Hey NY Highlander Fans, You Think This Post Season Is Bad, You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet

I’ve always felt that once you sign on to be a fan of a sports team, you’re a fan for life. Like a marriage, good times and bad, and till death do us part.  Fan support has been a big topic this weekend as for the first that I can remember a professional post season sporting event in NYC was played before a lot of empty seats, and in all places, Highlanders Stadium.

I was very surprised to see so many tickets available for Games 1 and 2 of the ALCS games in the Bronx. The tickets that were available on Stub Hub were way under face value as well so what the hell happened?

Myself and Mike Silva discussed this last night on our Sports Media Watchdog Podcast going over many different reasons from cost of tickets, commuting, and traffic all play a part but the feeling I get is many Highlanders fans just have no faith at all in their team and with Derek Jeter done for the remainder of the post season, it seems the fans have packed it in for the year just like the Highlanders offense.

It was discussed a lot during the season as the Bronx Bastards were hitting home run after home run many fans and media types had concern that this club was not built for the post season where most game runs are at a premium.  The Highlanders look at playing small ball like it’s an affront on their manhood, but a bunt here, a stolen base there, a little hit and run might be how they have to go after the Tigers. The Highlander pitching has been superb to the point where I feel C.C. Sabathia is underrated as a pitcher and big game performer and you cannot say enough about the job Hiroki Kuroda did on 3 days’ rest. Problem is I can’t find a Highlander fan who shares my feelings, all they see is an impotent offense and their Captain lying prone on the infield dirt.

The Highlander fans have really turned to heels when it comes to their team, the players, especially Nick Swisher are having a tough time accepting the taunts and cat calls from a fan base that has “if we don’t win the World Series the season is a failure” mentality that management and the teams PR department has branded into their heads.  This is what happens when you promote ad nausea that you are the 27 Time World Champions, and put up billboards like this around the city and sell obnoxious t –shirts and generally act like no other team in baseball is worthy of being in the same league as you. Even your fans stop buying that bullshit.

Problem for the Highlanders is their fan base is not prepared for failure. The Highlander fan of my generation who remembers when attendance figures of 3,000 or less at the REAL Highlander Stadium were the norm and how the Mets were the darlings of New York, knows that as great as the winning feels, the cycle does bring you to hard times as well, but you stick with your team thick or thin. The new Generation of Highlander fan that jumped on the bandwagon the last 20 to 25 years doesn’t have the heart to support a losing team.  Let’s face it with the combination of age, Hal Steinbrenner looking to cut payroll, a barren farm system and the teams in their division not only getting better but they also smell Highlander blood in the water knowing that the once mighty New York Highlanders are no longer feared.

It happens; the great Core players that led the Highlanders to championships are gone. Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera are the Four Horsemen of the great Highlander run. Rivera and Jeter will be back but they are both will be coming off severe injury and an age where players decline rather than improve. There could be tough times ahead for the Highlanders but just think fans you have a whole lot of Highlander Classics and Highlander-ograhpy’s  to watch on YUCK until the next cycle of winning comes along hopefully that won’t come around for a long long time.

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My Day In The South Bronx

The new Highlander Stadium pale’s in comparison to the original 

 

As much as another bullpen meltdown set me off after yesterday’s Mets game , what added to my anger was where I spent the early part of my afternoon, Highlander Stadium.

Yup, I went to see the NY Highlanders take on the Los Angeles Angels Who Reside in Anaheim Orange County California at Highlander Stadium.  I had a whole day to myself as my son and his friends high tailed it to Great Adventure and my wife and daughter went with friends to see Ghost, leaving dear ol’ dad home alone, so I had to find something to do besides do some work around the house. Our beloved Mets were in Atlanta and the Brooklyn Cyclones were on the road, even the Staten Island Highlanders were traveling, damn not a baseball game to be had around here, except for the Bronx Bastards. I go on Stub Hub and buy a ticket in the upper deck for $30 bucks and off to the SI Ferry and 4 train I go.  Of course I am incognito and I’m happy to report I did not see one patron wearing Mets gear at this game unlike the dickheads who wear Highlander paraphernalia at a Mets-Astros game at Citi Field.

