29 April 2011

So I found myself behind this at a red light today...

The photo kinda sucks because we were facing the sun and my windshield isn't the cleanest at the moment, but if you concentrate really hard, you can make out that that license plate reads "METGIRL."  You'll just have to take my word for it that it is, in fact, a Jackson County, Mississippi, tag.

Is Metgirl a transplant from Jackson (the city) during the AA minor league days? Is that Biloxi resident Barry Lyons' daughter or the lady friend of Binghamton pitcher Robert Carson, who's from Hattiesburg? Dunno. Heck, it may not even be a reference to the baseball team for all I know.  Regardless, if you found your way here and know the story behind this, drop me a line.

Report: Wilpons "appear willing to give up some control"

From  the New York Post: "Mets alter game plan."

Duh.  As if somebody's going to put $200 million into something with little say-so about how it's run.  As a potential partner, it can't possibly be that hard to negotiate given the Wilpons' very public position of weakness.  I repeatedly hear pundits saying that someone would buy in just to have a seat at the table, but with each day that passes, the Wilpons are that much closer to having to sell the whole dining set.

HT to MetsBlog.

28 April 2011

Thursday mishmash

Sometime in the past couple of days, I realized my last entry here was after the first game of the winning streak.  It's not that I have nothing to say when things are going well (really!).  It's just that the whole black uni thing--which I'll get to more later--has kept me busy commenting on other sites, I kinda make it a point to not add posts over the weekend just because, and the Mrs. fell ill (she's fine now).  All that said, let me play some catch-up.

TOPIC #1:  The winning streak.  It certainly beats a losing streak, and maybe this season will get back to where I expected from the start, but I'm just not jazzed as I would expect to be when the Mets go on a tear like this.

The biggest problem is that in case anyone's forgotten, we're still only a half-game out of last place with the victory last night, only "up to" a record of11-13, and 5 games out of first with a few days left to go in April.  Shoot, even solely on the matter of 2011 streaks, they have to win tonight just to make it even.

It'll be a little while before I'm convinced this isn't just an anomaly rooted in the combination of inconsistency and chance and the team won't turn around and lose 5 in a row all the same.  Yeah, it's great that the starting pitching is showing something and the bullpen appears to be settling in.  I'm glad Murph is making the most of his time and Bay is back and looking like the guy we signed two offseasons ago.  The recent talk about this team manning up and saying "Enough is enough" warms my heart.  However, one good week on the heels of an equally bad week just isn't enough to sell me just yet.  Win 3 out of every 5 during the first couple of weeks of May, and then maybe I'll let my guard down.

TOPIC #2: The damned black.  If you're reading this, it's probably a safe bet you've already read everything I've had to say about this elsewhere.  I'm a firm supporter of the "Ditch The Black" movement which implores the team to go back to the color scheme it had from the franchise's inception up until it leaped into the late 1990s fad known to us uniform geeks as the Black Plague.  The Butt-Ugly Hybrid Look (tm), seen in my last entry and comprised of the home whites, two-tone caps, and--for some reason known only to God and Charlie Samuels--black sleeves, belts, and socks is just a train wreck.  A jumbled mess.  Or, to borrow LI Phil's word (scroll up a little on the earlier UniWatchBlog link), a "clusterf@*%."  It looks like they got dressed in the dark.  They should've never even tried that look once, much less made it a standard.

The black jerseys, I've always begrudgingly been able to live with after my initial reaction of "WTF?" 13 years ago.  For the same reasons I own a couple of Celine Dion CDs, I own a couple of black Mets jerseys: it seemed like a good idea at the time.  That said, the team wearing the blasted things EVERY SINGLE DAY has just been annoying.  It's as if the team has gone out of its way to prove that even amid a 6-game winning streak, they've simply GOT to give me SOMETHING about which to grumble.  The Celine Dion CDs now sit in the entertainment center collecting dust (only one song comes to mind as standing the test of time; probably because it was already a decade old when Ms. Dion got her hands on it).  So should the Mets black-tainted wardrobe.

