Archive for August, 2010

Parallel Universe

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

1)      Bloggers and journalists I respect say that the Mets are completely out of the pennant races and players and management should stop insulting our intelligence by saying that we’re still in them.

2)      Bloggers and journalists I respect say that the Mets should either rebuild or go for it now.  They should stop saying that they’re going for it now when they are in fact rebuilding.

3)      Bloggers and journalists I respect say that this season has been a disaster.

4)      Bloggers and journalists I respect say that Minaya’s whole administration has been a disaster.

 

I don’t agree with any of the above statements and to me it is so obvious that none of them are true that I sometimes feel as if I am living in a parallel universe.

 

1)       The Mets are at .500, 9.5 games out in the division, 7 games out in the wild card, with thirty-six games to play.  Although we all know that it is extremely unlikely that the Mets will make the playoffs, I would find it hard to root for a team that WASN’T saying, at this point, “we’re down, but there’s still hope, if only we can get a streak going.”  That would be like giving up when you’re going into the ninth inning 4 runs behind.  And it’s true.  Several teams this decade have made successful runs from this far down with this many games remaining.  Mets teams not any better than this one have won ten in a row or gone 18-3, or even just 12-3.  The Mets right now are finishing the season with the strongest starting pitching they’ve had in twenty years.  It could happen.  It probably won’t.  But I think it is too early for the fans to give up and it is, in my opinion, WAY too early for the Mets to give up.

2)      The Mets are rebuilding AND they’re trying to win now.  What is so hard to understand about that?  The two have never been mutually exclusive.  The rebuilding process has been going well (Niese, Davis, Thole).  If the Mets had gotten a normal season out of Jason Bay and even just a below normal instead of disastrous half season from Carlos Beltran, they would have been in the thick of things.  The winning now strategy didn’t work, but acquiring Bay could have been enough to make it happen, and when the Mets made that move, most of us thought it was a good move that would achieve good results. 

3)      The season wasn’t a disaster.  A great many people thought the Mets were a below .500 team.  Optimists like me thought they’d win in the low 80s.  Optimist’s predictions about how they would reach .500 turned out to be wrong.  If I had told you at the start of the season that Maine and Perez would combine for one win, and Beltran and Bay would combine for 8 home runs, you never would have guessed that we’d be at .500 on August 26.  Too many good things happened this season to allow anyone but the most embittered fan base to call it a disaster.

4)      Everybody points to the insanity of the Perez and Castillo contracts and the trading away of  Heath Bell.  These were all dumb moves but they don’t look to me like more than the average number of dumb moves you can expect from any franchise.  There were also successes like the Santana trade, and the acquisitions of Beltran and Delgado.  Yes, they should spend more on the draft, but they’ve found a decent number of diamonds in the rough (Dickey, Pagan, and even poor John Maine there for a couple of seasons) and some talented players are emerging from the system.

I think the real problem is that we haven’t won.  And I think it is difficult to win because as the history of all sports and baseball indicate, there is no formula for winning.  Sometimes you lose even though you’ve tried hard and have not made decisions that much worse than your competitors.  I agree that Minaya and Manuel must go, and I agree that the Wilpons need to find some way of understanding the psychology of their fans and the psychology of running a baseball franchise better than they have.  The Mets need a new face that will allow the fans to believe.  Jeff’s face won’t do it and I don’t really think the owner’s face should do it anyway.  They need a general manager and a manager who can come in here and inspire confidence, so that the wounded fan base isn’t so thoroughly demoralized that they become ruthless and unforgiving in all of their judgements, to the extent that they are not even willing to stick by a team that still has a ghost of a chance.

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I’ll be at the Fairfield Museum and History Center tonight (8/26 at 7 pm) at 370 Beach Road  in Fairfield, CT, talking about what it means to be a baseball fan.

