and the blogosphere–don’t know why I separate them, but there you go–spinning its wheels while working privately to fix matters, or whether the fall-out from the conferences and the interview was unexpected.  At this point, the evidence
indicates the latter.

However, it could also be that the thought of the aftermath never occurs, or seems secondary to the work that needs to be done to pull together a champion organization.  The thought on the latter here would be that if the team were winning and winning convincingly, there’d be little to grouse about: “Yes, Mets fans, we hear you.  But if we kept worrying about trying to get to the end of this hamster wheel you call frank and honest discourse about this team we own, we wouldn’t be focused on getting you a team that could make the postseason and win on a regular basis, thus slowing down said hamster wheel.”

This brings us back to the banana peel.

The 2009 season was a fine illustration of just how many ways that banana peel can come at the Mets fan, and if you grab the average one at a party and ask them just what they think about Tony Bernazard, or the terrible onslaught of injuries, or a bases-loaded walk issued to a rival with their own boorish, loudmouthed fans, that Mets fan is going to feel just awful.

If nothing else sticks from this post; if nothing else has an impact that can make it to someone who can make a difference about it, let it be this: the 2009 season, with all of its horror and histrionics, has made a good number of fans embarrassed to be fans.

That word “embarrassed” is overused, too, but consider what it means: people have invested time and money in an entertainment product, and now they are open to abuse about that product.  These are not people who work for the Mets.  These are not shareholders.  All they did was hook onto a team.  And right now they feel like garbage.

For whatever reason they might feel like garbage, that they feel so is a tremendous problem–one that not a #2 pitcher, a left fielder, a catcher, or any back-up shortstop will fix. 

Winning might soothe it, until the next time the GM makes headlines by calling out a local reporter, or a manager makes comments about a guy’s twin concussions, or an executive vice president of business operations tries to parse the definition of “obstructed,” and makes a hash of it.  Then that fan is back to defending his team at the bar or at work or at the gym.

Lord, I cannot stress how important it is to grasp this concept.  Crawl into it, sleep in it, walk around with it for a couple of days: people spent lots of money to have fun, and instead they’re working to avoid feeling AWFUL.

Who the hell wants to do that?  Who wants to do MORE work? They’re not paid in tickets; the free hot dog came and went, and only with purchase to the game.  It’s horrible

I’ve advocated taking a break from the Mets when taking a break from them is warranted.  There are many other fantastic things with which to occupy your time.  I feel bad in that my entertainment is gone for six months, and the future does not look promising for extending next year beyond the obligatory.  But the angry people matter, too.  The ones anticipating the banana peels matter a great deal, and there is certainly no hope for them beyond praying for a good team.

The cheapest, easiest, most responsible thing that can be done to make the life of the average Mets fan a little easier is to get hard and expansive control of the message.  Take the discipline of the Bush Administration and coat liberally with the grassroots embrace of technology and expansiveness of applicable detail of the Obama Administration, and come out with a communications arm that’s capable of taking some of the heat off the fans that act as the team’s ambassadors.

I’ll say again: of the things on the 2010 To-Do List, it’s gotta be the cheapest, easiest, most responsible thing.  Don’t need an open door policy; don’t need to give away the Colonel’s secret recipe (I obviously could stand for some fried chicken).

But what must be done is put in place a structure by which the daily slings and arrows can be taken gracefully, and fans’ opinions considered and given voice, so that when seasons like 2009 happen again–and let’s hope baseball and the Mets last long enough so that we can see what it’s like to have a successful dynasty followed by the inevitable lean years–the team is prepared.

Be prepared.  Don’t bundle and announce and assert and bungle, like yesterday.  Finding an effective press secretary isn’t like trying to find a power bat for first.  The market is over-saturated.  Grab someone good and experienced and unemployed, and get cracking.

The alternative is seeing the fan base slip as one generation passes into the other, and that’d spell disaster in the long term.  Plan for decades; reap the rewards now.

That’s it; that’s all I’ve got on that.

