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What Number Should They Issue to 'Fartinez'?
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Mets by the Numbers

The Mets Website That Counts

The Book

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Turkey Stew

Happy thanksgiving! There is a 21-pounder in the brine now and half the guests can't make it so I may have to open a Brooklyn outpost of Capriotti's. If you ever find yourself hungry in Delaware, I'd suggest you memorize those locations.

So the new uniform announcement came and went in time for your holiday shopping derby, without a runway fashion show nor any of the garish alternates the Mets had asked about earlier this year. Of course they screwed up the new creamy pinstriper by including the unnecessary black dropshadows (and names on back, I'm pretty sure) and failed to throw out the black completely, though that was a little much to dream for an organization that only now has come to realize that Met fans wanted some Mets with their new stadium.

I try not to get angry anymore. I think it might be best at this point to look around at the people you're spending Thanksgiving with and realize the Mets are run by a group not unlike them -- peculiar unto itself, kind of hard to explain to outsiders, and at times, just completely, astonishingly, bewilderingly, irritatingly, embarrassingly, mind-bogglingly clueless. Spending 81 holidays a year with them would probably drive you crazy at some point too.

If you haven't seen it yet, The Miracle Has Landed, an offshoot of SABR's Biography Project focusing on the 1969 Mets, is out now from Maple Street Press. I contributed two chapters including an interview with reserve infielder Kevin Collins, who I'm happy to report was absolutely thrilled to learn that he was the first player in team history to wear four different uniform numbers. But the book's real highlights are contributions from some terrific folks like Matt Silverman (who co-wrote my book and co-edited this project); Greg Prince; and my friend Edward Hoyt. Being associated with these guys as friends and collaborators is something I have to be thankful for in what was otherwise a rough year to be a Met supporter. Thanks also to all the regular contributors to the chatter at this site including Alex. And to my web guy David Moore, with whom I hope to complete another site overhaul this offseason. 

We have more new coaches! Say hello to new third base guy Chip Hale (No. 5 with the Diamondbacks last season) and bench coach Dave Jauss (No. 50 with the Orioles last year). We'll update that info as it comes in.

Bad Guys Always Win on Amazin' Tuesday

Quick note to remind readers that the final Amazin' Tuesday of the regular season is scheduled for this Tuesday, Sept. 15 at Two Boots Tavern on the Lower East Side. Join your fellow suffering fans for an evening of pizza, drink specials and futile rooting for the Mets to stave off their 81st loss of the season on the big-screen TVs, beginning at 7pm.

The special guest speaker that night is Jeff Pearlman, the former Sports Illustrated writer (and current columnist) and author of THE BAD GUYS WON, the dynamite revisiting of the triumphant 1986 season and easily one of the best books ever written about the Mets. Jeff's writing career also includes books profiling Barry Bonds (LOVE ME, HATE ME), The Dallas Cowboys (BOYS WILL BE BOYS) and Roger Clemens (THE ROCKET WHO FELL TO EARTH) and he came out of the vaunted University of Delaware journalism program, so you know he's got the goods.

Also on the bill that night: Greg Prince of Faith & Fear in Flushing; John Coppinger of Metstradamus, and, a live unveiling of the much-anticipated Top 10 Number Sixes in Mets History as delivered by yours truly. Trade in any Mets baseball card -- even a 1991 Wally Whitehurst-- for your first drink free!

Two Boots Tavern: 384 Grand Street 212-228-8685

Good Golly, it's Ollie

Now that it looks as if injuries and an underperforming second defense will be the things that kill this Mets team dead, here comes Oliver Perez.

The enigmatic lefty rejoins the rotation tonight against the Dodgers -- I'll be watching up in Section 521 if you want to say hi or commiserate. To make room the Mets returned Argenis Reyes back to where he belongs in Buffalo. His legacy as a No. 11 may be a pointless turn as a leadoff hitter that hastened the Mets' demise and eroded even more of my confidence in Jerry Manuel, who I liked a lot only a few months ago.