As I walked through the mall main concourse the first thing I think of is this has got to be the highest concentration of Caucasians in the boro of the Bronx since the old Swede himself, Joanas Bronck landed there in 1600’s, seriously I didn’t know if I was at a baseball game or a George Strait  concert in Branson, MO . There were a lot of tourists and tons of the upstate/NJ/CT crowd as well. It’s a much different clientele on a weekend as it on a week night but I think you can say the same for Citi Field as well. The suburbanites seem to make a big deal out of these trips to the outter boros by carrying in as much food from home as they are allowed to get past the security guards.  They also have a tough time in figuring out where their ticket says they should sit, most of the fans at the game yesterday looked at their tickets like a contestant on Survivor does at a puzzle challenge. It’s not that hard folks Section, Row, Seat all clearly marked on the ticket and throughout the stadium. Then when they finally figure out where to sit, they lack common courtesy:

Ticket Holder: Excuse me is this Section 422 Row 13?

Me: Yes

TH: oh great we have seats 5 & 6

Me: OK but this is seat 28

TH: OK so can we get through?

Me: you want to walk all across this whole row to get to your seat? Why don’t you just go back down and come up the other side of the section so you don’t disturb the whole row of people?

I may as well had been talking in Pig Latin this schmuck had no idea what I was talking about so finally I said fuck it, go ahead at least the rest of the row knew what I was talking about and gave this guy and his gal pal (both of course with cocktails in their hand) dirty looks.

I love listening to Highlander fans, there were three guys in back of me complaining after Robinson Cano hit a 3 run HR because Joe Girardi whom they refer to as “Super Genius” refuses to play small ball to get ready for the post season. The Highlanders lead all of baseball in Home Runs and these dolts want them to play “small ball”?

The most disturbing sight for me was after a Highlander home run on the side video boards they put up a picture of Michael Kay and his Alien sized dome with his mouth moving up and down and the words “See Ya” next to it. EEEEEWWWWWW!!!!!!!!! It gives me the chills just thinking of it.

So as for the game itself what pissed me off about the Mets loss yesterday was how the Highlanders beat the Angels. Freddy Garcia labored through five innings but not to worry because that’s all the Highlanders needed from Garcia as Cody Eppley pitched two solid innings in relief and David Robertson and Rafael Soriano took care of the eighth and ninth, ball game over, the beauty of having an effective bullpen.

By the time I got home from the South Bronx I caught the last three innings of Mets-Braves.  First off, why would you try to get a five out save out of Bobby Parnell? That’s not putting your player in a spot to succeed and shows you why Bob Geren was axed in Oakland. Here it is that Bobby Parnell has pitched very effectively lately as the ninth inning closer coming in to start an inning and Geren tries to destroy all the confidence building Dan Warthen and Terry Collins have worked at with Parnell. And what the hell was up taking Ruben Tejada out with a double switch for Rony Cedeno ? I don’t care if the pitchers spot was coming out Cedeno for Tejeda ? Bullshit.

Sometimes as Mets fans we forget that the core of this team is very young and still learning the big league way of playing baseball. Kirk Nieuwenhuis is really struggling as is Lucas Duda and you have to expect this. I’d  say the for Josh Thole as well plus he should not be the starting catcher (nor should Mike Nickeas) if reports are true that the Mets are looking at Kelly Shopach then please Sandy Alderson bring him in.

What has Mets fan in a tizzy is, we see there is no great team in the NL and we have the memory of past second half collapses burned in our memory.  I hope this second half the club can put up at least a 39-35 record that would give the Mets 85 wins and a shot at a Wild Card spot.

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A VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE FOR THE WILPON’S

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and enjoyed the extra day off yesterday to recuperate or to return gifts at the mall. I’m still fighting off fatigue this morning, my first day back to work in 3 days, from the holiday and from a huge sports weekend.

It all started for me on Friday night as I attended the Rangers-Flyers game at a jammed packed Madison Square Garden. The Rangers are playing their best hockey in years and with a win last night against the Icelanders have the best record in the NHL Eastern Conference. The Garden rocked like it hasn’t in many years and Rangers fans have fallen in love with this team made up of mainly homegrown players with top notch free agent signings (Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards) that have made the Garden faithful cautiously optimistic  for a deep Stanley Cup run.

Then on Saturday, I was in front of my TV totally engrossed in the Giants-Jets battle in the Meadowlands. The Jets got the ball first and tore through the Giants soft as a marshmallow defense for a touchdown and I thought the G-Men were going to ruin my Christmas but thanks to Brian Shottenheimer and Roarin’ Rex Ryan who forgot that Mark Sanchez and not Joe Namath was QB’ing there team. It was a 99 yard TD from Eli Manning to the newest Giants star Victor Cruz (my family did not appreciate my Cruz Salsa dance I performed in the living room after Cruz crossed the end zone) that changed the whole game and put Rex and Shotty into a panic giving the Giants a big win. As the game ended two guys who are more similar than they realize, Rex Ryan and Brandon Jacobs, traded insults instead of holiday greetings. I now had two of the three wins I wanted for Christmas.

