April 11, 2008

Of 3-Game Winning Streaks & Defending Blogging!

I refrained from posting after last night's victory over the Phils, mostly because I was so emotionally spent after that long game that I couldn't bring fingers to keyboard (funny how that's replaced pencil to paper, huh?) Now, after tonite's sweet victory over the Brewers, that's 3 in a row for the Mets - and for right now, that's a good recovery to a tough series with the Braves' last week! However, a newspaper column that came out today has forced me to write a "rebuttal", of sorts, so please bare with me. Over in Metsblog Matt Cerrone launched a good counter-punch to the Daily News' Bob Raissman this morning, who waved a sweeping hand across much of Mets' fandom by positing the following:

This season, there will be no shortage of doom-seekers anticipating when the bottom is going to drop on the Mets for good. It is already happening. No one wants to show up late for this Panic Play. No one wants to end up being a bit player.


To hear them talk, it will soon be time to send Reyes to a psychiatrist, think about firing Randolph, put a warrant out for Omar Minaya for giving Pedro Martinez a long-term deal, and prepare spending their October watching the Phillies play.

In response to Raisman, Cerrone wrote:

…yes, Mets fans tend to be a bit emotional and irrational…i may write in a balanced, pragmatic way, but any one who knows me and speaks to me in person, during a game, in action, long before i have had time to relax and collect my thoughts, knows that i, too, get rather hot and loud about all sorts of little things surrounding this team…

…the thing is, raissman essentially says that you and i are panicking, paranoid and comical…which i believe is totally false…at no point on Monday did i feel a primal urge to run and hide in the face of imminent disaster…what’s worse, i hate that he is allowed to mischaracterize you and i without us getting a say in the matter…i hate knowing that Yankees fans and other people around the city will be lead to believe we are violent and totally off our rockers…sure, we’re passionate, and sure we get angry and we vocalize that, but you and i are not manic…we’re not crazy…we just care…but that part of the dynamic is totally ignored by raissman, who is seemingly mocking us for giving a damn…he even takes shots at Billy Wagner, who he starts to characterize in the same way…


and not one person admitted to being in a panic state…every one was nervous, most every one was frustrated, like me, and some even appeared sad, but nobody was panicking; and nearly every one remained hopeful and mostly confident - as we should be…but you wouldn’t know that from reading raissman, who has clearly mistaken anger and frustration for panic and hopelessness…

Of course, I'd like to add my own two cents here for a moment, if you'll indulge me...

Many of the fans that Raissman is referring to can be found either posting a comment on the blog of their choice, possibly this one, or, like myself, writing on a blog of our own. I think that, whether it's Raissman referencing "a few talk radio gasbags" or SNY announcer Ron Darling addressing the internet media with the following: "This is a tough town, man, a tough town to play in nowadays. With the Internet and everything they have - the blogs and things - it makes it even tougher." - fandom in general is getting a bad name, and blogging, specifically, has been receiving the blunt of this criticism.

There has been a lot of discussion lately about blogging and the role bloggers play in the media. As a blogger going on 3+ years now, I am proud of the fact that there are many Mets' sites that fans can go to for more than just news; they get opinions, facts, thoughts, rants, personal photos and memories that traditional media writers' can't offer - not because they're not able, but because their jobs call for them to be impartial, to present facts as best as they can while remaining objective, regardless of which team they root for...except, of course, for columnists who are paid specifically for their opinions, such as Mike Lupica and T.J. Simers (and I am a HUGE fan of Simers!)

Blogging allows for bloggers, such as myself, a chance to voice our opinions about something we love - in this case, the New York Mets- and we don't advertise ourselves as anything else. If something makes upsets us, we have a forum of our own to discuss it, dissect it, and move on...or not, if that is appropriate for a particular individual. I have been brutally honest in summarizing last season as an abject failure- for me, sadly, the death of my father this past January meant that he'd no longer be able to celebrate another Mets' World Series victory with me in person- and I took it harder and perhaps more personally than I probably should have...and that is my right and privelage to do so! Yet there I was a few days ago, at the last Spring Training game in Fort Lauderdale, and the opening 2 games of the season in Florida, wearing my Johan Santana jersey or Pedro Martinez jersey, spending a small (okay, NOT so small) fortune on tickets(!), food, memorabilia, parking and batteries for my camera (as well as airfare, no small expense as I do, after all, live in Los Angeles), cheering on the team that I love! So, if I take offense to a move that Willie made or makes, or can't yet shake the feeling of last season, forgive me, but that's my right as well, without the Bob Raissmans' of the world thinking that I am "panicing" or having a lingering memory that turns "into a strange psychosis bordering on paranoia." Being a Mets' fan means always having hope, yet knowing that the rug could be pulled out from you at any time. We don't root for a big corporation, as the Yankees' have become- we root for the wiseguy, little brother who every once in a while throws a punch that knocks out the bully that's been bothering him for the past 10 years...if that looks like "panic" to you, Mr. Raissman, I think you'd better take another look at the Mets' fanbase and yearly won-loss records and perhaps re-evaluate your definition of such terms...and don't speak for an entire fan-base because of a few devout fans who are simply displaying their love for their team- right or wrong. I respect your right to make a living writing for Newsday, and have often enjoyed your writing over the years - now please allow us the chance to be fans, regardless of what you perceive our short-comings to be, so long as we don't hurt anyone - and hey, I guess we gave you a column for a day, didn't we?

