6.26.2012

Tuesday Tirade - Why tonight is a must win for the Metropolitans

I know I'm at risk of sounding like a doomsday prophet, but the Mets must win tonight.

The 2012 Mets have surprised us all this year. Despite their flaws, they've found a way to win, and this energetic bunch has fed off their success this year.

I contended that Sunday night's game with RA Dickey on the mound was huge. They had come off a bad loss on Saturday and were going to play Monday night after traveling a thousand miles to Chicago. Knowing the travel might cause them to be a little flat, I felt Sunday was the difference between a Monday night loss being "flat" or the team being in a "funk".

The Mets were understandably lethargic last night and have now lost three in a row. Last night was literally a comedy of errors and the Mets appeared to actually be sleepwalking, despite Johan's solid performance and Ike's late homer. Yes, I know they were swept a couple times over the past few weeks, but they've bounced back and shown their resiliency. Tonight, despite not being a division game, is important. The Mets can't afford to lose two series before heading to LA to face a tough Dodgers squad. Despite an off day, they will be battling fatigue, starting games when they'd usually be ending them.

Bottom line for me is this. This team runs on positive energy. They can take what most people would see as a situation that isn't great and spin it into a positive. They've shown that with the two out runs. However, they don't have the luxury that deep, talented teams have to go on a losing streak. They also don't have the luxury of losing to teams that are 24 games under .500. For a team that, despite its flaws has found ways to win, they must find that tonight and really, tomorrow as well. They must play with some sense of urgency. They must build some positive momentum going into LA because that is how this team, despite the flaws and weaknesses they have, has shined in so many ways in 2012.

5.06.2012

Blue Sunday

The Rangers won the Stanley Cup when I was 10 in 1994.  It was pretty sweet.  My dad was pretty pumped.  I grew to enjoy the game of hockey.  But, I never really had that soulful connection to the Rangers that I had to either the Mets or Giants.  I made that soulful hockey connection with the hometown Blues. 

I wish people in general in St. Louis cared more about the Blues than they appear to, but this is a Cardinals town and the Cardinals are worshipped.  People might even get more fired up for the Rams who are basically a Pop Warner team of grown men.  I feel like the Blues often get overlooked and they have a long history of great teams and great players.  Maybe they are just taken for granted because they made the playoffs for nearly THIRTY YEARS STRAIGHT.  It's an unbelievable accomplishment.  I know there is a fairly sizable group of Blues fans out there that love this team more than any other team in this town.  And this is what I have to say to them:

Kudos to the hardcore Blues fans for being the most honest, reasonable, knowledgeable, fair fans I've ever encountered in any sport I have been a part of.  You're doing it right, and sorry that this season ended the way that it did.

It has been a long time since the Blues did anything worthwhile in the playoffs, and I thought this would be the year they could pull something off.  They ran into a buzzsaw against the Kings.  Zero energy, very little toughness (either mentally or physically), lots of bad mistakes nearly every game in the series.  For four games, there were a ton of bad mistakes.  It was difficult to watch. 

For what it's worth, I think the Kings will probably make it to the Cup Finals.  That's what the NHL would want.  Underdog team in a big market. 

Until next year Blues.  Hopefully.  Unless the world ends December 21, 2012.  At least I have a chance to see the Mets pull something off before then!

5.04.2012

Busy in St. Louis

Just so you know, life with a full time job and baby is busy.

Since I last wrote, my husband and I won an auction bid to be on the field during BP at a Cardinals game and we scored the opportunity against - you guessed it - the Mets.  We met the Thole family, including the infant son of our sometimes not so esteemed catcher.  Honestly, I can't help but like the guy and root for him, because A) he's from southern Illinois and you rarely hear about southern Illinois unless it's about malpractice lawsuits or the occasional meth bust and B) because his family was so darn nice.  We took some photos.  Josh, if you're out there, we got some cool pictures of your dad and Mike Shannon that he might want.  Someone help me.  I've been trying to figure out how to contact them to get them the pictures (because frankly I think the family should have them and post them if they want).  I have a couple ideas but if someone out there reading this could help with this, it would be greatly appreciated.

