Friday, January 30, 2009

Jeter should trade pinstripes for orange jumpsuit

Well, add “thieving weasel” to our list of gripes about Derek F. Jeter.

Yankee misdeeds are both expected and enjoyed, at least in the dark, dark weeks before pitchers and catchers report. Hence, the lead spot in the Deezo Friday Five.

1) The New York Times reported that after the last game at dumpy Yankee Stadium, “Cap’n Crook” made off with a piece of valuable memorabilia, a sign in the tunnel leading to the dugout with a Joe DiMaggio quote reading “I want to thank the Good Lord for making me a Yankee.”

DiMaggio obviously had some issues, but I digress.

Apparently the sign was a big deal, and Yankee players used to lick it or touch it or something on their way to the field.

One can imagine the number of appropriate places for the sign once the Yanks move into their new ballpark, which looks like the Death Star.

Maybe it could be installed in the new place, a link between the Yankees of tomorrow and the Yankees of the past that the team tells us about over and over.

Maybe it could go to the Hall of Fame so it could go on display and misguided Yankee fans from all over could see the artifact.

Maybe it could be auctioned off with other stadium items and raise thousands of dollars for a charity.

But, no. Showing that classic Yankee entitlement, Jeter apparently unscrewed the sign and tossed it in his trunk to later hang in his Jeter lair. Or, more likely, he instructed some clubhouse flunky to do his dirty work.

Jeter has no shame. But will he be condemned for this? Of course not. But if a Mets player had pilfered something from beautiful Shea, you know Bob Klapisch would be all over him.

2) Speaking of Yankee shame, the sports world is all a-titter about Joe Torre’s book where he allegedly spills the beans about Yankee misdeeds.

Oh please.

The book was co-written by Tom Verducci, a well-known lover of all things Yankee. Verducci has yet to write anything negative about a Yankee in his entire career, so why would he start now.

Which is not to say there might not be some swipes at Alex Rodriguez, some of which have been breathlessly reported.

ARod is fair game because he’s not a “True Yankee,” like DFJ, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada.
Alex is certainly a bit of a whiner, post-season choke-artist and Madonna-dater, but he does tend to hit a lot of home runs.

Nevertheless, Verducci will happily roll ARod under the bus and get all weepy writing about Jason Giambi and Robinson Cano.

3) Enough Yankees. A guy named Mike at a site called Planet of the Geeks customizes Legos.

While the company is busy producing toys of Batman, Indiana Jones and Spider-Man, it has neglected a true American hero, and that would be David Wright.

So Mike stepped up and produced his own D-Wright, which is just a thing of beauty. And while he was at it, he designed a Carlos Delgado, too.

Clearly, this Mike is a man of taste and talent. And if he wanted to make a little Lego Tom Seaver and send it to me, that would be really cool.

4) I see it’s Super Bowl Sunday.

Unless the Jets are involved, my interest drops dramatically.

It’s not like I’d be able to watch the game anyway, because my house’s television is instead tuned into the Animal Planet for its counter-programming — the Puppy Bowl.

In case you’ve somehow missed this, the Puppy Bowl features small dogs running around a small football field playing, bouncing, eating and pretty much doing what small dogs do.

And when small dogs make a mess on the field, a referee — whom we think is a station intern — comes in, declares a “puppy penalty” and cleans up the mess.

As with the real game, the half-time show is usually more exciting. That would be the Bissell Kitty Half-Time Show featuring small cats playing, bouncing, and doing what small cats do, but with a grand finale with revolving platforms and confetti.
ùù And, as if things couldn’t get better, this year’s show also features the national anthem performed by Pepper the Parrot.

"Nebraska" or "New York Groove?"

5) Apparently Bruce Springsteen is performing during the Super Bowl’s half-time show. Yawn.

Super Bowl half-times peaked in 1999 when Kiss took the stage in Miami for XXXIII to sing “Rock and Roll All Night” and used an entire show’s worth of full pyrotechnic and hydraulic glory in just one song.

