Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Back From The Layoff

As I'm sure you've noticed, this blog has been pretty inactive for the last couple of weeks. This is because this is not a blog about the Mets, but rather about the Mets as they exist through my eyes, and I haven't seen that much of them lately. Between firm events at night and my sister becoming Mrs. Gottlieb, I haven't had that many opportunities to watch games on TV, never mind make it to the ballpark.
I did, however, go to the game this past Sunday, and it was a special occasion because I took my 7-year old nephew Ilan to what was his 1st ever Mets' game. He was so excited by the game that he at first refused to get up from our seats in the upper deck to move down to field level because he was nervous he would miss some of the action. Later in the game, I left to get food for us (of course he refused to come with me, because he is a baseball freak and can't miss a single pitch.) When I came back with a carton full of food, sat down, and handed him his hot dog, he insists "I have to wash." I couldn't believe he was serious. Now I had to get up again, take him to the bathroom to wash, and come back. If I was Uri, I would call him "Mussar Haskel," but I'm not, so I will just more accurately call him "annoying."
What was amazing to me was the body of incorrect knowledge he came into the game with. For some reason it had been planted in his mind: a) that the Arizona Diamondbacks have the best player in baseball, although he didn't remember the player's name b) by rule, a pitcher must be removed from the game after 91 pitches. It beats me where he picked up such nuanced tidbits of information that are so blatantly wrong.
The Mets have been up and down the last couple of weeks, as they have suffered injuries in their outfield and had to get by with a makeshift lineup.
The big news of the day, though, is that Pedro threw off a mound for the 1st time yesterday. Somehow Pedro throwing a few pitches was more exciting to me than the 12 inning game they played last night. Pedro just still has that x-factor aspect to him that just brings such an incredible excitement to everything that surrounds him and everything he affects. I can only imagine what the atmosphere will be like at Shea when he finally takes the mound at Shea, hopefully later this summer.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Our Town

I discussed with Eric after the game Sunday night whether I could use this as my title even though the Mets failed to sweep, and he said no. I have defied them. The Empire State Building has the Mets' colors and whether we won 2 of 3 or all 3, right now this is clearly a Mets town. For the 1st time ever, the Mets were clearly the better team headed into the Subway Series and the pressure was on them to take 2 out of 3; and they did. And, of course, none of it came easy. A 3-2 win Friday night in possibly the quickest game ever played, followed by what should have been an easy win until Wagner gave us a scare as his custom to do with 4 run leads in the 9th inning of the Saturday game. (As an aside, anyone who thinks Wagner was trying to protect his ERA with that bonehead play is a moron. You are absolutely out of your mind, Abe.) And then going for the sweep on Sunday, the Mets fell into last season's trap, as they couldn't get anything going against a pitcher making his major league debut and John Maine stunk again.
For me the Subway Series is as close as we get to a playoff atmosphere before October. The energy in the stadium is incredible, as the crowd hangs on every pitch. Much like the playoffs, these games are the only times I find myself counting outs in my head whenever the Mets have a lead. But there is something about this series I had never really thought about: Why is it called the "Subway Series?" This was the question asked of me by a Japanese tourist who was visiting NY outside the stadium, as I walked to my car. He was confused because they call it the Subway Series despite the fact that it seems many of the fans used their cars to get to and from the game. I explained that I thought that the subway was considered to be a defining characteristic of NY and that the stadiums each have subway lines that connect to them. Eric confirmed that this was the correct analysis as did Wikipedia. Still, I found it interesting that I had so naturally referred to Mets-Yankees games as the Subway Series for 10 years without ever stopping to think about why it was called that. Maybe the real reason is so that Japanese tourists would ask questions.
Total Mets' games attended: 10
Record: 6-4 (4-4 at home)
Money spent on games: $85
Total games attended: 13 (6 total stadiums)
Money spent on all games: $127

Thursday, May 17, 2007

What Rain?

