Saturday, June 30, 2012

Like Dickey, Johan shuts down the Dodgers

Dodger Stadium and Wrigley Field are both classic ballparks, so we have no problems saluting the Mets 5-0 win in Chavez Ravine with an unfurling of the Victory Flag in the Friendly Confines.

Johan Santana matched R.A. Dickey’s 8-innings of shutout ball, and Ike Davis smashed a 3-run bomb to show signs that he’s busted out of his epic first-half slump.

Daniel Murphy also looks to have turned the corner, too. 

This is one streaky team, seeming to be perpetually swept and sweeping – and they’ll get a chance for a four-gamer tomorrow.

Even when the Mets lose, an evening at Wrigley is fun

I suspect there are very few ballparks outside of New York – and maybe Miami – where I can walk around in my Mets jersey and not hear a single jeer.

Chicago’s Wrigley Field is one.

Will and I enjoyed our visit to the Friendly Confines despite the Mets being on the short end of the 5-3 game, ending a personal three-game winning streak after finally snapping the epic Streak of Shame.

The clerk in the store across the street said that this is, in fact, a giant macaroni. It's covered with bacon bits, and he said they are supposed to hit a switch that releases something that is supposed to smell like bacon, but doesn't smell that good.
 There are several reasons for this.

First, we were not in the beer-soaked bleachers, where the atmosphere can get a bit rough.
Second, the Cubs are awful this season, worse than usual.

And third, the Wrigley denizens true to form arrived from the neighborhood bars late and head back early. Many are not there to see a ballgame, and possibly couldn’t tell Starlin Castro from Keith Moreland.

The Harry statue is kind of scary.

So proudly wandering Wrigley in my 2008 Johan Santana jersey, I encountered no taunts and several high fives and conversations with fellow New Yorkers, happy to talk about the Mets’ success and life back in the Homeland. Does it really cost $10 to park at Jones Beach?

Part of the fun of any game at Wrigley is wandering the souvenir stores and then the sidewalk stands, where the wares are not always official and possibly profane, especially when referencing the crosstown rival White Sox.

I love this sign on the back of the scoreboard.
It’s a Cubbie party, with crowds spilling out of the neighborhood watering holes and into the streets, where fans wait for batting practice home runs to bounce, a guy in a bear costume demanded tips in exchange for photos and residents sold water with a sliding scale of prices depending on team affiliation.

The sign said water for Cubs fans was $1, then $2 for Mets fans. White Sox fans were told to go thirsty.

Will and I met at the Ernie Banks statue not long after Ernie Banks himself walked right by, headed into the Cubs offices.

We enjoyed brats on an upper deck patio with a fantastic view of the skyline before making our way to Laurie’s fantastic seats on the third-base side near home plate.

The game was eventful, with Alfonso Soriano making several nice grabs in left to rob the Mets, Lucas Duda stopping at third despite Tim Teufel wildly waving him home and Ike Davis getting tossed after first base umpire botched the call on a pick-off play.

This message board is new, and it's as close to as the Cubs get to a video board we see in other stadiums. Most of the images were old-fashioned to fit with the nature of the historic stadium.

Cubs fans had something to cheer about when prospect – but not technically a rookie – Anthony Rizzo had a nice game in his first appearance.

I pulled out the Mobile Gnome of Defeat for a photo, only to get tapped on the shoulder from a guy in the next row, who had a cardboard cutout of a teacher that he brings as a good luck charm. He said the Cubs are 3-0 when she’s been in attendance.

The Mobile Gnome of Defeat was greeted by a Chicago teacher of sorts, who attends games with the guy in the next row.

 Naturally we made our way down to the infamous Bartman area to pose, bringing both the Mobile Gnome and the Victory Flag. 

Again, there are only so many places not named City Field where you can unfurl a real Victory Flag and not get abuse.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Wardrobe consultation needed for magical Tuesday Mets game

Will asked a rhetorical question. Would I like to join him at Wrigley on Tuesday to see the Mets?

The answer was a no-brainer. But the more difficult question is what to wear. Or, more precisely, which Mets jersey to wear.

I’m not worried about getting hassled from Cubs fans. Will calls most of the fans “Tylers and Trixies,” and notes that more are there to see and be seen, arriving from the bars across the street around the third inning, wandering around the ballpark in search of beer for three innings, then retreating back to the bars.

They wouldn’t notice me or that I was wearing a rival’s jersey unless I was offering them a drink, and even then I’m not sure.

A couple ground rules. The Mitchell and Ness 1969 Seaver flannel gets pulled out for only the most special of occasions, like our first game at Citi Field and seeing The Brick. I don’t want some drunken Cubs fan puking on it.

And the assorted batting practice jerseys just aren’t showy enough. I don’t get to see the Mets in person too often, and while not rating the Seaver, it’s above a BP jersey. 

Option one: The 1992 Eddie Murray.

Advantage: It’s lucky. I wore it to see the Mets in Detroit last year and the team hit two grand slams and Manny Acosta throw us the game ball. Plus, one of the faithful and loyal Crane Pool Forum friends noticed that I was missing the William Shea memorial patch and kindly sent it, so now it's officially complete. With racing stripes and buttons, it's a hybrid of eras and a thing of beauty.

Disadvantage: When there are a number of jerseys in the collection, it’s wise to mix it up. And we don’t want to become too accustomed to the Torborg era.

