It's Mets For Me: Off-Beat, Tangentially Relevant Mets Ruminations

Off Base Since 2005! Mets commentary from the counter-intuitive to the unintuitive and all the intuitives in between. ** "Through the use of humor and gross inaccuracy...a certain truth can be gained." Rob Perri ** (pester me or follow me @itsmetsforme on twitter)

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Long Metropolitan Nightmare Finally Over

Bush is pulling out of Iraq?
Justin Timberlake has retired?

July 30, 2004--January 31, 2007

No, it's just that Victor Zambrano has signed a minor league with the hapless Toronto Bluejays, and will once again join Jim Duquette (at the bottom of the AL East). The "Kaz" (-mir/ Matsui) era is officially over.

At least the Jays didn't sign Sammy Sosa. Now that would be crazy.

The injured and goofy pitcher was never the roundest doughnut in the on-deck circle, but Zamby's notorious arrival and departure did ALMOST single-handedly change the Mets from a laughingstock to contender. Indirectly. So let's remember him for the gift of relevance.

I can confirm nor deny the rumor that Victor signed the contract, then sprinted out of the room to a waiting bus.

So good luck, Victor, I hope which ever arm you are now pitching with brings you nothing but good fortune. On behalf of Rick Peterson, I symbolically offer you another 10 minutes with which to fix your career.

who will fill Zambrano's chair?

Monday, January 29, 2007

"Say it Ain't So": Mlb Direct TV deal Update

Bud Selig
that will not protect you from this shitstorm, Bud.

In an angry article I hadn't seen before but is linked to at Metsblog, Dan Yetzel at Yahoo Sports offers this tidbit:

InDemand, which distributes the package currently, has upped its offer, but, according to the Washington Times, its deal will pay about $30 million less per year.

So at least there is some negotiation. I guess InDemand is also a worthy target of fan pressure, but you'd figure they are already motivated to make a deal so...

Brian Borawski at the Hardball Times claims a bit of inside information, indicating that perhaps the outcome is not preordained as newspaper news briefs indicate. Borawski's contact

indicated that the exclusive deal wasn’t necessarily something that MLB was pursuing but that it was something that was brought to the table by DirecTV... He also thought that DirecTV would be able to give MLB’s new 24-hour network more attention. Cable companies probably wouldn’t cover it under their basic packages, while under DirecTV, it’ll probably be available to all subscribers.

In addition, Hotfoot posts this email address of Bob Bowman who is said to be the MLB Executive VP in charge of Extra Innings:

Take a moment and respectfully let Bob know how you feel, won't you?

More reaction from around the world wide of webs: Let's touch em all!

DirecTV sucks:
In an article entitled "In case you had any doubt, MLB doesn't care about you at all," Deadspin is dead on, as usual:

There are millions more who see DirectTV for what it is, an inferior service with poor broadband selection, terrible customer service and technology that'll be outdated halfway through that baseball contract. Because of this deal, there will be fewer people watching baseball next year.

MLBtv sucks:
Even Br*ves fans are pissed, and they don't even watch baseball! As Lang Whitaker writes in a Sports Illustrated column (in the spirit of cooperation, I will refrain from mentioning the "man loving in-animate object-or-relative" metaphor that Lang, as any good Atlanta fan would, uses to frame his analysis):

But as much as I love you, Baseball, there's no way I'm spending eight hours at work staring at a computer screen and then coming home and sitting down for three hours to stare at herky-jerky action on another computer screen.
Remember when you were going to put the Spider-Man 2 logo on bases? So you're not perfect. You can make bad decisions. This is one of them. This seems like just another bad choice that you're just determined to make.

The whole thing reminds the Post's Phil Mushnick of another era:

It's reminiscent of the quick-cash Peter Ueberroth days. In 1989, MLB sold exclusive national rights to CBS, even knowing that CBS planned to provide far less baseball than NBC had before it.

