How does one define age?
“I wonder if I’m too old to be discovered by the Mets.”
How does one define full?
“Did you get enough to eat?”
“Enough? I got enough for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets.”
How does one explore the year in Mets popular culture? By referring to words spoken by the signature character of the genre many years before.
Welcome to the sixth OSCAR’S CAP AWARDS, Faith and Fear’s annual late-December/early-January survey of the prior twelve months (and change) of Mets references where you wouldn’t necessarily expect to find them. We absorb cinema, television, music, literature, what have you. We keep our eyes and ears open. We follow leads and we keeps a lengthy list that’s deep into its second decade of curation. Sometimes we are witness to a fresh Mets tidbit. Sometimes we stumble into one well-preserved that somehow escaped our attention from the previous century. If we learned about it or were strongly reminded of it in 2017, we’re bringing it to you here.
And we start with Oscar Madison, the Mets fan who was the messy half of Neil Simon’s THE ODD COUPLE, first on film (Walter Matthau), much later in a TV reboot (Matthew Perry), but most prominently for our purposes in prime time between 1970 and 1975 by Jack Klugman. The two Oscar quotes above were uttered in 1971 but captured in 2017 where most of Klugman’s and Felix Unger’s repartee has lived forever: in syndication.
For the record, it was in the Season One episode entitled “What Makes Felix Run?” that Oscar’s new flame Dr. Nancy Cunningham asks him, as dinner winds down, “Did you get enough to eat?” and he responds, “Enough? I got enough for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets.” (They shot the series in Hollywood, so we’ll excuse Oscar’s two-team appetite). Early in Season Two, in “Hospital Mates,” we remeet Oscar as he comes home all happy from softball and wonders aloud to himself, “I wonder if I’m too old to be discovered by the Mets.” We never learn the answer specifically, but we do figure out that a) the series is much better without the clumsy laugh track and b) things have gotten serious between the sportswriter and the good doctor. Oscar and Nancy are both wearing Mets caps in the pivotal scene, in which they are on their way to play more softball, but Oscar snaps his Achilles tendon.
Oscar may have been too old to be discovered by the Mets in ’71, but his injury-proneness made him a prime prospect for ’17.
MeTV’s weekly Odd Couple airings put these vintage episodes top-of-mind last year (while the contemporary reboot, whose modern-day Oscar also likes the Mets, got the boot from CBS). We got the rest of our roster from keeping eyes and ears open to as much media as possible — and from viewers…er, readers like you. For example, when we ran this feature just over a year ago, one of you was kind enough to note JEAN SHEPHERD devoted several of his 1969 storytelling radio shows on future flagship WOR to the best story of that or any year, the New York Mets.
More recently, the eighth episode of the 2016 steaming series HORACE AND PETE gave us a monologue from Pete (Steve Buscemi), who described to his cousin Horace where his head was at:
“[Y]ou’re sort of, you know, just biding your time to see what happens next. See what life offers. Maybe hit the lottery. Meet someone special. Maybe the Mets will win the playoffs, or if they make it into the playoffs. You know, or, like, looking forward to Easter this year.”
In 2016, making it into the playoffs was enough to fend off Metsian depression, at least for a spell. In 1989, Shea Stadium was booked for another event. “We’re sorry the Mets didn’t make it to the World Series,” Mick Jagger told the audience from the stage, which had been built across the far reaches of the Shea outfield as the ROLLING STONES began the Shea portion (six shows) of their Steel Wheels tour that October . “Too bad—but we’re going to have the World Series of Love!” Dan Epstein of Hardball Times brought that quote to light in an expansive article in late ’16.
MTV CLASSIC, formerly VH1 Classic, rang in last year’s new year with a raft of hip-hop beats from the early ’90s, a great time to spot era-appropriate Met apparel in videos:
• In “Summertime” by D.J. Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince (1991), somebody wore a white cap, blue bill and Mets in script.
• “Iesha” by Another Bad Creation (1991), gave us a t-shirt on which the script Mets logo looks almost spray-painted on.
• “Motownphilly” by Boyz II Men (1991) eschewed each of its title cities to show off a couple of Mets fashion jerseys.
• “U.N.I.T.Y” by Queen Latifah (1993), included a crowd highlighted by a person wearing a traditional Mets cap.
