Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Baseball Feelings Recent Baseball Fiction Review: W. P. Kinsella's Butterfly Winter and Chad Harbach's The Art of Fielding

First on my postseason baseball reading list was W. P. Kinsella's Butterfly Winter. Perhaps you will recall Kinsella as the dude who wrote Shoeless Joe which then became Field of Dreams which seemed pretty amazing when you were twelve but then got kind of embarrassing for a couple decades but now seems pretty OK actually? Well he's back! This was the first thing he had published in forever and I was intrigued when he said in an interview that, "On a true baseball field the foul lines diverge forever, eventually taking in a good part of the universe," because frankly that seems like an excellent thing to say. And a couple of chapters in, I was really feeling this one; it was like, oh hey cool, it is another magic realist baseball novel from a dude who knows how to do this. Here we have a pitcher and a catcher from a made-up Caribbean nation who were not only born to play baseball but conceived to play baseball: they stared down shadowy ghostly batters in the womb. It is clear from infancy that this pitcher is uncommonly gifted, but he will only pitch to his brother, a philosophical but mediocre catcher who would be nowhere without his brother but his brother would be nowhere without him because he can't pitch to anyone else and so there you go.

Awesome, right? Well it is, for like a minute, but the novel is framed in this kind of shitty way by "The Gringo Journalist" who is trying to establish what is up with this mysterious figure known only as "The Wizard" who is a legit wizard apparently, and it gets awfully tiresome. Also it appears that W. P. Kinsella is not nuts about women. And things get all fantastical with such frequency that soon enough, you don't care that the butterflies cover bodies entwined in the act of sexing it and settle there for all a winter, or whatever. I finished it, because I am a scholar of the utmost seriousness and probably also renown, but Kinsella lost me for good when like a hundred and eighty pages in (or something), the obviously unreliable narrator says something like I am you see what is sometimes called an unreliable narrator and it is like oh dude come on unless I guess you really needed a topic for your second-year CanLit essay or whatever; in that one specific instance, you would be thrilled, and I should not diminish that. But yeah don't bother. 

In contrast to Kinsella's Butterfly Winter, which is bad and you shouldn't read, Chad Harbach's The Art of Fielding is basically the best and if you don't read it you will be dumb. In the early going, one understandably assumes that the central text around which the awesome and totally real characters in this novel are going to orbit is the fictional and titular (lol) Art of Fielding by the equally fictional Aparicio Rodriguez, the greatest shortstop to ever live: we get a number of short excerpts from that non-existent text, which seems to be written in the style of Goethe's Maxims and Reflections except that it is mostly about grounders. But before long you realize that the central text here is in fact Moby Dick, and not just in a singular-obsession-white-whale kind of way, although that is definitely there, but in a broader "here is what friendship is like or can be" way, like a prolonged meditation on Queequeg and Ishmael tucked into bed just being bros or something. Also there is totally a statue of Melville looking out over the water that everybody in the novel visits and the college they are at is totally in thrall to a brief visit Melville made there for a like a second and the baseball team is called the Harpooners, so it is not like I am putting on a dazzling hermeneutic display when I suggest to you that Melville matters here. (An aside: "Why couldn't it have been 'Harpooneers,' that would have been so much cooler," I would ask Chad Harbach if I had the chance, and he would be like, "I got a six-hundred thousand dollar advance for my first novel; it's probably OK with the one 'e'" and I would be like "why do you have to be like that Chad Harbach I totally liked your book.")

In addition to showing that Harbach has read everything you have read plus like two other things, making the breadth of his literary knowledge seem limitless,The Art of Fielding also manages to be pretty much the best thing you will read in that kind-of-genre that is the university novel. We all have our favourites! There is of course Lucky Jim. I am or at least was really partial to Robertson Davies' The Rebel Angels but I have this thing where I won't reread any of the Davies stuff because I have a suspicion that I might not actually like it that much if I were to look at it again so I am going to content myself with the slightly vague memory that all of those books own. But the Art of Fielding manages even to exceed my probably incorrect recollection of how awesome The Rebel Angels was on the topic of just, like, what a university (or "college" if that is your way) is like, which is a subject I enjoy an awful lot. What, for instance, is the interior life of a college president named "Guert" really like? Find out! Spoiler alert: you will be moved. 

