How John Rocker helps me find my way to Flushing.
Back in the old days (10 years ago), I never could remember which train to take to get to Shea Stadium. It’s one of those things where you think you’ve got it memorized, but then in the year that passes between trips, inevitably, it fails to stick in the memory.
Then the 2000 offseason arrived. Braves pitcher John Rocker went on his now famous tirade to Sports Illustrated writer Jeff Pearlman about everything he didn’t like about New York. He was mean, bigoted, fierce…and, turns out, strangely helpful.
Obviously, I’m not condoning Rocker’s behavior, which I found offensive and deplorable, and embarrassing. But he started that famous line of hatred with “Imagine having to take the 7 Train to the ballpark…”
And from then on, I never forgot which train to take to Shea. All thanks to Rocker, who was rightfully booed out of just about every ballpark he appeared in after his tirade and thankfully has been out of baseball for years.
But he did leave one lasting impression, inadvertently so.
Trying to not lose my cell phone and coat while pulling my computer bag behind me was challenging enough, but at the same time, I also attempted to snap a couple of shots of the outside of Citi Field, the brand new home of the New York Mets. You can see MLB.com writer Brian McTaggart and radio announcer Brett Dolan in the shot, and you’ll notice they’re not waiting for me to catch up to them.
Inside, the ballpark is pretty impressive, and not just because anything would be a gigantic upgrade from the eyesore that was the old Shea Stadium. Citi Field has all the charm of a new ballpark — nice field and scoreboard, plush accommodations in the clubhouse and club levels — and overall, I give it a thumbs up, although I’ll spare you my whining about the ridiculous guessing game I had to play trying to get to the press box.
More random shots:
Dave Clark, who hopes to have a shot at the permanent manager’s job once the season ends, chats with pitching coach Dewey Robinson.
Chris Johnson says hello to Steve Sparks, who is filling in for Jim Deshaies in the TV booth this weekend.
I have no idea what Aaron Boooooone was doing in this shot but it always cracks me up that he cannot resist giving some kind of strange pose when there’s a camera around.
Hunter Pence grants a pregame interview to FS Houston’s Greg Lucas.
Roy Oswalt is one of the most bored men on earth right now. It’s one thing to be a starting pitcher with nothing to do for the four days in between starts. It’s quite another to be shut down for the year because of a bad back and having NOTHING to look forward to, other the pending opening of his new steakhouse this fall.
You’ve heard us talk/write plenty about Assistant GM Bobby Heck, who was brought on staff a couple of years ago to take over the Astros’ scouting department. Now you know what he looks like. That’s him on the right, talking to TV announcer Bill Brown.
From the Twitter files:
Why is Blum still starting over Chris Johnson? I can see Tejada over Manzella, he has a shot at 200 hits. But Blum? Really?
I’ll be honest — I have no idea. These days, when I post the lineup on Twitter, I cringe, because I know I’m about to be hit with a stream of responses wondering why the kids aren’t playing.
I understand that Dave Clark wants to give Tejada every chance to reach 200 hits on the year, and I grudgingly agree.
I’m not suggesting Clark bench the veterans indefinitely. But in a three-game series, I see nothing wrong with simply mixing in Tommy Manzella or Chris Johnson or Edwin Maysonet for just a game here and there.
The current regular Astros lineup has contributed to a likely fifth-place finish. I seriously doubt one or two kids are going to mess up that chemistry.
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