Somehow or another, the Mets are having a great time against the NL East.

But the minute they dress up as cowboys it goes straight to Hades against the Astros. 

Back at home.  But at the moment, the Diamondbacks have the lead after the Mets had been up 4-2.  Sigh.

It's been almost a year since I posted.  The Mets were pretty lame last year and with a new-ish baby at home I couldn't find the time to write, but I'm hoping that I can get back into it.

I'd love to start the Amazin' Archive up again.  So if you have anything cool or kitschy that you'd like to show off to the world via this goofy blog, let me know.

Thanks to all that have read in the past, and I look forward to hopefully giving you something to read about in the future.

Maybe it will be all things comically Mets.  With some real life mixed in.

I should post a quick blurb here before I sign off - last night Mo Rivera tore up his ACL.  I don't love the Yankees and I don't love Mo, but I respect him.  He has been a class act and has always let his pitching do the talking.  He wasn't one of those dirty, steroid shooting, bat throwing mongrels.  Those guys could have (should have, on their anabolic cocktails) torn their ACLs and I wouldn't have cared a lick.  I do have to say that it is different seeing the Yankees in a position that I usually see myself in as a Mets fan. 

So, get well wishes to Mo Rivera.  I think it's a 50/50 shot on his return.  Lots of rehab to try and get it all back together before next season for it to maybe be his last (especially at 43) but then again, this is not the way he would want to go out, I wouldn't think.

Aaaaaand the Mets are losing.  Peace out Mets fans!  Until we read again!


7.21.2011

Missed Opportunities

"When you come to a fork in the road, take it". - Yogi Berra

No, this quote doesn't make much sense. But, we've all been there. Take it. Once you choose your path, there's no going back. You have to "take" the good and the bad, the joy and the tears that come with whatever decision you decide to make. The other part of the fork is one you may never travel. It's a missed opportunity, when you think about it.

"Missed opportunity" is a phrase that is often tossed around in baseball. You know, you're 0-2 on a hitter maybe you throw four straight balls and put him on base. A missed opportunity for the out. But then the next guy comes up, and grounds into a double play to end the inning. One teams missed opportunity is usually an opportunity on which the other capitalizes.

Today, as so many were talking about the final at bat for Carlos Beltran at Citi Field, I was a little overcome. A quick two hour and ten minute affair, marred, ironically, by some poor play by Angel Pagan, who we just had to have in centerfield instead of Beltran. The fans didn't really give Beltran the sendoff I think he deserved. All around it was disappointing, but this was deeper.

This story doesn't start in 2006.

I've been a Mets fan as long as I can remember, and even before that. As in, when we bought our daughter a walker this weekend and she rolled over to the TV and started watching, my father who was visiting commented, "I remember when you used to do that. You'd watch the Mets game and say, 'Mookie, Mookie'". When we moved to St. Louis, I was seven. I didn't get to watch the Mets much anymore, although it was more often than after baseball realigned. I was Pond Scum, and proud of it. And man, were those some scummy teams in the 90's. So scummy that as a child, I kind of fell off the wagon. But I remember watching a Bobby Valentine interview on Baseball Tonight in 1997, and he got me hooked. "We were 71-91 last year. And this year I'd like us to be 91-71". He was positive. Charismatic. I liked it. And the Mets damn near got there, with 88 wins.

All the "missed opportunities" of my childhood, I felt, were a thing of the pass. I watched every game I could. ESPN? I was there. They played the Braves on TBS? Sign me up. I watched them play the Cubs on WGN and the Cardinals on channel 11. We were winning. Not a World Series, but hell, we weren't abysmal, and I was a kid. I could deal with that. Heck, I loved baseball so much that I wanted to live baseball. I was going to break in on the scene. I saw Linda Cohn on SportsCenter and I thought, I want to be her. I thought, this is an opportunity that I am not going to miss. I had my whole life planned out at 12. That fork in the road? Taken.