That no doubt provided more excitement than all other Super Bowl games themselves, except for Super Bowl III, when Joe Willie and the Jets smacked down the Colts.

A geezer from Jersey or icons from New York? That’s a no-brainier. Bruce isn’t even going to blow up anything.

Friday, January 23, 2009

If it works for Obama, it works for the Mets Guy

This is all Greg’s fault.

No doubt inspired by this week’s inauguration, he introduced me to a cool Facebook application — found here -- to show a nice photo of his pet cats.

His activity and all that followed kicks off this week’s Deezo Friday Five.

1) No doubt you saw Barack Obama’s iconic "Hope" campaign posters. The program allows you to use any photo and turn it into a mock Obama poster. You can even pick the word on the bottom, since "Hope" is now so ...cliché!

Being a presidential junkie, I quickly created one using my own photo, then created a special Mets Guy version.

My only regret is that I couldn't adjust the colors to use blue and orange.

Then I started exploring the possibilities — for both good and bad. Cousin Tim, a known bad ass, got one from our day at Shea.

Speaking of Shea, Greg offered a version that certainly would have garnered some votes.

Tom would win in a landslide, just as he did when he was up for the Hall of Fame.

My cat, Tug, would get more votes than Duncan Hunter. So would Gene.

Then, once you start speaking the truth, you can’t stop.

Sorry, Derek F. Jeter. But deep down you know it’s true.

So I figure now that I have a cool poster, I can start campaigning for president, or at least a spot on a local school board.

2) I’ve come full circle on the Citi Field Inaugural Season patch.

Clearly, this is a Mercury Mets moment.

For the unaware, most teams several years ago participated in a "Turn Ahead the Clock" promotion that featured playing a game in futuristic uniforms.

Some were pretty cool. But the Mets created an odd Mercury Mets persona that wasn’t just bad. It was shockingly awful.

And I was reminded that when the Mets screw something up, they don’t just do something that kinda sucks.

No. When the Mets mess up, they seek to define the bottom. Paul Lukas of Uniwatch fame called the patch the worst ever.

Of course it is.

There have been plenty of dull, lifeless patches that are quickly forgotten. But now, any time a bad patch is revealed, it will be compared to the Citi Field patch. And it will fall short.

We must embrace this. It is our destiny.

3) Speaking of destiny, when we kick ass on something, we aim right for the top.

Now I shall refer to the glorious new Home Run Apple.

No team in baseball shall ever attempt to hoist massive celebratory fruit once this new Citi Field Apple rises for the first time.

Published reports say the new, fiberglass Apple is 6 feet tall and 18 feet in diameter — far bigger than the 9-foot-tall original. When a Met hits a homer, the apple will rise 15 feet.

It’s being made in Minnesota and will be installed in the new park sometime in February.

And once it rises, every Phillies fan that used to be content with their bonging Liberty Bell outline will reflect upon their inferiority.

4) The McFarlane people turn out some sweet baseball figures, and I especially love the Cooperstown series, expect that it tends to have A) too many Yankees, and B) players who are not in Cooperstown.

Occasionally, they have C) players in the wrong uniform.

I saw the new figure of 1969 Met Nolan Ryan and wondered aloud why anyone would want him in a Rangers uniform when he could be depicted in his glorious Mets pinstripes.

Seriously, does anybody remember Ryan pitched for the Rangers, Astros or Angels?

Plus, the new figure has him all bloody. I thought this might be from the day when Nolan got a little snotty with future Met Robin Ventura, and Robin had to run to the mound and teach him a thing or two.

But no, Nolan apparently cut his lip because he had trouble fielding his position in a late-season game against Kansas City.

Would have been so much better to show him mowing down Orioles in the 1969 Series.

5) There’s a chance I was a bit of a wise guy in college. That leads us to the strange case of the Three-Pronged Adapter.

You need the background. I worked as a desk aide in the dorm while I was at the University of Missouri, a job that included handing out keys to people who lock themselves out of their rooms, calling maintenance and other tasks devoted to keeping Floyd Cramer Hall a happy place.

Part of this entailed writing in the daily log anything that happened that people in the following shifts needed to know about.

