As FAFIF’s 2009 Mets Fantasy Camp correspondent, he’s hit, he’s run, he’s fielded, he’s thrown and he’s blogged with power, so in our book, that makes Jeff Hysen a five-tool blogger. We appreciate his taking time out from his week of a lifetime to share his experiences with all of us here and are honored to bring you his final St. Lucie report.
Anthony Young struck out 245 batters in his major league career, so that means that I am in good company. The final day of camp was wonderful in all respects. I couldn’t sleep, partially in anticipation of playing against the pros at Tradition Field, and partially because my hand hurt after getting jammed during Friday’s championship game (lineout to first). It shouldn’t surprise you that I was one of the first campers to get to the field, but there were more pros there than campers. I noticed that the pros were throwing and taking BP as the week went on to prepare for the game. I think that once a game, any game, even one in a fantasy camp, is at hand, a competitive streak kicks in for them. It’s what differentiates them as pros.
I didn’t have to tell Anthony Young to “bring the s**t” (not that I would have, I couldn’t hit the s**t of a 50-year-old CPA) but he brought it anyway. He was throwing at about 80 and he easily mowed us down en route to a 4-0 win (three-inning game, pros are home, pros have a two-run limit per inning). I played second base and it was great being on the same field that the Mets will play on in one month. Pete Schourek hit an inside-the-park homer to dead center. (This probably won’t surpass what he said was his biggest career thrill: hitting a home run off Curt Schilling.)
After one last trip to the clubhouse, it was back to the field for the farewell lunch. I was glad that my parents were able to meet some of the pros featured in these columns, including Joe Pignatano, Lenny Randle, John Stearns and Pat Zachry, who didn’t mention to them anything about my always [friggin’] smiling.
I had three goals for the week (other than to have a good time):
1) To get two hits; one would have been a fluke. I hit .179, with 4 hits and 3 RBI. Laugh if you want, but that’s fine with me. Of course I wish I did better but, as my son Dylan told me, I’ve never faced a curveball before. Plus, all the BP in the world can’t match hitting in a game.
2) To make a great play in the field. Nope. I made some routine plays at second, caught a flyball in right and made a few errors at both positions.
3) Not to get hurt. It turns out that this is impossible, as every camper absorbed some sort of injury. My quads tightened, I got a blister, I have a big black and blue mark on my left bicep, and, as mentioned above, I hurt my hand. Yet I’m definitely not complaining.
The pros really believe that it’s a simple game. As Willie Montañez told me last night, “see the ball, hit the ball.” Yeah. Ballplayers don’t believe in “clutch” or “choke”. They believe that sometimes the other guy beats you.
It’s fun to go out for drinks with a plastic surgeon (cheers, Ira and Howie). If, however, Pete Schourek wants to make a bar bet with you, decline.
I talked with Randy Niemann Friday night and he is excited to be with the big club this year. Since he’s the bullpen coach, I’m not sure how that translates into winning more games but he’s somebody who has won multiple titles (seven, he told me, including the 1986 World Series).
At dinner last night, we sat together as a team and I said to “Sully,” one of my teammates, how special this felt. He said that guys like us haven’t been on too many teams (that’s not true for all campers but it is in my case) and this camp gave us the chance to see what it was like, albeit for five days.
Please indulge the following closing sentiments…
To Alan, Vinny, Allan, Ed, Victor, Fred, Rich, Dwight and John: thank you being my teammates.
To Buzz Capra, Willie Montañez and John Shoemaker: I wish I could have played as well as you coached.
To my parents: thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
To my colleagues: the Mets don’t want me — I’ll be in on Monday.
To my friends: my apologies in advance as I will undoubtedly be telling you stories about camp until you’re sick of them.
To Greg and Jason: thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts on this great blog. (I feel like Billy Preston.)
To the pros and staff at Mets Fantasy Camp: you put on a helluva show.
To my fellow campers: it’s been a blast.
To you, for reading: wow — thank you very much.
It was an honor wearing the uniform of the New York Mets. I hope that the real New York Mets feel the same way.
Finally: some things, probably most things in life don’t meet let alone exceed expectations.