1999 brought me joy. The Mets were in the playoffs and they were the underdog. Once the Mets got to that series with Atlanta, everyone I knew was cheering on the Mets to beat the big, bad Braves who had won so many division titles in a row. That was an emotional month of October after an emotional season. Mojo rising. The magical infield defense. A wild card playoff against the Reds just to get in. Pratt's walk off against the Diamondbacks. The infamous grand slam single. And then to come up short. The highs were high, but never as low as the lows.

The next season was bittersweet for me. I saw Mike Hampton throw a 127 pitch complete game at Busch Stadium. It would be my final game there. I had seen my first live baseball game there against the Astros. A final opportunity. I had just turned 16. Quite a birthday present, I guess. My "real" birthday present that year was actually supposed to be the game on June 30th, 2000. My first game at Shea Stadium. You know that game, you love that game. We thought we'd already be moved out to Connecticut before then. But my parents couldn't agree on a house. And then when we moved, it was a day too late. We drove, got there the day of the game. We were beat. As I listened, I figured it would have been a crappy game for my first. My dad had gotten tickets to make it up to me on July 2nd, which turned out to be a far less exciting game. A missed opportunity. What more than made up for it was a Mets playoff run which culminated in a pennant, followed by possibly the biggest missed opportunity I saw in my time as a Mets fan-a loss in the World Series to the Yankees. But, I thought, we could get it next year. Then Mike Hampton left for the better schools of Denver and it was never quite the same.

There was a lot of me that really disliked living in Connecticut. I had gone from being a big fish in a small pond to a smaller fish in a bigger pond. It felt like an ocean to me. The Mets, my writing, which was going to get me to Mizzou, and my jobs were my life at the time. I didn't want to be at home. I pretty much wanted to be anywhere else. I don't remember exactly how this all went down, but my family went to see the World Trade Center in the summer of 2001. I hadn't been down there since I was 8 but I had to work that day. There would be another time.

Missed opportunities. I took the opportunity to work at my part time job instead. The Mets missed the playoffs after making a valiant run at the end. Everything kind of spiraled out of control after that.

I took my opportunity to leave home and made my way to Mizzou. The Mets were smoking weed. Bobby Valentine got fired. The Mets had once again missed the playoffs, but I was enjoying college life. I finally felt like I was home. The plan I'd made for myself, it was all coming together.

It was late July in 2003. The Mets were abysmal. My dad had finally found a job after being out of work since 9/11. He used to eat his lunch in the plaza on nice days. He says it would have been far worse had the attacks happened closer to noon because it was busier then. I'm glad it didn't happen then because I would have surely lost my father. I know that's selfish. He got on the last train out of New York, on the New Haven line. He didn't miss his opportunity to leave his building a half block away from WTC. I'm sure glad he didn't. But, the loans, the money, being out of work for a year where his only opportunity was the night shift part time at KMart. They won't give us the loans. I'm sorry. You'll have to find another way. The Mets were horrible. I couldn't even take solace in them.

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

What did I want out of my life? Did I want to be on the road all the time? Did I want to be stuck toiling at a local paper for an opportunity that would never come? I wanted to have a family at some point, I decided. I didn't just take the fork in the road. I think I did a complete U-turn.

I started on my journey to become a teacher in 2004. I met a Cubs fan I could at least tolerate. Well, he was pretty cool and he wasn't a Yankees, Braves, Phillies, or Cardinals fan. It was a lot more fun than watching the Mets, that was for sure.

2005 was better. They had a winning record. They had signed Carlos Beltran coming off a huge playoff run in 2004. They had young stars Jose Reyes and David Wright. They had pitching. They could compete.

2006. What a run. 97 wins. It was one of the best Mets teams I had ever seen. I thought for sure they would roll all the way to the World Series, especially after drawing the 83-79 mediocre Cardinals in the NLCS.

Will you marry me? An opportunity for companionship. For a family. What I wanted after the journalism dream went by the wayside. That was game 3. The Mets lost that night. We went to game 4. It was a blowout but it only tied the series.