There were about six of us, and one was deemed "head desk aide" which was as important as it sounds.

Except that the person who held this post took it very seriously. And she spent much time developing policies and protocol that needed to be followed.

Then came the new vacuum.

It had a three-pronged plug, and all the outlets in the dorm had outlets with two slots, making it hard to use the vacuum.

This was not an issue for the two guy floors in our four-story building, since guys didn’t think about vacuuming their floors until the over-sized mice fed on Domino’s pizza droppings started to carry out what limited furniture we had.

But the residents of the two women’s floors cared about such things, and someone was dispatched to the hardware store to buy an adapter.

The HDA, as we shall now call the head desk aide, then distributed a long list of rules pertaining to the three-pronged adapter. Let’s just say no one was going to walk out the door with that thing without signing their life away. Closing on a house was easier.

The point was that the three-pronged adapter was too precious to let out of our sight, and we would be held responsible should be go missing. One would think that it would have been easier to just spend another couple bucks and buy about 10 of the tools, but that’s not how we did things.

Writers view an empty page as a challenge. And after reading this missive, I spent time I should have spent studying to create a whole back story for the three-pronged adapter, noting that it was too dangerous to be let out of our sight.

The people manning the desk on the following shifts only added to the story, and by the end of the next day, the three-pronged adapter had a prison jumpsuit, a Jason mask and a bloody knife extended from little paper arms.

The HDA, predictably, hit the roof. So did her boyfriend, who was a fellow desk aide, and, as far as we could tell, was the only one of us who actually read the policy manuals and was her chief defender.

The HDA’s calls for more order and respect for authority went unheeded, and the legend of the three-pronged adapter grew.

When I graduated in December, the remaining desk aides smuggled the three-pronged adapted out of the office without filling out the forms and presented it to me as a farewell gift.

And I’ve kept it these 22 years as a playful reminder of my Missouri years.

This year, we were setting up some Christmas decorations and, amazingly, needed a three-pronged adapter and pressed him into service.

I filled out none of the forms. Always fight The Man!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Shamwow, walking tacos and other things Rickey might like

Absolutely crazy week, which explains why we’re getting the special Deezo Pre-Inauguration Friday, er, Monday Five.

1) Apparently I make a mean "walking taco." Rachael Ray would be so proud.

As the father of a high school athlete, I am assigned assorted duties, among them working in the concession stand during meets.

We sell a steady stream of popcorn, candy, popcorn, soggy bun hot dogs, popcorn, warm pizza slices, more popcorn and walking tacos, which I believe are a Michigan thing.

Basically, you take snack-sized back of Fritos, carefully open the top and spoon in taco meat, cheese, and a little bit of sour cream. Hand the kids a fork and a napkin, and off they go.

Only I decided to shake this up a little bit, adding cheese first, then the taco meat, then a lot more cheese before a generous spoonful of sour cream. This allows some of the cheese to melt over the Fritos.

I didn’t think this was too revolutionary, but one of the other parents was impressed and declared I make the best walking taco.

Sports parents, I learned, are very competitive, because one of the other parents overhead this and wanted to know why my walking tacos earned such a distinction.

Thinking this was a joke, I held up one of her earlier attempts, where she accidentally split the Frito bag, making it un-walkable.

This, however, was not deemed funny.

The rest of the shift was spent rushing over to the crock pot with the taco meat as soon as the order was placed, me defending my title and the other parent trying to top me like the Phillies in the last week in the last two seasons.

Unlike the Mets, I prevailed.

2) From the Department of Things I Really Shouldn’t Care About, But Do anyway, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced it class of 2009: Metallica, Run-DMC, Jeff Beck, Bobby Womack and Little Anthony and the Imperials.

So, in review, the guys who sang "Shimmy Shimmy Ko-Ko Bop" about 50 years ago are enshrined, while the guys who sang, "Sultans of Swing" are not.

Bobby Womack, in. Rush, not.

It’s a rock and roll hall, right?

Will knows I vent about this each year and had a response ready when the news came down on Wednesday.

