Saturday, July 15, 2017

In a London Metsian Groove

While the playoffs are most likely not happening, 'tis nice to check in from my first visit to London and see a laugher occur out of the All-Star break. 

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II
The Colorado Rockies are sitting rather comfortably in the 2nd Wild Card spot with a 6.5 game lead over their closest competition (we are 9.5 back of them) but have not been playing well of late after getting off to a ridiculously good start. They are an ever-annoying team (I guess that can be said about any team playing the Mets with some clearly at the top of the heap?) even when they have been on the lower end of the competitive spectrum. I am still not sold on that environment in Denver being conducive to a consistently good Major League caliber team, even though the ballpark is my favorite of the ones I have been to and the area around the ballpark a fun time as well. We'll see if they can one day prove me wrong.

Seeing Yoenis Cespedes look refreshed out of the break with a four-hit game and showing off his arm is a breath of fresh air, and hopefully this is the start of one of his ridonkulously great stretches. Keep those legs loose!!

Jacob deGrom is everyone's favorite pitcher on the Mets, right? I know the health of pitchers these days is a fluid situation, but this team should be aiming to build around Jacob, Thor and Matz.

Alright, I woke up here in London unable to get back to sleep after only 3 hours, and after getting a taste of the British version of McDonalds for breakfast (don't worry, I've been sampling plenty of the local goods that isn't their take on an American staple) I'm going to try to get back to the pillows. Looking to hopefully find the Sunday day game in a local pub if possible, so I'll let you all know how that goes.



Sunday, June 18, 2017

Where Have I Been?

I was basking in the rarity of a Mets win against the Nats, and it dawned on me the juxtaposition of how I used to write every day during those seasons of 2012, 2013 and 2014, yet have been mostly absent during 2015, 2016 and 2017. Life comes at you, and you have ebbs and flows of motivation, but it is so simple to scurry on over to the website that helps produce this and jot a few words down on those Metsies in the Orange and Blue.

Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Here the Mets are, looking as bad as those '12-'14 teams, but that shouldn't be the only reason to write. I was documenting my time following the Mets back then, hoping that the "Ya Gotta Believe" mantra would bring about more wins than losses as the seasons progressed. That still hasn't changed, but during these years where things have turned around, I have had other things I needed to focus on while still obsessing over this measly ol' mediocre baseball team that seems to pull it together usually when all seems lost. Or not at all, but when they do pull it together, usually all seems lost right before the run begins. Why can't I head to this blog and jot down the minimum amount of words possible, which is whatever the fuck I want?

The Mets this year have not been able to take hold of momentum when it is ripe on the vine. I have many thoughts (Primarily about the lack of Amed Rosario) but I'll leave those for future writings that will begin to fill these digital pages once more. deGrom deGested a baseball today for the first time in his Major League career, an opposite field shot that was mighty impressive indeed. On top of dominating from the 2nd inning onward. It just goes to show you that no matter how miserable the Mets can look from inning to inning against a foe like that Nats, Ya just Gotta keep watching, because someone might do something that you've never seen before.

There's no business like Mets business. There's no business I know.

Let's go on with the show.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Metsian Folk, We Have Arrived

My head has been in so many different places that I knew it wouldn't dawn on me that Mets baseball is back until I watch the team take the field at Citi Field. 

The fact my head has been pulled from left to right may sound like a negative, but indeed, I have made it a goal of mine in 2017 to focus; I've just been focusing on multiple things. Whether it is working on my coming-of-age stoner biopic, or getting the 3rd draft of my Dodgers period piece in order, or helping to pump up the brand that is Two Boots Pizza, or working out more consistently, or getting back to consistent Rising Apple Mets podcasts, I have felt the need to be active in 2017 with many different things after reacting too passively at times in my adult life. Though I love baseball and can't wait for the first pitch, it still hasn't hit me that the game I hold so dear, and the team within that sport I hold the dearest, will take the field soon in Flushing, Queens, wearing the bright, beautiful colors of the Orange and Blue.

The Mets are something to behold, and a collective to look up to. Though times can be tough, though times can be rotten, you have to trudge through the sludge to taste the glory on the other side. A baseball season, even when your team wins more than they lose, is a metaphor for life squished into a daily period for 6-7 months. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose...sometimes it is a beautiful sadness, and sometimes it is achingly happy. Most of the time, the unexpected finds your path. Either way, it makes you feel alive.