I’ve little to say about yesterday’s loss, except that I didn’t see the thing at all.  I missed Frankie Rodriguez giving up the grand slam, and much like Luis Castillo’s dropped pop-up at Yankee Stadium (“The Play,” I’ve been calling it, for no other reason than I enjoy definite articles and initial caps), I don’t know that I ever want to see it.

I’ll vacillate, I’m sure.  No one who buys a ticket to a Mets game this late in the season doesn’t wonder if he must complete the circle of masochism by exposing himself to all sorts of baseball horror, like Jimmy Fallon’s character in Fever Pitch, sealing himself off in his apartment and watching tape of the end of Game 6 over and over again. 

“…behind the bag, and it gets through Buckner!” 

But for now, I’m excusing myself.  It’s in the past.

Jose Reyes has a torn hamstring, which completes that particular circle and starts a new one.  Won’t be verbally tearing anyone a new anything based on this news; I stated yesterday that we as fans need to start asking the right kind of pointed questions if we want to see changes made with this team.  I’ve no earthly idea what the right kind of question is re: Jose Reyes, and I don’t think I’ll work too hard to think about it today.  Again, excusing myself.

The Times sent Ben Shpigel to cover Jerry Manuel and someone there–whether Shpigel, his editor, or a merciful web tech–gave it the frame of Tuesday’s loss, not yesterday’s.  So they’re ignoring it, too.  Not shirking their responsibility, as they have repeatedly over the past few weeks, but ignoring what is too much pain.  With sardonic humor that makes me want to lie down and take a nap, too: check out the graphic.  “Finally, a Lead In the N.L. East.”  You can’t see it, but I’m making a rude gesture with my finger.

And yes, sure, fine, the Mets gave Mariano Rivera the pitching rubber from his five hundredth save, and I’m coming quickly to the belief that this will become the talking point on ownership ineptitude.  But for my money, the man can take whatever pitching rubbers the Mets want to give them, as long as the Mets learn to beat tough opponents and stomp on turkeys.

It’s the man’s 500th save; the Mets put the Yankees in the position of making it happen, and the game’s long since done.  Let’s not condemn people for trying to be good sports; let’s be smarter, healthier, and more productive with our ire.  Or let’s dump it entirely and go play some ultimate frisbee before it gets too cold out.

Truly, the only problem I have with the USA Today article, besides it being a product of USA Today, is the Pettitte quote:

“You guys haven’t changed from Day 1. Y’all deserve it,” Pettitte said.
“Obviously, we are so proud of y’all. It has been a privilege and an
honor to play alongside of y’all.”

He should’ve said, “Y’all haven’t changed from Day 1,” and cemented his legacy.

Smarter, healthier, more productive: this is my off-season mantra.  I refuse to be, figuratively or in practice, the guy who sits in his room and watches tape of awful play in garbage time, or gets hot and bothered about people doing things which are generally nice. 

There are a whole host of things to batter the Mets for.  Allowing that loss yesterday is something to take to the players.  Jose Reyes’s hamstring is something to take to the trainers, the doctors, and the front office. 

The stuff about the Times is something to take to the Times.  And the pitching rubber thing is something to let go.

Time to seize the day.

I’ve stated repeatedly that when the game stops being fun to watch, one should stop watching the game. 

I took my own advice Friday night through Sunday, and missed the Mets comeback against the Marlins, John Maine & Co.’s implosion, and Misch’s complete game.  I don’t feel bad about that, considering I was ready to tear my house apart Friday night.

(And as to the questions regarding my last post: I was certainly not advocating any action be taken, least of all dismissing of management.  In fact, I was merely making a reference to a humorous and fictional account of arson. 

There; I’m glad that’s cleared up.)

I slept with my time off; tried out the new bed.  I stared out the window and felt the sweet kiss of not watching a frustrating team.  I had a dream about the Mets, sure–but who doesn’t dream about the Mets?–and when I awoke it was dark out.  The series was over; the Marlins had been officially eliminated from NL East contention, and I felt a happy twinge of schadenfreude. 

