Saturday, June 25, 2011

Reyes gone?

Yeah, The Mets baseball season is not quite going the way I hoped. It's not as bad as I feared but it's still quite disappointing. But the thing that galls me is that the Mets are expected to become "sellers" when the trade deadline comes. Now sometimes being a seller is a good thing when you get rid of an overpaid underachiever. But the Mets are probably going to get rid of some of their best players because they are "broke".

Being a seller gives you the opportunity to trade a high priced player near the end of his contract that is having a good year but not good enough to get your team in the playoffs. So you get this opportunity to get some added prospects when you can trade a high priced player to a team that can use them. Carlos Beltran fits this mode. He signed a huge contract with the Mets 6 years ago and is playing the last year of his contract. He's been a bit of a disappointment in his Mets run. He spent much of his time on the disabled list and is in his mid thirties. The Mets won't re-sign him and he's having a good year. He would be a good addition to a team who needs a solid player to help theior run.

The Mets need to get something for him in return because they get nothing if they don't trade him. Even if they make a strong run in the summer, They have enough talent in the outfield to cover for his absence. Besides last year the Mets were doing alright until he came back from his injury. Good riddance, Despite the fact he had a MONSTER season the last time the Mets were in the playoffs in 2006, I can never shake the image of Beltran leaving his bat on his shoulder when he left strike three go by to allow the Cardinals get in the World Series.

Now Jose Reyes is a different story. He, like Beltran has been injured much of the last three years. But he's only 28 years old. And he's having a monstrous season. He's a home grown Met, And to me he's the most exciting player in baseball when he's healthy. Trading him can get us some good players but if he plays out his contract, We can probably sign him with a slight hometown discount and if we don't we get some compensation.

Look, As a Mets fan, I've had to endure a lot. When the Mets were good, It was because of the pitching. The Mets best home grown players in their history have been pitchers. No offensive player in Mets history comes close. Mike Piazza was great but much of his greatness was achieved as a Dodger. In the last half dozen years Mets fans have been treated to two home grown players that have shown flashes of greatness. David Wright and Jose Reyes.

What's cool about them is that they more or less came up at the same time. They play the same side of the infield, Have been almost perennial All-Stars and have generated multi-ethnic fan bases from throughout the region. I was looking forward to seeing them man that side of the field in 2015 and beyond with hopefully a few championships under their belts.

So what happened? Well, 2006 was a great season for the Mets. It was the first time since the Braves moved to the eastern division in 1993 that another team won that division and it was my Mets. And they won by a huge margin over the soon to be hated rivals, The Phillies. But there were problems, The Mets became short handed in the pitching department. Pedro Martinez got injured as did Orlando Hernandez. They got good pitching by Oliver Perez of all people and John Maine of all people. They breezed by the Dodgers and advanced the same day the New York Yankees were eliminated. That was a great day, Little did I know it would be the last great day for a while. The bullpen blew a few games in their playoff series with the Cardinals. It got to game 7 and Perez hung in there well with help from backup outfielder's most incredible post season catch of all time to keep the game tied. The Mets couldn't capitalize on it one bit. they gave the ball to surly pitcher Aaron Heillman and he gave up a home run to a light hitting catcher (natch). Then Beltran's bat got too heavy to move and the 2006 World Series was won by the 83 win Cardinals.

2007 started right where the 2006 ended with the Mets way out ahead of the Phillies which was satisfying after the Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins mouthed off about how arrogant the Mets were and announced the Phillies were the team to beat. Ohhhh, he was eating his words words for most of the summer, Though the Phillies themselves beats the Mets up good. But then the Mets choked real hard. The Phillies didn't play that great against the other teams but played well enough to the Mets to gain ground until the big choke finally took hold on the last day of the season. Thanks, Tom Glavine.

Anyway, 2008 went a similar path and when it was time in 2009 for the Mets and Yankees to move in their new ballparks, It was the team that built their park on a pilfered children's playground while destroying an iconic building that won the World Series. Meanwhile the team that replaced a run downed dump with a beautiful park in their own parking lot that gets an embarrassing losing season. How is that karma?

