Thursday, January 17, 2019

Searching for MY 2018 Mets

I have just arrived in the last 24 hours to the place I spent the majority of 2018, Denver, Colorado, where I was fortunately but much more unfortunately taking in the last 7 months of my dad's life with him, my oldest sister, my niece and my nephew. I prefaced with "fortunately" because there must be fortune to making the decision that I couldn't hang on the sidelines in New York while my dad and the family dealt with the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, the newly-anointed "worst of the cancers." When I was growing up, at least via my perception, lung cancer was a devastating blow. Now, however, even Walter White can ride a little longer than how quickly my dad went from diagnosis to small enough to attempt rare "Whipple" surgery, to metastasized and spreading to dead within 9 months from being diagnosed on his 73rd birthday. I don't know how to say it, because I feel in some ways I'd have to start overdescribing the personality that is my father, but not only am I making a movie detailing the very essence that was our dad Max, but I can explain, through one of my dad's favorite jokes, how the man dealt with the pain: "Well, other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?"

The man you see to your right was a father, brother, actor, teacher and veteran. He, though through the Yankees, fanned the flame of what he saw as a budding passion for the game of baseball and other than what felt like it came naturally, is the sole reason I am as into the sport and the Orange and Blue as I am.

That passion, however, though always there, has not manifested itself thoroughly and in the ways I have practiced over the last few years. I got out here with a great ballpark and didn't go to one single non-Mets game and the 2018 Mets lost both of the games I did go to, evening out my overall Coors Field Mets record to 2-2 from going 2-0 in 2012. Although, come to think of it, after my dad's death, my family and I did go to a Cardinals/Rockies game but that basically sums up the depression I felt and didn't even realize it: I go to games by myself on a whim all the time. Yes, the fact the Rockies aren't my team partially played into that, but the fact I never just walked up and enjoyed a random game of baseball before Lyft-driving passengers back to Littleton, or Arvada, or anywhere in the greater Denver Area is astounding and asinine to me.

The 2018 New York Mets, when you think about it, mirrored my dad's cancer-fighting process: So much hope at the beginning...eventually, though, disastrous. I tuned in, I soaked up, I always pay attention even when I can't listen or watch. But there still is that disconnect from who I've been and what I am as a fan. This past year I've never felt more detached, the 2007 season notwithstanding. That year, I was lost is weed, wine and vinyl, and then all of a sudden my friend from Philly in September was like, "Are you not paying attention to what is going on?" This past year, however, was an entirely different beast that will be the defining moment of wherever this life goes. I did not respond to the inevitable well, the moment that all of us will eventually deal with before dealing with our own mortality. When, no matter what we have going on in our lives or how well or terrible we have it together, we have to take care of our parents just at the time when we can't even take care of ourselves. Or, as I say in dailies of our budding movie about Max, "Adulting hits you hard. And all of a sudden, before you even figure it out, you gotta be concerned and take care of your parents. And you have to be completely selfless, just when all you want to be is selfish."

When I finally made it to Citi Field in September, it was a weird feeling going through the motions again. Taking the train...walking down the corridor of the station before exiting into that Metsian Plaza. It was familiar, but strange. I hadn't been jacked at all, I didn't have that, "I'm going to my first home Mets game of 2018" feeling. The entire thing felt foreign. And then, I was reminded of along the way, there was something about this night actually...

Jacob deGrom was pitching. And it was obviously the last time in a crazy historical season that he would do so.

Ok, I like that. I'm starting to feel it a bit.

But on that first approach, it wasn't completely there.

I sat down in the upper deck. That magic feeling's not completely brewing but some of the brooding sadness and depression are starting to subside. The baseball field is certainly a nice sight but I'm not..."pumped" yet, if you will. That excitement, that feeling, that loud baseball New York fan feeling.

And then there was that ERA anxiety. Well...I guess I at least had that. That feeling when a player on your team is doing something so Amazin' that you need him to keep putting up zeros so that Amazin' number can keep dropping.

Single up the middle. Oh, boy.

He stole second. Braves are tough, they won the division after all.

Inciarte. out. Freeman? out. Markakis out.

Alright, alright, alright. I'm not loud yet, but appreciate the wigglin' out.

Then, if there was ever any doubt of where my 2018 Mets were, Jacob deGrom proceeded to suck me back into that ol' Mets feeling, mowing down like it was the first game of the year basically every single batter he faced thereafter in a 2-hitter Seth Lugo shouldn't have finished but did with flying colors. Groundout, strikeout, lineout. Jacob deGrom is going to win the Cy Young AND he'll be a winning pitcher at 10-9. It's so funny the little things we root for but a winning record was a factor as well.