"I’ve decided to refuse to care about the RNRHOF until the following are inducted (all of them): Rush, Genesis, Peter Gabriel, Chicago, Kiss, Yes, ELO, Robert Plant, Pete Townshend, Dire Straits and ABBA. And I hated ABBA, but if you're going to include Madonna, then ABBA totally belongs."

Spot-on, as always, except that I like ABBA.

Meanwhile, we can all sit back and wait for that induction ceremony when the guys from Metallica jam with Little Anthony.

3) The Baseball Hall of Fame did a little better, adding another former Mets to its ranks, along with Jim Rice, who we spanked handily in the 1986 World Series.

Sadly, the Veteran’s Committee elected another dead Yankee. Joe Gordon died in 1978 and has not played since 1950 — pre-dating even Little Anthony!

Can someone explain to me how a guy can be not Hall-worthy for 47 years and suddenly earn a place beside Tom Seaver, Willie Mays, Richie Ashburn, Duke Snider, Warren Spahn and other Mets of note in year No. 48?

4) Grand Rapids has become a large enough city that two guys can show up at an outdoor event dressed as Scooby Doo and Under Dog and attract hardly any attention.

This was New Year’s Eve, and Grand Rapids was dropping a lighted ball, like in Times Square.

The difference was that our ball was dropped by a crane instead of down a flag pole atop a building and the people in attendance were actual area residents who went home with their wallets instead of the tourists who flood the homeland hoping to appear briefly on New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.

But ignoring a couple guys dressed like dogs was a very New York thing to do. I was impressed.

5) I’m strangely fascinated by the guy in the Shamwow commercials.

Clearly he’s a freak. The hair, the headset microphone, the ‘tude and the fact that he almost makes me believe that a yellow rag can soak up a Diet Coke spill and arrange a cease fire in the Gaza Strip. His delivery reminds me of a three-card monte dealer.

Did some research and it turns out Shammie’s name is Vince Offer and he wrote and directed the 1999 film "The Underground Comedy Movie" that a New York Post review gave zero stars, said it "may be the least amusing comedy ever made."

Ouch. But that explains why Vice is hawking miracle rags.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Proper bagels and Dee Snider could lure Lowe

My brother and parents are back on Long Island for a sad occasion this weekend. But it’s nice to know they were thinking of me. And their thoughfulness is appreciated in this week’s Deezo Friday Five.

1) Apparently they came across a bagel store right next to a post office, and had the idea to fill up a box of glorious poppy seed bagels and overnight it to Michigan.

As you know, Michigan bagels, even from stores that have a New York theme, are no match for an authentic slice of the homeland.

Eating a Michigan bagel is a bittersweet experience. It’s better than, say, some cinnamon roll or McGriddle as a breakfast treat. But you know how it’s supposed to be, and that there are people in New York at that very moment eating a proper New York bagel, some of them Yankee fans who don’t deserve them.

So I can assure you that no mail carrier has ever seen someone happier to meet them at the door.

There were 16 of those beauties, and it was down to 15 within moments.

I thought briefly about taking one of them to the two places I usually get bagels from, to inspire them and show them exactly what they should be baking.

I also thought about bringing some to the newsroom so my colleagues can understand why I turn up my nose at their inferior breakfast edibles.

But that would require sharing, and I’m just not ready to do that.

Later in the day, my daughter asked if she could have one. Now she knows how much I love her. Down to 14.

2) Apparently Braves are making a run at would-be Mets hurler Derek Lowe, and made a pretty elaborate pitch for his services this week.

According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Braves pitched woo to Lowe for five hours, complete with a video presentation and a recorded message from country music artist Toby Keith.

Toby Keith? Is that the best they can do?

Think of the kind of talent the Mets could tap if they wanted to go down this road.

After serving Derek poppy seed bagels, Long Islander Dee Snider could burst into the room and — like in the video — scream, “Derek Lowe! What are you going to do with your life?”

To which Derek can only reply: “I WANNA ROCK! See you in St. Lucie next month.”