Meanwhile the Mets get into financial problems relating to Bernie Madoff and find themselves having become a perennial sub .500 team. Now in the past, The Mets have had a bad run of years. They were hostile in the early days of free agency and passed up signing great players when they had the opportunity. But more often they would over pay for someone in free agency and bad trades and would suck as a result. They have let some good players go before they became stars, But they hadn't yet established themselves when they were traded.

However, For the first time in their history, The Mets are looking to become like a small market team and allow their star players to leave when free agency looms. The worst part of it. Many Mets fans are saying that they should do this. They gave up on their stars. Well, They gave up on David Wright, Who still has some time left on his contract. This bugs me because David Wright is on his way to shattering most of the Mets offensive records in the upcoming years and I still think he has many great years left in him. He's only 28 years old. But everyone is either saying trade them both or at least Reyes. Last year when Wright had a good season and Reyes was on the DL, It was trade Reyes and keep Wright. Fickleness, Thy name is Mets fan. I say keep them both, despite their financial situation, They can afford them, especially with so much wasted money coming off that payroll next year.

Still, I hear people say "Get what you can for them when their trade value is peaking!"

Okay, I hear that.

So..... what could we get for Reyes? A prospect? Do you think we could get the reigning Rookie of the Year? How about a prospect GUARANTEED to come in second in next year's Rookie of the Year vote? You think we can get a gold gloved infielder?

Heck while we're dreaming, should we get greedy and ask for all four of these players? Impossible? Well, that's exactly what the Mets got the last time they traded a player in his prime because they felt he was too expensive to keep. That man was Tom Seaver and the Mets would have 7 consecutive losing seasons much of it in the cellar.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


The Bruins won the Stanley Cup. Now that doesn't really mean much to me. I'm not a hockey fan and I wouldn't root for the Bruins if I did follow hockey. However in winning the Stanley Cup, the Bruins complete The Boston championship circle in the four major team sports in the US. And they have done in a period of less than a decade. No other town can make that claim. Not even New York with its 7 teams (9 if you include the Devils and Nets) in the four sports can make that claim.

Think about it. At one time the Boston area was a hard luck city when it came to sports. Some sad history has hit the town for decades with the exception of basketball and starting with the death of Len Bias in 1986, The Celtics even went through a long period of hard times.

Okay, Not many cities have all four sports in them. Right now, It's only New York, Chicago, Phoenix, San Francisco Bay, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Detroit, Minneapolis, Dallas, Miami, Denver, and until last week Atlanta.

Of all these cities only New York, Washington, Philadelphia, Chicago and Miami have championships in all four sports. New York needed to have more than four teams to do it. Washington did it in baseball with a team that's in Minnesota now. But no has come close to having all four sports with a championship in such a short period of time as Boston.

Think about it. In 2001, Boston hadn't had a championship in ANY sport in well over a decade. But starting in 2002, The hard luck football Patriots won their first Super Bowl after many humiliating losses in the event. They would go on to win several more times. The baseball Red Sox had gone 86 years without a championship but finally broke through in 2004. The Celtics came back to their classic form with a championship in 2008. Now after 39 years the Bruins win. Talk about a town with bragging rights.

Now, With the Bruins as champions, Which of the four Boston sport teams has gone the longest without a championship?

Believe it or not, It's the New England Patriots who haven't won since 2005.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Continuing to Reflect On My Week Off...

So After spending the previous two days hanging out with old friends and exploring new places, I enter into my actual days off from my job. I wanted to make the most of them but in actuality, not much happened.

Tuesday I woke up early thinking that my job didn't know I was on vacation or I got the days wrong when I was off. this happens all the time with me. We have an arduous procedure at my work in setting up vacation time. Anyway, The weather was getting a bit hot and was gonna get hotter. So I did an early and quick hike on South Mountain Reservation. My plan was to go back to Tuesday routine when it was my day off, That is to say, Meet up with my friend Brook, Draw in Hoboken then karaoke at O'Connells.

