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.


Thursday, November 5, 2015

Losin' in Amazin' Fashion

(I just got internet in my new apartment today, Thursday, November 5. This was written on Tuesday while on the B train heading into the city from Brooklyn.)

On Monday, I treated everything that had happened on Sunday night as a New Orleans-type 2015 New York Mets funeral, marching around Brooklyn in my new Orange and Blue Mets 2015 World Series cap, my Mets Mitchell & Ness Jacket, and my Green Jets shirt. Neither team had played well the day before, though no one had anything at all to say about the football team.

"Yo, what happened last night, man?" Said a man in a Brooklyn Nets hat as I passed New York Avenue and Snyder Avenue.

"We didn't get it done, but it's alright. We'll be more athletic next year and beyond."

"We need to get a closer that can shut it down!"

"It's not Jeurys' fault (Other than the one quick pitch too many in the 1st game.) We need to make plays behind him! It's alright, we're gonna take it all next year!"

"Hey, man. They could go back next year. Gotta get it done."

I passed a group of 5 school kids somewhere between Rogers and Bedford Avenues, probably somewhere between the ages of 7 and 12.

"The Mets are not winning the World Series, bro."

"That is now officially true."

I should have added "...smartass," to the little twerp. All in good fun.

I got to a Staples Print Center, and while waiting on line for a computer, a middle aged man with very heavy bushes of hair in his ears sat on a chair off to the side. I asked him if he was on line, he just pointed at the computer and muttered something. I didn't really understand what he said, but I understood his next words.

"What happened last night, man."

The conversation continued and so on and so forth.

On Church Avenue, next to the old Dutch Church, a man in a Yankee hat of some New Era nature stuck his head out the passenger's side of a moving car.

"What happened, man?"

"Wait Til Next Year!"

And that's all I could think of after the Murph and Clippard debacle from Game 4; the parallels to another young National League team of this region, whose old adage, "Wait Till Next Year" kept their faithful sane and warm through the winter. I hoped it wouldn't be the case the next night, but unfortunately, Game 5 became even more devastating than the 1941 Brooklyn Dodgers parallels I had started drawing up.

You see, the 1941 Brooklyn National League Baseball Club hadn't been to the big show since 1920 and had never won a championship in the World Series era.  After just inching out the Cardinals for the pennant, the young team was poised, at home in Ebbets Field on Bedford Avenue and Sullivan Place in Flatbush, to tie the experienced North Neighbor Yankees 2-2 in the series. Up 4-3 with no one on, 2 out and a 2-strike count to Tommy Hendrich, Hugh Casey unleashed a curveball that was swung on and missed, but ate up catcher Mickey Owen, allowing Hendrich to reach 1st base. The Yankees rallied from there and won 7-4.

Unlike OUR Game 5, the Yankees controlled that one throughout, where the Bombers' Tiny Bonham outpitched Brooklyn's Whit Wyatt and New York (A.L.) won 4 games to 1.

What's even spookier for a series that was played on Halloween was that Ebbets Field, whose facade was mirrored by our Citi, also saw it's home team lose 4 games to 1 in its inaugural World Series in 1916, against the Boston Red Sox, although, oddly, Game 5 was back in Boston back then.

So, after marching around happily mournful yesterday (attempting to let the belief that the Mets are about to get more athletic as the Minaya position players start fading away keep me smilin') Tuesday is a different story. Combined with the fact it's unseasonably 70 today, I left my hat and jacket at home, only dressed in jeans and an orange Knicks shirt. I didn't want to talk about it anymore. I just wanted to write about it.

This season started with me heading down to Washington on a Megabus at 5 in the morning to catch the afternoon game between the Nats and the Mets. It brought me back down to Washington in September for one of the greatest times I've ever had watching this team on the road. It brought me to work at Citi Field for Two Boots from Mid-September all the way through the last game of the year, which turned out to be in November and turned out to be the WORLD SERIES. It may not have turned out the way we wanted to, but I can't say I didn't have fun.

I had the time of my life, but now I've got work to do. I've got an new apartment that I OWN to get together and a life to attend to.

But I'll have the Mets on my mind the entire time.

Wait till Next Year indeed.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Once in a Lifetime

A year ago, somewhere out in the webosphere, whether it be Facebook or twitter or to an email chain, I said congratulations to the Giants on winning that Orange and Blue World Series, and said here's to Orange and Blue being only on ONE side of the equation next year.

Though the same blue on the American League side of things is still Royal, the marriage of Orange and Blue is only happening on the National League side in the form of their Metropolitan Baseball Club.

And let's be glad there's no red anywhere to be found.

I just bought a place today. Closed on it and everything. A one-bedroom in East Flatbush. The main reason I was able to do this is because I had a grandpa who worked for Buena Vista Distribution, loved his grandchildren, and got them some Disney stock when they were born. That stuff just opened up some once I turned 30. 

The apartment is a couple blocks from Holy Cross Cemetery, which was another inadvertent move on my part to near a Brooklyn Dodgers landmark, the other couple times in my life just bringing me to near the land of Ebbets Field. This time, however, it's not just a Dodgers connection, but the final resting place of the greatest manager the Mets have ever had, Gil Hodges. I took one more look at the apartment today early before the scheduled closing time, and naturally, knew I had to go see his grave. On a day like today, it only made sense.

My realtor, who is a Mets fan as well, walked over with me to take a look. Having directions from the Brooklyn Trolley Blogger Mike Lecolant ("Go in the main gate on Brooklyn Ave. It's just off to the left....not far from the perimeter gate at all.  Obviously, look for the only headstone with pebbles on top of it") we ventured forward. Right after we walked in, a sanitation worker in a regular car drove through the gate. When he got out of the car, I asked, "Do you know where Gil Hodges' plot is?" "No, I didn't even know he was in here till now. Great jacket, by the way." "Thanks." We headed off and soon found out that it was as easy to find as Mike said; A shiny Orange tombstone with a faded Brooklyn Dodgers hat on top being held down by one of those stones Mike was talking about. It was a bittersweet moment; Gil died much too soon at age 49. 

The sanitation worker came over to take a look, and it turns out his name is Andrew and he's a huge Mets fan, as can be seen by his Instagram. He's friends with Darren Meenan of the 7 Line as well as Keith Blacknick of Mets Police, and he also knows a Mets pin guy, who had recently sold him a few. He offered to give each of us a Mets pin, since he had already purchased them anyway. We graciously accepted, as I yielded a full Mets logo for this Mets logo on a city shield. I had recently read about World Series press pins, and so I felt as if I had just been handed my very own World Series pin. Thanks, Andrew, and as you said, serendipitous indeed.

(I also got a real kick from these Delgado and O'Shea tombstones next to each other.)

I did not leave anything on top of the tombstone, as I later thought I maybe should have done, to pay respects as well as add a little Metsian flare with the Brooklyn hat the only item. I thought later on, I should have left the Mets pin, but in the moment, it didn't feel like the thing to do. Adding an extra Mets badge to my Mets jacket felt right after I had been presented with a gift. I have thought that when I get another chance, I'll go leave a Mets Orange rally towel, and a part of me wishes I already had before game 1. But I've also said my superstition this year is that there are no superstitions. I think the visit alone on the day I closed on my first owned property in Brooklyn on the day the Mets play their first World Series game in the history of my full-on Mets fandom that is also the day 29 years ago they won their 2nd World Series is omen enough. 

I sure hope so, 'cause these last few days have me on such a surreal high that I want it to continue with the Mets truly adding the cherry on top. 

3 is a good number.
Let us make it so.