May 2008

One of the best nights at Shea ever!

Picture 007-1.jpgVery little could have made last night’s game vs. the Dodgers more fun. Let’s start with this: Gary Cohen’s wife rocks so hard (although from now on we’ll just call her Lynn!). All Mets fans should know how great she is, and they will, because Lynn and Gary filmed a segment for Mets Weekly yesterday–air date TBD–to help promote Lynn’s awesome t-shirts for charity. Hopefully  the camera captured her warm, funny, and utterly exuberant personality! She’s a joy to watch the game with, and boy did we have a blast.

Picture 003dl.jpgLynn invited me and the always insightful Dana Brand to dinner at the Diamond Club–my first time at the delicious buffet and not just the big ole bar :-)–overlooking batting practice. It’s possible I indulged in both cheesecake and key lime pie for dessert, although I didn’t mean to eat them both. Entirely. Friggin’ awesome desserts.

Picture 014lc.jpgThen I saw our seats: Oh, what lovely seats. Third row loge box directly behind home plate. I don’t usually get to watch the games directly behind home, and yes, now I see the attraction. PLUS it was definitely a game worth watching! What a joy to see our team playing like we expect them to. A stellar game for double-dingerer David Wright, not to mention some stress-free relief pitching. How ’bout that Schoeneweis this season? I confess I was surprised to see him batting with 2 outs and a man on first, but as long as the game stayed pretty, it was hard to complain. Maintaining a lead all game even when the opposing team makes a move to battle back, and then tacking on some insurance runs in late innings? What’s not to enjoy. And kudos to Vargas for continuing to pitch like we need him to.

Picture 047.jpgThe late innings for our little group were spent in the SNY suite at Shea–a spiffy place to indulge in…erm…more desserts and listen to the Gary, Keith, Ron broadcast while watching the game in person. I thought the bright blue and orange napkins everywhere were a charming touch.

Finally, already giddy with victory and way too much sugar, I couldn’t have been more excited when Lynn arranged for us to pay a brief but thrilling visit to the SNY broadcasting booth. On hand were Gary, Keith, and Ron, all smiles even after their tough night of work. Keith had to hurry along, but he was gracious enough to pose for a pic with me and Gary. I heart that pic, and I will treasure it forever (like I do my pic from spring training with Ron Darling, Matt Yallof, and Coop!). Gary couldn’t have been more friendly and endearing–what a great guy we have in him. On his way out of Shea, he talks with the fans every night. And he continues to prepare for every game the same way he did when he started out 20 years ago. He truly cares about giving us the best broadcast possible, and I hope he knows how much we appreciate him for it. Ronnie couldn’t stay long, but I was flattered that he remembered meeting me at spring training and didn’t even need to be introduced!

Picture 059.jpgJust to avoid any possible conflict with SNY permissions or the like, I’ll keep my pics from the booth private. But here’s one from just outside the booth, along one of the hidden tunnels behind the scenes at Shea.

Picture 022.jpgMeanwhile, if you haven’t yet bought your Lynn Cohen-designed t-shirt, Garykeithandron.com is featuring a Father’s Day 15% off discount through June 15. Just use the coupon code “yodaddy” for all merchandise. Cow-Bell Man loves his tee and can’t wait to get more!

Here are a few more pics from the SNY suite on our all-around special day  :-)

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No win for the Movies

Picture 004y.jpgNo one can deny that last night’s game vs. the Braves held some painful moments for all Mets fans watching. But for a large group of us, we were seated in cushy chairs, eating nachos, drinking beer (or, in my case, wine–I know, I know), and pocketing our surplus giveaway items.

Those of us who’d been there last year admit we enjoyed the Ziegfeld more than the Chelsea Clearview–the scale was larger, the fans rowdier, and the atmosphere more Shea-like, with vendors in the aisles rather than outside the theater. Plus, the proximity to the SNY studios meant that we had guests like Matt Yallof, Lee Mazzilli, and even Bud Harrelson to entertain us. But still, this year some fun moments eased the gloom of another gutting loss.

Picture 003_1y.jpgThe good:

  • The company. I was joined in my row by Regis of Metsblog and Mets Heads and his fiancee Mary, Dykstraw and his girlfriend Nicole, and the Coop!
  • Mr. Met! He gamely posed with fans, helped the Pepsi Party Patrol toss out t-shirts, and acted as overall morale-booster.
  • Thumbnail image for kids tee.jpgGiveaways: Pink Mother’s Day cap, rally towel, and–to my joy–the kids t-shirt I’d wanted so badly commemorating Shea Stadium.