Still on the topic of spoilers, briefly: do not under any circumstances read the "advance praise" blurbs on the back of the hardcover, because one of them totally, completely, absolutely blows the ending. It's not like it's a biggest deal, but the last ten pages or so manage to establish a certain amount of narrative tension again after you think pretty much everything is over and settled and you're good, and if you have read one particular blurb from the back, you would be completely free of that tension, which would be unfortunate. I always ditch the dust jacket whilst reading because they are floppy so I was OK but when I grabbed it to reassemble the whole package for stately display on my bookshelf as evidence to my guests who do not exist that I had in fact read the novel that everybody is right to not shut up about right now I could not help but notice that son of a gun, there is advance praise that totally blows the ending, what is the deal. 

So yeah, real quick: Butterfly Winter can totally be ignored; you're fine. The Art of Fielding, though, is the best American novel since the last time you were like "this is the best American novel since . . ." which probably means the last time you really liked a Michael Chabon or something? But really, honestly, in the most serious of ways, you should read The Art of Fielding, because it will be among the best things you will read about baseball or college or fellowship or, like, the soul or any number of other things that are also important. 


Monday, February 27, 2012

OK So Moneyball Did Not Win The Million Oscars It Deserved But At Least Lady Gaga Really Liked It

Lady Gaga is the best
I am sure that you will agree that Moneyball was robbed last night of its rightful and deserved glory, but that is not the most notable or important thing to have happened to Moneyball of late, because Lady Gaga wrote about it in her V magazine column. And it is insane. An excerpt:

I lay down on the airplane back from Japan, tossing around some dashi, fondling my pearls. I watched the movieMoneyball for the first time. I began to laugh and smile as [Brad] Pitt talked romantically about the game. I suddenly imagined that my pearls were teeny-tiny baseballs. When a player hits a home run, the baseball is flung into an abyss of enigma and screams so great. It travels so far that only rarely is one caught in the bleachers. Where do these balls go? Where do all these wins get encased? Are they in a heavenly baseball land floating around for players who pass to acknowledge? Or do they disappear?
By the end of the film, we discover the truth about winning from our hero. It only matters if you’ve changed the game. Being kicked in the teeth is par for the course for this kind of win, a win that not only pisses off the team you’ve beat, but every other team, their coaches, owners, and even some of the greatest baseball players of all time. You’ve made your own set of rules and gone so far on your own talent, no one can possibly crack the truth behind your wins. You were either lucky or were cheating. Nobody likes the game that they’ve won over and over again to change.
Pitt expresses this as the central objective to his life, as we see a flashback to an old Oaks game. Batter hits and runs, doing what he does normally, running past first to take second, but trips, falls, and scurries back to first. He’s so focused on the game, so focused on the team winning, head so down into the dirt of the stadium, he doesn’t even realize he’s got a home run. The crowd roars, and he’s not sure why.
In this moment I looked down at my pearls, and I saw all the teeny-tiny home runs I’d hit over the past year. I knew some of them were more perfect than others, but I knew only an eye trained in pearls would notice. The thing about music is you’re not in competition with anyone else. You’re in competition with the psychology of the industry as a whole. You’re in competition with you. You must delve deeper and deeper into your creativity, history, and modernity to change not just this moment, but every moment that came before it. How can I hit a home run that will make every player question every run that was ever scored? How can I round third to home plate and bewilder some of the greatest players of all time? How can I change the game, until 30 years goes by and someone changes it again?
Sometimes my face is buried so deep in the work I forget to look up. Sometimes I don’t even realize I’ve won, because the stadium is either cheering or screaming so loud it doesn’t even matter. So this season, in the spirit of the Super Bowl and all things sporty, wear your pearls. Wild, cultured, real, or fake, wear them proud. And look up, or rather down, at all of your home runs. (Unless you’ve made them into a crown with a glue gun.) Then look up! In fashion and in life we all deserve more pearls, please. A moment of revelation to remember that we are timeless, we all matter, and every win like this is as important as the next. When you are changing the way people think, your life achievements are working toward the greatest accessory of all time: nerve. So collect your tiny baseballs, string your pearls, and remember that you are as timeless as the pearls on your neck. And if you forgot to be a lady and wear them, then shame on you.

