So what's the worst thing about being "Mr. Met"? As A.J. Mass tells it, it's Bat Day. Mr. Met, of course, has a gigantic baseball for a head. Children hyped up over their free bats have, well, baseball bats. Do the math.
In 2015, ESPN got documentary god Errol Morris to do six short (10-20 minute) films on unusual aspects of sport. One was about Mass, who incarnated the Mr. Met character when it was reintroduced after a 20-year absence. I can't embed it, but it's free to view here, and fascinating. Mass tells you both what you suspected about mascots (it's hot in there) and what you didn't (how the portrayal affects you emotionally).
For you sensible souls who are not movie nerds, Morris is the High Pooka of documentaries. His The Thin Blue Line got a death sentence overturned. In Texas. He's made movies about turkey hunters, war criminals, tabloid stars, executioners, and Stephen Hawking. He was an insurance fraud detective once, and the skills a good detective uses -- knowing what questions to ask and how to ask them -- are what make him a genius filmmaker. All of his movies are about interviews. What do people say? Why do we say it? How does each of us perceive relative truth?
I have no idea how long ESPN will leave these films up online, but they're all worth watching. You can meet the world's most creative streaker. Fans who collect Ty Cobb's toenails. And, in one that had me sobbing uncontrollably, some high school friends, now in their 60s, who meet every week to play a children's toy football game. I could write forever about that short film. But, different sport.
Meet The Mets
Not only were the Mets and Twins started just one year apart, they have two of the longest-lasting team songs in baseball history. Most teams with iconic songs use pop standards, like Boston with "Sweet Caroline." The Twins have their own, you know it, and the Mets have their own, Mets fans know it. Both were composed right when the teams began. Here's the story.
Some fun trivia. Ruth Roberts wrote "Meet The Mets"; she was a professional songwriter married to a Hollywood screenwriter. Their son, Michael Piller, also took up writing, and contributed several scripts to "Star Trek: The Next Generation." Including a fan favorite, "The Best Of Both Worlds," where Picard becomes a Borg. The Borgs are cybernetic hybrids who ride around space in cubes and ... forget it.
Hip To Be Square
Huey Lewis and the News were the biggest American band in 1985, not long thereafter. Basically a bar band that struck latinum, because their songs were featured in hit movie Back To The Future. Lewis keeps on playing, naturally (that's what bar bands do), and he's a huge baseball fan.
He got borned in Mets territory, but there weren't any Mets yet; he's become a Met tolerator since. He's gotten to play at ball games and throw out first pitches. Once, he brought some sandpaper to the Metrodome mound, and roughed up the ball -- poking fun at Phil Niekro, who'd been recently ejected from a game doing the same.
Anyhoo, here is a fun article Lewis wrote on baseball stadium music. It's not long, and it makes good points. Canned music at stadiums sounds like ass, organists always sound great, and teams should have local musicians playing live in between innings. All true. Thanks to a TTer who gave me a free ticket, I got to see a Twins game where a band I love played live songs between innings, and it was awesome.
The one area I disagree with Lewis? Walk-up songs. He hates 'em, I adore 'em. Not because the songs are good (most aren't), but because they tell you a little bit about the player. Would Nick Punto pick Phil Collins's "In The Air Tonight" as his walk up song? Yes he would, and that's the most Punto-rific song possible. (Not the best Twins walkup song. That title goes to Denard Span for "Pussy Poppin'." Let's face it, Denard was the awesomest-looking Twin, like, ever.)
Madoff Mets Money
Well, not only is Citi Field named after a corrupt banking behemoth (bad enough for a building that opened in 2009) but the team's owners right then were embroiled with the best-named Ponzi schemer of all time. Bernie Madoff. Pronounced "Made Off." As in, "with my money."
Our friends at Amazin' Avenue have the whole sordid story, complete with every conceivable link, right here. Keep this in the back of your mind the next time you read someone saying "fire the Pohlads." Keep it there because A) you know the Twins' owners could be way, way worse, and B) if someone thinks fans can fire the owners there's not much point in arguing with them.
The Madness Of "Nails" Lenny
Onetime Mets star Len Dykstra's story is so unimaginably crazy, I was tempted to write only about that. Yet I need some kind of (imaginary) empathy with a person before I can write about them. And Dykstra's an utter lunatic. (No doubt I am too, in different aspects.)
How is he crazy? Let us count the ways.
- Opened car wash franchise with his family. Fucked family over for money.
- Ran magazine for rich sports players. Fucked over partners for money.
- Bought Wayne Gretzky's LA mansion. Trashed it. Stole stuff from the house when he sold it for bankruptcy.
- Demanded maids at his mansion perform sex acts or be fired.
- Cheated prostitutes out of money.
- Is himself a gigolo, made fun of his older clients on the radio. Claimed God "put me on this earth to get women off ... I'm like Picasso."
- Used employees' credit card numbers (naturally), had a DUI (of course), and ran a stock-tip business that partnered with future "Mad Money" scam clown Jim Cramer (who else?) Stock-tip business crashed, Dykstra tried to cheat the bankruptcy settlement (see Theft, House, above).
To cleanse your palate from that litany of ugliness, you can read this somewhat sympathetic New York Times article on Lenny's fall. Perhaps ask yourself: is Dykstra a psychopath or sociopath? He's always been good making friends; apparently, although his ex-wife won't remarry him, she does let him live at her house. Psychopaths tend to be organized, which Dykstra is not; sociopaths tend to be antisocial, which Dykstra is not. I think he fits this Mayo Clinic definition of narcissistic. But don't tell him; I don't wanna get beat up.
Or you can just listen to the Baseball Project song:
Catch ya later for the game, folks!