I’m as patriotic as the next guy.
Maybe even a little more. I proudly fly the flag outside my home. "Stars and Stripes Forever" is in heavy rotation on the iPod. I even forced Tony to endure a cool Mary Lou Retton poster on the dorm wall in the 1980s.
But I confess I’m having a hard time pulling for Team USA in the World Baseball classic.
A friend over at www.baseballtruth.com raised the issue of rooting for Yankee poster boy Derek F. Jeter, who is on Team USA. I told him the only thing he should be rooting for in that situation is for some minor-leaguer on Team Mexico to bonk a high hard one off the emblem on Jeter’s batting helmet.
Then I started looking down Team USA’s line-up. If we started skulling everyone in that group who has committed an atrocity against the Mets, we’d be walking in runs all game!
Who set that roster? It’s a virtual Who’s Who of Evil People and Mets Slayers. I’m surprised they didn’t lure Mike Scoscia and Jamie Qualls out of retirement to complete the cast!
Here’s a rundown of the rogues’ gallery and some possible people who should have been asked instead — upstanding citizens who would represent A) the Good Old US of A and B) The Mets, a group that we could actually root for and still feel good about it in the morning.
Villain: Roger Clemens
Bat-Chucker’s list of sins against the Mets and all of humanity has been recounted multiple times in this blog. The recent revelation that his son took him deep in a recent spring training scrimmage — and the fact that he proceeded to throw at his own kid’s noggin in retaliation for the blast — shows that Clemens is unfit.
Replacement: Tom Glavine
This is easy. Substitute one Hall of Famer for another one. Glavine’s younger, had a stellar second half and would never try to hurt his children.
Villain: Chipper "Bleeping" Jones
I proudly state that I am a personal jinx for Larry Boy. We saw him in a game in Cincinnati a few years and he made the third out every time he came to the plate. Then last year we witnessed him take the collar in a game in Pittsburgh. Sadly, I was not at any of the games in 1998 when the Hooters Customer Of The Year launched those bombs against the Mets and knocked them out of the wild card and claiming an undeserved MVP in the process. Naming his daughter Shea was a shameless — and failed — attempt to earn brownie points.
Replacement: David Wright
It’s criminal that Wright isn’t on the team. The ESPN Magazine cover announces his presence to the rest of the country with authority.
Villain: Derek "Bleeping" Jeter
Since the Yankee hype machine actually has people thinking this stiff is going to Cooperstown, it’s no surprise that he’s on the team. But since even the players on Team South Africa know how to slide — unlike Jeremy Giambi — they’ll be no glorious moments for Jeter in the WBC.
Rey and Robin
Replacement: Rey Ordonez
You laugh. But Rey-Rey is a newly naturalized American citizen. And he has more Gold Gloves than Jeter. Look it up.
Villain: Alex Rodriguez
"Slappy" couldn’t even decide which team he was going to play for. Of course, I can’t blame him because this is pretty vile company and goodness knows he hangs around with enough slimeballs during the season, given his home stadium. But no player who admittedly hits like a dog in the playoffs should be representing the US.
Replacement: Robin Ventura.
Oh, sure. Technically Ventura is retired. But so is Clemens — several times over. And Ventura’s already represented the US rather proudly, winning a gold medal.
Villain: Al Leiter
Al. We like you. But believe us when we tell you this. It’s over. It’s bad enough that you crossed back to the dark side. Walk away from the WBC, walk away from the Skanks. We have a jersey waiting for you in Port St. Lucie to help coach Mike Pelfrey and the gang.
Replacement: Billy Wagner
I know, I know. Wagner was on the roster than backed away. Can you blame him, given the kind of vermin he’d be associating with? Flush the roster of the unsavory elements and Billy can come back and not feel tainted by the whole experience.
Villain: Johnny "Benedict" Damon
Anybody who would willingly go from the Red Sox to the Yankees cannot be trusted. As a member of Team USA he’ll probably run off and join Team Taliban by the end of the tournament.
Replacement: Preston Wilson
Mookie’s a little old at this point. But if we can’t have Mookie, we can have the next best thing, and that would be his son.
Villain: Ken Griffey Jr.
Junior made the fatal mistake of rejecting a trade to the Mets when he was still decent. Since then, his career has crashed more often than Billy Joel after a party in the Hamptons. We don’t need that kind of karma on Team USA.
Replacement: Frank Thomas
I like Frank. I don’t think he gets enough love. I realize they can’t put him in the outfield. But we all know that Junior’s going to come up lame at some point, so we might has well put Frank on the roster. We already know that he can hang around the dugout and cheer on his teammates. Hard to dispute that White Sox championship.
Villain: Chase Utely
Freaking Chase just killed the Mets last year in those September games when everything was on the line. He was under the delusion that he could get an undeserved MVP that way. Hey, worked for Chippper.
Replacement: Edgardo Alfonzo
Hold on, I know there are issues. For one thing, he was born in Venezuela. But he has as much right to play for Team USA as Mike Piazza has to play for Team Italia. And since we’re assembling the rest of the 2000 Mets infield, we might as go all the way.
Now there’s a Team USA that we can all cheer for — and one that might actually beat that powerhouse from Canada.
One year ago.
Mets Guy in Michigan turned 1 on March 11. I had no idea whether I could keep it going a month, much less a year. But I’m grateful to all the folks who have stopped by to share a couple minutes of their time.
Readership has picked up in recent months. Here are a number of posts from those early months that I thought some newcomers might enjoy:
March 28: Birthdays and Opening Day