The Citi Field Premiere of Billy Joel’s “Last Play at Shea”

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

Last night, I attended what may have been the largest movie premiere in history, a showing at Citi Field, of “Last Play at Shea” (produced by Steve Cohen and Nigel Sinclair, in conjunction with Billy Joel’s Maritime Pictures and Spitfire Films, directed by Paul Crowder).   As I wrote after I saw the film at the Tribeca Film Festival in April, this is a wonderful film.  It brings together the stories of Billy Joel, the Beatles, New York, Shea Stadium, and the Mets, combining them into a perfectly-paced narrative with tremendous emotional power.  It is inspired myth-making.  And unlike a lot of myth-making, it is convincing.  In the stories of Joel, McCartney, Shea, the Mets, Pete Flynn, and the people of New York, the film-makers find a pattern.  It’s not as if all these things are connected.  But they are alike.  They illustrate the narrative of New York that cannot be told by the Yankees or Wall Street.  This is the narrative of the downtrodden, the dumpy, and the unlikely.  This is about the magic of the unanticipated: the magic of a lounge singer in a dive becoming a superstar, a ball finding its way through a first baseman’s legs, a dumpy stadium becoming a circle of glory loved around the world.  What makes the film richer than most stories about the triumph of the downtrodden is that it does not try to suggest that miracles often happen, and it doesn’t try to suggest that occasional miracles are enough.  The Mets still lose the last game at Shea, Billy Joel has not had the easiest life, life-long marriages end, disaster still strikes.  But sometimes people can gather together in a big crowd and see a concert by artists they love, or see a game played by a team they love, and for a few moments life feels like a magic carpet ride shared with tens of thousands of sudden friends.  Life is what it is.  But music and games can make it into something more.  Films about sports are usually so boring.  Films about music are usually only worth listening to.  This film feels as if it is about life.  One of the people I saw it with has no interest in baseball, limited interest in Joel, and no connection to New York.  Yet he “got” the film and was very moved by it.  Anybody would be.  This film deserves to be opening soon at your local multi-plex, where it would give the filmed video games and the formulaic comedies a run for their money.   

It is a very strange thing to sit in a crowd of 20,000 and do something that no crowd of 20,000 has ever done before.  We were watching a movie.  Or were we?  The unprecedented nature of our experience was evident from the very beginning.  At the opening of the film, Billy Joel comes out to his piano at Shea and to begin his concert, he leads the crowd in the singing of the national anthem, just as a crowd would do at the start of a baseball game.  Okay, what are we supposed to do?  Are we a crowd at a movie?  If you’re watching a movie in which somebody  leads a crowd in the singing of the national anthem, you’re not supposed to stand up and sing, are you?  That’s what’s happening on the screen.  We’re spectators.  We’re not supposed to participate.  And yet even if we’re watching a movie, we’re sitting here in a baseball stadium, where the entertainment always starts with the singing of the national anthem.  Some people stood up, sat down, stood up again, as most of us looked confused.  Finally, we all got up and sang “The Star Spangled Banner” just like the crowd we were watching on the screen.  It felt as if we became the crowd on the screen, and that feeling, it seemed to me, lasted all through the film.

We were several crowds, all of them different, and all of them connected.  And although we were perfectly orderly, we didn’t behave like a crowd watching a movie.  We were the concert crowd, cheering Tony Bennett as he hit a high sustained note at the end of “New York State of Mind,” cheering the opening piano chords of every Billy Joel song, singing along with “I Saw Her Standing There,” “Piano Man,” and “Let It Be.”  We became the crowds that cheered the hopeful leap of the 1962 Mets, the impossible championship of the ’69 Mets, the ball going through Buckner’s legs, and the Piazza home run of September 21, 2001.  The black cat and the Beatles seemed to run out onto grass right in front of us, even though we knew that they actually ran out onto the grass that was now buried forever under asphalt just a few feet from us.  We wept as the Mets lost the last game at Shea and you heard a collective mournful grunt when the old scoreboard fell down on its face.  When we weren’t blending into these historic crowds, we were ourselves in real time, watching a film.  We cheered Billy Joel when he described his decision to move back to New York at a time when no one else loved it or believed in it.  We laughed when he described himself as “impossibly not good looking.”  We nodded our heads with understanding as he tried to define the “element of spirituality” that tied everything in this film together.     

