Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Beltran v. Wainwright revisited (Endying the Pain)

"Carlos. You must finish what I started. Finish what I started Carlos."

Beltran hung up. He had been getting these calls for the last 48 hours. He had been booed, attacked in the media, mocked by elected officials, pissed on by forgotten gods, but nothing like this. Whoever this was had his personal phone number. Unable to shake the feeling, he got in the elevator and went down to the 12th floor to see Francouer.

Frenchy was admiring his haircut.

"Carlos! This is awesome! You are in my apartment! We're teammates and buddies!"

"Yes," said Beltran, businesslike. "Jeff, you have told me about a demon that calls you sometimes. Is this a non-fiction?"

"Sure is! Probably! It's certainly true to me. As for the rest of the this and that, who knows? I am me, me alone, just myself. You know?"

"What does it say?"

"Usually it mocks my ability to play baseball, says my streaks won't last, that I'll never fulfill my potential. Occasionally it asks about my family and other stuff, but it's mostly just, y'know."

"Stunningly accurate," Beltran whispered.


"Does it ever ask you to do anything. Perhaps an ambiguous task for you to fulfill?"

"Nope. Say, are you nervous about facing Wainwright tonight? You kind of famously struck out against him a few years back. The last time we..."

Frenchy was still talking, but Beltran could not hear him. He could only see the curveball, the brutal hammer, the pitch he had been most asked about. The one that would haunt him until... it stopped.

"I was about to head to the roof. Are you ready?" Beltran tuned back in to hear those words. He nodded wordlessly. Up on the roof they met Pagan and Bay.

"We were about to leave without you!" said Bay.

"You're lucky I always underestimate the cooking time of quinoa!" declared Pagan. They strapped on their hang-gliders and took to the air, angling toward Citi Field.

"Hey Carlos," said Pagan. "What were you talking to Endy about?"

Beltran looked over, not saying anything, his mind processing millions of possibilities every second.

"I ran into him at Book Court. He said he's been calling you."

Beltran looked at New York. It was such a strange place. He looked down. Somewhere in that city was Endy Chavez. His phone rang. He didn't pick it up. Given that he was hang-gliding, that would have been extremely dangerous, but he also didn't pick it up out of a newly found emotional strength. Today, he thought to himself, will be slightly less about 2006 than it had been previously, and slightly more about today.

Beltran vs. Wainwright, 7/27/2010: 4 plate appearances, a single, a double and a walk, 1 RBI, 1 run.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Razor's Ritual to Cure the L.A. in all of Us

Ike Davis wandered aimlessly around L.A. He had heard of this city, seen it on maps, read about it in several books. Now he was here, and he couldn't make any sense of it. Everyone was traveling, but no one had a destination.

"Where are you going?!" he asked a man with hair so cool it was intensely ugly. The man was confused by the question.


"Yes, where," said Ike. "Surely you are on your way to some new location. Wright?

"Location! Hells yeah! Say, want to take my picture? You and me, we're gonna go places!"

Ike just shook his head. He had asked this question of four other people and had literally the exact same interaction with them down to the word. It was almost as if he was interacting with the city itself through these people. L.A. was so cool it was intensely ugly.

"Where are you going, L.A.?" Ike would ask. L.A. was confused by the question, but as soon as Ike said "location," it invariably triggered the same response: "Say, want to take my picture? You and me, we're gonna go places!"

"I don't get it," said Ike to Razor Shines as they sipped coconut water and looked over the balcony of the 52nd floor condo of one of Razor's many lovers.

"There's nothing to get," said Razor. "That's all there is to get. Get it?"

"Kind of."

"Here, let me show you something that will make you feel right at home."

Razor led Ike back into the condo. Its walls felt wild with life, but Ike couldn't put his finger on why. Actually one of them was a giant aquarium, but the rest were just walls.

"Rowena, would you prepare the fires?"

Ike became a aware of a robed shadow moving through the dwelling. She had substance to go with her form, but she only revealed it when necessary.

Razor had Ike lie on his back in the middle of the room and close his eyes. A minute went by and Ike was already feeling more peaceful.

"Now open," came Razor's voice.

Ike opened his eyes. There was a spider web-like pattern on the ceiling that wasn't there before. There was fire on three sides of him.

