Thursday, August 4, 2011

Getting to Know Zack Wheeler

Mets Fan Fiction noticed that there had been very little coverage of the newest Mets prospect Zack Wheeler, so we devoted our entire 400 person staff to tracking him with light waves (eyes), sound waves (ears), echolocation (ears, skin (bats, dolphins)), television waves (eyes), hidden device (ears) and psychic impression (aura). Here is a log of our findings.

Sunday, July 31st, 2011
7:03am: Wheeler throws 173 fastballs all at 93mph. He throws them against rocks. The rocks are connected to guitar strings which twang each time he hits a rock. Over three hours, he plays Stairway to Heaven. Musically it was tacky, but damn he can pitch.

11:17am: Wheeler orders a fresh coconut juice from a nearby establishment. "Gotta start getting in the habit, y'know?" he tells the cashier. The cashier says "Yeah, I hear ya," and carries out the transaction, all the while completely unnerved by the utter stillness of Wheeler's head and torso.

3:33pm: Wheeler rides a bus. He is one of many anonymous busriders, unnoticed by the others. That changes when, seemingly unprovoked, Wheeler shouts: "Woodwind! Brass! Percussion! Strings! THOSE ARE THE FOUR CATEGORIES OF INSTRUMENTS MOTHERFUCKER!!"

9:42pm: Wheeler adorns spectacles and lightly grasps a fountain pen. He writes a letter to the local paper about the need for more fire hydrants. Then he burns the letter and chuckles at the irony.

Monday, August 1st, 2011
7:03am: Wheeler throws 173 fastballs all at 93mph. He throws them against rocks. The rocks are connected to guitar strings which twang each time he hits a rock. Over three hours, he plays Stairway to Heaven. Musically it was tacky, but damn he can pitch.

3:22pm: Wheeler chews the first bite of his lunch for eight minutes before realizing it is a piece of bark from a birch tree. "Wait, where am I?" he says. "Dunedin," says R.A. Dickey, who wasn't there before. "Where's Dunedin?" asked Wheeler, but Dickey was gone, and Wheeler had already given up three runs.

6:18pm: Wheeler rides a bus with his new teammates on the St. Lucie Mets. He converses with them, keeping things light, friendly and respectful, until, seemingly unprovoked, he shouts "Aeschylus! Sophocles! Euripides! THOSE WERE THE THREE BEST ANCIENT GREEK DRAMATISTS MOTHERFUCKER!

9:00pm: Wheeler attends the ballet. "I'm not following the plot at all," he whispers to the person next to him.

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011
Wheeler is undetectable by all means other than psychic impression for the entirety of the day. He is "fuzzy, ethereal," and then for a period of twenty minutes, "Crisp and clear like a large ball bearing in an empty desert." After that, nothing.

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011
7:03am: Wheeler throws 173 fastballs all at 93mph. He throws them against rocks. The rocks are connected to guitar strings which twang each time he hits a rock. Over three hours, he plays Stairway to Heaven. Musically it was tacky, but damn he can pitch.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Gee and Turner Tell Dickey Their Secret

Dillon Gee kicked back a cold one, feet on the ottoman, gazing out the window of the 35th floor of the Mets building. He had just shut out the Braves. He felt like 400,000 bucks. Yeah.

R.A. Dickey descended the stairs from the 43rd floor. His mind was a quagmire of quibble sticks. Every restaurant he went to was booked. Strangers coughs would arbitrarily point toward him. He received parking tickets, though he did not own a car. Something was amiss.

As he stepped out onto the 35th landing, a thunderous trample was heard by both ears. It was Justin Turner, crashing about like a friendly rhino. He was knock knock knocking on Dillon Gee's door before Dickey could get there. R.A. faced a choice. He had hoped to pick Gee's brain, but the exuberance of Turner would likely prevent this. Justin had made a name for himself by "turning into a monkey" at random throughout the day. He would drop a conversation on the team bus to climb precariously onto the back's of the seats. Hooting and demanding bananas. One time, while standing on second base in a spring training game, Turner dropped let his arms swing down by his knees, and while everyone was waiting for the pitch he scampered over to the opposing dugout, jumped on its roof a number of times, then ran into the crowd, spilling people's drinks whenever he could. "I just have to be me," he explained.