Better still, they’ve got six games left and are five off the pace for the wild card.  Colorado, Atlanta, and San Francisco would each have to take a powder to let Florida in.  The Marlins might take out one of those teams, but I don’t see them leapfrogging all three. 

More joy at misfortune.  Mind you–I spent some of my weekend reinforcing the leg of my desk chair, after slamming it into the floor a little bit.

There’s the right kind of passion and there’s the wrong kind of passion.  Going C. Zambrano on the furniture is the wrong kind of passion, especially since I don’t make a dime off it.  Evidence suggests the only thing that comes of getting so aggravated is the chance to miss complete game shut-outs by guys you definitely don’t want to see hanging around next year.

I would much rather be rooting for a fine finish than hoping against hope that Tim Redding doesn’t turn it on and thus pretend at being a viable option for 2010.  It’s a crummy feeling.  Didn’t think entertainment could do that to me.  I hate this product like it’s my job.

Anyway, something to work on in the offseason. 

Speaking of the end of the season, I’ll cement my Mets heresy by taking my hat off to the Yankees for clinching a division title.  No crosstown hatred as a general rule here at Sec. 528–only irritation at individual acts of idiocy and/or Brian Bruney-ness.  Someone this weekend asked via email where my rooting interests lay for the playoffs; I’ll dig my own grave a little more when all the spots are locked.

I hope all can tell that I’m a bit deflated here.  I will try and perk up for the morning, and see what my psychosis can dig up in terms of fun topics.

**For those who want to vote on what my off-season profile pic will be, check out the rules and options here and email your choice to omniality [at] gmail [dot] com.

I imagine working on a post during the off-season will be much like trying to work on a post this morning.  It’s cold.  It’s dark.  The next room over, friends who freelance are in their fourth hour of drinking bourbon and working on their indie-rock-acoustic version of “Down By The River.”  And I don’t have much to say.

I’m excited for Josh Thole’s call-up like I was excited back when I still had magazine subscriptions and they showed at my door.  I’ll watch for his first hit and his first home run and when he strikes out in consecutive plate appearances for the first time, I’ll certainly head for the back pages and read as deep as I can into his stats.  But I’ll need something on the order of New York‘s Eliot Spitzer cover–post-scandal–to snap me back into focus.

Really, my deepest regret is that I probably won’t see Carlos Delgado play again in a Mets uniform.  It could happen, yes.  But I haven’t heard Word One since his oblique strain during his rehab. 

Makes me recall wistfully that I figured Carlos Delgado to reach five hundred home runs faster than Gary Sheffield.  Then I watched Gary Sheffield hit his five hundredth home run.

More and more, I think myself the Mets Angel of Death; I got excited, despite my constant harangue, about Carlos Beltran playing rehab out at Keyspan Park with the Cyclones, and began a quick think about how I might get to tonight’s game.  Then I recalled how I was in the stands when Angel Pagan hurt himself in his rehab assignment last year.

Proximity may not be a factor, and it needn’t even be a direct interest or direct suggestion of greatness or misery: I was watching the Houston-Minnesota preseason game with a roommate when we heard Chris Berman (you should refuse to call him “Boomer,” as I refuse) report Andy Pettitte’s perfect game in the sixth.  We switched to that game.  In the seventh, with one out…

Roommate: “Can you commit an error and still have a perfect game?”

Two outs.

Me: “No.  The game has to be perfect.  Twenty-seven up, twenty-seven down.” (In my head) “God, baseball’s an odd sport.  Nine innings, three outs per inning, twenty-seven the minimum number of hitters faced.  Ten innings and forty or fifty as a minimum: that satisfies a need for round numbers.”

The ball then ate up Jerry Hairston, Jr.  Man on.

Roommate: “But he can still get the no-hitter.”
Me: “As long as they score that ball an error.”

They do, and the next ball gets past Hairston for a hit.

Roommate: “Well, so much for that.”

I think in the off-season I’ll work on some back up plans: how to blather in the absence of blatherable material.  My mother likes the old saw about not saying anything when there’s nothing to say.  I once sat her down for ten minutes and told her why I thought that was an irresponsible thing for a creative person to do.