"Just look into the middle of the web. Let it catch you." Ike let himself be absorbed. He lost his sense of where his body was and how it hooked into his mind. It all seemed free floating without a destination. Times and places that were not his own flashed through his mind. His identity seemed stretched to unimaginable lengths. The fires burned away the last vestiges of what he knew to be himself.

When he came to, Razor was watching TV with his lady friend.

"You took quite a nap!" she said. The laugh track blurted into the room. Ike was disoriented.

"Razor, I saw so many people! They were so far away, but I was right there with them!"

"They were all Mets."

"Mets? But some of them were from the pre-colonial Pacific islands!"

"They were Mets before the Mets were established in 1962. There have been many Mets throughout history. You are our latest greatest hope."

Ike joined them on the couch and together they enjoyed the idiot box.

"I think Old Man Withers is the one dressing up as a monster to keep people away so he can look for the lost treasure," said the special lady.

"Baby, ain't no one like you who can solve these Scooby Doo mysteries."

Friday, July 16, 2010

Lincecum and Dickey pregame

R.A. Dickey and Tim Lincecum sit in a sauna, listening to free jazz.

"I always dreamed of being a knuckleballer," said Lincecum.

"I always dreamed of winning consecutive Cy Youngs," said Dickey.

"Some day you will," they both said simultaneously.

They let the tunes and tones bombard them chaotically. What bonded these two most is that they relaxed in the same way.

"You can't allow any runs today," said Lince. "You and your bullpen will need to go ten innings without allowing a run if you want to win."

Dickey mopped his brow.

"How do you know?"

"Because I'm going 9. No runs. I can see it in the jazz."

"Dang. I don't think I can match that."

"Then it is settled. We will win. It's a shame we have to play out the game. This place is so delicately relaxing."

"That it is Timmy. That it is."

Pitching lines from Thursday's game:
R.A. Dickey: 7 innings, 5 hits, 1 run, 3 strikeouts, 1 walk
Tim Lincecum: 9 innings, 6 hits, 0 runs, 5 strikeouts, 1 walk

"How about after the season, we'll go mushroom foraging and you teach me that knuckler?"

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Beltran is Back!

Jeff Francouer lingered in the lobby. He found himself looking at the walls. They were ordinary walls. They didn't  seem to have a color or a pattern. They could only accurately be described as ordinary, and every other term you could put to them felt overly poetic. Francouer laughed out loud to himself.

A blur. Something too fast for vision was in the lobby! 

"It's the demon!" Frenchy exclaimed. But it was no demon.


Francouer looked down and saw his own hair. He heard the elevator door open and he looked over to see Carlos Beltran stepping in. With one hand he pushed the button for floor 15. With the other he grasped a pair of shears, an electric razor and a comb.

"I thought you could use a trim, bombero," he said as the door closed.

Francouer ran his hand through his hair. It felt clean and stylish.

"He's back!" he gasped.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Stars in his Eyes

Omar Minaya looked deeply into the mirror, pretending to shave. He did actually need to shave, he'd been letting himself go, but he was too deep in thought for something so grounded. He had found, many years ago after an altercation at a bar with Mackey Sasser, that he did his best thinking while pretending to shave.

Omar had let himself dream. First there was the news on Thursday that LeBron James had rejected his overtures. Then a report that the Yankees were on the verge of trading for Cliff Lee. His calls to Ilya Kovalchuk had been nothing short of embarrassing:

OMAR: Standard Russian salutation! May I speak to Mr. Kovalchuk?
ILYA: That's me.
OMAR: Ilya old friend! It's me! It's Omar Minaya! Come play for me Ilya! We have no salary cap!
ILYA: Omar, you are the GM of a baseball team.
OMAR: A Metsball team!
ILYA: Omar, I'm a hockey player.
OMAR: You're going to let that define you?
ILYA: I don't need a bag, I'll just carry it.
OMAR: I really know what you mean.
ILYA: What? Sorry, I was just buying a sleeping bag. I'm going camping this weekend!
OMAR: Well, when you look into the clean night sky, speckled with unfathomably large glowing dust, brushing away moths, protecting them from your campfire, thinking about how big the trees are and how small everything is... you think about my offer.
ILYA: Omar, I'm a hockey player.