R.A. thought about turning back, but he had come this far, and his only plan for the evening was to read Wittgenstein's Tractatus, which he had already done several times before. When the door opened for Turner, he followed him in without a word.

"R.A.? No way!" said Turner. "We've been talking about you! You're like a stegosaurus!"

"But I have lost my thunderous stego-stomp," said R.A. wistfully.

"We've been talking about it," said Gee. "You know what you have to do?"

"What?" said Dickey.

"It's easy," said Turner.

"What is it?" Dickey asked.

"Real easy," said Gee.

"Stupid easy?" said Turner.

"Easy as the third bite of pie," said Gee.

"And that's the easiest one," said Turner.

"Because you're not too full," said Gee.

"And you've already established that it's your pie," added Turner.

"You just gotta..." Gee started.

"You gotta you gotta you gotta," said Turner with a mini-headbang.

"You gotta just look at the batter's face," said Gee.

"You have to notice the pitcher's nose," said Turner.

"You gotta really see his face," said Gee.

"Like it's more than just knowing that there is a face there," said Turner.

"You gotta really see that face with your eyes," said Gee.

I'm not going to write out the whole thing, but this went on for literally 44 minutes, which is a really long time for that sort of thing.

Dickey thanked them for their high energy, if incomprehensible advice. He got in the building's not especially fast elevator and went down to the ground floor to take a walk.

"Greetings Richard Alan," said Pops the doorman. "A late night stroll?"

Dickey looked his way. He saw eyes. He saw a nose. He saw a mustache that covered most of Pops' mouth. He saw his face. He saw his face. Then, instinctively, he walked out the door like a gila monster.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What Jeffrey Toobin Did Not Report... Until Now!

Mets Fan Fiction is best friends with Jeffrey Toobin. Before either was famous, they would take long canoe trips in which Toobin would probosculate on the legality of the hidden ball trick and MFF would sing loud arias to the pine cones. Because the bonds of friendship are stronger than those of money and career (most people think that the Brooklyn Bridge is held up by really intense cables, but it's actually friendship), Toobin has allowed Mets Fan Fiction to break into his home and procure his notes from the fateful interview with Fred Wilpon.

"What I never told my son," Wilpon said between bites of ravioli, unprovoked, abandoning a previous diatribe about mittens, "is that there are seven suns in the world, and each shine in various intensities and bandwiths. I have named them "Money" "Hair" "Nasturtian" "Sunglasses" "Honor" "Winning" and "Agbayani." I really thought he was the one. I probably should have told Jeff that. It's a big part of my deal."

Then he reclined, and sat in silence. Tracking a recalcitrant fly with his eyes. Jeffrey Toobin agitated in his chair, trying to attract the waiter for water and coffee refills. 90% of Toobin's diet is water and coffee. The rest is sand.

"I'M THE KING DAMNIT!" Wilpon shouted. Toobin was taken aback, but then he recalled something. He pulled out his blackberry and called up an email he had tagged. It was from Einhorn.

"Toobs- Be advised that Fred Wilpon has occasional Tourettic outbursts from time to time expressing monomaniacal desires. Do not worry or be offended, and above do not mention it to Fred. He doesn't know that he does this. He does not notice, in much the way that we do not tend to notice our digestive processes or the circulation of the air. Regards- Einhorn"

Einhorn. Was he Bruce Wayne or Batman? And when will we see the other one?

Wilpon, two-thirds of the way through his ravioli, ordered a full lobster.

"You see," he explained. The trick is to wait until what you have taken for granted [indicating the ravioli] has a little more left in the tank, and then you spend big for a marquee item! That's the secret to my success!"

