Monday, September 24, 2018

Amaze: We’re Gonna Win The Series


I know that I write about the Mets way too often, most recently a few weeks ago, but whether they are good or bad, they have long been an important part of my life. In fact, I’ll be going to an otherwise meaningless game later this week, with my wife, son, daughter-in-law, and her parents (giving me yet another opportunity to mention that English lacks a word for your child’s in-laws, which at least Yiddish and Spanish do), because it is likely to be the last game that David Wright will play in. It tells you something about the Mets that Wright, probably the greatest non-pitcher in team history, is probably not even a Hall of Famer, but he was a great player for the Mets for a long time, until a series of debilitating injuries essentially ended his career in 2016. He has fought back to be able to have a cameo at the end of an otherwise forgettable season, and it will be a very emotional game for us. Wright, who never played for any other organization, and grew up a fan of the team, has been a great servant to the Mets, as the English football commentators say.

In addition to watching the team most nights, at least for some of the game, for the past year or so I have been privileged to have assisted my friend Wayne Coffey, a sportswriter generally referred to as “award winning” or “New York Times bestselling,” who has been writing a book about the 1969 Mets. As good a writer as Wayne is, and he is a very good one, he is an even better person. The book, They Said It Couldn’t Be Done, is coming out next March, keyed to the 50th anniversary of the team, dubbed the “Amazing Mets,” winning the World Series. You can order the book here.

Wayne did all of the hard work, doing the research and the writing, while I’ve been a sounding board (I’m pretty sure the title was my idea, but it is hard to remember), I’ve connected him to people to interview, and most interestingly for me, I’ve reviewed many drafts, from early to pretty much final, making all sorts of suggestions, and occasionally doing research, some of which actually made the book. As an amateur writer, it has been really fun to see how the pros do it, to get a peek behind the curtain at the process of writing what I hope will be another New York Times bestseller. So, I can tell you, from having read the thing many, many times, that it is very, very good. Did I mention that you can order the book here?

My involvement with the book has also been a great opportunity to reconnect with Wayne, who used to live across the street, but moved to the next town, making our connection somewhat more tenuous. The period of working on the book has coincided with Wayne’s younger daughter, an amazing soccer player (and an incredible young woman), attempting to make the United States Under 20 Women’s World Cup Team, and just falling short. The team disappointingly (maybe not to everyone….) crashed out of the tournament much earlier than expected, in part because it lacked certain qualities that Wayne’s daughter has in abundance. As I write this piece, she is currently leading NCAA Division I in assists and is in the top 10 in total points (and yesterday, her team defeated the No.7 team in the country). So, maybe the U.S. coaches made a mistake. I’ve watched her play for the National Team and for her college, and then Wayne and I discuss the games, adding to our connection.

One thing that Wayne was adamant about was not to use the word Amazing (or Amazin’) or Miracle in the title of the Mets book, because that team won because they were very good, and deserved to win, not because of some miracle (although Wayne and I disagree about what does constitute a miracle). Using those words are easy clichés, and Wayne’s book is more than just a rote recounting of the season. Maybe it is also because the Mets were originally dubbed “Amazing” by their first manager, Casey Stengel, when they were one of the worst teams in the long history of baseball, and Casey’s diverting circumlocutions known as “Stengelese” distracted from the bad play. So, why would you want to connect an excellent baseball team with a mocking superlative?

But you cannot argue that the Mets were World Champs in 1969. As Casey would say, “you could look it up.” And, for some reason, someone convinced the members of the team, and their coaches, to record an album the day after they clinched the National League East championship. The night before, the team was drinking champagne in the locker room, as you can see here and here. And who knows what they did after the cameras stopped rolling and they headed out into the night. But record an album they did. It’s a bunch of standards, mostly rewritten to relate to the Mets, and is very silly, but not terrible. As was the fact that the album cover billed the performers by their legal names, such as Darrell Harrelson, Frank McGraw, and Lawrence Berra, better known, of course, as Bud, Tug, and Yogi.

Our featured song is a rockin’ and prophetic “We’re Gonna Win The Series,” set to the song “Kansas City,” by Lieber & Stoller, first made famous by Wilbert Harrison, and covered by pretty much everyone. (And unrelated to the fact that the Kansas City Royals beat the Mets in the 2015 World Series, much to my chagrin).

Shortly after winning the Series, the team assembled on the Ed Sullivan Show to sing “Heart,” (from the musical Damn Yankees, a sentiment I utterly agree with) mostly looking young, earnest, and uncomfortable, except for a couple of the jokers (I'm looking at you, Frank McGraw), and a very unhappy looking Nolan Ryan. As Casey would have said, “Amazin’, Amazin’, Amazin, Amazin’….

blog comments powered by Disqus