A cloudier issue is the mere concept of "riding the hot uniform."  For one thing, that's not what the Mets did.  The win streak started with the Butt-Ugly Hybrid Look (tm), then they switched to the black tops the next night.  Somehow, that ended up making the black jerseys the lucky ones (I'm somewhat thankful given the choice), and we haven't seen another one since.  The whole thing raises questions, like "After 6 wins in a row, do the black alts get a mulligan?"  If they lose tonight, will it just be considered a hiccup and we'll end up seeing the Men In Black again on Friday?  And if they do switch to greys on Friday, do they then go back to black on Saturday if they lose?  And what happens on the home stand next week?  I really, REEEAAAALLLY hope that this streak will be the end of it and they don't adopt a "wear it 'till it loses" policy the rest of the season (well, unless they go on a 138-game winning streak in pinstripes and blue caps, which of course would be totally cool).

21 April 2011

Hey, a win!

The Good:

Mets 9, Astros 1

The Bad:

Angel Pagan injured in the 4th

The Butt-Ugly:

This heaven-forsaken, mix-and-(doesn't)-match, we-got-dressed-in-the-dark uniform combination.

Unfortunately, in the post-game press conference, Collins seemed pretty pleased with himself for coming up with the idea.

Couldn't he have just told the team the game didn't count?

20 April 2011

What's Laster than Last?

 "Making it worse?  How could it get any worse?"

A quick look at the standings shows us that as of this moment, the New York Mets own the worst record in the Eastern Division, the National League, and the entirety of Major League Baseball.

They've so far followed up losing 2 out of 3 to the 2nd-to-last-place team in the East with losing 2 in a row to the last-place team in the Central, a feat that more closely resembles setting the pasture on fire than making hay while the sun shines.

The Mets are the owners of the worst record within the division in intradivision games (tied with the Nationals, to whom they've lost 2 of 3, at 5-7), and within any division in interdivision games (a perfect 0-for-6).  They also have the worst record at home of any MLB team (1-9, a good piece worse than the 2nd-worst Pirates at 1-5) and the worst current 10-game stretch by 2 games (1-9).  The only sub-record onto which the Mets don't hold last pace is road record, where the Red Sox's 1-7 actually blows the Mets' 4-5 out of the water.

Just for a little perspective, the Commissioner's office just took over the Dodgers, and they'd still be 3 games up on the Mets for a12th wildcard spot if such a thing existed.

Gentlemen, we have reached the valley floor.  .278 works out to 45 wins on a season.  The worst 162-game season ever managed 43 (note the 1962 expansion Mets only posted 40 but had 2 games rained out).  These Mets very well may continue to wander and wind their way through the canyon, but lower ground than that upon which they currently tread simply does not exist.  There is no incentive--absolutely none--for this team to NOT seriously shake things up.

18 April 2011

Don't worry. Be happy.

Here's a little song I penned
To all those who'd like the Mets to win
Don't worry
Be happy

Saw David Wright strike out once again
But he's just trying so darned hard to win
So don't worry
Be happy

Don't worry
Be happy, now

Boooo, boo-boo, boo-boo, boo-boo, boo-boo-boo-booo
Don't worry
Boo-boo, boo-boo-boo-booo
Be happy

Don't worry
Be happy

Boooo, boo-boo, boo-boo, boo-boo, boo-boo-boo-booo
Don't worry
Boo-boo, boo-boo-boo-booo
Be happy

Don't worry
Be happy

Ain't won a darned thing since '06
But this won't take much to get fixed
So don't worry
Be happy

The Wipon's bills will all be late
They won't sell controlling stake.
So don't worry
Be happy

(Look at Jeff, he's happy.)

Boooo, boo-boo, boo-boo, boo-boo, boo-boo-boo-booo
Don't worry
Boo-boo, boo-boo-boo-booo
Be happy

(Here, I give you Fred's phone number.  If you worry, call him.  He'll make you happy.)