Seems that Manuel has become trapped in a device of his own making. While his team was at full strength he opted to play passively so as to build for a second half, only to find that second half just may arrive without the horses. If this team is teaching us anything perhaps it's to consider the possibily of disaster down the road before one pinch-hits one catcher for another with the winning run on base, or employs character-building but ultimately foolish strategies like sacrifice bunts as often as Jerry did early this year.

That, and, you know, the value of catching the ball when it's hit to you.

* * *

With that out of the way, who wants to get together and watch more of this team?

Last month's Metstock gathering at Two Boots Tavern was a great success with a roomful of Met fans meeting, greeting and eating while hearing readings from three Mets-related books including mine. Owner Phil Hartman was so jazzed about its success he's asked Greg Prince and myself to organize similar monthly gatherings featuring literary readings, game-watching, consciousness raising, pizza eating, Rheingold drinking, cocktail shaking, Yankee baiting, memorabilia gawking and seven steps support as needed.

The first such "Amazin Tuesday" is scheduled for July 21 at 7 p.m. and will feature guests including Paul Lukas, ESPN columnist, Met fan and creator of the incomparable "Uni Watch" and author Mathew Silverman, who co-authored MBTN and more recently, Shea Goodbye with Keith Hernandez.

Two Boots is located at 384 Grand Street on the Lower East Side. Any more questions, just ask -- hope to see you there!

And Away We Go

When a friend asked today how I thought the Mets might do over the next 20 games -- a so-called brutal stretch in the schedule during which we see the Rays, Cardinals, MFYankees, Brewers, Phillies and Dodgers, with a make-up game from the Pirates thrown in there -- I flippantly suggested 19-1. The Pirates are still on the schedule, after all.

Forgetting Mike PiazzaYes, that's probably going to go down as a wildly optimistic stab at the road ahead but I think I have a pretty good shot at nailing an underlying trend here: That is, we're due. I'm thinking here that the horrifying events of the last week or so steel these guys, and they start to put together the kind of run I'd like to think they have in them.Church and Murphy and even Schnieder are starting to hit. We're beginning at last to have what passes for a "regular" lineup while Reyes and Delgado sit.

Last year, at around this time, Jerry's Kids started making their own move and, if you'll again pardon the enthusiasm, I'd like to believe the dumb decisions and passive approaches of April and May manifest thesmelves as experience and self-awareness that will guide them through June, July and August.

I could be wrong through. But is 12-8 too much to ask? All teams will have a stretch of 12 out of 20 at some point, and I'm thinking this could be ours.

Thanks for the folks below confirming that Nick Evans indeed was in uniform No. 6 tonight and shown chatting with Ramon Martinez, who's on the disabled list but may return in time to find his fourth uni number waiting for him (I'd already forgotten he spent an evening in No. 26 earlier this year, in addition to 6 this year, and 22 last year).

Thanks also to the friends new and old who showed up Thursday at Two Boots Tavern's "Metstock" event. A good crowd heard a reading of a brillant chapter of Stanley Cohen's A Magic Summer; several adventures in Faith and Fear; and a dorky guy (pictured) talk about the unassailable Jeff McKnight. It was all fun till the 9th.

METSTOCK: 3 Hours of Pizza and Baseball

Please join me for pizza, beer and a one-of-a-kind discussion of the Mets next Thursday, June 18, as Two Boots Tavern on the Lower East Side hosts Metstock.

I'll be discussing the Mets by the Numbers project and will have books on hand to sign and sell (I'll even sign your pre-owned copy if you bring it along). Also scheduled to read will be Greg Prince, co-writer of the splendid Faith and Fear in Flushing blog and author of the fabulous new book of the same name, and Stanley Cohen, whose 1980s classic revisiting of the 1969 World Champions, A Magic Summer, was recently reprinted by Skyhorse Publishing.

