Yo DJ, pump this party!
The song is called “I’m Gonna Get You,” a snappingly energetic dance number. I remember hearing it quite a bit on Z-100 in the summer of 1993 and enjoying it enough to purchase the 12-inch single. Very, very catchy. Listen to it for yourself here — if you’ve been attending Mets games since August of 2006, the intro should be at least passingly familiar to you.
Unless you mostly went this year, in which case you’ve almost never heard it.
The name of the artist? Bizarre Inc. And why would you hear Bizarre Inc. at a Mets home game? Because it’s the song to which Oliver Perez warms up.
Bizarre Inc. … perfect. Welcome and farewell to the 2010 Mets.
You want an incorporation of bizarre? Go to Closing Day, sit in the wind and the cold for fourteen innings, wait for the Mets to do something, to do anything. Then see them do the last anything you’ve been led to suspect they ever would: insert Oliver Perez into a tie game.
Yo DJ, pump this party!
Oliver Perez entered the field of play at the top of the fourteenth inning. He was greeted predictably by the 2,000 or so tortured souls who remained into the fifth hour of the 162nd game of the season. He was a boo magnet as he stepped on the mound. After loosening up to Bizarre Inc. (why waste your time? you know you’re gonna be mine! you know you’re gonna be mine!) — he pumped that party as only Oliver Perez could.
You might say he pumped vitality into Citi Field the way Silly String used to liven up parties. The Mets and the Nats for the first thirteen innings was the bore war, perfectly indicative of what a majority of the previous 161 games had been when the Mets were one of the participants. Here’s the game recap as best as I can remember it:
• Somewhere along the way Washington scored a run.
• Later, the Mets scored a run.
• At all other intervals nothing else happened, unless you count Jerry Manuel — the imminently erstwhile Chief Logistics Officer for Bizarre Inc. — pulling his two star players from the game in the top of the ninth while the game’s outcome remained completely in doubt. Neither David Wright nor Jose Reyes was retiring after Sunday, neither had broken a cherished record, neither was the Pope or anything like that. Yet Jerry treated his two best players as if they were Hank Aaron and Cal Ripken at an All-Star Game.
Earth to Jerry: The game counted. It was 1-1. We could have used our two best players to theoretically help win it. That would have been nice. Instead, it was six innings of Mike Hessman and Joaquin Arias — fine fellows, no doubt, but not David Wright and Jose Reyes in a 1-1 game. Not even close.
Maybe the Mets still would have flailed without success for several more innings and hours with Jose and David remaining active, but I’d prefer watching my team go down with its best as opposed to the pronounced opposite.
Which brings us back to Ollie.
Yo DJ, pump this party!
In case you’ve forgotten who Oliver Perez is, he was a lefthanded pitcher of eternal promise and modest success prior to 2009. Then he was paid a king’s ransom to potentially build upon his modest success. Instead, he pitched poorly and behaved worse. When given an opportunity to temporarily rehone his skills at an outpost where he couldn’t do anybody undue damage, he declined. His contract said he didn’t have to do anything he didn’t want. He didn’t want a week or two or three in Buffalo (where he would have continued to have received his ridiculous ransom).
So Jerry Manuel stopped using him altogether, which was the path of least resistance. Ollie took up roster space, appeared in baseball games once in a blue moon and facilitated the lighting up of scoreboards from Arizona to Atlanta to (almost) Astoria on those rare occasions when he was asked, pretty please, do you think you could earn a bit of your ransom and maybe not suck in the process?
Not who you’d trust with maintaining a 1-1 tie in the 14th inning of the 162nd baseball game of your season, a game that meant only as much as any game means if a playoff spot isn’t involved. It was a professional endeavor. People paid money to enter Citi Field Sunday, they paid money for food and drink and maybe bought a fleece sweater or something to stay warm. Beyond the tangible, people invest their souls in the success of their team. Success in the broadest 2010 sense was unavailable and success in the narrow Game 162 sense was unguaranteed. But somewhere in the fine print there must be a promise that both teams will really and truly try to win every contest in which they compete.
The Nationals tried to win. They didn’t remove David Wright and Jose Reyes from their lineup and they didn’t insert Oliver Perez as their pitcher. Wish I could say the same of the Mets.
Yo DJ, pump this party!
