Results tagged ‘ Mets ’
Tonight’s the night all Metsdom has been waiting for: the Major League debut of top prospect, pitcher Noah Syndergaard. He arrives on the Major League stage at Wrigley Field accompanied by much fanfare and already in possession of a nickname: “Thor”.
The genesis of the nickname was Syndergaard’s Halloween costume this past October, a photo of which he tweeted and which was then retweeted widely. Naturally, the blogosphere is having great fun with the nickname and its associations with the Marvel Comics superhero and subsequent movie of the same name as well as the character’s original incarnation in Nordic mythology as the God of Thunder.
However, as an opera lover, “Thor”, conjures up something different to me. At the mention of “Thor”, I hear softly murmuring arpeggios in the cellos. Then, I hear the Violas joining in. Then the Second Violins. And, finally, the First Violins. The undulating sextuplets I hear in my mind are the magical introduction to Thor and his sorcery as written by Wagner in his opera Das Rheingold.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
First, I should mention Wagner’s god has a slightly different name: Donner. The Old German equivalent of the Norse “Thor” is “Donar”. Donar’s name day, as it were, became Donnerstag “Donar’s day”, otherwise known to us English-language speakers as “Thursday”.
But I digress.German composer Richard Wagner spent years composing a Ring Cycle comprised of four operas, based upon Donner and other gods of Norse mythology. The first opera, Das Rheingold, is performed as one act–with no intermissions. The four scenes of the opera meld seamlessly into one another, and there is no break in the music or drama from the beginning until the end, about two hours and forty minutes later.
During the opera, a lot of action has taken place in this amount of time. The viewer has watched the Rheinmaidens extol the virtues of their gold, a character steal the gold from them, a god and his accomplices descend to that character’s underworld to claim the gold for themselves, two giants subsequently lay claim to the gold, and finally, one giant bludgeoning his giant brother in order to seize his brother’s share of the gold. Oh, and before the grisly murder, there is an appearance by Erda, the earth goddess, who forecasts gloom and doom for those who are consumed by this gold (more specifically, a ring forged from said gold, but you get the idea.)
Towards the very end of the opera, there is an exhilarating moment for Donner, a role for bass-baritone. After all of the mayhem and madness following a goddess coming up out of the ground unannounced and a bloody fratricide, Donner decides that it is time to, literally, clear the air. The god of thunder and storms conjures up a thunderstorm meant to dispel the fog and general discontent.
Donner’s glorious invocation to the heavens, summoning the cleansing mists, is stirringly answered by four French horns, playing in unison. The ensuing winds and storm rage as the string arpeggios morph into an ascending scale, by the whole orchestra, gradually increasing in intensity and dynamic until, [ding], Donner wields his hammer to dispel the storm and, how operatic, a rainbow then magically appears.
I happen to really like this video interpretation of the scene, set to an *audio recording of the opera excerpt:
*Eberhard Wächter with the Vienna Philharmonic, conducted by Georg Solti.
It’s a magical moment in music.
I don’t know what kind of magic Mr. Syndergaard might wield on the mound this evening or in his starts to come. But this optimistic Mets fan can’t help but hope for signs of a dominating talent.
God-given or otherwise.
“Timing is everything.”
How many times have we heard that expression? It has certainly proven true recently in this house of Mets fans.
The high praise recent lavished upon my husband–while certainly well deserved–is owed, in part at least, to coincidence and excellent timing.
A die-hard Mets fan basically from the infancy of the franchise, my husband never appears happier or more youthful than when attending a Mets game. He was recently rewarded handsomely for the hefty price of our Season Ticket package, not to mention the expenditure of vast amounts of his personal time spent watching the futility that is the Mets’ offense in general and with the bases loaded in particular: he got to throw out the Ceremonial First Pitch at Citi Field.
Apparently, the designated First Pitch Thrower du Jour was unable to “go on”, and a suitable “cover” had to be found. Citi Field officials need have looked no further.