Soupcan at the Crane Pool Forum was alble to take off the Citi logo atop this alternate logo -- for items sold at the stadium -- that would have made a much better patch.

3) The Mets’ new Citi Field patch has now been mocked by just about everyone. And with good reason.

But I hate it even more now that I know the team actually has a decent City Field logo, but it’s using it only on merchandise sold at the ballpark next season.

The logo shows the famed Jackie Robinson Rotunda, as it should. It also has the Citi Bank logo, which is a no-no for Major League uniforms. But you’d think it could easily be replaced with the Mets wordmark or outright eliminated for a patch.

As if times aren’t tough enough for the Bush family. The family cat of 18 years died recently.

The black American shorthair was named “India” by the Bush daughters, after near-Met Ruben Sierra, going back to the days when the President ran the Texas Rangers instead of the country.

I had no idea Sierra’s nickname was “El Indio.” Nor can I figure out why.

The Houston Chronicle reported that in 2004, some students in Thiruvananthapuram, India, burned an effigy of President Bush because they declared that naming his cat India was an insult to their country.

I’d be more upset that Ruben Sierra was named after their country.

But those kids are probably in a suspended state of crankiness because they have to fit “Thiruvananthapuram” across the front of their road jerseys.

As the owner of a black shorthair named after a baseball player -- "Tug" -- I feel a close bond to the Bush family and offer my sincere condolences.

5) OK, say you were a big free agent preparing for your coming out press conference.

You know someone is going to hand you a cap and a jersey, because they always do. It the case of Mark Teixeira here, an extremely ugly one.

And you know that as soon as you put it on, you’re going to pose for photos. And is there anything that looks dopier than a guy wearing a jersey with a tie and dress shirt sleeves showing?

Since you know those things are going to happen, wouldn’t it better to wear a mock turtleneck under a sports jacket, hopefully one that matches the team colors?

Friday, January 02, 2009

Searching for Seaver and Starbucks

I hope this new year finds you happy and healthy. We celebrated by heading to downtown Grand Rapids to see the Plain White T’s play outside in sub-20-degree weather and had a blast.

We came back in time for cheese fondue, a warm fire and watching the balls — plural, one in Grand Rapids and the other in Times Square — drop on television.

The waning days 2008 also required some searching, as you’ll see in the first Deezo Friday Five of 2009.

1) I was searching for a shirt to help my sister celebrate her Tom Seaver birthday and came across this slice of glory.

I’ve never seen a Tom Seaver shirt like this, and promptly declared it to be the Greatest Shirt Ever.

The photo was from an eBay listing, and the shirt is a medium, which wouldn’t even fit my son anymore. So I searched and searched online to find a store or site selling it.

None. The only place it would show up was that same eBay posting.

Greg suggested I contact the vendor to see if he has more, or if he could tell me where he got the shirt. Again, a strike out, as the vendor said he had only the medium and didn’t know where got that one.

His listing said the shirt was produced by Majestic, and I scanned the company’s web store, but didn’t see the shirt. Then I fired off an e-mail to the customer service department complete with an attachment showing the design. No word back yet.

So, if anybody has seen this design and knows where I can find one of these beauties, please let me know.

While searching, I came across this orange Seaver shirt that also is really cool, though doesn’t have the retro look of the other design.

2) Speaking of things that are hard to find. Mrs. Mets Guy is a knitter and fell in love with Starbucks’ Christmas decorations, which included shiny red balls with green balls of yarn used to make wreaths.

We’re in Starbucks enough that I know far too much about the baristas and baristos — is that what you call a guy who works there? — and one day I mentioned her appreciation of the wreaths and asked if I could buy one after the holidays.

The manager said he’d be happy to save one for me. And the day after Christmas I was in there and noticed that the wreaths were down, and assumed the manager had one in the back waiting for my all-to-frequent arrival.

Alas, he said he was confronted by a customer as soon as he opened the doors, and she was very insistent. I think he forgot.

But it’s not like there’s only one Starbucks in the area, or even on that street.

