All We Have Is Hope

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My pessimism for the upcoming season of my beloved Mets intensified a bit because one of our cats woke me up before I wanted to rise and shine for a bit of breakfast.  So after filling the bowls with leftover grilled chicken breast, I went to the living room with the intent of browsing Netflix for a movie. But first I took a tour of the 1763 channels on my FiOS system and lo and behold I stumble on to The Last Play at Shea on The Movie Channel.  I was going to turn the channel quick so as not get involved in this film but then the face of an old friend, the late Dana Brand came on my screen and that made me sit up straight with a touch of sadness. Then another blogger buddy was present on the TV, Greg Prince sitting in a seat at the our old house, Shea Stadium talking about all the great times we had at that place and more sadness fell over me. I started to think out loud and staring at Mittens our cat and shouting to him “Where did we go wrong”???? Mittens looked up for a second and went back to cleaning himself off after his satisfying breakfast.

Where did we go wrong? When did this organization make the turn from Ya Gotta Believe Boulevard to Embarrassment Lane?   I’m watching the film and seeing the Mets of the 80’s I just stared and drifted off into the Way Back Machine of my mind. Everyone hated us back then.  As a Met fan of that era we all had a “Do you know who the fuck we are” attitude that rubbed off on the fan base from our beloved team.  Keith Hernandez was that guy who rolled the cigarette pack in his sleeve, Darryl Strawberry was a physical specimen who hit baseballs liked they owed him money,  Ray Knight would smack the shit out you because he could,  Gary Carter was the definition of don’t mistake kindness for weakness.  Dwight Gooden had guys coming down with the flu on days he took the mound and they were led by the chip on his shoulder skipper Davey Johnson. The New York Mets were MLB’s Bad Ass’s

Today the Mets are the kick ass’s as in they have been on the receiving end of the ass kicking they use to hand out. Not to mention a team that plays in a tidy baseball McMansion, Citi Field as the old Mets with bad attitudes played in a tenement called William Shea Housing Project.  As much as I try to accept Citi as the new home of the Mets and try hard to let the past of Shea go, when I see movies like Last Play at Shea, I wonder if we are cursed. Is there a Curse of Shea Stadium?

Think about it the Mets haven’t been the same since the move to Citi. The owners were taken in by a flim flam man named Madoff, real fans have been moved out to outfield stands while the areas around 1st base, 3rd base and home plate have been surrounded by cement and security guards stationed to make sure no real fans try to sneak into the plethora of empty padded seats vacated by the swells who would rather sit in air conditioned luxury of a club while drinking expensive wine and eating gourmet foods.  Back at Shea the food sucked but the baseball was good, I’ll take winning baseball with an over cooked hot dog, half thawed pretzel washed down with watered down Bud any day.

There is hope, hope that the tide is turning. Where the everyday eight are not much to look at, the pitching staff has some talent and charisma. Matt Harvey looks like he could have anchored a staff in the 70’s or 80’s. Zack Wheeler and Travis d”Arnud should make a solid contribution once they are freed from Super Two purgatory.  Other than that and few wet behind the ears minor leaguers, there is much to be optimistic about with this 2013 edition of the NY Mets.

I hope I’m wrong.  I hope Lucas Duda visits the Wizzard of Baseball Oz to  get some baseball confidence. I hope I’m right about Colin Cowgill that he is the surprise of the season. I hope Ike Davis has the breakout season he and Mets fans have been waiting for. I hope David Wright finds some support in the lineup, I hope Freddy Skill Sets is not pissing on our legs and does have money to allow Sandy Alderson to bring in a big league bat with power. I hope the bullpen doesn’t suck like last year. I hope Citi Field is full of METS FANS in September making noise and rooting for a team that plays hard and wins baseball games. I hope I’m not setting myself up for disappointment.

 

 

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Mets-cellaneous

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WAKE UP THE ECHOS!!!!!!  Look who is number 1 in the nation!!!! Two more wins and the FIGHTIN’ IRISH will be National Champions!!!!! Hail Hail to Ol’ Notre Dame………………….  