On Christmas day while everyone wanted to open presents and eat and eat and eat, I watched the clock hit high noon and screamed out ‘WELCOME BACK NBA!!!!!” I was thisclose to going on Stub Hub and grabbing a couple of tickets for the game at MSG between the Knicks and Celtics as I try to never miss a chance to see my C’s when they come to town. However it is not in my nature to get into a screaming match on the Baby Jesus Birthday with my wife so I as much as my finger was twitching to click on “BUY”, I stepped away from the computer and went back upstairs to spread holiday cheer and make sure I secured the TV for 12:00. My favorite Celtic player is Rajon Rondo, in fact of all the teams I root for Rondo and Henrik Lundqvist are neck and neck for the title of my favorite player of any team I root for (Eli Manning would be my favorite Giant as for the Mets…hummmm… I’ll get back to you on that….) and to watch that performance by Rondo against the Knicks, made me even more joyous that Danny Anige didn’t deal him off for Chris Paul.

Last night after another Rangers win and sitting with my family and reflecting on a having just a great holiday weekend, I looked around the room at our Christmas tree and the stockings hanging from the mantle and back to reality I returned. First I stared at my Mets Christmas stocking, then I studied the various Mets ornaments on the tree, Mr. Met, 1986 World Champions, David Wright and on the top of one of the dining room chairs, my Mets Christmas hat. It hit me and hit me hard, it’s quite likely that the Mets will not bring me the joy and excitement in 162 games, that the three other sports teams I root for gave me in a weekend.   Quite depressing.

It got me thinking, I cannot be the only one who feels this way. How many of you are multiple sports fans?  I then started to think about the men who own the teams I root for and how different the all are.

The Rangers are owned by Cablevision and Jim Dolan is in charge of both the Rangers and Knicks. Thankfully for Rangers fans, Dolan hates hockey, he loves the revenue it brings in but he leaves the hockey folks alone and for that we Ranger fans are grateful. One thing about Dolan, he has no problem spending money and if Slats Sather feels a player (Gaborik, Richards) is worth the dough and fits the salary cap he always gets the green light to spend.

The NY Football Giants are owned by both the Mara and Tisch families but John Mara is the man who makes the decisions for the team.  Mara is what you want in a team owner, his family is football royalty, he has a presences in the league that is second only to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell , and he’s all about winning.

The Celtics are owned by a syndicate but the managing partner and NBA Governor is Wyc Grousbeck. Grousbeck has brought back the history and mystique of the Celtics. Just about every game at the TD Garden, there are numerous Celtics of the past attending the game.  I’ve mentioned before that I had the pleasure of meeting Grousbeck a few times at MSG and not only had great conversations with him but he even let me try on the 2008 Championship ring. Now that’s an owner. Which brings me to the Skill Sets.

No matter how bad a season any of those three teams have, I’ve always been confident that the ownership of those teams will pull out all stops to make the teams better. I never, ever get that feeling with the Wilpon’s.   Even when they were flush with In Bernie We Trust currency, I’ve never had confidence that they would just supply the resources to the men running the team to make baseball decisions that would make the Mets better.  It was never the Wilpon’s allowing the baseball people make baseball decision it was always, sure you can visit Player A to talk contract, but you have to take Jeff with you.  Now I cannot say for certain that the other owners I’ve named are not meddlesome (especially Dolan but he is more hands on with the Knicks than Rangers) but if they have it’s never been brought out like it has with Jeff Wilpon. Whether it was flying to meet Mike Cameron on the Mets private jet to get him to sign as a free agent, or being golf buddies with Tom Glavine and Al Leiter or just  forcing himself on the baseball operations when he had no baseball knowledge  what so ever.

With all the money woes the Wilpon’s have the one good thing has been that Sandy Alderson has run the baseball ops as he wants and with no money to spend ,Jeff has been a non-factor in player moves, which would be a positive if the Mets had money to spend.

