If it weren’t for the idiocy of Major League Baseball, all the talk last night and this morning would have been about the emotional and beautifully choreographed pre-game ceremony at Citi Field to honor the memory of the attack of September 11th and the first responders that gave their lives and the others who risked theirs to help others.
I was brought to tears seeing Mike Piazza lead a parade of heroes from the right field side of Citi Field and John Franco doing the same on the left field side. Then having the ball park lights dim for a moment of silence followed by a spine tingling rendition of the Star Spangled Banner by Marc Anthony. Franco and Piazza then took center stage in their snow white Mets uni tops with the words “9-11-01 we will never forget” embroidered on the sleeve just like it was 10 years ago, to deliver the first pitch of the game. In an eerie silence, Franco, a “Noo Yawk” guy through and through tossed a perfect strike to Piazza, the man who made the Mets relevant again. In fact what struck me about last night was how sad it was for two reasons, the first was what the commemoration of the evening was for of course, the other, it reminded me when the last time the Mets were a big deal in this town, that choked me up as well.
The Mets wore the same snow whites that they had on 9-21-11, the first sports event in NYC since the demise of the Twin Towers, but on their heads that night were the caps of the FDNY, NYPD, and PAPD the three groups the club had become very close to due to their working side by side during the awful aftermath of the attack. At the time MLB said the Mets couldn’t wear those caps during a major league game and the Mets in turn led by Bobby Valentine told MLB to kiss their New York City ass, we’re wearing them. What did MLB do? Nothing, just like every other bully that is stood up to. The Mets wore the first responder caps and celebrated in those caps when Mike Piazza, he of the NYPD batting helmet as well, hit his home run that put a smile on faces that thought they’d never smile again. It was not just a classic NY moment or one the best moments in Mets history it showed that baseball, just like during all of the countries dark times, came through once again, it always does, its what makes baseball the great pastime it is.
The Mets of 2011 asked MLB if they could have permission to wear the hats of the first responders again as they did 10 years ago. MLB said no, just like they did 10 years ago. This time though the Mets rolled over, scared to take a stand. There was no Valentine, or Franco, or Ventura, or Zeile on the team to tell MLB to take their no cap memo and shove it up their tight ass’s. The players thought about ignoring the order but claimed the organization would have been severely punished if they did. If the Mets banded together and wore the caps, what was MLB going to do? Absolutely nothing. Again to beat the bully you need to stand up to the bully.
I don’t know if I’ve told this story here but if I did I apologize but I think it should be told here. As I’ve mention on numerous occasions, I manage a 14-15 year old Babe Ruth Team on Staten Island. During the heat wave of the summer, a day that was 97 degrees, I had scheduled a practice. We try to have at least one practice a week during the season to work on some deficiencies and to go over the pitching rotation for the upcoming games. We also take a round of infield/outfield drills and batting practice, in all it runs about two hours. The place we like to practice is Miller Field in the New Dorp section as it was a one time air base during WWII and has plenty of fields to choose from. Now because of the heat I was ready to cancel practice and let the boys enjoy their pools or whatever they were doing to stay cool. Every kid that I called said, “ah coach it ain’t that hot we can practice” my son told me he was getting texts from some players asking him to convince me to hold practice. What could I do? They want to play, fine let’s go practice. So with the equipment and a case of water, off to Miller Field we go. We were the only people in the park. Acres of land at our disposal. As we were half way through batting practice a federal parks department employee pulls up to the field asking “who is in charge here”? “ Well, that would be me”, “do you have a permit to play here” Ms. Fed asks. “A permit? For what? To play baseball”? “Yes” she said, “Ah no” I say “Well, she says then you will have to leave”.
After I stopped laughing I ask here to clear her cart from the pitcher’s mound so we could continue to play. Again she ask me if this was an organized team and where was our permit and on and on really annoying the living shit out of me. I told her the organization we played for and that we had permits to play games here but being a programed bureaucrat all she knew was I didn’t have permit for the field and I had to leave. At this point I asked her what her title was and she rattled off some administrative rank, I then told her to call someone with authority to make me leave, like the Federal Park Police, and while I wait for the police to come, we will continue to play baseball.
Well, instead of calling the police, she called her supervisor who in turn called the league president who had to come down to the park to make me leave the park. So while I’m being screamed at with threats, I told my assistant coach, to continue with the practice this way I’ll go argue with these women long enough for all the players get their batting practice swings. For a good half hour, we argued back in forth about the lack of common sense being applied here, which was enough time for the team to finish practice. When the coach told me practice was over, I thanked the ladies and said “yeah you know what, your right we don’t belong here, we’ll leave”.
I didn’t give a shit about the two Federal Flunkies but the woman who ran the league was so mad at me she stopped talking to me. It didn’t bother me in the least, you know why? She couldn’t do anything to me, what could she do, tell me I can’t manage the team anymore? No. Luckily I had all the parents of the kids behind me 100 %. That’s why I took the stand. I knew there was nothing anyone was going to do to me to make me regret my decision.
As I told the Feds, this will make a great story in the Staten Island Advance “Youth Coach and kids Thrown out of Park For Playing Ball” or maybe one of the local TV stations would love to expose the story, I had me some bullets in my gun. Sometimes you have to take a stand.
That is what has me pissed off at the Mets, especially David Wright. If Wright led the way and wore the NYPD cap he wore in the dugout on the field what was MLB going to do? NOTHING! If the whole Mets team would have worn the caps on the field what was MLB going to do? NOTHING!
The bad publicity from this should be a huge embarrassment to MLB and I can’t believe no one in the P.R. department didn’t beg Bud Selig or Clueless Joe Torre, who by the way showed is true colors as a big time phony, to let the Mets wear the caps.
You know what in the long run maybe MLB was right did it really matter if the Mets wore the first responder caps? No one was watching anyway, especially with the Jets-Cowboys game on NBC.
Enjoy those single digit post season ratings in the post season Bud, you douchebag.