May 2008

Super Subs

 

TatisSub.jpgNothing personal or anything, Carlos Delgado.

Really. 

I don’t know if your recent benching by Willie Randolph has enabled you to “clear your head” or not, but I do know that it has allowed for some MAJORLY impressive contributions from the bench.

Collectively referred to on-air as the “Super Subs” by Keith Hernandez in last night’s SNY-TV coverage, bench players have played a huge role in the past two games.

Last night, Damion Easley had several hits, and his comrades Endy Chavez and Fernando Tatis obviously kept us in the game and then some through extra innings for an oh-so-rare come-from-behind win! 

 

How about that for some extra RELISH?!

 

The previous evening–also a win–saw terrific production by those three players as well as Ramon Castro.    

 

EndySub.jpgNot only did we get some great stuff from the bench the past two nights, but–reading between the lines–it also seems that perhaps a fire has been lit under Omar Minaya:  he may not be content to just sit back and wait for Delgado to get out of the slump  he’s been in for what seems like forever.

 

Apparently, Omar’s GOING SHOPPING!

 

In the meantime, whatever the lineup, I look forward to going to Shea tonight to cheer the Mets on for–dare I say it?–a possible THIRD win in a row!

Thanks, guys, for an exciting couple of nights of baseball!

 
CastroSub.jpg
 
 

DamianSub.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And particular thanks to those “Super Subs”

for helping us WRAP up a come-from-behind win! 

You are my HEROES! 

No Brainer: Put Church on the DL already!

head185.jpgI was very disturbed to find out when I opened today’s New York Times that the Mets have perhaps inadvertently done harm to Ryan Church  by putting him in to pinch hit a handful of times since his collision with Atlanta Braves shortstop Yunel Escobar.

Although he was repeatedly asked how he was feeling and claimed he was good-to-go, it appears that having him make the road trip–much less pinch hit–would not have been recommended by medical specialists.

I winced reading that, upon his return home on Sunday, his ears“felt like they were ready to explode.”

Goodness gracious, I know that the guys want to put together some wins–for their sake and for that of their closely-watched manager–but please, let’s not lose perspective here!

Please, Ryan, in the words of Corey Koskie–someone who speaks from experience, it’s not worth it.”

Please stay home, rest, enjoy your wife and newborn, and avoid the light and other painful stimuli.

You don’t want to mess around:  the third time may be a charm. 

church600.jpg

Oh…and after you give Koskie a call as he suggested, maybe then give me a call too. 

As a sufferer of frequent migraine headaches, I’d be very interested in knowing the name of your neurologist.

Take care of yourself and be well, Ryan.

The Fat Lady Has Sung.


schools-out_i34.jpgNo, I don’t think it’s over for the Mets for the season, although I realize I may be one of very few fans who feel that way at this point.

And, no, the title of this post is not meant to suggest that I feel Willie Randolph should be fired, although again, I realize that is probably a minority opinion.

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Rather, the title of this post refers to the fact that the Metropolitan Opera season concluded over a week ago, the MET Orchestra’s final symphonic concerts at Carnegie Hall have taken place, and I find myself in the enviable position of being on vacation for three months.

 

It was about this time last year that I was inspired to start a blog and, having just started my summer vacation, it was something I felt I could devote some time to.

As in summers past, once again I have more time to devote to personal interests, but I cannot say that I have been terribly inspired to write very much about the Mets these days.

choke.gif

 

Heck, I don’t even feel like rubbing it in to Yankees fans I know that their team is currently last place in their division! 

 

As one of (at least it seems) few optimists, I have been of the opinion that (1) it is still relatively early in the season and (2) no other team in our division has had such an amazing start as to have left the rest of the division in the dust.  I remind myself that (3) the Mets have been plagued with a lot of unfortunate injuries, but that a real boost has come from some unexpected places in the interim:  Claudio Vargas, Fernando Tatis, and–most recently–Nick Evans come to mind.

These are the things I have been trying to keep in mind when fans at work and WFAN callers have been calling for Willie’s departure for the better part of May.

 

I have actually always liked the fact that Willie Randolph tends to maintain a placid exterior whether the team loses or wins.   Although others have viewed this as a lack of passion for the game or think that his showing anger and distress might serve to motivate players, it has always been my opinion that by NOT showing any overt distress over losses or botched plays, he was communicating a trust in his players.  To me, it said that he realized that they themselves were just as distressed, upset, and angry at themselves–maybe more so–than he could be at them.

I have also always felt that by not going ballistic when a player was doing poorly or made a bad play, he was sending the positive message that he knew that the player was capable of playing better and would do so the next time he found himself in a similar situation–having learned from his mistake–or was trusting that a slumping player would–with time and the coaching staff’s assistance–find his way out of his slump.

I have also never understood why fans think a manager should make a big hoo-ha about umpire’s calls that are clearly not going to be reversed, e.g., arguing balls and strikes.   What exactly is that supposed to prove? 


conductor.jpgOrchestra musicians really love it, by the way, when a conductor stops in the middle of rehearsing a passage of music to berate a musician for a wrong note or reed that didn’t speak properly. 