  • Cooperative event planners: When I asked if they could put the pre-game show on the big screen like they did last year, the folks in charge of the event did so within minutes. However, Dykstraw then blamed me for making him watch Willie Randolph being interviewed larger than life. Oops. (Unfortunately, Metsblog Matty got bumped–so there was no giant Cerrone mug shot to capture.)
  • Picture 026.jpgShea announcer Alex Anthony. Hearing the voice of Shea really makes this event. Alex Anthony asked trivia questions between innings and gave away prizes including game tickets, Jose Reyes figurines, and a 1986 World Series DVD.
  • The Pepsi Party Patrol: I think there were more of them last year, but the PPP did its best to toss out t-shirts to as many viewers as possible.

The not-so-good

Oy, our team. I still think each individual player is letting the pressure get to him, and I still recommend that that the front office hire the clubhouse its own Dr. Melfi.

I stand by Big Pelf, and I think he’s still making progress, but yes, last night’s outing was a step back. I found myself wondering who our long man would be with Sosa gone–not that I’m aching for his return. Are they testing Feliciano in the role? Is Joe Smith too valuable later in the game to see if he could be an earlier multi-inning guy? Will Matt Wise stop pulling a Heilman and giving up the long ball?

Or will anyone even talk at all about the pitching and bullpen with all this “Fire Willie” or “Quiet Willie” or “It’s Willie’s fault” hullabaloo going on at every moment? I haven’t been a Willie-hater, but I can’t pretend to have enjoyed his recent descent into even more defensiveness than usual. I don’t relish the distraction from the actual baseball. I’m sure the team can’t either. As Regis said of the whole situation, regarding us fans, “Morale is low.”

But in true Pick Me Up Some Mets fashion, I’m working on pulling some fun out of an otherwise dreary series. Stay tuned for a game to help the Metsies find their bats…

And in the meantime, here are some more snaps of the Movies event at the Chelsea Clearview Cinemas

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Movies = bats?

Hope so!

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I’ll be going to the Mets at the Movies event at the Chelsea Clearview tonight with Coop, and there will be lots of bloggerati there too–so expect fun pics!
 
Thumbnail image for gkrtshirt2.pngIf you’re there, say hi. I’ll be wearing my garykeithandron.com t-shirt. Although the one I have now is a size too large, the lovely Lynn Cohen is sending me a smaller one to wear in the future! Love.

If this year’s event is anything like last years, it’ll be a lot of fun. ALSO they’ll likely show the pre-show on the big screen. Now, Wednesday is Matty’s Metsblog minute (or whatever they call it), so there he’ll be, larger than life.

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You know what that means, right? Matt Cerrone and his cinematic hero Indiana Jones will both be on movie screens this May.

He’s one step closer to Indiana Matt.

Now let’s just get our Metsies one step closer to the NL East title, okay boys!?

Don’t discount the Pelfrey thing

It’s very easy after losing a 4-game series against the Nationals to overlook the good stuff. Very easy. Who isn’t frustrated, especially with the offense? Dudes, score some runs.

pelf.jpgBut keep in mind how huge it is that Mike Pelfrey may have turned a corner–and that was one big, hulking corner. Has he figured certain things out?

1) He ditched the Evil Mouth Guard. Pelfrey is once more pitching with tongue. Should we call it French pitching? Whatever the guard was doing–whether it was tipping pitches, distracting Pelf, reaching out from his teeth to alter the course of the ball–evidence shows that Mike Pelfrey pitches better without the mouth guard. Please let it be retired forevermore.

2) He wasn’t trying to “do too much.” Pelfrey admitted that for his past two starts–the improved ones–he was feeling under the weather. This meant he wasn’t over-pitching, he wasn’t over-thinking, he wasn’t trying too hard. He was just trying to get through. Moral of the story: Either we need to figure out the magic key to getting Pelfrey out of his own head so he can just throw the ball, or we need to figure out how to keep small strains of viruses around him at all times.

Now the team heads uptown, and I head into Yanks fan territory. My closest friend from college gets married tomorrow–to a die-hard Yankees fan (though a nice one). With tons of Yankee fan friends. With whom I’m spending tonight and most of tomorrow. METS: Please do not subject me to hours of baseball-related taunting. If nothing else, just play hard. For goodness sake, just play hard.