I couldn't recommend either of my co-presenters' works any higher. Cohen's book has long been a favorite of mine, and is updated with a new afterword by the author, commemorating the 40th anniversary of the 1969 World Champions. If you happened to have missed it the first time around, A Magic Summer tells the story of the '69 Mets by way of the author's visits with nearly all of the members of that historic team around the time of its 20-year anniversary. Faith and Fear in the meantime tells the "intense personal history" of the Met fan experience through the perspective of the ridiculously eloquent and perceptive Prince.

Two Boots specializes in Cajun-influenced pizza (the name refers to Lousiana and Italy, both boot-shaped) and its decor leaves little mystery as to the owner's baseball loyalties. The big-screen TVs will be tuned to the Mets at Orioles game. Make your plans!

What: Metstock, 3 Hours of Pizza and Baseball

Where: Two Boots Tavern, 384 Grand St. near Norfolk, 212-228-8685

When: Thursday, June 18, 7-10 p.m.


Around the Horn

Keith Olbermann appears to have received our information on near-Met Wilbur Huckle. In his latest post, Keith quotes the article we posted and reveals that the roster obtained by his photographer friend includes Huckle's name written in pencil and identified as wearing No. 24 -- a jersey that would have been available in September of 1963. He also follows up with details of the New Breed's push for Huckle's presidential candidacy in 1964. A shout-out for MBTN and Jason? Nope.

Reader Edward in the meantime reminds us that Darryl Strawberry and a pitcher -- he cannot recall who -- were similarly invited to spend time with the 1982 Mets at season's end.

* * * * * *

Keith's blog has been added to the "Good at Baseball" links to the left. To the Mets links, I've added those of beat writers Adam Rubin of the Daily News and David Lennon of Newsday -- two guys who work incredibly hard so that other bloggers have links to aggregate every day. The print press is getting killed and the Internet is a great thing but to me there's nothing like getting my hands all inky with the Snooze every morning. At 50 cents a day it's an ideal commute killer and a bargain too. Read the papers.

* * * * * *

Helmet... from hellThe Mets appear to have shut down their online survey on their uniforms -- hopefully not before you, like me, submitted a few dozen responses. Don't think I've come across anyone who's a big fan of the black anymore but I sense the hatred among the prototypes in the survey was strongest for the vest which, I'm just gonna say, I don't think is so bad provided you're resigned to the inevitability of an alternate, which I am.

But you know what I really hate and they didn't even ask about? Those two-tone helmets. My, they're awful.

Anyway, I'd give a week's pay to be the guy to summarize the survey findings for Jeff.


* * * * * *

We weren't even finished with the press events around the Mets by the Numbers book last spring when my co-writer Matt Silverman was at work on two new projects. One was Cubs by the Numbers (I know, right?) done with the same editor at Skyhorse and with Kasey Ignarski who'd been tracking Cubs numbers for at least as long as I'd been doing Mets numbers here (also Al Yellon, at the Bleed Cubbie Blue blog). If you happen to have a friend who's a Cubs fan, consider buying them this as a gift.

The other project was a daring diary style book with none other than Keith Hernandez which Matthew was doing via phone interviews and transcribed notes all summer long, never knowing how the narrative would turn out. It became Shea Goodbye, recently published by Triumph.

 * * * * * *

I've added Ramon Martinez to the list of Mets who've worn three numbers as published on the Jeff McKnight page. Now can we get rid of the guy already?


Would You Buy a Book from this Man?

That's a request, not a rhetorical question. As many of the readers here know, Greg W. Prince, who co-authors the outstanding Mets blog Faith & Fear in Flushing, has come out with a new book, also called Faith & Fear in Flushing and aptly subtitled An Intense Personal History of the Mets.

I will contribute a full reveiw when I'm finished reading it (I'm up to 1987 now, congratulations on meeting your wife, Greg) but thought now would be a good time to replay my explosive two-part interview with Greg that ran in this space last year. I was way out ahead of the market in declaring Greg a Big Shot then.

I had a fair amount of self-interest in doing this: In addition to pushing my own book, I was also hoping to understand how the heck he does it. The answer: He just does.