While Garry showed no signs of being nervous about his assignment, as it got close to his scheduled performance, he did admit to a fear of spiking the ball. And ideally, he added, he would like to throw the ball so that Mets Catcher Anthony Recker would not need to leave his crouch in order to catch the ball. However, if either scenario were to happen, he reasoned aloud, he would be in good company: he recalled how former Mets ace Tom Seaver had thrown out the first pitch at “Shea Goodbye”–the last game at Shea Stadium–and had spiked the ball. He also recalled that when Seaver threw out the first pitch at the 2013 All-Star Game, his throw came in quite high and outside and had required former Mets Catcher Mike Piazza to leap to his feet in order to catch it.
Other than these minor concerns, Garry showed no signs of performance anxiety whatsoever. In fact, he appeared rather poised and purposeful. (See if you don’t agree from the photo!) Dutifully following the instructions he had been given to “follow David Wright” (!), he strode onto the field with aplomb. I will never forget the image of him shadowing Mets Pitcher Jon Niese.
Wisely electing to throw from in front of the mound, Garry did one heck of a job, and I was not the only one who thought so. He did not spike the ball nor did Recker need to leave his crouch in order to catch the ball. As the two posed for a photo together, Recker even complimented Garry on his pitch.
Later that evening, sitting in our Excelsior Level seats directly in front of WOR announcers Josh Lewin and Howie Rose–with whom we delight in having as our audio accompaniment to each and every home game–Garry found himself somewhat (pleasantly) distracted from the game itself–and his usual scorekeeping ritual–as compliments kept coming in:
Friend, Mets blogger, and auteur exceptionnel Greg Prince came down from the Press Box to personally shake Garry’s hand. (Later, he would even mention Garry in his blog post about that night!) Plaudits for Garry’s efforts came over the WOR airwaves and into our earbuds as Howie Rose gave Garry a shout-out and a verbal “pat on the back”, adding that, “D’Arnaud would’ve framed it for a strike.” As a matter of fact, Howie had begun discussing Garry’s pre-game experience and, before he could finish the story, he was interrupted by the Yasiel Puig Web Gem that would become a viral .gif before the Seventh Inning Stretch. Even after that astonishing play that had left everyone in the stands momentarily speechless and, then, had even Mets fans applauding, Howie remembered having introduced Garry’s tale, and returned to the subject. Flattering, to say the least!
Yes, timing was in Garry’s favor on Thursday, May 22nd: He happened to be at Citi Field earlier than usual for that night’s game in order to sample “Nobu Night” at the Acela Club; therefore, he could assure Mets personnel that he would indeed be on-hand at the prescribed time.
But the fortuitous timing to which I refer was actually tied to a later event. A few days later.
Still “after glowing” about his unique souvenir, he came home that night to find that word had quickly spread about his special opportunity, and emails demanding explanations and details were coming in at an alarming rate. He sat down at his computer and composed a short synopsis of how the event had come about, how he thought he had performed, and the critiques he had received. He attached one of the numerous photos that my daughter and I had each taken of him from our position on the warning track. He then sent the email out to all potentially interested parties.
Initially, he received a flurry of emails in response . Friday brought more feedback. By that weekend, responses had slowed somewhat, but as the work week started on Monday, replies came from those colleagues who had taken a long weekend and not checked their work email since earlier the previous week and, thus, had just found out Garry’s news.
On Tuesday, rapper 50 Cent was given Ceremonial First Pitch honors. And he proceeded to bring dishonor on himself, frankly.
His throw was so wildly off-course that news of this charade was picked up by national media. Writers at the Washington Post even drew up a chart of “bests” and “worsts” in Ceremonial First Pitch Hall of Famedom to put his mishap in proper perspective.
First-pitch-related emails and texts to Garry recommenced. Friends’ and colleagues’ estimation of Garry’s feat shot up even higher. It had become quite obvious, even to those not having seen Garry’s throw, how poorly 50 Cent’s performance had measured up to Garry’s highly-touted outing only a few days before. Even non-Mets and non-baseball fans saw replays of Tuesday’s farce and were all too anxious to acknowledge Garry’s far superior performance.
Comparing the two men’s first pitches later, Howie Rose would even marvel–off the air–to Garry, “Grading on a curve, you are Sandy Koufax.” High praise indeed.
