Tag Archives: Tom Seaver

Thoughts on Narrative in Everyday Life

I was especially excited to watch the Mets game last night because Zack Wheeler was pitching, and I was thinking about the high hopes that I have for both he and Matt Harvey. Specifically, I was thinking, “Well, Harvey is clearly Tom Seaver, and maybe Wheeler can be Jerry Koosman.”

I know that I am not the only Mets fan making these comparisons, but the act of doing so struck me. I think it is an example of how we as humans naturally turn to past narratives to help us make sense of the present. While I am by no means the first person to note this function of narrative (my favorite articulation of it is in the work of Stanley Hauerwas), it is worth repeating. The world is inherently chaotic, and stories help us see how bits and pieces of it make sense.

In this particular instance, I am choosing a narrative that I want to see repeated, a sort of messianic second coming, because Seaver was the best Met ever, and Koosman was either the second or third best Mets pitcher ever depending on how you feel about Dwight Gooden. Of course it is not fair to Harvey or Wheeler to make these comparisons because it is important that they be given the space to write their own narratives. However, connecting them to the past as a fan is one way to fit them into the larger New York Mets narrative. The Mets have been the most successful when they have had stellar home-grown pitchers, and it is enticing to think that with Harvey and Wheeler they are returning to this formula.

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Visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame

Today I visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York for the first time since my eighth birthday. I don’t remember much about the museum itself from that visit, only that I had a milkshake for the first time ever. I loved them immediately and actually had three that day–two chocolate and one chocolate chocolate-chip. I also remember being surprised and disappointed that there were no fast food chains in town because I was wanting to have lunch at McDonald’s and supper at Wendy’s (how said that I had already been trained to assume that these chains were ubiquitous!). There are still no chain restaurants along Cooperstown’s main strip, which now makes me happy.

The "Jumbo Burger" and  chocolate milkshake from the Cooperstown Diner. I got a chocolate shake for old times' sake even though now I prefer vanilla when drinking one with a meal.

The “Jumbo Burger” and chocolate milkshake from the Cooperstown Diner. I got a chocolate shake for old times’ sake even though now I prefer vanilla when drinking one with a meal.

Anyway, it was good to get back to see the artifacts. Both Cooperstown and the Hall itself were packed because it is prime tourist season, and I saw many families with children who looked about the age I was on my first visit. It pleases me that the ritual of visiting is one that continues through the generations. Many people were wearing gear from their favorite teams, which was also neat. It gave the town a central meeting-place kind of vibe; we all had our individual allegiances, but ultimately we have our love of the game to unify us. I was planning to buy a new Mets cap, and was happy to find one for only $9.95 at one of the numerous shops selling sports memorabilia.

There are a number of players that I think deserve to be in the Hall of Fame that are not (Mike Piazza, Pete Rose [even if he did bet on baseball], Craig Biggio, Keith Hernandez…), and visiting did not make me change my mind about any of the players that I just mentioned, but reading through the amazing statistical achievements on the plaques of those who are members did make me feel that the Hall should be more exclusive than I’ve wanted it to be in the past.

Me in front of the Hall. I'm wearing my Keith Hernandez shirt because he should be a member.

Me in front of the Hall. I’m wearing my Keith Hernandez shirt because he should be a member.

Here are some of the photographs I took during my visit, most of them Mets-related:

An old Wrigley's gum ad. Who knew that chewing Wrigley's "gives an added firmness--a vigor, to the whole body"?

An old Wrigley’s gum ad. Who knew that chewing Wrigley’s “gives an added firmness–a vigor, to the whole body”?

Tom Seaver's plaque.

Tom Seaver’s plaque.

The Tom Seaver display.

The Tom Seaver display.

Nolan Ryan's plaque. Seven no-hitters! Unbelievable.

Nolan Ryan’s plaque. Seven no-hitters! Unbelievable.

Gary Carter's plaque. R.I.P.

Gary Carter’s plaque. R.I.P.

A close-up of Gary Carter's plaque detailing his importance to the 1986 Mets.

A close-up of Gary Carter’s plaque detailing his importance to the 1986 Mets.

Long-time Met broadcaster Bob Murphy's plaque in the broadcaster's wing.

Long-time Met broadcaster Bob Murphy’s plaque in the broadcaster’s wing.

Casey Stengel's retired number from Shea Stadium.

Casey Stengel’s retired number from Shea Stadium.

A portrait of Tom Seaver (as a Red, alas) by Andy Warhol.

A portrait of Tom Seaver (as a Red, alas) by Andy Warhol.

The Mets 1969 World Series ring.

The Mets 1969 World Series ring.

The Mets 1986 World Series ring.

The Mets 1986 World Series ring.

A sign celebrating Jesse Orosco's record for games pitched.

A sign celebrating Jesse Orosco’s record for games pitched.

Two members of the Mets current broadcasting team in the baseball card section.

Two members of the Mets current broadcasting team in the baseball card section.

A display celebrating Pete Rose's all-time hits record. At least the Hall acknowledges his existence.

A display celebrating Pete Rose’s all-time hits record. At least the Hall acknowledges his existence.

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Johan Santana, Mets Legend

Tonight Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter in New York Mets history (boxscore: http://scores.espn.go.com/mlb/boxscore?gameId=320601121).

As a life-long Mets fan, it is difficult to describe how amazing I feel. The Mets have existed since 1962 and were one of only two Major League teams (out of 30) to have never thrown a no-hitter (the San Diego Padres are the other), and this is knowledge that each Mets fan carries with us constantly. Every game, you wonder, is this the night? until that first hit drops. Tonight, it finally was. Watching the ninth inning, I could barely move, I was numb, the first two batters made fly ball outs that initially looked like they might drop in for bloop hits, then Johan fell behind the  final batter, David Freese, 3-0, but he battled back and struck him out swinging, which was the perfect end to the game. Kudos to catcher Josh Thole, who was playing his first game since coming off of the disabled list with a concussion, for calling a fantastic game all the way through, and to manager Terry Collins for leaving Santana in the game despite his high pitch count. Mets fans would never have forgiven him if he had pulled Santana before he allowed a hit.

Watching the replay of the final pitch and the ensuing pile-up on the mound, one thing that stands out is that there is a fan wearing a Gary Carter jersey who runs out onto the field and joins the celebration. This is both wonderful and poignant considering Carter’s death earlier this year and the fact that the Mets are wearing a memorial patch for him all season long. The lack of a no-hitter has weighed heavily on fans, so I am glad that one got to join in on the field as a representative of us all.

As is well-known, the Mets have had numerous pitchers throw no-hitters once they were no longer with the Mets, the three most famous being Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan (who threw seven!), and Doc Gooden (he and David Cone’s both came when they were with the evil Yankees). Before tonight, Seaver had come the closest to throwing one as a Met, reaching the ninth inning without allowing a hit three times. It feels so, so good that these statistics are now irrelevant, kind of like when the Rangers ended their 54-year Stanley Cup drought in 1994. This year’s Mets team is showing that they have a lot of heart and that they are not going away quietly. Nights like tonight make you think that something special is happening.

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