I was set to put up a post on Saturday but got caught up with tons of chores. Same thing yesterday so I’ve had to save up all kinds on Mets minutia until today. So without further ado:

Belated happy birthday to The Franchise, Tom Seaver who turned 68 years old this past Saturday.  As I thought about Seaver when reminded it was his birthday, I thought what would be a great birthday gift for someone like Seaver who has just about everything a man could ask for a great family, a fabulous legacy as a New York sports icon, and a successful wine vineyard what else does he need? There is only one thing that Seaver doesn’t have that he richly deserves a statue outside of Citi Field.

Every team has a venue to celebrate its past and its legendary players, unlike those teams who knew that a team museum was a necessary part of any new stadium project; the Mets had to be shamed into building a Mets Hall of Fame and Museum.   Let’s not dwell on the past inefficiencies of Citi Field as management, with plenty of prodding, have made some necessary changes to Citi Field to where it is starting to feel like a real home. There is one piece though that is missing and it really is a terrible oversight that this hasn’t happen yet, a statue of Tom Seaver in his legendary pitching delivery, right knee with a dirt smudge, left leg extended, right hand cocked and ready and the ballet like follow through, the diagram for the perfect pitching mechanic. It wouldn’t just be a statue; it would be an exquisite work of baseball art.  The Seaver statue would look very nice just outside the Seaver Entrance to Citi Field but a more perfect place would be in the exact spot of “Seaver’s office” where the old Shea Stadium pitchers mound used to be.  

The Mets will put a limited number of single game tickets on sale today starting at 10 AM along with special Holiday Pack ticket packages.

Tomorrow starting at 11:30 AM Mets pitcher Matt Harvey will be joining other folks from the Mets organization in handing out hot meals to those residents of the Rockaways still devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Harvey and the Mets contingent will be at the United Methodist Church 1032 Beach 19 St in Far Rockaway.    

Memo to Sandy Alderson:

Just sign R.A. Dickey to a contract extension and put to rest all this trade talk. I understand you are just doing your due diligence by putting Dickey’s name out there and see what the response is from your fellow GM’s but I’ve come to the conclusion there is no deal you can make that will bring back the value that Dickey gives this organization both on and off the field.  The Mets need R.A. Dickey more than he needs the Mets as when his playing days are over there would be no better candidate to be the organization Czar of Pitching than Dickey. Let’s think outside the box here and make a move that will be beneficial to the Mets today and in years to come by cutting the bullshit and sign up R.A. Dickey to a contract extension by the end of this week.

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Hip! Hip! R.A. !

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Congratulations to R.A. Dickey on his winning the 2012 NL Cy Young Award. Here is a clip from the film Knuckleballwhere Dickey shows his craft

 

In a perfect world, R.A. Dickey would be a Met 4 Life. For an organization run as bad as a Guy Fieri restaurant that also suffers from public mocking like no other team in town that doesn’t have a bench warming Christian QB, through all that muck and mire there has been one beacon of enlightenment for Mets fans. His name is Robert Allen Dickey.

Dickey’s rough road traveled in his life and baseball career has been rewarded with his being named the 2012 recipient of the NL Cy Young Award. This award does not just legitimize the pitch that made him a star, the knuckleball, but it goes to show how sweat equity in a craft and a belief in one’s self pay off.

You would think the announcement of Dickey winning the Cy Young would set off a huge celebration in the Land of Orange and Blue. Mets fans should be making sure they secure a ticket for April 1st 2013, opening day of the baseball season at Citi Field. Mets fans should have a smile and warm feeling during this off season just thinking about hearing Mets P.A. announcer Alex Anthony make the following proclamation:

“Ladies and Gentlemen….boys and girls ….please direct your attention to the area in front of the pitchers mound where Commissioner Bud Selig has special presentation…..”

