Sunday, December 15, 2013

Tom Seaver, The Christmas Season, Elmo and Buzz Lightyear, and NYC.

Actually, this is more of a love note.

Jackie and I were in New York City a few days ago to take in the feel of the city at Christmas.  We did all the usual things - Rockefeller Center, saw the Tree with required picture, Saks' windows, St. Patrick's church (where God has a small apartment, but He's on Mercury now getting some sun while the church is renovated), great meal, and then I could not take it anymore - Stop Badgering Me.  OK, maybe it was my own fault. I wore my Mets heavy jacket and cap.  It's warm with tons of pockets, and the cap fits on my head.  Normally I just wear a baseball cap, and generic but matching coat. But this time I got it full blast.

If you haven't been to Manhattan recently, you'll notice that its slightly more aggressive in its marketing. Nearly every street has some huckster(s) trying to get the gullible couple(s) into a bar, bus, and if you are wearing something slightly noticeable like I had, you would be asked to stop and talk about the Mets (Hey, you, from Queens! Come on in! Mets got Grandy! Ask you a question [this type of marketing is in every mall - its the courtesy in us to that makes us stop, with the obligation to buy], and hey, man get your picture with Mickey Mouse (for tips - stick them in Mickey's pouch), even if it's the slightly psychotic Mickey coming down from a heroin fix.  And these two:

who should be even more terrified of the UPS truck heading for them.  What can Brown do for you?

Then there are the beggars asking you for money, and the Salvation Army group has found the funk:

And when you are not being asked for money, you must take flyers to a going out of business sale, spread the teachings of (Someone Here), go to a gentlemen's club, or get on a bus to tour the city when it is 10 degrees out.

After eight hours of this I told Jackie "New York is a great place to visit if there is nobody else here."  I would allow robots to work in stores and prepare excellent food.  NYC Public Library should be open 24 hours a day, and there should be just as many Mets as Yankees stores.  In fact, more Mets stores as we need the publicity.

Which brings me to Tom Seaver.  Tom Terrific was and remains one of my heroes, though he stopped playing baseball a quarter century ago.  He was the face of the Mets, and is still The Franchise.  He and his compatriots took a lousy team and finally got it serious, and the Amazing Mets of 1969 shocked the baseball world, and I had found my team.  Tom won Cy Young awards and pitched in two World Series.  While the sixty-nine team still gets the headlines, my love of baseball stems from the 1973 team that roared from last place in the summer to first in October. What a ride.  They are My Boys, more than the '69 and '86, and about tied with the 2000 team - What are we doing here playing October baseball?

Stupidity and greed sent Tom and other useful elements of the Mets off to other places, and we suffered through more mediocrity led by Hall of Famer Joe Torre.  Tom came back in 1983 to put some fannies in the seats of Shea and Jackie and I saw him pitch on Father's Day 1983.  I got to see him, and later he autographed a ball for me.  More dumb moves sent Tom to Chicago and he stayed there long enough to get his 300 wins before retiring after 1986 (oddly as a member of the Boston Red Sox).

Tom makes appearances now at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown and other places, but he is mostly occupied by his winery.

And Lyme Disease. Third stage Lyme disease.

"A few months ago, I thought my mind was going. I couldn't remember things." He thought he was suffering from the onset of dementia. He became fearful, withdrawn, for the first time in his life. He was afraid he'd get lost in the New York City streets he used to own. After some tests, it was almost a relief to find out that he had Lyme disease, which could be controlled by vitamins, medicine, diet -- no wine, a cruel irony. And mental stimulation."
                                                                       Pat Jordan, The Constant Gardener, SportsOn

Third stage Lyme disease is like this:

Lyme disease can become chronic especially in the elderly or have poor health. This later stage in Lyme disease could also be caused by very late diagnosis and treatment of the infection or persistent infection despite medication. At this stage, the symptoms can be beyond your wildest imaginations and may include:
* Arthritis–In the later stage of Lyme disease, you may develop arthritis. You’ll have redness, swelling, pain in your joints and stiffness in your shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, and smaller joints.
* Neurological problems: Neurological problems will arise during the second stage, and they will increase in intensity. You could experience more severe numbness in your arms, legs and other parts of your body, along with an itch or burn. More headaches may be felt, as well as problems with speaking, memory loss, depression, anxiety, and panic. Additional neurological indications could be Bell’s Palsy, or facial nerve paralysis, and aseptic meningitis.
* Conditions which are serious symptoms and are a part of chronic Lyme disease include heart inflammation, visual dysfunction causing blurred vision, chronic fatigue, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), abdominal pain, pelvic pain, irregular heartbeat rate, hearing loss,urinary frequency,shortness of breath, fever, sweats, Diarrhea and irritable bowel.
                                                                                              www.zimbio. com

I had read the article (written by former pitcher Pat Jordan, a long time Seaver friend and author of A False Spring) the night before we went to New York. And I thought if Seaver, age 69, could get lost in this city, what luck do I have? There's a lot of MS in Lyme diease.

Seaver has his "cloudy days" and his wife of so many years Nancy helps him with notes, and he reminds himself with notes. And he does have some short term memory loss. I do, too.  Mr. Seaver has his family close, and while Jackie and I are (or have to be) more self sufficient,  we have angels in place as the other Tom does.  And he does okay.  We do okay.

We both have wonderful supporting wives. Seaver makes wine on a mountain. I write stories in a forest.  Neither disease will kill us, they just make each day a little harder to get through. Seaver, in the story, was really proud that he put in a 12 hour day of grunt work that week.  Grapes is hard.  But you gotta do it if you want the wine.  Writing is hard, but you've got to keep at it if you want other people to read your stories.

So we both struggle out to the mound, warm up, and then see what the first batter brings, get your sign and here you go, big boy. Try this....98 mile an hour fastball.

I would challenge any of the folks dressed up as faux celebrities of TV and movies around Times Square to try and hit Seaver's fastball, hell, even now. I would gladly pay the $20 tip. Cookie Monster can catch and Elmo can stand there terrified. I'd like to see that.
I can still walk around New York, slower, but that allows me to look into faces, hard faces on a winter night, trying to get home.  And the little Buddha inside of me, reminded me that if I was stressing about wanting to take Buzz Lightyear and throw him at My Little Pony (for tips), perhaps I should just say "May you be happy."  Easiest prayer ever. And it still works.

"Hey, Mets' fan. Over here!" May you be happy.

"Get out of my way." May you be happy.

"I got this cab first." May you be happy.

May Tom Seaver be happy. May Nancy Seaver be happy. And Pat Jordan. And Elmo and everyone wearing skimpy customs in Time Square. I myself am doing my darndest to be.  But Mr. 41 and me  will do just fine.  He is still The Franchise. And my all time favorite.  And if he makes more wine, I will drink it.  Let's go Mets.

Thanks for reading this far.  Next will be the Desktop Holiday Party!

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