Monday, March 31, 2008

Leaving the Past

Last year when our playoff tickets arrived there was so much hope and excitement in holding a World Series ticket in my hands. After things fell apart, it just didn't seem right to unceremoniously throw away something that loaded. So I held onto them and they've been staring at me, haunting me all winter. This morning it was time to put them to rest. They needed a dramatic exit from the world. They had to be set on fire.


So I gathered them up along with some other painful momentos of all that wasn't in 2007. Tickets from all the losses against the Phillies. Tom Glavine's page ripped out of the yearbook. And my ticket from that game. The last game of the season and the worst day in my life as a Mets fan.
Every reminder of the heartbreak of last season turning to smoke was a beautiful sight. I feel like the demons of 2007 have finally been vanquished and I can move on. In just a few short hours I'll be out watching Johan Santana's very first start real start as a Met. After the winter that felt like it would never end the 2008 season is finally upon us. The past's the past, today we start new.

Let's go Mets!

Friday, March 28, 2008

It's Been A Bad Day

That's my boy Cuckoo limping off the field after he got hurt, still putting on a brave face for the fans. When a fan yelled down to ask if he was all right, he turned around, flashed a big smile, motioned not to worry and said "I'm OK." And now he's a Brave. It's just not right. I will always remember him play boxing with Reyes and Gomez and clowning around in the dugout with Ollie and John Maine. Who's he going to be friends with now, Jeff Francouer? Gohead is way too cool for Jeff Francouer. Shame on you Mets for making Ruben cry. "I thought I did a good job last year," Gotay said with tears in his eyes. "I didn't think I deserved this." You did do a good job Ruben, and I won't forget it. You stepped up and surprised us all when we needed it. Even though you have to play for that evil team down south now, I'll still be rooting you on.

UPDATE: It was that mole Tom Glavine who told the Braves to get Gotay. I knew he was a spy all along! I hate you Tom Glavine, I HATE YOU. Just waste years of my life posing as a Met while you gather up information to take back to your real team you bum. Now you just took it too far stealing my Gotay. Karma's going to come back and bite you.

Yesterday the Texas Rangers officialy announced the release of Edgardo Alfonzo. We knew he was a long shot to make the team from the start, but he had a good spring and we were holding out hope that he'd play AAA for them for a while and get called up when someone got hurt. As I'm writing this, the Family Guy episode where Peter starts the Church of the Fonz came on. I'd like to think that's a sign. Hopefully he'll find a way to keep on going like he always seems to. Fonzie be praised!

And to top it all off I've been sick the past couple of day with some sort of flu thing I can't shake. This sucks for two reasons. One because I feel miserable, but more importantly I cannot be sick on opening day. Not because I would skip it, of course I'll still go. But I need to get better before then because I was sick at my first game last year and we all know how that ended. Crazy superstitious? Yes. But you just can't risk these sort of things.

New York City: Fountain of Youth

So according to the Mets media guide, Mr. Valentin will be 25 years old this opening day. Stache my man, you're looking a little gray for someone so young. But I guess that comes from playing in the majors since you were eleven. And there must have been a wedding none of us heard about this offseason, because in Angel Pagan's bio they call him Angel Pagan Figueroa. Who knew?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Clean Slate


I woke up and there they were, like Christmas morning. Pages of beautiful, fresh new tickets filled with all the hope of a new season. They smelled like hope, really. 2008 pocket schedules. I've really missed having a pocket schedule. The media guide to spend nights discovering every small piece of information we can on every Met and Met prospect. This commemorative Shea Stadium box to hold our shrine of tickets. And tickets to my very first opening day.
It feels like a new beginning.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Happy 2008!

