Sunday, October 31, 2010

Guest Post - Review of The Last Play At Shea

Editor's Note: I have not seen The Last Play At Shea myself. I wasn't at the concerts at Shea in 2008, for which I regret not going, and I wasn't at Citi Field for the premiere of the movie in 2010, for which I regret not going. I've missed it in the theaters too, another regret. But I was lucky enough to be approached by my friend, let's call her "Coop", best known for her work on the Mets themed blog My Summer Family and her contributions to Metsmerized Online, asking if she could write a review of The Last Play At Shea for my blog. So here is Coop's review...

Let It Be

Those of who know The Coop know that she never hides her feelings, never minces her words and is never afraid to admit she's made a mistake. And here – thanks to DyHrdMet's generous offer to have me jump into the booth here at Remembering Shea from time to time a la Ralph Kiner – I have an admission for you all.

I never attended a music concert at Shea Stadium.

That may not be a big deal. After all, my father raised me on two things: music and the Mets, which shaped a lot of my personality today. When I was 7 years old, I was introduced to two of my true loves: the Mets and Duran Duran. Anyhow, my dad claims he never went to a rock concert at Shea Stadium either (well, as he claims, at least he doesn't "remember" – and if you "remember" it you really weren't there but that's besides the point).

However, I had plenty of opportunity to have done so. I was invited to see Bruce Springsteen in 2003, but I had just seen him at Giants Stadium so I passed. In 2008, when Billy Joel announced the last shows there, I was nonplussed. I am not a Billy Joel fan, but I don't dislike him. I probably know most of his songs, even lesser known quantities that weren't played on the radio. I wouldn't say that I was exactly dying to see him live. The so-called "Last Play at Shea" was horribly mismatched. Why get Billy Joel, a Yankee fan, to close out MY favorite baseball team's home? I thought they could do better, but I was proven wrong seeing this movie. Potentially, my biggest regret is never having seen a rock concert at Shea, but most importantly, not seeing Billy Joel due to my stubborn shortsightedness.

That's the backdrop.

So at this point I've seen the documentary Last Play at Shea twice. Those of you who are looking for a Mets documentary will be disappointed. Those of you looking for a documentary on rock concerts at Shea will be as well. While the backdrop of the movie was Billy Joel's last shows at Shea Stadium, there is a heavy concentration of Joel's career and lifespan, but that in and of itself isn't the movie. Those who are looking for a history of New York, how Shea Stadium came to be and how it tied in to how the Mets were born and how rock concerts became a mainstay of Shea Stadium…that is the story. So in effect, it's an obituary to a stadium we loved so much, a home that we probably can replay each nook and cranny in our mind's eye, and a place I took very much for granted even to this day.

No matter what your reasoning for seeing the film, whether it's to see old concert footage from the Beatles, or Billy Joel or seeing the great days of the Mets, I don't think you'll dislike it. There are many underlying themes here. I swear I will bring them all together.

One is the history lesson. Billy Joel called Shea Stadium where "New York meets Long Island." Literally, Shea was in New York City, but geographically, it was on Long Island. There are many historical and symbolic themes in the documentary.

One is Robert Moses, the man almost solely responsible for the landscape and infrastructure of Greater New York and Long Island specifically. No documentary about the Mets would be complete without a reference to Brooklyn Dodgers leaving town. However, the tie-in to Moses is that the Dodgers wanted clearance to build a stadium in Downtown Brooklyn; Moses declined, and offered them a plot in what we now know as Willets Point. As history has it, the Dodgers left for the West Coast. But Moses still wanted that stadium built. Bill Shea made a few phone calls and got a team to fill it, the team we know as the New York Metropolitans.

The other story is the real-life lesson. The element of irony here is that we all know Billy Joel as a kid from Levittown, the ‘burbs, which Moses was responsible for providing the infrastructure behind. In fact, I doubt anyone would disagree that if Billy Joel was just some kid from the Bronx, we wouldn't have all the art he created today. However, Joel was also uprooted from his family home in the Bronx due to a freeway Moses himself was responsible for building.

So like the landscape of greater New York, the Mets' birth and the root of who Billy Joel is, was indirectly and directly shaped by Robert Moses, the Power Broker himself.