The Mets and baseball make me feel alive and have taught me to take a breath and enjoy this experience I and all of us discover ever day of our lives. Unlike other years, where I've really had Spring Training to help me ease into it, this year, it's just going to smack me across the face in all it's wonderful green-grassed glamour.

Baseball and the Mets are back.
Bring it on.


(Speaking of Two Boots Pizza, there is also this...)

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Metsies Clavicle Run

In a blink of an eye, it was gone.

You can say that about the 2016 season, and you can say that about my left clavicle, the collarbone, that of my southpaw arm, when it was shattered falling off a bike near Canal on Chrystie, near the Manhattan bridge at 6:00am in the early morning of August 19. Two weeks later, I had surgery to install a titanium plate, and 6 titanium bolts, and I continue my DL stint today. Though feeling much better, I still can't exactly swing a bat yet.

Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
The day I broke it, August 19, the Mets were 60-62 after a loss that night. Those next 2 wins brought us a split in the West Coast series and sealed us home field advantage for what just occurred, and obviously the rest is history. We all know, or at least us real die-hards, what the remaining record was after the 19th, though I'll repeat it again...27-13.

Now, I am not giving spiritual blame to the breaking of my clavicle (a word I most certainly didn't know existed until I broke it, which is remarkable considering you learn all clinical terms being a Mets fan...) I'm just saying it was an interestingly exciting time spent while my prized left arm stayed in the sling. There were highs, there were lows, there were ups, and downs, and tragedy. It was a crazy last few weeks indeed. A microcosm of life and death in one short span.

Unfortunately, we now sit back as in so many Octobers, and watch the remaining 8 duke it out. At least we got this chance. I wasn't so much anxious going into it as you would think 'cause that 6 week ride was one for the ages, though the anxiousness certainly settled in in the later innings. Still, I had such a blast, and the season cannot be seen as a failure. We kept the good vibes going, though wait till next year we will do once more.

I don't want to talk about Madison Bumgarner ever again. I look forward to the Cubs bludgeoning them. All in for erasing 1908.

And that is a franchise who knows of no next year.

May it finally arrive this exact one.

Wait till Next Year indeed.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Write Stuff

"Bay walked, as did Ike Davis, and up strolled Lucas May, a catcher brought in to compete for the back-up spot. May's numbers in AAA last year were quite solid (albeit Pacific Coast League), and a couple of pitches into the at bat, we soon found out why he was brought in here. Lucas May destroyed the baseball, and he slid into second base with a 2 RBI double. Lucas May tore the cover off the ball all day, a day that was the official beginning of what I have now coined as Lucas Mayhem (let the whole world know: you heard it here first). If he continues to hit the way he did today, we've got quite the competition for the back-up catcher on our hands. 
Let the Mayhem begin. 
Other takeaways from the game: 
* Adam Loewen has a mighty cut. He is an interesting option for power off the bench if he continues to perform. 
* There were horseshoe mustaches all around! Besides our Byrdak, Kevin Mattison and Chris Hatcher of the Marlins each have their own distinctive horseshoe 'stache. It would be awesome if this becomes an epidemic throughout baseball. David Wright should grow one. 
* Quintanilla = nice depth at back-up infielder 
* Miguel Batista = "The Handyman" (you heard it here first as well) 
* Turner is a good option at third. Justin Turner is a solid piece for this team 
* Den Dekker's got a good glove out there in center 
* Spring Training might be competitive practice, but it is also the time for practicing winning, or put another way, practicing how NOT to lose. Valdespin hopefully will learn from his 9th inning mistake (He stepped in front of the catcher as the catcher was trying to throw down to second base. The ump called interference) He's got an immense amount of talent, but these are the same mistakes that have separated us from the good teams for too long now, and must be corrected before these players get to the big leagues. 
* Mayhem.  
That is all." 
--The Greatest Spring Training Game Ever, Converted Mets Fan

I wrote that on Friday, March 9, 2012. In-depth, over-detailed analysis of a spring training game, and one the Mets lost (not even gonna look up what happened to Lucas Mayhem. Needles to say, he didn't keep hitting that way...And I didn't even quote the part about Mike Pelfrey.) I was a rookie back then. Now I am a seasoned veteran who has been on a leave of sabbatical.

