Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Fateful Lot of a Mets Fan

I first need to thank Gale one JILLION times for her contribution to this blog entry. Her amazing work may be seen below, and I implore you all to suffer this long blog entry to see her brilliance in action. If you don't want to hear about baseball, skip to the end. It pretty much sums up what this is all about!
Well, Maria and I just returned from a very successful trip to Massachusetts. There we visited Northampton, home of Maria's alma mater Smith College with its ivy-covered brick hallways haunted by the screeching ghost of Julia Child. We climbed a few mountains, ate some hippie-baked bread, you know, the typical thing you do in a town founded by and perpetuated by drugged out hippie locavores. Afterwards, we were taken in by our gracious hosts Alex and Dorothy in their quaint little seaside town of Salem. Of course you are familiar with Salem's seedy past; it being the site of Joseph McCarthy's famous trial and execution of several Soviet sorceresses accused of casting mysterious spells upon an unknowing Republican party.
Long story short, Maria and I both needed a vacation. Why? No, not because Maria worked her butt off this whole summer trying to instruct a bunch of ungrateful, immature cretins how to be special needs teachers. No, we needed a vacation from the New York Mets.
In 1958, the Evil Communist Sorceresses used their dark magick to steal New York's only beloved National League teams - the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers. These two teams had religiously dedicated fans who fueled a rivalry that some, including myself, deem legendary. In fact, their rivalry led to one of the most memorable moments in the history of sports: Bobby Thomson's Shot Heard 'Round the World. In 1951, the two teams ended the season in a dead heat, forcing a 3-game playoff. Down by 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th inning with two men on, the Giants sent Bobby Thomson to the plate. Ralph Branca looked in for his signs, and this happened:

In Memory of Bobby Thomson 1923-2010
When I have a functioning time machine, you can be SURE this will be one of my first stops. With all the drama of the beautiful rivalry between two beloved teams, it's difficult to imagine how crestfallen the fans must have been when the two teams were uprooted seemingly overnight and placed on the pathetic West Coast. The same West Coast that whined that is had no professional baseball teams. So... it got what it wanted. Two teams were torn from their native home and transplanted to a wretched state whose shallow, unthinking populous would eventually make The Terminator its governor. Just 3 years later, the Los Angeles Angels were born, and before 1970, California would be the home to FIVE baseball teams (the other two being the Athletics [also stolen from the East Coast's Philadelphia via Kansas City] and the ridiculously named Padres of San Diego).
Now, those familiar with baseball, and even those unfamiliar know of another team lurking in the lurid corners of the of the Bronx. Yeah, those pesky New York Yankees. The Yankees (a team originally from Baltimore and calling themselves the Orioles) have a long history that consists mainly of being hated by literally everyone but Yankees fans and spending ludicrous amounts of money on purchasing World Series trophies. Those die-hard Dodger and Giant fans would rather not follow baseball than root for that impostor New York team. What was a scorned National League baseball faction to do?
Basically whatever Robert Moses wants to happen, happens. You want to clear out an orphanage to build another parkway? Call Robert Moses. So a team of Robert Moses and William Shea worked tirelessly to bring National League baseball back. Shea threatened to form a Continental League to rival the American and National Leagues, and Major League Baseball caved to the pressure. New York would be granted a National League team upon the 1962 expansion of the league. Owners brainstormed names (the Burros, the Meadowlarks, the Jets) before finally settling on the snappy and eloquent Mets, a shortened form of Metropolitans.
The team would wear orange and blue, colors formerly worn by the Dodgers and Giants, and sported an interlocked NY logo previously associated with the erstwhile tenants of the Polo Grounds. The team would be populated with former New York baseball stars, all of that age when knees turn to glass and cleats feel like lead. Long story short, the 1962 Mets set the stage for what would be a long history of misery only occasionally broken by a small star of success. They wheezed into the season's finish line with a paltry record of 40 wins and 120 losses, the worst record since the 1899 Cleveland Spiders' 20-134. No team has gotten close to a record that bad in the modern era.
It's true, the Mets have enjoyed their share of success. Their acquisition of perhaps the greatest pitcher of his era, Tom Seaver, led to their miraculous World Series win in 1969. In 1986 with the leadership of the Magically Mustachioed greatest first baseman in New York History, KEITH HERNANDEZ, the Mets did it again after another miraculous play.
I was two years old when the Mets won the world series. And since then, I have witnessed them whimper away to the Yankees in the 2000 series, and watched Carlos Beltran let a curveball in for a strike to end their 2006 bid for greatness. All subsequent years, the New York Mets have lived up to their New York Post-ish nickname, the New York Mess. Perhaps nothing broke my heart so much as the look on my dad's face as we sat in Shea Stadium watching the Mets lose THE LAST GAME EVER PLAYED THERE to the Florida Marlins. I here replicate this miserable scene for you, my dear audience.
I grew that paper moustache for this occasion. My poor father has been a Mets fan since that bastard team arrived in their adorably dumpy stadium in Queens. FORTY EIGHT YEARS. For the record, that's 2 WONDERFUL years of happiness and sunshine - FORTY SIX YEARS of ANGUISH, TORMENT and PAIN!
Then came this story: Mets reliever Francisco Rodriguez was arrested for beating up his father-in-law following another pitiful Mets loss at the hands of relief pitchers. The Mets barely even slapped him on the wrist, and even expect to have him back next year, even though he injured himself after punching his father-in-law.
It's heart-breaking. There is something very... odd about this team. Every September they break your heart and every April, we fans return to them. We return to them because they are the Amazin's! The Miracle Mets! They're the team whose credo was made famous by Tug McGraw: YA GOTTA BELIEVE! What can I liken it to? I posed this question to Gale, who helped me illustrate my thoughts - LITERALLY AND BRILLIANTLY!
That about sums it up - an abusive relationship. We hate to love our Amazin's. It appears that all we die-hard Mets fans, who ask for Tom Seaver autographed baseballs in lieu of class rings and have tickets to the pathetic last game at Shea proudly displayed in their living rooms, are doomed to follow the cycle forever. Every time I see a little child wearing a Mets hat, I think of the years of pain and anguish every autumn will bring them. I implore you, Mr. Wilpon and Mr. Minaya, if you care at all for the children, do something to deliver our overpaid baseball team from the depths of laughingstock-hood. In the meantime, we'll do our best to anesthetize ourselves to the aura of hopelessness that surrounds Taxpayer - ahem - Citi Field.
Please give us at least one more happy recap that we can put in the books.