At that point the sellout crowd rises as one with a ghost of Shea Stadium roar as Selig with Cy Young plaque in hand presents it to today’s starting pitcher, R.A. Dickey. Dickey tries to say a few words to the fans, a fan base that has fallen in love with not just the pitcher but the man and his life story and his rebirth as a husband, father and baseball player, but he can’t as the crowd of 40,000 Mets fans are serenading him with chants of “R.A DICK-EY, clap clap…clap, clap..clap R.A. DICK-EY, clap, clap….clap, clap, clap…… “What a scene….what pride in being a Mets fan….what…..may…..never….happen…..

I understand that discussing trading Dickey is an option. As you and I think with our hearts, Sandy Alderson thinks with his head and is trying to obtain players who will help turn this team around but who would you get back in trade that would push the Mets to that level and is better than having R.A. Dickey on this team? It’s not like Dickey is looking for a big time deal either, a 3yr/$25-$27 mil deal would be more than suffice for him.  Instead of dealing away a guy like Dickey the Mets need more players like Dickey.

Here is a player who in 2010 played with a plantar fasciitis injury and took pain killer injections on his day to pitch. Last season he played with a torn stomach muscle that he waited until the season was over to get surgery on.  You can’t put a price tag on a will like that.

The Mets love to monitor social media and I’m sure they were all over Twitter and Facebook last night so that means they saw the reaction of the fan base to the announcement of Dickey winning the Cy Young. The Mets brass was in attendance for the last game of the 2011 season at Citi Field when Mets fans skipped school and work and any other responsibilities they had in life to come see a second division team close out another lack luster season that featured the now annual second half collapse only because R.A. Dickey was pitching for his 20th win. Those new to the organization BS (Before Shea) were stunned by the support and the atmosphere Mets fan displayed that day. If the organization wants to keep that fan feeling and want to give as David Howard calls them “the dormant Mets fan” a reason to buy a ticket to a game at Citi Field, they will extend Dickey’s deal and reap the benefits.  Unless Alderson can get back Mike Trout the best move is to not move R.A. Dickey.  

 

 

 

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The Ghosts of Coogan’s Bluff Are Smiling

The Marco Scutaro Fairy Tale continues as he is not only headed to the World Series with his NL Pennant winning SF Giants teammates but he’s bringing the NLCS MVP Trophy along with him. WOW!! Simply WOW!!

As I said yesterday I’ll be rooting for the Giants to beat the Tigers who as Greg Prince eloquently posted on Faith and Fear in Flushing will be meeting for the first time ever in a World Series which is astonishing since both teams have been around for well over 100 years.  I could not help but sit and stare at the TV watching 45,000+ sing and dance in a monsoon of a rain storm with a smile on my face as I dreamed about the day when I can feel that exaltation again about the NY Mets.  For those too young to have experienced the mid 80’s Mets and that championship season of 1986, that crowd at ATT Park was us back in the day but ramped up more than 1,000 decibels or more.  We made enough of a racket and disruption to make Shea Stadium literally rock and roll and then add in the anarchist behavior of the 80’s as we ran rough shod on Pete Flynn’s landscaped lawn to grab a souvenir slice of sod hoping that the rent a cops didn’t yank me by my pony tail.

When I watched the scene in San Francisco last night it just reinforced why I love baseball and of course the Mets, I’ve been in the middle of the celebratory scrum and I’d love to be in the middle of another one al least I won’t have to worry about getting pulled by the pony tail.

I have no problem what so ever about the club bring back Mike Pelfrey on an incentive laden contract for 2013. I know many Mets fans have jump off the Big Pelf bandwagon but I think he can be a contributor out of the pen if not the 5th starter on the team next season.

As for Andres Torres, what’s the decision he has got to go. If Torres is retained for 2013 I will be highly pissed off. Even if a deal can’t made for a center fielder, either Kirk Nieuwenhuis or Matt den Dekker would be a solid upgrade over Torres. I can’t believe this even a discussion amongst the Mets decision makers.