MLB wants what the NFL has, but they are not the NFL:

Eric Wilbur of the Boston Globe:

Yes, the NFL also has exclusive rights with DirecTV, but it's a different beast. Whereas the NFL is a weekly venture, displaced fans still have the option of hitting up the local sports pub to catch their favorite team. At most, that's 16 trips to the bar during a season, and that's if you're a fan of, say, the Houston Texans and are living in Maine. You try explaining to your significant other why you've got to spend 162 nights this year down at taproom. Thanks, Bud.


Saturday, January 27, 2007

"Say it Ain't So": MLB DirecTV deal Update

Bud's New Black Eye:
MLB Boycott, day 7... Notes from the front

There is no real news to report on this dark turn of events--just eerie silence coming from MLB. This silence is extra super terrific since real baseball is just about to start and cable companies are still advertising the "Extra Innings" package. Nice suprise, Bud. Those of us without local access to the Mets, Direct TV, apartment dish access, broadband, or the money and patience to invest in a wholesale revamping of entertainment infrastructure ("switching" is always a pain in the ass, no matter what the corporations tell you) are still screwed. However, in this post I collect some resources, and rage, for interested fans.

For those just tuning in: The MLB is telling two of what I would imagine are its most valuable assets-- loyal partisan fans who have the misfortune of living out of town, and loyal fans of the game of baseball no matter who plays--to shove it up their asses. I live in California, am prohibited by my apartment's location and property manager's rules from having a dish installed and cannot for financial reasons afford anymore than the free dial-up service I get for free through my work. No Mets for me.

In yesterday's New York Times, Richard Sandomir updated his original story, this time focusing on the fan reaction: tears, frustration, general disgrunt. It's a must-read, especially since the issue is not getting much coverage in the tabloids which are more interested in Omar's trip to Ghana! (hmm, if it is true the NY media and media in general (world wide leader) generally do not make a major issue of cable access problems, I wonder why). Go ahead, go over to Sportspyder and look for coverage of this issue. Anyhow, the upshot of Sandomir's article--that fans will be emotionally devastated especially because humans do not psychologically appreciate having something they take for granted taken away-- is worth dwelling on:

This is a case of taking something that a part of the fan base has grown accustomed to and selling it to a higher bidder, which is available to 15 million subscribers, less than one-fifth the cable universe.

And it raises these simple questions: Why anger any part of your fan base? Why marginalize any part of your fan base?

In Sports Illustrated, an article by John Donovan recovers from a rather patronizing opening to give voice to fans and offer some direction as to where to lodge complaints. After overstating the leeway the FCC gives apartment-bound fans who want access to dishes, Donovan's article does give voice to emailers who put a point on the problem: taking away newly acquired programing choice from consumers is not a winning proposition, the deal makes MLB look exceedingly unresponsive and uncaring, and fans are being screwed and squeezed.

Is this the fan perception the MLB wants to nurture?:

[Baseball] won't be happy until they have squeezed every last nickel from the same people that have already been separated from their paychecks by parking, concessions and bobbleheads. -- Mark Pierce, Modesto, Calif.

The inevitable horror story of trying to communicate with the MLB or any relevent authority is captured suscinctly in one email from a woman who tried to fight the power:

I've spent the day, in between work, trying to get some answers. I started by phoning MLB, where I was transferred to their Public Relations voicemail. Still waiting for a response from them. Then I called MLB Advanced Media's VP of Corporate Communications, who did seem to listen to me, though his job is to sell me MLB.TV. By the way, I've always subscribed to that, too, as a last resort backup which, unfortunately, has never worked very well with our broadband connection. But this VP did give me another number to call, supposedly in the Commissioner's Office. I tried it but was left extremely frustrated by my attempt to register my complaint with the surname-less "Vinny," who also informed me that the Commish's office doesn't have an e-mail address, and that instead I have to use snail mail to communicate with the powers that be. Well, my sadness had now been transformed to full-blown anger, but I continued my search for answers, first by e-mailing and attempting to speak with someone at InDemand. No response yet from them either. Finally I did e-mail my cable provider, Comcast, but just the New England region [couldn't find an easy way to get through to Comcast corporate HQ], and they did write back telling me that they hadn't heard anything about this DirecTV exclusive deal, but should something like that happen, I should receive a notice included with my monthly bill. -- Jeanette Bottone, Wellesley, Mass.

