You got to hand it to the Mets, folks. Win or lose, they certainly are involved in some of the more exciting World Series ball games of all time. Last night’s doozie from The K included an inside-the-parker, a network blackout, a Bill Buckner-esque scare on the night of the anniversary of the ’86 Mets win, a game-tying bottom of the ninth-home run and a walk-off sac fly win in the 14th. And there are six games left…
So, while most of the nation that loves baseball anxiously awaits this evenings first pitch, I want to share a few takeaways from Game Uno last night.
1. FOX should not be allowed to televise any major sporting events ever again.
As Wayniac Nation golf expert Dunton reminded me, their first go at covering a PGA Major (the US Open) was horrendous. Last night’s power-in-the-truck-going-out-gate was a debacle.
The thing that was really inexplicable was that when they finally went back to the studio, the three schlubs standing there looked like they had never heard of a baseball game before? Sporting events — albeit not Game One of the World Series — lose their feeds quite often. Just like with all of us, mistakes happen to everybody. When they cut to the studio to fill the time, the announcers usually have something to say.
These three guys looked at the nation like a deer in headlights. I have never seen a studio team more in shock of being on tv in my life. I know it was spur of the moment, but Dontrelle Willis was a baseball player. Whip up a funny story. “This reminds me of the time we were traveling to New York for a game and the TVs on the plane went dead so A.J. Burnett sang and danced Batman up and down the aisle.”
Instead we saw this:
Twitter exploded, Fox apologized and the game resumed. But they stopped the game and waited for Fox to catch up because not only did the viewers lose their feed, so did the managers. They would have to fly into any challenges blindly because they had no way to see it. Well done, Fox.
2. Why I am not rooting for the Mets.
This really has nothing to do with Game One per se, but more about Tweets and texts I received during the game.
I am getting a lot of slack for rooting for the Royals. Simply put, unless it is the Yankees, Texans, Cuse, Tottenham, or my Fighting Blue Hens, as a writer and someone who analyzes the game, I hitch my wagon to the team I think is better in the current situation. I predicted the Royals would be World Champions, I am going to root for that to happen.
But there is more to it. Everyone knows I am a die hard Yankees fan. Most of you know I grew up so close to New York City that I could smell the street pretzels in my backyard. Most of you are saying that because of that I am obligated to represent New York (right, All Full?) and root for the Mets. But here’s a little secret that I keep from a lot of people: I loved the New York Mets when I was little.
That love for the Mets is the precise reason for my disdain for the Mets. Let me explain why.
I didn’t have much of a choice as my mother and grandfather were die hards since the Mets conception. My dad got tickets from his job for Shea Stadium, so we went… a lot. During that time, Donnie Baseball, Winny and Rickey Henderson were across town at the Bronx, my Uncle Billy lived and died Yankees, so I liked them as well. I did not grow up one of those if you love the Yankees you have to hate the Mets kind of guys. That’s not why I won’t root for the Mets now, either.
People make fun of me all the time, because when I make a decision in sports, I have a logical explanation behind it, almost as if I sat down and wrote a thesis about it. I can pinpoint the era when I turn on certain squads, whether it was the Nets moving to Brooklyn (who I still hope win a championship, but can’t root for as die hard as I did when Isaac, Benny Smalls and I went religiously in New Jersey), the New York football Giants, and the New York Mets.
I was born in 1975. I started watching baseball pretty regularly when I started collecting those sticker books in 1980. I have seen 36 World Series, and I will tell you right now to this day, I don’t think there was ever a better, more exciting team to watch than the 1986 New York Mets.
You think this pitching staff the Mets have is good? Doc, Darling, El Sid, Bobby O and Rick Aguilera were nasty. They were just as young as this rotation too, with Bob Ojeda the eldest at 28, and everyone else under 25. Nails and Wally Backman were two of the most ferocious table setters in the history of the game. Mookie and The Kid were two of the best characters and gentlemen to play the game and were impossible not to love in The Big Apple and so easy to hate everywhere else. Captain Keith was the slickest defender with his Magnum PI patented stache.
That bullpen. Jesse Orosco and Roger McDowell did things that are still unthinkable today. They both had 20+ saves, and does anyone remember the game when they rotated between right field and pitching so they could attack the lefty/righty advantage at the plate?
And then there was Straw. As much as I loved Donnie Baseball, I don’t know that there was a player I loved more in the 1980s in New York than Straw Man. That swing, man. He hit the roof of Montreal’s dome for crying out loud. This tall, lanky kid with the baby face was a perennial 30/30 threat and one of the scariest guys to pitch in baseball.
But they were bad. Man, were they bad. Their third base coach Bill Robinson (RIP) started a brawl with Pittsburgh for crying out loud. Their fights weren’t rumbles and slap fights, they were all out brawls. People left bloody and suspended, and if you liked the Mets it was awesome. Defend your turf, boys, this is your house.
They also loved women, booze and drugs. Lots and lots of drugs. If you have never read The Bad Guys Won by Jeff Pearlman you should. I have read it twice. It’s great for any Mets or baseball junkie. These guys lived the NYC life, and they won a lot of baseball games. New York and the Mets organization loved it… while they were winning.
Then, after 1988’s let down against the Dodgers, it seemed like they just didn’t care about that squad. They even seemingly turned their back on some of them, shipping them off for barely nothing in return, almost embarrassed by the evils that made them reach the heights they did. That’s when I realized what I really loved about baseball. History. In 1989 I went to Yankees Stadium with some friends and I never looked back. It was a done deal. I was a Yankees fan, and just like the Mets turned their back on the players I loved, I turned my back on them.
Sure, things have changed over the years. Tim Teufel is teaching the Teufel Shuffle as the third base coach. Mookie, Backman and HoJo have been around the organization in coaching positions. Keith Hernandez was in the broadcast booth. But it was too late. I became mesmerized by the lore of the pinstripes, and I have seriously felt nothing for the Mets ever since.
You can call me a fair weather fan, or whatever you want, but if you do, you do not know much about baseball. When I converted to a full time Yankees fan, they would go through a 288-359 four-year run. Sure, they turned their backs on some of their guys in the past. The Boss rumbled with Yogi, Reggie and Billy Martin all the time. But I didn’t see that. I didn’t live through that. It’s different.
I will say this about the current New York Mets team. Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey are the first two Mets I have actually liked since 1989. And it isn’t simply because they are good, it is because they are good for the game. I am coming around on Thor since he seems to have mellowed on his erratic behavior attacking Twitter fans for mocking him, but he still seems like a loose cannon. And I think Steven Matz and this Conforto kid are amazing. I can tell you with all earnest, those were the nicest things I have said about the New York Mets in over 20 years.
So, while I am rooting for the Royals, more so because I just think they are the better team (and last night’s resilience may have proved that) I wouldn’t be terribly upset with a Mets win. Fantasy football expert Fee would be happy. All Full would be happy (and finally get off my back). Good ol’ Henry from Jocks and Jills who had to endure years of being surrounded by Braves, Yankees, and Red Sox fans will be happy. And my Mom would be happy. The same lady who’s heart I broke when my 14-year old self told her I converted to a full Yankees fan, the same woman who hates everything pinstripes, but the same woman who bought me Yankees blankets, shirts and sweatshirts every Christmas would be happy.
I can live with that.