22 June 2012

Broadcast frustration (and how to beat it sometimes)

Before I even get started about tonight, I must express my latest frustration with the MLB television rules.  Today, I finally sat down to check my recording of the All-Time Team show, and there was none because it was blacked out as out-of-market programming.  I'll never figure this crap out.  Mets Weekly?  No problem.  Kids Clubhouse?  Yeah, they'll let me see that.  All-Time Team presentation?  Nuh-uh.  The Braves might get jealous.

Anyway, on to tonight.  For some reason, there's no Mets feed on Extra Innings.  I have no clue why, as PIX games have been carried for a couple of years now.  Whatever the reason, the only TV feed I have is the Yankees broadcast from my9.  I thought maybe I could tolerate it with Al Leiter and David Cone in the booth, but the Yankees-centric discussion got old in a hurry.

So as I type this, I'm watching video from my9 and listening to Howie Rose and Josh Lewin on the WFAN audio feed via SirusXM.  Ain't technology wonderful sometimes?  The only thing kinda annoying is that the audio is just a hair ahead of the video.  Were it the other way around, I could just pause the TV for a second and let it catch up, but I can't pause the radio.

Anyway, this setup still beats having to watch Fox's overproduced crap and listening to McCarver and Buck.  Speaking of which, I won't be allowed to watch tomorrow's game at all.  I get Braves vs. Red Sox, which of course means I'll be listening to Rose and Lewin with the TV off.  Can't say I'm too upset about that.  Heck, I might be out fishing during the first couple of innings anyway.

18 June 2012

11 June 2012

A quick look at some no-hitter merchandise

Often, on a quiet Sunday while the game is on, I'll browse ebay for Mets merchandise or, as is often the case, really screwed up merchandise, but this weekend, I was on mets.com and happened to notice the ad directing folks to the special "Santana no-hitter" page of the MLB shop.

As you should always expect, some of the merchandise is downright mundane (everyday Santana jerseys and tees in no way actually commemorating the no-hitter), and the rest runs the gamut from classy to creepy. What follows isn't at all a complete overview of every item, just a few notes on some I found interesting for whatever reason.


The "'NO-HAN' No-hitter Adjustable Cap" version 1 & version 2

Personally, I find the whole "No-han" thing kind of cheesy, but beyond that, I suppose neither of these is particularly good or bad.  If someone were to give me one of these, I doubt I'd ever wear it.

The (just plain) "No-hitter Adjustable Cap"

This one, I like.  The logo is sharp, and the signature is a nice touch.  It gets the point across without being loud, and there's no forced attempt at being witty.


If apparel isn't your preferred way of commemorating a historic, stat-based event, there's a nice selection of things to hang on your wall, including:

OK, this thing is awesome.  An action pic, a shot of the scoreboard, and a notated linescore.  Classy, classy, classy.  Had I not already invested in some other memorabilia quickly after the game (more on that later), I'd probably get one of these.  If I happen upon one on ebay years from now, I'll probably make a run at it.

The perfect way to let everyone know you were there on that magic night when the no-hitter drought finally ended (or got on the internet and spent $50 for a reprint, anyway).

Good idea, bad execution.  First off, if you read the full description the piece of a "game-used" baseball mounted into the collage isn't necessarily from that game, just "a New York Mets regular season game."

Secondly, the centerpiece photo appears to be a mini-Johan bursting through the abdomen of a full-sized Johan as orange blood splatters everywhere.  All I can think of when I look at this plaque is that infamous scene from Alien.

08 June 2012

Well, this sucks....

I was just polishing off my take-out dinner from Applebee's as the game started, and all appeared well for night of Mets vs. Yankees, but during the top of the second, a heavy storm decided to pass right over my house and knocked out my satellite signal.  Contrary to what the cable company tells you, that is not a common occurrence--I've watched baseball on DirecTV as hurricanes passed through with barely a blip--but, nonetheless, the one-half of a percent of time lost due to weather decided to hit during this particular game on a Friday night.

While I could pull out the XM and just listen to the audio feed, which isn't as sensitive as television, since this is a Yankees home game, that would entail listening to John Sterling, so no, not gonna do it.

Well, look at that.  Just as I was finishing that paragraph, the game came back.  Johan's not looking too good, is he?  Oh, well, plenty of game left.

04 June 2012

The Black Jersey Dual Patch Hypothesis

Photo via Yahoo! Sports
Apparently, I was late on this because the retail jerseys have been the same way since November, but only last night did I realize the black alternate jerseys have BOTH the normal baseball logo Mets patch and the 50th anniversary patch.  The black alts are the only one of the three current jerseys with that look; both the pinstripes and the whites only have the anniversary patch.

I suppose that may be because they wanted to keep the "midnight" logo (i.e., the one with the black skyline) in circulation for whatever reason, but I have another theory.  It's no secret that a) the plan was for the black alts to see very limited use in 2012, and b) the rest of the plan is to phase them out entirely in favor of a blue alt in 2013.  So what do you do if you're Majestic and the MLB fan shop, with a storage room full of authentic black jerseys that will be obsolete in 6 months?  Slap another patch on them and get them sold before then.

