- Faith and Fear in Flushing - http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

The 2019 Oscar’s Cap Awards

You had to love how Oscar Madison covered sports. For example, the New York Herald columnist was assigned a Jets-Dolphins tilt for first place, but his roommate Felix Unger, paralyzed by a fear of flying, convinced him to accompany him on a flight Houston by persuading him that his talents would be better challenged writing up the game between the bottom-dwelling Oilers and Chargers at the Astrodome. And then, when Felix performed two 180s — walking off the Houston flight before booking them passage on a parachutists club charter that wouldn’t land until it reached San Diego (which wasn’t initially clear to the roomies, thus the comedy) — Oscar calmly absorbed the news and explained he’d just watch the matchup on TV and write it from there.

Kind of like us! Not just for the ballgames, either, for we also cover everything Metsian we see, hear and read outside the foul lines, whether it’s on TV, in the movies, in books, in song…wherever the Mets pop up in unexpected places, we fly you there at the end of every year via the Oscar’s Cap Awards.

In this, our eighth annual survey of the Met year in popular culture, we track in no particular order Met sightings and soundings two ways: stuff that originated in 2019 and stuff we just found out about (or suddenly re-remembered) from past years this year, either on our own or through our vast network of helpful tipsters. Like the Mets cap on Oscar Madison’s head in so many episodes of The Odd Couple, we are on top of this beat. At least we try to be.

You know who doesn’t have to walk a beat, because he’s an NYPD detective? That’s right, Mike Stoneman, back in another Mike Stoneman thriller, Deadly Enterprise [1]. The Stoneman series is close to our heart because it is penned by Mets fan and Friend of FAFIF Kevin Chapman, and Kevin did not disappoint in his 2019 followup to Righteous Assassin. Detective Stoneman, visiting the Hospital for Special Surgery, crosses paths with Noah Syndergaard in New York prior to Spring Training. Syndergaard is visiting Dr. David Altchek to get a “routine check-up” prior to heading to St. Lucie. Taking place in February 2019, Syndergaard expresses enthusiasm for the return of “my man Familia,” while affirming Stoneman’s excitement for “this kid, Alonso,” who Thor refers to as “a beast”.

You know who didn’t get beat in 2019? Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord, when she ran for president. The former Madam Secretary earned her promotion and, as chief executive, visited Citi Field in the second episode of Season 6 (“The Strike Zone”). At Citi Field, President McCord throws out the first pitch, with Luis Guillorme serving as ceremonial catcher. In advance of her fling, McCord dreams she plunks Mr. Met in his considerable noggin, but on screen, it all comes off without a hitch. (In real life, it was filmed prior to the Mets-Indians game of August 22, 2019.) Madam Secretary soon thereafter concluded its prime time run on CBS because once you’ve built a fragment of an episode around an honest-to-goodness Faith and Fear in Flushing sighting [2], what other hills are to climb?

It’s likely Citi Field was never seen by as many people for baseball as it was during the telecast of a football game (perhaps watched professionally by Oscar Madison himself). An overhead shot of the barren ballpark (perhaps photographed by Pop Belkin himself) appeared in the trailer for Avengers: Endgame, debuting during the Super Bowl LIII, February 3, 2019. What was it teasing? Well, in the movie that came out later in the year, half of New York is gone and the Mets have been disbanded. “I miss the Mets,” says a character listed as Grieving Man (alias Gozie Agbo), played by co-director Joe Russo.

In a sunnier vein, according to a January 18, 2019, tweet thread from J.K. Rowling, some Hogwarts students in the Harry Potter universe wind up on the New York Mets (“a historically awful baseball team in New York City”) via the whims of the Sorting Hat: “It didn’t happen often, but when it happened, that kid had to leave Hogwarts and go play for the Mets. Professor Dumbeldore have hand them a uniform and then call them a taxi to the airport … Some Mets legends like Darryl Strawberry and Ron Swoboda came straight from Hogwarts. So did some real duds like Alex Ochoa and Bill Pulsipher. Bill Pulsipher should have become a wizard instead of a Met.” The Sorting Hat, Rowling revealed, was known to sing “Meet The Mets”.

The future looks promising on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, “Take Me Out to the Holosuite,” Season 7, Episode 4 (October 21, 1998), when Captain Benjamin Sisko brandishes an antique baseball from the 21st century. He explains it was used in that epic World Series battle between the Giants and the Mets and mentions reverently that every game went into extra innings.