When I called Brook, He told me that he was gonna go to the city, Do a little open mike stand up at 6pm. This meant missing out my drawing session. Since I hadn't seen Brook in awhile and I like checking out open mike to see if I get the courage to try it out sometime. Anyway, The place was on the east side on 33rd street. It was a cool bar (style wise) but unbelievably stuffy and hot temperature wise, especially in the room where they were doing the stand up. This may account why no one really got a good response nor was the material strong. The funniest parts were from the audience who comprised of people going up there to do their act.

Anyway, It was good to see Brook but I wanted to get back to Jersey City to do karaoke and hopefully run into people I knew. When I got to O'Connell's I was shocked by three sights. One, It was crowded, Two, There was a different host, and Three, The usual bartender Sue wasn't there and I found out why. She got into an accident that totally knocked her out of work for awhile.

I had fun though. I ran into someone else I hadn't seen in while. Someone I was interested in but allowed myself to blow it with her. Still, We're friendly but man I hoping to try to start over again into something more substantial. Oh well. Some of the regulars showed, I sang twice, Both times quite good. It was fun. So I have something to look forward to when I get a new work schedule in October.

Wednesday I woke up early because in my no air conditioned apartment, I couldn't sleep. I knew it was gonna be brutally hot Wednesday and Thursday. My plan was to go down to the shore but I wanted it to be waaaayy down Wildwood way. That's three hours from Union! However, It's only about an hour and change from Manchester, The place where my parents live. So I took it upon my self to call my parents and weasel my way into an overnight stay in their air conditioned place. I also got a free meal, Courtesy of my Dad doing a little experimenting with his tools in making a damn decent dinner.

I woke up early to help my Mom get to an eye doctor appointment cuz my Dad was doing his weekday church thing. that meant I had a good head start to get down to Wildwood. Holy cripes it was frickin' hot! I worry for my car when I push it to the limit. I had the AC on of course, And since my ipod got swiped from my car I had to settle in trying to find a decent radio station to listen to, It was futile.

When I finally got to Wildwood, I was not impressed. I thought it would be a Googie paradise.

I know that many of the 50s era (Doo-Whop in Wildwood terms) motels and buildings have been torn down during the last housing bubble but there was enough left over to get a gist of the character of the town. I dunno I thought it would be more spectacular, Not something that Seaside Heights has in a similar amount. Yeah, There was its share of bland condos dominating the streetscapes but not so much. Still Wildwood should impose a Leavenworth, WA approach in new construction by imposing the "Doo-Whop" approach on every structure built, So that Wildwood can be a far flung destination that is unique from the rest of the non gambling shore towns in Jersey. The WaWa down there DID do this, so maybe there's hope. I was so disappointed I didn't take any pictures. Actually, I forgot to bring my camera and I still haven't figured out how to keep pictures on my phone.

Anyway, I walked the boardwalk in the 99 degree humid weather. I dared to go shirtless. My skin was gonna get it. I was pale from my neck to my stomach. I walked the two mile boardwalk from one side to the other, Taking in the scene, they had the little "sightseer" people movers I thought not to do in the heat. the heat got to me and I wanted to spend some time indoors. They had a "mall" that featured the usual shore suspects of games but in the back there was a section dedicated to old pinball machines, I mean OLD pinball machines that you pay 5 bucks to play for a half hour. Most of the machines were of the 50s and 60s variety with some very unique games. some were so unique I had to figure out how to play because the flippers were in weird places and the strategies were very different form the more notable "solid state" 70s variety. The ones that had a race horse theme were the coolest.

After I was done with pinball and after talking with the proprieter for awhile, I braved the outdoors again. I walked on the boardwalk again, Came across yet another arcade but this one had an old photo booth which I am a huge fan of as anyone who has seen my picture on facebook would know. so I paid my three bucks, waited for the four flashes that indicated my picture was being taken. I got out saw the sign that said it would take five minutes. I waited and wandered the place for about five minutes, no picture. I decided to play a little game on my phone as I timed out five more minutes, No picture, Played and wandered again for five minutes, No picture.

I decided, What the hell, I'll go on the beach and go in the water. the beach was too hot to walk in barefooted and yet when I got to the water, It was too cold to fully immerse myself in. I read a safety sign about the dangers of cold water, So I got paranoid. I went up to my waist. The waves wasn't big enough for me to truly enjoy the water anyway. Besides, Surely my photo booth picture was ready annnnnnd it wasn't.