Surely, the tops the team was wearing weren't leftovers from 2011, but my hypothesis says if you buy an authentic for yourself, there's a good chance it is.  Think about it.  It just so happens that the black alts are the only style that didn't change for 2012, and they're also the only ones with the dual patches.  Obviously, just adding an anniversary patch is much easier and cheaper than replacing the old one.

03 June 2012

So what's it going to be like now?

[Reprint of my comment left at Faith and Fear in Flushing: Night at the Opera (Bravo! Bravo!)]

I honestly find myself wondering what’s it going to be like to live in a post-no-hitter world. It’s been such a part of the Mets fan’s consciousness, living without it, while obviously good, will nonetheless be radically different.

No more wondering every day if this will be the day.

No more groaning every time I hear that some other team has had a no-hitter.

No more announcers re-opening the discussion every time a pitcher gives up his first hit some time past the second inning.

No more nagging, endless reviews of how many pitchers threw no-hitters for some other team either prior to or after their Mets tenure every single time anyone anywhere throws one.

This must be how Red Sox fans felt after winning the World Series in ’04. We finally got the monkey off our backs, but it’s a monkey that was part of us. This is going to take some getting used to.

02 June 2012

Our Team, Our Time: Reflections on the No-No

Now I believe there comes a time
When everything just falls in line
We live and learn from our mistakes
The deepest cuts are healed by faith
             -All Fired Up, Pat Benatar, 1984 (Twain/Sabu)

The number loomed over the franchise like a giant, frustrating shadow: 8,019 games without a no-hitter.  Despite teams of Miracles, games readily identified by a single-digit number, and eras of baseball Like it Oughta Be, that one particular baseball feat continued to elude the Mets for 5 full decades.

The lists have always been well-circulated: 6 former Mets had thrown no-hitters (including the all-time leader in the feat), 10 no-hitters had been thrown by Mets-to-be.  One pitcher (Hideo Nomo) even has a spot on both lists.  But until last night, despite all the talent on the mound over the years, despite 2 World Championships, 4 pennants, 5 division winners, and 2 wild card teams, this one--THIS ONE, the one with owners accused of being small-market, the one led by an ace coming off an ominous surgical procedure, the one marked nightly by a rag-tag, injury-riddled lineup--is the one that finally led the Mets to the promised land.  For a franchise raised as "Amazin'" loveable losers turned miracle weavers, it was wonderfully poetic.

No one knows how far this crew is going to take things, but there's no arguing that this is the most likeable group of Mets in recent memory.  At the center of the show, of course, is Santana, the soul of the team who's riveted us with numerous displays of sheer guts since his arrival, often with very little in the way of return in the end.  Add to that an outfield brimming with subs, a stop-gap shortstop, a second baseman who supposedly could never play the position, and a first baseman with a lost year under his belt and the threat of being sent to Buffalo hanging over his head.  Yet, there they are, one game out to start July.  As cliche as it sounds, they by all measures are a humble, hard-working group that takes nothing for granted.
Sure, I would've loved to see a no-hitter back in the Doc & Darryl days.  It would have been wonderful to see Robin Ventura throw one across the diamond to John Olerud to make the last of 27 straight outs.  But to have this happen when it did, with whom it did on the field, just adds that much more to the magic of the moment.

After the game, Santana repeatedly made reference to the franchise's history and his knowing what it would mean to the fans to complete a no-hitter.  That sentiment was echoed by every one of his teammates when presented with an opportunity state it.  What we witnessed last night were a pitcher and his team willing themselves into history.

I can't imagine what it must have been like in Citi Field, because even from the front of a TV screen 1200 miles away, it was obvious we were witnessing 9 guys playing not just for themselves, but for their pitcher, their other teammates, 27,000 in the stands, and even some schmuck knocking on 40 in a blue BP jersey not daring to leave his recliner until the last out was recorded.

I can't help but wonder: would this particular game on this particular night have come out differently if there were a $150 million payroll on the field?  I mean, sure, we all hope these guys retire with a few rings with a Mets logo on them, but would a more experienced squad with higher-profile names have handled the game the same way they did?  Would it have meant the same to that hypothetical team as it did to the one that fate actually placed there?  I don't mean to suggest that anyone in MLB intentionally loafs with a no-hitter on the line, but last night was the perfect environment for a plucky bunch that by necessity goes all-out every night and never quits.

Let's be honest, Mike Baxter isn't making "Carl Crawford money."  Chances are he won't ever.  Making a balls-out catch to save the first no-hitter in Mets history very well may be the moment for which he's forever remembered.  Even in the deepest recesses of his subconscious, he's thinking, "Screw my shoulder, my head, or any other body part.  This ball cannot hit the ground."

And somehow, it only got better after the game.  Santana telling reporters he'd never even thrown a no-hitter in a video game and modestly showering his teammates with credit.  Terry Collins near tears, knowing if there are any ill effects on Santana's arm, he'll never forgive himself for not being the detached, wise old man who made a tough decision for his pitcher's own good.  Childhood-Mets-fan-turned face-of-the-franchise David Wright's crack about manicuring the ground around 3rd.  R.A. Dickey being his usual eloquent self in describing the gravity of the moment.

As great as a baseball moment last night's game was, in true Mets fashion, it was an even better human moment.  It may not have been a perfect game, but it was a perfect example of what keeps fans glued to this utterly maddening franchise.  Sure, you may find yourself banging your head on the wall for years on end, but when the payoff does come, it delivers in spades.