 

This is a picture of the NY Giants of 1888 who defeated the St. Louis Browns of the American Association in the exhibiton known as the World Series. The man in the middle is Giants manager Big Jim Murrite. When you’re named Big Jim odds are you don’t tolorate too much bullshit!   

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The NY Mets Bring Back That 70′s Show

Here they are your 1979 NEW YORK METS…………………

Marc Carig who covers the Mets for NEWSDAY after working the Highlanders beat asked a question on Twitter the other day about the Mets of 2012 and how they compared to the Mets of the late 1970’s. The late 70’s had the same feeling of despair and by 1979 Shea Stadium had become a place Mets fans avoided (attendance of 7,000 a game were the norm back then) The negativity from Mets fans still centered over the trading of Tom Seaver to the Reds in 1977. That alone makes the late 70’s far far worse in my eyes than what’s happening now in Flushing.

There are some stark parallels between the 70’s and what’s going on now in Flushing, ownership was a problem then as it is now. In October of 1975, Joan Whitney Payson died and nearly took the Mets franchise with her to the beyond. Her husband Charles Payson wanted no part of running the Mets so it was left to his daughter Lorinda de Roulet and the dastardly rat bastard M. Donald Grant. Where Mrs. Payson had no trouble spending money on the team,( she wanted desperately to bring Willie Mays back to NYC after see acquired the Mets she made an offer to Horace Stoneham to name his price for the contract of Mays.  In one of the few times that Stoneham was lucid he turned the offer down) Grant held on to every penny.

Today the Mets biggest problem is ownership and its lack of financial resources, not just to add talent but to make mistakes disappear like Jason Bay. The team is in a free fall right now that has a very 70’s feel t to it and what makes this second half gag job so bad is 2013 looks no better. Why?, because no one in the Mets ownership group can come out and tell the truth about the teams financial status. Management wants its most prize possession, its season ticket holders, to make a financial investment in the team in the form of purchasing tickets but won’t let them know what they are buying into, so why would anyone buy in?

The biggest problem with this ownership is their lack of transparency as opposed to the 70’s when we knew that M. Donald Grant was a miserable pick and he had no problem living up to that reputation.  This lack of being truthful with the fan base has turned Sandy Alderson into Fred Astaire. Whenever Alderson is interviewed, the first question is always about payroll and what it will be next season, at this point is when Alderson pulls out the straw hat and cane and does the ol’ Wilpon soft shoe.  

I’ve never understood why the Skill Sets could never be honest with their fan base? You would think that someone in the organization would try to get them to change the way they disseminate their message?  I’ll give the Skill Sets this much, as inept and awfully clandestine they are in conducting their baseball business , they haven’t reached M.Donald Grant status yet on my despicable meter but knowing them they’ll keep trying.

If you haven’t read Jason Fry’s piece on the Faith and Fear site please go read it now. Hopefully someone in the organization will show this to Freddy Skill Sets and try to get him to realize the Mets fans may be leaving the piss off stage of fandom to the apathetic stage of who gives a shit?

I don’t know how Terry Collins does it night in and night out trying to put a positive spin on the ineptness of his team.  Collins is treading on dangerous ground here going from a guy protecting his players to looking like he has no clue. Bobby Ojeda has been as big a Collins supporter as there is but last night even he couldn’t take it anymore calling out the players for sitting out claiming they’re tired. Ojeda went on a rant about how that’s the difference between a winning team and a losing team. He was 1,000 % on point. For once I’d love for Collins to come out and say that he’s let his team know that the difference between being a winning team and a losing team is desire. Right now the Mets seem to have no desire to finish strong, something Collins has been preaching during this second half slide. It’s not throwing his players under the bus; it’s holding them accountable by calling them out for playing lousy baseball.