It would be nice if "we" all banded together to stop this. I have argued elsewhere that this deal hurts the blogging community and baseball alike. In my opinion, there seems to be too many who are just resigned to the deal; this is probably in part an effect of fans being screwed for so long (ticket prices, cable and dish deals, etc.). Just because other major league sports have moved to exclusive shitting-fan-on deals, doesn't make it right. Other sports are not "America's pasttime." Ok, maybe I am naive to believe in baseball's exceptionalism, but hey, there you are.

Taking a page out of America's democracy promotion handbook, baseball wants to expand its reach to Latin America, China, and Africa, but it can't even respect the fans at home. Ok, America doesn't really give a shit about democracy in Africa, but the analogy is there.

Umpbump, cited in Sandomir's follow-up article, has a post worth reading. It turns out it's not a bad site either, although it probably will be loading slowly for a while, due to being linked to by the New York-fucking-Times. Check out the ironic-porn-flavored reports on each teams' off season, or the "Hot Baseball Wives" feature--written by women and men-- if you're so inclined. [Killer quote, on Mark McGuire and his wife: "As you can see, the two have a lot in common — like giant breasts and a love of swimwear. "]

How to put this delicately? MLBtv sucks. There are too many variables, such as internet provider issues and data speeds, to add to the spotty quality of broadcasts and the fact that internet quality DOES NOT YET APPROACH THE QUALITY OF A TYPICAL TELEVISION BROADCAST circa 1986. I had it all last year when I lived abroad, and it was a real headache, one that I only endured because I had no choice. Although it was fun to listen to Mex and the gang during commercials when they didn't realize the mike was still broadcasting to the internet. Of course Keith saved his best stuff for the all-to0-public broadcasts, but I digress. (You can be among the first to enjoy perusing my raving chronicle of frustration with so-called MLBtv over at the Deuce, here, here, here, and here. Reviewing these charming old posts reminds me that I am not the most reasonable, credible source.) Suffice it to say, more reasonable people than I are tearing their hair out over the spotty service of MLB's internet venture. And even if it worked well, it ain't tv.

In addition to this problem, Susan Mullen on her blog, raises some pertinent points that I hadn't thought off, particularly the poor quality of Direct tv, and that the company might go belly up before the contract pays off. The DirecTV folks are obviously betting that switching to their service on account of their near-monopoly on national baseball will mean new customers who will have to depend on DirecTV for all their television needs. But if customers are dissatisfied with the quality and reliability of Direct TV in the first place, will they really mortgage their entire home entertainment experience on a inferior service, especially if they have already invested time and energy in trying out both services?

Ms. Mullen links to Daily News columnist Bob Raissman, who gives his strongly-worded and apparently weekly "Dweeb of the Week" award to the MLB. Here's what he says:

Dweeb of the Week
Major League Baseball
For continuing to negotiate a deal that will pull its "Extra Innings" package off cable and make it exclusive property of DirecTV. While MLB's intent is to extract more dough from a satellite provider, any move off cable will shaft loyal fans who subscribed to "Extra Innings." Also, it is likely "Extra Innings" on cable reached a broader fan base than it will on DirecTV. This is just another example of MLB saying it is working in the best interest of fans before turning around and selling them out.

I see this first as a betrayal of trust, and second as a wrongheaded economic decision that hurts the game. It also, I would argue, goes against the clubs' and players' interest. Again, its a naive viewpoint maybe, but along with Jazz and some other thing I can't remember, baseball is one of America's three contributions to Western Civilization. It is shameful that the MLB feels that a fanbase who suffered work stoppages and steroid scandals will just keep saying thank you sir, may i have another. We are viewed, mostly correctly, as having elastic preferences such that we will pay any price for access. It does seem that fans, even Boston Bruin fans, generally put up with major league extortion to a certain point. The extortion is both obvious (outrageous ticket prices, food price gauging at the stadium, playoff ticket prices and availability) and subtle (raising the price of parking at Dodgers Stadium so that the inflation rate resembles the economies of some post-cold war eastern European states, shrinking the size of new baseball parks in the name of "intimacy" and "ammenity," so that corporate fat cats are the main customer and the effect of ticket demand can support future ticket price hikes).

