Take a Whiff

072207012_1 Although I certainly don’t like the way this game is going in the 7th inning, I loved seeing Carlos Gomez’s 2nd major league homer earlier in this game.  I loved the run, of course, but I also loved the youthful joy he took in the home run and couldn’t help smiling at Willie later calling him over and taking him under his wing (presumably to advise him not to show up the pitcher next time by watching the ball before the running the bases!)

Thanks to a response posted to an earlier e-mailbag query posted to Metsblogger, the mystery of Carlos’ curious batting ritual has been revealed…if not fully explained.

He’s sniffing his bat "for hits"??!! 

Seeing him constantly sniffing that bat made me think of this hilarious Onion photo from last fall.  THAT would be something to sniff for sure!

On-Deck Prince Fielder Puts Dozen Donuts On Bat

August 31, 2006 | Onion Sports

On-Deck Prince Fielder Puts Dozen Donuts On Bat

Actually, I was kinda relieved to hear that that was all that was involved.  I had been wondering if he was inhaling pine tar or some other substance for some other quick "high" before his at-bat.  Just what we need, I thought:  the youngest player on the team getting started with some kind of personal stimulant that will become addictive and problematic.

But seeing as how it’s nothing like that, I figure it’s now only a matter of time until some marketing executive gets wind of Gomez’s ritual and sniffs a money-making idea: 


Verticalspiral_copy_1 I can see…er, SMELL them now!  They’ll no doubt come in a myriad of colors, coordinated to match a veritable smorgasbord of flavors!

Pictured above are suggestions for a fruit and candy line, but hey, why limit oneself to sweet taste sensations?  Why not some of the salty tastes of the ballfield itself:  pretzel, hot dog, french fries, popcorn, etc.?

What about special limited edition series bats for post-season play?  Especially if–as we hear–the post-season might extend into November, how about turkey-and-gravy?  Pumpkin pie?

Hey, Carlos.  If sniffing your bat gives you hits, you just keep on doing what you’re doing!

LoDuca Bobblehead Day

Loducabheaddevil_2 There once was a catcher named Paul.

Who was sure a called strike was a ball.

It happened once more.

At the the umpire he swore.

And he put on some show for us all.

Funny thing. 

When my daughter pulled her Paul LoDuca bobblehead doll out of its packaging on Sunday afternoon, it didn’t quite look like the the promotional picture on the Mets’ website. 

Not only that, but within moments, the figurine’s head began to turn bright red, the arm started flailing around violently, and steam started coming out of its ears and from under its helmet. 

I mean, she’s grateful for the giveaway and everything, but…

Building Blocks

Abcs_copy_1 What a feelin’!  Friday’s win, followed by a win Saturday, and another Sunday. 

A series win. 


I/we almost forgot what that felt like!

How nice too that Sunday’s game was good FUNDAMENTALS! 

Good pitching, good hitting, good fielding!

What a thrill to see the Mets building one win at a time: building blocks toward a series win and towards getting that "edge" back.

They did so by taking advantage of some opportunities handed to them: 

I submit the letter "A" for the A’s themselves for handily giving us a series and a sweep.  Thanks!

Trevor Buck’s mishandling of Wright’s liner that allowed Castro to score in the bottom of the ninth on Saturday night I chose for "B".

And Cust’s poor throw following Reyes’ 1st inning hit in Sunday’s game, allowing Reyes to jump up after sliding safely into second and round third and go home is my selection for "C". 

Oh.  And Castro is also on there for good measure as well for his contributions in the second game of the series.

Feel free to continue through the alphabet if you wish!  "D" for DiNardo, oops…Cards are coming in now…ummm, let’s see. "E" for Encarnacion, "F" for Franklin.

You get the idea.  The important thing if to just KEEP IT BUILDING. 

Block by block by block by block…

“TOM- my GLA- vine”

072207008crop_4  "BOOOOOOOO!!!!!" the fans cried out indignantly at Willie as he walked purposefully to the mound after the first batter led off the top of the ninth last night with a single.  How DARE he take the ball away from Tom Glavine!  The crowd was obviously thinking that, but most of us obviously knew too that Tom had probably only come out in the ninth just to get that rousing ovation as he did take the mound in the ninth and then when he departed after that first at-bat to deafening cheers and a well-deserved ovation. 

Mr. G certainly had it all last night:  (1) his good stuff and the ability to mix it up appropriately, (2) lots of run support [Heck, HE even scored a run and drove in two himself!], and (3) a bullpen that could keep things in check.  [Pitching eight entire innings minimizes the possibility of bullpen catastrophies at least!]

