See what happens when you don’t built an insipidly high left field wall? You might see more than one home run per homestand. Matt Wieters hit a ball that would have been caught at the track by most Met leftfielders had it been struck at Citi Field. At worst it might have gone for two bases. Probably it wouldn’t have carried even close to the sixteen-foot-high fence. I’m thinking it falls in front of most Met left fielders for a bloop double.
But it doesn’t work that way at Camden Yards, America’s most beautiful ballpark, where — hush, hush — fly balls carry. The Baltimore rookie Wieters hit one Wednesday night that carried, as Tim Redding grumbled later, a full six inches beyond the left field wall. With a better jump and/or leap Fernando Martinez might have caught it, but I’m pretty sure the same has been said about Ron Swoboda going after Don Buford’s leadoff shot in the same city forty years ago. We lost Game One in ’69, we lost game two last night. We recovered then. We’ve got a whole new chance tonight.
Was it all about Wieters’ Camdenized fly? Not really, considering Aubrey Huff huffed and puffed and blew Pedro Feliciano’s delivery halfway to Eutaw Street in the seventh. Feliciano has been pitching effectively, so it’s tough to get down on him for bringing his gopher to show ‘n’ tell. In fact, it’s tough to get down on anybody for last night. It was one of those losses in which two teams played and one of them scored more than the other. Most Mets losses this season have felt like exercises in agony. This one felt like we could’ve won but didn’t, oh well.
Can’t get down on Redding who wasn’t super sharp but was reasonably competent. Fernando Tatis did ground into a rally-killing, bases-loaded DP, but it took a nice play to execute it and the Mets. Nobody on our side did anything egregious in the field and Alex Cora wove a seventh-inning stop & fling that was quite nifty, albeit after it was already 6-4 O’s.
Sometimes you lose and don’t want to release anybody.
Tonight’s rubber match will provide fine background scenery for METSTOCK: 3 Hours of Pizza and Baseball at Two Boots Tavern, 384 Grand Street in Manhattan, full details and directions can be found here. We start at 7:00. You’ll be hearing readings from three Amazin’ books: Stanley Cohen’s A Magic Summer; Jon Springer’s and Matt Silverman’s Mets By The Numbers; and my very own Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets. Each, like METSTOCK itself, is brought to you by Skyhorse Publishing. Please come on down and join us for reading, signing, schmoozing, eating, drinking and watching some baseball. (A little rain only enhanced Woodstock, and we, at least, will be indoors.)
My book — available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and fine local retailers — exists because of one factor more than any other: this blog. Without this blog, I would have been just some guy who was a Mets fan for a long time and had some stories to tell. With it, I’m that very same guy but with what is known in the business as a platform. I am, in the context of chronicling the relationship we all have with this team (simultaneously loving it and not being able to stand it), marketable. Putting aside that the Mets are a better story in 2009 than 2004 and that daily blogging has made me a far better writer now than I was then, I could have written a book like this five years ago, I’m pretty sure. But publication, distribution and promotion…hard for me to imagine all that would have been achieved without having this blog to prove I wasn’t just some guy who was a Mets fan for a long time with some stories to tell.
Besides mentioning that as a pretext to thank you, the FAFIF reader, for helping us build that platform, I bring it up in the context of something I read yesterday, by a well-known sportswriter despairing of the reaction his profession receives from readers these days:
All I hear is “You guys suck ass” and “If you idiots were doing this and that …” but I’m at a loss. What have we done so poorly? No, we don’t nail every story. And yes, we make mistakes. But — and I’m being 100-percent serious — what do you want from us?
I’m betting that’s not all the writer in question, The Bad Guys Won! author Jeff Pearlman, hears, but criticism tends to ring louder than praise, and incivility is easy to generate from behind a keyboard and a screen name. I’m not going to attempt to answer the question he posed in his headline — “Why do you hate us?” — because I think the question is misleading, misguided, slathered in self-pity and overly broad (though one of his other pieces yesterday, in which he essentially stuck his tongue out at readers so as to say “nyah-nyah, I knew it!” regarding Sammy Sosa, did not leave me feeling charitable toward the trade he practices). But Pearlman’s post did make me think about platforms.
Traditionally, sportswriters have had platforms while sports fans have not. On a given morning in the past, I might have read a great or terrible column on the previous night’s Mets game and have had no outlet for my reaction other than to nod or sigh. I might have had a thought on the same subject before I ever read what a professional wrote and I would have kept it to myself because there was nowhere else to take it. It used to annoy me no end that the version of events that got into print was so often unrecognizable in terms of what I had watched the night before and that the Met narrative I read day after day did not add up to the one I’d been constructing in my head for decades, one informed by my own observations and experiences.
I feel that way less and less, and not because professional sportswriting has so improved. I have an outlet now. I still read great columns and terrible columns, but they no longer carry the same sway in my mind, perhaps because they no longer carry the same sway in an at-large sense. Yeah, Wally Matthews is going to get more attention than anything Jason or I write, but more and more I can laugh that off. It’s just Wally Matthews (or whoever) being silly again. I don’t have to treat the bad columnist’s word as significant just because it appeared in a newspaper or on a newspaper’s Web site. We’re all doing this now. That one person has a press credential and one doesn’t doesn’t make anybody’s opinion or observation more or less valid.
Beat writers have a specific job and it’s worthy of our respect and admiration. I’ve never bought into “they get to see games for free” as reasons to dismiss the obstacles they are prone to run up against. No job, even a job you love in a field you voluntarily entered, is without its drawbacks. Beat writers — and the Mets have several consistently good ones covering them — bring a valuable perspective to what we the fans know and might want to know. I wouldn’t have that Redding “six inches” quote above if an AP reporter hadn’t written it down.
But we the fans have a valuable perspective, too. We know our teams in our own way and we know why they’re our teams. We the fans think about it plenty and we the fans are, I find, fairly discerning people, not simply “die-hard blind loyalists” to use a Pearlman phrase. We know what it’s like on this side of the wall. We get the whole Mets experience in a way beat writers and columnists don’t or won’t.
And as long as sportswriters are blogging like regular people, I’d contend there isn’t as much of a wall between us as there used to be. Matthews writes something. Pearlman writes something. I write something. You write something. Whaddaya know? We’ve all written something.
Prior to blogging, my not quite fully formed gripe with the sports media was that I rarely read, saw or heard anything that reflected my understanding of my team. Thanks to blogging, I read it regularly. I get to write it, too, and some of it wound up in a book that you might have read…which is nice, by the way.
The left field wall at Citi Field is taller than I’d prefer, but I’m glad at least one barrier where the Mets and me are concerned continues to crumble.
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