However this approach has its limits. Whether you are a Marxist paranoid or a capitalist stooge, it will eventually dawn upon you that your preferences, as the customer, are not foremost in the minds of these greedy bastards. Nothing lasts forever, MLB, just look at the NHL. I remember the delight I felt when ESPN and ESPN two started their national broadcast of NHL, but look where the NHL is now, if you even care. Fans will not stick with a sport forever, and most Americans find baseball "boring" like they once found hockey "uninteresting" or "Canadian." So the picture may seem rosy and the present popularity of baseball a ripe environment for locking in your advantages, but the NFL and NBA are far more popular, and in some senses, better run businesses. In this so-called long tail media environment, fans have so many choices, and only have so many dollars to throw at sports. So why give them excuses to turn away in droves?

As for the Mets club specifically, Mr. Wilpon, your team is finally showing signs of being managed competently, has young bankable stars, great team chemistry, players exciting enough to be potential national stars, how do you feel about this deal? Picture the young Southern California potential fan, he or she won't know who Jose Reyes is, much less beg the folks to drop a couple hundred on a shamelessly over priced "official" jersey. And hey, David Wright's agent, how is this deal going to affect the national marketing of your wonderboy? You know how athletes become household names and valuable advertising commodities? Me neither, but I bet it has something to do with whether or not a fan can watch them play.

What to do?

It would be nice to get more journalist's support on this issue, in addition to the aforementioned Sandomir, Raissman, and also John Donovan (I'm talking to you, Mets beat writers from "populist" tabloids). These are the folks who not only have the wide media access, but also deal with the MLB on a day to day basis, so know how to communicate with the suits in ways Joe and Jane fan or Jimmy-Blogger have no access to. Of course, it would be even nicer if they would break ranks and provide us with some the emails of MLB movers and shakers--means of getting the consumer message across when snail mail is so inefficient and calls will just lead to frustration and heart problems--but for now the info that John Donovan provides will have to do.

1) write a letter:
Office of the Commissioner
Major League Baseball
245 Park Avenue, 31st Floor
New York, NY 10167

2) make a call:
Office of Commissioner (212) 931-7800
MLB's customer "service" (866) 800-1275

[by the way, when will modern companies realize that consumers realize why they lack public toll-free numbers, and will punish the companies accordingly? Making us pay to call you isn't service, pal, it just shows that you don't really care. You can afford a few operators.]

3). Donovan also recommends hitting the Mets:

You can also call or write your local team. Here are those addresses. You can e-mail your local team at (Replace teamname with your local team name. Get it?)

4) Go all government on the MLB, and remind the Commish of how he must have squirmed watching Sammy Sosa forget English and Mark McGuire cowering like Roid-Jello in publicly

Donovan's advice:

And if you want to go above baseball's head, you can voice your concerns right to Congress. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is the new head of the Senate Judiciary Committee. You can contact him here: The former chairman, now the ranking member on the committee, is Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.). Contact him here.

As for ideas of how to follow the Mets and still boycott MLB, I have none, but, to paraphrase Dick Cheney, it won't stop me.


Looking for an holiday experience more terrifying for children than the Benson's turn as Mets clubhouse Santa? Look no further than Tommy Lasorda's blog. Suprise: the guy almost has more honorary doctorates than restaurant recommendations!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

when mets fans attack!

Mets fans gone wild!