Besides, it’s September.  I love September.  Labor Day’s a mandatory barbecue day.  My birthday’s on the 15th.  I was hired to this no-longer-new job last year on the 22nd, and with it came money to pay bills and go to games.  And it’s cooler.  I love sweaters.  They make me look svelte.

David Wright comes back tonight, and so there’ll be something to talk about at the end of the day, surely.  That gives me enough reason to not bring my poison or voodoo or whatever it is to Coney Island and Carlos Beltran’s knees.  I’ll stretch the material like any good writer might do.

However, word is we’re closing early Friday.  If there’s any chance of seeing Beltran play on Labor Day weekend, I am there.

These are the thoughts I have when the Mets are rained out and the Yankees are playing under a dome.

I’ve been gone for awhile.  I cannot be blamed.  I worked nine straight days.  Sure, this was the view from my hotel room for the last two:
beach.jpg
But by no means was it all fun and games.  Those who may know me may know I enjoy a bit of a tune-up when the workday ends.  The proceedings made need for a bottle of Scotch.  I usually abstain from any liquor I can’t see through during summer months.  I made an exception, and a serious dent was put in the thing as I watched the only ball game available to me: Dodgers-Cardinals (on Monday, STL over LAD 6-1).
So if the three of you who read were torn up over the lack of material, know that I was torn up as well.  Mets game via BlackBerry.  Reading up on the Minaya-Bernazard-Rubin nonsense while riding NJ Transit back to civilization.  Falling asleep just after the blown call that had Castillo safe on Tuesday (against Colorado; W 4-0).  Painting my hallway today–TODAY, of all days, where the heat and humidity drenched me repeatedly.  Good thing it’s just latex paint.
At any rate.  Back.  Stretch run.  Sparkle, sparkle.  I geared up for the Mets game but switched it over to the Yankees game after the rain-out for a number of reasons:
  • I was starved for baseball that bore ANY connection to New York.
  • I’d already watched The Ruins, which a friend DEMANDED I DVR and watch.  Wrong call, Sheriff.  Movie was well-done, but lame.  I take my horror schlocky with two sugars.
  • It was raining hard, so going out was not an option.  It’s still raining.  Going out is absolutely not an option.
  • There was almost nothing else on.  The exception was KVC: Komodo Vs. Cobra, co-starring a pre-Tell Me You Love Me Michelle Borth.  But I missed this being on until the near-end.
  • I’d read on the Post‘s website that the Rays might trade Carl Crawford and Scott Kazmir.
I start salivating when I start thinking about competent left fielders.  It’s been far too long for the Mets.  Carl Crawford was 2-for-4 tonight, notching a triple off Brian Bruney and scoring from there on Evan Longoria’s home run in the ninth.
As for Kazmir… well, Maine doesn’t look like he’s long for this season.  You should know how I feel about Perez.  Kazmir’s still young and his performance in ’09 will dim the salary lights a little.  Santana-Kazmir-Pelfrey-Niese-Perez.  I can live with that.   A bit lefty-dominated, but that can be solved by jettisoning Oliver Perez.
I’m just sayin’.
But competent fielding and hitting in left?  Delightful.  Forgive me if I don’t want to bet the farm on Cory Sullivan.  Or Gary Sheffield.  Don’t hurt yourself trying to remember the last full-time Mets left fielder.  Christ, Trot Nixon played outfield for the Mets last year.  That’s not a joke.
Counting on Carlos Beltran, who, according to reports filtered through Metsblog is working out despite the bone bruise on his mole knee not being healed, seems chancy to me.  Chowdah has thus far proven himself.  I have been saying my mea culpas and will shout them if he becomes the beast he was in a past life.  But counting on that, and Sullivan, and a not-quite-100% Beltran to patrol center at Citi Field, and trying to make a run for it, is asking for trouble.  Nick Evans was the Mets’ starting left fielder during the last game of the 2008 season.  Endy Chavez replaced him, for defense.
The last good guy out there was Moises Alou, and he wasn’t even legitimately good.  Just lightning-in-a-bottle, astound-you-with-that-batting-stance good.  Crawford-Beltran-Chowdah, with Pagan off the bench, makes me feel a hell of a lot better.
One hopes the symptoms of foot-in-mouth include remorse, humility, and visible shakes yet exclude inability-to-get-on-the-horn, and Omar Minaya can do just that and get a guy.  Crawford isn’t the best left fielder in the world, but he’s a damn sight better than what’s out there right now.
No offense, Mr. Sullivan.  I want you to know, however, sir, that the following “Cory”/”Corey”s have more interesting Wikipedia pages:
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try and prove me wrong.  I will gladly add berating you to my list of venal sins if you show me up.