As a result, the Mets themselves and Billy Joel's existence really paralleled one another. The Mets were new and coming into their own, and Billy Joel was making his mark as a musician in the ‘60s. The Mets were floundering in the ‘70s, and Joel was trying to get out of bad record deals. The Mets had a heyday in the ‘80s, and Joel became the pop star most of us know him to be.

What's more is that the Mets really tied into the history of New York City. I remember reading a while back that the reason why New York City fell into fiscal ruin in the ‘70s was years and years of Moses' policies of getting the blue collar and middle class out of the city and into the suburbs, yanking out that income that was pumped into the economy. When the Dodgers and Giants left in the ‘50s, that took out a lot of money out of the city's hands that was still very much felt in the ‘70s. Look at the Mets: they were broke, Shea was falling apart as was the team. New York City started to enjoy a renaissance with the greed-is-good and drugs-are-better era in the ‘80s, as did the Mets. Baseball became a stay of normalcy after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and then came full circle in 2008.

The main character of the Last Play at Shea was the last part of that title. This was a movie about how Shea Stadium meant to volumes of people, from Mets fans, to music fans, to Pete Flynn (the head groundskeeper at Shea who figures prominently in the film), to even musicians themselves. Gordon Sumner, aka Sting from the Police, reportedly decided on stage at Shea Stadium that he was leaving the band, that he wouldn't top it.

To those of us who were intimately involved with Shea Stadium, many of us would agree with Darryl Strawberry's sentiment, "It was a dump, but it was our dump." During the last concerts at Shea though, the idea that Robert Moses had to build the Colosseum of Rome in the middle of Flushing, Queens, certainly resonated. With the lights out, and the only thing illuminating were the screens in the background of Billy Joel's show and the lights in the corridors provided the backdrop of something that was lost. Shea Stadium WAS a work of art. Those who graced her fields were artists to an extent. All that time, I was certainly one that took it for granted. If anything, this picture was so lovely to see Shea again in all her glory.

One of my biggest regrets in life was to have never attended a rock concert at Shea Stadium. I do know that I have it better than most: some have never attended a playoff game, or a World Series game, or even the last baseball game ever at Shea Stadium. That, to me, is absolute music. When I find myself in times of trouble, as Paul McCartney sang to close out the park, Shea Stadium is what brings me back to my happy place. And I'm certain those of you who follow this site know that to be a fact.

Coop, thanks for writing this review

Leave a comment or drop me a line at DyHrdMET [at] gmail [dot] com.
"Like" RememberingShea on Facebook (the function formerly known as "Becoming a Fan").
Become a Networked Blog

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Dream Has Come True

And following up on the very short post from 2 days ago, this is what I wrote a year ago today. So much joy in the voice of Bob Murphy. Next year, I'll watch the entire series on DVD.

Leave a comment or drop me a line at DyHrdMET [at] gmail [dot] com. "Like" RememberingShea on Facebook (the function formerly known as "Becoming a Fan"). Become a Networked Blog

Monday, October 25, 2010

A little roller...

24 years ago today. This is what I wrote last year. Next year on this date, I break out the DVD collection.

Leave a comment or drop me a line at DyHrdMET [at] gmail [dot] com. "Like" RememberingShea on Facebook (the function formerly known as "Becoming a Fan"). Become a Networked Blog

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The GM Search

The Mets are looking for a new GM. I really haven't paid attention to this at all. I don't know who these guys are, or who is the best candidate. I've just quickly glanced at to see reports of various interviews. But here's an idea in this, blog post #401.

Have the candidates debate the issues. Get a panel of noted Mets fans, announcers, and beat writers asking questions of the potential GMs, set it in an open forum and show it on SNY and SNY.TV (heck, even on, and let's see who comes out the best. Maybe it will keep the Wilpons from hiring the wrong guy when they find out that he folds under pressure and attacks a beat writer. The fans could gain confidence in the "winner" of the debate, assuming that he/she's the one given the job, or the fans could bypass the time of false hope if the "loser" of the debate is hired. It'll make for a good alternative to watching the Yankees and Phillies in the only baseball games being played next week.