Here's Part 1

Here's Part 2


* * *

I consider it good news that Freddy Garcia has agreed to extended spring training and/or a minor league assignment. He obviously wasn't pitching up to his standards, but perhaps at some point he will, and with the kinds of starts the Mets pitchers have been turning in lately, depth is going to be an issue over the course of a long season. Valerio de los Santos was released and Rule 5er Rocky Cherry -- I was rooting for that guy -- went and signed with Boston.

* * * 

Thanks to those who showed up my chat last night in Roslyn; and to Victor and Rosemary for helping to set it up; and to my sister Jennifer for putting me in touch with them.

The Outfielders Lounge

Just as we suspected, Brian Stokes appeared tonight, wearing No. 43, and in place of Ruddy Lugo, who returns to AAA without having made an appearance. And Stokes, though not charged with a decision and guilty of surrendering two 2-run home runs, evidently pitched well enough, by Met standards, to remain with the club even after John Maine returns. Which probably means that Carlos Muniz would return to AAA when Maine comes back, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

* * * 

Quick note to let you in on a great opportunity to see the Mets from a unique perspective before they dismantle Big Shea. Matt Silverman, my co-author for the Mets by the Numbers book and writer of a bunch of other great Mets-related books (Mets Essential, 100 Things, Total Mets, etc), has purchased a bunch of Picnic Area seats for the Sept. 24 game -- that's a Wednesday night vs. the Cubs -- and is selling a limited number at his website, Details including pricing etc. are there. I'm here to tell you I will be there, and that Matt's a trustworthy guy who is likely to draw a crowd of knowledgeable and enthusiastic fans: If I were you, I'd be making plans to go. And do it quick -- prices go up Sept. 1.

Touching Base

The Mets saved their season with two great wins this weekend after nearly burning it all away Friday.

Quick note to point out Jesse Spector's Touching Base Column in the Daily News Sunday, which did a nice job on the proliferation of Mets No. 6s. Also, a reminder that I will be at the Queens Library in Flushing tonight (Monday, July 7), around 6 p.m., to speak about the Mets, baseball and writing with Greg Spira, co-editor of Meet the Mets. 41-17 Main Street, (718) 661-1200.

Just in case the AL needs to win home-field advantage in the late innings, Billy Wagner will be representing the Mets at the All-Star game. Has there been a more unlikeable Met than Wags? Or is it just me?

Toe, Knee, Arm, Ass

To Mercury... and beyond! After a solid half-season rehabbing his career in AAA, the Mets rewarded Tony Armas with his first big-league appearance of the year. Tonight's start in St. Louis (off to a shaky start as I write) is designed to provide a bit of rest for a stretched-out rotation, after which it is expected Armas will stay with the club filling the long-relief role previously filled by Claudio Vargas, Nelson Figueroa and Jorge Sosa. Armas appears tonight in No. 44 -- the same jersey he wore this spring that was later issued to Brady Clark when Clark when the trip north and Armas did not.

Leave it Greg Prince of Faith & Fear in Flushing to point out the last time No. 44 appeared on the back of a Mets pitcher it was the Mercury Mets and Jason Isringhausen -- who made his last appearance for the Mets wearing that jersey in July of 1999. That and a lot more.

Meantime, MBTN reader Paul C., aka King Of All Screen Capturers, delivers the above image of Isringhausen's unique Mercury Mets look -- condensed fonts don't exist in the future, doncha know.

To make room for Armas the Mets designated infielder Andy Phillips for assignment -- easy come, easy go -- and are gambling a short bench won't bite them in the butt before Moises Alou makes a return. Yes, they're counting on that again. Yes, the Met offense is collapsing under the anticipation of his return once again.

Talkin' baseball: Join me in Flushing this coming Monday, July 7, as I appear along with Greg Spira, co-editor of Meet the Mets, in a discussion about the Mets, baseball, books and anything else. We will have books for sale and/or signature (including Matt Silverman's Mets Essential and 100 Things), and afterward, I'll be happy to join you for a beer to watch the Mets-Phillies game.

Details: 6 p.m., Monday July 7 at the Queens Library -- Flushing , 41-17 Main Street, (718) 661-1200.

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