The date January 1st means nothing to me. For baseball fans, a new year doesn't really start until the new season does. So I was up at six, armed with plenty of black coffee, ready to watch the Red Sox take on the A's and ring in the new year. It was crazy to be watching a game before the sun even came up. I was feeling nervous for Daisuke the entire time. I should not get this stressed out over games not involving the Mets, but I do. We had to leave the game on mute, because no one should be subjected to Steve Phillips that eary in the morning (or ever). But I did get the sound back on when Papelbon came in to see if they would play Shipping Up To Boston. They did, which was almost as awesome as everyone over there knowing the Jose-Jose-Jose chant. They should start airing the Japanese games over here, because if every morning could start with breakfast and baseball, life would be good. I think we could be a more productive country, they should look into that. It was great to finally be watching a meaningful game, one that can't be brushed off as just spring training, one that counts towards something. And an edge of your seat, extra inning affair and a Red Sox win to boot. The 2008 season is finally underway. Happy opening day everybody!

Who's Ready For Some Baseball?

video

Layla is!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Metsmerized Easter


Flippin' sweet egg provided by the little sis. Happy Easter Mets fans!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Sad News, Fonz Fans

Yesterday the Texas Rangers reassigned Edgardo Alfonzo to minor league camp. They are still hoping he will accept a role with their AAA affiliate and begin the season an Oklahoma Redhawk. As Fonzie said:

"I just feel like if I can play, I need to still play. Eleven years is good enough, but if you love this game, you do whatever it takes to keep playing."

And as the creator of this video knows, baseball and Edgardo Alfonzo deserve each other.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Just What Every Mets Collection Is Missing...

Because every girl is looking for a pair of spiked heel boots to wear to the game. Imagine trying to navigate the Shea ramps in those things?

Monday, March 17, 2008

At Least This Year There's No Rap Song

Inspired by this post at MetsGrrl and this classic film.
You know when you start seeing the billboards and ads on the subway (and even those godawful kelly ripa ads) the new season's just around the bend. The Mets caps are starting to pop up more often, baseball's in the air. Just fourteen short days, can you feel it?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Pedro Will Save Us!

In case you missed it: Pedro Martinez is back! Not only did he throw four shutout innings against the Tigers today, but fear not, he's going to put a stop to the team's injuries as well. How, you ask? By dancing around the field naked, of course. Remind me, how did we ever survive so long in Pedro's absence?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Oh My Stars

Read these stories about Carlos Beltran finally becoming a father and if you're a sap like me, prepare to cry. After his wife Jessica suffered two miscarriages, on October 26th they were overjoyed to welcome a healthy baby girl to the world. “It used to be the two of us,” he said. “Now we’re three, and I’m the third-most important one.” Everyone around him has witnessed a change and see a happier, younger Beltran. After watching his tough adjustment to New York and all he's been through as a Met, it's been amazing to see Carlos looking this happy and comfortable all spring. During the game the other day Kevin Burkhardt asked him about being a father and he really did just beam, it was the biggest smile I've ever seen him wear. When he speaks about his daughter he just radiates this pride and love for his family. According to the Times article he brought baby Ivana around the clubhouse to show her off and Wednesday morning watched in awe as she played with Carlos Delgado's son. “Ivana’s almost five months, and she’s just this wonderful little person. Looking at her, I wonder where all the time went.”

Friday, March 14, 2008

We Got The Bee


Please enjoy this lovely music video featuring Shea Stadium and David Wright. I think that Jose Reyes wins the better cameo and yeah, I really need it to be opening day already. Happy Friday.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Raise Your Hand If It's Your Birthday

Happy 29th, Johan. Don't ever change. Love, Mets fans.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Gotta Love Spring Training...

Luis Castillo fell victim to the old gum on the cap prank in the dugout when Ramon Castro piled on two bubbles and a plastic cup this afternoon. Endy Chavez was so amused he had to take a picture on his cell phone. This went on for nearly half the game before Castillo finally took notice and retreated to the clubhouse.

Angel Pagan continued to tear it up with a pinch hit 2 run homer in the 7th to give the Mets the lead. When he was interviewed during the game he said how it feels like home again to be back with the Mets. Please stop scaring me with trade rumors, I don't think I could take it if we sent him away.