Boooo, boo-boo, boo-boo, boo-boo, boo-boo-boo-booo
Don't worry
Boo-boo, boo-boo-boo-booo
Be happy

Mets got no sack, they've got no guile
But that Jose', he's got quite a smile
So don't worry
Be happy

'Cause if you trade him, that's too big a blow
They've only lost 7 in a row
So don't worry
Be happy

Don't worry
Be happy, now!

Boooo, boo-boo, boo-boo, boo-boo, boo-boo-boo-booo
Don't worry
Boo-boo, boo-boo-boo-booo
Be happy

16 April 2011

Silly broadcast rules

I'm going to brush aside the futility of the actual team for a bit (pretty much already said all I have to say about that, anyway).  Today (and also tomorrow), my annoyance is the enigmatic, at times seemingly random MLB territorial broadcast rules.

When the Mets play any other team besides the Braves, I can watch the Mets feed via SNY or Pix 11 through DirecTV's Extra Innings (which costs a small fortune, but as I've said before, is worth every penny). For those other 140-odd games not carried by a national network, MLB doesn't care whose feed I watch.  In fact, for ANY MLB game not involving the Braves, I can with rare exception get the home or away feed for both.  Braves games, however, I must watch on the Braves' feed, as my place of residence falls within the Braves' territorial rights (per Google maps, I'm all of roughly 40 miles closer to Turner Field than Minute Maid park in Houston).

The concept behind this is understandable.  The owners of the Braves, like any other team, sink an unholy amount of money into their product and have been granted a designated area in which to sell it.  However, the practical application of this gets downright silly in this day and age of internet and satellite.  Just as one example, as I type this, the game is supposedly only available to me on FoxSportsSouth.  But if I flip over to the Game Mix channel, which simultaneously shows video from 8 different games with your choice of audio, I highlight Mets-Braves and the feed there is from SNY with Gary, Keith, and Ron.  And yes, I've actually gotten so frustrated with the Braves' drama queen announcers before, I finished watching the game on the tiny Game Mix screen, which leads me to my next complaint.

Some of the Braves' games are carried by their so-to-speak in-house network, PeachtreeTV.  PeachtreeTV sucks.  Few things hack me off more than having a wide-screen HD television and a premium baseball package and being forced to watch a game in 4:3 low-def.

Then there's the matter of wild inconsistency.  In addition to the aforementioned Game Mix goofiness, there seems to be different rules for different networks.  As well as Extra Innings, I also have the everyday sports package, which includes most of the local sports networks around the country including SNY, YES, MASN, the regional Fox networks, etc.  For some reason, it's OK for me to see Mets Weekly and Kids' Clubhouse, but every regularly-scheduled Mets Yearbook is blacked out.  It's also inconsistent from network-to-network, with YES being a usual suspect.  Why, oh WHY am I allowed to see YankeeOgraphy, but not Shea Goodbye?  There have even been instances when the SAME Mets-Yankees game from years past has been blacked out as a Mets Classic on SNY but not as a Yankees Classic on YES.  Figure that one out.

13 April 2011

Terry Collins to team: "Grow a pair."

Maybe not in those particular words, but I defy anyone to tell me that's not what he's actually saying.

Read Collins' post-game comments here via MetsBlog.

12 April 2011

The Case for Blowing It Up

Every day, I peruse various Mets blogs and news articles, some of which have comment sections, of which in turn most are pretty spirited. The favored topic of those comments thus far this season--egged on to some extent by the content of the day--is what a disaster it would be if the Mets traded Jose Reyes at the deadline or let him walk over the coming winter. “If you're going to do that, you may as well throw in David Wright, too!” they bellow, dripping with sarcasm.

To which I can only reply while completely devoid of sarcasm, “Exactly.”