And there it was. The reason we all came. No matter the darkness, there is always light in this game we play. Jacob deGrom can reaffirm my passion and conviction for this band of misfits, for this beautiful sport my dad helped bring to me in heavy dosages, and for life itself. It's been real tough and continues to be so, but at least we have Jacob deGrom. Or baseball itself. Or the New York Mets. No matter how much they aggravate us, as does life and death, you can count on them to put a smile on your face even if you're doing it while shaking your head.

It really was a good play indeed.

REST. E. Z. MAX.
LET'S. GO. METS.

(My dad was certainly a performer through and through. One of the last roles he performed was in a stage production of Man of La Mancha out here in Colorado. While this was not the role he played, he most likely burst out singing this song randomly while just living his life, so an appropriate way to end this.)

Saturday, September 22, 2018

The Mets at 4 (Eastern Standard, that is...)

As I settle into a Jersey City Hudson Mall Applebee's while waiting for my Lyft car's splash flaps to get service, I figured now was as good a time as any with the Mets game about to cue up in front of me to get back to work.

This game not so long ago would have set itself up for a 2 o'clock start, but only by mountain time standards. I should be driving, picking up some afternoon North Jersey customers after driving the gig in Denver the last 10 months, but alas, fates have a way of bringing at least the start of the afternoon Mets game from Washington to my eyes.

It has been quite the ride for me the last year, with the events beginning back in August 2017 when my dad was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer on his birthday, of all days. That set in motion time well spent (and time well filmed) with my dad, my oldest sister, my niece and my nephew before his death in May, the eve of Memorial Day. There is a lot to be digested over the next while for me, but I look forward to getting back into the groove as I settle into whatever new normalcy this all will be. One way or another, and I know I did some things right before this forever line of demarcation in my life, I look forward to doing things substantially more right than wrong going forward.

For now, though, I'll settle into some Applebees appetizers. 

Oh, Gary and Keith...please indulge me.
BACK. IN. ACTION.
LET'S. GO. METS.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Newest Breed: A History & Guide to the Mets Fan, Pt. 1

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you....

Author/Blogger Greg Prince and The Chapman Family reminisce and opine on the Mets, the team's history and their personal fandom.

Produced, Edited and Directed by Sam Maxwell​
Original Score by Adam Spiegel​
Filmed on Location in New York City, San Francisco, Central New Jersey and at the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse​ at Broadway and 11th Street in Manhattan

Stay tuned for Part 2 on 3/30/18!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Dear #Mets Fans,

Hiiiiiii.

How’s it going?

Depending on who you talk to, I guess, we’re either all still freaking out or we’re excited to watch this new era unfold. I guess the majority of us die-hards are always a combination of the former and latter at all times, which is what I find so fascinating about Mets fandom and fandom in general. The study of its psychology has always intrigued me. It’s probably why, as a filmmaker and screenwriter, I like exploring and documenting those elements of the human experience. It has been my motivation once I began blogging, not only exploring other Mets fans experiences through my writings and videos and podcasts but attempting to quantify MY OWN Metsian experience and explain how it works and how I work to the world.

I struggle as deep as the Mets on a day-to-day basis. These days, with my dad’s health and adapting to a new environment in Denver, it has literally been the most at one time I’ve ever had to deal with, but that’s what life is for; C'est la vie. I do, however, struggle with amateur hour. BIG time.

As I postpone the release of my Mets fan documentary The Newest Breed once more, I get flashbacks to moments such as telling Danny Abriano and Michelle Ioannou on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis I’ve gotta push the article deadline just a tad further…then a tad further again. Even with this documentary, the first part I just literally watched before typing this...as proud as I am of it and can’t wait to share it, I have gone about making it in such an amateurish way that no matter how much I appreciate that aspect of it in telling the Mets fandom’s story, and a big reason I relate and root for the Mets to begin with, I have to begin approaching everything much more on a pro level. The reputation I have set forth haunts me on a daily basis, and I am desperately trying to correct it, no matter how long it takes.

Anyway, enough about me
And onto the Mets Movie.
The Newest Breed
Will be released
Very promptly on March 16th.
Part 1 will arrive
Part 2 in due time
March 28 the last should appear
And satisfy your Metsian soul 
with all faith 
and no fear.
Well...I guess ALWAYS some fear...but would we want it any other way?

Thank you for understanding. 
One love. One Mets.

Onwards and Upwards.
Let’s. Go. Mets.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

A New Horizon

All of a sudden, I found myself having to make a rather quick decision as to what my fate would be only two weeks later. It didn’t make sense to procrastinate a decision or a move. 