“What’s the score?”
“Mets are down by two.”
“What else is new?”
—Conversation between Bob Fosse (Sam Rockwell) and the guard at the stage door of the 46th Street Theatre in the summer of 1975 during the original run of Chicago, portrayed in Episode 7 (“Nowadays”) of Fosse/Verdon, May 21, 2019

Previously on Fosse/Verdon: In Episode 5 (May 7, 2019), set in the late summer of 1973, Bob Fosse, Paddy Chayefsky and Neil Simon are standing around the television set watching a baseball game, bemoaning the outcome. Fosse (Sam Rockwell) tries countering the despair by saying, “You gotta believe.” Though the footage on the TV isn’t a period Mets game, the 1973 Met implication is quite clear.

“And finally, it was the Mets walloping the Pirates…”
—Overheard on a radio news report in a car driving around Chicago in the summer of 1968, Medium Cool (1969)

In Blue Bloods, “The One That Got Away” (Season 7, Episode 13; January 20, 2017), Danny Reagan (Donnie Wahlberg) gets a kid whose father clubbed him with a baseball bat to open up to him by engaging him in a discussion of their mutual favorite Met, David Wright. Here’s an additional detail didn’t get away from attentive Blue Bloods viewers: In “My Brother’s Keeper” (Season 9, Episode 14; February 8, 2019), a Mr. Met plush toy is evident.

On the November 14, 1967, episode of The Jerry Lewis Show, Jerry and Audrey Meadows, spoofing Bonnie and Clyde, are holed up in their apartment, with the police having surrounded their building. A smoke bomb from an unseen cop comes through the window, but fails to go off. In what sounds like an ad-lib, Jerry Lewis announces, “That cop has been with the Mets.”

No, the Mets didn’t get any respect in their early years. In Bewitched, Season 2, Episode 3 (“We’re in for a Bad Spell”), September 30, 1965, Aunt Clara researches the Book of Spellees (referring to those who have had spells cast on them) and finds the New York Mets listed alongside relatively recent two-time election loser Richard Nixon. Meanwhile, in the Peanuts strip of November 25, 1967, Linus Van Pelt glumly concludes, “Little brothers are the New York Mets of life!”

But at least some scriptwriters wanted to help. In The Twilight Zone’s “A Kind of Stopwatch” (S5, E4; October 18, 1963), McNulty the bore comes into possession of an unusual stopwatch that, when he clicks it, stops the world. Everybody and everything but McNulty is frozen in time. Another click and the world resumes its motion. The protagonist eventually figures out he can stop the world, walk into a bank and leisurely take as much money as he likes. Until then, he uses the stopwatch mostly to commit pranks — like going to the Polo Grounds to watch a Mets game, and stopping the world to move second base closer to Ron Hunt so the Mets’ rookie sensation can steal second. Hunt’s rigged theft proves decisive as Duke Snider drives him in with the game’s winning run.

In The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Season 4, Episode 9 (2019), “Sliding Van Doors,” there’s a reference to Jacqueline’s alternate-reality husband Mikey (Mets fan, gay construction worker) sitting around watching “the Mets win World Series after World Series”. He’s wearing a blue and orange jersey, but no team logo is visible. The episode also has a Mr. Met reference. In the season’s final episode, Eli the agent offers Kimmy Mets tickets, and a baby in the epilogue is named after Keith Hernandez.

In John Grisham’s 2018 book The Rooster Bar, the two lead male characters go to a Subway Series game at Yankee Stadium; the author notes the series is overhyped and not sold out. They also attend the first of the two games at Citi Field, also not a sellout. The Mets, you’ll be glad to learn, won the first two games at Yankee Stadium.

A “PIAZZA 31 HALL OF FAME” pennant appears in the bedroom of Peter Parker in the early 2019 trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home (the film was released in July).

A preseason baseball magazine featuring Tom Seaver on the cover is visible at a newsstand in a Season 8 episode of Mannix that originally aired in 1974.

During Mets fan Jimmy Kimmel’s October 2019 week of shows in Brooklyn, Pete Alonso appeared in a freshly produced local commercial for Grand Prospect Hall, while Noah Syndergaard showed up on stage to deliver the host an enormous carton of lo mein. Noah’s work shirt featured a Thor name tag. Pete also swung by 53rd and Broadway to “Hit Things Real Good” outside the Ed Sullivan Theater with Stephen Colbert on the October 4 edition of The Late Show.

