Friday, June 08, 2007

Mets-Phils: Inside Access

So last night I attended my first MLB game as a member of the press with all the luxuries afforded to person who covers the team. I basically spent all of pregame in the Phillies locker room and all of postgame in the Mets digs. It's too bad Metro New York didn't actually let me cover the game since it went to extras after Pat "I strike out every other at bat" Burrell hit a bomb off Mets closer Billy Wagner in the top of the ninth to tie the game. The game also featured back-to-back-to-back homers by the Mets courtesy of Delgado, Wright, and Lo Duca (in that order). But Randy once told me that the best blogs involve me letting everyone know the juicy tidbits that only a reporter actually gets to see, so I figured I'd share some funny moments from the locker rooms:

-When I walked into the Phillies' locker room at around 345ish, their front office brass were on TV for the MLB Draft that was going on at the time. A bunch of the guys were huddled around the TV awaiting the selection. And as the Phils were on the clock, Chase Utley just blurted out, "I hope they choose an asshole so we can get rid of Myers (he was referring to injured closer Brett Myers). Everyone in the room had a good laugh, even Myers. But then Shane Victorino decided to take the joke a step further and yelled over the din, "I hope they choose a fag so we can get rid of Hamels." Seriously, no one in the room laughed and Victorino looked like an idiot. I was biting my tongue because I wanted to laugh but felt like I couldn't.

-I may have found someone who deposed David DeJesus as not only my favorite center fielder in the big leagues, but also just my favorite player. See, the reason I was at the game was to collect quotes about the Subway Series that is coming up next weekend, so I was in the Phils' locker room to get some opinions on it. I talked to Aaron Rowand for literally like 20 minutes and he gave me some great quotes. The guy has a great baseball mind. And then after the interview we talked Big Ten football for awhile.

-Back when I worked for Bowie a few summers ago, Ryan Howard was still in the minors. And the year prior to working at Bowie he participated in the Home Run Derby for AA that took place at Bowie's stadium. Now if you remember from last year's MLB Home Run Derby, Howard absolutely demolished the competition and just crushed the ball all night. Well a few summers back in the AA Home Run Derby, Howard had just one homer. So to spark conversation with the reigning NL MVP I brought it up in a good natured kind of way. He started blaming the pitching coach who was throwing that night and then he said the balls were screwy or something. I responded by telling him "Sounds like a bunch of excuses" (it's on tape, I swear, and he didn't rip my head off because I said it kiddingly). Howard of course responded, "I think you saw last year (at the MLB Home Run Derby) what i can do when they throw the ball straight.

I made fun of Ryan Howard about his Reading Phillies career. I'd say that took some balls.

-Here's the thing about Major League locker rooms: These guys are so sick and tired of the daily media onslaught. I actually feel bad for some of these guys, especially players in New York. But I'm sure you know about all the cliche bullshit they spout out everyday and usually I hate it. But I sort of understand where they are coming from. Assholes like myself, while necessary, are really just gnats that these guys have to deal with all summer long. But in the end, I bet they miss all the adulation from the media when they retire.

-Talked to Chase Utley, but he was pretty boring. He didn't really have much to say although he seemed like a pretty nice guy. Judging from him making fun of Myers earlier, I'm guessing he's one of those guys who just doesn't say much to the media.

-Charlie Manuel is extremely hard to understand. He's got this southern twang, but it's more just the fact that he doesn't actually know how to pronounce certain words and he's got a lisp. In the game last night he got thrown out after the umps gave David Wright a homer even though it wasn't originally ruled as such. As it was going on, I turned to the other guy there from Metro and sad, "I don't even think the umpire understands what he's saying right now. He's probably just waiting until Charlie's face gets so red that he's gotta believe there's some sort of insult involved or else he wouldn't be so red."

-The fan in me wanted to talk to Davey Lopes (He's the Phils' first base coach) about coaching in DC last year for the Nats. I didn't though

-It has been documented before, but if you didn't know, Antonio Alfonseca has a sixth finger on his right pitching hand. And by sixth finger, I mean a deformed nub that actually does have a fingernail on it. It's definitely not the same size as his other five fingers, but I'd definitely classify the nub as a legit sixth finger. I tried my best to stare at it for awhile without him realizing. He was busy doing Sudoku.

You can't see his thumb but this is definitely a clear view of the sixth finger/nub

-When I found out I would be going to the Mets game, I decided not to eat until I got to Shea because I figured the media would have free food, which is pretty common wherever you go for games, regardless of the league. And since I'm on a limited budget here in NYC, this seemed perfect. Well to my dismay, the Mets charge $8.75 for the media to eat at the games. And since I was so hungry from starving myself, I had to fork over the bills. It sucked.

-After the game I went to the Mets locker room to get some quotes. It was pretty tough, especially trying to get Subway Series quotes since the team had just blown a late lead and lost it in the 10th.

-I seriously thought Carlos Beltran was going to rip my head off. And by rip my head off, I mean rip my head off. I was trying to get an interview with him before the NY media mob encircled him, so I could ask him these Subway Series questions. He was sitting in front of his locker with shirt and pants on and wasn't really doing anything. So I go up to him and ask, "Hey Carlos can I get you for a minute." He responded sternly and scarily, "Please let me get dressed, then I will talk!" Being the novice that I am, I backed off for fear of the mole on the side of his head attacking me. And I didn't get to talk to him until all of the rest of the assembled media came in and circled him. I figure I can solace in the fact that Carlos probably would have given me some ho hum answers given the way he answered questions about the game. He was giving the classic "we win as a team, lose as a team" theory over and over again. Afterwards I went up to him and apologized, saying it was my first day. He smiled and gave me a "don't worry about it". So I'm hopefully off his shit list now.

Look at that thing. It's HUGE! Glad it didn't eat me.

-The best/nicest player in the Mets' locker room was Billy Wagner. After talking to the massive media collection (it is NY), I approached trying to get some one-on-one time. And to my surprise he obliged and even gave me the Subway Series quote I wanted/needed so badly. All this after blowing a save. Class act.

All in all a very awesome experience. I mean it's not everyday you get to talk to Major League Baseball players. Now if I can just convince this newspaper to give me a chance and let me write I'll be in business. Oh yeah, so I was planning on picking up this second job promoting comedy clubs on the street, you know, to earn some extra cash. But I had a revelation last night/this morning: Fuck it, it's not often you're in a city like New York with few responsibilities and why be stuck with a job where you essentially have to hassle people into buying something. I'll pick up money where I can (hopefully I'll find some easy temp jobs or something). And if I don't, I'm guessing mom/dad will help me out. Hey it means more time for blogging, too.

God, that sounds so Potomac of me, but whatever.

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