The waiter, simultaneously filling up Toobin's water and coffee, coughed a cough that sounded very much like the words "Mo Vaughn."

"This guy Einhorn, though. I don't like his face. It's a face that says 'glarb glarb glarb. I have a cat. I have a dog. blarg blarg blarg.' You have to watch out for people like that. And here's another thing. He gets advance reports on everyone. And I mean everyone. He told me you eat sand."

The waiter placed the water container and the coffee bullet on the table: an unusual action, and one that attracted the attention of the two sitters. "Wha-" Fred started. "I'M BIGGER THAN THE MOON!" he shouted, but the waiter did not flinch. Instead he reached for his face... and pulled off a mask.

"Dinner is served," said a face that said blarg blarg blarg and so much more.

"Damnit Einhorn!" Wilpon cried.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mets Win Over Astros is Mysterious and Invisible.

I heard darkly that the Mets had played the Astros. It was one of those nights that seems to escape from nighthood, a rogue evening, a lonely whisperer. Silent people rapped mad flows as you walked down the street and doesn't that sandwich look right, but it's just one kind of right, and on nights like this, right drifts out of its normal situation.

The Mets were confused. The sphere had obvious patterns. It came toward them leisurely, asking questions along the way, not so much because it didn't know or did care, but just to interact with the community. Jose Reyes had initial success (he is the initializer after all), but after that the ball was like a ball of glue: sticky and undesirable. Thole flailed. Wright wronged. Beltran went off the rails. Bay wasn't where we thought he was. Murphy got cancelled. Turner went the wrong way. Pridie felt ashamed. Gee H'd.

Longly they groggled. Quietly they looked at the moon. Grayly they traced shapes with the ends of their bats in the on-deck circle. Winsomely they beckoned at curveballs. Forlornly they returned to the Mets scrabble-letter-holder-shaped station (MSLHSS).

It was Beltran with arrows for eyes and a pocketful of                . As Dr. Norris delivered his diagnosis, Beltran tossed the silence from his pocket like a cloud of powder. This is against the rules of baseball, but he wasn't caught, because silence is mysterious and invisible. Needless to say he hit a double. It could have been a real groovy inning, but Bay was still looking for parking, so that didn't work out. However, the lightning bolt of possibilities provided by Beltran's fine whack painted the whole scene in watercolors and all of a sudden the Mets were chatting to each other, saying boy was that interesting! Pridie, how's things going with that girl. Huh. Reyes tell us about that time you accidentally hypnotized someone. Someone call up Pedro in the bullpen and get him to beatbox over the phone. Are you going to drop some rhymes? I just might. Ike you're really confident these days.

And surely now they will score runs they thought, but it was not they who responded. Astros streaked around the bases like cool demons. The Houstonians were pretty into it but frankly it wasn't my satchel. The Mets, meanwhile, glorped along for two innings. After the second one, in the field, they chatted about what they would get if they got a master's.

As they jogged back to the MSLHSS, Richard Alan Dickey had that fire in his eyes he gets sometimes. Thole felt a rush of excitement and anxiety until he remembered that R.A. wasn't pitching that day.

"Beltran's coming up this inning!" he declared. The Mets didn't know that, and they buzzed with conversation about the latest development. He struck out, as Wright did before him. Just then, Bay arrived at the stadium (up until then, the opposing pitcher had just been pitching to a generic strike zone with no one standing in the batter's box, and the Mets had been playing without a left fielder. He was handed a bat, and he looked over at the Mets in their MSLHSS. He saw the glimmer of the hope they once held, and that worked for him. Unburdened by the history of the game, Bay hit a home run. The ball did not go to the moon, of course, but an odd number of people said it did.

"Hey guys," said Thole. "This is totally corny, but I'm just going to say it. The past doesn't matter. We can all hit home runs off anyone. Even the pitchers!"

