- Faith and Fear in Flushing - http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

G(r)eek Chorus, Part III

Now that Super Joe is officially gone, I feel bad. I

know it was the best thing: For all his intensity and hard work, for

all the joy and hustle he brought to playing baseball, it's been years

since he did enough between the white lines to justify a roster

spot. In the Times today [1]

he describes himself as a little New Yorker even though he's from

Philly, and that's sweet, but it doesn't translate to numbers, even though right now I wish

it did.

I have no doubt Joshua will come home from college one day and we'll

discuss how Super Joe has taken the managerial reins in Philly or

Detroit or even here, and we'll note that gosh, he's been in uniform Joshua's

entire life, and I'll say nice things about him and how he owned the

Unit and all the rest. But in 2005, come that day game after a night

game, or the sixth-inning pinch-hitting appearance, I'll take Woodward

or Cairo. Baseball's pitiless that way. We must be pitiless too.

From the Grasping at Straws Department: Matt Ginter had 10 no-decisions last year for a terrible

baseball team. Unlike Aaron Heilman, he isn't afraid of his own stuff.

Unlike Jae Seo, he's coachable. He demonstrates bowhunting in the

clubhouse (nothing could go wrong there, nope) and plays a mean banjo [2].

I will not throw in the towel just yet, rude fortune cookies be damned.

As the Human Fight noted, it's not like Trachsel's Bob Gibson. And,

hey, if Ginter does flame out, at least the losses will go by a helluva

lot quicker.

On to the 70s. Between Saberhagen, Bobby Bo, Cedeno and Jefferies,

that's a whole lot of problems big (playing cards during Armageddon,

lacking a cerebellum) and small (throwing bleach, not liking Roger

McDowell). This part of the All-Time Clubhouse seems reserved for

Players With Issues.

I was in the stands at the Vet for Bret Saberhagen's

last start in '94. He was masterful, throttling the Phils on a night

when the attention of players and fans alike were focused on The

Strike. I'd paid up for scalped field-level seats, thinking hopefully

that I'd feel like a fool for wasting my money once labor peace was

reached. The next night the Mets lost in 15. They didn't play again in


I drove up to the Vet several times while I lived in D.C., even

dropping all my plans and getting in the car so I could see Bobby

Jones' debut in August 1993. I wound up sitting in the upper deck with

my back practically against that gigantic Diamondvision they had. It

made these large, vaguely frightening noises all game and you could

feel the amount of heat on your neck change (from, say, oppressive to

unbearable) when things were happening onscreen. Jones pitched OK even

as various Mets wandered around behind him colliding and flailing at

balls, somehow getting the win thanks to a two-homer night from Tim

Bogar. Bogie's second home run was an inside-the-parker: He broke his

hand sliding into the plate and was never the same player again. In

fact, after that he was Joe McEwing.

Gregg Jefferies was my favorite

player in college, something I defiantly proclaimed to the world and

that prompted the Human Fight to declare scornfully that “you only like

Jefferies because he's the Met most like you.” In 1989 I was quite

proud of that, since plenty of reasonable people regarded Jefferies as

a brash, talented prodigy. By the time we left college Jefferies had

curdled into a one-dimensional sociopath; soon after that he became a

resident of Kansas City. Not wanting to be any of those things, I

thought about him as little as possible by then.

Terry Leach makes me feel

guilty. He wrote a book, and I even read about five pages of it at

Chronicle one afternoon, but I didn't buy it. I sometimes feel like

this puts my fandom in question, since I have a

not-quite-Greglike-but-still-impressive collection of Met tomes. (I

refuse to read the Golenbock abortion and that irritating 70s book that

was all in lowercase, but that's about it.) I also worry that Terry

could use the money, unless he made some really wise investments back

in the day. I'm a bad fan.

Whatever happened to Kelvin Chapman, anyway? It's not easy to vanish

from the face of the earth a season removed from hitting .289 in nearly

200 at-bats, but he managed it. Did he become a monk? Get kidnapped by

aliens? Tire of jokes about temperature and Keats? I've always wondered.

By the way, Topps is revving up the PR machine for its 2005 Fan Favorites set [3]

— a neat set featuring old Topps card designs with never-before-seen

photographs of players of that era. The 140-card set contains 19 Mets,

which is startling even before you register that one of them is Barry

Lyons. Barry Lyons?