The rest is here. You should probably read it.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Presented Without Comment

““I didn’t think he’d be that dumb about cutting hamburgers apart. I guess he proved me wrong.””

- Madison Bumgarner on Jeremy Affeldt and “the stabbing”

A Quick Dash Around Mets Training Camp

Ah spring training.  A magical place where all championships seem attainable, every player is in the best shape of their lives and left-handed pitchers earning a skillion dollars despite not having thrown a pitch in like eight years are closely examined with every bullpen session.  

It's been a long, tough winter for Mets fans, what with Jose Reyes running away to join Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus, the biggest acquisitions being a bunch of bullpen guys, and Jeff and Fred doing their best to run this whole thing into the ground, but there are a number of stories emerging from Port St. Lucie that suggest that this whole situation isn't as dire as it looks and that the Mets could actually surprise this season.  Let's take a look!
Oh what in hell's name?  

Ok, so there's not a lot to suggest that this year will be much different from recent ones.  The prognosticators seem to be split into two factions, one spewing doom and gloom about the drastic payroll cutbacks, David Wright's looming option status for the 2013 season, Santana's glass elbow and Reyes' departure.  Others are saying that with a full year from Ike Davis, a boost to Wright and Jason Bay's production after management went from All Star to Pro for them, and R.A. Dickey being both emotionally and physically invigorated after climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, the Mets might be better than people think.  

I like the bullpen help, since Terry Collins seemed to sap his relief staff for a week during every Mike Pelfrey start, and getting top line starters on the open market are almost impossible, but I'm really hoping that Wheeler, Harvey and Mejia eventually live up to their expectations and come into their own as a dominant staff so we can stop worrying about whether or not Dillon Gee or Niese (Nose) are the answer.  

Speaking of Niese, is there no end to Carlos Beltran's benevolence?  First he is used to obtain Wheeler, and then he immediately ensures that no Mets fan will ever second guess the deal by reverting back to 2005 form.  Now he's going to pay for a nose job for some second-rate pitcher on a team he probably hated.  He is truly a scholar and a gentleman.  

One more note on Ike Davis.  There are a number of people giving him sleeper status, saying that this year could be one of those where he makes huge strides, all that kinds of stuff.  While that would be super STOP IT EVERYONE.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The San Francisco Giants And Their Underwhelming Offseason

The above picture shows Brandon Crawford, the man who is likely (I don't want to use the word "destined" as that implies a level of expectation or import that would be woefully inappropriate to bestow on the poor lad) to become the starting and/or everyday shortstop for the 2012 San Francisco Giants. Although I like Brandon Crawford quite a bit in general and adore his glove in particular, this seemingly-inevitable roster solidification pretty much encapsulates what has been an underwhelming offseason for the Giants.

I don't know how much time I'll be able to devote to writing about the Giants for Baseball Feelings in the coming season, for all six of you who read this blog (seven for the non-staffer who stumbled upon this post while googling "rubber glove fetish." Sorry to trick you), so while I had a few spare minutes, I thought I would put up my baseball feelings regarding the Giants moves that I should have posted a few weeks ago, probably.

The Giants started the offseason by giving a million billion dollars to Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez, who I like just fine (particularly Lopez), but not that just fine. Still, a bullpen is important and this ensures that nearly the entire pitching staff will be returning for this year. I say "nearly" because the Giants then traded Jonathan Sanchez (he of the, shall we say, "frustrating inconsistencies") in order to acquire Melky Cabrera, who had a career year last year with the Royals, but let us be frank, is still Melky Cabrera. The next move was to trade away Andres Torres (one of my favorite players) to the Mets in order to acquire Angel Pagan, who I actually like just fine and shows a lot of promise, but is basically Andres Torres minus the ADD, but plus some pooping issues.