“Like I didn’t KNOW that?  What do you think I am…stupid?!!!!”

And I figure–on live television and in front of a stadium of thousands–ball players must similarly detest a manager visibly embarassing them for something they’ve done.

But as I continue to hear and read sentiments such as “the Mets are far too great a team to be playing below .500″ and “they’ve been lackluster ever since the middle of last season”, I find myself beginning to wonder if a change in leadership might help the Mets.

Although I truly think that there is a place for Willie Randolph’s and his managerial mentor Joe Torre’s managing style, maybe it is just not a good fit with this team and it’s particular set of problems.

Believe me, I hate the “they can’t fire the PLAYERS and they have to do SOMETHING, so fire the manager already” mentality.  And for the longest time, my response to this suggestion is that that would essentially be a knee-jerk reaction. 

That logic seems as flawed to me as our current Commander in Chief arguing loudly for “payback” for the atrocities of September 11th by instigating a war with a country totally unresponsible for the attack.

I’ve held onto the opinion that the Mets’ lethargy should not be put upon Willie, but with the Mets continuing to play one-step-forward-two-steps-back baseball, even I am now beginning to wonder if there is something to the argument that the Mets need a manager that will get them fired up. 

Honestly, I don’t see why personal pride alone has not been incentive enough for the players themselves to summon the collective indignation, embarassment, self-loathing, grit, or anger to turn things around on their own with their current manager.

But, if the Wilpons ultimately decide that only a change in managerial leadership will get the Mets out of their current malaise and playing with some consistency, then I say forget Bobby Valentine’s smug grin and fake moustache.  And don’t even dignify Gary Carter proferring his services with any kind of response. 


7e67edd1.jpgNo, I have their man for them: 

Frank Robinson.

If management thinks some ball-busting, no-nonsense managing is in order here, I say bring him out of retirement and BRING HIM ON!

With the current climate of highly-paid players with the equivalent of tenure being coached by far lesser paid managers with no job security at all–or “the inmates running the asylum” to use Gary Cohen’s amusing metaphor, maybe a more in-your-face manager would work better for the Mets than one who always shows his players respect.

I mean, maybe a guy whose answer to racism and death threats was a handgun carried on his person would instill some fear in and remove some of the swagger from those players who need to be brought down a peg or two!  Robinson was even arrested for brandishing the gun on a short order cook who refused to serve him!

More recently, Commissioner Bud Selig called on Robinson to become baseball’s police officer, its vice president of on-field operations, in 1999.  He was asked to reduce on-field violence.  

For an example of what one surmises must be some sort of managerial scare tactics on his part, one must go back only as far as a few seasons ago to a time in Robinson’s stint as manager of the Washington Nationals. 

During his time there, the recalcitrant Alfonso Soriano’s open defiance at the Left Field assignment given to him by Robinson immediatley softened into almost subservient acceptance following what had obviously been a most persuasive discussion behind closed doors.

Although in recent interviews, Robinson has indicated that he does not wish to return to managing, he does seem wistful about being involved with the game in some way.  It is obvious from a 2007 USA Today article entitled “Baseball Needs Frank Robinson” that I am not the only one who thinks Robinson’s departure from baseball has been premature.

While I do not think it was wise of Willie Randolph to have publicly made his recent accusations of racism playing a part in how he has been portrayed–at least on television–in his role as manager, I am not the only person watching the events of this past week play out that has thought that perhaps we as a society like to think that race is a non-issue–especially in professional sports–but in fact, we are really kidding ourselves if we think we are past this issue as a society. 


dellsports-frankrobinson.jpgEngaging Frank Robinson as a manager for the Mets would also serve to dispel any accusations of racism playing a part in the fans’ or management’s dissatisfaction in Randolph’s job as manager of the Mets.


 I hope things settle down for Willie Randolph and for the Mets, b
ut if drastic measures are deemed necessary, I think Frank Robinson should be given a phone call. 


 “He solidified the club.  We became a great team
when he came to know us and how much he could do for all of us.”

  –Brooks Robinson

 

Cheerleading for Church


 
 O.K., you naysayers out there: 

NOW how do you feel about that Lastings Milledge trade?!


cheerleader_outline_graphic copy.jpgPersonally, I’ve been singing the praises of Church and Schneider all season long.  (Not on this blog because of other commitments.)  If there were any remaining doubts in anyone’s mind as to the positive impact these two have made on the team, last night’s game–despite Milledge’s impressive catch–should’ve dispelled those.

Omar Minaya’s prescient decision of this past fall continues to pay huge dividends, game after game.

As for the distraction of the rhythmic cheering and chantingin the manner of “softball girls”–emanating from the visitors’ dugout in the previous evening’s game, I have a few cheers of my own that I would gladly chant at Lastings Milledge, Elijah Dukes (only at a safe distance), et al., given the chance: 

 We’ve got Schneider,

Yes, we do!