It was a hit.  I heard people talking and everyone was blown away.  No one complained that there wasn’t enough concert footage.  No one complained about anything.  There may have been a little disappointment that Billy did not come out at the end to lead us in a song.  But hey, why should we expect that?  We had seen something real, in the way that art can sometimes be more real than anything else.  We saw a great film that moved us to our bones and how often do you see something like that?  Almost never.  And we saw it with 20,000 other people in a baseball stadium.  How often do you do that?  You never do that.  We did that.

Last Play at Shea

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

Tonight, a concert-sized crowd of tens of thousands will watch a film at Citi Field about a concert at Shea. 

They will feel something of what those people felt at the last concert at Shea in July of 2008.

And they will understand something of the miracles that happened at Shea in 1969 and 1986, miracles that have some interesting parallels with other miracles:  that a funny-looking guy from Levitown became one of the greatest pop stars of the twentieth century, that four working-class kids from Liverpool became the greatest pop stars of the twentieth century, that New York triumphantly survived the twentieth century.  And that the almost eternally disappointing Mets continue to inspire love and loyalty in the  hearts of millions.

If you’re going to be there, you’re going to love it. 

You will celebrate the genius of the ordinary and the triumph of the lowly.    You will hear the echoes of history.  And you will become part of it.

I’ll see you there.

My Babies

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

I wanted to get to bed early last night.  I was hoping to get to bed around 11 and wake up around 7.  It looked as if I was going to be able to do that.  But then poor R.A. Dickey, pitching yet another magnificent game, gave up a home run and the score was tied and it was off into extra innings.  Extra innings in Houston, as I know in my gut, can last a very long time.  Sure enough, it took 14 innings before Ike Davis could lift a sacrifice fly to right, and Manny Acosta could close it down.  I went to bed after midnight, and woke up later than I wanted to.

Why did I do this, I thought, as I was watching the game itself?  How much difference would it make if I turned the TV off after 9 innings, went to bed, and looked at the box score and recap tomorrow morning?  Why did I need to know right now, in real time?  It’s not as if this was such an important game.  Even I have little hope left, with Atlanta and Philadelphia playing as they are.  What perverse, compulsive instinct is this?  All it reminds me of was the way a few months ago, when my daughter was finishing up her first year of college and was depressed about some stuff, I would sometimes stay up late to check her Facebook status to see if she posted something that would suggest that she was in a better mood.  Something similar was happening with me and the Mets.  I was staying up after midnight because I needed to know, in real time, if they were happy.  Why did I need to know this?  I needed to know for the same reason I needed to know about my daughter’s state of mind.  I love them.

What kind of insanity is this?  Everybody knows by now that nobody loves the current Mets.  They are a mess and a disaster.  They’re chokers and they lack leadership, guts, spunk, and talent.  If somebody doesn’t know this, they should read the papers and learn the truth.  But for some reason I am incapable of feeling this way about them.  And the reason is that I have, over the years, given them a specific special place in my world.   They feel to me as if they’re my children.  And I’ve been feeling this way since I was seven, when I was young enough to be a grandchild to several of them.  I have never cared all that much whether they were winning or losing.  What has mattered to me is that they were doing some good things, experiencing some triumphs, however small.  It has mattered to me that they were pleased with what they were doing, that they knew I was cheering for them.  I felt towards them the way I felt towards my own kid, a very indifferent softball player, who would every once in a while work out a walk (good eye!) or bounce a ball past the hapless little girl playing third. 

This is probably not the right attitude to have towards a multi-million dollar business that manages to get a fair amount of money out of me.  But I can’t help it.  Smarter, more serious bloggers than I urge us all to be angry.  Somehow I can’t manage it.  If I didn’t do it in the sixties or the late seventies, why should I do it now?  Days like that will never come back, nor should they.  But one of the constants in my life is the unconditional, encouraging, excessive, and compassionate love I have always felt for anyone who takes the field with an NY on his hat, in a bold and vivid orange. 