Yesterday the Chicago Cubs signed RHP Andy Sonnestine and RHP Manny Corpas to non-guaranteed deals. The Mets with the lack of depth in the pitching department both on the big league and Triple A level should have been in on both these chuckers. I know neither Sonnestine nor Corpas are enough to really get Mets fans hot and bothered about but it just shows how the cash situation is so bad with the Mets that they can’t even bid on two arms like this.

The angst of the Mets fan is not towards the players or the front office; it’s all on the owners. Mets fans who decide to not go to Citi Field or watch games on SNY or buy Met merchandise will do so because of their anger at the Wilpon’s for not falling on the sword and doing the right thing by selling the team. No matter what happens on the field this coming season, this team will be followed by the Wilpon black cloud all season long unless the financial situation reaches to catastrophic proportions and Fred, Jeff and Uncle Saul are thrown out on their ass .  What sucks most of all, many Mets fans that I talk to don’t want to talk actual baseball, they all want to talk about the Wilpon’s selling the team. That is the number one subject on the Mets fans mind, not will Wright and Bay rebound or will Santana bounce back or will Ike have the breakout season, nope, it’s when the fuck are the Wilpon’s selling the team and that won’t end until the Skill Sets are gone. It’s shame for them , a shame for Mets fans and a shame for baseball.

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RATS IN THE CELLAR

New York City blues
East side, west side blues
Throw me in the slam
A catch me if you can
Believe
That you’re wearing
Tearing me apart

Another day another dismal loss added on with poor play and some questionable managerial moves and non-moves. Welcome to Mets baseball 2011.

Two weeks into the season and the day after postmortems are getting tougher and tougher to write. Maybe those of us who saw blue and orange sugar plums this winter time to take a reality check here and admit this is not a very good baseball team and instead of patching the roof and the cracks in the foundation, maybe management should just tear the house down and rebuild it. The land underneath is much more valuable than the shack that sits on it.

Now it’s easy for me to sit here and say rebuild it because I’m not going anywhere, baseball fan wise that is. The best part of this swirly of a season is tickets for Mets home games are at Polo Grounds prices on the secondary market. Last night before I left work, I checked Stub Hub and you could get a ticket in the Promenade for 2 bucks an XL Dunkin Donuts coffee cost you more. Last night on THIS CALL TO THE BULLPEN, Mike Steffanos and I talked about this and how going to Citi Field this summer could be like it was back in the mid and late 70’s, get a free ticket, go to the game, put you feet up on the seat in front of you, and extend both arms out to the seats on to your left and right. Talk about luxury seating?

So Brad Emaus was fired after 40 odd appearances at the plate to be replaced by Ginger Turner who looked as shaky as the Skill Sets finances at 2nd base last night. It looks like Turner and Daniel Murphy will form a platoon at 2nd base and hopefully Murphy has removed his head from his ass and has gotten the message that players play and managers manage. To me, Emaus while not at all impressive, got a raw deal here. That is a very small sample to give a guy who you anointed just a month ago as your 2nd baseman, to really know his truth worth. If you dump Emaus for his poor play this early then how do you justify keeping the dreadful Scott Hairston on this team. I thought Hairston would be a good 5th outfielder but right now he’s just a lazy over the hill stumble bum who needs to go like yesterday!

I can see where there is angst among some in the fan base not happy that Terry Collins didn’t rip 2nd base ump Doug Eddings a new asshole after his awful call against José Reyes. Some feel the manager needed to go out there and take his frustration out on the clueless ump as it would make them feel good to see someone act like a lunatic like them selves. Quite frankly I don’t think this group would have cared. I’m not saying they don’t care about winning and losing no I don’t think that at all but Collins acting a fool on the field is not going to turn Bobby Parnell into Goose Gossage or Mike Pelfrey into Dave Stewart or Ginger Turner into Jeff Kent. As we witnessed in the Rockies series when Troy Tulowitzki dug his spikes into the batters box and Mets pitchers were polite enough to let him get comfortable, this is a very nice group of young men who are a bit shy when it comes to confrontation.

Bobby Parnell has numbness in his middle finger, Mike Pelfrey has numbness in his skull and collectively Mets fans have become comfortably numb.

If I were Terry Collins I’d have thrown the whole righty/lefty thing out the window in 7th when he had Chin-lung Hu bat for Pedro Beato.  With 1st and 2nd 2 outs how do you let the weak hitting Hu pinch hit? I’d have gone with Murphy or Willie Harris in that spot. Both players have a better chance of getting a hit with the bat hanging out of their ass than Hu does with it in his hands.

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