I remember game 7. I was nauseated the entire game. I had parent teacher conferences the next day at my student teaching position and after a nightmare that night with one, I was already high strung. When Endy Chavez made that catch to rob the home run, I thought it was destiny. I was on such a high. I just knew the Mets would win.

Then the Yadier Molina home run. And the infamous Adam Wainwright curve that froze Carlos Beltran.

A missed opportunity.

More of the same in '07 when they blew a 7 game lead with 17 to play to the Phillies.

In '08, I was busy moving into a house.

In '09, I scarcely cared about the Mets. I was mourning the loss of my recently departed grandfather. We drove like crazy to get to Arizona before he died. We didn't have the money for a flight. He had just been put into hospice care. We were certain we'd have time. We left as soon as I got out of school that day. We only stopped for an hour in Oklahoma City. I think it was 22 degrees but we tried to rest. We were 6 hours away when my dad, who was a few hours ahead of us, called to say he had passed. I try not to think about that missed opportunity. I try to convince myself that there was a reason I didn't get to say, "Goodbye, Papa, I love you". I know he knows.

Then there was last year. I joined twitter. I met so many great Mets fans. I started this blog after being harangued once again by drunk, 20 something Cardinals fans. It made me a bit wistful for the days in which I wrote, made me wish a little that things had been different. I just needed to vent, really. I hated being reminded of 2006 by the fans here and the Mets gave me a glorious June that made me forget. But as the summer progressed, I lacked energy, and so did the Mets. I was sick everyday, and they were losing. Turns out, it was my baby daughter, making her little home for the next 9 months. Turns out for the Mets that they were just not very good.

Which brings me to the here, the now. I haven't blogged about baseball because I couldn't find my niche. I don't want to do the same thing as everyone else. I missed the boat and showed up several years late to that party. Missed opportunities. Maybe one day when someone says they need a writer, I'll look into it. We'll see. But I had to write today. I read the tweets about it being Carlos Beltran's last game, last at bat at Citi Field. I'm glad I had the opportunity to see it, but was disappointed. I realized that it was the end of an era. It wasn't like the end with Mike Piazza, or the demolition of Shea, which also both brought me to tears, but it is closure. He's all but traded, an integral piece of a team that could have been, 20 years after they had been, champions. And what made me the most sad was that I hadn't taken the opportunity to really appreciate him after the strikeout in '06.

I was sad today because I missed out on the opportunity to appreciate him being a great player. It made me think of how much of Reyes' greatness I've missed. It made me realize I had basically abandoned a team, for several years, whether bad or good, and still called myself a fan. I felt like more of a fraud.

Missed opportunities brought us all where we are today. And whether they are greater or better than what we chose to do, we live in the now and can't focus on what could have been.

I see brighter times as a Mets fan. The days are coming where there will be an opportunity for that championship. And we might miss it again, but I hope not. For now though, I'm focusing on the little things. Enjoying the purity, the simplicity, of a game I've always loved.

I have the opportunity to bring my baby daughter to her first Mets game in September.

And if you think I'd miss that, you'd be nuts.





This

5.23.2011

The (not) esteemed Mr. Wilpon

I personally have been lamenting the ownership of the Mets for the better part of my teens and twenties. When Nelson Doubleday sold his share, I knew that Freddy boy would do his darndest to ruin the team I loved the most.

There's been a lot of chit chat about the recent article in the New Yorker, in which Wilpon goes on to bash an unnamed pitcher, along with three of the team's most recognizable and for many, beloved faces. I know not everyone LOVES Wright AND Reyes AND Beltran, but I think many would agree that they really haven't been the crux of the problems this team has had. Yes, Reyes and Beltran have both had their injury issues which have caused them to miss time or have affected heir production. Wright has struggled at the plate with strikeouts. All three have been the goat at some point for some fans.

One of the great parts of being a part of the Mets fan base is you can see the passion of the fans. Positive or negative, the passion is definitely there. I don't always agree with how people express their passion about the Mets but to each their own. It's the beauty of sports and fandom.