Getting back to blogging, for a moment (or more), this is a labor of love that usually results in a cult-like following, which can often grow to epic proportions! That doesn't preclude us from having opinions, nor does it stop us from being excited the first time we see that as renowned a publication as Sports Illustrated provides a link to Shea Nation from their website on their Mets Teampage! It simply means that, as our popularity grows, the power that our words possess takes on greater importance to our fan-base, and the more discussion that takes place about our team. Sometimes, someone like Bryan Hoch can create a blog, like the old Metsonline.com, and launch a career with Major League Baseball, and in so doing, showed fans that blogs can be a great way to express opinions and receive news, not to mention, in unusual cases, actually make some money doing something you really love doing!

Take Metsblog for instance; while Matthew Cerrone is now a full-time blogger, making a nice (I hope) living off of it, he maintains objectivity wherever possible; however, as a long-time fan, he can't help but express his opinions about things he finds either frustrating or exceptional - just like any other FAN of a team would do! Does that mean he's panicing when he expresses his frustration with a move of Willie's or the lack of success of a middle reliever? No more than it does the person who gets upset that her favorite American Idol was in the "bottom three" that evening. Whether you are reading our blog, Metsfever, Metsmerized, Metsblog or any other wonderful blog out there about our beloved Mets, you're bound to see a combination of facts, opinions and conjecture- and a whole lot of unexpurgated rants, usually in the same article! And you know what's great about this??? It never existed before a few years ago, and in sum, allows us, as fans, access to far more in-depth information and opinions about the team(s) we love!

Years ago, growing up in New York, there was exactly ONE writer who engaged in rumors, insider information, gossip and innuendo - most of which was close to being 100% accurate- and that was the New York Posts' basketball writer, Peter Vecsey. He was original, and offered a side of the game that few others did. Today, through the great writing from the likes of Peter Gammons, Rob Neyer, Buster Olney, Ken Rosenthal, Dayn Perry, Jon Heyman, Tom Verducci, Adam Rubin, Ken Davidoff, David Lennon, John Delcos, Bob Klapisch, Joel Sherman, Ben Shpigel and so many others, baseball fans (and Mets' fans, in particular) are exposed to so much of the game that wasn't as transparent or readily available years ago, that blogs such as ours are logical extensions to their writing, allowing us, as fans, who represent all of our readers, a chance to take their writing further and personalize it in a way that other fans can either agree with or take exception to- which is why there are "comments" sections at most, if not all, blogs.

None of us claim to "know it all" - the only thing that, in my opinion, Mets' bloggers claim is an over-riding passion for the blue and the orange...and it's our right, as fans, to express our opinions to anyone who will listen (or, in this case, read)! We LOVE our players when we're doing well, and we even love them when they're not; we just express it a bit differently! Most players were, themselves, fans of the game- otherwise, why did they follow the sport in the first place! We are smart enough to know that - and we mean NO dissrespect to any player or member of the Mets' organization when we rant on them- again, we are expressing our rights of "free speech," "short-term memory" and "unbridled enthusiasm" (as well as "nightly bouts of insanity that lasts from 7:10 - 10:30pm, EST, most nights", "superstitious and irrational thoughts interrupted by the occasional restroom break" and "loss of the usage of vocal cords from yelling at the latest bullpen gaffe/tired lung syndrome" - all suggested by my "baseball widow" aka my lovely wife!)