Because I’m between items on my agenda this Saturday (the humidity’s calling into question my desire to finally repaint my hallway), I thought I might take time to clean house here, a bit.

Example: I’ve been negligent in responding to comments, which is rude of me.  So, here they are, condensed:

After having the flu the other day, Ryan Church did have a great night last night.

Fernando
Nieve just had a bad night. It is going to happen in a young career, at
least it did not happen against a divisional foe like Philly.

But that is why we play three games series, the Mets just have to buck up and take the other two games.

Should be a great game tonight.

Rays Renegade

That from the owner of Rays Renegade (obviously).  Also, almost two weeks ago.  You can tell because, back then, Ryan Church played for the Mets.

“Pennies make dollars” is what my dad used to tell me, and wins like the one not had in this game are what hurt come late September.  It’s the same as the Phillies winning by 21 runs one night, then losing by one run the next.  The games don’t have to be against a divisional rival to have an impact on the race–and I don’t think Mr. Renegade was implying that–but they matter just as much as saving face and picking up slack a whole game at a time, rather than a half.

And God, is Nieve still kinda crummy.  Carriage, meet pumpkin.  He didn’t embarrass himself last night, but the start he had prior was abysmal.  The thing about Niese–indeed, the thing about the AAAA Mets as a whole this year–is that there seems to be no object lesson in teaching the opposition that they need to press.  With any pitcher not named Santana, the guys in the batter’s box must be thinking, “It’s just a matter of time before I get my pitch to hit.”

That profile photo, Mr. Renegade.  Fantastic.  I’ll need one similar, now.

This comment came the next day, as I tried to will the Mets to a win.  They were two games below .500 then; it only took a week to go five games below.  (That just means they can take them back in a week, too.)  From Susan, at Perfect Pitch:

Good advice. Just hard for them to follow. But here’s hoping!

My tactic? Laughter:

http://perfectpitch.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/07/fowl_play.html

I’m Section 314, by the way…most every single game. Say hello anytime!

Susan

I gave Susan a shout-out when the Mets won, saying we’d done it together.  However, for those trolling for hard luck writing who’ve stumbled onto this Mets blog and don’t know much about Citi Field, here’s something: those with seats in the 500s can’t really go down to see people in the 300s.  Trust me, I’ve tried.  You get a hard time from the ushers who think you’re trying to work a seat upgrade.  It’s more politely handled at Citi Field than it was at Shea, but it’s firm.

So, Susan, I’m sorry I haven’t stopped by.  I try to be a gregarious guy; I try to make strangers friends, because it’s one of the few natural thrills in modern comfortable life.  But I can’t get there from here.  Come by 528 anytime; no one cares if you stop by up there.  Row 6, right across from the start of 529.  

This one from Dillon, of Living The Baseball Life:

Injuries have been the biggest reason for the Mets’ non-success this
season. And yesterday Johan didn’t get a bunch of calls that he should
have gotten.
-Dillon

Amen, and no kidding, Dillon.  Since then, the Mets have lost Fernando Martinez to knee swelling, so the injury bug is spreading to the replacements.  I get the sense that David Wright’s pride is wounded, as well.

As for being a Yankee fan in Beantown… woof.  And I like Boston a lot; I’ve made good money there and have some good friends who still live in the area.  My favorite bar named after a writer (Charles Bukowski) is there, too.  But I can’t imagine not even really being able to see games.  Last time I checked, the cheapest seat for a game at Fenway was more than my total beer consumption on a Flushing night (and that’s not an inconsiderable amount of cabbage).  Perhaps you do better than I.  Good luck to you, sir.