The Giants did not sign Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins, or Carlos Beltran, as we feared they would not. In their defense, they also did not sign Orlando Cabrera, instead opting for Brandon Crawford, who is a human with functioning legs and the ability to manipulate his hand in such a way as to close a glove around a baseball. This is a big upgrade. Also welcome is the decision to release Jeff "I'm Running As Fast As I Can, You Guys!" Keppinger and instead retain Mike "No. 3 Hitter" Fontenot -- who is about as endearing a tiny baseball player this side of Jose Altuve -- as a backup infielder. The Giants also picked up Ryan Theriot as a utility infielder, who seems destined to be one of those patented acquisitions in the mold of the Steve Finley-esque "guy who always seems to have clutch hits against the Giants but then becomes a Giant and does largely nothing."

That's the extent of what the Giants picked up. As far as what else they lost, they opted to not extend offers to Beltran or Cody Ross, who will likely someday have a statue at AT&T park where he's high-kneeing while Roy Halladay stares at the left-field fence. (I truly would weep with joy were such a statue ever to be commissioned.)

So the starting rotation will be Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner, Vogelsong and, for better or worse, Barry Zito. That is fine. That will be fine. The issue is not the pitching. The issue has never been the pitching. The issue is whether this team will score any runs. If statistics mean anything (and all my nerdy friends say that they do), it would be nearly impossible for the Giants to not score more runs than they did last season. So that is something.

Here are the storylines for 2012:

- Injuries. Posey is coming back from -- you know -- the incident and who knows how much he will be affected by all that business. You would think the Giants would split the difference between 2010's All-Healthy squad and 2011's "All-New, All-Injured" horror show, but in the first week of pitchers and catchers reporting, Vogelsong and Lincecum have already experienced back problems and Brian Wilson's elbow is still in question. That's not even mentioning the returning Freddy Sanchez. If Sanchez can't bounce back from both of his arms falling off, the backup options are Theriot, Fontenot and Emmannuel Burriss. We are all holding our breath over here, let me just tell you.

- Positional scuffles. Chris Stewart, Hector Sanchez and Eli Whiteside will be duking it out all spring (and likely, beyond) for rights to spell Posey every five days at catcher. I'm hoping either Stewart wins outright or Sanchez slugs a bazillion dingers and we laugh all the way to the bank (the bank in this case being "not one-run losses to Clayton Kershaw"). But the biggest positional kerfuffle of all involves, of course,

- Brandon Belt. This poor kid can't catch a single break. After his treatment last year, you'd think he'd be ready to be an everyday player this year, but no. The outfield looks like it's pretty set with Cabrera, Pagan and Schierholtz, and Bochy and Sabean are pretty adamant that the starting first baseman job is Aubrey Huff's to lose. Considering that Huff wasn't able to lose said job after batting .013 last year with 1,342 double-plays, that doesn't seem likely. You should also be aware that Bochy seemed to further sour on Belt when Bret Pill came up and hit an RBI. Those things win ball games, you know. So Belt is fighting four guys for one of two positions. Doesn't look good, but maybe the team will score so many runs that I won't notice Belt got optioned to the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in May.

- Pablo Sandoval. Fat, thin, or Yokozuna-level super-fat, just please keep hitting, Panda. Please please please.

Friday, February 17, 2012


EDIT - Now that I have a little more time than I did when I put the above together, (my wife and I lost the internet in the hotel room where we've been sequestered for the past two+ weeks for a 48-hour period which doesn't SEEM like that long a time until you figure out that we're basically living on the actual set of Coal Miner's Daughter where a "big night out" is driving our Kia across the four-lane "highway" that separates our hotel from the Walmart to get another plastic bag full of canned chili and premade salads) I can flesh out my thoughts about Gary Carter.  

Sadly, I can't write about a personal moment that I shared with him, as Bill so eloquently did, since I was only three years old when the top photo was taken, but every time I walked into Shea, (and now into Citi) the image, on an enormous banner, served as a reminder of happier times for this dumb, stupid franchise.  

