In the Beverly Center (a famous L.A. mall) yesterday, I spotted two Mets caps. Torn between resenting the bandwagoners and marveling at the Mets growing cultural capital, I just had to ask one kid, "are you a real Mets fan?" He wasn't, but I told him he had the right idea anyhow. I think he might have been a little scared by my enthusiasm. Anyhow, hats are flying off the shelves, and we are being taken seriously again.
I don't post as much because, well, for one thing, watching the games on gameday, even though i get to see funny pictures of the players' heads, just doesn't cut it. It IS a lot better way to watch a Steve Trachel start, but that's another story (I'm typing this as he gives it up to the last-place Nats). For another thing, I'm too damn busy with life. And for another thing, this part of the season, though rarely experienced for us metsfans, is kind of boring. Not to say that it doesn't come with its own set of anxieties: over injuries, over whether the club will forget how to win while Willie tinkers with the lineup, over which team the Mets will face in the first round, over how the cursed Yankme's are looming in the distance. But its hard to be fatalistic when the playoff ticket is already punched, and fatalism is at the core of every seasoned Mets fans' being, whether he or she admits it or not. Thus, its hard to post.
Everyday I realize my dream of going to New York for the World Series is a bit far-fetched. Reading reports of $10,000 tickets doesn't really encourage me. But I still need to mentally prepare in order to take a victory in stride, and not allow defeat to reduce me to a quivering shell of a person. Watching a segment on TV about Cubs fans and their disappointment got me thinking. They flashed a lady crying after some or another Cubs loss, and it occured to me, hey I'm really invested in this particular postseason...I might very well be devastated by anything less than a World Series victory. I was bummed out in 2000, but got through it because I thought they'd jetisen Benitez and sign A-Rod and be back again next year. Ouch! Those following dark Art Howey years had more of an impact on my psyche than I thought. Although this club looks set for the foreseeable future, I learned my lesson then: enjoy it to the fullest cause it might not happen again.
Beside scheming to attend games, preparing for the post-season for an out of town fan such as myself is a holistic, even spiritual journey with many components. Such as...
Watching non-Mets related baseball programing.
Sometimes I like to get in touch with the wonder that is baseball by watching baseball related stuff, even if it features the enemy. The other night, I channel surfed my way into Fever Pitch, a movie about the obstacles facing the girl from E.T.'s ability to sustain a relationship with a Red Sox fanatic played by some weird looking guy from Saturday Night Live. Movie's message: Season tickets are cool. I also watched an HBO (i think) documentary on baseball and 9/11 which unfortunately focused on the Yankme's, but still made for poignant viewing. Poignant because the program gives you a feel for how some of the victimized families, not to mention an entire city, were able to use baseball to cope with the disaster, and because you get to see the Diamondbacks take it to the Yankers in game 7. After viewing, (thanks again, Jeremy Giambi, for not sliding) I guess I have to admit that Jeter is not such a dick (but he is still overrated, didn't earn his sucess and is a Yankme). In the film, they too briefly cover what for me was the defining moment of this time in terms of baseball, Mike Piazza's electrifying post 9/11 homer to win it against Atlanta. Anyhow, its worth a view, and reinforced my conviction that baseball is what makes America America for better or worse.
Shopping for memorabilia
Another way I prepare for the post-season is by dreamilly trolling the internet looking for Mets memorabilia, alternatively having my stomach turned by the depths these companies will go to, and fantasizing that I could own some of this stuff too. There's a great short piece in todays NY times about Andy Fogel, a fan with an impressive collection of Mets stuff in his basement and garage. I'd like to meet that guy. (If you only read the black and white hard copy, check out the webpage as the picture is much better in color.) My small but significant collection includes: a Mookie-Buckner signed baseball, a bunch of hats, some tshirts and warmup jackets that I rarely wear, one sinister Mr Met doll, a Pedro action figure, and 1986 RC soda can, a baseball John Franco signed for me at Dodgers Stadium but I let the ink run so its ruined, Mo Vaughn keychain, Benny Agbayani jersey, a nylon Mets wallet and the Mets NY state quarters collection given to me recently by my friend Sam. Of course, I will line these things up on the coffee table as I watch the playoffs, the only way to guarantee success. If the Mets happen to face the (house of) Cardinals, I will duel it out with Pedro versus Mark McGuire bobblehead, if they face the Dodgers, Pedro will take on Eric Gagne bobblehead. It seems only fair. As far as my "collection" goes, I dream of only one addition, one $1000 addition: the 1986 baseball signed by the whole team.
