Archive for September, 2007

So?

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

So did they suddenly decide that they wanted it, having not really wanted it before?

Did new-found guts strike out those fifteen batters and get those nineteen hits?

Guts and stuff that they hadn’t had the day before? 

Is that how baseball works?

I do believe they have confidence now.  And I am hoping so hard that they’ll win it. 

[Since irony is not always easy to pick up on blogs, I just want to say that I think that the answer to each of my four questions is "no."]

 

My Book Launch Party

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

The Community of Bloggers.  From L to R: Zoe Rice of PickMeUpSomeMets, Mike Steffanos of Mike’s Mets,Stefi Kaplan of YouCan’tScriptBaseball, Dana (me), Kathy Foronjy of MathematicallyAlive, Taryn Cooper of MySummerFamily, Caryn (MetsGrrl), Steve Keane of The Ed Kranepool Society

Schmoozing.  On the right, with his chin in his hand, is Mike Silva, of NY Baseball Talk on Blog Talk Radio, soon to be the host of Gotham Baseball Live on Gotham Baseball Magazine.

More of the same.  That’s Kathy Foronjy to the left of me.  The film she and Joe Coburn just made about the culture of Mets Fans, Mathematically Alive, premiers next week at the Coney Island film festival.

If anyone had told me, on my 50th birthday, that I would be celebrating my 53rd birthday with a book launch party in the East Village for a book I had written about being a fan of the New York Mets … I would have thought that they were crazy.  But it actually happened on Sunday and I had such a wonderful time. 

The turnout of fellow bloggers was particularly moving to me.  I felt like a kid in a cartoon whose imaginary friends have come to life.  Sure I knew that people I knew from the Internet really existed, but you’re never really sure, you know what I mean?   For all I knew, these people were inside the worn laptop with the F8 key missing on which I had written my book, and on which I compose my blog and my website.  It seemed that way, until yesterday. 

Everybody was so nice and so supportive.  Everybody made me feel as if I had done something worth doing.  Everybody made me feel as if we were all in this together, trying to build an alternate world of blogs, podcasts, and films about the Mets; an alternate world in which the hopes and dreams of millions and the joys and sorrows of fandom, are treated with respect.  The Mets do not exist simply to soak up fake and irritating condescension from Mike and the Mad Dog.  They are part of a family that includes the fine, generous, imaginative people I met at my party.  

I’ll go so far as to say that the most amazing thing about the New York Mets is not the inconsistent baseball franchise by that name.  It is the millions of people who continue to root for them, through years of frustration and disappointment, even though they are geographically entitled to root for the most successful of all baseball franchises.  We are stubborn.  We are millions.  We have been dangling on a precipice for over a week.  Who knows how we’ll remember this strange, awful, but maybe promising moment in Mets history?  We’ll find out soon enough.  All I know is that I will never forget my 53rd birthday.  Thank you to everyone who was there, and to everyone who was there in spirit.  

If you want to read more about the party and see more pictures, please check out these other sites and accounts:

“Mets Fans Gather for ‘Mets Fan’” on PickMeUpSomeMets.com

“Sunday in New York” on Mike’s Mets

“WARNING:  DO NOT OPERATE HEAVY MACHINERY, MOTOR VEHICLE OR WATCH METS BASEBALL WHILE USING THIS MEDICATION” on The Ed Kranepool Society

“Another Easy Win” on You Can’t Script Baseball

“Dana Brand, Eddie Kranepool (Society) … and Something Else … What Am I Forgetting?” on My Summer Family

“Around the Blogosphere” on Hotfoot

“Paperback Writer” on MetsGrrl

And if you’d like to read about the book, read samples of it, reviews of it, find out about appearances, or get ordering information and even find out how to get personalized signed copies at no extra cost, please visit my website by clicking here:

We Are What We Repeat

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

 

Gertrude Stein wrote, several times as a matter of fact, that we are what we repeat. Look around you. This is true. Each of us is composed of the things we say and do over and over and over.

We can see why this might work with individual people. We can see why this might work with nations and cultures, who tell themselves the same stories through generation, who pass on a set of beliefs. It’s a mystery to me, however, why this also sometimes works with baseball teams.

The Red Sox kept doing the same thing for over a century. They finally broke the pattern in 2004, but it looks now as if they are trying to slip back into it. The Mets right now are doing something they’ve done many times before. Why is this happening? The Mets, for the most part, did not grow up as Mets fans, unlike most of their fans. How much do they even know about the team’s history? What could be inside of them that would cause them to repeat this ancient, primordial, obsessive pattern? I don’t know and you don’t know. But we all know that we have been here before.

