I am, as my readers know, an optimistic, tolerant person, slow to anger. I try not to say bad things about people. But I have had it up to here. Let me say first of all that I try never to say anything bad about fellow Mets authors, most of whom are very worthy writers. The one popular Mets book I detest is The Bad Guys Won by Jeff Pearlman. I have no idea whether or not it is a piece of competent journalism. It might be, for all I know. But I think it is lousy writing and it is written from the perspective of a smart-ass who has created his own myth of what the 1986 Mets were all about. From my perspective as a Mets fan, Jeff Pearlman has no understanding at all of what the 1986 Mets were about. Below please find my comments about this piece of shit I just scraped off my shoe after stepping on a copy of Sports Illustrated. My admittedly intemperate comments are in brackets and bold italics.
From a column with the amusing title “Pearls of Wisdom” in SI, June 5, 2009
Ghost of the New York Mets
When Shea Stadium was demolished Mets fans hoped things would be different
But the curse of injuries, sloppy play, ineptitude have lived on at Citi Field
This year’s Mets have exhibited little life and appeared doomed again
The ghost exists.
Close your eyes, and you’ll see him, flying up and down, left and right, through the glistening, freshly painted hallways of Citi Field and onto the crisp green grass. He laughs a lot — not in wicked tones, per se, so much as a sadistic, Jim Carrey-in-The Cable Guy sort of way. [Not in wicked tones PER SE?? Mr. Latin? Can someone please tell me how a sentence like this or half of the ones below made it past a magazine editor?]
When Shea Stadium was demolished last winter, there was hope — faith, even — among Mets fans that the phantom would be crushed along with it; that the blue-and-orange clouds of dust and debris would fill the wicked wretch’s pores and chop off its tongue. [Yes dust and debris will chop off its tongue. We have command of this metaphor. Yes that the way Mets fans thought. We hoped that the destruction of Shea was going to lead to the end of all that had been experienced there. You got us pegged all right. Boy were we glad to see that thing go down, after all the bad stuff we had experienced there.] Yes, the Metropolitans had spent most of their 4 1/2 decades living under his reign — drafting Steve Chilcott over Reggie Jackson; [Yeah, what about lucking into the signing of Tom Seaver, the name of our team picked out of a hat when there was an irregularity with his original signing. What about the signing of Gooden and Strawberry, the magnetism of the ‘80s team, the simultaneous development of Wright and Reyes and all the other good fortune fans of this franchise have actually enjoyed?] George Foster and signing Vince Coleman and Bobby Bonilla as high-priced free agents; [So that’s all there is to our history? You've carefully chosen all the most representative details, haven't you?] relinquishing leads and hope with staggering regularity and employing as their mascot an inane big-headed baseball [You’re saying that Mets fans don’t like Mr. Met? You're saying that having Mr. Met as our mascot is a sign of the bad fortune of the franchise? This is how well you know us?]. But the true, all-encompassing hex had only been implemented within the modern era, [The true all-encompassing hex was implemented, huh? Boy, I wish you were in one of my classes. I’d implement your fucking hex.] when the team blew back-to-back gimme playoff births [Playoff births huh? It's obvious that Sports Illustrated no longer employs editors. But they could have saved a few berths for proofreaders.] and sent its legion of fans seeking out the nearest bridge. So surely, many believed, the downing of Shea would mean the downing of the torture; [Downing of Shea and downing of the torture? Great word choice. "Downing” is exactly the word that works here.] that, after all too long, the Mets would be free at last.
To the dismay of New Yorkers, the ghost who supposedly vanished is bigger and badder than ever before. [I guess the dust didn’t chop off its tongue.] Carlos Delgado’s hip? The ghost. Jose Reyes‘ right hamstring? The ghost. Oliver Perez’s body swap with Anthony Young? The ghost. J.J. Putz’s emergence as, well, a putz (albeit, an injured one)? The ghost. David Wright’s amazing — and puzzling — Sean Burroughs impersonation? [That Wright does stink. He makes an out more than half of the time.] The ghost. The team’s blah 28-24 record? The ghost. [28-24 is pretty damn blah. It certainly is time to declare their season doomed. Every other team that’s going to win this year undoubtedly has a better record than 28-24 right now. Nobody's ever come back from 28-24.]