Bonus genre fact discerned: the lyrics to 1999’s “Nature Shines” by future Citi Field performer NAS included the line, “I rap for Giants, the Jets, the Yankees, the Mets”. But mostly the Mets, right Nas? Keeping preferred New York teams straight wasn’t easy during BILLIONS (March 19, 2017; Season 2, Episode 4; “Currency”), either, where a nervous cooperative witness, wearing a wire, asks the guy he’s stalking about last night’s Knicks game. When the guy counters there was no Knicks game last night, he corrects himself to say he meant Mets game, then suggests they catch one soon.
Keith Hernandez was a great get as a guest in the aftermath of the 1986 World Series. On November 26 of that year of blessed memory, Keith paneled on THE DICK CAVETT SHOW, recounting his having put away “two Buds” in “Davey’s office” during the Game Six rally (though he came out against fans drinking beer at games); spoke to the power of positive thinking; was nudged to recall how he walked on his hands in his “birthday suit” out of the shower room when women were first admitted into the clubhouse as reporters (but now, he added, there is “no sex,” everybody there is simply a writer) and played nicely with fellow guests Susan Lucci and Mike Tyson. And yes, this was the same Keith Hernandez who appeared in LAW AND ORDER during Season 4, Episode 18 (“Wager”) on March 30, 1994. Keith played Drew Harding in an episode that included references to his former teammates Dwight Gooden and Sid Fernandez.
From Keith to Kevin, as in Kevin James, the leading celebrity Mets fan of our time. Judging by the content and wardrobe of KEVIN CAN WAIT, James is more a Mets fan who happens to be a celebrity the rest of the time. As Kevin Gable, Kevin James wore a cap and shirt featuring The 7 Line logo on January 16, 2017 (Season 1, Episode 12, “Kevin vs. the Dutch Elm”). In the seventeenth episode of the first season (February 13, 2017, “Unholy War”), Kevin checked to see if the Mets would be home before committing to his daughter’s wedding date (turns out the Mets would fictionally be in San Diego on June 17). Kevin James as Kevin Gable also told kids in Sunday school in said ep that he knew there was a God in “1986…the Mets are one out away from losing the World Series to the Boston Red Sox. Mookie Wilson hits an easy ground ball towards first base that will end it all. Across town, a wiry 16-year-old from Massapequa says a prayer, and God heard me. ’Cause He opened the legs of the great Bill Buckner, that ball rolled through, and the Mets won the Series.” A kid asked, “Didn’t people also pray for the Red Sox to win?” Kevin’s answer:
“Apparently not hard enough, right?”
In the first-season finale, Gable wanted to go to Mets fantasy camp, but his plans went awry. From what we hear about the continual Mets references on the series, it sounds like James’s series is one big fantasy camp for him.
One of Kevin’s 2016 guest stars, Noah Syndergaard, kept a toe in acting in 2017. His face definitely made a cameo, though the pause button helped if you wanted to make him out. Thor appeared on GAME OF THRONES (Season 7, Episode 4, “The Spoils of War,” August 6, 2017) as a Lannister soldier hurling a spear. The spear killed a horse, but the soldier played by Syndergaard was burnt to a crisp by a dragon. As if his lat muscle hadn’t been through enough.
In SNEAKY PETE, Season 1, Episode 10, “The Longest Day” (Amazon), a couple receives a text that says, “Check the Mets score,” a nudge designed to get them to look at their newspaper.
Ed Kranepool and Art Shamsky counted hits on SESAME STREET on Episode 0267, May 18, 1971.
“You struck out more times than the 1962 Mets.”
—Carol to Jerry, THE BOB NEWHART SHOW, “Carol Ankles for Indie-Prod,” Season 6 Episode 20, March 4, 1978
When Rachel goes to return Barry’s engagement ring in the Season 1, Episode 2 of FRIENDS (9/29/1994), there’s a Mets hat on the door. A Mets hat appears in the next episode as well, in Joey and Chandler’s apartment.
“How many Mets games can YOU postpone?”
—Member of the Indian Point Nuclear Plant softball team, THE SIMPSONS, “Caper Chase,” Season 28, Episode 19, April 2, 2017
During the 2016-17 television season, BROOKLYN NINE-NINE reportedly made reference to old evidence in the evidence room being the purest cocaine anywhere because it was used by the 1986 Mets.