So Monday I went to another, noticed the wreath was still there and inquired. The manager said there were a number of people interested, and she made a rule that they would go to the first person who asked for them on New Year’s Day. And they opened at 7 a.m.

So I set the alarm for 6:15 a.m. despite watching the ball drop and staying up late the night before, and was in the Starbucks parking lot by 6:45 sharp.

I jumped out of the car as soon as the manager turned the key. And she said she doesn’t know what happened, but the wreaths were gone. But I was welcome to a free coffee as a token of apology and some of the other decorations.

I walked out disappointed, but with a tall caramel frappuccino and some other ball and yarn decorations.

Then I realized that there were still more Starbucks, and went across town to another, and saw that not only was a wreath in the window, but there were three in the store!

“About the wreaths,” I asked.

“Stop,” the barista said, cutting me off. “They’re already claimed.”

I predict that next year, Starbucks will come up with a scrapbooking motif to continue tapping into the lucrative craft and latte market.

3) Johan Santana can kick Derek F. Jeter’s butt in baseball bocce.

I know this because I got an awesome Wii baseball game for Christmas — MLB Superstars — that has real players and mascots doing everything but play baseball.

Santana, David Wright and Jose Reyes are among the guys playing bocce on a baseball diamond, dodging gophers and lawnmowers.

They also shoot snacks into the stands using those hot dog-shaped guns mascots use. Mr. Met, in fact, is seen roaming through multiple games, sometimes causing trouble, like when he kicks the ball around in baseball golf.

Some of the gaming sites are wailing on the game. They don’t get it.

There are plenty of games where you can play baseball. But most of us obsessive types notice that the sport bleeds into all the other things we do.

If I’m going to play golf — and you can create your own person in the game — of course I’d rather play it with David, Jose and Johan, and I’d rather play it by hitting the ball with a bat and it would be great fun for all of us to gang up on Derek F. Jeter.

4) My in-laws have a suicidal mailbox.

Or, I should say they had a suicidal mailbox.

We visited last weekend, surviving a challenging, five-hour trek through some of the densest fog ever. We pulled up and debated whether we passed the house, backed up a little and felt a big THUD.

Turns out the mailbox somehow hurled itself into the path of my Vue. It’s not like I could have possibly backed up the driveway and into it. Can’t be my fault.

But we went to Lowe’s the next day and happily picked out a new one -- the Mail Master -- and installed it.

I say happily because this could have been worse in two ways.

First, the wooden pole that goes into the ground and supports the box could have broken, which means we’d have to somehow dig out the old one and get cement to set in the rain-soaked ground. No telling if that would have worked, or how long it would have taken.

Then, it could have been the neighbor’s box. If you think it’s hard to explain to a relative how you ran over their mailbox, image doing it to a stranger without them calling the police.

5) Tuned to the MLB Network debut Thursday night.

Have to say there was much fear when the first thing they do is show an old Yankee game, then roll out Phillie big mouth/shortstop Jimmy Rollins for the “Hot Stove” show.

But, despite Rollins, the show was pretty neat. And next week they’re showing the Ken Burns Baseball epic.

That first aired in 1994, the year of the strike. I was covering the All-Star Game FanFest and was invited to a media breakfast to talk about the documentary.

We were seated at round tables, most with a retired player. I was at a table with former Brooklyn Dodger Joe Black and several people who had no business getting a press pass and, based on their indifference, had never heard of Joe Black.

I knew he was the 1952 Rookie of the Year, and had spent eight years in the Negro Leagues before getting a crack at the majors. I think I impressed him when I correctly pronounced the name of his team, the Elite Giants, which sounds like e-LIGHT Giants.

“I think you’re the first white guy to pronounce that the right way,” he said with a smile. He then patiently allowed me to pick his brain, and I listened to all kinds of neat stories about the Jackie Robinson and playing in Brooklyn.

A person who I believed to be a former player walked around the room with a beaming smile, shaking every hand and introducing himself. I had never heard of Buck O’Neil until then.

Of course, by the time Burns’ masterpiece was finished, O’Neil had become baseball’s newest ambassador and a national treasure.