With 161 games remaining, our once-beaten closer has two choices:
* Getting bogged down in his mistake
* Climbing back on his proverbial bike
Yes, it's BONER OR PEDAL for BRADEN LOOPER.
(That's all of them, I promise.)
I'll bet there were some equally stupid things written about the Opener. I'll have to bet because I refused to read any of them.
I don't consider myself a see-no-evil fan — as opposed to Time Warner subscribers who are see-no-Mets, hear-no-Healy, a mixed bag to be sure — but on infrequent occasion I will institute a news blackout: no papers. The last time I did that was a couple of days in early November 2001 when I didn't want to be inundated by screaming headlines proclaiming,
MIRACLE YANKEES WIN GAMES, HEAL CITY
O'NEILL OBLITERATES MEMORY OF TRAGEDY
JETER FLIP TO CATCHER CAPTURES OSAMA
GOD PLEDGE: I'LL TRY TO BE MORE LIKE JOE
The last time before that was the Monday after a five-game series the Mets played versus third-place Philadelphia in mid-August 1980. With the Mets coming in a mere 7-1/2 back, I fancied this a showdown crucial to the outcome of what was clearly going to remain a four-team pennant race. By the time the weekend was over, so were the 1980 Mets. They were outscored 40-12, sat eleven back and were in the midst of a spankin' new five-game losing streak.
The Phillies took off and won the World Series, one of many that should have been ours.
That was the summer when I began to make it my business to buy every paper I could and read every word written about the Mets. The Magic was Back, you know, and the more evidence I had of it, the better. But after that sweep, I couldn't stand to be reminded that the Magic was illusory. So no papers that Monday.
And no papers yesterday. I wouldn't even click on one of our many helpful Braintrust links. Your reporting on the reporting by the likes of Bondy and Araton made me glad I saved my quarters and my eyesight.
Generally, though, I'm old-fashioned. I believe in newspapers, physical newsprint, as intrinsic to the baseball experience, win or lose. That kiosk at the end of the 7 extension which occasionally sells Mets (and too often the other kind of New York baseball) merchandise used to be a newsstand. That's romantic. I like the notion that you can buy a paper outside the ballpark. I think every fan should have read at least one paper before coming into the ballpark. I also think there should be all kinds of entrance exams administered to anyone daring to sit in a better seat than me, but that's for another time.
The beat writers do the heavy lifting for people like us (fans, I mean, but bloggers, too). We should give them a little love from time to time to recognize the volume of work they do, but we should also get something beyond the mundane and, worse, uninformed from them.
The other day, for example, Mark Hale in the Post (which I'll only read online or if I find one on the train; their exclusive “Mike Bacsik thinks anybody who has doubts about the Iraq war is an unpatriotic liberal chickenspit” coverage in spring training 2003 was the last of many straws) noted we shouldn't get too excited by what we see on Opening Day, which is fair. After all, he noted, Kaz Matsui hit the first pitch of last season for a home run and it “probably constituted the most dramatic moment of an otherwise bleak campaign.”
Yes, Mark. Nothing else remotely as dramatic occurred. There was no near no-hitter by Glavine, no setting of the catcher's home run record, no ninth-inning shot by Piazza to cost Clemens a win, no 1-0 nailbiter over Randy Johnson, no two homers by Zeile to tie and win a game in Philly, no sweep of the Yankees at Shea, no pulling to within a game of first in July, no debut by Wright, no back-and-forth lunacy between the Mets and Giants in San Francisco one very sunny Saturday in August, no Victor Diaz and Craig Brazell ruining the Cubs' season in September, no Toddy Ballgame blast to end Zeile's career on the last day of the season. Sure, it was a lousy year overall, but don't spite us our handful of gems among the dung.
This is the kind of lazy-ass stuff I despise. Every paper is capable of it. There was a passing reference by Lee Jenkins in the Times the other day to the Mets' having lost 90 or more games each of the last three years. It's a real small, futile point but the Mets didn't lose 90 games in 2002; they lost 86, and I'll be damned if I'm giving back four wins then, now or ever. And, though it was corrected the next day, Tommie Agee never spelled his name “Tommy” as the Times had it in a non-sports story last week. How hard is it to get that sort of thing right?
On a day-to-day basis, daily baseball writing is like relief pitching. When it's not chock full of inaccuracies, you're not that likely to notice it unless somebody fills his or her column inches with flair. Seems to me there are fewer and fewer reporters in this town who write baseball with a real style of their own.
One guy who always drove me a little toward distraction but was uncommonly distinctive was Marty Noble of Newsday. The guy covered the Mets regularly, more or less, for about 30 years. Then one day he's not there anymore. He has resurfaced with mlb.com, which certainly upgrades their coverage. Noble was unmatched among his latter-day peers in terms of Mets background and knowledge. That informed his game stories mostly for the better, but he did have a weird way of letting you know who much he knew. If, for example, Glendon Rusch had endured a rough outing, Noble might lead with some pet saying of Jeff Innis' to illustrate the point, the relevancy of the phrase clear only to Noble.
It seems unnecessary and insecure to call attention in that fashion to how much one has immersed oneself in Mets history. Or as Tommy Moore told Lute Barnes after Bob Rauch ordered a particularly well-done steak one night in Pittsburgh, it's certainly something I would never do.