The Mets high-fived like they weren't getting paid. As Dickey connected with Thole, he said "You just turned all these 0s and 1s into 4s."

The next inning, Fernando Martinez appeared like a ghost materializing and hit a home run. Fantastic. When Wright came up, he turned to Angel Hernandez, the homeplate umpire and head of the MLB Botanists Conference. "Hey" said Wright. "When he starts his windup, ask me who's right." Angel complied, because there are rules, and then there is going with the flow, and he understood that. The pitch approached...

"Who's right?" he asked.

"I'M WRIGHT!" he roared into the ambiance of the crowd, and the ball sailed over the wall.

I heard that the Mets stayed up late walking across Houston that night. They went down alleys, they checked out hidden pubs. They chatted up the populace. Later, Thole wrote an email to his grandmother, Bay and Ike hit up the taco truck. The bullpen played mafia (the party game). Wright and Reyes ended up reenacting most of an episode of Firefly to some middle aged ladies who had never seen the show. It was one of those kinds of nights. It was one of those kinds of nights.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

One Wrongball Kills Whole Doubleheader

Everything was going according to plan. Bases loaded, bottom of the 9th, down by one, David Wright at the plate. Sure, this could have been easier, but Terry Collins saw the long season, and he knew an ordinary victory wouldn't do.

"If the lead doesn't change after the 6th inning it's like watching television on a Wednesday," he told pigeons as he fed them. "You go to bed like a human, but you don't get to say 'Yeah!'" To Collins, the season came down to how often and how loud you could go "Dananananananana!!" He went "Dananana," for Reyes' homer and "Danananananana!" for Hairston's but he still wasn't satisfied, he needed the full blast. When something truly awesome happened he did a wiggling dance and emphasized the "na" that happened when he completed his rotation. Several Mets had whispered to each other about this habit the first few times they saw it ("He reminds me of yesterday," said Bay; "He reminds me of tomorrow," said Ike; "He reminds me of a ladybug, crawling up a window, standing on transparent eternity, crawling into nothingness, vanishing into ever-smaller specks, feeling 7s and 9s at the ends of its feet, pondering Spain in the fall," said Ryota Igarashi) but after a few weeks most of them barely noticed it.

Collins had designed this moment to elicit his dance. If he could do the full "Danananananananananana!!!" with the complete wiggle, surely the Mets would be inspired to many wins. He did the dance at his interview to get the job. He did the dance to remind himself who he truly was. Wright would strike the seamed sphere with the mallet of truth and glory would be the emotion of choice in Queens. Sadly, Jim Tracy, chief communicator between rocks and Rockies, had a counterplan. As the 9th inning trickled forward and more and more Mets occupied the bases, he was Wright on the horizon and knew he was doomed... unless.

He called the bullpen.

"Who of you throws a wrongball?" he asked. One by one the rocky pitchers shook their heads in negation. The line of head shakes reached Matt Lindstrom who shrugged. "I tried it once in college," he said. "Then damnit, get in the game," said Tracy.

Lindstrom, as you may have seen could do little against most Mets. He even struggled for five pitches against Wright, and then we were where we started, where we wanted to be all along. Bases loaded, bottom of the nth degree, two outs, the fate of humanity pretending to enter into the equation.

"Who is Wright?" asked Ike from the on deck circle.

"I'M WR-" bellowed Wright, but then Lindstrom released the wrongball, and like the scout killing the captain in Stratego, the wrongball could only do one thing, but it did it well. The wrongball beat Wright. The "Danananana!!" that had begun to uncoil with Captain Collins was stifled and he coughed up a hairball.

"All is lost," he sighed.

"But TC-thousand," said Umptar the Umpire, "there's still a whole 'nother game!"

"I said, all is lost!" cried Collins, and Umptar didn't push the matter, because he could see that Collins was feeling surly. A stifled "Danananananana!!!" will do that every time. For the second game of the doubleheader, Collins stayed in the clubhouse. He drank whiskey, smoked cigars and played backgammon. Capuano simply pitched until he didn't feel like it anymore, and then he placed the ball on the mound and announced that whoever grabbed the ball first had dibs. It was only a baseball game because it counted in the standings. It only happened because so many people saw it.