“That’s right — [Trump’s] not even trying to hide the lies anymore. Not only do we have fake news, we now have fake weather, too. I’m hoping we get fake sports, because I want to see the Mets win the World Series.”
—Kimmel, September 3, 2019 (same night as the 11-10 loss in Washington)

Elsewhere on the talk show circuit, on Real Time, February 8, 2019, political opposites Bill Maher and Chris Christie concluded their interview on common ground, reflecting a bit on their shared Mets fandom.

Jerry Seinfeld and Matthew Broderick live out their childhood fantasy by romping around Citi Field in Season 11 (2019) of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. They wear t-shirts from The 7 Line Army at one point, and Matthew tells a story about Ralph Kiner visiting him backstage when the actor was co-starring in The Producers. Back when nobody much knew about Jerry’s baseball predilections, in “The Busboy,” on Seinfeld (S2, E12; June 26, 1991), a poster of the Mets skyline logo appears in Antonio the busboy’s apartment.

This one here is a time capsule item, for sure. On the 1967 album, Senator Bobby & Friends: Boston Soul by Wilder Things with the Hardly-Worthit Players, Senator Bobby (portrayed by Bill Minkin) and the Questions talk over an instrumental version of “96 Tears,” during which the Senator’s staffer suggests “going really big, and [getting] something like the New York Mets” as potential vocalists to sing on the record. “New York Mets? I’d like all of my singers to be on my team,” Senator Bobby responds, “but I don’t think I want that team on my team, no.”

A man in a Mets cap is literally dancing in the aisles during the 2017 concert that forms Jeff Lynne’s ELO: Wembley or Bust. In an unrelated concert apparel development, Nas wore a Pete Alonso jersey on tour in 2019. And in an archival clip from Hulu’s Fyre Fraud (2019), Ja Rule is interviewed by someone in a Mets jersey and cap.

In 2019, the song “Doc Gooden” appeared on the Mountain Goats album In League With Dragons. Lyrics include: When the speedball would squeal
/With the highlight reel
/When the headline hype/Was on the front page in extra large type/It was me, for all the world to see

Doc was everywhere this year. On Grey’s Anatomy, “Good Shepherd,” Season 15, Episode 21, April 11, 2019, Dr. Atticus “Link” Lincoln recalls a childhood wish granted from when he was 10 years old and being treated for osteosarcoma, a form of cancer, on his thigh (from which he is in full remission). He got go to “a baseball game at Shea Stadium” and “got to meet my favorite player, Dwight Gooden.”

On the May 27, 1972, edition of American Top 40, Casey Kasem introduced the No. 22 song, “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” by Paul Simon with a geography lesson regarding the location of Corona. Casey told his listeners then (and now, through the magic of archival recordings) that Corona is near Shea Stadium, “home of the New York Mets, who play some pretty tough baseball.” When this particular AT40 was recorded, the Mets were comfortably in first place, riding an eleven-game winning streak.

Tim McGraw’s had plenty of radio airplay in his time, but dig this station ID from his dad in the early 1970s: “Hi, I’m Tug McGraw of the New York Mets. When we’re out in the bullpen, we talk about the great music they play on WPRB-FM in Princeton.” (Also audible: the word “bull” and a good bit of bleeping.)

Bob Murphy certainly mentioned Tug among many Mets. Well, somebody mentioned Murph, too. “Summer’s Voice,” a tribute to our Hall of Fame broadcaster, appeared on Arlon Bennett’s album of the same name. It was first released in 2007.

We know the Beatles played Shea Stadium, and we know that in the 2019 film Yesterday, everybody but one person has forgotten the Beatles ever existed. But did you know that Citi Field appears briefly in Yesterday? You do now. You can also consider yourself informed that parts of the 2019 video for “Mona Lisa” by Mike DelGuidice (the leader of Billy Joel tribute band Big Shot and part of Billy’s ensemble as well) are filmed at Citi Field. Mega Mets fan Kevin James does the acting while Mike does the singing.

Close enough: In Season 2, Episode 49 of Batman — “Catwoman Goes to College” (February 22, 1967) — Robin refers to a Lions and Tigers concert that will take place at Spayed Stadium.

On Black Monday, Season 1, Episode 3 (“339”; February 10, 2019), Keith’s son’s Bar Mitzvah is Mets-themed. Later in the series, there is a reference to some powerful drugs that, once ingested, can “turn the Yankees into the Mets,” which, of course, represents an upgrade (and not just morally) amid the show’s 1987 setting.