No matter how good they are in any individual year, the Mets never stride into the room, take what is theirs, and exit in triumph. What happens instead is something like what happened in 1969, when the Mets charged almost to the very top, after years of humiliation, by mid-July, and then collapsed completely to play like a last place team for a month, falling 9 and a half games behind the Cubs by mid-August. That time, they revived and won the pennant by 8 games and went on to win the World Series. In 1972, they got off to their best start ever and looked as if they would repeat 1969. Then they collapsed. But they never revived. 1973 was a crappy last-place season all the way to the final month. The Mets were back to where they had been in the ’60s. But then they won the pennant. In 1984, the Mets roared back to life and led for most of the season, but then they lost it. In 1985, the Mets had one of their best seasons ever, winning 98 games, but because of some heartbreaking games in September, they came in second. 1986 was the best Mets team ever. But the Mets got Mike Scott into their head and almost didn’t make it to the Series. Then when they got to the Series, they got spooked by a dramatically inferior Red Sox team and almost lost the Series in 6. The best Mets team won a World Championship, but not before coming as close as they could to losing it twice. The 1988 Mets were probably the second best Mets team ever. They dominated the National League all season. But after one ill-advised article by David Cone, and two unexpected late inning homers by the Dodgers, and they went home before getting to the Series, which they would not see again for 12 long years. Remember having a Mets miracle comeback season in 1997, but not making the playoffs because we couldn’t win just one of the last six games we played? Remember almost the exact same thing happening in 1998? Remember their solid lead in the Wild Card in 1999 and how they lost that lead by losing seven in a row, in a year in which they would win 97 overall? Remember how heroically they came back? Remember winning the one-game playoff? Remember beating Arizona on Todd Pratt’s homer? Remember digging our second grave of the season by dropping three to Atlanta? Remember how we almost came back? But didn’t. Until next year when we did win the pennant, with a grand triumphant team that still couldn’t win the division, but could win the Wild Card and the playoffs with ease? Remember what happened in the Subway Series you had dreamed of all your life? Remember what a Yankee team that had won only 87 games did to our sterling squad that had won 94? Remember the great, exciting comeback season in 2005, and then sinking back into the herd by losing 11 out of 14 on a roadtrip in September? Remember 2006, the most evenly triumphant season since 1986? Remember rolling over the Dodgers. And then do you remember whatever it was that happened in that series against the Cardinals?

Why am I telling you all this? I’m telling you because this is what you are. This is what they repeat. This is what you repeat. This is what you are. Sorry. Always, they dig their graves. Always they lie down in it and get comfortable. Sometimes they climb out of the grave and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they are beaten even though they climb out. And sometimes, twice to be exact, in 45 years, they win it all.

Live with it. Live it. You have no choice. You don’t love them for it. You love them in spite of it. But you love them. That stays the same. And if you don’t, go away. We want to be alone with our team.

 

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

Six Errors, Eleven Walks, and a Phillies Sweep at Shea

Monday, September 17th, 2007

What do you want me to say?

What do you have to say?

Just scroll back through my archives and find any of the posts I wrote after they suddenly started playing badly after they were playing well.

And then in a few days when they start playing well, you can scroll back and find one of the posts I wrote after they started playing well after they had played badly.

I’ve run out of metaphors.  Do you want me to say that they are like a car that runs smoothly and then sputters and almost breaks down an then starts running well again?  Do you want me to say that they go in and out of the Bizarro world?  Do you want me to compare them to the Allies in WWII?  To a book whose pages turn?  I’m not going to do it, folks.  I’ve already done it.  I’m not going to do it again.

Sit there.  Watch the TV.  Listen to the radio.  Schlep out to Shea.  Whatever is going to happen is going to happen.  I’ve got no control.  I’ve got plenty of faith.  I’ve got as much confidence as it makes sense to have.  Not a lot.  Not a little.  We’re all here together.  And we will live through whatever happens in the next six weeks.  Our circulatory, digestive, and nervous systems are not going to enjoy themselves.  But we will, right?  Why else would we be paying attention?  This is fun, right?  This is meaningful to us, right?  Right.  Whatever.
 

Come to the Party!

Saturday, September 15th, 2007

If you’re a reader of this blog, there’s room for you at the

BOOK LAUNCH PARTY FOR METS FAN

Where:  Mo Pitkin’s, 34 Avenue A between 2nd and 3rd Streets (East Village)

When:  Sunday, September 23, between 4 pm and 7 pm

There will be food and drink and lots of Mets fans and Mets bloggers and Mets authors and documentary filmakers and campaigners to save the apple, etc.  This will be a true blue-and-orange event.

I’ve built some extra room into the estimate, so there’s room for you if you’d like to come.  Just e-mail me at danaabrand@cs.com

P.S. Don’t get your hopes up, he has to be in Florida.