Ollie teased us. He struck out Ian Desmond to lead off the fourteenth. With one out, we dared to dream that maybe the 27-day layoff since Oliver Perez last pitched wouldn’t adversely impact him and maybe he could get through one lousy inning.
Instead, we just got the lousy inning.
• Ollie hits Adam Kennedy.
• Kennedy steals second.
• Ollie walks Roger Bernadina.
• Ollie walks Wil Nieves.
• Ollie walks Justin Maxwell.
In case you’re wondering, Adam Kennedy was a .249 hitter in 2010; Roger Bernadina, .246; Wil Nieves, .203; and Justin Maxwell, an exceedingly cool .144. Their respective OPSes, in case batting averages aren’t your thing, were .654; .691; .554; and .593. Those aren’t threatening OPSes — those are SAT scores.
Ollie flunked his exam. Thirty pitches, five batters, one out, one hit by pitch, one stolen base, three walks and the magic final run to grease the exits to the offseason. His sudden benefactor Manuel — somehow the only manager in the history of expanded rosters to be short of relievers at the end of a season — stepped out of the dugout to pull him. The crowd (if you wanted to call us that) greeted him predictably, too.
Then Pat Misch, eight-inning starter from Friday night, throws three pitches and elicits a ground ball double play.
Bizarre Inc. all around.
What a weird team, and it was never better exemplified by the confluence of the pitcher who never deserved to pitch winding up pitching and the manager who has managed to remain in his post through two of the creepiest, crappiest, cruddiest consecutive seasons any Mets team has ever put up. 2009 was a horror show. 2010 was the lamest of crime dramas. The most glaring crime was Oliver Perez stealing $12 million. The drama was wondering what the hell Jerry Manuel was thinking.
It was bad and bizarre at Citi Field Sunday. It was dullsville, mostly, but then it was insulting. Out go your best players, in comes your worst nightmare. Oliver Perez finished 2010 and hopefully his Met career with an 0-5 record, a 6.80 ERA and the distinction of making Kenny Rogers’s final Met appearance appear outstanding by comparison.
But give Ollie this: he did get us interested when he took the ball, interested enough to be loudly revolted. You might think a desultory 2-1 loss spread out over four hours, fourteen minutes and fourteen innings might lull you into a coma. It didn’t. The mere sight of Ollie woke us from the last of our stupor, even if our offense eventually left us sleeping with our eyes open.
And that was the highlight of Closing Day 2010. How bizarre.
Shortly after Ruben Tejada flied out to end this wilted campaign, a highlight video rolled on CitiVision. It was pretty non-descript. I generally don’t like using that word because it seems designed to save writers the trouble of describing things, but there was no theme to it, no arc to it, no distinct musical cues to inform it — there was just shot after shot of Met after Met not failing in a home uniform in 2010.
The highlight video used to be a staple of Closing Day and it could give a Mets fan chills: “Here’s To The Winners” in 1985; “Back In The High Life Again” in 1988; “Reach” in 1997. Those were uplifting regular seasons set to soaring soundtracks. We stood and we cheered and I swear we even cried a little when they were over. I haven’t seen the Mets produce a video of that nature at the end of a regular season in quite a while. I suppose their seasons of late have produced too many outtakes and not enough actual highlights.
Still, I’m conditioned to think a great one is coming after the last out, so I create one in my mind. I can see that 2010 highlight video and it’s riveting. The footage is all my own (which is good, as it saves me from having to pay MLB a licensing fee).
In my video, I see the people with whom I spent a season at Citi Field. I see the warmth, the consideration, the conviviality, the fun I experienced with them. I see high-fives and hugs and hear a lot of laughter. I am caught up in the dialogue of how we would make our team play better and make our park work better and, inevitably, when we’re gonna do this again because we had such a good time here, didn’t we? I’m gripped by our common Met bond and I am astounded by how much love a 79-83 ballclub can generate among its devotees.
I see the great days and nights a ballpark gives you when you’re with the kind of people you like so well and find yourself caring about so much. I see it clear to the end, straight through a final weekend that lasted 33 often interminable innings but somehow didn’t go on quite long enough.
It never does.
I thank all those people who appear in my personal 2010 highlight montage for having been an integral part of my Mets season, and for allowing me at least a cameo in theirs.