There’s a fleeting mention of the ’86 Mets in the 2017 Netflix production of Oh Hello with John Mulaney and Nick Kroll. And because that team won a World Series, contemporary talk show guests in the wake of their title included Lenny Dykstra the night after the ticker-tape parade on Late Night with David Letterman and Keith Hernandez, who visited Robert Klein Time on the USA Network in the winter of ’87.

“We are sorry the Mets lost.”
—Phil Hartman, Bartles & Jaymes commercial parody, Saturday Night Live, October 18, 1986 (Season 12, Episode 2), the cold open. This episode aired following Game One of the World Series, which, in fact, the Mets did lose, 1-0 (Hartman referred to it as “a real slugfest”). Spike Lee, he of the reliable sports allegiances, would appear on the show later, wearing a Mets cap and a white baseball jersey that read NEW YORK in blue letters with orange trim.

Bob Costas visited Cheers for a pregame segment during the 1986 World Series to ask Sam Malone how he would pitch to the Mets and, specifically, Gary Carter (who’s “damn near as good looking as I am,” according to Sam). It aired prior to Game Three, October 21 (which the Mets won).

More NBC synergy was at work during the writers’ strike of 1988, when, after he’d been off the air since March, David Letterman stopped by Shea Stadium to interview David Cone for a pregame segment on NBC’s June 25 Game of the Week. With Marv Albert coaching him, Letterman asked Cone if he’d consider throwing a game to avoid being on Kiner’s Korner.

In Chapter 10 of Netflix’s The Kominsky Method, “An Old Flame, An Old Wick,” first streaming in 2019, the characters played by Michael Douglas (Sandy Kominsky) and Paul Reiser (his daughter’s boyfriend Martin) bond over the 1969 Mets since they’re close in age. From the same service, in 2019’s Marriage Story, a Mets pennant is visible on the wall of the bedroom of Charlie’s son, Henry. Say, as long as we’re getting our binge on, Gregg Jefferies appears in 2019’s The Irishman in a game between the Phillies and the Mets, September 22, 1996. Jefferies was a Phillie at the time, but nobody’s perfect.

A backwards baseball cap sporting the script Mets wordmark appears on a character’s head in the North Jersey-set Hulu series Ramy (2019). And on Survivor: Edge of Extinction, airing on CBS in the late winter and spring of 2019, Dan “The Wardog” DaSilva sports a Mets tattoo.

In “The First and Last Supper,” Season 1, Episode 13, of All In The Family (April 6, 1971), Henry Jefferson reveals his brother George doesn’t want to come over to meet Archie Bunker. Instead, “he’s at Shea Stadium, watchin’ the Mets,” which was Archie’s plan for the evening: “Dinner? I’m going to the Mets game tonight. Mike’s going with me.” In another episode, Archie wins a bet on the Mets, “beating them San Diego Padres”.

“As it happens, I was sitting on this very stool when the Mets won the Series in ’69.”
—Barney Hefner, Archie Bunker’s Place, “Barney and the Lawsuit,” Season 1, Episode 15 (December 16, 1979)

Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game? and the 1962 Mets are given their props in the 2019 HBO documentary Breslin and Hamill: Deadline Artists. From another precinct in the genre, Mayor Ed Koch is roundly booed at Shea Stadium late in his final term (Opening Day 1989) in the 2012 documentary Koch. Hizzoner reasons there were more yeas than boos (which there weren’t).

Appearing the fourth episode of the 2019 season of Bojack Horseman is a screen name and message — “metsfan2005: METS SUCK!!!!” Also animated: a foreground character in the durable comic strip Hi & Lois seems to be wearing a Mets cap while reading a newspaper (October 2019).

The July 19, 2019, New Yorker cartoon has a baseball-headed and –capped figure, in khakis and a polo shirt, shaking hands with somebody, telling that person, “Please, call me Michael — Mr. Met is my father’s name.”

In the wake of Mike Piazza generating the back page tabloid headline, “I’M NOT GAY,” in May 2002, The Late Show with David Letterman debuted a new commercial the allegedly “defensive” Mets were airing. Narrator: “Come out to Shea Stadium this weekend as the heterosexual Mets take on those sissies, the Florida Marlins. That’s right, the non-gay Mets will be kicking a little ass in a three-game series. Nobody has more heterosexual sex than these guys! In fact, if the Mets do happen to lose, it’s only because they were up the night before nailin’ chicks.”