By now, you may have read about the 18 year old who used a fake press pass to get into the Mets visitor's clubhouse. Just another young man trying to get close to Mike Piazza, right? No there's more: Jay Horwitz demonstrated the Met's tough stance on this kind of crime, saying of the second degree criminal impersonation charges “This is a message to anyone who thinks the can impersonate a press person and sneak in.” Hmm…impersonating a journalist, huh? What terrible punishments will the Mets bring to bear on some of the other beat writers?

What's the deal with Wallace?

Speaking of impersonating journalists, Wallace Matthews' latest whack job is up and running on the internets. This time, he hates the Mets because they won’t pay Willie, a real non-issue, since minutes later, they did pay Willie. Lighten up Wally, we're laughing at you not with you, plus you're ruining complaining for the rest of us.

Matthew Cerrone is politely baffled by the latest salvo, but what I'd like to see is a steel cage match between pseudo-journalist, Met-hater Wall-ass and curmudgeonly mailbag-master, Met fan-hater Marty Noble. My money is on Noble; he's just more vicious.

Marty Noble VS.

Join me in boycotting the MLB

"what's that?" You heard me bitch.

My MLB boycott is in its 5th or 6th day, I forgot. I refuse to visit their website, or give two shits about spring training ticket packages, and if any one asks, I am exploring my other professional athletic options. I must say, the NFL was hella interesting this weekend. Those yellow All-Star shirts were fucking assy. I will add some more depth to my boycott, as soon as I get over the shock of Bud Selig absolutely screwing millions of out of town fans and other passionate baseball lovers by reportedly yanking the "Extra Innings" package off of cable.

Fear me MLB, as I bring the awesome power of the internet to bear on your trembling interns.

Or something.

Paul Lo Duca also to miss time at beginning of season

Mets first baseman and player-who-can-do-whatever-the-fuck-he-wants-because-did-you-see-his-postseason-production Carlos Delgado told a Puerto Rican newspaper that he may miss time at the start of the season because his wife is due to give birth around that time. Not to be outdone, Mets starting catcher, Paul "Captain Red Ass" LoDuca announced that he would be missing a few days on account of delivering a food baby.

Saturday, January 20, 2007


If this morning 's report in the New York Times is correct, then there are dark days ahead for out-of-town Mets fans, not to mention all baseball lovers. Richard Sandomir is reporting that MLB is on the cusp of signing over exclusive rights to the lifeblood of baseball, the "Extra-Innings" package to Direct TV, a satellite dish provider, for $700 million for 7 years. This means that those of us without dishes are screwed. That would be me--my apartment complex will not allow me to install a dish so I can only get cable. It also means that the only way for dishless to see out of market games is to pony up for MLB's spotty service--those without broadband are totally screwed. That would be me again.

I don't have to explain how devastating this news is. No Mets for me.

If the numbers in the report are correct, I don't understand MLB's long range planning here. I only see that it is heartless and shortsighted. Direct TV is available to 15 million subscribers while in the past 75 million cable subscribers had access, in addition to the dish people. This is a major betrayal to a lot of people, particularly those who aren't just casual fans, but who are rabid enough to follow and inconveniently located team, and to enjoy access to all the other games too.

If this goes through, the brand is dead to me. It effectively "NHL's" the MLB.

Along with outrageous ticket and parking prices, this move adds to the exclusivity of the MLB experience. Beware the sage Yogi Berra who (paraphrased) warned that MLB could become a place that "Nobody goes anymore because it's too exclusive."

MLB's customer service number is 866-800-1275. If it is even in service, I urge all fans to give it a call and register their disappointment.

Below I reprint the details of the article:

Major League Baseball is close to announcing a deal that will place its Extra Innings package of out-of-market games exclusively on DirecTV, which will also become the only carrier of a long-planned 24-hour baseball channel.

Extra Innings has been available to 75 million cable households and the two satellite services, DirecTV and the Dish Network. But the new agreement will take it off cable and Dish because DirecTV has agreed to pay $700 million over seven years, according to three executives briefed on the details of the contract but not authorized to speak about them publicly.