The National League has awarded 28 playoff berths since and including 2004, the first season those two homegrown cogs of the lineup took to the left side of the infield together. Of those 28 playoff appearances, the team with Wright and Reyes has made a grand total of 1. Teams without Wright and Reyes have collected the other 27. Obviously, David Wright and Jose Reyes are not necessities when it comes to making the playoffs.

“But it's not their fault,” these emotionally-driven, reality-challenged fans counter, “Reyes and Wright have done their jobs. It's all about the supporting cast and the pitching.”

There's a whale of a lot of truth in that, but the statement itself inherently begs the question of just where this magical supporting cast and above-average rotation and bullpen is going to come from if the Mets aren't willing to give up one of the few things of value they possess in order to get it.

This morning, I actually came across one comment that if the Mets start parting ways with their headliners, they'd be dooming themselves to Pirate-like irrelevancy for something in the neighborhood of the next two decades. Obviously, the premise upon which that statement is grounded is that the Mets still have any relevancy to put at risk in the first place.  That's a hard case to build for a last-place team whose stadium seems to emptying by the hour, the same team whose only media attention derisively--and at times outright laughingly--focuses on its current run of incompetence.

I'm not completely heartless. I enjoy watching Jose Reyes zoom around the bases. I love it when David Wright is locked in and knocking the ball all over the park. But at the end of the day, you could put me out there at shortstop or third base and play just as deeply into October as the Mets have done the past 4 years, with 5 and beyond looking like a pretty safe bet the more the status quo is preserved.  Maybe it does make me callous, but I'm simply not all that attached to a core of guys who have delivered so many lows and so few highs.  Edgardo Alfonzo and Rey Ordonez at 3rd and short conjure up better memories.  When all's said and done, the Mets can trot anybody out there, and I'll still pull for them.

I get that everyone wants the chance to enjoy the fairy tale that is home-grown fan favorites rising to the top of their trade and delivering a championship, but the reality of the situation is that the Reyes-Wright-Beltran core was very good for all of 6 months and has since lived whatever is the polar opposite of “happily every after."

While it may make some folks feel all warm and fuzzy inside to be able to say, “We've got one of the best 5 shortstops in the game! David Wright is special! Yea, us!” where has it gotten the team? We're not talking flukes here. From mid-October 2007 through today is a more than adequate sample size to decide "Yes, this path is working" or "No, it's not."

Overlooked by starry-eyed fans desperate for something to cling to in the absence of actual success is that the San Francisco Giants won the World Series last year without any everyday player even in serious contention for the MVP. (In fact, the last team to actually win a World Series with the MVP on it was those freaking Dodgers of 1988 and Kirk Gibson, who was admittedly given the award based more upon intangibles than eye-popping production.)  In baseball, the whole is often more than the sum of its parts (or on the other end of the spectrum, considerably less). It's entirely possible to have a better team without Jose Reyes or David Wright (I exclude Beltran because he's as good as gone regardless). In fact, every season since 2006, that has indisputably been the case.

I'm not at all saying the team's current state is directly the fault of any particular players, much less these particular ones, but there's little in the way of success to be directly attributed to any of them, either. In an ideal world, we keep Reyes and Wright and surround them with All-Stars, but that's simply not the way it works. You can't get something for nothing, especially when you're still paying Bobby Bonilla for the next 24 years.

The last time the Mets made the playoffs the stock market was setting record highs. This is a photo of a Mets crowd during a September game last season (via the awesomeness that is MetsPolice and taken by David; lots more beginning halfway down the page here). These are the current standings.  How much worse can it possibly get if Sandy Alderson starts testing the waters in a few months?  A trade of Jose Reyes or anyone else isn't going to bring about doomsday.  Doomsday arrived a good while ago and currently sits in the middle of the room much like the proverbial 800-pound gorilla, hidden only from those who choose to not see it.