I value this innocence.  I love loving them, however much they may not always deserve it.  Your own kids won’t always deserve the love you feel for them, let me tell you.  I know they’re not the best.  David is the kid who tries too hard.  Jose isn’t always paying attention.   Frenchie is always doing something wrong and however often people tell him, he still can’t help but feel that high fastball is a present somebody is giving him.  I want to protect the young ones, and have serious respectful talks with the older ones.  I know they’re trying even if their teachers aren’t always convinced.  I know that they want to make me happy and I appreciate it.  I feel so badly for them when people are mean to them, when people say they’re no good, when people don’t want to come to the ballgames anymore and sit in the foldable chairs in foul territory and cheer them.     

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I hope to see a lot of you at the world premiere of Billy Joel’s movie “Last Play at Shea” at Citi Field on Saturday.  You can order tickets here and you can read my review here.   As I’ve mentioned before, it’s a great film and I make a few appearances in it.  Look for me when people start talking about the 1969 Mets.  If you want to say hi, I’ll be in Section 114, row 19.

Choosing our Fate

Monday, August 16th, 2010

This week the primary campaign of Howard Megdal moves to “Dana Brand’s Mets Fan Blog.”  If you have a view about whether or not Howard Megdal should be the new general manager of the New York Mets, vote here.   If you are wondering what this is all about, visit megdalforgm.com

What this is, as I see it, is performance art or what we back in the sixties used to call guerilla theatre.  Howard isn’t really running for GM because general manager, as you may have noticed is not an elected position.  At times it seems as if it is not a position that is in any sense accountable to public opinion.   I think this is Howard’s main purpose.  He is asking us to imagine what it would be like if New York Mets fans had some influence on the management of the franchise to which they give so many dollars and so many drops of blood, sweat, and tears.  So, express yourself here.  Show Howard and the world that you read this blog and you have an opinion. 

Jumping Up and Down

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

R.A. Dickey is the man.  I love him to death.   A journeyman pitcher, never a real major-leaguer, emerging at the age of 35 by mastering the knuckleball, who could make this up?  And as articulate as anybody who’s ever played on the Mets.  As articulate as Ron Darling, as articulate as George Theodore.  A dream of a player.  And there’s the fact that he told a New York Times interviewer that if he hadn’t become a major league pitcher, he would have liked to have been an English professor.  How amazing is that?!  I’m an English professor and if I hadn’t become an English professor, I would have liked to have been a major league pitcher!  It’s like we’re living parallel lives.  I’m just being silly.  I am giddy.  I am so happy.

Dickey is the most amazing story in a season with several cool stories, a season in which I have felt at times as if I was the last reasonably happy fan of the New York Mets.  I dreamed he would pitch like this tonight.  

You know, it’s as if the Mets read all the stories in the papers today (which I’m sure they didn’t) and thought, hey you guys have your narrative and you’re going to town with it.   But it isn’t true.  And we will make it not true.  And you will have to find another narrative.  And we know that’s a lot of work for you, because reality is more complex than the narrative you’ve decided upon.  But do the work.  You want us to work hard.  You work hard too. 

When, Mets geeks, was the last time the New York Mets had four starting pitching performances in a row as good as the four they’ve just had?  Do we have to go back to Gooden, Darling, Fernandez, and Ojeda?  Or back to Seaver, Koosman, Gentry, and Ryan?  Santana, Pelfrey, Niese, and Dickey can hold their heads high in this historic company.   Can you imagine these four in the playoffs?

Can I Say Something?

Friday, August 13th, 2010

I’m trying to watch and enjoy a major league baseball season that I actually think is pretty interesting.  Others may be done with it, but I’m not done with it yet.  It may be the way I’m wired.  It clearly doesn’t bother me as much as it bothers others to root for teams that don’t have a lot going for them.  I’ve been doing it with great consistency since 1962. 