Ahhhhh, whatever. I looked over to Morey Pier and thought if it was a nicer day, if I was staying longer and if it was even opened I would enjoy a skyride.

Alas I wasn't enthused to do much of anything. I got back in my car and drove around to see if I can spot some of the classic motels. I did, they were cool but there wasn't enough. I had lunch at a diner. Unfortunately It wasn't good. It was the first diner burger in I dunno how long I didn't like. I got some gas and drove the slow way up on rt. 9. It was a good drive, listening to a local politics station. The storm clouds were looming on the horizon as I approached Union county. A relief from the last few days.

Friday, June 10, 2011

High Times, What's the Point?

So I have been continuing my quest to find something in visiting some sites in the NJ/NY area before I ultimately decide to leave. When I don't know. So I decided to take a run up to High Point Park in Sussex County located in the northwest part of New Jersey. At 1803ft above sea level, It is the tallest point in New Jersey. Not too tall but there you go.

The drive on Rt. 23 was direct and very pleasant, It stretched from Verona through busy towns, massive cloverleaf overpasses, through small mountains and along some pretty lakes while hugging mountain sides. A very good "Sunday drive" that was a treat in and of itself.

When route 23 entered Sussex county. I felt like I went through a bit of a time machine, the roads had little traffic the scenery was pastoral and the businesses was old school. It was pleasant. I got to High Point Park, Paid the 5 dollars (Doing my part to stimulate the economy.) and drove up to the monument at the top of the hill.

Unfortunately the monument was closed so I had to settle for the beautiful view at ground level. And the view is quite stunning. You can see the three states of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania from one point. I walked a thee mile trail that used part of the Appalachian Trail. It was a bit treacherous and rocky and a little too buggy but cool. I got a little displaced so my hike took a bit longer than intended.

While I was hiking I thought about calling my friend Al, who doesn't live too far away and who I hadn't seen in a little while. Plus, I was curious on what his life was like these days and I wanted to visit an area I hadn't been to in a few decades. When I called him and told him my idea of seeing him, He was surprised but wanted to see me. Now, I had to establish a place to meet because Al has still yet to get a cell phone. He suggested a mall called the Galleria at Crystal Run and I thought cool, that should be easy enough to find since it's a sparsely populated area.

Now, Al may not have a cell phone, I don't have any sort of GPS device. So I had to wing it to find this place. It was located outside of downtown Middletown but in a different direction and further out than I had expected. After circling around the area for about twenty minutes I finally asked for directions at a QuickChek. The girl in valley speak gave me directions that suggested she had no idea what she was talking about. Except she was very accurate and every road she told me about had no route numbers. I went off a different direction when I spotted lots of mall like buildings only to find it wasn't the Galleria at Crystal Run. So I backtracked, finally found the place, Once again the girl was accurate.

I was about twenty minutes plus late in meeting Al, But he was there and after some aimless wandering in the mall, He went about showing off his current lifestyle. Al teaches cartooning at Orange County Community College (OCCC) with an emphasis on the business of cartooning. His class is located on the lower floor and it was shades of art school again. He's very happy teaching because they have the enthusiasm of youth. Al showed me this beautiful mansion located on campus.

Finally we went to his favorite area comic store where we talked about our comic buying habits. I gave up buying Marvel and DC about twenty years ago and about twelve years ago I stopped going to comic book stores when several of the alternative comics I bought stopped publishing on a regular basis. So I did a little catching up. I bought a Love and rockets book, A Keith Knight book collection and a comic book by Peter Bagge called Apocalypse Nerd. Damn, They are all good and I need to catch up on my Bagge and my Hernandez Bros. Keith Knight's comic is available on line. Still his collection is great.

Anyway, After having dinner at a diner, Me and Al spent almost an hour merely talking in the mall parking lot while holding our car doors. Filling in the gaps in our lives. It was fun, Very 80s like experience. I then drove home along the side of Greenwood Lake, A favorite route of mine.

Next, A visit to my folks and a shore disappointment.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

A Dream Come True?

