Show Us Your Wits! Roundtabling the Mets Pt. I
Q: [disembodied moderator] First off, I have to ask: what just happened? When we started planning this roundtable, the Mets looked bad in an unredeemable way, like they were headed for some familiar territory. Willie was being led out of town circus-style, Wagner was popping off left and right, Reyes was throwing tantrums. The Tampa Rays were looking good to many of us as a backup plan. Then suddenly the Mets are kinda good, even indulging in a little win streaking before the break. Both Carlos’ are swingin’ for the fences. Reyes is smiling. What gives? Were they just fattening us up for the emotional slaughter? Or does this team have what it takes to lose to the Red Sox in October (just kidding). Are you surprised at all?
Itsmetsforme: For me, the big story is the apparent rebirth of my favorite diarist and political agitator, Carlos Delgado. This leads me to the obvious question, if Carlos Delgado was a sit-com from the early to mid 80s, which one would he be?
Metstradamus: It would have to be Doogie Howser. Come on, the book? Doogie's computer? It's all very introspective.
Dan: Dear Diary, I hit a homerun today. Its funny how every hated me when I spent too much time saving lives and not enough hitting. But now they love me, and I might finally get to second base with Wanda and the Mets.
Gerard: You're forgetting what seems to be the resurrection of Aaron Heilman, a development alone that oughta be worth 2-3 games in the standings [editor's note: to be fair, this seemed kind of true at the time]. I'm pleased to see the increased production on the part of Reyes, Delgado, Beltran and Wright since Willie's dismissal, but let's hope the Mets consider voting a playoff share to someone who really deserves it: Brett Myers.
Dan: Considering the theoretical talent on the team, sooner or later enough of them had to start playing well at once for us to do something. I guess Manual drew up a calendar for everyone so that on any given night two players have the assignment of actually playing up to their potential.
Itsmetsforme: I guess the turnabout was surprising to me. This team just felt wrong, up until the Phillies series. Though I will say the Willie saga for some reason reminded me of that scene in the Holy Grail where Lancelot just keeps charging that castle.
Jaap: What took longer, but was most expected, firing Willie Randolph or the execution of Angel Nieves Diaz ?
Metstradamus: I don't know but I heard the executioner’s mask that Omar wore while firing Willie has been signed and put up on eBay.
Itsmetsforme: Well, the Angel Diaz affair wasn't anywhere near as painful as my doomed love affair with Victor Diaz. This "Mini Manny" tatoo is surprisingly resistant to laser alteration.
Q: Let’s look at the first half. This season has certainly been special so far. Not since Bobby Valentine’s Warton lecture series have we bloggers had so much good Mets material to work with. In a way, we Mets fans are rootless right now, what with the Atlanta franchise floundering and us being forced to acknowledge the Phillies as our rival. Thanks in part to the Santana factor and other successes of the Omar regime, we now expect our club to be competitive, which is quite a departure from the last decade and has perhaps deepened the feeling of disappointment. So have we reached the pinnacle of surreal-ity with this club, or is there a ways to go?
Metstradamus: Ask me that question when David Wright gets mentioned in a Savings and Loan scandal.
Dan: I kind of like Philly as a rival. It’s geographically close, and the fandom has the same history of teams that just can’t seem to win it all. I think especially if the Braves franchise continues its plummet, we could get a nice thing going, a National League counterpoint to Sox/Yanks, which would I believe make the Braves the equivalent of the Blue Jays, but with less maple syrup.
Jaap: I wonder which quote that eventually led to sacking was funnier: a. "Is it racial? Huh, it smells a little bit. I don't know how to put my finger on it. But I think there is something there," Willie Randolph’s take on racism in the media, OR b. "They were cheerleading in the dugout like a bunch of softball girls," Nelson Figueroa's etiquette lecture following a Nats' beating?
Metstradamus: It has to be the softball comment. Especially considering that the Mets later brought up Robinson Cancel, who looks strangely similar to USA softballer Crystl Bustos.
Itsmetsforme: I dunno, besides the fact that he delivered that line while practically boarding the Greyhound bus to oblivion, I do like how Figgy’s comment plays into a recurrent theme of Metropolitan discomfort with ladies in the dugout. I’m no Freud, but it's not like they're trying to craw into the locker room hot tub and we’re up in arms. Of course, to watch the Mets is to accept the need to shore up your manliness; bombarded as we are with Just for Men and Giuseppe Franco commercials, who can blame us?
Jaap: Along those lines, if the Mets were forced to wear pink arm bands for Mother's Day, what will they be forced to wear on Dog Day, September 5th against thePhillies?
Metstradamus: They'll have to put a pinch of Alpo between their cheek and gums.
Dan: This will inevitably lead to Mike Piazza coming out of retirement to announce he is not a dog lover.
Gerard: Not for the first (or last time), I would discourage NY's mutt lovers from patronizing Dog Day At Shea, at least as long as the NSAL are the beneficiaries.
I'm not sure there's anything surreal as opposed to appropriate about a rivalry with a team 90 miles south (and one that has their own share of clubhouse soap operas / paranoid-as-fuck Phans). Some of us are old enough to wish the Cards and Pirates were still in the NL East.
Itsmetsforme: I really can’t imagine Shea Dog Day without Fran Healy. Those pooches really brought that man the kind of genuine joy that I someday hope to experience.
Q: Earlier this season, Keith Hernandez caused quite a stir by claiming that Jose Reyes needs to get his grown man on in so many words. But have the Mets really babied Reyes enough? Or should they baby him in other ways? Alternatively, could you recommend some more ways Mex can get involved in the direction of this club, aside from gender discrimination and in-flight consultations?
Metstradamus: All-Star Break campfire cookouts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Gerard: Unless Mex is privy to some clubhouse gossip that's-4-real, we really have no way of knowing for sure whether not Reyes' is treated with kid gloves. And with that outburst in mind --- along with Keith's brief squabble with Mike Piazza several years ago --- let's try to maintain some separation between the dugout and the broadcast booth. (None of you guys thought of Sid Fernandez as the new strength and conditioning coach?)
Itsmetsforme: I really don’t think it’s fair that Keith, alone among former Mets, should shoulder the burden of telling these guys to shape up. Where the hell is George Foster in all this? He knew clubhouse chemistry, I’ll tell ya.
...Part II coming next week...