I still have hope that my team can make a comeback.  I’m still enjoying the pleasure of my hope.  There are ways it could happen.   The Mets are at .500 with four starting pitchers who may be getting themselves into a terrific groove.  They have an underperforming offense that might, just might, catch fire.   They are in a much shallower hole than some of the holes I’ve seen them, and other teams, climb out of in the past.  Why would I want to put this season out of its misery, as so many Mets fans have, when there is so much of it left, when there are so many ways it could still be interesting and encouraging and even a few ways in which it could be memorably triumphant?   Why would I want to do that?

I went to Citi Field this afternoon with my daughter.   We had a great time with an enthusiastic crowd and saw a pitching performance that was so good, emphatic, and filled with character that it brought tears to my eyes. 

Not only that, it was the third spectacularly pitched game in a row.  Tomorrow R.A. Dickey pitches.  If Pelfrey has returned to form, and it sure looked as if he had on Tuesday, when was the last time the Mets had four starting pitchers as good and as exciting as they have right at this moment? 

Carlos Beltran had three hits, and Jose Reyes was electric.  I felt so good.

And forgive me.  I remember how after 114 games in 1969, the Mets were 9 games out.  They gained 17 games and finished 8 games ahead.  I remember how after 114 games in 1973, the Mets were 7.5 games out.  They gained 9 games and finished 1.5 games ahead.  I remember how after 114 games in 2001, the Mets were 11.5 games out.  They gained 8.5 games and going into the last week of the season, they were 3 games out.  They didn’t make it all the way but that August and September were damned exciting.   As recently as 2008, the Mets, with many of the same players as they have now, spent a summer winning 48 and losing 27.  All I am saying is however much pain anybody is feeling now, it is wrong, wrong I tell you, to think that this season is over.   When you have starting pitchers pitching at this level, and when it is perfectly possible that Wright, Beltran, Bay, and Reyes could all catch fire, the potential is there for the kind of August-September run that baseball fans live for, the kind of run we had in ‘69, ‘73, ‘01, and ‘08.   It may not take us all the way to the playoffs, but any meaningful September baseball will be meaningful to me.   I want to feel good about these guys.  I like them and I am not going to say that they have disappointed me until I know for certain at the end of the season that they have.

As much as I continue to like Jerry Manuel as a person and as a character, I do want a new manager.  But it is not some great awfulness that he is where he is at this moment.  He earned his job in 2008.  It would have been unfair to blame him for what happened in 2009.  He went into this season hanging by a thread but he was a plausible manager-of-the-year candidate until the All-Star Break which was only a month ago.  A fair person would only have dreamed of firing him in the past month.  Replacing him at this moment is a debatable move for several reasons.  As much as I howled last night when he didn’t bring in Rodriguez (an action which might have saved us a lot of trouble on several different fronts), I think we might as well wait and see what happens in the rest of this season.   And you know what?  However crazy he looks to me at times,  if he pulls it out, I’d want to keep him. 

They’re still playing some baseball worth watching down on that field, guys.   I know that the media was all clogged today with the K-Rod bullshit about which I have nothing to say. *  I too often feel as if I’m trying to enjoy my dinner as bombs are falling around me.  I too wonder who the hell is in charge and what exactly are they thinking.  But I am enjoying the baseball.   I want the guys to know I am still watching and I still believe in them.  I am not so generous about the limitations of those who do things that have a more direct effect on the lives of others.   But these men are playing ballgames, clumsily, streakily, and inconsistently.  And  they have not entirely embarrassed themselves yet.   Some of them are playing in ways I consider heroic.  Please hold off your anger and scorn until you know that this season truly deserves to be considered a disaster.  Please join me in cheering and hoping for the best for this team.