072207005_2 I’m sure Glavine finally slept well last night, but he wasn’t the only one.  This was a great, well-played game by a team that sorely needed one of those, played in front of fans that needed the same!0722070008_3 

Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I had stayed at a home game long enough to hear the XM Sing-A-Long "Sweet Caroline"–my daughter belted that out especially lustily last night to make up for all the lost refrains. 

And how sweet it was to hear the strains of Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s "Takin’ Care of  Business" after the Mets had indeed done so!!! 

Spirit Days

07160626 This is my daughter Melanie.  She wore this wacky hat one day, all day, to school this week as part of "Spirit Week" at her elementary school.

Her school has these "spirit weeks" several times a year, each day featuring some different way to "show spirit". 

She wore her King Tut hat (pictured) for "Wacky Hat Day".  Some other days that have been celebrated during previous Spirit Weeks have been PJ Day (wear your pajamas to school), Wacky Socks Day, School Colors Day, etc.

As I watched my pre-teen walk down the sidewalk to school in her Egyptian headgear, her rolling backpack being pulled behind her, I couldn’t help but think, "Perhaps the Mets need some sort of ‘Spirit Week’ or ‘Spirit Day" themselves."

Yes, of course, the fans always show up in Mets colors.  But maybe the players themselves should devote a day to some wackiness.  Would THAT get them out of the doldrums, do you think??!!

Well, I don’t think Major League Baseball would approve, much less Willie Randolph, but while they had a day off, I had some fun imagining "what if" anyway:Socks


It has the added advantage of seeing a balk (if the opposing pitcher is wearing them) or as an aid for the umpire in distinguishing the bottom of the strike zone.

Pjs_1 ***PJ DAY***

Not only are pajamas comfortable to play in, but if games go into extra innings and go late into the night, players can just sleep in their uniforms!Hats_1


And last but not least,***WACKY HAT DAY***

Unlike the aforementioned spirit days, Hat Day could present problems with regard to the players’ performance, but we could address those on Rc_copy_3 an individual basis, of course. 

Oh, and if they so chose, opposing teams’ players and managers would be invited to participate in the day’s theme too.

I’m tired of playing with PhotoShop, you Mets guys. 

Could you please start playing some great baseball again so that we bloggers could have something fun to blog about again??!!


Aristotle2_3 They did it.

They won.

And I cheered. 

I high-fived. 

I yelled. 

I sauntered down the ramps of Shea with a smile on my face.

And yet…

I don’t feel HAPPY today like I thought I would.

Maybe it’s just that I’m being cautiously optimistic after I promptly crowed "Off the Schneid!" in my post following Perez’s win against the Yankees and Clemens, only for that lovely win to have been so quickly followed by two less-than-lovely Bronx bombs.

Believe me, I rejoice in a Mets win.  And I am not punishing the Mets or asking them to "do penance" for their losses.  I don’t play those games:

"You guys were SO AWFUL that I am NOT going to cheer for you until you’ve won THREE GAMES STRAIGHT and that’s final.  Take THAT, you guys!"

Like they would really care what I think.

No, I’m not withholding my love from them or playing hard-to-get or distancing myself somewhat so I won’t get my heart ripped out again or any other such nonsense.

Maybe, it’s more a matter that, after being down so long, last night’s win at home was more of a cathartic experience than it was a celebratory win. 

Perhaps I am not alone in this reaction.  Fellow Mets blogger Toasty Joe compares his feelings following the Met win last night to (How shall I put this delicately?) relieving oneself in the bathroom after an inability to do so for quite some time. (Scroll down to post entitled "Ahhh…") 

Appropriately enough, the term catharsis has been used for centuries as a medical term meaning a "purging".  The Greek word katharsis comes from kathairein (to purge) and from katharos (pure).Aristotle

With regard to the term’s application to Greek tragedy, Aristotle described catharsis as a purifying or figurative cleansing of the emotions, especially pity and fear–a most necessary element of any tragedy in his estimation.

But I was referring more to the word’s psychological usage in which it can be defined as a technique used to relieve tension and anxiety by bringing repressed feelings and fears to consciousness.

Playing my own shrink for a moment, I think I just had to have gone to at least one home game and yelled and screamed and cheered  and clapped and chanted.  For some good Mets starting pitching.  For a lot of Mets hits.  For some Mets getting on base and NOT GETTING LEFT ON BASE.  For a few Mets home runs.  For a good outing by the bull pen.  For an overall positive baseball experience.