Last night, we decided not to go to the game because it was supposed to rain and sounded like it might get rained out. So we were sitting in the apartment at like 9 when I ask, "If they decide to play the game, should we quickly drive over to the stadium and go?" Abe and Hal were immediately on board. Sure enough, moments later, Hal heard on the radio that they were going to be playing the game, so we got in the car and drove in what was still pouring game to Shea. It was definitely very strange to be driving in a downpour, headed to a ballgame, but they claimed they were playing and we had to be there. As it turns out, they started the game at 10:15, after most of the west coast games had already begun.
Jorge Sosa pitched magnificently and we were lucky enough to be out of there before 1am with an 8-1 win. Once the rain was gone, it was actually a beautiful night out and the 1,500 or so that decided to either stay or arrive late were treated to an easy, economical win. The best part is that as a compensation for the terrible inconvenience we suffered, we will receive free tickets to a game against the Twins in June.
The NY Post has planted someone to spy on us because their headline today for the game was "Worth The Wait," the very phrase that was written at one point on our whiteboard. Tomorrow's Post headline: "Vic Has VD."
As for today's game, what can you say? I can't say much because I didn't see it. I was forced to follow it on gamecast during my Westlaw training but it seemed very exciting. Best part of all was seeing Delgado and Wright getting the big hits in the 9th. What was that you said, Eric, about this team lacking a comeback ability?
Finally, I would like to introduce a new feature I will be adding to my blogs. At the bottom of a blog I will be posting a running tally of the number of games I have been to this year (both Mets and others) and the accumulated dollars spent on going to those games, so I will have a nice summary at season's end.
Total Mets' games attended: 9
Record: 6-3 (4-3 at home)
Money spent on games: $50
Total games attended: 12 (6 total stadiums)
Money spent on all games: $92
Bring on the Yankees...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Return To Shea

Well, after spending last week touring other teams' ballparks, I returned this week to good 'ol Shea. It may not have the modern luxuries or amenities of the new stadiums around the league, but it has a certain charm to it and Shea will always be Shea. That being said, I am counting down the days till CitiField opens its doors just like everyone else.
I was at the games on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, so I will share with you my brief thoughts on those 3 games.
Sunday: Oliver Perez was outstanding, giving up 1 run on 2 hits over 8 innings. I was actually almost a little happy that he gave up that 2nd hit to start the 9th so that I wouldn't have to look back at the game and see Chris Capuano's bloop single in the 3rd inning as what stood between me seeing the Mets' 1st ever no-hitter in person. We actually had no idea that Carlos Gomez had been called up before the game. As we walked in the stadium, we saw that there was no picture in the 8 spot where it shows the lineup outside the park, but we were just confused by this. Then, as we sat in our seats in Field Level on the right field line, we realized that the RF's jersey said "Gomez" on the back, which took a few seconds to register before I was like, "Wait, is that CARLOS Gomez?" We frantically started making our calls and learned that he had been called up that morning and had been head-shaved as soon as he arrived. (On that front, it is interesting to note that it seems the Mets' minhag is to keep the 1st days of the Omer and allow haircuts after Lag Ba'Omer, except for Aaron Sele, who keeps inventing different excuses for why he can't join the rest of his team.) We started several Car-los Go-mez chants in our section to celebrate his debut. If he would like further such chants when he appears at Shea Stadium he will have to either have a hall of fame career with us and return with another team or make an all-time great catch in Game 7 of the NLCS. Nothing else will do.
Monday: I have been complaining all year that there was a certain type of game that the Mets had won all the time last year but had been unable to pull out yet this year. They finally did it Monday night. The type of game in question is the one where the starter doesn't have it early and we fall behind and get bailed out by the offense. Glavine didn't end up getting 295, but it was good to see the offense finally get a starter off the hook when they didn't have their good stuff. Really solid win for the Mets, culminating in an amazingly disciplined, 10-pitch at bat that ended with Delgado drawing a bases loaded walk-off walk. Let's hope he can start to get things going.
Tuesday: Several times in my life I have been fortunate enough to sit in seats in field level behind the plate, several rows back, under the net. Every single one of those times, the Mets have gotten crushed. Last night was no exception. We sat in the Hagler seats, which are about 12 feet behind and 4 feet to the right of the home plate umpire. So we had a perfect view to watch John Maine and Scott Schoenweiss get drilled all night. My worry about Maine is that he was getting a lot of outs early in the year by getting batters to swing at pitches out of the zone and that the league has caught up to him and are now taking those pitches. As a result, he has been walking more batters the last few starts and falling behind in the count, forcing him to leave more pitches out over the plate that then end up bouncing against the wall. Let's hope he can find his stuff again and make the necessary adjustments going forward.
It looks like it's gonna rain tonight, so we could be looking at a doubleheader tomorrow. Stay tuned...