David Letterman’s Top Ten Other Unconfirmed Rumors About Mike Piazza (May 24, 2002) includes No. 10, “Spends two hours a day on his swing, five hours on his goatee”; No. 9, “His number 31 is also the number of bat boys he’s strangled”; and No. 5, “About to be named Squatting Magazine’s ‘Man of the Year’”.

David Letterman’s Top Ten Things You Never Knew About the New York Mets (July 26, 2007), with ten players presenting facts, includes No. 9, “Mets is short for Metrosexuals” (Shawn Green); No. 8, “We all carry Blackberries so we can blog on the field” (Carlos Delgado); and No. 1, “We’ve really bonded since we started watching Oprah as a team” (David Wright). Others who appeared: Reyes, Milledge, Maine, Gl@v!ne, Anderson, Lo Duca, Heilman. Paul Shaffer’s band played “Meet the Mets” before and after the presentation.

Post-Letterman Late Show field producer Jake Plunkett wore a Mets cap while sitting with Stephen Colbert in 2019, though it was one of those black caps on which the NY is white [3].

In the 2004 Hank Zipzer young adult novel Zippity Zinger by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver, the title character is portrayed on the cover in a blue pullover Mets jersey (1980s warmup style). Within the text of the baseball story, the hero is told, “Listen, Zip, almost every athlete has something that’s a lucky charm. Turk Wendell, he used to be on your stinkin’ Mets…he brushes his teeth and chews licorice between every inning.” Zip didn’t know that, but he knew that Turk wore No. 99.

Bury My Heart at Shea Stadium by Alexander Jucofsky is a 2019 novel available on Kindle Unlimited and billed as “the first novel infused with the pain and suffering of every Met fan”.

On Saturday Night Live, December 3, 1983 (S 9, E 7), Tom Seaver appears as himself in his NBC sportscaster guise, reporting in the cold open on the rain delay that may push back the beginning of tonight’s show. In the SNL of February 9, 1985 (Season 10, Episode 13), we follow the Minkman Brothers (Al and Herb, played by Billy Crystal and Christopher Guest), purveyors of fake vomit and such, as they take part in Mets Fantasy Camp. They wear contemporary uniforms, Al in No. 1, Herb in No. 2. Ed Charles and Bud Harrelson are on hand.

“Yankees or Mets,” a guy asks a girl at the outset of Law & Order: SVU’s “Delinquent,” Season 12, Episode 23, May 11, 2013. They appear to be back at the woman’s apartment after they’ve gone out. She answers, “Yankees,” which surprisingly does not end the date right then and there. Also from the L&O universe: a framed, autographed photo of Howard Johnson hangs on a wall behind Paul Robinette (Richard Brooks) in a Law & Order episode from the show’s second season (1992).

Sunnyside didn’t last long on NBC, but the sitcom aired long enough to leave us with this bit from Season 1, Episode 2 (“The Ethiopian Executioner”) on October 3, 2019: lead character former Queens councilman Garrett Modi makes a reference to having been hit in the face trying to catch a fly ball at the Mets game last week and Jimmy Fallon having had “a field day” with the clip.

Another Season 1, Episode 2 attempt to make a good first-ish impression on Mets fans came from CBS’s Beauty and the Beast, October 2, 1987: An abduction victim asks someone charged with watching her, “So…how ’bout those Mets?” Amazin’ly, in 2015’s The Big Short, a sample of banker-customer small talk from the 1970s includes, “How About Those Mets?” (Good conversation is timeless.)

In the 1985 movie Seven Minutes in Heaven, a scene is shot at Shea, featuring what looks like the Mets and Expos, though the Met logos are obscured and the Expo uniforms seem to indicate the home team’s opponents are called the NJ Eagles.

On Jeopardy, July 22, 2019, under the category of flags, the $800 answer was: “A 2017 article written in June — not August or September! — asked, at 31-41, ‘Is it time for the Mets to wave this’?” The correct response was: “What is the white flag?”

And while Ike Davis was becoming the No. 27 Met of the 2010s [4], our first baseman from the first part of the decade found time to play catch on MTV’s Silent Library, April 14, 2011 (S 4, E 13). Ike appeared in full uniform during the Gloved Catch segment and had not yet confronted the perils of the Coors Field pitcher’s mound.
___

Well, that does it for another edition of the Oscar’s Caps. For all the help we received in putting this together, all we can say is thank you for flying Belkin Airlines.