08 April 2011

One week in, they are who we thought they were

As much as I'd like to drone on about Opening Day at home, work's getting in the way and I'll be relegated to the occasional figurative peek at the radio until the late innings if not for the entire game.  On the bright side, I suppose that exponentially increases the odds of a Dickey no-hitter or some other magical moment taking place.

That said, the Mets roll into Citi Field right at .500, which Rob Dibble & Co.at XM's First Pitch--as well as the Mets own Ed Coleman--treated as cause for celebration this morning.  Me?  I'm overcome with a resounding sense of "meh."

Did I expect more?  No, but I didn't expect much less, either.  They took 2 of 3 from the Stanton-less Marlins (in all fairness, these are Bay-less Mets themselves) and lost 2 out of 3 from the Phillies.  How that could stun anyone but the most pessimistic prognosticators is beyond me.  On the other end, any sign of shocking the world after rattling off 3 straight after taking it to the Phillies in game one ran into a hard dose of reality as the Mets, as if mosquitoes in road greys, were quickly swatted away after buzzing too loudly in Philadelphia's collective ear.

Yes, these Mets are smarter, more aggressive, and spunkier than their recent predecessors, but they also remain for the foreseeable future a team with a right fielder still getting his feet under him, a serviceable but stop-gap pitching staff, and perhaps most importantly, one without an ace.  And they're sitting right at .500 after having already won 3 in a row and lost 2 in a row over 6 games.

In short, for now at least, they're exactly what I'd venture to say is a majority of fans expected.

06 April 2011

It's a start....

Great comeback, blah, blah, blah.  Showed some fight, yadda, yadda, yadda.


It's getting there, but there's still a way to go.  Pulling even after the big deficit was great, but much like no runs followed in the bottom half of the inning after Endy Chavez's Catch, the Phillies were able to just take the lead right back tonight and the whole thing went for naught.  It seems no matter how much fight these Mets can muster, these Phillies always find just a bit more.  Maybe that can change starting with a rubber game tomorrow.

05 April 2011


I'm watching a DVR recording of the game as I type this, having been at work earlier when the game was live and relying on the gametracker on my phone with the occasional listen-in on XM.  Initial excitement when the Mets got 2 on with none out in the 1st was tempered by Hamels getting out of the inning without giving up a run, but more baserunners in the 2nd was encouraging and tided me over until they broke loose in the 3rd--all the while, Chris Young hanging zeros on the board.  I actually heard Emaus' hit that plated the 5th run on the radio, and hearing Larry Andersen disbelievingly utter, "Wow" in in his gravelly voice has already provided a season highlight.

Sure, it's only one game--the 4th of the season--but come on, these guys opened a can Campbell's Whoop-Ass tonight.  Regardless of whether or how long it stands, the Mets finally took the fight to the Phillies (no play on words intended) for once.  I'm sure by the time I get to the post-game show, there will be a parade of Mets denying that tonight sent a message, but whether they think that or not, we're certainly free as fans to feel it.  I've lamented for the past few disastrous seasons that this was quite frankly a hard team to like.  After whimpering through The Collapse, there was plenty of discussion as to what kind of stones this group had--or lacked, as the case may be.  Stepping into Citizens' Bank Park mere days into the season and not only not rolling over but outright planting a boot up the Phillies' collective behinds is a definite sight for tired eyes and a big step in the right direction.

Will it last?  Who knows.  But it's gonna be fun while it does.

01 April 2011

Schedule quirk starts Mets 1/2 game out, media frenzy ensues

With the Nationals and Braves playing their opening tilt 24 hours prior to the Mets taking on the Marlins, it was a foregone conclusion that the Amazin's would roll out of bed on Opening Day 1/2 game behind one or the other.

Unfortunately, that hasn't stopped the baseball writers and talking heads from using this morning's standings to pile on with their continued doomsday assault on the Mets.

"That the Mets could actually manage to fall behind before even playing a game is just more evidence of how pathetic this 4th-rate franchise has become," wrote former Newsday and current ESPN New York columnist Wally Matthews. "MLB would do everyone a favor if they'd just dissolve the team and send Jose Reyes and David Wright to sit on the 27-time World Champion Yankees(tm)' bench where they might learn a thing or two from real baseball stars."