Yeah, I'm angry, but it's only because most of the emotion that I felt from Carter's passing WAS anger at the way that management has, as usual, handled things in such a reactionary, tone deaf, completely clueless fashion.  

News about Carter's brain cancer broke during May of last season, and when it did, there was a large amount of debate as to whether or not the Mets should retire Carter's number immediately, so that he would have a chance to enjoy the experience.  Some people who disagreed argued that it could be seen as morbid, an insulting knee jerk reaction to the illness.  Personally, I thought it was more insulting that his number wasn't retired the second he went into the Hall of Fame, but what the hell do I know.  

Anyway, now the Mets are scrambling to find a way to honor Carter, and if his number IS retired, boy how dumb are they going to look, but we're used to that by now, aren't we.  This is a team that took OVER A YEAR to decide "Hey, we have this nice snazzy new park here, and a nifty TWO STORY ROOM in it dedicated to a team that now plays 3000 miles away, maybe we ought to paint the walls in the team colors and put some crap with our logo on it around." 

However, they still haven't gotten the hint that despite the fact that their team colors sport one of the most garish oranges in history - just the sort of color you might want to clothe people you wish to stand out in a crowd in - that maybe they shouldn't dress ushers, security personnel and other important team officials IN THE PRIMARY COLOR OF THEIR HATED RIVAL.  
"Durrrrr Ruben Tejada?  Is that that new Taco Bell Sandwich?"

I promise that at some point I will begin writing about the on-the-field exploits of the New York Mets, but I feel that with a more varied audience than typical pieces about the Mets garner, that I need to point out the fact that, yes, these rich idiots are so stupid and cherish your owners everyone and SEND HELP WE ARE BEING HELD CAPTIVE BY TERRIBLE PEOPLE.  


"And then I just let it go and it is like *fwooosh* smoke."
I thought nobody was going to show up until Tuesday! That's when Blue Jays pitchers -- and thus, understandably, catchers -- are supposed to "report" to Spring Training, "report" being the paramilitary verb that we have agreed to use to describe that act in which heavyset dudes with mustaches show up in Florida (or I guess Arizona for other, lesser organizations) and try to shake the shit off their arms before embarking on an arduous season of sitting with their feet up behind the left field fence drinking coffee and eating sunflower seeds and just generally fucking around out there. But a bunch of guys showed up early! So now baseball! And I love it. I could not possibly love it more than I do. It is maximally loved by me. Baseball is back. Eat shit, winter; you have been a dick. 

And you know what, this year could be pretty alright! As you will no doubt recall, the Blue Jays finished 81-81 last year, putting them very near the .500 mark on the season. The chief glory of the precisely .500 team is that you can totally you can totally you can totally remember ten games that they could easily have won last year, ten games that it is in fact completely ludicrous that they somehow managed to lose. It is therefore both perfectly obvious and obviously wrong to think that with even minimal improvement, a ninety-win season is just around the corner, and this is what I have chosen to believe. 

Hey, did you see or hear about the ESPN Insider thing that they called "Future Power Rankings" or something, where they had some guys rate every MLB team in a number of categories so as to say where they saw all of these teams in five years' time? The good news is that the Blue Jays were sixth in all of baseball; the bad news is that Tampa Bay, New York, and Boston were all ranked ahead of them. But whatever, man, whatever. I am less concerned with the 2017 season than the imminent 2012 "campaign" in which the Blue Jays are winning ninety. 