Most alarming, the ghost has found a way to take a clubhouse that has long been — if nothing else — lively and transform it into a visit to the Mahopac Public Library. (Writer’s note: I grew up going there. Very nice facility — but extremely subdued.) [You should have spent a little more time there, I think.] To be a Met these days is to live in fear of failure; to talk and talk about the renewal of a ballclub, but to be mentally crippled by the knowledge that, come season’s end, you will, somehow, blow it. [I’ll grant that this is a problem. But I think that it is a problem that can be dealt with, and that the Mets were dealing fairly well with in May.]
Nine years ago, the Mets reached the World Series with a significantly less-talented cast than their modern brethren. Their starting outfield — perhaps the worst in the history of the Fall Classic — was Benny Agbayani, Jay Payton and Timo Perez. Their shortstop was Mike Bordick, with Todd Zeile manning first. The final three spots in the rotation were handled by Glendon Rusch, Rick Reed and Bobby Jones. Armando Benitez (egad) closed and John Franco, age 1,658, set him up. In short, on paper the Mets frightened no one. [I seem to remember a few other guys on this team, who might have made a significant contribution to that team’s success. And if you remember, Agbayani, Peyton, Rusch, and all had pretty good years in 2000, even if their careers did not continue at the same level. I don’t remember anyone marveling that a team with the talent of the 2000 Mets won 94 games.]
Yet those Mets played with heart, spunk and tenacity. After every win, someone would inevitably blast Thelma Houston’s Don’t Leave Me This Way on the clubhouse stereo, turning the room into a loud, bubbly bastion of glee. Veterans like Al Leiter and Robin Ventura set the tone, and Mike Piazza seemed to hit a game-winning home run whenever one was needed. Manager Bobby Valentine, slightly less stable than a one-legged emu, walked and spoke with a swagger that, though often mocked by his players, proved invaluable. The Mets wouldn’t lay down — for anyone. Ah, memories. Burnt out ends of smoky days. The still cold smell of morning. A street lamp dies, another night is over. Another day is dawning.
These Mets lay down — for everyone. They play with little gusto, and less aggressiveness. They rarely hit in the clutch, and make lackluster opposing pitchers appear to be the second coming of Steve Carlton. [I’ll accept this if you’ll just explain to me why this team was 19-9 in May.]
When the Yankees suffer through a conga line of injuries, the organization never offers up the maladies as an excuse. [It doesn’t?!!] The Mets, on the other hand, all but seek out injuries to cite to the media. If only we had Delgado. If only we had Reyes. If only …
The future has been written for the 2009 New York Mets, and it is not good. [Oh, it has, has it? How long have you been following baseball?] They are modern day Jobs, all of them. Only in this run, there is no reprieve. A team with baseball’s second-highest payroll will win, oh, 85 games and finish 10 games behind Philadelphia. [This may happen. And it may not.] They will add someone — Aubrey Huff? Nick Johnson? — to the mix, sing his praises, find a groove, then sink back to reality. They will fire their manager, trade off their prospects, talk about the new Mets, the fresh Mets, the exciting Mets. But they’re still the haunted Mets.
[This kind of article from a sports "writer" makes me desperately hope the Mets do well this year. Look, I know we're in trouble. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't scared. But I marvel at fans who would look at our blah 28-24 record at this point and give up. These are like the people at the stadium who leave after the sixth inning because we're behind by a run. Why did they buy their ticket? If the Mets have a ghost, what do other teams have? I’m talking about the majority of teams that have had even less success than we have had in the last 46 years, in terms of pennants and world championships. To hear Jeff Pearlman tell it, it’s been a waste to root for this team because we haven’t won enough. Our history, he thinks, hasn't given us any pleasure, only pain. He was glad to see Shea come down because it wasn't a house of champions often enough. If baseball and baseball fandom and Mets history were what Jeff Pearlman says they are, I wouldn’t have anything to do with any of them.
I love you, Mr. Met. If you could speak, you would never say anything about implementing a hex. Watch out, Jeff Pearlman. The good guys might win it this year.
P.S. If you're not afraid of ghosts, Mets Fan makes a great Father's Day gift.]