50 Cent has continued to extract from this episode every ounce of media hype possible for himself. Recently, he provided an attention-getting explanation for his poor outing that night. He also lives in infamy in an hysterical video that has since been created in which Vladimir Guerrero is seen “hitting” that ill-thrown pitch. Ah, but thanks to 50 Cent’s PR machine, Garry has vicariously continued to enjoy minor celebrity status, exceeding even Andy Warhol‘s predictions.
Serendipity had provided Garry the chance to live out a dream.
Coincidence allowed him to keep the dream alive for many more days to come.
UPDATE: The infamous first pitch throw will live on into the 2014 baseball season as Topps has confirmed that it will be issuing a baseball card “honoring” the pitch:
No, not “faith restored” in the Mets. Oh sure, I’m still a practicing Mets fan. On the surface, I believe. But, deep down…
Let’s face it: as a Mets fan in 2013, it’s slim pickings when it comes to finding something to get all hot and bothered about.
Sure, watching Matt Harvey pitch is a delight. But through no fault of his own, it’s been a long time since he’s recorded a win. Yes, the Subway Series was a very welcome and wholly unexpected surprise. It felt awfully nice to put on some Mets gear and walk around with a certain amount of swagger in one’s step, am I right? Was anyone surprised that the Mets’ euphoria coming off the sweep of the Yankees in both stadiums was not enough to get even a single, stinkin’ win in Miami? I, for one, was not.
But here I am–frustrated, angry, and bored with my team–typing away excitedly on a blog post after having remained basically mute for a good long while.
It’s not my team, however, that has propelled me to the keyboard, but it is something familiar to baseball fans: the practice of singing “God Bless America” during the seventh-inning stretch.
The fact that this post-9/11 addition to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” has remained a staple well beyond 2011–at every Yankee home game and at many stadiums on Sundays–has bothered me.
Come to find out, it bothers others too. It bothered a Methodist pastor in the Washington, DC area so much that he wrote a letter that appeared in the Washington Post recently. What followed were over 3,000 comments online, including my own, and a virtual dialogue on a subject that, lo and behold, has a lot of other people–including Christians like myself–hot around the collar as well.
So, I submit as my return to the Mets blogosphere the following post on a topic which, unlike the Mets’ playing this season, has inspired and excited me and ultimately motivated me to write again.
These are my comments, as posted in the online Comments section that appears below the original opinion in its online version. Please do read the original opinion. It is beautifully written and makes some excellent points.
By the way, while I might not condone public songs with religious connotations (except in the context of a religious service, of course), far be it from me to discourage any Met fan from saying a prayer–in private–for this team if he or she is so inclined. Heaven knows–pun intended–they need it!
And I was not the one performing athletic feats all afternoon and evening.
Sitting through yesterday’s doubleheader at Citi Field–including witnessing a tripleplay and Jon Niese’s one-hitter–made me wonder if ballplayers have specific regimens or diets for a long day such as that.
While not nearly so athletic a feat, I am often asked to perform doubleheaders myself.
The Metropolitan Opera performs seven operas a week during its regular season, including a matinee and an evening performance on Saturdays. Depending upon which operas are scheduled, I might be called upon to “play two” or not.
The advantage to doing so is that it gets two of the four shows per week dictated by my contract out of the way in one (long) day. For that reason, many orchestra musicians, if given the choice, prefer to be scheduled for “double Saturdays”.
Unlike ballgames whose endtime is never known, it is relatively easy to determine the approximate running time of an opera, barring any lengthy technical problems onstage or a cancellation by a singer and the necessary time required to get a cover warmed up and into costume.
However, even though the total performance time of the sum of the two operas on a double Saturday is predetermined, the actual time commitment can vary widely depending upon the two operas scheduled and each of their running times.
Yesterday’s doubleheader prompted me to think of some of the more memorable doubleheaders I’ve played.
- One double–Verdi’s Otello and Falstaff–represented not only two operas by the same composer but works also both based on Shakespeare and featuring a libretto by Arrigo Boito.
- A long day in 1997 when I performed as part of a TV telecast of Giordano’s Fedora, followed by Wagner’s Götterdämmerung in the evening.
- And, probably the longest double I have ever played: Wagner’s *Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (about six hours), followed by Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (about
4 1/2 hours. 3 1/4 hours.) I definitely needed some Carmex after that day!
