There’s still something to watch for…

I’m not home today, but I’m at a computer where I can follow mlb.com’s Gameday. So I just clicked on it to get my afternoon baseball fix in a tad early. And my first thought was, “Oh, wouldn’t it be so fun if this lineup could knock Cliff Lee around?”

I don’t know if that will actually happen or not, but I was glad my first thought wasn’t, “Oh crap. Cliff Lee’s going to kick our tushes.” (Blame mlblog’s stringent obscenities filter for that “tushes,” not me.) And I realized to my surprise and satisfaction that even in this nightmare of a season, I’m still excited to watch baseball. I’m not quite sure why or how, but I still want to see the few wins our team will eke out, even as they endure some of the worst losses of all time.

I will still watch. I’ll hope our decimated lineup battles hard against some of the league’s best pitchers. I’ll hope we make everyone else’s race to the playoffs that much harder. I’ll hope Daniel Murphy impresses at first, that Parnell passes muster as a starter, that September call-ups give us something fun to imagine for the future.

Meanwhile, did you hear the one about Jeff Francoeur and the MRI? The Hospital for Special Surgery better check out that MRI machine. I’m guessing it does more than scan for injuries. Happy endings, perhaps? Mind-altering euphoria? Because something’s been drawing the Mets to that MRI machine like it’s the 40 virgins promised at the end of Jihad.

Hey Hospital for Special Surgery? Thinking for the future, maybe booby trap the MRI. Make it give electroshocks. Throw in a really bad smell. Let’s just make it less appealing, mmmkay?

 

Update 4:50 PM: Oh man. Add in a torn ligament for Frenchy and now Santana will miss his next start with elbow trouble and is scheduled to see Dr. Altchek. So about still finding some excitement for baseball? I think the 2 words I’m looking for might be “never mind.” 

 

Ballpark video: Zoë and Coop meet fans at Citi

I’m experimenting with making little videos for the blog. I’m thinking the home-grown editing will be part of the charm…

Here Coop and I travel round Citi Field and gauge fan response. Hint: Drinking is involved.

http://www.dailymotion.com/swf/xa979x_aug-23-at-citi-with-zoe-and-coop_sport

We met Pick Me Up Some Mets friends Eric and Jonathan–Ollie made Jonathan sad.

P1060442.JPG

And then we hung for a bit with another Mets Diva, Ms. Mets Cow. She looks pretty angry too.

P1060433.JPG

Lastly, don’t miss the new big screen in the open, airy promenade food court area behind home plate. You won’t miss a pitch! Of this troublesome team. Sigh.

P1060457.JPG

2009’s “Your Season Has Come.”

454404340_f885888568.jpgSoooooo remember the Mets’ slogan of 2007? That brassy, cocky declaration that “Your season has come”? The Mets have since learned their lesson the hard(est) way, and they no longer base their slogans on events that haven’t happened yet. No, now that enough of the season has passed, the Mets’ crack marketing team has begun its work on the slogan for 2009. Our season has not come. So what will our slogan be instead?

Pick Me Up Some Mets has received these mock-ups exclusively from a source within the organization. Here are the slogan ideas in the running to capture the essence of 2009. Got a favorite?

dlisthenewblack.jpg

waitwhosthat2.jpg
believenextyear.jpg

ouch.jpg

whatnext.jpgourseasonhasgone.jpg
winning shminning.jpg

Slogans that didn’t quite make the mock-up phase included, “Two hands!,” “Touch third!,” “62 Saves?” and “Watch out–Stairs!”

Oh, Mets.

Obama in the All-Star locker room

Ah, the best moment by far in the All-Star game coverage. Ichiro Suzuki’s expression alone is worth the video post. Also, sorry, but Derek Jeter pulled the classic “I’m trying to seem less nervous than I am” move of just repeating what Obama said to him. Obama: “Congratulations.” Jeter: “Congratulations to you.” For what, Jeter, the presidency? Little late on that one? It’s like when someone tells you, “Have a good trip,” and you’re like “You too!” and of course the other person’s going nowhere…

Boo on Fox for not showing our David Wright shaking hands with Barack Obama. You know he was grinning like a puppy, ear to ear.