Also Tampa Bay, you are completely winning my heart this spring. Way to put those whining Yankees in their place. Keep doing what you're doing Rays.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

A Tribute to The Girls of Summer

If you don't know, now you know: March 8th marks International Women's Day. In its honor, this post is a salute to all of the incredible women in baseball history whose contributions are all too often forgotten.


Joan Whitney Payson
Mets Co-founder and Original Owner, Team President 1968-1975

Joan Payson fell in love with baseball as a child watching the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds, and eventually became a minority shareholder in the team. After the Giants left for San Franciscio she sold her stock and began working to bring a replacement team to New York. In 1961, the National League awarded her a New York franchise, and from names including the Skyliners, the Burros, and the Jets, it was Joan Payson who picked the name Mets. She lobbied for the team to bring in her favorite players like Gil Hodges and Willie Mays and even convinced Casey Stengal to come out of retirement and become the team's first manager. Beloved by players and fans alike for her passion for the game, she could always be found in her box behind home plate cheering and even heckling the opposing players. In 1981 she was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.


First Young Ladies Baseball Club 1890

In the 1890s teams like the Young Ladies Baseball Club #1 barnstormed across America challenging men's local, semi-pro, and minor league teams. In spite of uniforms weighing upwards of 30 lbs, they were known to annihilate their male opponents.



Effa Manley
Newark Eagles Owner

Effa Manley was the owner and business manager of the Negro Leagues franchise the Newark Eagles. She was responsible for day-to-day business operations of the team, arranged playing schedules, planned the team’s travel, managed and met the payroll, bought the equipment, negotiated contracts, and handled publicity and promotions. Legend says she even called bunts from the stands by crossing and uncrossing her legs. Male owners She worked to improve playing conditions for her players, advocating better pay, scheduling, and travel accomodations. In the offseason, she sponsored a team in the Puerto Rican winter leagues to ensure her players had work opportunities. She provided the Eagles with an air-conditioned Flexible Clipper bus, a first for a Negro League Team. Aware of her team's role in the communitiy, Effa used baseball to advance civil rights. She worked with the Citizen's League for Fair Pay and the NAACP and in 1939 held an "Anti-Lynching Day" at Ruppert Stadium. In 2006 Manley became the first women to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Her gravestone reads "She Loved Baseball."


Sophie Kurys

Second Base, Racine Belles 1943-1950

Known as "the Flint Flash," Sophie Kurys played second base for the Racine Belles of the All-American Girls Baseball League. In 1946 she was named Player of the Year when in 113 games she stole 201 bases in 203 attempts. No one in professional baseball has ever come close to that record, and Kurys had to do it in a skirt.




Mamie "Peanut" Johnson
Right-handed pitcher, Indianapolis Clowns 1953-1955

Rejected by the racially segregated All-American Girls League, Mamie Johnson went to play for the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro Leagues. Afterwards she said "If I had played with white girls, I would have been just another player, but now I am somebody who has done something that no other woman has done." In her first game, an opposing batter yelled to the 100 pound pitcher, ""What makes you think you can strike a batter out? Why, you aren't any larger than a peanut!"" She responded by striking him out in 3 pitches and the nickname stuck with her from the day on.



Lizzie Murphy

Lizzie Murphy's baseball career began when she was 15, playing first base for local amateur teams. She moved up to play for the semi-pro Boston All-Stars, where she played in the same uniform as the men with one exception. Her name was written across the back and the front so that everyone could see she was the woman they came to see. In 1922 she became the first woman to play in a major league exhibition game. In 1928 she became the first person of either gender to play for both the National League and the American League in All-Star games.



Toni Stone
Second Base, Indianapolis Clowns and Kansas City Monarchs

After playing for several black semi-pro barnstorming teams, Toni Stone signed with the New Orleans Creoles, a team in the Negro League minors. In 1953, she was signed to play second base for the Indianapolis Clowns and became the first woman to play in the Negro Leagues. She played the 1954 season for the Kansas City Monarchs, but the Negro Leagues were coming to an end and she retired at the end of the season. Toni called facing Satchel Page her most memorable moment in baseball. "When he wound up--he had these big old feet--all you could see was his shoe. I stood there shaking, but I got a hit. Right out over second base. Happiest moment in my life."



