This just in, from the press box at Shea Stadium, where a 5-4-3 triple play hit into by the Pirates’ Bill Mazeroski just went unnoticed for the umpteenth time: the Oscar’s Cap Awards for 2013, recognizing the ongoing presence of the Mets in popular culture, both lately and eternally, have been announced.
The Oscar’s Caps, or OCs, were inaugurated last December in loving memory of Jack Klugman and the Mets cap he wore in so many scenes of the classic ABC sitcom The Odd Couple, on which he portrayed tidiness-challenged New York Herald sportswriter Oscar Madison for five glorious seasons. Oscar’s Caps are placed atop every example we notice of the Mets infiltrating the popular culture in the preceding year, the kinds of moments destined to join the pantheon occupied by Oscar (Klugman’s and Walter Matthau’s), Chico Escuela and the slightly fictional version of Keith Hernandez among many, many others.
Oscar himself probably would have preferred a hot tip on a fast horse or a hot date with Crazy Rhoda Zimmerman, but we’d like to think he’d appreciate this homage, too.
Some of what we present here is brand new, materializing within the popular-culture Metgeist of 2013. Some of it is from a little before or courtesy of the wayback machine. That’s the stuff we simply hadn’t taken note of until it was brought to our attention over the past 12 months, whether organically or through the kindness of friends and well-meaning strangers.
Maybe we knew about it in the distant past but only remembered it this year. Or maybe we didn’t know about it at all until now. If we missed it the first time around, it’s probably because we were busy watching a Mets game.
Good thing for repeats, huh?
With that loose-limbed explanation of what we’re up to, we proudly present our Oscar’s Caps for the year just concluding.
• Marnie Stern’s ode to “Shea Stadium” captured the essence of the place in 2008: “Bigger than big/That’s how you start it.”
• Shea Stadium was fully animated in the late-1990s Fox program Godzilla: The Series. In the episode “What Dreams May Come,” a monster named Crackler ran amok in New York City, destroying everything in its way, including otherwise indefatigable Shea.
• Alice In The Cities (1974) has scenes filmed at Shea Stadium, including game action and Jane Jarvis on the organ.
• Hot Times (1974) includes an adult scene in Shea Stadium’s parking lot.
• “Take me out to the ball game/I want to sit in the stands and scream/I wanna root for the losing team/Like that day/The stadium was Shea/And I lived in a rally cap/And the underdog would say…”
—The So So Glos, “Son Of An American,” Blowout (2012)
• “Shea Stadium, the radium, EMD squared/Kicked out of the Palladium, you think that I cared?”
—Beastie Boys, “Sounds of Science,” Paul’s Boutique (1989)
• Hang A Crooked Number, a novel by Matthew Callan (2013), includes tangential (thus essential) Mets content. It takes place primarily in a fictional minor league affiliate, namechecks Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman and keeps Shea Stadium alive.
• In 2012’s indie flick Gimme The Loot, graffiti artists want to tag the Home Run Apple at Citi Field, just as was done to its predecessor at Shea in the ’80s.
• Action Bronson’s “Rolling Thunder” 2013 lyric: “I stay in Flushing like I’m Dillon Gee.”
• In The Simpsons’ “Love is a Many Splintered Thing,” February 10, 2013, Mary Spuckler has a picture of herself in a carriage ride in New York with a Mr. Met-like figure.
• Jon Stewart was reacclimated to The Daily Show after his summer hiatus, 9/3/2013, with the help of Mr. Met (blocking John Oliver from Stewart’s dressing room as Stephen Colbert performed some sort of exorcism/intervention).
• Spotted in the audience at The Colbert Report on 9/24/2013 as the Emmy-winning host thanked his staff (filling all the seats for the occasion): Mr. Met.
NOT SUCH A BIG HEAD
• As detailed in our thorough examination of the Harvey Day phenomenon, on the eve of his start in the 2013 All-Star Game, Matt Harvey served as correspondent for Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, asking New Yorkers their opinion of Matt Harvey, and going largely unrecognized in the process.
Y’KNOW WHAT WOULD LOOK GOOD ON THOSE HEADS?
• Nas, seen performing postgame at Citi Field over the summer, included this homage in his theme song to the 2012 film Tower Heist: “I’m straight up NYC/Like a Mets fitted”.
• Vincent Irizarry as Corporal Fragetti sported a Mets cap in Heartbreak Ridge (1986).
• Some kid wore a Mets cap on the Nickelodeon show Hey Dude (1989-1991).
• Minority Mets owner Bill Maher offered guest Jay-Z a blinged-up black Mets cap on HBO’s Real Time, August 2, 2013. Jay-Z declined not, he claimed, because it was the Mets, but because it was too sparkly. The show biz mogul added that when his uncle took him to his first baseball game as a kid, it was a Mets game…but that he was lured to dark side anyway.
• No cap, but Eddie Murphy wore Mets varsity-style jacket in Coming to America (1988).
• No jacket, but Vince Vaughn wore a Mets t-shirt in the commercial for Delivery Man (2013).
I READ/HEARD/SAW THE NEWS TODAY, OH BOY
• “The restroom attendant greeted us with a nod. His job, as far as I could see, entailed sitting on a stool and listening to the Mets game on a transistor radio.” So wrote Tom Perotta in Bad Haircut: Stories From The Seventies (2012).