InDemand, which has distributed Extra Innings to the cable television industry since 2002, made an estimated $70 million bid to renew its rights, more than triple what it has been paying. Part of its offer included the right to carry the new baseball channel, but not exclusively.
The baseball channel is scheduled to start in 2009.

M.L.B., DirecTV and InDemand officials declined to comment.

DirecTV is also the exclusive outlet for the N.F.L.’s Sunday Ticket package, for which it pays $700 million annually. Sunday Ticket has about 2 million subscribers; Extra Innings about 750,000, according to The Sports Business Journal.

Extra Innings lets subscribers, for a fee, watch about 60 games a week from other local markets except their own.

The only other way that fans without DirecTV will be able to see Extra Innings will be on’s service, but they must have high-speed broadband service. About 28 million homes have high-speed service, less than half the number of cable homes in the country. The picture quality of streamed games is not as good as what is available on cable or satellite.
DirecTV is available to about 15 million subscribers.

Last month, Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, who was then the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, cited DirecTV’s exclusivity with Sunday Ticket as a reason to strip the N.F.L. of an antitrust exemption to negotiate all TV contracts for its teams. Comcast, which has complained that it cannot carry Sunday Ticket, is a Philadelphia-based company.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

HOT STOVE Shoobie Doobie! (TM) "Make it Funky"

We all know Willy loves it when a reliever can bring the funk. But where are this year's funky fellas? Ya got me, unless Joe Smith is trying on the hot pants. What to make of the signing of Scott Schoeneweis? Well Willie is "more of a show me guy," at least when discounting a young pitcher's playoff performance (which one might imagine qualifies as "showing") as qualifying him for a rotation spot, so maybe that's what this is all about. Schoeneweis, Show. We need a nickname for this guy for sure, even before we understand why exactly he was signed.
If he performs at the beginning of the season, maybe "The Show," like a wrestler.
Showsie. If he was a hockey player.
I dunno.
(sidenote: Ambiorix Burgos=Burgy? Amby? Amburgie?)

"Honor" the Duaner, perhaps the best nicknamed relief pitcher in Mets history, (especially if you count the possibilities of "Dirty" Sanchez) is back in the fold. Insert taxi joke here.

Peter Abraham sheds some possible light on dishonorably discharged ex-Met, klansman-looking, soon-to-be-journey man pitcher John Thomson 's outburst upon signing with the witness protection AL East Blue Jays:

"Thomson also celebrated his new deal by criticizing Cliff Floyd.
"He can hit the ball, but as far as defense, he's a little shaky," Thomson said.
Lo Duca could not be reached for comment. Thomson's anger could be related to a 1-0 loss he suffered against the Mets last April 29, when he was pitching for the Braves. Lo Duca won that game with a home run off him.
Floyd made a diving catch in that game to save a run.

Most Metsfans first thought is, "who?", followed quickly by "Omar was trying to sign that hick?" Maybe he has a teenage daughter he is protecting?

With this, Thomson comes in near the top of the "Top Bizzarely Unnecessary or Counterproductive Organizational or Employee Putdowns of the Mets" list, which off the top of my head, looks something like this...

1) Traitor Al Leiter (Immediately disuading Delgado from signing in NY by describing the media pressure: "It just chip, chip, chip, chips away at your resolve, cracking away your protective toughness”)
2) Rey Ordonez (Ordonez to Metsfans: "You're stupid")
3) John Rocker
4) Doug Mientkiewicz
5) Anna Benson
6) Carlos Delgado (I blame Sloane)
7.) John Thompson

Unassigned Reading file: An interesting article on the recent struggles of Taiwanese baseball

According to Wikipedia, Mr. Benson DID cheat on Anna after her "sleep with the whole team" pledge! That's funny. I guess I knew there was a reason for them going though the motions about the divorce in 2006, but I never put it all together like this. Apparently the Daily News reported this at some point. Ah on second thought, I don't care.
This blog is meant completely and entirely in jest, unless you count the angst, and is not meant to offend anyone, unless you are a Br*ves fan. It's not affiliated with Sterling, the Mets, common sense, good taste, or anything really.