Jack Antonoff, lead singer for Bleachers, wore a “Let’s Go Mets” tank top featuring Mr. Met, while performing on JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE, April 17, 2017. And Antonoff showed his true colors yet again when he wore a Mets cap on the 2017 MTV VMAs, August 27, 2017. Kimmel kept it Metsian more than once, too. When he brought his show to Brooklyn on October 18, 2017, Jimmy and his sidekick Guillermo played stickball in the street. When they broke a window, the owner of said shattered glass was revealed to be Mike Piazza, who appeared at the window wearing (as he would) a Mets bathrobe.
Dialogue between a tenant and Eddie the Doorman from Netflix’s MASTER OF NONE (Season 2, Episode 6, 2017, “New York, I Love You”):
“Hey, Eddie, how those Mets doing?”
“Eh, we can’t win. You know how it is.”
Eddie is listening to Howie Rose doing play-by-play twice in the opening scene.
“I just got an offer from New York, darlin’.”
“Yeah, I know.”
—Jim Brockmire (played by legit Mets fan Hank Azaria) and his then-wife Lucy, in a flashback to 2007, BROCKMIRE, “It All Comes Down To This,” Season 1, Episode 8, May 17, 2017
Bernard Madoff’s personalized Mets jacket appears in the 2017 HBO movie THE WIZARD OF LIES.
There’s a three-hour preseason cruise for Mets fans in the Season Three finale of THE UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT (2017).
In the opening credits to the 1977 CBS sitcom BUSTING LOOSE, Jack Kruschen as Sam Markowitz appears wearing a souvenir Mets batting helmet, brandishing a New York Mets pennant on a stick. In one episode, Sam watches a game with his son Lenny (played Adam Arkin) and utters the phrase, “Rah, Mets! Rah, Mets!”
In SPIDER-MAN: THE HOMECOMING (2017), Peter Parker’s bedroom is adorned with a Mike Piazza-themed Mets pennant, a Mets cap on a shelf and what is described as a Mets hanky.
Two bits from a LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS MONOLOGUE, July 2017:
• “Chris Christie caught a foul ball and got booed by Mets fans. Usually, the only way to get booed by Mets fans is to be a Met.”
• “The Mets introduced a bobblehead that appeared to have a sex toy on it. They finally figured out a way to give Mets fans pleasure.”
Mets New Star Pitcher
To Undergo Tommy
Macarena to Blame!
— Headline from Quad Cities Times on office bulletin board in recreated Exit 57 sketch with Matthew McConaughey, THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT, July 31, 2017
“This was the exact face he made when I surprised him with Mets tickets.”
—From the Netflix series, ATYPICAL, Episode 1 (2017). The characters are looking at flash cards that show emotions for their autistic son. The dad tried to connect with his son and the son refuted him.
“I remember, in 1969, everything was going right with the world — the Mets looked like they might win the pennant and I was doing Gene Pitney recording sessions and sessions with the Drifters and the Platters…and I even getting paid for some of this stuff.”
—Rupert Holmes, GILBERT GOTTFRIED’S AMAZING COLLASAL PODCAST, 2017 (co-host Frank Santopadre is a longtime Mets fan)
Jerry Seinfeld wears a METS EST ’62 warmup jacket while in front of his childhood home in his 2017 Netflix special, JERRY BEFORE SEINFELD: BACK ON STAGE. During the performance portion at the Comic Strip, he takes an audience question, “What’s wrong with the Mets?” which Jerry uses to launch into a variation of his rooting for the laundry bit.
“The Mets at the Reds in Cincy, what’s the line?”
“Reds and one.”
“New York’s due. Who’s pitchin’ tomorrow, Seaver?”
“Hmm, whaddaya think?”
“I don’t think. You want the action?”
“All right, all right. Gimme a hundred on the Metropolitans.”
—THE DEUCE pilot, 9/10/2017, James Franco as Frankie, laying action in Times Square, 1971
On IMPRACTICAL JOKERS, “Take Me Out At The Ballgame,” Season 6, Episode 23, September 28, 2017 (truTV), Noah Syndergaard autographs and tosses balls into the stands at Citi Field while one of the Jokers grabs them from fans and predictably infuriates them.
THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT incorporated the exterior of Citi Field into its opening montage, September 2017. On a related note, the LL Cool J career highlight montages during the KENNEDY CENTER HONORS, aired on CBS, December 26, 2017 (recorded December 3), featured his September 16, 2017 performance at the Meadows music festival in the main Citi Field parking lot, set against Citi Field’s very visible exterior.
Jason Isaacs of Star Trek: Discovery guested on panel discussion at NEW YORK COMIC CON while wearing a Mets cap, October 2017.
“Oh, Sybil, you know the way Archie is. I mean, he says he hates everybody. President Carter. Mayor Beame. Walter Cronkite. Bella Abzug. Mr. Abzug. The Mets, the Jets, all the United Nations. And they don’t get upset, so why should you?”
—Edith Bunker, ALL IN THE FAMILY, “Edith’s 50th Birthday (Part One),” October 16, 1977
THE MEYEROWITZ STORIES (2017) includes references to Asdrubal Cabrera hitting into a double play and Terry Collins moving Bartolo Colon to the bullpen. The Mets talk is a substitute for the characters expressing how they really feel.
“I saw the New York Mets play five times last year. That’s far out enough for me.”
“Well, I guess the Mets will probably lose today, too.”
—Two Metsian lines from Bert Monker, the deli man who had been swooning for Sally Rogers (Rose Marie), “Roses, Romance and Rye Bread,” THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW, Season Four, Episode Six, October 28, 1964
In the LOCKHORNS comic strip of Sunday, October 29, 2017, as Leroy leans back and watches a baseball player in a blue cap with a bat on a large flat-screen television, Loretta comments to a friend, “If it were up to Leroy, our song would be ‘Meet The Mets.’”
Clyde Lawrence, of the band LAWRENCE, often wears Mets gear while performing.
“Where in New York City is the ball dropped every year?”
—From Jon Stewart’s New York City citizenship test, administered to Conan O’Brien on CONAN (visiting NYC), November 7, 2017
“Well, first in the National League, it was the Mets over the Braves, three to two…”
—Setup to joke in the first set David Letterman performed on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, November 24, 1978, featured on DAVID LETTERMAN: THE MARK TWAIN PRIZE, aired on PBS, November 20, 2017 (presented at Kennedy Center, October 22, 2017)
Good luck to Dave on his new Netflix interview series, though his guest list can’t possibly top the eleven Mets who joined him on THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN on January 22, 1996 to count down the Top 10 Reasons the Mets Will Do Better in 1996. For the record, they were Jeff Kent, Jose Vizcaino, Ryan Thompson, Jason Isringhausen, Rico Brogna, Carl Everett, Todd Hundley, Bill Pulsipher, Bobby Jones, John Franco and Dave Mlicki (whose Letterman pronounced as MY-lacki.
“The American Revolution, we don’t have statues of King George. He lost, he’s out. World War I, the people who lost, we don’t have statues. Otherwise, the Mets would have a statue every year.”
—Mets fan John Leguizamo regarding the continued existence of statues honoring the Confederate side of the Civil War, THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT, November 22, 2017
In his 2017 Netflix special, THE RETURN, Judd Apatow shows his audience a picture of himself at Citi Field posing with Jerry Blevins and Logan Verrett. Apatow admits he didn’t know who they were, but notes they were very nice and “ripped,” muscularly speaking. Apatow goes on to show himself throwing out a first ball while Jacob deGrom looks on, Apatow speculating that deGrom grew impatient with him.
In the 2017 Off Broadway musical BULLDOZER: THE BALLAD OF ROBERT MOSES, a radio reports traffic on the Grand Central is backed up to Shea Stadium, “but, how about those Mets?”
Finally, in very early 2018 (January 3), new Mets first base coach Ruben Amaro, Jr., guest-starred on THE GOLDBERGS, playing his father in the Philadelphia-set series.
Thanks to everybody who hipped us to the Mets stuff we didn’t catch for ourselves. Please keep paying attention in those hours when you’re not following the Mets themselves. And if you’d care for a concentrated look at Mets and movies, Amazin’ Avenue screened quite a few here .