October 2007

Tricks. (No Treats.)

That was our October, courtesy of the Mets.  A pretty dirty trick, I’d say:  that amazin’ fall from first.

Spider_2 But here’s hoping that come NEXT Halloween, the Mets will have plenty of TREATS in store for all their fans. 

In the meantime, here is some Halloween/Mets art work done by my daughter two years ago. 

1005mlb_halloween2 

Some of the Mets players she depicted at that time have moved on to other teams.  Also, her artistic skills have become even more refined since this piece.  Obviously, I’m totally biased, but I’m just a total fan of this kid’s work!!

Infidelity

Rockies2_3 It’s over.

And I knew even going into it that it was just a fling.

A flirtation, really.

But it felt wrong anyway.

Every time I put on that Colorado Rockies cap, it felt just like the betrayal that I knew deep down it was.

I know it is never acceptable to use the excuse, "Well, everyone else is doing it," but I’d like to mention that my usually Mets-faithful husband was involved in his own post-season dalliance with the Boston Red Sox.  Unlike me, however, he seemed to suffer no self-condemnation because of it, claiming that (1) he has always like the BoSox, (2) his late mother was a big fan of the team, and (3) as a big-time Yankee-hater, cheering on the Red Sox–especially with the Mets out of contention–is his patriotic duty.

*****

But back to my own transgressions.

The strange thing is, I had actually assumed I would have no interest in post-season baseball.

What I found, though, was that with the miserable and seemingly sudden way that the Mets’ season ended, watching post-season baseball filled a void.

What started as an antidote to the bad taste the Mets had left in my mouth at the end of their fatal season, however, did not come without an unpredictable consequence:   I found myself unable to watch baseball–even without the Mets involved–dispassionately.

I guess I should have realized that it would be impossible to remain a respectful distance and "just be friends" with the Rockies.

I tried to justify my indiscretion by telling myself such things as, "Well, the Mets are out of it anyway," and "I’m just rooting for the National League team in the World Series."

I tried to assuage my guilt over my philandering by telling myself that it was like rooting for a "home team" of sorts since one of the Rockies’ farm teams–the AA Tulsa Drillers–play 70 miles from my hometown.

Having been aware of the tragedy that befell the Drillers’ this season followed by the chivalrous act of the Rockies players voting playoff shares to the Coolbaugh family, plus seeing the image of Mike Coolbaugh’s young sons throwing out the first pitch for Game 3 of the NLDS at Coors Field, my post-season love-in with the Rockies didn’t seem nearly so reprehensible.

Not only did this team have this sympathetic secondary story, but the fans were so into it.  Here you were, smack dab in the heart of football country in the middle of football season, and these folks had baseball fever!  They even went as far as filing applications to the U.S. Patent and Trade Office for exclusive rights to trademark the expression "Rocktober."

Not only was I impressed with the fans’ tremendous support for their team and excitement for its surprise playoff run, but I became increasingly irritated the more I read online and in papers and heard on television about how this World Series’ television ratings would be, in so many sportscasters’ and sportswriters’ opinions–if it ended up being a match between the two Midwest teams of Cleveland and Denver–even lower than last year’s ratings (which, I guess, set some all-time low.)

In other words, "Could some East or West Coast team please get into the World Series so that there could be a modicum of interest in signing on advertisers?"  God, I hate when television and advertising runs sports…which is like, all the time, I know.  I don’t try to to kid myself.  It’s just that it is more obvious at some times than at others.  But I digress…

So, there was this coming-together-after-tragedy feel-good subplot going on, the Midwestern fans not expecting a post-season and terribly excited about having one for the very first time ever and big, bad Fox Sports hoping not to have to broadcast from Middle America.  I should’ve realized at this point that the situation was setting the stage for my complete loss of self-control.

I found myself getting more and more involved.  I was thinking about my crush constantly.  I spent hours reading about the Rockies on the Internet.  I replaced desktop space on my computer formerly occupied by Mets players with an image of–yes, I confess–Matt Holliday.  I even pulled out my old John Denver records, singing along to the strains of "Rocky Mountain High".

The team itself couldn’t have been more attractive to any dejected baseball fan with a wandering eye:  young, hungry, excited.  These guys were on a roll, and there was no stopping them.  Rather than seeming to pose an obstacle, their lack of post-season experience appeared more a reflection of the team’s youthful naivete and exuberance. 

Admittedly, watching these young, limber players was something of a cheap thrill, but after an entire season of hearing about and witnessing all of the various middle-aged Mets players’ maladies keeping them on the DL and from doing their best playing all season, can you blame a gal for looking?!

Okay, I admit it:  I was playing around with a younger team.

I definitely knew the flirtation had escalated to something more along the lines of an affair when I ordered Rockies caps for myself and my daughter on MLB.com.  Now, don’t judge my daughter harshly on this one.  She is innocent.

First of all, she’s all of ten years old.  Secondly, she did not become nearly as wrapped up in all of this as I did.  And, thirdly purple happens to be her favorite color; I think that’s the primary reason she donned this cap, actually.