Julie Croteau

In 1989 Julie Croteau became the first woman to play NCAA men's baseball. In her senior year of high school, Julie's parents filed a lawsuit against her school for not allowing her to play baseball. After she lost the case, the manager of the Fredricksburg Giants of the Virginia Baseball League invited her for a tryout and she earned a spot on the team. The next spring Croteau earned the starting second base position on the St. Mary's Seahawks. She told reporters she hoped her playing college ball would send a message to middle schools and high schools to allow girls to play. In 1994 she went on to play for the Colorado Silver Bullets and in 1995 she became the first woman to coach Division I baseball. She continues to work to make more opportunities available for women in baseball, and served as manager for the US Women's National team in the 2006 women's baseball world cup. Her glove and photo are displayed in the Baseball Hall of Fame.



Jackie Mitchell

Pitcher, Chattanooga Lookouts

In 1931, 17 year old Jackie Mitchell signed with the Southern Association AA Chattanooga Lookouts. On April 2nd the Yankees came to Chattanooga to play an exhibition game on their way back from spring training. On playing against a woman, Babe Ruth had this to say: "I don't know what's going to happen if they begin to let women in baseball. Of course, they will never make good. Why? Because they are too delicate. It would kill them to play ball every day." Ruth was the first batter Jackie faced and she struck out on four pitches. Infuriated and embarassed, he threw his bat and stormed back to the dugout. Next up Lou Gehrig swung and missed at three pitches in a row. A few days later the comissioner voided her contract, claiming baseball was "too strenuous" for a woman to handle. She travelled the country pitching in exhibition games and was retired by time she was 23, but the legend of those back to back strikeouts lives on.

Katie Brownell

On May 14th, 2005, 11 year old Katie Brownell pitched a perfect game for the little league Dodgers of Oakfield, NY, striking out every batter she faced. She was honoroed in a ceremony at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and donated her game jersey to become a part of the Women in Baseball exhibit.



Hilda Chester
"First Lady of Flatbush"

A former softball player, Hilda Chester became the Brooklyn Dodgers most famous fan. After she suffered a heart attack and her doctor forbid her from yelling at games, she started carrying a frying pan and ladle to Ebbets Field, making so much noise in the stands that all the fans and players noticed. In the late 1930s, the Dodgers honored her for her loyalty and presented her with a brass cowbell. Even after she was given a lifetime pass to the grandstand, Hilda and her bell could always be found among the rowdy fans in the bleachers.



Edith "The Kid" Houghton
First Female Major League Scout

Edith Houghton joined the Philadelphia Bobbies when she was only ten years old. In 1925 she travelled Japan with the Bobbies playing against men's college teams. When she returned home she played several seasons for Bloomer Girls teams and when World War II broke out she enlisted in the Navy's women's auxiliary and played for their baseball team. After the war she wrote to the owner of the Philadelphia Phillies asking for a job as a scout. She was hired and scouted for the Phillies for six years until she was called up for the Korean War.


Amanda Clement

Umpire

In 1904 Amanda Clement became the first woman to be paid to umpire a game. Amanda and her family travelled from South Dakota to Iowa to watch her brother pitch in a semi-pro game. When the umpire for an amateur game didn't show up, Amanda's brother said that she was a good ballplayer and could take his place. The semi-pro teams were so impressed they hired her on the spot and she umpired games for six years afterwards. In 1964 she was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame.



Dorothy "Dottie" Wiltse

Pitcher, Fort Wayne Daisies

Dottie Wiltse was a pitcher for the Fort Wayne Daisies. In one month she twice won both games of doubleheaders. In each of her first four seasons, Wiltse won 20 games or more. She finished with a career record of 117-76 with an ERA of 1.83 and 1205 strikeouts, and in 1944 she pitched up until she was six months pregnant.