"Ah!" gasped Omar as he pretended to nick himself just above his jawbone. He had imagined a revolutionary team with Lee in the rotation and James and Kovalchuk redefining "baseball." It had been a beautiful dream one that Omar had allowed himself to believe. He splashed his face, but not with real water, because that would be wasteful. He toweled off his face and lit a pipe. At times like these, he liked to call a friend most considered a rival, but Omar thought of him as the person best equipped to understand him. He tapped in Brian Cashman's number and hit "talk."

BRIAN: Omar! Omar! Omar! Two steps ahead of you baby, one step back. As soon as I finish this deal for Lee, I'll send you Vasquez. I don't even need anyone that good. Someone who could maybe hold down the 7th in a year or two. I hate signing relievers. They make you pay em like 8 million dollars that they're just going to fritter away on ho-hos and ding-dongs and half the time they suck.

OMAR: Cash, do you think I'm a good GM?

BRIAN: Ain't none like you Omar. Hey, we should get some flat noodles at that place you like. We'll wine and dine like we're nobody and everyone. Y'know. It'll be like a waking dream. Like when you're camping and the trees look so small and you feel so big. Hey Omes, I gotta run. Jack Z's on the other line, and he's about to offer me a ride on a swordfish. I'd say just kidding, but I'm totally serious. Ciao!

Omar quietly patted himself on the back. The subtle tendrils of influence had reached Cashman, and were loosening him up for a trade. "I bet he'd do Vasquez for Mejia," he said to himself.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Mets Team Meeting

This is how the Mets have team meetings. They are not scheduled or planned. A certain number of Mets independently arrive at the same spot in space-time, and they have a meeting. It has to be 10 or more. As described in the Metsifesto,

2 Mets is a run in
3 Mets is a crowd
4 Mets is a happenstance
5 Mets is the Pentagon
6 Mets is a jamboree
7 Mets... for some reason this has never happened.
8 Mets is a sideways Met infinity
9 Mets is a game, and
10 or more Mets is a team meeting.

A team meeting happened in the wee hours after the Mets sad 2-1 loss to the Nationals. 14 Mets independently went to the Lincoln Memorial to do some soul searching. They each approached Honest Abe from different angles, completely focused on him and not seeing each other. Even when they started to speak to him, they did not realize there were others around them. The voices they heard- well there was a lot going on in their minds and in the presence of the Great Emancipator, well is it so strange to hear voices?

The Mets only realized that there were 13 other Mets among them when Barajas started into an interpretive dance. He was swimming through his troubles when he bumped into Thole. Thole toppled into Takahashi who stumbled into Elmer Dessens, and one by one, the Mets fell like dominoes in a circle around Abraham Lincoln.

Perhaps they would have stayed that way, had it not been for one late arrival. David Wright approached Lincoln head on and saw his team collapsed around our 16th president.

"Arise Mets!" he commanded. They did, and the team meeting was under way. "Who are we?" called Wright.

"Mets!" they answered in perfect unison.

"Mets, we have met!" Words came to Wright from an untraceable origin: "Mets, Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow! The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing! Die when I may, I want it said by those who knew me best that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow! Don't worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition! Everybody likes a compliment! Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe! Hold on with a bulldog grip, and chew and choke as much as possible! I care not much for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it! I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends! I do the very best I know how - the very best I can; and I mean to keep on doing so until the end! I walk slowly, but I NEVER WALK BACKWARD!!!"

"What time is it?" shouted Ruben Tejada.

"The WRIGHT time!" Wright shouted back.

Thole: "Who's right"

Wright: "I'M WRIGHT"

Francouer: "What stuff?"


Barajas: "I have writer's block!"


Abe Lincoln: "If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?"

Wright: "WRIGHT FACE!"

Howard Johnson arrived with a wheelbarrow full of young coconuts. He was followed by Dan Warthen wheeling in a boombox and Razor Shines with a raging campfire that somehow was not burning his wheelbarrow. They each unloaded the contents of their barrows, and the Mets spent the night nomming their coconuts, warming themselves by the fire and jamming to the sounds of the boombox, all under the watchful eye of Abraham Lincoln.