Monday, May 14, 2007

Back From The Road

The Mets went on the road last week. So did I. I went on a road trip with Kraut and Eric, visiting Atlanta, Birmingham, Tupelo, Memphis, St. Louis, and Kansas City. We attended games in Atlanta, St. Louis, and Kansas City. I know many of you probably went into serious avsmetsblog withdrawal over the last week or so, but rest assured that I am back and ready to continue sharing my thoughts with you going forward. I will start by giving you a brief recap of our trip and then get back to business.
So as an intro to the trip, it's important to know that in the week before, Eric and I decided that there was no need to check a bag. Kraut insisted he needed to. Well, we land in Atlanta and surprise, surprise, Kraut's bad didn't make it with our plane, so we had to wait an hour for the next flight, which had his bag. Dumbass. Turner Field has the most amazing scoreboard I have ever seen. It's huge, it's HD, it's awesome. Even though I was rooting against the Braves, I bought a foam tomahawk so that I could participate in the incessant tomahawk chops. This was part of a larger plan, whereby I bought one souvenir item in each state we visited. I also made sure to drink a beer and take a dump in every state that was fortunate enough to host us. One interesting thing I noticed about the fans in the stadium is that there were many people wearing Chipper Jones jerseys and quite a few wearing Jeff Franceour shirts but virtually nobody wearing anything Andruw Jones related, despite the fact that he is indisputably their best player and has been for quite a few years now. Perhaps it's because Chipper and Jeff belong to one race and Andruw belongs to another. Just throwing it out there. Otherwise, Atlanta was pretty unremarkable. We visited Centennial Park, which was built for the '96 Olympics, and MLK's house and grave, which was pretty cool, and CNN headquarters, where we were repeatedly lied to.
Our next stop was Talladega, home to the famous Talladega Speedway. Unfortunately, the Speedway itself was closed, so we were only able to take pictures from the outside. Overall, this stop on the trip was dangerous and inconvenient, but I do love Fig Newtons.
We proceeded to Birmingham, which didn't have much going on other than a park with a giant statue called "Vulcan" that you can climb to the top of and see the entire city from, which was pretty cool, except that you have to stand on a metal grate that you can see through the bottom of, so you think you're gonna die. We didn't though, which enabled us to continue to the next leg of our trip: Tupelo, Mississippi.
Tupelo is the birthplace of Elvis as well as the birthplace of "A lesson in Hashgacha Pratis," a hit video coming soon to a theater near you. Be on the lookout for it in the coming days. It is also home to a Civil War battlefield that is roughly the size of Danciger Quadrangle. Overall, Tupelo sucks. In the words of the woman in out hotel who gave us directions, "As you're driving through downtown, don't blink or you might miss it."
We arrived in Memphis that afternoon and went for a tour of Sun Studios, where many artists, including Elvis and Johnny Cash, recorded their 1st albums. The cool thing about this place was that it has been kept totally intact from those times, so you can actually stand exactly where Elvis stood and hold the microphone he used. While Kraut did some legitimate business work at a local Kinkos, Eric and I travelled across the Tennessee-Arkansas border to be yotzei another state. We visited a small town called Earle, Arkansas, which looks exactly how you would imagine every small town in America (not NY or LA- the shit in the middle) to look. We then returned to Memphis and visited Graceland, which was cool and creepy at the same time. I don't think I will ever get the Elvis thing. There is no doubt in my mind that Graceland is real avodah zara because the level of Elvis worship and glorification that exists there is absurd. We concluded our stay in Memphis by spending the night on Beale Street, which i absolutely loved. It runs like 4 blocks long and is closed off from traffic, Ben Yehuda style. The entire block is filled with bars, shops, and cafes, 8 or 9 of which had live bands playing on the Tuesday night we were there. Additionally, the FedEx Forum, where the Grizzlies play is on street level right off Beale, which probably makes it an awesome place to hang out here before or after a game.
We arrived in St. Louis that night in the pouring rain at an Econo Lodge that seemed like it was taken directly out of "Psycho." It was run down, the door to our room didn't close, and we got mysterious phone calls. In short, I am shocked we weren't murdered. This place didn't compare to any of the Comfort Inns (sorry Eric, Comforts Inn) that we stayed in, which were all very, very comfortable (cotton balls included.) St. Louis is a pretty uninteresting city. It has the Gateway Arch and it has a baseball stadium. That's pretty much it. You can see the Arch from the baseball stadium and you can see the baseball stadium from the Arch, so you can pretty much visit one and you're good to go. Busch Stadium is probably the nicest stadium I have attended a game in thus far. It's similar to Citizens Bank, just not as rigid and geometric and with a much better skyline view. It was also cool to be in a stadium that is sold out on a Thursday day game, but I guess that comes along with a new stadium and being the defending champs.
Our last stop was Kansas City, where we started by visiting the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri. It was actually quite interesting and surprisingly fair and balanced in their coverage of his presidency (for example, there was an entire exhibit devoted to historians to criticize his use of the bomb in Japan at the end of WWII.) We then went to the Royals-A's game at Kauffman Stadium, which was pretty nice and unique for an older stadium. The A's hit 6 homers and won 17-3. We somehow managed to grasp the life of a Royals fan by attending 1 game. God, what a miserable franchise. We went to visit the University of Kansas campus, to get credit for Kansas, but Kraut made us stop at the Garmin headquarters on the way because he thought this was funny for some reason. He owns one of their GPS units and is an investor in the company and somehow in his mind it would be funny to use the Garmin to visit Garmin or something like that. Kraut is a big idiot.
We flew back Friday morning, but this wasn't without adventure either. Our flight got delayed and they switched us to a flight in another terminal that was leaving shortly. When we got there, we were informed that Eric and I could go on this flight but Kraut couldn't because, you got it, there was no time to check a bag. Neis niglah right in front of our eyes.
Well, that was our trip. I hope you all enjoyed reading about it as much as we enjoyed going on it. There should be pictures on facebook with what I can only assume will be hilarious captions.
Hopefully, more later tonight or tomorrow, as we return to the Mets.
Season tally: 6 stadiums (Shea, Citizens Bank, RFK, Turner, Busch, Kauffman)