Between last year and this year, when actual winning Mets baseball has been played, I am nowhere to be found. Oh, I've been paying plenty attention, you can bet on that, I just haven't gotten into any writing groove. Well, blogging groove. I have been writing a coming-of-age 20-something biopic screenplay for the past 2 years, it's current incarnation (4th draft) of which I finally sprinkled some Mets into it. From a thematic standpoint, they perfectly represent that force that is always so, so close, but can't get over the hump.

Hopefully, that is not the case this year, though the cards certainly look stacked against them. If the Mets do make it in to play at least one more, and maybe further, they will arguably be the worst team on paper in the tournament.

Let the Miracle of Miracles begin.



Sunday, May 8, 2016


While at work at Two Boots Hell's Kitchen, I normally, unless there is a way to stream the video i.e. ESPN Sunday Night, put the gameday audio on and stick my phone on the left of my register in a large fountain soda glass. I'm not fancy enough to have a bluetooth speaker there, but the cup is enough volume to hear the game while not overriding the ambiance radio that helps make the Two Boots experience.

Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
I was grabbing slices out of the oven, the location of which is far enough to make the radio mostly non-audible.

Until Howie Rose went ballistic.

I ran over to my phone to hear what all the commotion was about, and when I heard, "Bartolo Colon home run," I went ballistic as well. It probably distracted from me doing my job properly the rest of the shift, because all I could think about was the home run, and the 1-run ballgame that unfolded, with Big Sexy's 2-run shot the difference until the 9th inning when David Wright and Michael Conforto tacked on 2 insurance runs with respective solo shots.

Thank God it was a game we won (and an impressive win to boot after such a struggle in the first 2 games) as opposed to a historic footnote in another loss to the Padres.

I haven't been able to wipe the smile from my face every time I've watched it, which is already at least 2 handfuls of times. And the "Must C: Classic" that combines all the calls, including the Spanish one, brought tears to my eyes. Truly one of the greatest moments in baseball history. The man is a Mets legend.

Now, if we can only split the series from these Southern California Fathers!


Wednesday, April 6, 2016


"If you collect baseball cards, yet you don’t have one of me, don’t fret. Your set is still complete. If you haven’t seen me in your official yearbook, no matter how revised the edition, it wasn’t a misprint. Fast-forward or rewind through any game you’ve saved on your DVR. You won’t find me in action. I say this because if you don’t know me and start to read what I’ve written in the pages ahead, you might be confused, because I tend to slip in and out of a certain pronoun of the first-person plural kind. 
We. As in we won, we lost, we beat the Nationals, we went into first place, we were going to the playoffs, that sort of thing. The “we” in question is the New York Mets, a baseball team for whom, as of this writing, 1,007 baseball players have played since April 11, 1962. Chronologically, they encompass everybody from Richie Ashbury to Tim Stauffer...Alphabetically, they run from David Aardsma through Don Zimmer. 
However you track your Mets, you won’t find Greg Prince among them. I never could hit, hit with power, pitch, throw or field, not even in my distant youth. I don’t think I’d have made much of a holler guy, either, so you can cross “intangibles” off my scouting report. 
What I do for the Mets is root for them. I’ve been rooting for them virtually my entire life and writing about them on a regular basis for more than a decade. My rooting and writing converge at Faith and Fear in Flushing, the blog my friend Jason Fry and I update after every game the Mets play and often when they’re at rest. 
We say “we” a lot there. It doesn’t occur to us not to….When the Mets do something, it’s “we” who feel it as much as any Met. 
Now and then, someone comes along to scold those of who default to “we” for our use of first-person plural, as if we hadn’t noticed we don’t dress for games in the Met clubhouse. You’re entitled to take these things literally. We don’t. We love the Mets too much to spiritually separate ourselves from their ranks. If we could, we wouldn’t care enough to be so engaged in their daily doings. 
When you read the story that ensues in this volume, you’ll be taking it in from the perspective of a highly engaged fan. I’ve written a couple of other books about the Mets, I’ve had articles published in various places and I’m very proud of our blog, but don’t mistake me for a “sportswriter.” I say that with nothing but respect for those who make a living talking to players, watching from press boxes, and banging out copy on deadline. I’m just not one of those people. In case you came here looking for inside information, you’ll come away empty. I was watching the 2015 Mets the same way I imagine you were: as a fan who wanted them to win….this isn’t so much my story as it is the Mets’ story…which is to say that if you are a Mets fan like I am a Mets fan, it is OUR story. 
Let’s go immerse ourselves in it again..."
--Greg W. Prince, "Amazin' Again: How the 2015 New York Mets Brought the Magic Back to Queens" 
Opening Chapter: "Here We Go."
All winter long, I'd randomly watch a highlight reel, or a certain game, or every Yoenis Cespedes home run from 2015. 2015 was being thought of constantly, relived, smiles ensuing, the winter doldrum warmed up, even though it felt like the warmest New York winter on record. It warmed us all up inside while a heavy snowstorm enraged outside the day Yoenis Cespedes resigned with the Mets, and it was fun getting on air to talk about it. I may not have been on a Converted roll, taking the winter to just refresh after a rollercoaster of a season, but I was certainly active in Metsian fandom affairs. It wasn't just a transitional year for the Mets, it was a transitional year for me. Though I guess we all felt it.

Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
We've all been waiting to officially turn the page to 2016. January 1st doesn't change our calendar year. It officially starts the day WE take the field. Only 2015 was glaringly still there on Sunday night. It didn't feel like a new year, a new highlight, a 2016 mark. There were some good signs, with the team showing some fight late, and the new middle infield looking, even if in short sample size, a much more sound duo than we've been used to seeing over the last few years. 

As the season started up, I knew I needed to get back into the swing of things on here. I, and we, moved on up in 2015, but we didn't win the big one. We didn't finish it off, though we were in good position to do so. There's always room to improve, but it's a hard road, and fitting that the same formula that failed us in the Series was front and center for the first memory of the 2016 season.

On Monday night...well, really around 3:30 something in the morning of Tuesday...I got into bed thinking I was doing some reading before dozing off for the night. Then, it was 7:30 in the morning, and I had finished the 2015 season once and for all. I had relived it through Greg W. Prince's, and our, perspective. As I had dedicated myself to finishing the book that early morning, I knew I couldn't really sit down to kick off the 5th season of Converted Mets Fan, and the 12th season of being a Converted Mets Fan, without finishing what we had documented on paper through the perspective of our friend, Greg. At that point, it just felt appropriate. I finally got to the acknowledgements, and was not for the life of me expecting to see what I saw:
"...Sam Maxwell, who converted to Metsdom so fully you'd think he was born that way."
Though there had been an elusion to conversion earlier in the book when discussing Mets fand-...echem, excuse me...Metsdom, I didn't expect to see my name in print in a book about the Mets. I personally have never written anything, other than a poem in high school that got published in some HS publication, that used a printing press to put my words to paper. And here, the Mets Fan Incarnate felt it strong enough to acknowledge my Converted presence with ink off the presses. It's beyond humbling. And I thank you for it, and reciprocate the affection, sir.

(Oh, also...GO BUY AMAZIN' AGAIN'.)

There's something about We. And it's something I didn't necessarily recognize the second I joined the Metsian river midstream. Choosing to so fully saturate myself in Orange and Blue, for one, was never not an option, for that's how I initially dove into baseball when I first fell in love with it at 13, and that's the kind of Yankee fan I was. And that's just how I am with all my passions. And regarding the term "we," I'm sure I picked that up from other fans over the years, but there's no one particular memory of when I started saying that. It just felt natural from the birth of my baseball fandom to refer to my baseball team as "we" when discussing our baseball fates with other fans. Regarding the Metsian "we", I needed these now 11 years to fully understand the encompassing Metsian experience. 

It took closing the book on 2015 early yesterday morning to dive into this new season of 2016. The new year is upon us, and the Mets have won a game.

Though one thing certainly hasn't changed: The only Mets pitcher to beat the Royals in the last 6 months is Noah Syndergaard. Let's just pitch him in every game next time.

So, as we have way too many days off before our next game, and the first of our home scheduling, this Friday afternoon, I leave you with the way Mr. Prince finished the opening chapter quoted above...

"...And Let's Go Mets."

Yes. Let's.