Once a year I forget how much I hate every player on 15 rival rosters and root for the National League All-Stars. But every year, given the shark-infested waters under the various bridges we've burned ('06 NLCS, '07/'08 collapses), it gets harder to muster that ol' team spirit.
It got more difficult between innings at Sunday's Mets game when the CitiVision operators offered a “salute” to the 2009 Senior Circuit standard-bearers.
They commenced by showing us first baseman Albert Pujols. I don't think anybody in the stands was really paying attention at that point. No reaction whatsoever for someone who usually generates jeers and bad 33-month old memories. I applauded so softly that it was imperceptible even to myself. But I did applaud. At this point Albert Pujols is the George Washington of the National League. He's at the head of the list and you can't dispute his ranking.
Then second baseman Chase Utley. This unleashed the furies. BOOO!!! Chase Utley? Signature player of our current archrivals? The only batter in the history of civilization whose home run stroke has been shown to have benefited from Citi Field's contorted dimensions? I know we're all in this together come Tuesday night, but nobody here wants to look at Chase Utley unless it's video of him falling into a pit on top of…
Shortstop Hanley Ramirez? YEECH! And BOOOOOO!!!!!! Hanley Ramirez is a one-man teal wrecking crew. He plays on while Reyes gingerly jogs. His team is ahead of ours in the standings, which isn't nearly the Marlins' biggest crime based on their accumulated record of late September misconduct in these parts.
Third baseman David Wright. Supportive applause, warm cheers. Our guy. The Mets brass sometimes likes to promote its own. Sometimes.
Outfield starters next. They begin with Carlos Beltran. Good choice. He won't play in St. Louis. I don't know if he'll even show up (probably not). But nice to remember he was having a good season before going down. Another positive reception.
Outfielder Ryan Braun. A pin could drop.
Outfielder Raul Ibañez. That's not Ra-uuuul we're responding, but it's his uniform absorbing the abuuuuse more than the man. He hasn't been around here enough to meaningfully stoke our collective ire (though he's sure making strides).
I'm thinking we're moving onto the pitchers, but I've conveniently forgotten the other position whose starter is voted on by the fans. And the Mets being the Mets, it is his face now featured on our screen.
Catcher Yadier Molina.
Part of me respects the Mets' attempt to accurately complete the lineup. I don't like when history is revised to make people comfortable (our 2006 highlights DVD implies Game Seven ended with Endy's catch). But the Mets can sure be weirdly selective in what they choose to emphasize. The key, I suppose, is making certain Mets fans feel at least a little belittled by their own organization. Two weeks ago, during the Subway Series finale (the score of which was 3-2 at the time), they skipped the Eighth Inning Singalong altogether. The Eighth Inning Singalong is a dopey conceit, but this was when “Meet The Mets” had trumped “Sweet Caroline” as the song of record. To the extent the Singalong is liked or even anticipated, “Meet The Mets” is the reason why. “Meet The Mets” is our song.
But gee, you could hear somebody in charge thinking, if we play “Meet The Mets,” a good portion of this crowd at this particular game might mock it. And since we can't count on our Citi Field patrons showing any more life than our baseball team, let's just skip the whole thing.
The organist did play “Sweet Caroline” during the pregame that Sunday night, incidentally. They really can't help themselves, can they? (It was booed at 7:20 prior to an 8:05 start.)
As usual, I digress. The Mets plastered, without a satiric caption, the face of Yadier Molina, the single worst villain from a practical standpoint in Mets history. Quick — name someone else who hit a home run that almost literally ended a Mets postseason. Do the Yankees blow kisses to Bill Mazeroski or Luis Gonzalez? Falling down the Chase-Hanley hole isn't good enough for Yadier. Get those Arpielle mini-excavators to race over his supine body, and that we can applaud. Better yet, announce Yadier Molina's All-Star image and post “NO PICTURE AVAILABLE”. You don't need to be John McEnroe to declare YOU CAN'T BE SERIOUS about expecting a respectful round of applause from a building filled with Mets fans when you're beaming Yadier Molina in oversized living (unfortunately) color.
Catcher Yadier Molina.
It crossed my mind that maybe somebody in the control booth was having diabolically ironic fun with us. But I don't think the fourth-grade interns they hire for stuff like this go that deep.
They finished up by showing Johan and Frankie, and they were clapped upon, but geez. After the Mets sent their best to Chase Utley, Hanley Ramirez and Yadier Molina, it's no wonder the apple was too embarrassed to show its face more than once.