Option two: The 1993 Eddie Murray

Advantage: This will confuse the Cubs fans who aren’t drunk and probably haven’t seen a Mets jersey with a tail before. And Eddie Murray is always cool.

Disadvantage: As Metstradumus has forever accurately called it, this is the “Wardrobe of Failure.” I have a road version with Bonilla on the back, but I’m not even considering that.

 Option three: Mercury Mets

Advantage: We can be reasonably assured that I’ll be the only one in the ball park wearing it. Then again, we can be reasonably assured that I’d be the only person in the world wearing it. It might bring some bizarre good karma to the team. I do have the matching cap, which helps.

Disadvantage: It might scare children. At least the ones not already traumatized by the Harry Caray statue. You ever see that thing?

Option four: 2000 Robin Ventura

Advantage: Road jersey for a road game, but since Ventura is now the White Sox manager, it’s the one most likely to annoy Cubs fans.

Disadvantage: Since Ventura is now the White Sox manager, it’s the one most likely to annoy Cubs fans. It’s black, and we’ve tried to move away from that this season.

Option five: 2008 Johan Santana 

Advantage: Johan gets the love after the no-hitter. If he was the expected starter, this would be a no-brainer. I love the final season at Shea patch, too.

Disadvantage: It’s black. Last time I wore to a game was the 2008 Subway Series game where Santana pitched well but the Mets still lost.

I’m still going back and forth. What do you suggest?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Yankees aren't chickens, they're evil

OK, Frank Francisco, you got the save – but no boasting.

After working the New York tabloids into a frenzy by saying, “I can’t wait to face those chickens. … I want to strike out the side against them. I’ve done it before.”

Well, he struck out Curtis Granderson, but allowed a walk and a single – and was lucky Andres Torres made a nice play – to get a save.

Everyone knows the Yankees aren’t chickens. They’re evil. There’s a difference.

Thank goodness for a 5-run first inning and some nice pitching by Jonathon Niese before the predictable bullpen issues.

Nevertheless, we get to hoist the Flag of Victory to celebrate a 6-4 win.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Dickey goes all Dave Steib on the Orioles!

I think we should send every Mets pitcher mountain climbing next offseason. That, and they need to throw a knuckleball.

All I know is that the plan worked for R.A. Dickey, who just tossed his second consecutive complete game, one-hit shutout. The Mets beat the Orioles 5-0. In cast you are wondering, Dave Steib of the Blue Jays was the last to toss back-to-back one-hitters.

We’re looking at a degree of specialness associated with Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden at their peak. 

Dickey even kicked off the scoring by getting the hit that helped set up Ike “I’m back!” Davis’s grand slam!

That means Caroline gets to hoist the Flag of Victory in celebration!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Poor Chris Young loses as Mets bats take a holiday

Remember earlier in the week, when the Mets used to score runs? That was cool.

It didn’t happen much during the Reds series. But then, the Mets have famously struggled on Father’s Day, as in Jim Bunning’s perfect game in 1964.

Chris Young was effective on the mound, but made the mistake of giving up more than one run, which spelled instant doom in this series. Heck, Young even drove in the Mets’ lone run with a bases-loaded walk.

On the bright side, such as it is, Ike Davis extended his hitting streak to eight games, so maybe he’s stopped sucking.

My daughter was ready for any outcome of today’s game, bringing the Flag of Victory and the Gnome of Defeat together to wish all the fathers out there a happy birthday – as Ralph Kiner famously once said!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Masterful Dickey, "slump bunch" power Mets to win over Rays

If not for the whim of an official scorer, we might have had out second-ever franchise no-hitter on Wednesday.

And if not for another botched play by David Wright and two passed balls by Mike Nickeas, R.A. Dickey would be continuing an amazing shutout inning streak.

Such are the things we can worry about when the Mets are winning. After getting swept by the Yankees, the Mets have now taken two in a row over the Tampa Bay Rays – and in convincing style, too.

After Jordanny Valdespin beat up on the Rays in the 11-2 Tuesday win, the “slump bunch” kicked things in gear for Wednesday’s 9-1 pounding. Imagine: three hits from Andres Torres and two each from Daniel Murphy, Nickeas and – imagine! – Ike Davis. Even Jason Bay got on base.

But the second run was really all that was needed, as Dickey continued his masterful ways. He now leads all MLB pitchers with 10 wins – and leading to the Flag of Victory flying proudly again.\

Yeah, we took the Yankees series off. To many undeserved gnome appearances.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Dickey, Duda and Daniel secure a win in The District

R.A. Dickey is on a monster roll.

The knuckleballer/author/mountain climber dispatched the Nationals with authority on Thursday, and extended his scoreless streak to 24.2 innings.

The Mets looked destined for yet another shutout, but Frank Francisco reminded people that closers are supposed to be dramatic, and coughed up a home run Ryan Zimmerman to start the ninth.

He somehow managed to get out of that mess, and allowed Dickey to secure his MLB-leading ninth win. Can you say All-Star Game?

Lucas Duda kicked out a two-run bomb to take care of the Mets' offensive needs, given that the rest of the team has been slumping away their time in The District.

And, yes, Daniel Murphy, we’re pointing at you. And he really needs to hit to make up for his recent adventures with leather. Murph finally kicked it in gear today, going 2 for 5 and driving in the Mets’ other run of the day.

This series-salvaging win allows us to hoist the Victory Flag as we head into the weekend.