Metsblog ran a little joint promotion with a leading memorabilia company, so I went over to take a look. Is there a more heartbreaking example of dream exploitation than the sports memorabilia market? Is there anything more contrary to the spirit of baseball than sending little kids to get millionare's autographs so that the very rich can add another trophy to their case (or the working class fanatic can blow his kid's community college tuition)? Oh yeah, I forgot the outrageous ticket prices in today's corporate "ballparks." The latest memorabilia rook job seems to be "game used" balls, bats and bases--what a great opportunity for forgers the world round. But I digress. I was blown away to find the Stash's autographed hats and helmets were all sold out!! Someone paid $250 for an autographed chair sat on (?) by the world's worse third base coach. Steiner sports now sells (or tries to sell) Victor Zambrano's chair! Though it is a more functional piece than, say, Mo Vaughn's lobster bib, who the fuck wants that?
Buying expensive Mets clothing
Its one thing to express your love for the Mets by dressing fancy like Mr Met above, outfitting yourself like a teenager. It is another thing to find anything hip in Orange and Blue that doesn't scream "meathead." One promising option, perhaps also for you ladies (such as Mets Grrl) out there who can't find anything decent to wear, is to check out Moonlight Graham, a company who has licenced a bunch of vintage MLB logos which they stick on new tshirts, sweatshirts, hats, jackets, etc. I stumbled into their LA store (323-658-6555) last night when I noticed a Mr. Met thing in the window. They are developing a women's and children's line, and I recommend you check out a retail store (they have one in LA, Boston, and NY somewhere, though the locator function on the website wasn't working when i tried), because the styles available on the website do not look to be representative of their whole line. For example, I bought a "1986 World Series" logo Baseball tshirt ($45), and a discounted Orange Mr. Met logo tshirt ($18.48), and Mrs. Itsmetsforme bought me the best thing in the store, a retro cotton-polyester Mets warmup jacket ($100) with a "Mets" patch on the back, a "1969" on the sleeve, and a Mr. Met patch on the front. None of these things appear on the website. The cuts are more fashionable, but again, I recommend you try them on in the store as they vary widely. They also apparently make limited numbers of each item, and introduce new designs all the time. I don't know if you could say the pricing is reasonable, but hey, you have to sell your car just to buy an authentic jersey these days, so...basically I see it as a trend in the right direction.
My Fear list
Here is my totally honest (somewhat dated) list of teams the Mets could face in the playoffs. You'll notice that my fear's are focused on the NL road to the WS--this bias reflects my general fear of a disappointing early round loss to a lessor team. I do not cheat by using science, statistics, or any evidence whatsoever---I do it W style, with my gut!
1) Yankmes: why why why must they be playing so well right now?
2) Marlins: Ok, Ok I know, it doesnt look like they're going to make it, but I just wanted to express my fear
3) Phil-mes: I dunno why; they're hot right now, and i wasn't overwhelmed by the way the Mets handled them a few weeks back.
4) Dodgers: so very very streaky, with good veterans and decent pitching
5) A's: If they get there, could be trouble
6) Twins: admirable club, but I don't fear them
7) Detroit: same as Twins...do they remember how to win in the postseason?
8) Padres: I don't fear their lineup, mostly cause of the large percentage of ex Mets who never got it done. Sorry, it had to be said.
189) Cardinals: I just can't take them seriously, and it doesnt help that Loopy might be their new closer
Playoff pitching of doom!!!
You know things are not going well if you look up in the playoffs and see this list:
Hopefully today's game will convince Omar that they need to take out the Trash (out of the playoff roster, that is).
