Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Return to Taxpayer Field: The Revengeancing

If you please, allow me to open with a joke.

Who's got a rarely updated sports blog and saw the first grand slam in Taxpayer Field history?

This guy!

Oh, you didn't know I've already been to Taxpayer? Well maybe someone should share more in his blog. After getting to go to the first pro exhibition game at the Mets' new digs and sit in my uncle's incredible seats in the goofily named "Excelsior" level with its Caesar's Club and restricted entrance I went and set with the jes' folks in the magically named but still totally upper deck "Promenade" level, with it's cut-off view of right field. Though honestly, short of that obstructed view, the game looks much better than at Shea's upper deck. Still, beware of your seat choices, because some people definitley have it worse than others. Luckily, nothing happened in right field tonight, so we beat the Wilpons at their own game.

It was my brother Jake's first experience at the park so I took him around and showed him the "Taste of Citi", which on a second tour is still pretty freaking awesome. Part of it, I admit, is eating on the old man's dollar, because I don't know how I'll feel if I ever decide to pay seven bucks for two tacos that I could get for four at my local taco truck, but that may even be part of the beauty of it. Sure I paid ballpark prices, but the taco truck in my neighborhood is fucking incredible and I never dreamed of a world where I could get food like that at a baseball game.

Of course, this would all be a downer if the Mets suffered their second straight loss, but they didn't. My father, his friend Mike, my brother Jake and I all screamed various curses following Gary Sheffield's inexpelicable drop of a lazy liner hit right at him, but after that first inning it was pretty smooth sailing. Not for Sheffield though. Despite an RBI single in the bottom of the first, he was still cheered jubilantly for holding on to two flyballs in the seventh inning. Not that I was a part of it or anything.

Oh right, that grand slam. Freaking awesome. I was just in the process of grousing about Ramon Castro disappearing again when Omir Santos shut me the fuck up and rode into Met fan folklore. It's cool a guy who's done so little in the big leagues that he couldn't fathom getting a curtain call was would be the one to hit Taxpayer Field's first grand slam. It makes for an incredibly obscure trivia answer only I will know. Frankly, we should be thanking our lucky stars it wasn't Jody Gerut.

Great weather, good competent pitching and beating the Marlins. You could ask for less on April 28.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What's A Hockey Fan To Do?

With the Rangers locked in the mortal combat of the NHL playoffs, I'm showing my solidarity by growing a playoff beard. It's nice to take a break from shaving, and it allows me to feel like I'm doing more than just simple rooting. I'm obviously not the only one who feels this way, the playoff beard even has its own page at The World's Most Accurate Encyclopedia. Of course, so does, um, Keith Fink, so take from that what you will. But now a problem has arisen.

On Friday, I'm supposed to go out with a girl (seriously, stop laughing), but I'm still going to have the beard. This wouldn't be a problem if I could grow a luscious, manly beard, but sadly, that is not the case. Aside from growing a goatee (yech), my facial hair could be charitably described as "patchwork", cruelly described as "fucking hideous" and verbosely described as "not aesthetically pleasing."

I like this girl, so I don't want to scare her off by seeming weird or looking like a deranged homeless man. My friend Dan suggested joking about it off the bat, but even calling attention to it makes me nervous, since then I'll think she's always staring at it and wondering if that's food caught in it. Which is a ridiculous idea because I can't even grow a beard thick enough to catch food in it.

Some people trim their playoff beards to appease the opposite sex. It's not a bad thought, but I lack any kind of beard trimming equipment since I usually go clean shaven due to the aforementioned horribleness of my facial hair, so it's an all or nothing proposition for me.

There has to be something in my DNA that's causing this, because I'm far from the first person in my family to sacrifice social grace for Rangers playoff action. In 1994, my dad was attending a family friend's anniversary party. It just happened to fall on the same night as Rangers/Devils Game 7. So my dad, doing what any fan would do, turned the game on during the party. Whoops, bad move. Everyone stopped dancing and even the band stopped playing to revel in the drama up intil Stephane Matteau's big moment. The family friend still doesn't speak to my dad. Still, my mom married him, so there are obviously women out there who understand the problems associated with playoff hockey. I guess, maybe? I don't know.

Make no mistake though, I can't get rid of the beard, especially with the Rangers up 3-1 and heading to Washington on Friday to try to put their first round series away. The Rangers need me. They need me and my terrible beard. Don't think the beard works? Shows what you know. Henrik Lundqvist's inhuman performance? Chris Drury's odd angle goal last night? Alexander Ovechkin's thus far quiet series? It's all thanks to the beard, friends, this I know.