We’ve got Schneider,

And CHURCH too!!

cheerleader copy.jpgMaybe Cowbell Man could back me up on this one:  

cheer003.gifRyan, Ryan, he’s our man!

If he can’t catch it, NO ONE can! 

 

Perhaps not one to fire up the crowd per se, but it does mention another player:
 


One, two, three, four

RBIs, we want some more!

Five, six, seven, eight

Church on deck, we’re lookin’ great!

Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve

T’morrow we’ll be pitchin’ Pelf!

 


 


Or, there’s always this standby, guaranteed to immediately silence the opposition:
yrtyry7.gif
 

We want a pitcher

Not a glass of water!

 

Feel free to add your own! 

You–and the Mets dugout–can check out this website if you need inspiration to help you get started: 

http://cheerleading.about.com/od/cheerschantsyells/Cheers_Chants_and_Yells.htm

A Chorus of Disapproval

ist2_27979_sour_note.gifI’ve been super busy at the MET lately…so busy that I’ve haven’t been posting on a regular basis.  I have, however, been catching what games I can at Shea and on TV and radio around rehearsals and performances.

With one more week of the opera season, followed by two symphonic performances at Carnegie Hall the following week, I look forward to very soon devoting more time to the BASEBALL season.

While I haven’t had time to devote to my blog lately, I have keep up on the team and have read a lot of related news items as well as other bloggers’ posts.

Since my last post on Carlos Delgado’s response to Shea fans’ insistence on a curtain call, it seems everyone has weighed in on the subject of the Mets fans’ booing the players and, additionally, whether or not Delgado should’ve consented to the mercurial Shea fans’ request. 

Although I wouldn’t have advised it, Willie Randolph even addressed the issue of the fans’ negativity.

Having been in attendance at Shea this past weekend, it does seem to me that the fans are maybe not quite as testy–or at least waiting longer to pass judgment and perhaps giving players the benefit of the doubt..for now.

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While it does not happen nearly as frequently (except perhaps at the La Scala opera house in Milan), opera fans have also been known to voice their dissaproval of an artist whom they think is not measuring up to appropriate standards. 

I assume that, if asked, these vocal (pun intended) audience members–not unlike similarly disgruntled baseball fans–would probably justify their response as appropriate given the high ticket price they had paid for their evening’s entertainment. 

They would probably site the large fee that the said artist commanded for the performance as well, although that fee would–except in some cases–not be comparable to the yearly salaries of professional baseball players. 

Expressing discontent at the performance of an opera, however, has sometimes resulted in a backlash against the heckler/s themselves from supporters of that artist in the audience, opera house personnel, or even the artist him/herself.

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Imagine, just for a minute, if the next time Carlos Delgado was roundly booed, he just walked off the field and into the clubhouse and refused to participate in the rest of game?

 

Tenor Roberto Alagna actually did storm out of a performance at La Scala in December of 2006 when–after being booed for his difficult opening aria in Verdi’s Aida–he indignantly left the stage.  Mr. Alagna’s cover (understudy), was quickly summoned and sent in as a replacement.  Time did not permit the cover to change into costume, however. 

Either that, or in his haste to depart, Mr. Alagna left the opera house fully dressed for the role of Rhadames, leaving a costume unavailable.

 

This video–assembled by an Italian news agency–shows Alagna being booed following the closing bars of “Celeste Aida”, his brusque departure and–later–his cover singing onstage in street clothes.  

 

 

Now imagine Damion Easley, given barely enough time to round up a glove, running out on the field to cover first base at the top of an inning following a disappointing at-bat and catcalls following a Delgado at-bat.

Some fans might actually WELCOME that, I suppose.

*****


While performing in the MET Orchestra, I was privy to a booing incident that happened there several years back:


ptr0132l.jpgWe were performing Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio when a single stentorian voice pierced the quiet of the opera house, booing the soprano singing the role of Konstanze.   The offending party continued to voice his displeasure even as others attempted to silence him or out-shout him.  In spite of the chaos, we performers tried to keep the show going.

According to the New York Times account of the incident, the heckler was not in a seat for which he had a ticket.  Perhaps on that technicality alone, the MET ejected the commentator.  

 

Fancy that happening at Shea:  one moment you’re booing a player for lack of hustle, and the next minute you find yourself surrounded by a Shea Security detail, waiting to escort you out of the ball park!

 

Opera houses and audiences might show less tolerance for booing and catcalls from individuals in the audience than your average baseball fan, but in one respect at least, opera goers have historically expressed their negative feelings in ways a baseball fan cannot:  


hand-tomato-733857.jpga disgruntled opera enthusiast in Milan just might be able to get away with putting their best fastball spin on a ripe tomatoe judiciously aimed at the opera stage.   

The Major League Baseball Official Rule Book protects its players from similar insult and possible injury, though, calling for the instant ejection of any fan caught throwing anything onto the playing field. 

But does the rule cover the duration of the game itself only or extend to pre-game on-field activities?

The reason I ask?  I’ve never booed a player, but I could be tempted to throw something at some of the guests who have royally butchered the National Anthem over the years.

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