I’m sure certain games go by much faster than others for the players, depending upon how fast the pitcher works, how many men get on base, how much the weather is an annoyance or distraction, whether it’s a home or away game, or other factors I have not even thought of.
I know that, for me, some operas SEEM longer to me than others that are actually longer, simply because I enjoy playing some operas more than others.
Clocking in at just over three hours, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly–the ultimate tear-jerker and rarely, in my experience cast well–always seems interminable to me.
Contrast that with the final opera in Wagner’s epic Ring Cycle: Götterdämmerung. The first act alone is two hours. Add two more acts and two intermissions, and you’re looking at a performance that takes just under six hours. And yet, any time I’ve played that opera, the time has seemed to FLY by.
*An additional challenge in this opera is that the last act is the longest act at 2 hours and ten minutes. In fact, the last act by itself is longer than all of La Bohème.
It’s been TEN YEARS since the Mets swept the Marlins at home.
Maybe the long interim and the anticipation is what makes this Fish Dish SO delectable!
It’s quite evident that, with their major-league best 22-9 record at home, these boys prefer la cuisine de la maison, i.e., “HOME COOKIN’!”
Well, no, of course not, Ollie. You’re absolutely correct: it DOES state in your contract that you must agree to the suggestion of going down to the minors.
But, see here, Ollie: by your staying up here with the club, you’re not putting yourself in a position to improve.
Yes, yes. We know. Nobody can MAKE you. But, Ollie, didn’t nice Mr. Boras tell you that he thought it was a good idea? And you know that he always has your very best interests in mind, don’t you? Wasn’t he the one that got you this cush..[ahem] big contract in the first place?
Son, we’ll say it again: there is absolutely no shame in accepting this assignment. Other pitchers have been asked to do the same thing and, with time and effort, they’ve been able to solve their problems and make a successful return to the team. We want to help you with this, Ollie. Really, we do.
Well, but you see, Ollie, you may THINK that there is no problem, but opposing hitters have a way of telling us that in fact you really DO have a problem.
No, wait. Please! Not a problem that can’t be RECTIFIED. Not a problem without a solution!
There, there. Settle down.
Now, Ollie. Let’s be reasonable, shall we? We are committed to you and your successful return to the bigs 100%. [You’d better believe we are, for what we’re paying you.]
We are talking about a short period of time. A brief part of your otherwise illustrious career. And, hey, it’s not like you’re going to be slumming it while you’re there: we’ve arranged first class travel and major league per diem for you while you’re there–just like you enjoy now.
You’d be surprised how far that goes in upstate New York or in the Miami area!
Okay, Ollie. We get it.
You don’t want to go to Buffalo. You don’t want to go to Port St. Lucie.
But, you know what, Son? We don’t always get what we WANT in life!
You’re kidding, right?
I’m sorry, but I fail to see the humor in this, Perez.
Oh for God’s sake. Will someone please get Ray Ramirez in here?!
Which knee is it, Ollie?
No, Ollie, that was most certainly not meant to be a trick question.
The Phillies return tonight to Citi Field. Since their last visit, accusations have come out that the Phillies’ bullpen coach, Mick Billmeyer has been stealing signs, using binoculars.
Major League Baseball issued an executive order in 2001 barring the use of “electronic equipment”, citing that it could not be used “for communications or for the purpose of stealing signs or conveying information designed to give a club an advantage.”
Obviously, bincoluars do not constitute “electonic equipment”, but their alleged use in this situation seems suspect, at best.
Yes, yes, I know: stealing signs has been around for as long as there’s been baseball. But, somehow, stealing signs with the aid of binoculars seems egregious to others besides me. The Rockies filed a formal complaint against the Phillies over the matter and the team was reprimanded. Rockies manager Jim Tracy stated,
“A pair of binoculars staring down the gun barrel of the hitting area, I don’t think a club in baseball that’s competing against that team would take too kindly to that,” Rockies. …You start reflecting back on some of the things that have taken place in previous games and it makes you sit here and wonder a little bit.”