I have a week off of work and I am not going away on vacation. It doesn't mean I'm sitting at home the whole time, not when the weather is gonna hit the high 90s midweek. Global warming here we come.

I have took it upon myself to visit some places nearby I've never seen in my life, Some of which I waited decades to see. Flushing Meadows Corona Park was one of them.

Flushing Meadows Corona Park? Yep, Ever since I was a little kid when I saw an episode of the Flintstones where they go to the future to see the Worlds Fair I've wanted to see the place. That Worlds Fair took place in 1964 which was a few years before I was born. I was always fascinated by that time period and the fair seemed spectacular with its look at the future. Most of the remnants of the fair is gone but a few notable pieces remain. It thought it would be cool to see the park in its place. I remember loving seeing the site of the 1962 Worlds Fair for the first time when I first went to Seattle.

Now when I was growing up and had some relatives living in Flushing, My family would drive by and I'd gaze at the Unisphere at a distance and wish we would go see it, but I couldn't drive so no go. When I lived in Manhattan I never got bored enough to pay a visit to Queens to see it. Heck I never even saw a Mets game in my four years at SVA.

Anyway, I like going into the city because the town of Union has nothing going on but rarely go outside Manhattan. So I thought I'd take the familiar 7 train to the Shea Field stop but this time I walked in the other direction to the site of the two Worlds Fairs. Now it's been 46 years since the last fair was there and the ride on the 7 has views of some of the most intense and ugly graffiti you can find strewn throughout every building in view. So I know at best when I get to the park I'll see the faded glory of time gone by.

Flushing Meadows Park is the second largest park in NYC. It's not the best maintained park with certain parts of it looking like a sad reminder of what was once a glorious place. However, The park is very well used with so much activity going on the unkempted fields. Every sport activity you can imagine was being played. Baseball, softball, football, futbol, volleyball and even cricket was being played. There was also some sort of skateboarding event going on so the park was strewn with sk8ter bois and goils.

My goal was to get close to the Unisphere and other left over structures from the 1964 fair and to see Panorama in Queens Museum. The Unisphere was spectacular with a fountain that full of people splashing around, Ignoring the signs in both English and Spanish not to do so.

I wandered around aimlessly (Anything to try to force myself to exercise) I saw the sad relic that is the former New York Pavilion. Unused, rusted and deteriorating to the point of sadness, It's hard to believe this registered landmark would be this neglected and rundown.

Another place from that era that has seen better days but still has a majesty to it is the "Terrace On The Park" a restaurant/banquet hall situated on a modernist pedestal. A great example of architecture of that optimistic era.

But the highlight of the trip was going into the Queens Museum and seeing "Panorama" at the Queens Museum of Art. It's a spectacular model of the whole city of New York. It's done at 1/1200 scale which means the Empire State Building is about a foot tall. There is a walkway that runs the parameter of the map. You can get views of all the boroughs including Staten Island, Though you're actually walking on top of it. It has all the bridges going in and out and really gives you a unique perspective of where familiar places are in relation to other places that are well known.

What was really fun that even an insignificant building like Sloane House (Where I spent 4 years in the dorms) was represented, It's the red building a little to the right of Madison Square Garden.

They do a good job of keeping things up to date replacing old buildings with new ones. I noticed at least two exceptions. One of course is the World Trade Center. I don't know what will happen when the new trade center opens up later this year but it's nice to still see it there. Another one was weird to me. Knowing that they updated buildings I looked to Yankee Stadium to see if it was the new one. Well, It looks like the old one with its 70s renovations intact with a small park at the location of the new one. I find this strange because on the Queens section, Shea Stadium is gone with Shea Field in its place. I guess they figured it would be noticeable that a building that is located a mere mile away in the very park the museum is located if is wasn't updated, Whereas New Yankee Stadium looks very similar to the old park especially at that scale and the location is more crowded.

Anyway, After I left the museum I hung out with my friend Jim at the place that used to be Googie's in the Village and we both went to the landmark McSorleys near St. Marks Place and took in the ancient school atmosphere.

Next up, My trip to High Point and a visit with my buddy Al.