Leave a comment or drop me a line at DyHrdMET [at] gmail [dot] com. "Like" RememberingShea on Facebook (the function formerly known as "Becoming a Fan"). Become a Networked Blog

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The season is over for the New York Mets

For good or bad, the 2010 Mets season is officially over. There are no more games to be played. They lost more than they won. Again. It's time to do what some have been doing for a few weeks already, and that is to start to evaluate what went right and what went wrong over the past 6 months and the past 6 seasons.

It's also time to start looking at what potential changes need to be made, and included in that, what to do with the manager and general manager jobs. Then beyond that, what to do about the dead weight and the players (and coaches) whose contracts expire at the end of the season or who have options or arbitration coming that need to be decided on for 2011. Then there is the list of needs and the list of free agents and the players that are tradeable and what they could possibly get in return. Then there are the prospects that deserve at least a look in Spring Training, including some of those that may have had that opportunity during September Training.

And hopefully, most of that can be done in parallel and not in a particular order, aside from deciding the futures of Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel (which we expect to hear about before Monday night, and if not that soon, within the week).

For me, I don't think it's right for either of them to be back next season. Neither is a bad person, but they've both made mistakes that led to the team's overall record not being as good as it could have been. Omar also made some mistakes in handing certain situations that have to go as black marks against him.

As a fan, I'm tired of inconsistent and losing baseball. It's not just this era (since 2005). In my 24 seasons following Mets baseball, it's been up then down and up then down, and so on, with the downs much longer than the ups. And it's all been without a championship team. If the Mets don't win it all next year, they will have gone exactly half of their existence without winning a World Series. I'm tired of trying to figure out what they need to do (aside from saying they need to make changes). I'm tired of hearing the same shtick (excuses and promises) over and over again from ownership. I'm tired of hearing things get reported about people's fate before those people hear it and before it becomes official. I'm tired of the heartbreak that happens during a season. I'm tired of looking at the hot stove league and seeing game-changing players that the Mets are just watching them go by while the Mets can only focus on one player at a time. I'm tired of seeing high prices for bad-view seats at Citi Field while there isn't wise spending of my money of the product.

For me, I think it's time for an overall change in direction for the Mets. And I've been saying it for some time. I'd like to change ownership, but maybe it's just the need for those in ownership to change how they behave. Get someone smart to run the baseball operations (I really don't know who that is), and leave that person alone and trust him to make the baseball decisions. ALL OF THEM. Get someone who can get the players motivated to play and to learn how to win. Get several of these players to manage at all different levels. I think that needs to be taught to a lot, if not all of the players on the club (both now and future). And leave these guys alone to do what they think best for making decisions for his club. If at any point it's clear that any of these guys aren't doing their jobs well, and that ownership doesn't trust them to do it right, fire them. Don't let them linger making the "wrong" decisions because that only hurts the club, sinking them deeper into a hole that ultimately has to be dug out of. And don't try to sugarcoat it. Be honest with the fans about what the plan is. Ownership may be signing the checks, but we supply part of the money used to back those checks. You don't want to lose us - you actually need to win us back.

I'm tired of not winning, and that needs to be fixed, before I get tired of going to games period. I'm tired of hearing how to fix this team. I'm tired of saying this every year. Just do it (yes, I know they can't actually do that today, and to some extent, they can't do it until the end of the World Series). Ownership should put a plan in place, execute it, and make us trust it. And remember. We're not stupid, so it has to be real. If you say that a few little things will fix it, I won't believe you. It didn't work after 2007. It didn't work after 2008. It didn't work after 2009. And after see how it failed, I see no reason why it should work after 2010. So don't try to sell it like that. To fix things, it will take some time.

If you're not sure of some of what I'm talking about, go back to the video tape of today's game to what Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling, Kevin Burkhardt, and Ralph Kiner said during the game today (especially the later innings).

Leave a comment or drop me a line at DyHrdMET [at] gmail [dot] com. "Like" RememberingShea on Facebook (the function formerly known as "Becoming a Fan"). Become a Networked Blog

It was a Beautiful Day for Gary, Keith, and Ron

I've been posting more on the Facebook page for this blog than I have on the actual blog. And I did it again last night, and again today with photos.

For those that don't follow the site on facebook, you should. In any event, here are my photos from the day. I couldn't see a way to embed a Facebook photo album as a slideshow on a webpage, but Webshots can do it.