Ila Borders
Independent League Pitcher
In 1994 Ila Borders was the first female pitcher to start a men's NCAA or NAIA college baseball game with a complete game victory for Southern California College. After facing harassment from her SCC teammates, who threw balls at her head and slashed her tires, she transferred to Whittier College for her senior year. In 1997 she signed with the St. Paul Saints of the independent Northern League, where she was welcomed as just another ballplayer. One month into the season she was traded to the Duluth Superior Dukes, where she pitched through the 1999 season. In 2000 she for the Zion Pioneerzz of the Western Baseball League before retiring from baseball. She was inducted into the Baseball Reliquary Shrine of the Eternals in 2003.

Joanne "Joltin' Jo" Weaver
Joanne Weaver was the last professional baseball player to hit .400. In 1951, at age 14 Joanne followed her older sisters Betty and Jean's footsteps and played third base for the Fort Wayne Daisies of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. In 1952 and 1953 she won back to back batting titles. In 1954 she had a season average of .429 with 29 home runs, 254 total bases, 87 RBI, 16 doubles, 4 triples, 79 stolen bases and 109 runs scored. No player had a higher batting average in the entire 20th century.



Lady Met
Mascot extraordinaire.

Unlike her male counterpart, we don't think she gets nearly enough play.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Tales from Spring Training


First thing Saturday morning we boarded the plane decked out in Mets jerseys, jackets, scarves and shoes. Even the security guard checking my Mets bag asked "So, you guys are really big fans, huh?" We checked in at the hotel and all the workers were wearing Mets jerseys. Mets fans were everywhere you turned. The town was seriously the most Mets dominated place I've ever been, which made me a little sad considering I've lived in Queens my whole life. This is how it should be all the time.



We got to Tradition Field and headed to the bleachers to watch the Mets take on the Dodgers. It felt so good just to be sitting at a ballpark taking in a game. It was strange to be watching a game so close to the players that they could hear you when you heckled. It would not have been fun to be Chan Ho Park in that bullpen. We were right up front for the big Marlon Anderson/Ryan Church collision and it looked pretty brutal. I'd been talking some smack about Ryan Church the whole game, so my brother of course turns to me and accuses me of wishing it upon him. Regardless of my personal feelings about him I wouldn't want to see any of our guys go through that. Some great pitching by Jonathan Niese, heroics in the outfield by Big #86 (the name Ezequiel Carerra made for some obligatory Pulp Fiction jokes) and Brady Clark taking one for the team led to the first Mets win of the spring. It didn't matter that they won on a hit by pitch, it didn't matter that it was a meaningless spring training game. It just felt good to see them win again.



Later we hung out at the bowling alley/arcade where they filmed the Mets Weekly segment last year. Sadly I can't bowl to save my life so I didn't get the chance to bust out my Paul Lo Duca victory dance.


We got to the park early Sunday to try to see some of the players arriving. Carlos Delgado confirmed everything I believed about him as a person when someone yelled into the parking lot to ask how he was feeling and he replied "I'm fine, thank you for asking." Alot of players would have just ignored the fans and went about their business, but he actually stopped to thank the guy. How polite is that?


Onwards to victory!


The brain trust.


The open workouts were so much fun to watch. It's crazy to see all the superstars lined up just a few feet away from you stretching and running around the cones like it's gym class. Pedro spent the whole time clowning around, Jose Valentin was making everyone laugh, and Jose Reyes was all smiles the whole time. Even if it was just running drills, it was so exciting to see Johan Santana up close and in person. When the players split up to head to different fields they crossed on the paths right next to us. It was surreal to turn around and have El Duque and Rick Peterson walking right behind me.





My favorite part of the workouts was how getting to see all the players so loose and joking around. Carlos Beltran doubling over with laughter is not a sight I ever though I'd get the chance to see. He was animatedly telling a story in batting practice and just cracking up Luis Castillo, Moises Alou and Jose Reyes. It really made me wish I understood Spanish... I think David Wright was wishing the same thing.

