Saturday, July 31, 2010

MetropoliTONS of Fun

You already know what it is
We the Mets from Queens
We lose a lot ...
but we're going to try to win
We'll see what happens

So Ron Artest has created a Mets anthem for the 21st century. Why is it not surprising that someone as creatively and emotionally ... different as Ron Ron found a way to sum up what it means to be a Mets fan in a two-minute verse?

Win some, lose some
The Mets dun dun
We just tell ourselves
Success is a nuisance

Success must be a nuisance, because Met ownership and the front office seem to have been allergic to it for the better part of 50 years now. The past 15 years have been particularly difficult to bear, since the playing field has been tilted in favor of big-market clubs like at no other time in baseball history.

No matter - as is their custom, the Mets have bungled their way through most of that time period anyway. Three playoff appearances, one National League championship - that's it. Success is apparently such a nuisance for the Wilpon family that, since firing Bobby Valentine eight years ago, they've decided to employ a corporate flunkie as a general manager and a series of stooges as managers. Success has certainly been kept to a minimum around these parts, thanks to the hiring practices of Fred Wilpon.

Today is the trading deadline - which itself has become sort of a black feast day for the Mets fans. Once I'm done here, I'm going to strap on my praying hat and beg the baseball gods to keep the Mets from doing something stupid that will only keep this team further from their third championship. The last time I forgot to do that, Victor Zambrano became a Met.

I got a ring
No need to be cranky
The Mets need 25 more
To tie the Los Los Yankees

Shut up, Ron Ron.

Baseball is not exactly a singing sport, anyway. Everyone knows the words to Take Me Out to the Ballgame, of course, and far too many people drunkenly slobber the lyrics to Sweet Caroline whenever it is foisted upon us. (Can we start a movement to ban Sweet Caroline at sporting events around the country? I am convinced that footage of American baseball fans screaming "so good, so good, so good!" is shown in terrorist training camps around the world on an endless loop to whip would-be jihadists into a lather.)

Mets fans are actually lucky in that we have two incomparable homages to our hometown team. Meet the Mets is still a wonderful sing-along; created in 1962, updated in 1984, it is the first song I plan on teaching my little niece when she's old enough to sing it. (War Eagle will be the second song she learns - she'll be the envy of her pre-school class!)

Then there is Lets Go Mets, the soundtrack to the 1986 championship season. I have a simple request - the Mets should play Meet the Mets before the bottom of the first inning and Lets Go Mets right after the national anthem (minus the Joe Piscopo interlude, of course). Forget Take Me Out to the Ballgame and Lazy Mary -we have our own songs to sing.

Now we have Ron Ron's joint, which belongs up there with the two greatest Mets songs ever written. Embrace the silliness, the ill-placed Jason Bay shout-out, the self-effacing lyrics about the Mets' limited history of success. Ron Ron has captured exactly what it means to be a Mets fan - loyalty in the face of logic, fidelity in the face of reason.

We are all Mets fans, no matter how incompetent ownership is, no matter how embarrassing the on-field product becomes. We stay with this team, year after year, because they are our team and because somehow, in some way, they find little ways to make us happy.

We the MetropoliTONS of Fun
We the MetropoliTONS of Fun
No matter how many games we won
We the MetropoliTONS of Fun

1986, 1969 dot dot dot
C'mon y'all, let's step it up.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Geek Trinity Approved!

As you know, I am awesome. Part of being awesome, of course, is not discriminating against geeks.

So when I found out that the boys from Geek Trinity added me to their Links We Like, I was humbled and honored. (They got the name of the site wrong - it's Productive Outs and Crackerjack! - but the site is still in its infancy and small mistakes can be overlooked for now.) Golden Ratio and the Jersey Pirate (aka Sarcastic Bastard) are two of my favorite people in the world, even if they both live hundreds of miles away. I haven't spent much time with Dez5908, but I imagine I'll be hoisting pints with him two weeks from now when I make my long-awaited return to the Port City. If Golden Ratio and the Jersey Pirate vouch for him, then I know he's a good guy.

