It’s almost time to break camp. By week’s end, Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues will disperse to ballparks all over the country to begin playing “meaningful” games.
The players are (hopefully) ready, and–after a bit of Spring Cleaning to sweep out the embarassing cobwebs and dustbunnies that have taken up residence on this woefully neglected blog–I will be ready too!
I’ll begin the revival of Perfect Pitch with a countdown to Opening Day.
With five days between now and that exciting first Mets game, I have selected as the subject of my first blog entry the Five Tools of Baseball.
What are the attributes of a Five-tool player?
These are the five tools (not in order):
1) Hit for average
2) Hit for power
3) Speed (on the bases)
5) Fielding prowess
It is quite rare for a player to possess all of these tools, however any combination of the 5 is usually quite adequate to be a competitive player.
Baseball players from Little League on up to the professional ranks are categorically and positioned on the field according to how much or how little of each of these tools they possess or have developed.
The season is young, and yet you can already feel it at Citi Field: fans’ expectations are high. And patience is not in abundance.
Players are already hearing disapproval. Even fan-favorite David Wright–striking out at record numbers recently–has been getting his share of boos.
I’ve never booed a player, nor have I booed a performer in the opera house or concert hall. But I’ve observed many people who are seemingly completely comfortable in doing so.
I guess my hesitation in heckling is that I give the artist or player the benefit of the doubt that he is doing his best. The result may be less than I–and perhaps the performer–had hoped for or expected, but I rarely have reason to think that an honest effort is not being made.
Also, as an adherent (most days) to the “positive reinforcement” school of parenting, I guess I’m just a little uncomfortable screaming antagonisms at others, whether the venue is the theater, opera house, concert hall, ballpark or playground. The parenting books I’ve read espouse “catching them being good” and then heaping on the praise. Berating or humiliating a child, this philosophy holds, is not beneficial, especially if the mistake is one from which a lesson may be learned.
At Citi Field, my sense is that hecklers have been quick to express discontent early this season primarily because of the frustrating way in which the past two seasons have ended for the Mets. The team’s performance early and midway through both the 2007 and 2008 seasons led fans to believe that it was not unreasonable to expect to see October baseball in Queens.
A contending team that inexplicably falls off the charts late in the season–and repeats the exercise the following year–leaves a bitter taste that does not easily go away.
Although I wouldn’t do it myself, I can at least understand the fan, frustrated by squandered chances, giving an audible voice to his exasperations.
However, I question the idea, made by some, that money–that earned by players and that spent by fans–somehow entitles one to heckling.
I often hear fans cite the “outrageous” salaries of today’s ballplayers as justification for calling out a player for a poor outing. (Interestingly, while solo artists can earn thousands of dollars per performance, I have not yet heard an audience member mention an artist’s compensation as justification for publicly voicing a personal commentary. It should be pointed out, though, that unless you’re Renee Fleming or Placido Domingo, even those large per-performance fees don’t approach the salaries of today’s professional athletes.)
Personally, I don’t think the player who has fairly negotiated a higher salary should be held to higher standards than lesser-paid players. Nor do I feel that, if those inflated expectations are not met, the player should be booed more vociferously than underperforming players who are not paid as much.
In this time when funds are limited and folks are worried about their financial security, more attention than ever before is being paid to ticket prices. Both sports presenters and arts organizations are seeing reductions in numbers of series or subscription ticketholders.
Not only that, this Los Angeles Times piece leads me to believe that more in the audience and in the stands are feeling that the higher ticket and concession prices themselves entitle them to heckle if they are so inclined.
This post is not meant as a personal diatribe against the bood-bird, per se. Judging from this website, there are apparently some who consider heckling a sport unto itself.
But if some feel entitled to behave in a certain manner merely by virtue of being a consumer, that does make me uncomfortable.
Freedom of expression is a right we are freely given as U.S. citizens; we have not purchased the privilege.