Sam Maxwell on Instagram
"Da City": Canvas by D.E. Cayard, aka The Professor
Pennant and Bobblehead brought to you by the NY Mets
I had originally, about a year ago, honed in on November ‘17 as a deadline to leave New York for a bit, with the plan to go study screenwriting in London starting then. I postponed that till January, but all of a sudden, in a place called Denver, Colorado, doctors discovered pancreatic cancer, stage 2, in my Dad. We found out stage 2 is good, grading on a curve, of course, as usually that type of cancer is not discovered till stage 4. Early October, I visited for a couple days, but there was a feeling that the right thing to do, for my dad, my family, and myself at this particular junction of my life, was to leave New York for the first time since I was 10, 22 years ago, and move to Denver, putting the London adventure off till April.

My Dad's doing great. He has been getting chemo to try to get the small tumor to operation-size, so we can snip it out of there. We're almost to the latter part of that sentence.

A brief overview for you, also, of my dad (don't ask me about the mustache headshot on the link :| 

So you can understand my rather optimistic take on the entire thing:

My dad didn't survive Vietnam, drunk driving, bar fights (he's sober 38 years now), three divorces, getting bumped from a jet that went down in the Everglades in the 90's, and getting fired from Goldman Sachs downtown on Friday, September 7, 2001, to let cancer get the best of him.


I type this as I fly across the country on a trip to the City for a quick fix before the end of the year (I have since flown to and fro our town and Denver.) It almost felt sacrilegious to put this chapter of my life in the past without a taste of New York during the holidays. How could I miss that? About two weeks ago, I was having a pretty homesick day out in Denver, and I was reminded of when I first got to New York from Florida. My dad saw I was missing my friends heavily and flew me down for a quick weekend. I never looked back. That’s what this felt like, and I pulled the trigger on a trip. Sunday night till tues morning.

I was becoming stagnant in New York. I needed to take the city with me to spread my wings. I’ll hone my craft and hone my skills elsewhere, and then take the benefits that come with all that and spend it in New York. I love this fucking town too much to say goodbye for too long.

Unfortunately, that brings me to another goodbye that I must make, and that is to Rising Apple, the Mets blog site I have been a part of since 2012. I have not been able to consistently write or podcast for them for a long time now, so it is about time I make it official.

I had just started blogging only 2 months before Rising Apple came a-knockin’. At the time, they only had about 400 followers on twitter...that number is now over 7,000. The growth started with Matt Musico, then Danny Abriano took the Rising Apple Mets presence to a whole 'nother level. He then had help from Michelle Ioannou, with JT Teran taking over co-editing duties once Metsblog scooped up Danny. Michelle wasn't too far behind Danny's footsteps, leading to Christina Cola currently sharing co-editing duties with JT. 

We started the podcast in 2013 and along with Matt Musico, fellow writers Will Deboer, Dan Haefeli, Kevin Baez, Rich Sparago, Mike Lecolant, and most recently Nick Ceraso, had a blast talking the good, the bad and the ugly of Mets past and present almost every week, with each other and plenty of guests over the years. 

The one thing that I think all of us at Rising Apple keep as the main thread of the site, whether we’re talking about how thrilled we are for a move, or a win, or a milestone, or we’re pissed off that Sandy is double-talking or the Wilpons will not spend like a New York team, we never forgot that our passion for the Mets is driven by just pure, unadulterated fun. We have fun. And that, as far as I’m concerned, always shone through our writings and audible words.

I’ll miss being a part of that team, but it is time to move on. Thank you, each and every one of you that I have worked with on the site over the years. The Apple Rising represents the pinnacle of Mets success, and the optimism Mets fans have in their team even when things are pointing to utter disaster. Keep that spirit going, Rising Apple. It has been a blast.

The next chapter for me starts immediately, and with a sneak peek for all of you as to what I am currently working on. When I still had my DSLR, a Canon t3i, I captured about 10 hours of Mets footage as well as interviews with The Chapman’s, a family of die-hards, and author/blogger Greg Prince, whom I have referred to as “The Mets Fan Incarnate” on these digital pages. It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve finally been able to start editing the footage together. Below is a sneak peek of “The Newest Breed,” which I will release on February 9, 2018. For now, enjoy! And as always...

KEEP. ON. PUSHIN’.
LET’S. GO. METS.

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.


ONWARDS AND UPWARDS.

LET'S. GO. METS.

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.
ONWARDS AND UPWARDS.
LET'S. GO. METS.