I virtually never travel for my job, but back in 2008, I was given the opportunity to work a promotional booth at a FanFest for an MLB team. Considering how harsh New Jersey can be in late January, I optimistically requested San Diego. Like clockwork, they sent me to Pittsburgh, the equivalent of escaping Alaska for Antarctica.
On top of the single-digit temperatures, the idea of attending a FanFest for a team that hadn’t had a winning record since I was in seventh grade seemed a bit depressing. But honestly, PirateFest turned out to be a really good time, if a little weird.
Back in the winter, when the Mets announced Nas would do a postgame concert after a game in July, I decided that if I went to Citi Field just once this year, a distinct possibility, it would be that one.
I don’t remember all that much about life as a fifth grader — I recall being infatuated with G.I. Joe action figures, the Mets and the original Legend of Zelda, but that’s about it. And yet, so much about my first game at Shea Stadium remains totally fresh in my mind.
I still remember like yesterday the day Darryl Strawberry left the Mets for the Dodgers. I was waiting to get a haircut in fifth grade when the news on the television at the barber shop told me Darryl had jumped ship. I melted out of my chair and sank to my knees.
Straw was my first sports love; it was as if my best friend had moved away. (That actually happened a couple years later, and I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t recall it hitting me nearly as hard as losing Darryl.)
Going through that was rough when I was 11, but it was a necessary lesson about two years into being a sports fan: Nothing lasts forever. Players leave, teams change, eras come and go. I eventually came to grips with it Ã¢â‚¬â€œ years later, I even bought a Dodgers Strawberry jersey.
Now somewhat jaded at 32, with Dan Marino and Patrick Ewing and LeBron James the Cavalier in my rearview mirror, this sort of thing honestly doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t faze me anymore. Our teams are inextricable parts of our identities, but the players on them shuttle in and out like friends from various chapters in our lives.
As such, I always just have to shake my head at peopleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s knee-jerk reactions when a star player leaves for another team. If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re 12, sure, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a crushing blow. But if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been watching sports for any legitimate portion of time, how canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t you know by now this is the way it goes?
This weekÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s random thoughts. A little boxing, a little baseball, a little Kobe Bryant as a rapper.
Last November, I thought after watching Sergio Martinez detonate Paul Williams in Boardwalk Hall that I had seen The Next Big Thing.
Almost a year later, the growing suspicion that weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re never going to see that actually happen has become a bigger personal disappointment to me than anything else in a sport that tends to consistently disappoint, far surpassing the interminable wait for Pacquiao-Mayweather.
Later than usual with this, and just one thought and some NFL picks. Been a busy week and had some other stuff to write, including one article IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m hoping to see on the Dime Magazine site this week.
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no secret that the older we get, the more jaded we are, especially when it comes to the way we watch sports.
I remember watching the final game in 1991 for a 77-84 post-Strawberry Mets team like it was Game 7 of the NLCS, as David Cone struck out 19 batters and had the chance to tie the record, but retired Dale Murphy with a groundout to end the game.
I remember sitting on the literal edge of my seat on the couch, praying that Cone would dig deep and join Clemens in the record books.
Twenty years later, my perspective has of course changed. The Mets, famously, have never had a pitcher throw a no-hitter, and R.A. Dickey took one into the seventh inning this afternoon. And I opted not to watch it.
I honestly didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d ever see Oliver Perez pitch again. But last Saturday night in Harrisburg, I found myself watching him warm up about 30 yards from Bryce Harper, ships passing in the night.
Besides the red jersey, Ollie looked just as I remembered him. It was like when you run into a long-lost friend you havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t seen for a while; thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s that moment where you instinctively take inventory to see what, if anything, has changed.
I noticed that every sixth or seventh warmup toss would glance off his glove. Ollie would run after it, pick it up from wherever it landed, and start playing catch again from wherever he ended up. I was told later this is something he does by design to get some running in at the same time he does his long-toss. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not sure if thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s legitimate, but Ollie has always had his quirks.
Though to me, it pretty much just looked like a guy chasing after a baseball.
There are going to be plenty of tributes to personal favorite Carlos Beltran once heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no longer a member of the Mets, which looks like itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to be any day now, but I figure IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d get a slight head start. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve never met Beltran, but I have a few anecdotes to share.
And as Kanye West said, people never get the flowers when they can still smell Ã¢â‚¬Ëœem.
The one time I met Anthony Weiner in person was in the Shea Stadium parking lot the morning before the Trade Deadline in July 2005. At the time, he was stumping for a mayoral bid.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s true,Ã¢â‚¬Â Weiner said with an air of certitude to a group of constituents. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Mets have traded for Manny Ramirez, and theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re going to have a press conference at noon.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Obviously, Rep. Weiner is about as reliable with baseball news as he is with his dalliances on the internet.
When I heard about the Angels attempting to get into the Guinness Book of World Records for most assembled people wearing Mexican-style wrestling masks earlier this month, I was unsurprisingly mystified. After all, such a night combines quite a few things IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m into: Masks, wrestling and wackjob baseball promotional nights.