Friday, May 4, 2007

Easley Does It

I know my last post implied that you wouldn't be hearing from me again until I was on the road, but I simply had to write about last night's game. What can you say about Damien Easley. The guy has singlehandedly won 2 games for us and played a key role in winning a 3rd game that was very close to going the other way. Up until this point, it seemed like even though the Mets had been playing well, they lacked that intangible, magic quality that past teams, last year in specific, had displayed. One of the great thing about baseball, that raises it above all other sports, is that you can't run out the clock. You have to get that last out, and until you do, you haven't won. And the great teams emphasize that point to the opposition even more so. Until you get that 27th out, you haven't beaten us yet and we're gonna keep fighting until you do. And last night, the Mets looked like that team again.
I'm told that 100 miles from where I was, Feder predicted the Valverde blown save. Where I was, I predicted that David Wright would get a big hit in the 9th now that the Mets had already retaken the lead. And he did. It's good to see him swinging the bat better even if it's not in a meaningful spot. Baby steps.
I don't know what it is about that ballpark, but every time the Mets play there, they absolutely crush the DBacks. They have now won 11 in a row there, winning those games by a combined score of roughly 85-20. The Mets should look into petitioning the league for more games in Arizona. Screw divisional play; we haven't won a World Series in 20 years.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Wednesday Matinee

Yesterday, I got to witness the whiteboard phenomenon in person for the 1st time, and I liked what I saw. We scored 2 field level seats behind the plate and then 2 other random tickets. After we had gotten the fields, some guy walks by us and declares "This little experiment of yours isn't gonna work," so Amir flashes him the 2 tickets and asks, "Oh ya, where are you sitting today?" Ticketed!!
As for the game, Oliver Perez was masterful. I really think he has turned the corner and will be solid and consistent from here on out. Wait, this sounds familiar. It's a trap. Seriously though, other than that one start against the Phillies, he has been very good this year. If he continues, we might look back one day of Omar's trades of Kris Benson and Xavier Nady, in which we got Oliver Perez and John Maine as "throw ins" as among the best trades in recent team history.
On that note, congrats to Jose Reyes and John Maine for winning April player and pitcher of the month, respectively. May they continue their outstanding play and be rewarded with similar awards at the end of the season.
David Wright has started looking better at the plate. This is a good thing. However, he has continued to look awful in the field. This is a bad thing. I should do color commentary for Fox.
The Mets now go on the road, where they have fared excellently this year. I too will be going on the road. I will be flying to Atlanta on Sunday morning and driving across part of the country wth Kraut and Eric, attending games in Atlanta, St Louis, and Kansas City. I look forward to sharing my experiences in these foreign stadiums with you.