Wright sipped the precious juice of a young coconut. "Dang, what was that pitch?"

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Jason Bay, 2011 Scouting Report

Advice followed Jason Bay like a swarm of butterflies that first seems benevolent, well-meaning, an auger of good things, but soon revealed themselves to be a constant presence, a perpetual nuisance, a thing that remained there with him, even when he watched TV, which he did (the Adam West Batman series). He was a man advised.

"Elbows forward, hands back!" said Howard Johnson.
"Eyes to the skies, rhubarb pies!" offered Ike Davis.
"Usually," said Angel Pagan, "I think of the ball as a snack, and I ask myself, do I want this snack? Yes? Not now? Perhaps something more savory?"
"GNARRR!" cried David Wright. It was actually really good advice, but he was so in the zone, he couldn't put it into words. (He had just come out of Wright Time.)

He went to the doctor and the doctor said, son, you gotta stop getting all that advice, and Jay Bay said what do you think I should do, and the doctor stood there cold and remote, on an other planet within himself, because all possible responses he could think of were themselves advice, and he believed he had found the uncurable malady. He was thrilled in a sort of cognescenti glee way, but Bay was all the more morose. He got really into making soup, and said stuff like, "Hmmm... there are three clouds and... oh! a fourth one. Do you guys think that big mass counts as a cloud, or only if you can see a distinct one against the mass?"

But the question remained: what happened last year? Sure there were injuries, but they were 99% half mental anyway, and that's not to diminish the physical trauma and recovery, but there's this whole mental component that goes with it where sometimes you feel like a bird, and sometimes you feel like the sidewalk, but you can't locate yourself as the one who walks down the street. It's like when you have a certain amount of certain coffee and all of a sudden it's like: boom. which way is this elevator going?

There was a simple reason for it all. It has to do with Bay's approach as a hitter and how that changed in New York. I'm not a professional scout, but I'm pretty sure I have this one figured. Before Bay came to New York, he had a very specific hitting ritual. He would tap his ankle, then toe on his left foot with the bat, then the same on the right, then walk up to the batter's box, take a good look at the pitcher while holding his bat out at an angle, then
all of a sudden he wouldn't even see the game anymore, he would be getting a tour from an old butler of a huge manor, and it felt like those dreams where you have found a secret special place and it's going to mean so much about life going forward and you feel the tingle and the warmth, and each and every time he came to the plate he learned something new about the manor. A candlestick gifted by a very important Scandanavian, a model train track that bent in golden ratio-derived segments, a door that no one has opened in one hundred and forty years down the hall...
invariably, the dream would be interrupted by either the crack of his own bat, or the crowd expressing disappointment, except not quite the crowd, that is, the crowd, at least some of them with proper rooting interests, attention, or the willingness to fake these things, would express disappointment, but that is not what Bay would hear precisely. He would hear a smaller group, one that wouldn't fill half the stadium, not even one level, or even one section. The crowd he imagined contained few people, and they weren't exactly in a stadium, it was an outdoor environment, but without the colossal man-made structure, and even standing there where one doesn't expect such large crowds, it was a meager one by these undefined standards, and in fact crowd is not at all the right word, for when Jason Bay struck out, he invariably imagined a chubby boy standing in a field with no one around him, wearing a striped shirt and staring straight ahead with reeds of wheat and fall leaves falling, leaving their home, their mother tree for the reabsorption and the boy is seeing that but he is also knowing, even when he is not actively knowing that the world he lives in makes his moments here in the field, one arm extended outward at 3'oclock in every dimension, purposeful, but for a purpose unknown, and for a moment the breeze stops and the boy, nowhere near any kind of game, says "Aw dang! He struck out!"

