Oct 30

I Cannot Think of a Worse Way to Spend $99.99

Somebody at Steiner Sports is either brain dead or possessed of a wickedly ironic sense of humor. How else to explain the sports memorabilia shop's "special" offer of four New York Mets player photos? Who in their right mind would shell out money for the following "gift" items:

– Oliver Perez "jumping over the foul line". Question: Was this pic snapped immediately after he walked six straight batters, forcing in the go-ahead run in yet another disastrous pitching performance?Oliverperez

– Billy Wagner autographed "fist pump." I wonder if the pump occurred in the locker room after Wagner snapped at the press corps, telling them he'd rate the Mets' relief corps with that of any in baseball? In my humble opinion, the team's relief corps, along with the lack of a true leader a la Gary Carter or Keith Hernandez, spelled doom in '08.

– Aaron Heilman action photo. Puh-leese. The only action Heilman saw was craning his neck to watch the trajectory of the home run some opponent had just smashed. Heilman is easily the least reliable Mets reliever since Armando Benitez.

– Damion Easley turning a double play. OK. I'll buy that one. Easley does a nice job for a 38-year-old journeyman.

Steiner Sports has to be even more desperate than the Mets themselves to be offering a photo package like this. And, to think that anyone in his or her right mind would ever pay the "original" price of $299.99 is as realistic as thinking that general manager Omar Minaya will finally construct a squad that can hold onto a lead in September.

Sep 09

A Tale of Two Teams

I must admit to cherishing the plight of the best baseball team money can buy. Yes, those big, bad Bronx Bombers are languishing in fourth place in the American League’s Eastern Division, and their chances of making the playoffs are as realistic as a last-second Hillary Clinton comeback. Yankeesfrustrated

As a lifelong Yankees hater, it does my soul good to see them struggle (especially in light of the many barbs I’ve suffered over the years at the hands of Peppercom’s Bronx Bomber fans. To wit: "Why don’t you root for a real baseball team?").

That said, the Mets are providing their usual roller coaster of a ride. Always talented and always troubled, the Mets almost always play with our affections. In fact, I liken them to a former Miss Jersey beauty pageant contestant I once dated who, eWrightvery now and then, would let me know how it could be with her. Most of the time, though, she would withhold her charms. And, like the aspiring beauty queen of yesteryear, the Mets are little more than a big tease (they gave us championships in 1969 and ’86, respectively, but left us panting the rest of the time).

Still, give me the underachieving, underdog Mets any day of the week. It may not be as rewarding as rooting for baseball’s highest paid team but, image-wise, there’s something inherently cooler about being a Mets fan.

Aug 27

The Agony of Defeat

Remember "ABC’s Wide World of Sports?" The show ran for decades and had a memorable opening sequence of sports clips punctuated by Jim McKay’s signature line: "The thrill of victory. The agony of defeat." The latter was always accompanied by the sight of a ski jumper taking a horrific fall and tumbling head over heels into a snow bank far down the mountain.

The New York Mets are that skier. They are a brutal team that, no matter how much temporary comfort they provide courtesy of a modest winning streak or two, will somehow find a way to deliver the agony of defeat.

Last night’s game was vintage Mets. They were in Philadelphia to battle their archrival Phillies for sole possession of first place. As is their wont, the Mets broke on top for a sizable, early lead. In fact, they led 7-0 after four innings.Beltranspring2ug1

But, I knew they’d lose. In fact, I predicted it to my son, Chris, as soon as the Phillies scored their first run. And, sure enough, the New York Metropolitan Baseball Team ended up losing in 13 innings and surrendering first place. No surprise. It was pre-ordained.

Certain people and certain organizations exude defeat. I sometimes see defeat in the eyes of job-seekers, competitors or acquaintances. Other times, you can see it in the eyes of passersby on the street.

The Mets exude defeat. And, with two rare exceptions, they’ve always delivered. What must it be like to be haunted like the Mets’ players most certainly are? Despite what they may say publicly, all 40 men know that somehow, some way, when the chips are down, the club will cave. Talk about the agony of defeat.

Oh well, football season is about to start. And with it will come new opportunities to suffer with my other passion, the New York Jets. Like their baseball siblings, the Jets also find creative ways to experience the agony of defeat.

I can’t speak for other Mets/Jets fans, but this particular one is SO ready for the thrill of victory that I can taste it. Unfortunately, though, both my teams continue to tumble headfirst down that ski slope of life.

Jul 24

Talk About Paying to Get Screwed

Up until now, I thought that only prostitutes and the airlines made one pay to get screwed. Now, we can add the New York Metropolitan Baseball Team.

The Mets are an abysmal, rudderless team that, despite a recent renaissance, will go nowhere this year. They’re a bad product that consistently whets fans’ appetites with occasional above average and sometimes even stellar play, only to fall apart when the chips are down. Take last season, please. And take Tuesday night’s debacle against the Phils, please.

So, what does a consistently disappointing team do? Double the cost of ticket prices naturally.

Raising Mets season-ticket holder prices is wrong for every conceivable reason. In addition to further alienating a fan base that is ready to choke the next player who chokes in a critical spot, the Mets have made attending one of their games prohibitively expensive (it’s always been emotionally expensive. Now, it’s just a plain rip-off).

One can count on death, taxes and the Mets blowing a lead. Here’s hoping the Mets organization can count on a lot fewer paying fans next season. 
If ever a team decision deserved a fan boycott, it’s this one.

Thanks to Greg Schmalz for the idea.

Jun 11

This gives a whole new meaning to getting to second base

Baseball’s latest ‘scandal’ would be hilarious if it weren’t so serious.  According to various sources, RogersViagra_2
Clemens and other major league ballplayers routinely pop Viagra for on- and off-the-field performance enhancement.

Not content with their existing surfeit of steroids, athletes are now apparently ingesting the fabled little blue pill as well. Yes, Viagara, the bedroom drug of choice for Baby Boomers has become quite the ‘hit’ in baseball locker rooms from coast to coast.

Looking at this latest revelation from an image standpoint, one wonders who has the ‘bigger’ challenge: ballplayers such as Clemens or the big pharma company, Pfizer, which markets Viagra? Certainly the latter can’t be faulted for any misuse of its product. And, today’s generation of ballplayers have become so ‘tagged’ with drug use and abuse that the Viagra revelation leaves me, well, deflated.

As a matter of fact, I think this particular news item will last about as long as the average dose of Viagra. The larger question is this: who knows what long-term damage the ballplayers are doing to their bodies and to our national pastime.