If I may however be somewhat sober for a moment: this is perhaps unfair of me, given that The Dear/Great Leader Alex Anthopolous actually managed to pull off the best trade of the offseason for the second consecutive year (more on that in a moment), but it's hard to say that this winter was anything but disappointing just because of the whole Yu Darvish thing. I mean, I have no real expectation that he's going to be the first Japanese starter to really be as awesome as he looks, nor do I think the Blue Jays really should have been willing to spend the kind of dollars it took Texas to seal the deal, but it would have been so cool and exciting, man, it would have been the best. Also even if Darvish only turns out to be kind of OK, that would still go an awful long way in this rotation, because who knows what we've got, exactly? There can be no question as to Ricky Romero's status as a boss (that being: he is one), but after that, things get iffy in a hurry: Brandon Morrow consistently underperforms like all of his peripherals to such an extent that one begins to doubt the reliability of certain modern nerd metrics; Brett Cecil might just be straight-up horrible; Henderson Alvarez impressed but one must be cautious; Dustin McGowan's arm is barely attached and so, again, caution; and Kyle Drabek is thus far a baffling ordeal of a guy. 

But how about that bullpen! The Sergio Santos trade was awesome, just awesome: AA gave up nothing of substance for a good, young reliever who has closed and not freaked out about it and who is "controllable" in the sense that he is not free to meaningfully negotiate the terms of his employment owing to the economic structure of professional baseball and also he has no access to the means of production so the ninth should be covered no problem. Darren Oliver is a smart pickup, and those few months without Jason Frasor were a dark era I never wish to see again, so it's cool that he's back. I am good with Carlos Villanueva and Casey Janssen and I am not about to start trouble about Jesse Litsch necessarily so what you've got here is a bullpen that has all of a sudden gone from being a hideous, untenable shit show to a strength! Bullpens are supposed to be easy to fix, but this looked really easy. Good job Alex Anthopolous!

An infield of Adam Lind (who can't possibly be that bad again, can he? I am going to assume "no") at first, Kelly Johnson at second (he is way better than you think relative to league average second base production, which sucks tremendously these days), Yunel Escobar at short (.369 OBP!), and Brett Lawrie (a douche, yes, but our douche) at third is going to be plenty interesting, especially since Brett Lawrie is probably going to be Mike Schmidt, basically. I am a strong proponent of E5 "Edwin" Encarnacion at DH, and if you look at last season, he was totally OK except for the part of the year where he was, according to the advanced metrics, maybe the worst player ever. 

And what about the outfield, you ask? That is reasonable of you. Well, I am not over the moon at the idea of Eric Thames being our everyday guy in left if that is what happens but maybe there's a trade out there or something. I have every expectation that Colby Rasmus is going to be fine, and in fact probably even better than fine. Also if it is cool with you I am going to just go ahead and pencil Jose Bautista in for another 1.000 OPS year of being the baddest motherfucker on the planet and project the haters to suck it. 

In short, I am surprised and delighted at just how surprised and delighted I am that there are Toronto Blue Jays grab-assing around Dunedin, Florida right now, several full days before I thought they were going to begin even the most preliminary grab-assing. Internet propers for this thrilling revelation go out to the Blue Jay Hunter Tumblr, which I totally would not know about were it not for the indispensable Drunk Jays Fans, finest of all team-specific blogs in my estimation. Oh yeah finally: Fangraphs Audio was really good today, as baseball writer and stay-at-home dad Dayn Perry (*strange background noise* "don't do that, bud" *further noise*) joined published poet and renowned hipster Carson Harrington Cistulli and together they established that irony began in the early nineties, which is not what my own calculations suggest, but which is worth considering. 

Hey why not close by posting other pictures from Spring Training BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT IS GOING ON IT IS SPRING TRAINING CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE IT


Adam Lind (centre) is chubby.
Balk, imo.
Please don't suck Kyle Drabek come on man.
I like Ricky Romero even more than John Farrell does in this picture.
Brett Lawrie, who is probably a dick but who is awesome so you don't really mind, and Adam Lind, who is kind of awful but who seems nice so you don't really mind.
Rajai Davis, as seen through Scott Richmond's crotch.

Peace Out, Gary Carter

Thanks to Find the Swagger for the image.

Gary Carter is involved in one of my most vivid live baseball memories. I had just gotten into the whole "Beckett Baseball Card Monthly" thing and had learned about how players will sign autographs before games, during batting practice. We had tickets to a Mets vs. Giants game at Candlestick Park, so I rounded up some baseball cards of Mets and Giants players and a couple of baseballs. (It would take me a few years to realize that people generally went with brand-new baseballs for autographs, not ones that were well-played with, scuffed, and grass-stained.)