No matter whom he’s greeting, though, Barack Obama is so super cool. I love that later on he wore the jacket of his team, the White Sox, unabashedly. And then admitted he likes that his wife thinks he looks cute in it. I agree with Michelle!

Taking the bad with the good but mostly bad…

Fresh after ending a big freelance project, I am temping today. Temping is sometimes fine and boring, and rarely excruciating and boring, but my agency folks are very good to me, so I can’t complain. But for this very moment, with my personal email unavailable and my pricey temp skills not needed, all I have to do is think…and blog.

So about them Mets. We’re in a valley. Not a crevice, mind you! Just a valley. But let’s take it for what it’s worth–another moment in Mets lore, another obstacle for us fans to overcome that will make our bonds and our narrative stronger in the end. For instance, I became a Mets fan in 2003. Remember 2003? The Mets sucked. Piazza wasn’t even playing much, with his groin all old and cranky. We had Uncle Cliffy, whom I loved, but really who else is worth mentioning? Still, when I tell people when I became a Mets fan, they all get the same look. “Really? Oh, we sucked then.” And I get a pat on the back–I became a fan when we weren’t anything near frontrunners. Because if there’s anything a Mets fan hates…it’s a frontrunner. A fair weather fan. A…well usually…a Yankees fan.

For a while there, we had hope. Tons of hope, lasting all season! Only to be dashed at the end. And yes, that’s harder than having no hope at all. But look where we are now! Measured expectations! We’re suddenly marginally satisfied by mediocre play instead of really crappy play. It’s still a punch in the gut when steady-Freddy Livan Hernandez amasses an ERA of about 30 over his last 3 starts. It’s still an “oomf” moment when K-Rod nearly gives up a save, and trust me, I’m going to swat a hand at the TV every time Ollie walks a batter. And yes, we still yell with exasperation when each Met gets his turn to drop a pop up. But in five years, we’ll be saying, “Remember 2009? With the injuries and the complete lack of fundamentals? Oh, that was a toughie. But we made it.” We’ll react to 2009 the way people react now to 2003 when I tell them my Mets fan origin story. And things will get better.

Even in 2005 we would have taken our current position, 5.5 games back at the All-Star break-ish, with a nod of–if not acceptance, at least not of despair. We’re 4 games below .500. We’re not a good team right now. But there’s still time to come back! There really is! Every non-Nationals team in the NL East is still in the running. And here we are still in the running with mediocre expectations. So maybe we’ll be surprised? Maybe the worst has passed? And they’ll get their acts together? And maybe sooner rather than later–maybe in September!–we can pat each other on the back again and say, “Man, remember the first half of the season? That sure sucked. But we’re still here!”

I haven’t given up on 2009 yet. At best, our lowered expectations will pay off with surprise gutsy wins. And at worst, we’ll have a year to commiserate over in the future. We’re Mets fans. As I’ve learned, that’s what we do.

 

 

Transcript: Gary and Keith talk about the Furry Convention, with pic from Kevin!

Okay, this is more fun because the blown save didn’t cost us the game (phew!) but Mets’ announcers Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez’s broadcast exchange about Anthrocon ’09 was not to be missed (unlike Tim Redding’s pitching performance).

Last night Kevin Burkhardt (@KBurkhardtSNY) tweeted, to my delight: “Our hotel in Pitt
is overrun by people dressed up as animals. Anthrocon? And they act as
animals. I have seen it all and I am freaked out.” That’s right. Along with the Mets, a certain hotel in Pittsburgh was also hosting Anthrocon, a convention of thousands of people who like to dress up…as furry stuffed animals. And do…well, I don’t want to know what, actually.

kevin furry.jpg

Thankfully, this…unusual…gathering didn’t miss the Mets broadcast the next day, when Gary and Keith got to have a bit of fun with the furries, spurred on by a camera shot of the Pirate Parrot.

Here’s the transcript, just to make sure you didn’t miss it.