I think was bothered me the most about the article was what I perceived as a very blasé attitude o. The part of Wilpon. Perhaps it was matter of fact, but to me it seemed as though Wilpon didn't really care. Reyes wants a boatload of money? He's not getting it. Wright, the most recognizable face on the team, by far, is not a superstar. I'd like to know what Wilpon feels is a superstar. Really. Wright has been a five time all-star, an MVP candidate, and has won a couple gold gloves. So, really, I'm not sure what Wilpon's definition of a superstar is. As far as Beltran, he is at 70% of what he was. He is also pushing 40. And Wilpon, along with every other nut who really blames Beltran for losing the 2006 NLCS really ought to get over it already. But, he does like Ike Davis. Too bad he plays on a sh**** team.

Really, Fred? Is that the way you feel about it?

Then do something about it.

He shouldn't brush it off and he shouldn't expect pity about his situation with Madoff. That's not our problem as fans. As the owner, it is Wilpon's responsibility to put a winning product out on the field. Instead, he has let the team be run, at times, incompetently and unprofessionally, and has also allowed this team to be the laughingstock of New York. And here they are again. With the owner throwing his biggest faces under the bus.

George Steinbrenner was known for his harsh criticisms. Sometimes they were unfounded and downright goofy. But he was also fiercely loyal towards his team. Wilpon, on the other hand, see,s that he could care less. It makes me wonder if he really wants this team to win, to be successful, or if he is just going through the motions. Empty seats at Citi Field, a struggling team, and the best he can do is brush it off as being "snakebitten".

The only ones who end up being snakebitten in this situation are Mets fans.

5.20.2011

Rooting interests

It's been a while since I've written. I guess that's what happens when you go and have a baby.

I went into labor on March 11th, which was two weeks early. I went to work because before the baby and even with my husband that was a huge part of my life. About half the people I told how I was feeling said it was probably just fake labor - the other half told me I needed to get to the hospital. I finally heeded the advice after calling my doctor and the hospital.

The next morning at 11:49 am my precious baby girl was born. She was perfect. In my eyes, she still is, 10 weeks later.

I know it's not the most important part of raising a child, but lately my husband and I have been going back and forth about rooting interests. My husband, a Cubs fan, and I, a Mets fan, now have the task of raising a child in the heart of St. Louis Cardinals territory. To be a fan of the two most hated teams in this city.

When I started this blog, it was my outlet for an outcast fan. But, my life is different now. I have a different focus - my baby daughter. I've enjoyed this 2011 season so far, but not because it's been the Mets most successful season or anything, but because I've gotten to watch with my kid, who I love more than anything, baseball, the Mets...so while I want to continue to write, and write about the Mets, this blog isn't just about my life as a Mets fan...it's about our life (hopefully) as Mets fans. Stay tuned.

2.16.2011

An outsiders view of Pujols and the Cardinals

Living in St. Louis for such a huge portion of my life has brought both joy and pain in my baseball life.  I remember my first game at Busch, when Ozzie Smith was still playing and he did his signature backflip.  That would be a joyous moment.  And then there was the 2006 NLCS.  That, obviously, would be a painful moment.  I got to see the Red Sox break their 86 year old curse in St. Louis in 2004 that night they won the World Series.  And being at game 4, and the Cardinals being down 3-0, I know that some Red Sox fans just handed an usher or a ticket taker a few hundred in cash and were allowed in the stadium.  Not something that would happen everywhere, I wouldn't think.  Despite the fact that I hate the turn that the fan base is taking with the younger fans (the young, brash 20 something crowd, male and female alike, that go to the game as a social event and go to get completely and totally wasted when families can't afford to take their kids has a lot to do with it), I think that generally, St. Louis is a great baseball town, and people understand historic moments and truly appreciate their players. 

I know that many St. Louis fans appreciate what Albert Pujols has done for the team and the city.  At least, I hope they do.