Added George Vecsey of the Times, "Is anybody really surprised?  How can they be?  In fact, I fully expect the Phillies will beat the Astros Friday afternoon, putting the Mets in 3rd place by the time they start their night game.  No fan should have to subject themselves to this.  For the Mets, each day, if not each hour of the season will be a new circle of hell."

The most unique perspective, though, was voiced by Jay Jaffe of the Baseball Prospectus.  "We saw this coming a mile away.  Heck, we had the Mets finishing 1/2 game below .500 on the season.  How prescient is that?"

When Devotions Collide, or "What Sandy Koufax and I Kinda-Sorta Have in Common Today If I Really Stretch It"

The oddity of Friday Opening Day presents me with something of a dilemma. Every Opening Day since 1996—the first Spring of my first real career-type job—I have come home from work, plopped down with a couple of chili dogs, and enjoyed what remained of the first afternoon and night of major league baseball. It started almost accidentally, but the moment just stuck. Over the years, the dogs evolved from Sonic pick-up to home-grilled brats, the celebration time changed from an an early-evening arrival from work to an extended lunch break and/or just calling it a day early (I still refuse to acknowledge that ESPN night-before abomination as a legitimate starting point of the season), and the source of my viewing pleasure has evolved from the mercy of ESPN's national schedule to whichever stadium I wish to peek into via DirecTV's Extra Innings (worth every penny). Once, when the Mets had the honor of opening the 2000 MLB season in Japan, there was even a sausage-dog breakfast at 5 a.m. prior to heading off to teach 9th grade Physical Science (looking back, I'm not sure which part of that equation was more indicative of a significant psychological imbalance). Nonetheless, my little personal tradition has remained for going on 15 seasons now.

This year, however, I face a triple-whammy. First, the Mets open at the Marlins with a night game for some reason Bart Giamatti would surely frown upon. As it happens, I also have a work commitment Friday night, so right off the top, I'll be missing the first pitch of the Mets season. That's disappointing, but easy enough to work around, as there will still be plenty of other baseball on come lunch time, and the very least, even a certified Cubs Curmudgeon such as myself can appreciate at least the sentiment of Opening Day at Wrigley Field as well as elsewhere.

The larger problem is that not only do the Mets open the season on a work night, not only is it on a Friday, but Opening Day falls on a Friday during Lent. Gentlemen and ladies who may be reading this (according to the counter, I had negative-two page views today [*snicker*]), let me set the stage for this one. I'm a lifelong Catholic, largely descended from Sicilians and Acadians. I grew up an altar boy. My senior year of college, I was president the Catholic Student Association. I'm the godfather of my oldest brother's first child and three more adorable children in Jacksonville. How in the world do I in good conscience merge Opening Day chili cheese dogs and a Lenten Friday?

Sure, it's not Sandy Koufax refusing to pitch the opening game of the World Series on Yom Kippur, but it still sucks (and really, anyone who thinks eating seafood as opposed to meat of a land-based origin is a sacrifice never lived in the former Republic of West Florida, anyway). Nonetheless, the effect is still that of someone shaking up the snow globe world I live in for a couple of hours every April. I honestly haven't decided how I'm going to handle this one. Do I hold off on the dogs until game 2 on Saturday? Do I rationalize that any God who doesn't appreciate baseball and hot dogs probably isn't one with whom I want to spend eternity anyway? Maybe I can refrain from peeking at the score and crank up the DVR after midnight or just consider whatever time I get home as no longer being Friday (hey, don't the Jewish folks run things from sundown-to-sundown?). I really don't know.

Anyway, all that said, if you negative-two people out there have any long-standing Opening Day traditions of your own and/or stories of how they started and/or they were or nearly were disrupted somewhere along the way, I'd love to hear them.