Keith moment…

I was at Shea last night, somewhat moaning in despair at the game and making up songs about Aaron Heilman that I’ll refrain from repeating here.

But I always DVR the games just in case there’s something juicy to learn from the SNY commentators.

danskin_01.jpgLast night? Keith happily related that in cold weather, he used to wear ladies’ Danskin tights under his uniform–for size 5’10” and larger–that went down even to his feet. (A tip he learned from Barry Bonds’ father Bobby Bonds.) A charming uni tidbit from our favorite Metrosexual.

Of course, with those uniforms back in the 80s, ladies’ tights were about all you could squeeze under them.

Keith went on to tell the story that Ted Simmons of the old Cardinals team used to forgo underwear altogether under his polyester uniform–which apparently was somewhat see-through–and fans in the box seats sent in tons of letters demanding he wear some shorts to “cover it up.” Gary Cohen’s response: “That may be a little too much information.”

You know what’s too much information? When Keith then asked Gary, “Did you ever wear a cup?” and Gary responded, “Yes. But not in the booth.”

Well isn’t that special?

church lady.jpgHere’s my current Mets-related goal: Let’s make Ryan Church an All-Star. Go vote at MLB.com!

Last night’s win against the Nationals was another Church banquet: a 4 RBI night for our Ryan against his former team. Even if his production drops off as the season progresses, he’s out-performed every expectation and even saved Omar Minaya from some (some!) of the boo-birds. Not too shabby.

Our buddy Dykstraw wants to round up a group of us bloggerati to represent in the bleachers section wearing old lady wigs and retro glasses as the “Church ladies.” The goal of the gathering? To urge people to vote for Ryan Church, our All-Star. Will it actually happen? Who knows. Still, go vote!

On a completely different note, if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I have in the past enjoyed Gary Cohen’s wife, Lynn’s, foray into t-shirt production. Gary, 1883, hair. Nuff said.

But now Lynn, Gary, Keith, and Ron have directed their impressive t-shirt prowess toward even loftier goals than celebrating Gary Cohen’s birthday with the creation of garykeithandron.com to “Pitch in for a good cause.”

Available for purchase are four t-shirts, featuring designs that celebrate every awesome Gary Keith Ron moment, from “It’s Outta here!” to Ronnie’s pitching renown to Keith’s mustache, tootsie pop, #17, and–yes–even the Crocs! It’s too cool to bear, and a t-shirt can be yours for $20.99-$22.99, with the proceeds going to the sportscasters’ favorite local charities.

Almost just as cool, Garykeithandron.com aims to be “interactive with fans being able to submit their favorite Gary, Keith, and Ron stories, as well as photos of people wearing thee tee shirts.” I mean, that’s just fun.

Kudos to Lynn Cohen for spearheading this worthwhile endeavor with such humor, creativity, and affection. Just goes to show you, behind every great woman is a man in an SNY booth :-)

Here are the tees!
Right now they’re only listed on the site in sizes Large and XLarge, but women’s Small and men’s XXLarge are currently available by request (just make a note in your order) and will be listed on the site soon!

My t-shirt should be coming soon, and I am psyched :-) Can you guess which one of the 4 I ordered?

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Paging Dr. Melfi

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Last night for the 2nd game of the doubleheader, I was joined at the ball park by CrazyMetGirl (with a guest appearance by Coop), and we got to talking about what seemed wrong with the team that game.

Because something was definitely wrong.

By the end of the 9 innings, we couldn’t believe that our team had gotten only 4 hits and 1 run, and made 2 errors. Against Bronson Arroyo. And the Reds. This whole series should be a gimme.

No, no, it’s not that oft-discussed “time to panic.” But perhaps it is time to pull a Tony Soprano and hire the team its own Dr. Jennifer Melfi. Because watching our boys on that field toward the end of the game–as the Reds’ lead grew, as the Mets’ job grew harder–they just kind of seemed to…give up.

“It’s in their heads,” I told CrazyMetGirl. “The pressure has gotten to them.” You can see this in the games where the Mets start off behind. I’m not sure what the numbers are for come-from-behind wins in 2008, but I don’t think they’ll look too good. Especially against the weaker teams, when they know they should be winning easily. What seems to happen is that each individual (with the exception of a few, yes) seems to put the burden of getting the win on his own shoulders. Rather than act as a team–or pick each other up–they each seem to be letting the pressure mess them up individually. And then, at a certain point, they lose focus and give up before the game is over–last night it was around the 8th inning. How can you even hope to come back from behind then?