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Mets Fans Shouldn’t Boo Chipper Jones, They Should Boo The Skill Sets Instead

Chipper Jones makes his last appearance as a major league baseball player in NYC this weekend. The Mets, like other teams around the league, will honor Jones as he sails off into retirement. Most of you will boo and kill the organization for honoring a player who was a thorn in the Mets side for the last 19 years. Your anger towards Jones is ill advised, your anger should be towards the Skill Sets for not heading the lesson that Jones was teaching the Mets whenever they were the Braves opponent, that lesson was “you need me to be a Met”.

Think about it, Jones owned the Mets, not just with his lifetime .314/.410/.553 splits against them or the 49 home runs he hit against them either, what Jones tried to show the Mets was, you need to act and think like a winner as to become one. When Jones would come to NY he played the stage better than any Tony award winning actor. We chanted “LAAAAAARRRRRYYYYYY, LAAAAAAARRRRRYYYYYYY” and he ate it up. He loved the fact that Mets fans had a passion, fire, and desire that matched his. For a guy born in the South, he had a New York mentality and I think a want to play here as well.

Why didn’t the Mets ever make a strong move on Jones when he was a free agent?  You would have thought an owner whose team was owned by a superstar player who had that balls to the wall, win at all cost mentality,  would say “hell if I can’t beat him then I want to join him”.

As much as Jones loved the Braves, Atlanta and playing in the South, I have to think is the Mets made an offer above and beyond like they did to land Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran, Jones would have had a difficult time turning them down. We know his love for the city and Shea Stadium was so strong he named one of his sons Shea.   Back in 2000, Jones signed a 6 yr/$90mil deal with Atlanta but when that deal was up, he re-signed for 3yrs at $40 mil, this was in the days of the Mets swimming in Madoff bucks so the thought that Freddy Skill Sets couldn’t have raised the stakes for Jones is ridiculous. I don’t remember if there was talk of the Mets making a pitch for Jones back in 2000 or even in 2006, I doubt there was but in hind sight there should have been. It could be that the Skill Sets felt that going after Jones and even signing Jones would have led to fans revolting that a despised opponent would join their beloved Mets.  Well, I guess we see what happens when you give in to the lunatic fringe of your fan base.

This is why, as much as I loathe the Highlanders and old Boss George, he knew players like Darryl Strawberry, Doc Gooden and David Cone were the kind of players he needed to win championships. You think he cared that they were former Mets? Hell, he signed Wade Boggs to play 3rd base who played for a team and organization he hated with a passion.

Think about Chipper as a Met. Imagine him with a kid like Jordany Vladespin ? Remember he called out Jason Heywood who came up as one of the hottest prospects in baseball for not playing due to fatigue. Jones went right at Heywood and made the Braves right fielder grow up fast.  I can’t say the Mets would have won a World Series championship with Jones on the team but I could guarantee he would have had no problem stepping up and holding his teammates accountable for their play.  I’m also sure he would have gone down as one of the greatest Mets players of all time.

So when Chipper Jones comes up to bat for the first time on Friday night, what Mets fans should do is turn towards the owner’s box at Citi Field and give the Skill Sets a rousing standing boo not just for never pursuing Jones when he was a free agent but for not having the smarts to understand the lesson Chipper was teaching.

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Double Trouble

The Mets dropping a duce last night against the Giants gave me a Willie McCovey flashback and also made me think of my dad. My dad was a big, big Giants fan, even followed them when they left for SF but as many Giants and Dodger fans did, he switched to the Mets when they were born, but early in his Metsfandom he still had a soft spot for his Giants. It wasn’t until McCovey, my dad pronounced his name “McCoooovey” in his Irish brogue  , started to hammer Mets pitching that my dad became a full fledged Mets fan as he would call out after Stretch socked another home run over the Shea Stadium wall, “Ah fer Christ sake, that damn McCoooovey, he owns the Mets”   

 

Losing both games of a double header is bad, but losing both games of a double header on a day that’s grey, cold and damp makes close to unbearable. I give my fellow Mets fans a big tip of my Mets cap for going out to Citi Field yesterday for the rain out aided double dip and if you stayed for both games, then the Mets owe you a ticket for another game this season (preferably one in July or August when hand warmers and blankets aren’t needed) and a medal, something like the victors of the two games in one day San Francisco Giants used to give fans at Candle Stick Park, the Croix de Candlestick.    