Just to recap briefly. The weather was beautiful. The Mets won. And in between, I got to see some of the friends I've made over the past 2 seasons through the self-sustained social network of Mets fans known as blogging.
  • Gary Cohen and Ron Darling came out to sign autographs for the group. Mets catcher Josh Thole also came down to sign.
  • The GKR group had t-shirts, sweatshirts, and even sweatpants for sale (among a few other things), where I purchased two different shirts of the new neon GKR design (really cool - one in Mets blue and one in black with long sleeves).
  • They had their big raffle for a chance to win one of 100 gift baskets. I didn't win one this year, but I did last year and they're all pretty nice.
  • They had scratch off tickets where every ticket gives you something. I played several times and game home with things like a Seton Hall Men's Basketball prize pack (which is good because it went to a long time Seton Hall fan - and if you didn't know, Gary Cohen calls play-by-play for Seton Hall on the radio) and a key chain of the Shea Scoreboard Skyline (one of my favorite items from Shea). I also won a GKR cookbook.
  • We got to go onto the warning track for the National Anthem. That's always cool. I'd say I saw myself on the video screen except that it was hard to see it looking high up when you're that close (I was standing pretty close to CF).
  • Kevin Burkhardt was hanging around the party area, posing for pictures and signing a few autographs. His son celebrated a birthday by joining the group on the warning track and he's at the age where he can run around the party area and it looks cute. He even sold me on buying one more scratch off ticket. Lynn Cohen (the group's organizer) brought out a cake for him to the CF seats and had those of us in the area sing to him.
And this recap wouldn't be right if I didn't do these two things. First, go to or, not only to see their recap, video and/or photos (which I'm sure will be there soon) from the day, but to take a look at what they do and buy merchandise. The other is to say a big THANK YOU to Lynn Cohen and the GKR elves (lots of helpers - that's what they're called on their t-shirts) for putting this together. Everything on Saturday was great. It's such a great way to end the season as a group. These are all Mets fans doing something good.

Leave a comment or drop me a line at DyHrdMET [at] gmail [dot] com. "Like" RememberingShea on Facebook (the function formerly known as "Becoming a Fan"). Become a Networked Blog

Oliver Perez and what he does to keep busy during a game

I want to share something funny with you that I noticed during the game today. I spent some time down in the Citi Field picnic area at the GKR event today. And this picnic area is situated right behind the 2 teams' bullpens. Right where, through 2 fences, the fans can see right into the back of the Mets bullpen. It doesn't quite translate onto film with the fences in the way, but it is visible.

Anyway, on more than one occasion during the game, and I forget if this was in between innings or during play (I doubt that it was the latter), I saw one Oliver Perez, in uniform as if he were an active player, get up, walk out of the little clubhouse-like structure in the bullpen, walk out the back of the bullpen itself (which I think a player would have to do in order to get to the clubhouse), and come around between the 2 fences into the tunnelish area between the back of the picnic area (where the tables are) and the front of the backside of the bullpens, and look at the fans that were looking back at him.

I couldn't see if there was any type of stretching and it didn't look like there was any type of medical work going on as he was alone. It was more like Ollie was an animal in the zoo poking its head out from underground to get sunlight and look at the people that are there to view it. He'd come out, I think maybe up to the fence for the picnic area. I don't think he was there for very long, and then he'd go back into the bullpen house where he and others from the bullpen club not doing anything would sit. And maybe 1 inning, maybe 2 innings later, he'd come out and do it again. I have no idea what he was doing out there.

Leave a comment or drop me a line at DyHrdMET [at] gmail [dot] com. "Like" RememberingShea on Facebook (the function formerly known as "Becoming a Fan"). Become a Networked Blog

Friday, October 1, 2010

I'll be going to the game on Saturday

On Saturday I will out at Citi Field as part of the Gary Keith and Ron (a.k.a. Pitch In For A Good Cause) group. By now, I shouldn't have to introduce you to them. It's a good group. A good cause that good Mets fans can rally around. Being with a group like this is a good way to end a season.

Anyway, follow me throughout the day at on facebook at and my mobile pictures page.

You know what would be really cool? If the real Gary, Keith, and Ron wore t-shirts from the GKR collection.

Leave a comment or drop me a line at DyHrdMET [at] gmail [dot] com. "Like" RememberingShea on Facebook (the function formerly known as "Becoming a Fan"). Become a Networked Blog