I wore the cap to work during the NLCS and the World Series, and my colleagues–knowing me to be the die-hard Mets fan that I am–looked at me incredulously.  I sheepishly offered that I was just wearing the cap during the post season, but the looks on their faces said it all.

Even before the end of the baseball season, true remorse had set in.

*****

Having a team to root for in the post season is sort of like having a date for the prom, I guess:  it’s the big event at the end of the year, and you really don’t want to miss it.  But if you can’t go with your sweetheart, you might as well stay at home.  It’s just not the same going with your brother’s best friend, no matter how much you tell yourself that it will be all right.

I should’ve sat this one out.

Having a team to root for in the post season–even a young, promising, hungry team–was not worth the life of lies and deception I had been living.  And that would’ve been true no matter the outcome of the Series.  Honestly.

So, as many major league players–and their agents–are wondering at this time of year which team’s cap they will don in Spring Training, let this serve as my confession and announcement that I will, from here on out, remain forever faithful to the Mets.  I know that that may make for some very lonely Octobers with no "dates" for the World Series or even the post season.  But since I’m in this relationship for the long haul, I’m prepared to live with that, and my eyes will not wander again. I promise.

If somebody exciting, new, and hot comes along and tries to "sweep" me off my feet again–even with something as sexy as twenty wins in a row–I’ll know just what to say,

"No thanks.  I’m taken:  by the New York Mets!"

Matsui at the MET!

Hidekiaida_copycrop

I wasn’t there, but believe me, it’s the first thing all my colleagues told me about the next day when I got to work:  on Tuesday evening’s performance of Verdi’s Aida at the Metropolitan Opera, sitting on the very front row of the theater was none other than Hideki Matsui!

Apparently his seat location kept his presence at the opera somewhat low-key except for a few young autograph hounds.   However, with the orchestra players’ vantage point looking squarely into his face, he was apparently shown no mercy by my colleagues at the two intermissions and was pestered by hangers-on and autograph seekers from within the orchestra pit.

Although everyone who was there said that it was a really neat thing to see him in person ("He is so BIG!"), a couple of friends that remember said, "Yeah, but it was NOTHIN’ like when John Olerud came to the MET to see Wozzeck"!!

I’m sorry I missed seeing the Yankees outfielder (even if I’m decidedly NOT a Yankee fan!), and it got me to thinking:  with the Mets finished with their season why not issue our guys each an invitation to come to the opera? 

I figure some of them are back in the Dominican or Puerto Rico other points south by now, but there are probably others who are still here in our fair city who might enjoy taking advantage of some of the countless cultural offerings–including opera–that are either unavailable in the summertime or that they simply do not have time to take advantage of during the baseball season.

So, I figured I could use this forum to issue an informal invitation to any Mets players or staff members looking to expand their horizons in the off-season, but then it suddenly came to me that I could go one better than that.  Why not extend the invitation to them to come to the MET and appear ONSTAGE??!!

In case they or any other New York area readers of this blog have not heard, the MET has issued a casting call for supers, or extras, for the Prokofiev opera War and Peace–based on the Tolstoy novel of the same title–to be done later this year and had a casting call last week and will hold another on October 27th for extras to portray soldiers in Napoleon’s army.   

Granted, I doubt any of the players would have the desire to enter into such an enterprise for the fame and fortune considering all that has come their way already (although the MET does pay $20 per act for being a super.)  But what a great gift that would be to us fans–despondent at not having seen our boys in the post-season–to see them in November and December!

  • Albeit in a far different venue. 
  • And, sorry to say, one can’t get hot dogs and beer nor even EAT during an opera.  Pity that.
  • However, the seats are a whole lot more comfortable!
  • And one will not get drenched by rain.
  • However, one will also not catch a souvenir foul ball either.

*******

Warandpeacelowres_3 Sasha Semin, the "marching captain" for the production, put audtionees through their paces, as you can see here.

08280716crop_2_1

But, I figure you can high-step with the best of ‘em what with all of the warm-ups the Mets trainers put you guys through.

Strategical_map_1812_1

How about the opportunity of living out the fantasy of being in Napoleon’s army without the reality of that military campaign’s bloodshed, primitive weaponry, starvation, disease, and the bitter chill of a Russian winter?

**********

Napoleonichat_copy_3

Wrightinfantry_copy_5  And let’s certainly not forget about the COSTUMES!!

How classy is the uniform of the French Infantry circa 1812??

TRES MAGNIFIQUE!!!

**********

 

Eagle_infantry_bardin_6 And perhaps a little

MILITARY DISCIPLINE

might not be such a bad things for some Mets players.

Josefrenchinfantry_copy_5 Considering some of the rumors of lack of discipline within the Mets’ ranks  and the fights that broke out toward the end of the season, the lack of hustle observed in not running out ground balls, etc., maybe a return to a little "basic training" might not hurt a few of those guys.  Ya think?