*  When I wrote the above piece on Thursday night, the full details of K-Rod’s assault were not known and there were only speculations.  Now that the full details have come out, I think the Mets should dump him.  Unfortunately that makes it less likely that the team can make a run.  That is a genuine disaster.  But who knows if someone else could step up?  There are 24 other guys on that team and I’m rooting for them.  It will take more than this to get me to throw myself on the pig pile.  This is a Clorox-firecracker moment and it is goddamn too bad, considering that the script of the evening should have had K-Rod as the hero.  The kind of journalists who write just to be read have been thrown a big piece of raw meat.

I Will Say This

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

After a stirring and even potentially tide-turning victory like the one Mike Pelfrey gave us on Tuesday night, after Jon Neise gave us seven magnificent innings, with the rest of the season on the line, with the team desperately needing a second victory in a row, with Francisco Rodriguez pitching now at the top of his form, a Mets fan has the right to expect that with two outs and two runners in scoring position in the eighth inning, Rodriguez will be brought in to give us a four-out save.   And our pride back.

What Does a Mets Fan Have a Right to Expect?

Monday, August 9th, 2010

What does a Mets fan have a right to expect?  I think that a Mets fan has a right to expect competence from ownership and management.  I think a Mets fan has a right to expect spirit and effort from the team.  And I think a Mets fan has a right to expect an intelligent receptiveness to his/her needs from ownership.

I don’t think a Mets fan has a right to expect to win.  I don’t think a Mets fan has a right to expect “results.”  I don’t think that fans of any team have a right to expect winning or results.   I don’t think the fact that we’re in New York should mean much.  If I ran baseball, it would mean nothing.   

I don’t agree that what has happened this year should be considered unacceptable.  I am disappointed that Perez and Maine are done, and I am disappointed that Bay is having what I hope is only a disappointing year of adjustment.  But a lot has happened this year that does not disappoint me.  It appears that the organization may be richer in talent than I ever thought they were.  It may be reasonable to give management and ownership some credit for this.  I am glad that a lot of this talent was not traded away to achieve short-term goals.  I still haven’t heard of anything the Mets organization should have done or could have done in the past year that makes it fair to say that what has happened is “unacceptable.”

Is the problem, as some have said, that the Mets are too nice?  Do they lack swagger?  The 1969 Mets, let me tell you, were plenty nice and the 1986 Mets were a lot nicer than what is by now their mythological reputation.   Swagger, I think, is overrated.  Lastings Milledge had swagger and people yelled at him for it.  What a team needs to win is not swagger, but confidence.  Many of the 2010 Mets right now have a confidence problem.  Swagger is something you see in certain people with certain personalities when they are confident.  But some confident people don’t swagger.  And swagger itself, or meanness itself, won’t get you anywhere.  Confidence is what you want.  And if Mike Pelfrey gets his confidence back, and Carlos Beltran and Jason Bay get back on track, watch out.  The Mets will be confident and good, and my guess is that they won’t be any meaner than they are now.

I do agree that Jerry Manuel, by this point, should be replaced, because I think there are others who could do a better job of managing the Mets right now and there is need for a change.  It is probably also time for Omar Minaya to go, for the same reasons.  But I am not going to blame Jerry and Omar for what has happened the last few seasons.  Just a tiny bit of luck would have made everything different in 2007 and 2008.  And if Mike Pelfrey could have remained consistent and Jason Bay could have performed as he had in all of his most recent seasons, the Mets would still be in the thick of the pennant race. 

The Mets are not on life support because they weren’t mean enough or because they’ve been badly led.   The fact is that they weren’t quite good enough to win it this year, as nearly all of us agreed at the start of the season.  And there weren’t enough opportunities to make them that much better.  Who would you have given up to get Cliff Lee or Roy Halliday?  The reason everyone is so down on them now is that in May and June, they raised our hopes so high.  We have been in this place before, a lot lately, and we’re hurting.  But how has anyone determined that it is unacceptable that we should be hurt? 