Maybe it was just too much to expect (or too SOON to expect) that I would feel exhilarated by their win last night. 

Maybe all of that physical activity on the field–and off the field in my Mezzanine Box–was slowly but effectively purging and cleansing some of those awful pitching starts, horrible swings, bone-headed fielding playing, frustrations over injuries, frustrations over conflicting reports regarding injuries, etc., and the anguish and frustration caused thereby from my system. 

Maybe last night was part of a process.  A process TOWARD celebration.

I sure hope so.  I sure like the feel of the "thrill of victory"!

Off the Schneid

061507_2 With the help of the Yankees??!! 

The end of this interminable slump would’ve felt this good no matter who it was against.  Maybe it just feels EXTRA-good because it was just so, well…unexpected. 

At least by me!  But, hey, I LOVE surprises like this one!

First off, GOLLIE OLLIE!  Hats off to you!!

I promise I will now open my Sports Illustrated issue with your broad grin gracing the cover and read the article on the Mets now.  I have been avoiding doing so ever since the magazine showed up in my mailbox during this downward spiral.  I look forward to picking it up off the bedside table this evening…if I can ever go to sleep!!Gomez_catch

Secondly, Carlos Gomez:  you jump-started things in the third inning for us offensively.  Kudos too on that catch you didn’t let those greedy Yankee fans take away from you!

As good as I personally feel, I can only imagine how the players and staff must feel this evening.  I hope they can carry those positive vibes forward into the rest of the series and the upcoming homestand.

This team is far too good to be kept down for too long…just as everyone kept saying about the Yankees when they were in THEIR slump.

“I cried myself to sleep…”

Crying_on_pillow_3 Today is really a Black Friday for my husband, Garry. 

I don’t know what he’s more tearful about today:  the current Mets slump and anticipated rout at Yankee Stadium or remembering the Mets trading Tom Seaver thirty years ago today.

I wanted my husband to be a guest contributer for this post today to write about his thoughts surrounding events thirty years back, but he is far too busy to do so.  Not having been a baseball fan much less a Mets fan thirty years ago today, I wouldn’t presume to retell this emotion-packed story.  Better to hear it from the key players in the drama themselves or from more knowledgeable bloggers, such as Greg at Faith and Fear in Flushing.

But trying to paraphrase his thoughts, my husband–who was home in Albany after his freshman year at Columbia University at the time of these events–says he cried himself to sleep that night.  He mentions the general presumption that he and others held that favorite players of theirs would finish their careers playing with the same team they started with having been shattered in that instant.  He speaks of it being made unfailingly clear to him on that night–one-and-one-half years into free agency–that, indeed, "no on was untouchable". 

Setting the stage for me, he tells me that–as had been true for a number of years–the Mets were not a great team that year.  In spite of that fact, Seaver had remained with the team and had been its main draw. 

So.  The team stinks.  And its ace has just left town for more money.  What could be worse?  The cross-town Yankees win the World Series that year.  And again in 1978.  Some very hard years to hold your head high as a Mets fan, I’m guessing.

He also remembers that the year Seaver was traded, the All-Star Game was held at Yankee Stadium, and Seaver was selected to the National League All-Star Team.  When his name was announced and he strode onto the field, wearing his red-and-white Cincinnati Reds uniform and number 41 jersey, he received a huge, long ovation from the New York fans.   

"It was like a dagger to the heart of any Mets fan," says Garry.

06110503 Those days may be be long gone, but obviously the pain is not so deeply  buried for many. 

That makes me feel all the better about having been able to arrange a very special Father’s Day present for Garry a few years ago.

A local business had arranged for Tom Seaver to do a signing, and my daughter and I took him there as a surprise.  I loved seeing the thrill on his face when he was able to introduce his then seven-year-old daughter to Tom, referring to him as "the greatest pitcher who ever lived."

My camera captured this moment when Tom, without hesitation, looked my daughter square in the eye and said to her, "Your Daddy’s a very SMART MAN."

Day of Wrath!

Last_judgment_mich_detail2wblackhat_copy UGH.

Where do we go from here?

Oh, that’s right:  THE stadium.  To play the Yankees who are coming off of a ten-day winning streak.  Who have their Rocket back on the launch pad.  Who have their SWAGGER back. 

God help us.