This from mrmetnoel@optonline.net, on Tuesday’s day off:

That was a great article I enjoyed reading it & I agree some Mets gave up way to early still got 80 games left. LETS GO METS

I don’t think there’s necessarily a give-up with players; I meant that there was no game played that day, and that’s why they didn’t lose.  Thanks for the comment.  Let’s hope they don’t give up.

This from birdland of Birdland Blog:

hhahah, you have a very nice blog here. Sorry that the Mets are not in
first this year though. Who knows? Maybe they could make a push and win
the East? Maybe! My blog is birdland blog if you wanna comment! 🙂
-O’s birdland blog

Thanks for the kudos on the blog.  I don’t think we’re yet at the point of desperation.  Certainly they need to get on a good run and hope the Phillies and the Marlins and the Braves run short of steam, and both things happening are quite possible.  However, they both need to happen at once.

**

If the Mets offense can give the opposing pitching reason to be cautious, that’ll go a long way towards re-establishing parity in match-ups.  But veterans can’t catch up to the pitch they know they could hit, and rookies and super-rookies are too impatient to wait for them.  Prime-time stars are left hanging.

This is the long-term result of injuries.  It wasn’t by design.  It wasn’t on purpose.  But it’s what’s happening.  For all the back and forth on whether the trade for Francoeur was bad or good, we’re not addressing the fact that the team approach is incorrect at present.  Strong pitching, yes.  Flaweless defense, yes.  But offense: sit in there and work counts.  Make those games four hours long.  Tire them out on the other side.  Learn what’s coming from the pitcher and how the defense is going to play you in various situations.

If that program is sound, then I don’t know that getting Francoeur is going to help it.  I don’t know that getting young for the sake of getting young is reason enough to make a trade.  If the knock on Omar Minaya is that he prefers older players over younger players, then shouldn’t we be doubly grateful that he didn’t bring in another Hispanic player?  I mean, while we’re perpetuating myths and stereotypes…

Let’s see if bringing back that old chestnut stirs some conversation.

…The opposition may not yet be able to ascribe a narrative to your line-up, in part because they don’t have to: they can pick you off one at a time.  But you, Mets bats, need the team narrative.  Like when Jose Reyes would get on base, steal second, get bunted over (for better or horribly worse) by Luis Castillo, and Carlos Beltran would get him in with an opposite field double.  Then David Wright gets Carlos in with an RBI single.

It’s at this point that Delgado would hit a home run.  But, y’know.  Anyway, that was nice reliving those days.

Fellas, you need a story.  You need to write your movie.  The injuries are Act One.  The swoon is Act Two.  The rise is Act Three.  Work counts to get on base or extend the game and knock the opposing pitcher out.  Once you know that story and can tell it well, the opposition will try and upend that story.  The only way I can see to defending against a team that consistently works at-bats is to throw heat past the rookies and crafty stuff against the veterans.  And the rookies will hit the speed balls while the veterans smack that garbage around the field.

See?  It’s that easy.  Why am I not a manager?

**

David Wright should bat third only in emergencies.  This situation is a crisis.  It’s not an emergency.

Troubles rank in the following order, from least to most dire:

Issue
Problem
Emergency
Crisis
Ragnarok

Crises are prolonged emergency situations.  Problems are solvable in situ; Ragnarok is the destruction of the Gods. Which I guess means that, should we get to Ragnarok, the Wilpons will have to do battle with the evil Norse wolf Fenrir and Jormungand; think they traded those two for Shawn Green.  

Think about it: Ragnarok is to be preceded by three winters with no summers.  I’d say 2007 and 2008 qualify as winters of the nuclear variety.  And it’s pretty cold out in Flushing these days.