What is unacceptable is callousness and cynicism.  What is unacceptable is laziness, indifference, and incompetence.  I still need to be convinced that Mets management and the Mets players are guilty of these things this year.  I respect those who make reasoned arguments that the Mets have these qualities.  I may disagree, but I will listen to the arguments of anyone who can explain to me how what has happened should have been avoided. 

My problem is with the idea that I hear behind so many radio calls, blog entries, and forum posts.  My problem is with the idea that defeat itself is unacceptable.  Too many Mets fans now believe this.  From what I heard from Yankees fans interviewed when Steinbrenner died, they have believed this for a while.   All I can say is that I don’t believe this.  And I think that the conviction of many New Yorkers that because we are New Yorkers we have a right to expect to win is the saddest aspect of the legacy of George Steinbrenner.

Upcoming Events

Friday, August 6th, 2010

If you haven’t done so already, be sure to get your tickets to the premiere, at Citi Field, at 8 pm on Saturday, August 21, of “The Last Play at Shea,” Billy Joel’s terrific new movie about his historic final concerts at Shea Stadium, the Mets, Shea, the Beatles, Joel, New York, and the sublimity of the ordinary.  I actually saw the film twice, when it showed at the Tribeca Film Festival, at which time I posted this review.  If you care about music, Shea, baseball, New York, and the future of cinema, you owe it to yourself to see this extraordinary film with thousands of others at Citi Field.  I’ll be there of course and you will be able to see me up on the screen a few times as an enthusiastic and perhaps somewhat crazed talking head.  (Is that the way I really look?  Yeah, but you should have gotten a haircut.  I didn’t know I was going to be interviewed on film until that afternoon.  Yeah, well that’s why you should always get your haircuts.  Maybe it’s better, so that I look like this crazy professor.  Yeah, whatever, at least you ended up in the film).

I’ll also be doing a bunch of talks/readings this fall about the eternal pleasures of being a Mets fan.  Here’s what’s lined up so far and stay tuned for more:

August 26, 7 pm, The Fairfield Museum and History Center, Fairfield, CT (As part of their terrific series “It’s a Hit!:  A Hometown View of our National Pastime”)

September 8, 6:30 pm, Trumbull Public  Library, Trumbull, CT

October 4, 7 pm, Tarrytown Public Library, Tarrytown, NY

November 2, 7 pm, Nyack Public Library, Nyack, NY

On the Anniversary of Bob Murphy’s Death

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Six years after his death, his voice is always still in my head.  This is one of the reasons why I can’t give up hope so easily.

INSIDE BOB MURPHY’S VOICE 

Everything is fair and safe and well-intentioned.

The bases are firmly anchored and the weather is perfect.

People have funny stories to tell about each other. 

 I am happy in the back seat of a car on a dark road because Joe Christopher has just hit a home run.

It is early March, but spring is here.

I know whether or not the ball that has just left the bat will leave the park, and if I don’t know, then it will be very close and very exciting.

 I know it is good to be a parent, a husband, and a friend.

I doubt that those who do bad things really meant to do them.

I am glad when the Mets win, but I have sympathy for the misfortunes of others.

 Young kids are eager and veterans are wise.

The young kids will become veterans.

The veterans will retire, but they won’t die for a long time, and you will still run into them from time to time.

 Everyone has something interesting to say.

Every bad thing that happens can be borne.

I am awake and full of hope.

 Afternoons are pleasant in prospect.

Nights are evenings.  They are to be enjoyed.

It is never morning, but somehow it always seems to be.

 It is 2 A.M. in my room in my parents’ house and it is the twentieth inning and neither the Mets nor the Astros have scored a run.

One summer in my thirties, almost all the recaps are happy.

A man I have known all my life dies when I am almost fifty and I never wrote him the letter I always meant to write him, telling him how much he meant to me.

 Inside Bob Murphy’s voice, I am happy to be on earth.

And I am one of the nicest guys you could ever hope to meet. 

©Dana Brand, Mets Fan (McFarland, 2007)

Not Dead Yet

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010