He got back in on the fun when Hojo showed up on his golf cart and he helped Jose steal his keys. Troublemakers.

While we were over watching infield practice Omar Minaya drove his golf cart right by us. I managed to restrain myself from bowing down shouting 'we're not worthy.' He had the longest conversation with Moises Alou and again I was really wishing I spoke Spanish. Jose Valentin was playing first and cracking jokes left and right. I also picked up a new Jose Reyes nickname from one of the coaches, who kept yelling out Rey-Rey when he hit him the ball.


I probably had the best time watching a bunch of the young pitchers take batting practice. They all went nuts when someone would get a big hit. Matt Wise was imitating someone's swing and told everyone "I am going to tell that story everyday because it was the funniest thing I've ever seen in my life." And then when they went to clean up the balls, the Big Pelf decided to push Jason Vargas in a shopping cart across the field.



Good guy award goes to John Maine who spent the most time signing for fans hands down. The next morning when he came out he joked that he was going to have to pitch with his other arm.


My favorite part of spring training is getting a first look at the players while they're still young and excited to be there. Eddie Kunz, who is a giant in person, was running to his next workout but turned aroung to sign for us when he heard his first name. Later I sent the little sis running up to Brant Rustich yelling "Brant, we love you!" He got a good laugh from that one. It's just the truth, Brant. You're a Met now so you should get used to hearing it. Some of the guys we'd seen play for the Cyclones last year so it was exciting to see playing with all the big stars.



After the workouts we drove to Vero Beach to see the Mets play the Dodgers. With all the history in Dodgertown, we were excited to get the chance to see a game there before the Dodgers leave next year. The crowd was much bigger and livelier than at Tradition Field. We missed the first two innings so we didn't get to see Ollie pitch, but we got to see newly appointed my boy Angel Pagan hit the game winning single. (As I'm typing this Ron Darling's just declared that he has "mad skills.") I was psyched to see our A-minus boys beat all the Dodger stars, and the fact that Joe Torre was trying so hard to win made it even sweeter. We had guys out there with no names on their jerseys and they got the job done.



It turned out a bunch of the younger players were staying at our hotel, including Anderson Hernandez, who was a total sweetheart even though I think he was terrified he had stalkers. We found him in the parking lot Monday morning and he was kind enough to patiently pose with Brooklyn while I spent forever getting my camera to work. There were also some frequent Tom Glavine sightings, but it kept turning out they were just old ladies.


On Monday they kicked us out of workouts pretty early so they could open the stadium, but we did get to watch the pitchers for a while. Pedro Martinez walked right by to get to his next workout and he was absolutely swarmed. People were trying to hug him from behind, some lady who didn't even have a pen was trying to get him to sign her shirt but he just laughed the whole time. He kept trying to tell everyone he needed to go, but he signed the whole time he was walking. You can tell he's just so happy to be back right now.



We watched the Mets/Braves game from out on the berm, which was great for the experience (even though at one point a stroller came crashing on my head) and because it gave us a great view of Fernando Martinez. I'd been trying not to get too attached to the kid over the winter for fear he'd get traded, but now there's no reason not to be excited for his future. Pelfrey was looking strong and pitched 3 shutout innings. Once again the Mets made things dramatic with Michel Abreu scoring on a Ruben Tejada double in the 10th to win it 3-2.

Heading home I was just the best kind of exhausted. On the way to the airport we stopped off for dinner and I had some fried okra in honor of Johnny Maine. We also had a nice toast to Guillermo Mota no longer being a Met. The second I got off the plane I was hit with a huge burst of cold air and I was missing Florida already.


All together, it was just the most fun I've ever crammed into a weekend in my life. I'm so glad we got the chance to go and that I have such an amazin brother for taking me. Being up close to the team and starting off the year 3-0 has me so psyched for the season to begin. Spending time around so many Mets fans has me missing Shea Stadium in a major way. I can't wait for the boys to get back in town and the regular season to start up.

If you want to see the rest of my pictures, I have my full album up here.