The Backstop Back At Ya: This does not officially end the old Back-Stop's boycott... Yet. The fact is that I was committed to not writing about the Mets in a negative way. Good or bad they are my team. You never quit on your team. EVER. (Apply that to wherever it may fit.)
Fact is that I consider the baseball feild sacred. Hell, I am 38 years old and I still play in the LI Ammeter leagues as a catcher because it has always been a place where I went to figure out my life. A baseball game is a test run to see what kind of person you are, where, and perhaps most importantly aren't any more regardless of how hard you try to pretend Father Time and Mother Nature aren't telling you that it is time to move on and give somebody else their chance.
There are not too many areas in my life where I think I am qualified to judge what or who belongs anywhere. I am almost always wrong and I am almost always surprised. So it is not for me to say who or what does or doesn't belong on, in or around baseball. A painful reminder of this presented itself to me 3 weeks ago when a 65 year old pitcher struck me out swinging on a low and away slider that just disappeared the instant before I pulled the trigger. (The guy was wearing a Yankee uniform too. Good lord this game will humble you the very second you think you have the upper hand...So is life)
All that said I have been silent in my thoughts about the big league team that I love because I saw things that no matter how I tried to angle my head and pretend I was seeing something other than than what I saw. So this is just my opinion. I am sure you will find more critical and more lenient opinions. I am only qualified to issue mine.
Did I Really See These Things On The Baseball Field?
-If they were not physically on the actual field down in Flushing were they not manifested in some way that found itself to the field?
I think I saw lawyers, accountants, some guy named Picard, owners of what I am under no illusion to the contrary is at the end of the day, a business declare themselves "Underdogs" going as far as to have T-Shirts made up. I saw that the word victim which should never ever ever be associated with baseball was almost synonymous with the team I hold the dearest. I saw a funny name and could not help but apply some of what I like to call Karma's Deductive Reasoning. -If you add the letter "E' to the name Madoff what do you get? A guy that Made Off with a lot of peoples money. (These people truly were victims an a terrible injustice was committed. No disputing that. I will save my sense of morallity for another blog. But please don't mistake baseball talk for insensitivity.)
I saw that no matter how much of the time I covered one eye and one ear that there was no way to ignore that these things had found there way onto the field. Our field. I could not pretend it hadn't come to this.
I saw that depending on who you believe the owners of Our Team could have been on the beneficial end of these dealings or could have been victims themselves. I saw all these things before anybody took batting practice. Before anybody hopped on the 7 train before fantasy owners were wondering what Mets could be considered this years sleepers. I saw all this before I saw a ball, bat or glove. And I saw as I never wanted to see. That these things never should have found their way to the park and I felt like the great American sanctuary that is baseball now had real life victims in their path.
Crazy Uncle Rich always says that this team will never be legitimate until their are new owners. I found myself wondering which one of us was crazy.
Then I saw something that in the grand scheme of life matters little. Especially with how complicated everything has become. But it burned all the same.
I saw the most exciting player I ever saw wear a Mets uniform basically forced to take his talents to South Beach.
I am not going to argue with anybody who has opinions of who Jose Reyes is as a citizen. Or what kind of "human being" he is. I am only saying what I saw. On the field I saw a kid who though had occasional ADD lapses simple enjoyed the game he played for a living. Some called that arrogant, some say he was a showboat, some even went as far as to call him a selfish player and even farther, a selfish person. I will only issue my opinion. As an old catcher I know for a fact that the game has a way of policing itself against "showboats". I will not break the code. I will just say that there is a rarely used one finger signal that I use if, for example, a batter hits the ball and takes too much time to admire his work. He would be wise to hope he does not get another at bat. I will not let anybody show up my pitchers. (Usually their egos are fragile enough). I won't tolerate a head hunter. But we know where to put it where it stings just enough to make you second guess you arrogance the next time.
In all the years Reyes was a Met I can't remember a single time where an apposing pitcher even went high & tight to back him off the plate. A show off with no respect for the game could not maintain such safety....Believe me.
The other part which I am not going to get into too much detail about concerns Reyes the human being.
Because of a family tragedy, the discussion of which also has no place on the field, I found myself spending a lot of time at a local hospital for sick children. Every NY athlete makes at lease one visit to this hospital a year. There I heard all I needed to know about Reyes the person. (Giving credit where it is due I learned the same thing about Carlos Beltran) I was left with the understanding that the difference between Jose and all the other athletes is found in frequency and genuine heart. It is my belief based on what I heard (or I grant, perhaps what I wanted to hear) is that he made regular visits to see the kids and did not find it necessary to notify all of the press when he was going. For that I will always be grateful. Thank You Jose.
But He Is A Marlin Now. Which means that the money we invested over the years found us in need of a shortstop with the best free agent available already familiar with our team. I saw that too. This will be the last I speak of it.
The Mets are now 2 games out of first place in one of the toughest divisions in the game. The young players (Duda, Thole, Ike-> Eventiually I hope and so on with more to come) are fun to watch. David Wright has regained his status as on of the games elite players (In his walk year. Hmmm. That is what everybody said about our former Shortstop yet I have yet to hear it yet about Mr. Wright. Who I love, I am just saying) So it looks like we will are slowly turning the corner. Which will leave ownership in good standing to remain owners. Because I am a sucker for this team I will learn to forgive. I will be happy enough to see all those ugly complicated things off of my field.
We now enter a new chapter in our history. Which may not be the Yankees' but at least its ours. I am 100% on board in support of my team.
I am about to hit "Publish" which will mark the end of the "Dark Days of 2007-2011" as far as I am concerned. I am not tagging anybody. I am not committing to going back to wrighting weekly. I am just ready to turn the page and let it be about baseball again. May the "complicated stuff"stay outside of the white foul lines once and for all and forever.
Play Ball Already.
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