The continuing saga of Pay-Rod, 24 plus one, and the legacy of Steve Ph*llips
I posted this thought piece over on Metsblog, but I know absolutely no one read it, so here it is again. It takes the opportunity afforded by a discussion of Arod and why the Mets are better off without him to address what I see as a troubling trend among fans towards Steve Ph*llips revisionist history. See you can use Arod to talk about anything~
"I hate Slappy Mc Payrod as much as the next guy (although I dislike Jeter much more as Yankers go), but at the same time, i think the historical game most posters are playing, picking out certain possibilities and making like they are givens, is kind of spurious. Sure we all like the present Mets team, but no one knows, had the Mets signed Pay-Rod and plugged him into a club that went to the freakin world series, if we wouldn't be sitting on a few World Championships right now. In addition, prospects are moved from position to position, for better or worse, when clubs want to hold on to them, so you could move a Reyes to 2nd base or a Wright to 1st to accomodate Pay-Rod. There is no way to tell how it would have played out. You could argue that at their best, Arod and Beltran are similar players, quiet performers whose play looks so effortless that they sometimes are criticized for being automatons who don't care, or arent trying (of course Beltran has been clutch in a playoff series). Arod has withered under the pressures of asshat Yankmes fans and the NY media and I can definitely imagine a Mets team built around him where he would not face the same pressures. Metsfans are demanding but we're not super-entitled fairweather asshats like your average Yankme fan. And we dont have any pricks like Jeter for him to compete with. That said, you still have to evaluate the move not to sign Arod based on the conditions AT THE TIME, not cherry picking things that later worked out or didn't depending on your argument. A-rod wasn't that big an ass back then, in fact, I'd argue, as a hater of all things Yankme, that his current environment has a lot to do with how far his stock has fallen. The Spankees are just the wrong team for him. For the Mets, it would have basically only costed money to sign him, and Phillips and management blew it. You need only turn on your world wide leader to see that Steve Phillips is still a pinhead, and I am getting real tired of those saying that history proved that his mistakes were actually brilliant strategies. He deserves his position in the Mets hall of shame, not just for the terrible decisions he made. Every GM makes their share of stinkers, even if they don't trade for Mo Vaughn based on a batting cage session. What is evil about this doof is 1) his "strategic vision" for the Mets was so dead wrong and, combined with his rotisserie style gm-ing, ultimately made mets fans hang their heads in shame at a historical moment we could have accomplished great things, 2) the way he carried himself as a GM, including the arrogant way he undermined Valentine (still the best post-Davey Johnson met manager), his distracting and unprofessional sexual involvements, and his foolish public pronouncements. I could go on, but in a nutshell, Steve Phillips was an embarrassment and a fool. Here's another way to think about the Arod question, for those of you who want to revise history: You think Omar would have blown the chance to a HOF ss who wanted badly to be a Met? Somehow, I don't think so."
How can you disagree with that argument??!?
If we forget the mistakes of the Steve Ph*llips era...
This maybe the product of having nothing better to think about during this last Nats series, and I may regret admiting this, but the better Alfonso Soriano plays, the less I oppose the idea of the Mets acquiring him in the future. If he is willing to play there, he now seems like an option in left field more than at second. I know that sounds counter-intuitive for the Mets needs, but I never liked him do to a combination of his 1) Yankee-ness, 2) attitude 3) strikeouts, and 4) defense. Seeing that his offensive production is impossible to ignore, if his defensive liability can be lessened or hidden in left, than I'd be more interested in his services. I have even started to wonder if he could handle second if Lastings blossoms and deserves the job next spring. With Jose and Soriano on the basepaths, it may be hard for batters to concentrate on batting them in--I imagine them both getting exhuberent and trying to steal third at the same time. However, I am still opposed to Sorianno being an off season priority, as some fans have sugested, because pitching, not offense, is job number 1, 2, 3, and 4 for the Metsies this winter.
My friend Sam (a NYer) happened to run into the immortal '86 parachuter Michael Sergio who I celebrated a few posts ago; Sam told Mr. Sergio to come check out my humble little blog. I am trying to get up the gumption to email him, because I want to know more about the plane that flew him to his mission, and I want to see what he thinks about this season, etc., but we'll see.