Personally, there are many things that I have heard, from sources that are extremely reliable, about players and personalities in this game we love so much that will NEVER make it to this site- simply because I (or any other person who posts on this site) didn't hear it or see it with my (or their) own two eyes ; that being said, this doesn't preclude me from getting frustrated when the bullpen, or one pitcher from the bullpen, specifically, blows another game that we should have won, nor does it (or should it) stop me from blogging about it at my earliest convenience. We are just as vested in the success of this team as the players are; I look around my home office as I type this, and I am surrounded by a virtual "Hall-of-Fame" of my life as a sports' fan, from autographed photos of the best catchers in Mets' history (a story for another time) to memorabilia from the likes of Walter Johnson, Babe Ruth, Tom Seaver or Willie Mays...and I take both inspiration from their successes and knowledge from their disappointments...after all, a great hitter is only "right" 3.25 times out of 10 in baseball, right? So, the way I figure it, if we post 5-15 times a day, and we cover a variety of topics, if we get it right 33% of the time, if we tickle your fancy, provoke your thoughts, stimulate discussion or simply take you away from your problems for a minute or two, then we've done our job. We answer to a VERY high authority that, to me, far exceeds an editor-in-chief any day - YOU, and I, the Mets' fans of the world that help keep this game of ours going!! Furthermore, that memorabilia didn't come cheap- it's been collected over a lifetime of fandom (and from some great family members and friends) and represents the many, many thousands of dollars I've spent over the years as a fan of the game and in particular, the Mets! That DOES, in my opinion, allow me the right to voice my opinion as much as the person who didn't enjoy their main course at a restaurant, and my preferred platform happens to be this blog. It doesn't make me right, although I pray daily that my average will be above the "Mendoza line!" (For those who don't understand that reference, and I'm sure there can't be more than - say - ONE of you- [LOL] - here's a link to its' meaning.)

So, the next time a writer starts to knock crazed fans, so-called "paniced" fans, blogging, or bloggers, or even one blog, don't do something drastic such as stop reading him or her - after all, just like us bloggers, and a lot of utility players and pinch hitters we know, even THEY are entitled to an "off day" now and then...now about that Mets' line-up tonite...

Back to my opening paragraph, lest I let a thought go by uncompleted (perish the thought), this morning, I didn't feel quite complete as the "real world" intruded and I was too swamped at work (which, contrary to popular belief, I do engage in around 60 hours per week) to post about last night's victory. It's easy to write about frustation, as feelings of anger seem to flow through most people today far easier than feelings of joy, and as Mets' fans, we really don't get too many joyous feelings, now do we? Well, never let it be said that I don't praise great effort, as unlike game 2 of the series, game 3 provided a well-deserved and well-earned victory, one that seemed like it would get away from us on many occasions. It didn't, we won, and we are now 2-1 this season against the hated-Phils (see, Raisman - it wasn't panic - it was passion!) I'm not paid to write on this blog (thank goodness for everyone's sake - LOL), but I take it very seriously, as many fans look to our site for their daily dose of everything Mets' that day, whether it takes you away from a stressful day or titilates you for that night's game- and for reading our rants (and this one in particular) I truly thank you and promise to post as much as I can the remainder of this season, regardless of the outcome of a game or the professional workload I carry. When my father passed, the outpouring of sentiment from fellow bloggers and loyal readers was very gratifying, and believe me, on the days when I'm so mad at our team that I LONG to snap something in half, I remember those moments and choose to blog instead...take your therapy any way you can get it, I guess...

Now back to more "current" and "relevant" events...As far as tonite's game goes, it was an excellent win led by New Yorker Nelson Figueroa (who was, by the way, one of the few players who did, indeed, sign for kids at the last Spring Training game)! It was great to see his whole family realize his dream alongside him, winning a game for his home team, and coming back full-circle to the town that reared him. It was also great to see so many home-grown players on the field tonite (Figueroa, Casanova, Reyes, Wright, Pagan, Heilman and Smith) or, roughly one-f0urth of the current roster! Yes, it's a very, very long season...yes, it's natural for all of us (with me at the front of the line) to be a bit leery of this team, at any point this season, based on the heartbreak that was last season...and yes, it's natural to demand change when things aren't working, just as it was natural not to expect to see such great outings from starters Mike Pelfrey and Nelson Figueroa! And you know what? Unlike lots of other teams out there, when a Mets' fan is surprised, it's really a great feeling, one that we want over and over, because, as a fan base, again, in my opinion, we really are pretty special people...that's why we blog, that's why we root together, and that's why, in spite of everything, the one thing that Raisman forgot or neglected to mention, is that being a Mets' fan is ALWAYS having that last bit of HOPE left that somehow, some way, we'll pull a victory out of the ashes of defeat (or is that the other way around) and remind ourselves of the glory of '69 and '86 after all...and hey, I've met a few Phillies' fans who didn't get over the 1964 collapse even AFTER their World Series victory in 1980 (oh yeah - did I say their 1980 victory was their ONLY W.S. victory?!!), so give us a break as September just wasn't that long ago...but after tonite, it sure is getting fuzzier by the day, isn't it?

As we used to say in my old collegiate newspaper days -


PS- A special "thank you" to my brother, Michael, for allowing us to use some photos for this "rant" from his opening day album. We'll post a nice sampling of his 800+ photos from Opening Day over the weekend!


Anonymous said...

you said it guys, hope is all we got some times

Anonymous said...

our replacements are pitching great like in 2006