A Bad Season Has Its Great Moments

By Michael Kaufman

Although this has been a horrific season for the New York Mets and fans of the team, I, for one, am finding it quite enjoyable. Not the injuries, of course. I hope all of the injured players make full recoveries and flourish for the rest of their careers. But this train wreck of a season has nonetheless produced many wonderful and surprising moments, each a reminder of the greatness of a game that has survived decades of stupidity, greed, and mismanagement on the part of those who run it and some who play it.

In the past few days alone we have seen a game-ending unassisted triple play (by the opposing team), a perfectly pitched inning by Billy Wagner in his first appearance since undergoing Tommy John surgery, and sparkling plays at third base by Fernando Tatis, filling in for the injured David Wright. (Who knew?) As befits a future Hall of Famer, Pedro Martinez got a warm ovation from the crowd at the appallingly named Citi Field when he was introduced as the starting pitcher for the Phillies. Pedro later contributed a run-scoring base hit to the cause despite coming to bat with a lifetime average of .099. (If you do not follow baseball and are still reading this column, a batting average of .099 is not so ai-ai-ai.)

With the Mets no longer involved in the pennant fight, or even the race for the “wild-card” spot in the playoffs, fans have angrily taken to the airwaves with calls to sports radio shows to demand the firing of Omar Minaya, the general manager and/or Jerry Manuel, the manager, or to complain about under-achieving players who are paid millions of dollars. I don’t know that anyone should be fired but I wonder if there would have been fewer injuries had there been a better conditioning program in place. In any case the callers are often the same loudmouths who had hailed Minaya as a wunderkind when he arrived on the scene a short while ago and who sang Manuel’s praises when he replaced Willie Randolph after he was fired as manager early last season.

Better they should complain about how their tax dollars were spent to put up an expensive new ballpark named after one of the banks that helped put this country into its deepest financial hole since the Great Depression. (The only banks a ballpark should be named after is Ernie Banks.) Like its American League cousin in the Bronx, the new Yankee Stadium (at least they didn’t change the name to something like “AIG Stadium”), it has been built with tax dollars for the comfort of the wealthy, complete with expanded areas of luxury seating for the corporate elite. Who cares if even the TV and radio announcers—let alone the fans in the (relatively) cheap seats—can’t see who is warming up in the bullpen? 

And speaking of the announcers: It seems that now that the Mets have no chance of getting into the post-season games, they spend more time talking about the great food at the new ballpark and about the 1969 and 1986 Mets teams than they do covering the game currently being played before their eyes. I don’t care about the overpriced culinary delights. I want to eat peanuts and hot dogs when I go to a ballgame and maybe drink a couple of beers that don’t cost as much as a fancy martini at a trendy watering hole in Tribeca. Years ago I started cooking my own hot dogs at home, wrapping them tightly in foil, and sticking them in my pocket before going to games. Try it some time. Just make sure the dogs are well wrapped.

As much as I loved the 1969 and 1986 seasons, there were plenty of fine moments to be savored during the years that preceded 1969. Granted, most of them were provided by the visiting team. I was there for some of them: Jim Bunning’s perfect game, a no-hitter by Sandy Koufax, and a bizarre 23-inning second game of a Sunday doubleheader against the Giants. The first game started at 1 p.m. The second game didn’t end until around 11:30 p.m. Talk about entertainment value! And get this…if memory serves, Eddie Kranepool played every inning of both games after being called up from the Triple-A minor league team in Tidewater, where he had played every inning of both games of a double header the day before. Baseball. It is still a great game I tell you.

Michael can be reached at michael@zestoforange.com.


5 Responses to “A Bad Season Has Its Great Moments”

  1. LeeAgain Says:

    And, under “Moments of Memorable Mortification,” let’s not forget the time when Benny Agbiani gave away the ball.

  2. MichaelKaufman Says:

    Ah, yes! There have been Many Mets Moments of Memorable Mortification dating back to the Polo Grounds in 1962 and 1963…and who else but Marvelous Marv?

  3. MichaelKaufman Says:

    Okay, this comment is for all you Luddites who have wanted to leave a comment but have been unable to negotiate the process. Beth Quinn has provided some simple instructions that should do the trick. Thanks Beth! Here goes:

    On the home page, click on “register” on right-hand menu (near the bottom).
    A page pops up asking your to create a user name (probably best to use your first and last name, one word, but you can create any user name you want). You also have to type in your e-mail address, then click “register.” A password will be e-mailed to you. The password is often hard to remember, so you might want to write it down. You can change it the next time you login by going to your profile on the lefthand menu and scrolling down til you come to the password options. Hope this helps.

  4. theoldmole Says:

    All the new corporate stadium names are horrible (my daughter Caitlin refers to this one as “Bailout Park”), but it’s not so awful if you think of it as “City Field.”

  5. MichaelKaufman Says:

    I’m with Caitlin. Bailout Park has a nice ring to it. And it is a shame that you have to pretend the name is something else to make it less awful.

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