I can’t count how many line-ups Jerry Manuel has presented but I’m sure the number rivals the number of games won, if not games played.  But this lefty-righty nonsense has got to stop; these hitters have no margin for error on the bench, and need to learn to hit pitches from right handers and left handers.  Regularity will breed familiarity.  Familiarity is important, as the alternative–mixing and matching on a day-by-day basis–is obviously not working.

David Wright hitting third in a line-up does not give him the opportunity to produce, given the poor hitting usually placed ahead of him.  And look at the man: he desperately wants to produce.  He feels better when he does.  He feels looser.

I don’t have an answer as to how the line-up should be constructed beyond this, because we’ve not seen a consistent line-up, especially since the loss of Beltran.  Can Daniel Murphy be a great hitter in the two-hole?  How do we know?  He doesn’t hit in that position every day.  Can Gary Sheffield be trusted to hit doubles while in the three-hole?  I doubt it, but who’s to say he won’t instead hit a homer?

David Wright needs not the protection of power hitters ahead of him and behind, but the ego boost of contributing to the team offensively and defensively.  Captains need to feel useful.

I spent the weekend on my couch, a trash can by my side and Gatorade and Ritz crackers at the ready.

But at least I wasn’t at Citi Field.

To tread the line between A Great Deal of Information and Too Much Information, I’ll say that somewhere along the way during Friday night’s game versus the Yankees (L, 9-1), I got whacked with something less-than-good.  My constitution was built by U.S. Steel, but lately it’s been knocked on its heels.  I was no match for a one-two punch of what I believe was an unfortunately undercooked and undeserved green pepper and some stressing news, reporting of which to the masses would certainly cross that aforementioned line.  (It’s not even my news to report; but let’s have good vibes for people who should hopefully get better soon.)

I made it through CC Sabathia’s loss of his no-hitter (praise be to Sheffield), and through an unfortunate bout of foot-in-mouth disease, yelling at a friend for his revealed distaste for people who throw balls back onto the field.

(And let’s get a little basebally here: yes, I know the Cubs fans do that.  But unless the Cubs trademarked it and unless and until it’s banned by Major League Baseball, let people do what they want to do. 

I’m not throwing away a caught ball, but I’ve never caught a ball and I would like to catch a ball.  Others may not care.  It’s their business if they want to throw it back or not.  And just because they do it regularly out in Wrigley Field doesn’t mean Old Man Wrigley made Kenesaw Mountain Landis swear that they’d only do it at Wrigley Field. 

On top of which–and I’d hate to get on the bad side of Cubs fans, whom I dig a great deal–the Cubs haven’t won anything since 1908.  Rather than take this as reason for their deserving of undiluted tradition, I take this as reason for them NOT being deserving of undiluted tradition.

It’s not obnoxious, like playing Neil Diamond during the middle of the eighth inning.  It’s an expression of distaste for the fact that the opposing team has just scored a run or four.  Throw it back if you want.  Just don’t hit any of our outfielders.

There.  Now, had I presented my argument that way, rather than feverishly ranted for ninety seconds, then bellowed in a half-empty stadium that the Cubs could go do something anatomically improbable,  I could have avoided feeling guilty for the rest of the game, and similarly avoided the apology.  I was not a well man.)

I slept about thirty hours this weekend, and it was delightful in hindsight, though waking up soaked through was less-so.  I don’t blame the guy at the sausage stand.  I blame myself.

But I slept, and did not do my duty and watch the balance of the series.  So I missed A.J. Burnett’s ridiculousness and Chien-Ming Wang getting off the schneid.  I went to my default food-poisoned comfort viewing: Six Feet Under and WWII documentaries.  You can’t blame a man who’s on the mend for skipping the Jon Miller And Joe Morgan Show in favor of sleep that doesn’t lead to dreams of Nate Fisher leading the charge through the Ardennes.  I don’t think you can, anyway.

I am now up and about and of middling health.  The Mets are at .500, and two and a half games behind the Phillies.  Both mine and the Mets’ situations are reminiscent of last week at about this time.

I have video of the maelstrom which overtook Citi Field and delayed the game on Friday.  If I deem it worthy, I will post it.  Looked cool on my camera, anyway.

