NEW YORK, NY – I chose the Mets. As I prepared to enter Kindergarten in the Fall of 1969, my mind was a blank slate ready to believe anything was possible. For a 5-year-old that summer, who could argue? I mean, take a look at what happened. My mind-according to the experts and my overbearing Aunts and Uncles that summer in the Catskills was a “sponge.” So smart, so bright they called me “Sonny Boy.” And who could argue with them? For one week every summer, my family would load ourselves into our 1968 Plymouth Fury III and spend a glorious week “in the country.” For us, going “up to the country” meant we were on our way to the Catskills. The Borscht Belt.
I chose the Mets. To my Dad, raised in the East Bronx, anything north of there was “the country.” My Dad was the greatest New York Giants fan of all time. He worshiped Sid Gordon and Mel Ott as a kid. Told me stories of Enos Slaughter leaving the Polo Grounds and shooing him and his buddies away, yelling, ”Get the hell out of here you little Heeb Bastards!” And then there was Willie. My entire life was spent hearing my Dad regale me with stories that left no doubt that Willie was the greatest all-around player who ever lived. It was “go time,” akin to the Mandelbaums, if anyone ever claimed Mickey was better than the Say Hey Kid. And forget about Duke Snider, whom my father always noted was the only left-handed bat in the Dodgers Lineup – and therefore never had to face lefties.
I chose the Mets. So, it was on the evening of July 20th, that summer when my Dad wheeled our 19-inch black and white TV into the bedroom I shared with my two older brothers and with a grainy picture and horizontal hold button not functional, we squinted and approximated watching man land and then walk-on the Moon. I mean who starts out with something like that in the summer before beginning school? I was sure that this was what life would always be! Nothing but miracles and spectacular events and people cheering and parades! Oh, the Parades!
I chose the Mets. I wasn’t good enough to play for them, but I chose the Mets. My Dad, whose own team was ripped from his heart in 1957, chose the Mets. My brothers and now my own Sons have chosen the Mets. This passion, this loyalty, this unbridled enthusiasm and love for this team has in every way become part of the fabric of our lives (like cotton) and of our personalities.
So, as I hear the talk bandied about how Commissioner Bud Selig may invoke the “best interests of the game clause” as a means of ruling absolutely against Alex Rodriguez and any appeal he may chase, I bristled. Like Joe McCarthy in the 50s, Bud thinks this is his ticket, his path to immortality. Bud is wrong. I hate like hell that steroid talk and steroid consequences dominates so many conversations these days. That sucks because the public is sick of it and even the “clean” players want the dirty ones punished so we can all move on. But the idea that Bud may invoke the Best Interests clause at a time when our beloved Mets are being held hostage by criminals; by unethical, dishonest and downright bad guys named Jeff Wilpon, Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz is an insult for those of us who treasure this team and the memories and lives around which so many great moments occurred. Bud has decided that running A-Rod out of the game will be his legacy. After A-Rod “admitted” juicing in ’09, Bud vehemently argued that he did not turn his back on the problem. He even gave this quote to Newsday at the time when asked if he had sufficiently probed baseball people:
“They all told me none of them ever saw it in the clubhouses and that their players never spoke about it,” Selig told Newsday.” [Padres CEO] Sandy Alderson, as good a baseball man as you’ll find, was convinced it was the bat. Others were convinced it was the ball. So a lot of people didn’t know.”
There you have it. Even then Sandy was lying through his teeth. It was the BAT! To say Sandy is a liar doesn’t do this explanation any justice at all. Read this.
When Barry Bonds was set to break the most hallowed record in the game, Bud ran the other way. He swung and missed on an opportunity then but now sees a get me over slider named A-Rod coming, and he wants to swing hard this time. Bud won’t tell us the truth. Ever. Lying for him comes easy. Put him under oath before Congress and let’s get it started. Say it Bud!. Say you knew exactly what, where, when and who was using all along!
I chose the goddamn Mets. Bud’s continued enabling of the felonious Wilpons; his cherry-picking of “bad owners” when fans are so obviously the victims. This is Bud’s legacy. This is Bud’s lasting punishment to those of us born and bred in New York, and those of us old enough to have been indelibly marked by the Orange and Blue. Coming home from Kindergarten in ‘69 to find my Dad waiting for me to watch Game 5 with me. We watched the Bud Harrelson-Pete Rose brawl in ’73; Doc bursting on the scene together in ’84, and of course-watching the miracle comebacks against the Red Sox in ’86. I lost my Dad in 2000. My kids were born several weeks later. Circle of Life stuff, I know. But I would be ashamed to fill my Dad in on what has become of OUR team. The team WE CHOSE. Together. Have you no shame, Mr. Selig?
Angry Ward, tomorrow.