If equating admission price itself with license to publicly express one’s opinion in a derisive manner becomes a more universally held view and if this recession does not turn around any time soon, I have to wonder what kind of entertainment experiences–both on the field and stage AND in the audience and stands–we could find ourselves privy to.
Today’s New York Times Styles section had a feature on the renewed popularity of the mustache.
Happily married to a mustache-sporting fellow, I am a fan, but I know that it’s a look that doesn’t work for every guy.
I smiled when I read the article because it made me think of having read a fellow Mets blogger’s post a few years ago in which he described the mustache of then-infielder Jose Valentin giving him the look of a “porn star. According to this article, “porn-star ‘stache” is well-known terminology for the “common mustache”. Now I know.
The writer made references to ballplayers, citing both Jason Giambi’s “good luck” mustache of last season as well as the 1972 “Hairs vs. Squares” World Series, featuring Rollie Fingers, et al.
Having been featured in a GQ photo spread in their first season as Mets, I figure David Wright and Jose Reyes are probably the most fashion-savvy, trend-conscious players on the team.
How would they look, I wondered, if they show up in Florida participating in this so-called revival?
by my PhotoShopping, I would say either of these guys could probably pull it off.
I tried the same experiment with Mike Pelfrey, expecting it to look comical, but–lo and behold–it rendered him a Tom Selleck look-alike:
I was pleasantly surprised with Pelfrey’s look, but as the article states, not everyone can pull it off. If smirks and giggles follow a guy, perhaps it is not working for him.
Speaking of humiliation, don’t ya love those Just for Men commercials in which Keith Hernandez and Walt Frazier razz Emmitt Smith?
“Your ‘stache is TRASH!”
(Of course Emmitt’s blunder was not the mustache itself but its COLOR.)
Just in time for the retro facial hair rage comes an enterprising seamstress and artist who has created the “mustache handkerchief” and is selling it on the artisan website Etsy. The item features four different printed mustache silhouettes suitable for “trying on”.
No expensive photo-editing software and time-consuming photo uploads involved!
Even better, the hanky could save one the embarassment of enduring the unseemly infant stages of a mustache only to find, upon completion of the hair growth, that one’s appendage is woefully laughable.
Just a hunch: I don’t think Dan Warthen is a candidate.
With the exception of brief appearances (neither very impressive, I might add) by David Wright and Billy Wagner in the All-Star Game, the Mets have been non-entities here in New York since they last played on Sunday night: a game that marked their ninth consecutive win. That was actually only three days ago, but it seems like at least a WEEK to me.
Perhaps because it seems so distant, I keep asking myself, “Did it REALLY happen?!” “Did we REALLY sweep the Giants AND the Rockies?!”
Yes, it must be true: after Matt Holliday’s home run to put the National League on the board last night, FOX’s Joe Buck mentioned how Holliday had recently had no such success at Shea Stadium.
I’m sure one reason I keep questioning whether or not I imagined the Mets’ recent success is because there was SUCH an inordinate amount of spectacle surrounding the Yankees and Derek Jeter and A-Rod and Madonna and THE LAST ALL-STAR GAME AT YANKEE STADIUM and all-things-Yankee for the past few days.
But soon all of the banners will come down and DHL Fan-Fest wll be dismantled and trucked away. Already the red carpet has been ripped up and the NYPD barricades removed following the parade down Sixth Avenue. Presumably, the old-timers have returned to their homes.
And tomorrow the players will resume playing the regular baseball season. No exhibition games. No farcical home run olypmics. No glorified trade shows. No morass of Chevy vehicles on parade and the resulting street closures.
The Yankees aren’t even playing tomorrow. Will the Mets then be worthy of some local press once more?
After all, they really DID win NINE in a row. And will go for TEN tomorrow in Cincinnati. And we’re merely [Pinch me again, please!] a HALF GAME behind first-place Philadelphia!
And the Yankees? Well, they go to Oakland on Friday. Six games out. With a dearth of pitching. With Johnny Damon on the DL and Matsui pondering season-ending surgery.
I think this really IS a Met fan’s dream.
Please, PLEASE…don’t wake me up just yet!