We got there during Mets batting practice and I scrambled down to the dugout. Gregg Jeffries was signing autographs, and he was the new hotness because he was a "Rated Rookie" and his card was worth serious bucks so everyone clamored around him. He signed a few autographs and departed, with many people (including me, I'm sure) looking disappointed. Who should step to the wall next but Gary Carter, wearing his signature flapless Mets helmet. The dude was a catcher, after all. The throng was less intense for him, but I knew he was a great catcher, one of the best in the majors (because my baseball cards said so). I didn't have a Carter card with me, so I handed out my scuffed ball and a ballpoint pen. He signed it and handed it back. I said thank you. I walked back to my dad, trying to play it off like it was no big D. But it was. It was my first autograph from a baseball player. I got one of those cheap plastic ball display cases for it, the one where the ball part always topples over if you nudge it. I put my ticket stub from the game in with the ball and it stayed on one of my shelves for a decade or so.

A few years after that autograph was signed, Carter actually came to the Giants and immediately became one of my favorite players. Because of our bond, you see. When he was elected to the Hall of Fame, I felt more pride than I probably should have. But how can you not love Gary Carter, even if you never had him sign your baseball before a Giants game?

I'm actually not sure whether I still have the baseball somewhere. I hope I do. Even though I sold a lot of that sort of stuff a few years ago, it's likely I held onto that. To this day, it remains the only autograph I've ever gotten at a baseball game. Everyone should be so lucky.

- Bill

Friday, February 10, 2012

I Worry the Mets Might be Sending Mixed Messages

Anyone heard these Mets are broke rumors, have you heard about this?

With spring training just nine days away and preseason expectations at their lowest point since that one year everyone thought the Mets were getting Juan Gonzalez and they didn't (lol), there has been a lot of talk in the Mets blogosphere about the reasons why this team could suck on ice.  Naturally, everything circles back to the fact that the Wilpons are a bunch of clowns who would probably be taken in by any scam artist with even the most half-baked of nefarious ideas.  
Ladies and gentlemen, the new part owners of the New York Mets!

I've never heard of GOOD NEWS coming in the form of "Hey guys, we might only owe $83 million dollars because we did business with a sketchy businessman and definitely knew about/were so stupid that we were taken in by his glorified pyramid scheme.  At least it's not like $800 million, right guys?"  Nevertheless, that's where the Mets stand as the court ruling that stated they owed less than $100 million was portrayed in the papers as a major victory for the franchise.   Never mind the fact that the team reported a $70 million+ loss last season, needed a $40 million bridge loan from Bank of America to keep the lights on, had the greatest payroll drop from one season to the next in MLB history and was basically begging for people to shell out $20 million apiece for part-ownership stakes.  

This week, a story got around the Mets blogosphere saying that Lo Hud Mets Blog editor Howard Megdal had been informed by Mets brass that his access to the Mets clubhouse was being revoked.  When asked why, the reason he received from the Mets PR department was that the club "didn't like his reporting."  The issues seemed to stem from the publication of Megdal's book "Wilpon's Folly" which detailed the financial and legal issues stemming from the Wilpons' association with Bernie Madoff.  

That's why Alderson's Twitter account (which he opened yesterday) really made me mad.  In the same week that a blogger was barred from the clubhouse for detailing a situation that has crippled the team for the foreseeable future, no less than THE TEAM'S GENERAL MANAGER shows up on Twitter writing late night talk show jokes about that very situation.  

Alderson's job; rebuilding a team that just lost its best player, restocking a oft overlooked farm system, and trying to energize a fan base that has suffered five-plus years of figurative nut punching is unenviable, and nobody ever said that he couldn't have any fun with it.  As always seems to happen with the Mets though, the timing is awful and it portrays a certain level of tone deafness.  I know that nobody hits my little brother but me, but taking him out and pushing him off a cliff is a bit too far.  

lol no