Where to begin in the dissection of last night, well for one it seems Miguel Batista needs to become a full time author  and he can start with penning a mystery as to why he was brought back to the Mets in the first place. The game he pitched against the Reds on the last day of the season has become folklore. What’s forgotten is the weather for that game was worse than last nights, both teams were ready to go home from the time they reported to the ballpark (some more than others , Hey it’s Jose, here’s your hat, what’s your hurry?) especially the visiting Redlegs   but it was that game that garnered Batista a contract for 2012.

It’s tough to win games when your 4-5-6 hitters can’t drive home a run to save their lives. Ike Davis (.148 4/27 w/RISP) Jason Bay (.071 1/14) and Lucas Duda (.077 1/13) are stone cold rally killers. There’s not much that can be done with Bay, to quote the great Mike Francesa “Bay is Bay” and Duda’s has stated to show some signs of life of late but how do you solve a problem like Ike Davis?  His ankle is not the cause and it doesn’t seem his Valley Fever is to blame either for his anemic bat so what is it that has Ike off his game?  Talking heads Keith Hernandez (who has a sweeter gig than Mex ? He worked just the first game of the doubleheader leaving Gary Cohen and Ron Darling to man the TV booth for a 7 hour day. Keith is the Paulie Walnuts of SNY, he shows up takes a seat and pulls out his sun reflector and works on his tan) and Bobby Ojeda have talked about the way Davis has lowered his hand (almost Roy White-ish ) and is late in getting the bat head out in front of the ball. That explains why when he’s not striking out; Davis is hitting ground balls to 2nd base.  I’m sure Ike and Dave Hudgens sit down every afternoon and go over at bat after at bat on the video screen but does it get to the point with Ike, that maybe a trip to Buffalo is needed to work out his problems ? Before you go all ape shit on me, this thought crossed my mind this morning when I read that the Atlanta Braves sent Jair Jurrjens  to Triple A, isn’t Ike the hitting equivalent of Jurrgens ?  I’m not advocating sending Ike down today but if this trend of bad AB’s continues for the next 25-30 plate appearances, it should become an option.

On the bright side, Bobby Parnell seems to have found his niche as a late inning but not the closer, reliever.

I’m pretty sure the uproar over the video tribute the Mets have planned for Jose Reyes tonight will last longer than the tribute itself.  It’s still confusing to me that many of the same folks that paraded around Citi Field screaming “Don’t Trade Reyes” are the ones outraged over the Mets tip of the hat to the former shortstop.  To those still kicking up a tantrum over this issue, look at it like getting a shot at the doctor’s office, it will hurt for a second and in a minute it will all be over, and if you don’t cry you may get a lollipop.

 

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The Clash at Shea Stadium October 13th, 1982

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Now this concert I was at The Clash opening for The Who on was supposed to be their farewell tour. How can you beat a double bill like that and have it at Shea? Thank god for You Tube because  it helps jog my memory on some events that are a bit foggy to me to say the least.

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Grand Funk Railroad Shea Stadium 1971

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Boy oh boy did they ever miss the boat on The Last Play At Shea by not inviting Mark Farner to play on stage

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BOB BACKLUND AND PEDRO MORALES VS. THE WILD SAMONANS AT SHEA STADIUM

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This match was held on August 30 1980 the ring looks very small for the angle it was shot. I never saw wrestling at Shea but I went there to see Roberto Duran fight Sugar Ray Leonard on close circuit TV from Montreal. They set up two big screens in front of the pitchers mound and shut off every light in the stadium so we could see the screen better. All seats were general admission sit where you want and back then there was not checking bags or much security, so the booze, weed and weapons  were in ample supply that night.

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Tickets

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