What pressure am I talking about? Well, it builds with every loss. There’s 1) The Collapse. No need to elaborate. 2) Playing around .500. If you take that literally, that’s not winning. It’s pretty much breaking even–which everyone reminds the Mets all the time is not what they’re supposed to do. 3) The booing. By which I mean the fan expectations. As heard by the team every game at Shea. 4) The talking about the booing. Newspapers. TV. Blogs–all the coverage of the fan unrest gives it that much more weight. The team knows they’ll have to answer questions about it every friggin’ day. 5) The “Fire Willie” bomb about to drop at any moment. Can it help the boys to know their manager’s job is in their hands with every at bat or defensive play?

Think about ’06. At the beginning of that season, no one was saying the Mets had to make the playoffs or else. Willie’s job was certainly not on the line. After sucking for a few years, there was just so much less pressure to win. And so they did.

Now, I’m not saying all these levels of pressure should go away. It would be nice if some of it could, yes, for the team to be able to play at their optimal abilities. But in NYC, there will always be some pressure to win, period. The question is, how can the team better deal with it? Or how can they deal with it together instead of imploding individually?

In the short term, the answer seems to be to score as many runs as possible in the earliest innings to mitigate some of the immediate stress. But what’s the long term answer? Could it be team therapy?

Hey, my dad’s a shrink. Mets, want to hire Zoe’s daddy?

And speaking of Zoe’s parents, happy Mother’s Day to my mom and all moms everywhere :-)

Here are some pics from last night’s game including a mom herself, CrazyMetGirl. I like the one of her and Coop dancing to the 8th inning sing-along “I’m a Believer.”

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Odds?

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I’ve got tickets for the game tonight, but what do we think are the chances it’s going to happen?

NY 1 says the rain will “taper off” this evening.

But will the outfield be too soggy no matter what?

My hero!

Just when I think I can’t appreciate John Maine more…

We get SUPERMAINE!

supermaine.jpgToday, the offense came straight from the Mets League of Justice.
Not only did the bats came alive (including Luis Castillo, whom–I confess–I had started calling Luis Castillohno), but–joy!–our boys came through with actual runners in actual scoring position. Indeed, it was a day of all-around crisp, pretty baseball.

And John friggin’ Maine, you gave us what we needed so badly. Not only innings, but great, efficient innings, putting those Dodgers in their place. Getting out of trouble in the rare moments you found it (until the 9th, but that’s a huge “so what”). The stuff of superstars.

I would pat your back, John Maine, but all I’d feel is that sweet, sweet superhero cape.

Oliver Perez 1 year later

Almost exactly a year ago, on May 7, 2007, Oliver Perez was about to battle the Giants and Barry Zito (remember when he was a starting pitcher?). I asked: Which Ollie would we see, Strike Out Ollie or Walk Ollie? 

What does it say that a year later, that same question has come to define Oliver Perez’s character as a pitcher? By now, shouldn’t we know which Perez we’re going to get? Or, perhaps more importantly, when Walk Ollie rears his ugly head, shouldn’t Strike Out Ollie be able to put up some kind of fight?

We haven’t seen much “perfect” starting pitching this year so far. Even Johan Santana has had some rocky early innings. But the difference between Johan and Ollie has been that Johan can refocus, rely on a consistent motion, and get himself out of trouble. John Maine has become our pitching poster boy for battling out of a tough jam. We love him for it–how can we not? When he doesn’t have his best stuff, he gets by on sheer determination.

On his best days so far, Perez has given us 4 awesome innings. On his worst? He’s given us indigestion. Do I agree with Billy Wagner giving him a public call-out? Not exactly. I appreciate Billy’s fire and his willingness to show his frustration, and I like that he’s spoken his mind about the team. It’s the singling out of Perez that I’m not sure should have occurred in a public arena. But the thing is, Wagner’s right. We need Perez for more than 4 innings. Period.

So tonight, we better get us some Strike Out Ollie. For at least 6 innings. Or if Perez starts off rocky, then settles down after an inning? I’ll take that too.

But we shouldn’t keep having to ask Ollie whom he’s bringing to the mound tonight.

 

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