• High schoolers Neil and Jon watch the Mets’ 1980 season opener on Channel 9 in Let Me Wear Your Coat by John Basil (2012).
• Girls, “On All Fours,” 3/10/2013: Bartender at party to Adam: “Did ya hear that? The Mets are up, 3-2.” (Adam says, “No.”)
• The back cover of 1982’s The Nylon Curtain features Billy Joel reading a newspaper (the Times) in which the headline, “Expos Top Punchless Mets,” is clearly visible.
• A newspaper headline spotted on How I Met Your Mother in 2013 blares “Mets Mathematically Eliminated”.
• Loudon Wainwright III’s song “Hometeam Crowd” from 1972: “When the Mets don’t win/I get upset/I got a bullet hole in my TV set.”
• From Lobo’s “Happy Days in New York City” (1969): “Now it took eight years to do it/And they don’t know what they’ve done/For the city’s beginning to smile again/The Mets have finally won”.
WHAT WOULD YOU RATHER DO?
• A Flintstones episode of yore reportedly had Barney and Fred cutting work to attend the “Metrocks” game.
• “I get baseball tickets,” neighbor Dr. Arnold Rosen told Don Draper in the Mad Men episode “Favors” on June 9, 2013 (set in 1968), “mostly the Mets.” Don, for some strange reason, isn’t impressed.
• On The Odd Couple, Season 1, Episode 6, “Oscar’s Ulcer,” first aired October 29, 1970: Felix enters a restaurant and approaches Oscar, who’s not supposed to be out enjoying himself. “You said you wanted your freedom,” Felix scolds his roommate. “Freedom to you means either a hot tamale or a night baseball game. The Mets are out of town.”
• “Do you know how many seven-year-old opera fans there are in this world?” Floyd Unger asked good ol’ Oscar after Floyd regretted hiring Felix at Unger Gum and Felix’s big initiative was producing bubble gum cards for opera fans. “These kids will be trading in 50 Beverly Sills for one Ron Swoboda.” (“Shuffling Off to Buffalo,” The Odd Couple, Season 4, Episode 18, first aired February 8, 1974.)
• Bobby Bonilla appeared on New York Undercover in 1994.
• Kirk Nieuwenhuis appeared on the Fox reality cooking show Hell’s Kitchen on July 18, 2013.
• In 2012’s otherwise abysmal Parental Guidance, Artie Decker (Billy Crystal) is a minor league baseball announcer who channels Bob Murphy when he says, “Back with the happy recap after these words.”
• Coolio featuring 40 Thevz “Dial A Jam” lyric: “a pitcher like Catfish Hunter, Nolan Ryan and Doc Gooden rolled into one, son” (1995).
• Go To Hell, Mike Piazza was a movie script written in 2001 that emerged in 2013. It was intended as a vehicle for Ben Stiller, whose protagonist character blamed all of his life’s woes on Piazza.
• Jimmy Chance of Raising Hope, in the episode titled “Hi-Def” (11/22/2013), needs to come up with a baseball player whose name he can turn into a “Strawberry” pun…and arrives upon “Strawberry Bonds”.
HANG ON, HELP IS ON THE WAY
• On Nurse Jackie — starring Mets fan Edie Falco — the May 19, 2013, episode entitled “Walk Of Shame,” a drunk and ranting Mets fan was brought into the Emergency Room after smashing his face against the side of a bus. He was enraged by the sight of a Yankees logo on the bus, so (naturally) he bashed the logo with his face. He was wearing blue and orange, sort of a Mets jacket without any licensed MLB logos or insignia. At one point he shouted to an EMT, “Girardi is your mother’s bitch!”
• The Arkansas Connection by David Evans is promoted to potential readers as such: “Frank Munro, manager of the New York Mets, leads a turbulent life trying to win with a team of dysfunctional underachievers. [...] Meanwhile, Bobby Sherward, a doctor-turned-right fielder who sustained a concussion from the fly ball and lost the Mets’ final season game, decides that his future is in medicine, not baseball.”
• Sometimes You See It Coming by Kevin Baker (2003): “John Barr is the kind of player who isn’t supposed to exist anymore. An all-around superstar, he plays the game with a single-minded ferocity that makes his New York Mets team all but invincible. [...] Barr leads the Mets to one championship after another. Then chaos arrives in the person of new manager Charli Stanzi, well-known psychopath. Under Stanzi’s tutelage, the team simply falls apart.”
• In the pilot for the 1965 series My Mother The Car, Ann Sothern, reincarnated as a 1928 Porter automobile, tells a disbelieving Jerry Van Dyke, “I’ve heard of something called the New York Mets. If they’re possible, I’m possible.”
• In 2012’s Heft by Liz Moore, one of the characters is a high school senior being scouted by the Mets.
FUNNY YOU SHOULD MENTION THAT
• RLTV’s Second Act profile of comedian Jeff Hysen — who regularly and thoughtfully provides Oscar’s Cap tips to FAFIF — shows the star at home with his Mets coffee mug. (Learn more about how a comic who’s played clubs from coast to coast gets some of his punchlines in order here.)
A big tip of our cap to all Faith and Fear readers who contributed Mets popular culture sightings from 2013 and before. If in 2014 you see something of a Metsian nature on TV, hear something Amazin’ in a song or see something trimmed in orange and blue in a movie, a play or a book, say something to us! We’ll add it to our bulging file of pop culture Metsiana and recognize it in this space around this time next year, if not sooner.