Except last year, that wasn't really happening. Not the way it's supposed to anyway. The manor was just a beach house with seven rooms, and it was nice of course but there really was no comparison to the manor, and the kid wasn't in the field anymore. He was waiting on line to buy a scepter of brussels sprouts, and the various characters on the line changed, but the kid was always third. Instead of the sudden realization, tinged with innocence, he spoke, "aw, he struck out," quietly wide-eyed to no one in particular, innocuous enough to not really be noticed by most of the people around him, except for the baggers who snicker snacked.

Advice plagues Jason Bay like a color he was trying to avoid seeing, but as he stepped up to the plate one brassy sun day at Spring Training, the game faded from his experience of that moment, and he was hiking on a trail. They (they?) reached a clearing.

"Give me the binoculars."
"Okay," said Jason, passing them while looking straight out into the pleasant abyss.
"I see it!"
"Where Sidd? Show me!"
Sidd showed him. At first a finch flew in front of the binoculars, making Jason momentarily believe a bird the size of an elephant was descending on them, but then he saw it. The manor, high up on a ledge. Distant, but visible. Jason Bay smiled.

"How's Bay looking?" a lizard-like reporter asked a scout made of shadows and stone.

"He's almost back," said the scout. "Crack of the bat sounds real good."

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sandy Alderson: A character profile of the Mets new GM

"Is it short for Sandace or Sandrew?" The Wilpons were never much for casual conversation, but with a new G.M. out-cooling them at every turn, it was time to put on some charm. The Wilpons were men of business. They told you what they thought. They took people at their word, even when other people's words seemed to suggest otherwise. Small talk was like a pile of dust when they were in their element, but now Wilpon's Wind Tower had been replaced by Alderson's Aqueous Solution, and as Fred and Jeff Wilpon and Sandy Alderson stood on a balcony on floor 100 of the Mets Apartment Building, only Sandy felt the breeze.

Oliver Perez exited the elevator with confidence. First impressions were a specialty of his. He had long run out of impressions with the Wilpons or wombulous Omar, but with Sandy, all was fresh and new. They were new people in a new moment, each aware of a different set of air particles and wave types, but they shared the brotherhood of the present, the this, the thisthat.

"Wolf nature, that's what I've been thinking about for you. Have you considered walking west until you meet a wolf, knowing its nature in which knobby knees mean nature could one day open its jaws and then snappity-whap?"
Oliver Perez had been planning on explaining how he can start. The Mets need starters, and he's the guy for the job. In fact, one time he started game 7 of a League Championship Series. He spent the whole day eating Newman's Championchip cookies to prepare.
"Mr. Alderson, have you realized that I have the arm of champions?" It wasn't what he meant to say at all, but what's done was done.
"Yeah, but not enough wolf power. You're all mink, need more wolf. Wolf and reptile. Bask in the sun. Slither through your windup like a scaly thing zipping along the rocks. That way you won't give up so many walks. And sorry to keep harping on wolf power, but you need hitters to fear you."

"Next?" Jim Thompson had been making sandwiches all day. Boy was he tired. The customer rush had slowed to stream, then a trickle, then they arrived only slightly more frequently than comets with names that people know. In came a man who looked the guy who played the neighbor's father in that movie, but this guy embraced the silver fox thing more than that guy. He approached the counter in a small number of large steps.
"Avocado," said the man. "sliced in delicate cuts where rivulets of dressing may form, unless the avo is rendered formless by the weight of sunchokes, sliced truthfully, bamboo shoots, shot from a gun, raw garlic, so raw as to be on fire, but even if all this and more distorts the shape of the avocado, make those little cuts in there anyway so that I'll know something about it that only you and I know, and though we two, we few drawn onward to new era, may be the only ones ever to interact with the sandwich, the secret will live in my belly, yes it will live, and grow into a secret tree, and there will be invisible branches sprouting from me, holding invisible leaves that rain in the fall. People will crunch them silently. On wheat. Everything on it.