I am a little ashamed, though; the link description describes this blog as "where we go for our daily dose of insightful baseball talk from a forlorn Mets fan (emphasis mine)." Productive Outs has barely been able to administer weekly doses of baseball insight this season, although God knows that I certainly am forlorn. I'll try to better, now that I am Geek Trinity Approved!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Brilliant Marketing Strategy

The Cardinals have an interesting and creative ticket promotion that I would jump all over if I was in St. Louis. At 9 am on game day (not sure if this for day games and for night games), the ticket office sells 275 pairs of tickets for $11 each. The catch - you don't know where the seats are until you open the envelope with the tickets inside. You might get a field level seat; you might get an upper deck seat. I'm sure the cheap seats far outnumber the good ones, but using a game day lottery system to sell off unused tickets is a great idea.

As the Mets slip further away from playoff contention, I spend a lot more time thinking about the business behind the game. I'm starting in MPS in Sport Management this fall (as if I needed another distraction from maintaining this blog!) and ideas like the Cardinals' ticket selling scheme is the reason I am so interested in the program. When you root for a team that is so poorly run, it becomes painfully apparent that professional franchises can be run much more intelligently and efficiently.

If there's anyone still reading - what are some of your ideas for running a professional franchise?

Monday, July 12, 2010

All-Star Break

Some thoughts about the Mets as they start a three-day vacation and I get back to work:

* I know I've been telling anyone who will listen that Carlos Beltran was not going to play in 2010, but it looks like he will be activated in time for Thursday night's game. Am I surprised? Absolutely. Am I convinced he will make it through the rest of the season? Not at all.

That's why the news that Angel Pagan is the new starting right fielder and that Jeff Francouer is going to ride the pine may not mean all that much. Beltran is going to need extra rest anyway, so it wouldn't surprise me to see Frenchy start twice a week on a regular basis. If and when Beltran's knee succumbs to everyday abuse, Pagan will just switch back to center field and Francouer will be back in the starting lineup.

Until then, kudos to management for realizing that Pagan is unquestionably the better player and absolutely should be starting over Francouer. They actually make a devastating platoon - Francouer has a .348/.403/.449 line against lefties and Pagan has an .333/.397/.510 line against righties. Maybe Frenchy should also start shagging fly balls in center field and right field. Bay-Beltran-Pagan is surely the best starting outfield we have, but Francouer would be a reasonably valuable fourth outfielder if he played all three positions and could platoon against lefties.

* Ruben Tejada has shown that he has the potential to be a productive major league middle infielder, but it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if he finished the season in Buffalo once Luis Castillo returns. The biggest problem I see is that it will basically ensure that Alex Cora's contract option will vest and Cora will end up blocking Tejada in 2011 if that happens.

Someone will also need to tell Jerry Manuel that, once Castillo returns, he has to bat eighth. Pagan has earned the #2 spot in the lineup and to move him down to accommodate Castillo's Punch-and-Judy act will hurt the team.

The ideal lineup for this team, once Beltran returns, is Reyes-Pagan-Wright-Beltran-Bay-Davis-Barajas-2B-P. I like Ike breaking up the two right-handed bats, especially since he has come back down to earth a bit and may benefit from hitting a little lower down in the lineup.

* If John Maine ever wants to pitch in the major leagues again, it will almost certainly include a stint in Triple-A. I can't see him getting anything more than a minor-league contract in 2011. He would be crazy not to make 10 starts for Buffalo this summer and try to force his way into the September mix for the Mets. Otherwise, you may never see him in a major league uniform again.

Friday, July 9, 2010

World Cup Fever

I have it bad. So bad that I haven't posted in a month. Maybe I'll be back after the All-Star Break.

Quick thoughts:
* Yes, Mack, I am still alive. (Thank you for asking!) Readers, go to Mack's blog and consider purchasing a copy of "The Keepers." I have my copy from the beginning of the season and I know so much more about the Mets farm system because of it.
* I'm more excited about Jon Niese than Mike Pelfrey. All of a sudden, the top three in the Met rotation are good enough to make this an 86- to 89-win team. RA Dickey is the #5 - does this mean the Mets are one good starter away from 90 wins?
* Why are the Mets looking better? Addition by subtraction. No John Maine, Oliver Perez, Mike Jacobs, Luis Castillo and Frank Catalanotto? No problem. Jenrry Mejia is down in Double-A where he should have been all season. The final step? Releasing Fernando Tatis and making sure that Alex Cora's option doesn't vest.
* Cliff Lee to the Yankees? If so, we're all just playing for second place ...