I don't know the last time Pujols was the highest paid player on this team.  Has he ever been the highest paid player during his tenure with the Cardinals, despite the fact that his production far exceeded what many on the team were doing?  Did he ever give less than 110% in his work ethic?  Didn't he take his money and do many great things for this city, for the disabled, and those less fortunate? 

Albert Pujols, ask anyone, is a stand up guy.  And while it makes some people sick that he would ask for so much money, and normally I would agree, he wants to be compensated for a) the revenue he brings to the park year after year and b)the years of production he's put in that rival and exceed people making almost twice what he does.  Yes, many people come to see the Cardinals, and yes, many Cardinals fans want to see all of their players succeed, but there is no denying that Pujols has been and continues to be a special player.  He already could go down in history as one of the greatest players of all time - and in the next 10 years, he probably will - and as the days pass it's looking more and more likely that he wouldn't do that in a Cardinals uniform.

People say it's about the name on the front, and not on the back, and I agree.  But some players evoke such greatness that the name on the front would not have the history it does without the name on the back.  When you think of great Cardinals players, you immediately think of Stan Musial, Ozzie Smith, or Lou Brock.  What would this team have been without those names in their history?  Sometimes, the name on the back is so closely tied to that name on the front that they can't and shouldn't be separated.  When people think of the Yankees, they think of DiMaggio, Mantle, Berra, Babe Ruth.  Some of the greatest players in baseball history were real sons of bitches, who didn't care how they treated people or what they did off the field.  And Pujols has, from what I can tell, done nothing to besmirch, berate, or belittle the city of St. Louis.  He's been loyal to the fans, to the organization, has not had off the field problems, plays through injury, and works his butt off.  There's not much more you can ask from a ballplayer.

And yet, there is a portion of the fan base that is vilifying Pujols and making him out to be a villain.  Because he's asking for compensation for being the go to guy for this team for the past 10 years.  He's signed below market contracts probably in the hopes that one day, he would get his.  Now he wants it, and it's a problem.

Bill DeWitt has a lot to do with this whole situation.  This is an owner who has a team, with a newer stadium.  Busch comparable ticket prices to other cities that have new stadiums.   Oh, remember ballpark village?  Has any revenue been reinvested to build that key piece to getting the new stadium that was supposed to be constructed FIVE years ago and still isn't finished, but hey, they got a quaint little softball field there for the All Star Game. At least it wasn't the muddy hole in the ground we got to look at for 3 years. No shopping, nightlife (aside from the one bar/restaurant that's remotely close to the stadium) or decent food option.  And yet, he still has THREE MILLION fans show up every year.  In his mind, why should he sign Pujols?  In his mind, people will come to the stadium.  People will flock there because they love the Cardinals.  Who cares if he can afford Pujols?  And you know what?  He is exactly on target.  I don't know this for sure, but I have to imagine his pockets get fatter and fatter, and the fans here keep eating it up.  He is a smart, clever, cunning dude.  So what if the fans are turning on Albert, because it means that he can keep his payroll lower, which raise his profits.  But you don't hear anyone even criticizing Bill DeWitt for this.  And yet, he is making more money than any of us know (and maybe more than what Pujols is asking for).  Guess what folks.  A lot of sports owners are greedy in their own way.  Some are George Steinbrenner, spending like a drunken sailor.  Others are miserly - meaning, they make money but choose not to reinvest and build a better team.  I'm not saying that's necessarily the case here, but it appears to the outsider as thought the Cardinals are a team with large market potential but a small market mind.

What people don't realize is that the Cardinals need Albert Pujols.  Cardinals fans don't want this to be their Babe Ruth or Lou Brock moment, do they?  You can hate on Albert all you want, but remember this.  He is going to get paid somewhere, and he has several years of great baseball left in him.  This is a chance for the Cardinals to keep another name in the flock, one of the likes of Brock, Gibson, or Musial.  And if he goes on to win a World Series or two somewhere else, instead of St. Louis, fans are going to wish they had worried a little more about the name on the back.  Because it was helping the name on the front more than they had thought.