God, I'm just glad she isn't a Caps fan. Then I'd really be in trouble.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Ah What The Hell, Let's Panic

The Mets are 3-4 now and have at times looked totally clueless out on the field. Still, 7 games in is no time to start pulling your hair out or ripping the pages out of phone books or destroying boxes inexplicably left in your hallway even though you moved in months ago. Still, I'm bored, and the only other thing I could possibly do right now is write eight hundred words about how Steve Phillips is a total asshole for gravely intoning about how when he was the Mets' GM he heard Bernie Madoff's name every week. Admittedly most of those words would involve calling him an asshole and a sex fiend. So let's look rational thought in the eye, spit in its face and panic instead.

Maybe if I was remaining calm I would excuse a couple of crappy early starts by Mike Pelfrey. It's only two starts in a season where he'll probably have 30-34.

No no no no. Mike Pelfrey looked like shit, he looked absolutely horrible. The one time I get an internet feed working correctly to watch a game, I have to watch the apparent number two starter leave the ball up in the low-90s and barely throw any breaking pitches. Plus I have to keep listening to Orel Hersheiser remind me of this every inning. Shut up Orel, you're making me nervous.

If I wasn't panicking I would point out that the Mets are going to need some time to adjust to how Taxpayer Field plays.

Fuck that, the field plays like it's fucking Sonic Spinball. And seriously, that outfield, who designed that outfield, a man with an Usain Bolt cloning machine? See, you need to be fast to cover all that ground and with the slick grass and Usain Bolt is...ok I'll stop.

I might comfort myself with the thought that the Mets offense is better than the first 7 games have indicated. David Wright hit a clutch two out home run to tie the game.

Or this is what this team is going to do all damn year, blow opportunities, not hit with two outs and not get hits, much less runs, late in the game.

The Mets sure do seem to have this goofy history lately of not being able to hit unheralded rookie pitchers. If it keeps happening a couple years from now it can just be another quirky part of our identity.

Are you fucking fucking with me it took a miracle to score five runs against Carlos Walter Silva. Why doesn't this team beat pitchers I've never heard of? Is it some kind of terrible curse? What pitching prospect is buried beneath the old Shea field for this to be happening all the time?

It's only seven games in to the season. Fuck, the Red Sox suck right now and the Blue Jays and Mariners are in first place.

Holy fucking hell the Mets are the only team in the NL East with a losing record aside from the Washington Nationals. Why oh why are they 3-4? And what's David Eckstein doing having epic at bats against J.J. Putz and hopping around to point out a balk (a balk!) by Pedro Feliciano? Will someone just catch him in a Havahart trap already and get him out of my life?

Anything else?

Gary Sheffield is starting on Wendesday.

Super duper...

P.S. Steve Phillips is a sex offender.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Lie Detector Test

All of you who thought Livan Hernandez was going to be the first Met starting pitcher to pitch into the seventh inning, raise your hands.

Put down those hands! That is a lie and you are a liar for saying it.

Regardless of your terrible, sinful lies, game ball tonight goes to Ush's favorite pitcher, who maybe got a couple Met fans off the ledge regarding starting pitching questions by slamming the brakes on the Marlins' winning streak. Also a little piece of it for Luis Castillo, who some idiot said should be booed out of town.

It's tough winning a game like this (no, stay with me here) because you have to temper your expectations of Livan Hernandez pitching like this every night with the question of whether he can pitch like that to a team to that isn't as young and fastball-crazy like the Marlins. The post-game comments from Jerry Manuel and John Baker and the recap in the Times all focused on the Marlins inability to deal with a pitcher getting by on guile, and while that's all well and good, what does that mean for a team with experienced mashers like the Phillies or Cubs? It would be nice to see Hernandez not just keep the Mets in the game when he starts, but actually control it like he did tonight, but really, that's just a dream right now.

Still, I'll take it. Duh. It sets the Mets up to take two out of three in each road series and it's tough not to like Johan Santana's odds given the way he's been pitching since, oh, forever. Of course I'll be stuck at work, AGAIN and won't get to watch more than maybe an hour of tomorrow's game, but I gotta pay the rent, cause blogging sure as shit don't do it. And with the pageantry and ridiculousness of the Taxpayer Field Opening Day ceremony coming up Monday, I can wait another day to watch a game.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Why Is This Night Different From The Same As All Other Nights?

A. Because the Mets left the entire world on base?

B. Because the bullpen refused to keep the team in the game?

A Passover joke? Really? Hell yeah, because that was the frame of my game viewing experience. In between courses my cousin and I would head downstairs and watch the Mets fight back only to blow it in spectacular fashion. I'll be honest, I gave up when the Marlins went up 4-3, only to be dragged back in when my cousin ran upstairs and told me the Mets tied the game up in dramatic fashion. Kewl. Except then I was stuck watching as the depressing regularity that Jason Fry pointed out set in. I won't panic though. Sure EVERY GAME COUNTS but I'm willing to bet that the Mets won't continue to go 1 for 200 with men on base. I won't bet on the bullpen because I'm not made of fake money that people talk about when they say "I'll bet on X" here.