I don’t have any suggestions…not that anyone’s asking me. 

I’m not looking to point fingers at anyone.  I hope the players themselves don’t start doing that either; that NEVER helps. 

I don’t possess any special amulets or prayers or a lucky rabbit’s foot…nor am I superstitious enough to believe in the effect of any such bunk.

I have had one observation, though, about the Mets this season that–while I won’t go as far as saying this particular item is CAUSING them to lose, removing this from their pre-game regimen would certainly cause no harm and its omission might right the ship.

This thing that I have noticed has been going on all season, actually, well before this slump.  I’m talking about the choice of music–accompanied by a fast-moving New York City video montage–just prior to the Mets taking the field.

My guess is most fans probably think of this theme–which is played at every home game–as just kind of a "let’s get revved up" kind of rhythmic music.  In fact, while this rap song is playing, I have often watched the players, primarily Jose Reyes and Ruben Gotay, practice their elaborate congratulatory handshake routines and "pumping up" in general for the game.

But I went online to find out more about this musical selection, I found out what perhaps many of the players and fans already knew about it:  Juelz Santana featuring Just Blaze recorded the song for a Nike ad–"Second Coming"–shown during the 2007 AFC and NFC championship games.  That ad, featuring the music we all hear at Shea for every home game, can be seen here. 

But what I’m guessing many fans and the players and managers might NOT know is that the instrumental on this rap song was sampled from Franz Liszt’s Totentanz ("Dance of Death") which had in turn been inspired by the Dies Irae (literally, "Day of Wrath")–Dies20irae_1whose origins lie in 13th century plainchant. 

The melody was later incorporated into the official Catholic liturgy for the Latin Mass for the Dead. 

Many classical composers have used the text of the Requiem Mass, including the Dies Irae portion, to beautiful effect.  My personal favorites are the Verdi Requiem and the Mozart Requiem. 

Also, many classical composers have directly quoted the motif, e.g., Hector Berlioz in the "Witches Sabbath" portion of his Symphonie Fantastique, Mahler in his Second Symphony, Camille Saint-Saens in his Danse Macabre, and Rachmaninoff in several compositions, including his Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, as well as countless other classical music references.   

According to one site, there seem to be a number of pieces of popular music that incorporate the melody as well.  And for even more history on the Nike ad and the hip-hop group performing the selection and the various versions of "Second Coming", another blogger and commentators have discussed this same topic–unrelated to the Mets’ slump, of course–here.  (As there is no direct permanent link, you’ll need to scroll down to "Monday, January 22, 2007 – ‘In which David is confused by The Second Coming.’")

The text of the Dies Irae portion of the Mass is not uplifting nor comforting, let me tell you:

Dies Iræ! dies illa
Solvet sæclum in favilla
Teste David **** Sibylla!

‘Day of Wrath! Upon that day, the world will melt in the twinkling of an eye, as David prophesied and the Sibyl!’

Quantus tremor est futurus,
quando judex est venturus,
cuncta stricte discussurus!

‘What trembling is to come, when the Judge appears, to judge all strictly.’

Tuba mirum spargens sonum
per sepulcra regionum,
coget omnes ante thronum.

‘The trumpet, casting a wondrous sound through the tombs of all nations, compels all before the Throne.’

Mors stupebit et natura,
**** resurget creatura,
judicanti responsura.

‘Death and Nature shall be astounded, when creation rises again to respond to its judge.’

Memling_1 Those last lines, "when creation rises again", can definitely be connected to the "second coming" reference.  In other words, it appears to me that the producers of the Nike ad were aware of the dies irae reference. 

My guess is that the Mets chose this rap song thinking that anyone who knew of the Nike ad and it being called "Second Coming" might make an association with the Mets something along the lines of, "Wow!  We got SO close in 2006!  But this year, we’ve assembled a lot of the same guys, tweaked things a little bit, and we’re going to come back and do it all again.  You just wait and see!  The trumpets will sound and the Braves and other teams will be left in the dust heap on Judgment Day!"

I guess that’s one way of interpreting it.

But lately, I can only anticipate going back to Shea on Monday and hearing that song as a death knell.  For our outfield.  For our team.  For the NLDS.

I know:  it’s only a rap song.  But with its religious overtones, its direct associations with the mass for the dead, "day of wrath", "day of terror", the Apocalypse, visions of heaven and earth consumed by ash, etc., MAYBE it’s time to talk to the Media Department about some other high-octane entrance music. 

Ya think?