Maybe a bit of "boot camp" before Spring Training–that and observing those young, hungry, fired-up Rockies playing hard in the World Series–would serve as the "kick in the pants" a few of the Mets players supposedly lacking motivation near the end of this past season could use.

One Week Ago Today…

Graf_mets100107_3

…there was still hope. But it quickly died with seven runs in the first third of the first inning.

…we still had a chance.  But the Nationals didn’t come to our aid.

…the Phightin’ Phils were on a roll and pheelin’ mighty phine.  Less than a week later, they looked phlat, and today there’s not nearly so much swagger in the City of Brotherly Love.

…I was depressed, incredulous, and–like Moises Alou–pretty much hated baseball. Today, I empathize with the Cubbies fan, but I also feel the tremendous joy and happiness of the Rockies fan.

*****

Naturally, I wish it were the Mets celebrating a NLCS victory, but I couldn’t be happier for the Rockies and their fans. 

7nsundxm_1 Not only is this their first trip to the NLCS, but there are special "feel good" associations with this club and its win this year. 

In a very classy gesture, the Rockies players voted playoff shares to the family of AA coach Mike Coolbaugh.

And his two small sons threw out the first pitch at last night’s historic game.

                    *****

When I realized that only one week had gone by since that devastating loss at Shea, I could hardly believe it.  It seems like weeks have passed.

That makes me realize that I (and hopefully the Mets organization) will be able to move beyond the Collapse of 2007 so much sooner than I ever realized and–perhaps even before the 2007 World Series is played–I may even be ready to sing a few bars of "Meet the Mets" in anticipation of meeting and greeting the 2008 Mets Team in April at Shea.

How many weeks until "pitchers and catchers report?"

Taps for My Team

Taps1_1

"Where’s Susan been?"

Apparently my "absence" on this site–particularly my lack of a response to the lamentable conclusion of the Mets’ season–has been noticed.

I apologize for my lapse in posting a timely response to a newsworthy event directly related to the subject to which this blog is specifically dedicated. 

Frankly, the mere fact of knowing that someone is interested in reading a post of mine will help to lift my spirits somewhat in what has been a pretty low time since, oh, Sunday evening…so thanks!  Also, the act of putting my thoughts together will distract me from the fact that the Phillies, not the Mets, are playing the Rockies on TBS as I write this.  Sigh…

Kaz Matsui just hit a Grand Slam to make it 6-3 Rockies. YES-S-S-S-S-S!!!!!

I have experienced a myriad of emotions in response to the Mets’ denoument.  With profound disappointment, shock, and a general emptiness being among the most prevalent feelings, my fear has been that if I sat down to write about my response to the events of this past week, the post I would end up with would be loquacious and self-pitying.

The resulting post, I feared, would primarily serve as a personal catharsis rather than as interesting reading for anyone else.

Secondly, any observations or criticisms that I have about the team and its downfall–why it happened, how it could’ve been avoided, etc.–have already been voiced by the media, by bloggers, by one’s colleagues at the watercooler–well before the end of the season and in countless post-mortems that followed immediately after the end of the Mets’ collapse.  While I certainly have my own opinions, I’m not sure any of them are completely original.

I’m quite certain the world is not waiting with baited breath to hear what Susan Spector would’ve done differently if she were managing the team or making trades.

*****

Questionmark123_1 Since Sunday evening, I keep thinking that there will be one image–a photograph, perhaps–that will sum it all up for me.  I guess the cartoon at left comes the closest for me.

Summing it up:  I do think that’s part of the problem for at least this Mets fan. 

With Glavine having such a horrible outing on the very last day of the regular season, I assume that is the reason that the team did not come out on the field to say "goodbye" to the fans…perhaps that and the fact that by then Reyes was getting booed at every at-bat and (I heard–I had left by then) the crowd was chanting, "Fire Willie!"  No doubt the team feared the crowd’s wrath if they came out onto the field at that point.

I’m not sure how this could’ve been accomplished, but I wish we fans could’ve been provided some sort of closure on the season.  In spite of a devastating collapse, this team still provided a great season and came within ONE GAME of going to the playoffs.  They provided some very exciting baseball a lot of the summer, and yet all of us–fans and players and management–were left with a sour taste in our mouths and no way to truly express appreciation for the good that DID happen. 

So how do you make that bad taste go away? Maybe some fans would’ve felt better if Willie Randolph had been fired.  Mike Francesa of WFAN talked about the kind of fan that would not be satisfied until someone "paid" for this debacle, i.e., the "head on a platter" mentality.  Obviously, Randolph’s job is safe and I, for one, would not have felt any better had he lost his job.

  • Telling ourselves, "There’s always next year?"

              Sounds kinda lame, doesn’t it?

  • Rooting against the Phillies?

              Nah.  Only provides limited satisfaction.

  • Rooting for the Yankees?

              What, are you NUTS??!!  I’m not THAT desperate.  Puh-LEAZE!

  • Focus on the things in life other than baseball?

     That’s what I’m trying to do at the moment. 

     I’m meeting with limited success, but I’ll keep you posted.

     Literally. 

     Sooner, next time, I promise. 

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