The Promised Land

Monday, September 3rd, 2007

 

By sweeping us in a dramatic four-game series in Philadelphia, the Phillies served notice that the 2007 season would end with a real pennant race.

I guess they changed their minds. 

It’s hard to believe that that was only Thursday.  What is it today, Monday?  It’s only four days later and we’ve got a 5-game lead with 25 to play. 

We’ve won four in a row, after losing those four in a row.  We look invincible after having looked, well, vincible. 

The pattern continues.  Players streak and then they slump.  All is forgotten.  Then they streak again.  All is forgiven.  How, exactly, does one develop the steadiness, patience, and calm necessary to enjoy this particular team?

And here’s something else.  Like the ghost of old hopes and expectations, Pedro returns.  He came to us, remember, in our darkest hour, at the end of the 2004 season.  He was to have been our Moses.  He was to lead us out of the darkness, through the desert, to the Promised Land.  In 2005, he gave us a spectacular season and showed us that it was possible, once again, for the Mets to win and contend.  He gave us the first marvelous half of the 2006, showing us that we could not only contend, we could actually win the division, after a decade and a half of the Braves’ dominance. 

Then he drew back and faded, just as Moses was not destined to enter the Promised Land with his people.

I have to be honest.  I never thought that he would come back.  I was glad that Pedro had come to the Mets, because he did deliver us from bondage.  But once he faded last September, I thought that he was never coming back.

He is back.  And from what I think I saw today, he is actually back, with the masterful control that allowed him to still pitch like a Hall-of-Famer even after he had lost his velocity. 

I guess the Moses analogy doesn’t work any more.  That’s okay with me.  I realize that I am really enjoying this season, now that I am beginning to have a clearer sense of how it could turn out.  I’m ready to enter the Promised Land.  With Pedro.  He makes me calmer, makes me more confident.  I realize that history illustrates that once you get to the Promised Land, everything from that point forward is a crap shoot. 

But we’re on our way.  And for all of the season’s ups and downs, it is going to feel very good to clinch this year.  Remember how many losses and stumbles were washed away in the champagne last year?  No you don’t, that’s the point of the champagne celebration. 

Now if I can only figure out which game it’s going to be.


 

Bizarro World

Sunday, September 2nd, 2007

 

All season long, we’ve been comparing the 2007 Mets to the 2006 Mets, to the disadvantage of the former.

The few Mets fans who remember that the 2006 Mets were not as good as the 1986 Mets may also remember that the Achilles heel of the 2006 Mets was a starting pitching staff that collapsed and almost disappeared in the second half of the season.  You see, when we started a rookie who’d only been with us half a year in the first game of the NLCS, and when we started a pitcher in the seventh game of the NLCS whose E.R.A. would have been the worst on the 1962 Mets, we weren’t just trying to show off how good our offense was. 

The reason the 2006 Mets made it to the playoffs was that it had such a terrific offense and relief staff that it could survive the collapse of the starting pitching.  The reason the 2007 Mets will make it to the playoffs is that the starting pitching is so good that it makes up for a decline in the quality of our offense and our relief pitching.  This is what this weekend’s series has proven.  The 2007 and 2006 Mets may look like roughly the same baseball team.  But they’re not.  The 2007 team is actually a mirror image of the 2006 team.  Everything is reversed.  We are in the Bizarro world. 

You remember the Bizarro world from Superman comics, don’t you?  It was a world that looked like the real world but in which everything was reversed.  Even if you’ve never read Superman comics, you may know about the Bizarro world from the many references to it on Seinfeld.  As I have written elsewhere (in the chapter in Mets Fan entitled “The Mets and Seinfeld”) Jerry Seinfeld is the representative Mets fan.  He showed the world the way the minds of Mets fans work.  And one thing he often showed them is that the Mets have a tendency to spend a lot of time in the Bizarro world.

What happens in the Bizarro world?  Well, you sweep the Braves at Turner’s Field for one thing.  You know that the Mets never win at Turner’s Field.  Well, when they’re in the Bizarro world, they sweep a whole three-game series.  Another thing that happens in the Bizarro world is that even though everybody else in the league thinks that the Philadelphia Phillies relief staff is pitching batting practice, the Mets can’t hit them!  Everybody hits Philadelphia, but when we’re in the Bizarro world, we don’t!

Here’s another sign that we’re in the Bizarro world.  Which game will be remembered as the turning point of the season, the game in which the 2007 New York Mets discovered who they were, and realized where they were going?  It was Thursday’s game:  a spectacular, marathon, epic, super-exciting 11-10 LOSS!

If I make it to the end of this season with my sanity intact, it will be a miracle.