And here’s what Cy Young winner Steve Stone was quoted as saying when Sammy Sosa was taken to task for stealing signs by the Cardinals in 2002:
“To be honest with you, sign-stealing used to be much more of an art than it is now. But as long as you are not stealing signs from the scoreboard, using a camera or something, then you are stealing legitimately.”
Because of the accusations, the rather absurd retort by Charlie Manuel that he found the Mets’ astounding home record (at that time, anyway) suspicious, along with the usual animosity created by uncivilized Phillies fans in our ballpark, I’m willing to bet the fans, if not the players themselves, will show up tonight on the lookout for any signs of foul play and ready to extract vengeance in the form of a big win.
Operas by Richard Wagner are notoriously lengthy. The final opera in the composer’s four-opera Ring Cycle–Götterdämmerung, or “Twilight of the Gods”–is one of the longest. Depending on the conductor’s pacing, the opera’s three acts with intermissions can clock in at close to six hours.
Because of its length, this opera (one of my favorites, by the way) has been affectionately dubbed “Goddamn, It’s Long!”, a play on its German title.
When we embark on the journey that is the final opera of this saga, some of my colleagues have been known to comment to one another that, in the time it takes to perform the opera, we could take a trans-Atlantic flight and be in Europe.
How ironic, then, that at the conclusion of last night’s Mets game, my husband commented that the game had lasted about the same amount of time as Götterdämmerung, albeit without the blazing pyre–The Immolation Scene–that concludes that opera.
Another irony about last night was this:
I often talk baseball with my good friend and opera colleague, bass-baritone Alan Held, pictured at left with Anna Netrebko. (If you saw the recent PBS telecast of Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann from the MET, you saw him in the villain roles.)
Hailing from Illinois, Alan is a died-in-the-wool Cardinals fan. Although he is not one to gloat, I did take my share of ribbing from him during the 2006 Post Season.
Although we had not corresponded prior to the Mets’ arrival in St. Louis for the three-game series, I fully expected to get a message from him following Friday night’s Cardinal win at the Mets’ expense.
Saturday began for me with a matinee performance of La Traviata. At the conclusion of the opera a little after 4PM, I tuned my radio to the game on the drive home. I watched the game on TV at home, waiting as long as I dared possible (about the time of the amazing Cora catch in foul territory) and then drove back in to the city for the evening performance of Tosca.
Desperately hoping to see a Mets win, I stayed tuned to the game via MLB.com’s At Bat and SlingBox. But when the orchestra tuned, the curtain went up, and my phone was turned off, the game was still scoreless.
Following the fortissimo closing chords of Act I, I quickly turned on my phone. Much to my surprise, not only was the game still going, but not a single run had been recorded.
Surprised at not having heard from Alan, before returning to the orchestra pit for Act II, I quickly typed and posted this message to his Facebook Wall:
“Wow! Can you BELIEVE how our teams are battling it out at Busch Stadium?! Watched at home after playing Traviata, started Tosca, and am watching now at first intermission! Here we go to the bottom of the SIXTEENTH!”
Cavaradossi was tortured mercilessly by Scarpia’s minions, Tosca sang passionately about her lifelong devotion to art, Scarpia pressed Tosca for sexual favors in exchange for her boyfriend’s safe release from prison, Tosca stabbed Scarpia, and the currtain came down. All of this had transpired during Act II and yet, although runs had now been scored, the game had still not ended.
With the aid of MLB.com’s At Bat, I did “see” the game’s conclusion–barely–before running into the pit for the beginning of the final act of the opera.
But over the course of twenty long innings, I still hadn’t heard back from my favorite Cardinals fan.
Wasn’t he watching this FANTASTIC game?? Where in the world was he??!!
I got my answer when I checked Facebook this morning:
“WOW!!! I only just now got in from “Gotterdammerung” and dinner here in L.A. Unbelievable. 2-1 in 20. That’s incredible–and that neither teamed scored until the 19th??? I just can’t get my mind around this one. How I would have loved to have seen this pitcher’s duel—and the Cards outhit the Mets but nobody could score. I’ve got to read about this one.”
It was then that I remembered that Alan was on the West Coast performing the role of Gunther in performances of–you guessed it: Gotterdammerung!