Gary (of the Parrot): One of many animal figures in town today.

Keith: We saw a few of them in the hotel, didn’t we?

Gary: The strangest convention I’ve ever seen is at our hotel here in Pittsburgh. You know you travel around the country and see parts of society and our culture that you never would have encountered anywhere else. There’s a group of people about 4,000 strong convening in Pittsburgh this week–people who dress up as stuffed animals.

Keith: They’re cuddly bears. They like to cuddle.

Gary: There’s birds, and dogs and wolves.

Keith: What are they called, ferriers? Alls I know is I got in the elevator with four of ’em, and the odor was horrific.

Gary: Not the Pirate Parrot, he’s an actual mascot.

Keith: I had to get off. I’m not lying. I got on at the 17th floor, going down. I had to jump off at the 10th floor. I almost passed out.

Gary: Guess those costumes don’t breathe very well…But it was something. We walked into the hotel last night, coming from Milwaukee, and there was a person in a wolf costume. And there was another person in a dog costume.

Keith: I saw a guy with his pet beaver. He had it in his hand. He was stroking it, he was petting it. I’m serious! It was like a stuffed animal, and he was comforting it. Very bizarre.

Gary: It’s a different world.

What I would like Jerry Manuel to say

jerry.jpg

Oh, Jerry. To hear the Mets’ skipper tell it, we’re all on a sinking ship. His team is subpar, just treading water until the real players return from the DL and magically restore the Mets to a winning team. Wah, Omar, give me better players so I don’t have to manage these minor leaguers. Wah, wah, laugh laugh laugh.

I have been asked more than once if I agree with his verdict. Are the Mets hurt? Or course. Have they automatically rolled over and died? No! The question isn’t whether I agree with Jerry. It’s what should Jerry be saying to begin with? So here, Jerry, is my speech writing attempt, which I think you should print out, fold in your pocket, and bring with you to the next press conference. Here is what, as a manager, you should be saying about your team.

Press: Jerry, with all the injuries, do you just simply have a losing team?

Jerry: No, no, I can’t say that. But I know you’ll write that in your papers tomorrow, heh heh, shoot. But look, I will tell you–is this the team we thought we would have in July when we started on opening day? Well no, of course it isn’t. But even without a lot of our core guys, and even without a good number of our pitching staff, it’s still our job to win ballgames. And we have a professional group of guys who are going to give a hundred percent to try and get that done. Look, is it hard when we lose a game because of an error or two (or three even, shoot). Well yes, yes sure it is, I can’t lie about that. But the fact that we were close enough to win those games tells you that we’ve got the potential to pull out some wins that might not be expected of us. What we have to do is make sure we’re not careless. Playing short staffed, it doesn’t mean we’re a losing team, it just means we have to take advantage of the opportunities that come to us when we get the chance. So I will say we have less room for error.

But now, we still have some very good guys on our team. We’ve got David Wright, who’s been a lot more clutch than people give him credit for, even if he can get streaky sometimes. We have an Alex Cora, who’s been just phenomenal, not only as an everyday player, which we did not expect him to be–and an injured one at that, showing quite a bit of heart turning down surgery to play every day. But also as a leader, a veteran presence in the clubhouse. And Luis Castillo, I think once we find the right spot for him in the lineup, he’ll really step up and continue to perform like he did in the beginning of the season. And I plan to play Daniel Murphy more so he can get in the swing of things, get his rhythm going. I need to trust the guys I have, and I need to figure out the best way to use them.

You know, yes, it would be an easier job for us with more power in the lineup, but we can do what we need to do with the guys we have. I believe in them, that they’ll sharpen up their game, turn the double plays that need to be made, make the routine plays that they just have to do. And if we can score runs playing small ball, knocking out a few base hits or drawing walks instead of relying so much on the long ball, well then we can still win games.

So don’t count us out yet. I think our players will see this as an opportunity to prove a lot of you all wrong. I think they have the fire in them to start a winning streak and keep us going as a major player in the division. We might just surprise you all, and then what would you have to write in your papers? Heh, heh, heh.