I had the unfortunate task of arguing Carlos Beltran's pros and cons with my cousin tonight though, including a ridiculous idea that the Mets overpaid for him. This was, mind you, after Beltran had already hit a home run to pull the Mets closer. I mean, sure he's overpaid I guess, if you think that Carlos Beltran had ANY REASON to come to New York in 2005 other than the Wilpons sending a dump truck full of hundred dollar bills to his front yard. I mean, everyone wanted to play defense behind Jae Weong Seo and bat behind Jason Phillips, right?

Fun Fact: Jason Phillips suckkkkksssssss

So yeah, how about Mets fans lay off Beltran, because all he does is go for 20/100 every year along with Gold Glove defense. Direct that vitriol somewhere it belongs, like Luis Castillo.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Just The Good Parts, Thank You Very Much

I wish I had more to say about tonight's game, but when you work stocking shelves for a living you don't have a schedule totally conducive to watching baseball. I went to the bar during my break and saw it was the bottom of the third and the Reds were up 4-2. This made me sad, because I want good things for Mike Pelfrey this year.

Still, once I sat down and got my first beer, things turned around a bit. Pelfrey got out of a man on third and one out jam, then the Mets proceeded to give Edison Volquez hell in the 4th. Even without though they didn't score, my new friend who was also watching the game agreed with me that making him throw a lot of pitches in crappy weather would be good.

Oh yeah, I didn't mention my new friend. Some other guy who probably goes to the bar as often as I do, based on his conversations with the bartender, was sitting next to me, and at first I thought he may have been a Yankee fan because he was agitated and they were getting killed. Then though, the Met game came on a closer TV and we started talking about Pelf and how if he could go five it would be a miracle. I got the unhappy recap of the first inning from him and we settled in for the fifth, when the Mets mounted their furious comeback.

My new friend was hilarious, in that he was sure every player on the team looked skinny. It was like he was a Jewish mother or something. "Doesn't David Wright look skinny to you? Like he's lost a lot of weaight? Look, Delgado too, he looks skinny, what's the deal here?" I don't know, maybe I just haven't been paying attention, but I couldn't say anything one way or another, I just shrugged and said something about all of them being generally small guys and hollered when Beltran's bouncer found a hole in between second and short.

Even though I didn't get to see the whole game, I got to see the most fun parts and got to avoid nasty flashbacks to last year. Often times when watching baseball, I'll groan and cover my eyes and generally get agita after every pitch. It's not because I'm some Chicken Little lunatic, I just really love to get into the game. It doesn't mean that I need to be there for every bullpen near-collapse or every important starter barely getting out of the first inning alive. I just walked away, mostly because I had to, but still, and let myself focus on stocking shelves getting out of work and back in the bar, confident for some reason that the Mets would pull it out. Tonight I got to be right.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Fate and All That

“This was fate. All everybody talked about in the off-season was our bullpen, and today we’ve got Greeny, J. J. and K-Rod finishing it off. We had to win this way today. We just did.”

- Brian Schneider in today's Times

Brian Schneider wasn't a Met in 2005, when they rolled into Cincinnati with a gazillion dollar makeover in two key areas and mild expectations. Things looked good for awhile that day, but then, uh, something happened.

He was though today, four years later, when the Mets came back to Cincinnati with a gazillion dollar makeover in one key area and enormous expectations. The whole game, it felt like, uh, something might happen. Runners ominously left on base one after the other as the Mets just couldn't break the game open, followed finally by an intense Reds rally that took the ace out of the game. The stage was set for a total fucking calamity and we hadn't even gotten 6 whole innings into Game 1 of 162.

I was listening to the game at my friend Dave's apartment when Sean Green made his Met debut. "Some Met fan out there is going to kill himself today if Sean Green gives up a run here," I told him as he fiddled with his guitar. He looked at me. "Not me though, don't worry." Not because I had unyielding faith that Green was going to get out of the inning and clip the rally before it got out of hand, but because there's plenty of time to commit a more measured and dramatic bullpen assisted suicide when you wait a couple days to plan it out.

Then I heard the crack of the bat and an excited Howie Rose yelp that Edwin Encarnacion sent a line drive into the left-center gap and Daniel Murphy was closing in. I had visions of a diving Murphy missing and sliding across the wet grass all the way to the right field foul line as Carlos Beltran chased the ball to the warning track. 2-2, a man on second, maybe even third and a poor schmuck in Queens kicking the chair out from under his feet.

As it turned out, eating peyote before the game turned out to be wonderful for florid hallucinations but terrible for predicting the future, because the next thing I knew Murphy had made the catch easily and disaster had been averted. The bullpen makeover worked wonderfully and the Mets pulled out a close one to start this big year on the right path. Fate? It could be I guess. Hell, if good things keep happening to this team followed by Brian Schneider proclaiming it to be the work of some unknowable machinations only he can divine, you can damn well bet I'll be signing up for the Al-Schneider Martyr Brigades. I understand it involves something like fighting against high car prices.

That and destroying his evil, comedic twin.

Women be lying about their weight.