Yes.  Latin this early in the morning, after significant pop culture events conspire to make late-night YouTube hounds of us all. 

There’s no real good video for “Human Nature.”  My friend–of the baseball-learning the other evening–prefers “Man In The Mirror.”  To each their own.

Post hoc, ergo propter hoc.  After this, therefore because.  Id est (i.e.) gibberish.  But good gibberish.  Gibberish we live with on a daily basis.  I had socks.  You came over.  You left.  Socks are no longer where they were.  Never mind an enterprising soul put them in the wash; you took my socks!

In sport, interesting: the Mets were losing and listless.  Bring up Nick Evans.  Nick Evans drives in the coffin runs of the last two victories over the Cardinals (yesterday’s game: W, 3-2).  The reason the Mets were losing and listless was they didn’t have Nick “The Executioner” Evans.

I like Nick Evans and I love that bat stroke he’s got.  I also remember last year’s Colorado series where he came up and was an RBI-doubles machine, then fell off the proverbial cliff.  Back then, the reason why the Mets were losing and listless was the presence in the line-up of Nick “the Black Hole” Evans.

The Mets could be a lot better if Fernando Tatis wasn’t playing, hitting into double plays.  And then a blooper before Ryan Ludwick, and some decent stuff the night before.

Chris Carpenter takes a no-hitter into the fourth.  Ralph Kiner comes into the booth, and talks about Carpenter’s no-hitter, my roommate says.  Sure enough; no-hitter gone.  Mets with life.  (UPDATE: Brooklyn Met Fan appears to love him some Ralph Kiner.)

I love baseball, but at what I believe is the halfway point in my 2009 Citi Field Splurge Pack, causality is starting to wear me a bit thin.  It makes me want to walk into the park tonight and spout all sorts of nonsense about Pelfrey’s prowess and Sabathia’s lack thereof. 

(If I happen to see him, I will demand that Danny Meyer start pumping some distracting Blue Smoke aroma towards the field earlier than the fourth or fifth inning. …That’s a half-joke about Sabathia being a big guy.)

I’m excited for tonight’s game, as I always am, but I’m already sanguine about a letdown and in that, am anticipating a let down.  They took three of four from the Cardinals and lose to the Yankees.  The reason why they lost to the Yankees was that they took three of four from the Cardinals, and any sub-reason you’d like to assign.  No.  Gibberish.

They’ll lose to the Yankees because they won three of four against the Cardinals–the lesser known *** hoc ergo propter hoc, but the stock in trade of pessimists.  No.  Backwards gibberish.

(UPDATE: MLBlogs Network, I’m trying to keep a PG blog yet I’m citing Latinate phrases.  Is there REALLY a need to censor the Latin?  Can’t we find a censor that will accept contextual conditionals? 

Ugh.

Go here and read what I meant to have displayed.  Giggle like a pre-teen if you must.)

The latter softens the coming blow and the former takes the rest of the sting out of it.  The Mets are not invincible.  They weren’t in any year they played games in October.  But on this Friday morning, post hoc and *** hoc (…Lord, give me the strength…) seem to be defying the laws of physics: negative plus negative does not equal more negative, does not equal zilch.  Negative plus negative equals positive.  Hell. The Mets can take this game.  They can take the series.  They can go on a ten-game winning streak, and play Delgado and J. Reyes off the bench when they come back.  Exciting thoughts.

I have no real clue.  I’m trying to remember if I called Wilson Valdez “Wilmer” the other night.  I know my prospects but I only sort of remember my Joe Cool DFAs.  I haven’t done laundry and my “I’m Calling It Shea” T-shirt could’ve benefited from the Peter Venkman Ghostbusters II treatment: a couple hours hanging outside the window, and it’s fine.  Why am I wearing it?

Because I’m avoiding the object lessons of logical fallacies, as explained by smarmy damned Latin.  It’s come to this.  When I start pulling out my eyelashes and making wishes on them, you’ll know I’ve gone Stratosphere.

Mets vs. Yankees.  Pelfrey vs. Sabathia.  Bring on the voodoo dolls and the gypsy curses.