Note: There is nothing funny about spousal abuse. It's a metaphor people. A metaphor. At least I didn't compare someone or something to the Nazi party like everyone does nowadays.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Wherein The Author Elaborates on the Gentlemanly Sports of Baseball, Croquet and Baseball

I must thank you all for being exceptionally patient readers. When Mr. Hodgman acknowledged my unbridled brilliance via Twitter, I sort of pledged to update more frequently. Alas, I have not made good on my side of the bargain. Still, it's difficult to choose from the literal thousands of interesting things that happen to me on a daily basis, and more difficult still to describe them in the exquisite prose that issues from my perfect mind. Here's a small smattering of the interesting things I wanted to show you!
A band of time traveling base-ballers from A.D. 1864 arrived in Sayville during the Wife-to-Be's and my brief time on Long Island. I here provide video evidence from my Android which, much to my dismay, is a smart-phone and in no way a subservient humanoid robot designed to do my bidding and never to develop its own consciousness and decide to kill me...

Fig. 1: An error is charged to the right fielder.

The said base-ball match pitted the Brooklyn Atlantics against the New York Mutuals. This of course brought to mind my absolute favorite Conan O'Brien sketch wherein the red-headed Irish giant came upon his own horde of time traveling base-ballers in Old Bethpage. I assure you it's much funnier than the previous video:

Conan Old Time Baseball

Fig. 2: What is that demonry?!
Oh how I wish I could have donned by best base-ball knickerbockers and show those so-and-so's what for. I'd pepper their porridge, see!

I attended a Great Gatsby themed party. Now by this point you are all aware that F. Scott Fitzgerald is on written warning from me, and thus Jay Gatsby is also on notice - even though he spends most of his time floating around in the pool these days. There, the gentlemen among us took part in the great American pastime of LAWN CROQUET!
Fig. 3: A typical croquet game. Fancy dress required.
Ah... nothing like a refreshing round of knocking wooden balls through wickets. Is there any game quite as kingly as croquet - a game whose very rulebook provides that players be penalized 2 strokes if they are not in possession of an alcoholic beverage? I (pictured at left in the dark suit) came in a very respectable second after a couple of brilliant shots on my part. I still believe that Mr. Perry is a rotten cheater who isn't worthy of the monocle he wears which he so flagrantly boasts about at any given opportunity.

Fig. 4: This is what second place looks like.
Also worth note is the glorious picture of Maria that came of this party.
Fig. 5: Your jealousy is palpable - both at my good fortune and her good looks.

A while back I received a Facebook message from the Brooklyn Cyclones baseball club with an offer that could not be refused. The package included:
  • A box seat behind home plate at a Brooklyn Cyclones game
  • A voucher for a hot dog, fries and a drink at the original Nathan's on Stillwell Ave.
  • Complementary Cyclones baseball cap
Little did we know, that the particular night we chose to attend included the following BONUS entertainments!
  • A player on the opposing team named Burt Reynolds
  • Ike Davis inverted bobblehead night (sold out)
  • Wonderfully drunk and overzealous Cyclones fans nearly falling over at the prospect of a late-inning rally!
After every 2 innings, several knights hailing from the distant kingdom of Lyndhurst, New Jersey would engage in mortal combat. And not only that, we were repeatedly told by our master of ceremonies that we should stay after the 9th inning! "My lords and ladies! Stay after the 9th inning, for the knights will mount their horses and joust!"
Laugh not, readers, for in attendance that night happened to be my dear sister Jessica. Many years ago on a rainy December evening right before my sister's birthday, our family was slated to make the long, perilous journey to Lyndhurst, New Jersey to visit the nights in their home castle. Alas! Father had forgotten to purchase Lotto tickets, and so bolted out the door into the rain. Seconds later, he returned through the front door and fell on the floor, muddy, wet and writhing in pain. Sure enough, Father had broken his wrist sliding in the mud. Sadly, we had to cancel our journey to the rotten Kingdom of New Jersey, and Jessica never got to experience Medieval Times - THAT IS UNTIL THIS SUMMER!

Fig. 6: Happy belated 9th Birthday, Jessie!
Well... I think we're about caught up. I have something very special for all of you in the forthcoming blog entry to make up for this inexcusable absence on my part. Until then, take care of yourselves, and each other!