Fier Thy Words

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John McCain’s Concession Speech

11/6/08

I have decided to post the video and transcrpit for both John McCain’s concession speech and Barack Obama’s victory speech from election night.

Both speeches provided an extraordinary end to an extraordinary election.

Congratulations to both men.

Here is John McCain’s concession speech.

Thank you. Thank you, my friends. Thank you for coming here on this beautiful Arizona evening.

My friends, we have — we have come to the end of a long journey. The American people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly. A little while ago, I had the honor of calling Senator Barack Obama to congratulate him on being elected the next president of the country that we both love.

In a contest as long and difficult as this campaign has been, his success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance. But that he managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving.

This is an historic election, and I recognize the special significance it has for African-Americans and for the special pride that must be theirs tonight.

I’ve always believed that America offers opportunities to all who have the industry and will to seize it. Senator Obama believes that, too. But we both recognize that though we have come a long way from the old injustices that once stained our nation’s reputation and denied some Americans the full blessings of American citizenship, the memory of them still had the power to wound.

A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt’s invitation of Booker T. Washington to dine at the White House was taken as an outrage in many quarters. America today is a world away from the cruel and prideful bigotry of that time. There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African American to the presidency of the United States. Let there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth.

Senator Obama has achieved a great thing for himself and for his country. I applaud him for it, and offer in my sincere sympathy that his beloved grandmother did not live to see this day, though our faith assures us she is at rest in the presence of her creator and so very proud of the good man she helped raise.

Senator Obama and I have had and argued our differences, and he has prevailed. No doubt many of those differences remain. These are difficult times for our country, and I pledge to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face.

I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together, to find the necessary compromises, to bridge our differences, and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.

Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans. And please believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that.

It is natural tonight to feel some disappointment, but tomorrow we must move beyond it and work together to get our country moving again. We fought as hard as we could.

And though we fell short, the failure is mine, not yours.

I am so deeply grateful to all of you for the great honor of your support and for all you have done for me. I wish the outcome had been different, my friends. The road was a difficult one from the outset. But your support and friendship never wavered. I cannot adequately express how deeply indebted I am to you.

I am especially grateful to my wife, Cindy, my children, my dear mother and all my family and to the many old and dear friends who have stood by my side through the many ups and downs of this long campaign. I have always been a fortunate man, and never more so for the love and encouragement you have given me.

You know, campaigns are often harder on a candidate’s family than on the candidate, and that’s been true in this campaign. All I can offer in compensation is my love and gratitude, and the promise of more peaceful years ahead.

I am also, of course, very thankful to Governor Sarah Palin, one of the best campaigners I have ever seen and an impressive new voice in our party for reform and the principles that have always been our greatest strength. Her husband Todd and their five beautiful children with their tireless dedication to our cause, and the courage and grace they showed in the rough-and-tumble of a presidential campaign. We can all look forward with great interest to her future service to Alaska, the Republican Party and our country.

To all my campaign comrades, from Rick Davis and Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter, to every last volunteer who fought so hard and valiantly month after month in what at times seemed to be the most challenged campaign in modern times, thank you so much. A lost election will never mean more to me than the privilege of your faith and friendship.

I don’t know what more we could have done to try to win this election. I’ll leave that to others to determine. Every candidate makes mistakes, and I’m sure I made my share of them. But I won’t spend a moment of the future regretting what might have been.

This campaign was and will remain the great honor of my life. And my heart is filled with nothing but gratitude for the experience and to the American people for giving me a fair hearing before deciding that Senator Obama and my old friend Senator Joe Biden should have the honor of leading us for the next four years.

I would not be an American worthy of the name, should I regret a fate that has allowed me the extraordinary privilege of serving this country for a half a century. Today, I was a candidate for the highest office in the country I love so much. And tonight, I remain her servant. That is blessing enough for anyone and I thank the people of Arizona for it.

Tonight, more than any night, I hold in my heart nothing but love for this country and for all its citizens, whether they supported me or Senator Obama, I wish Godspeed to the man who was my former opponent and will be my president.

And I call on all Americans, as I have often in this campaign, to not despair of our present difficulties but to believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here.

Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history, we make history.

Thank you, and God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you all very much.

November 6, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Yes He Did! Obama Elected; History Made

11/5/08

Yes he did.

Last night was one of the moments that Americans and citizens of the World will likely remember for the rest of their lives.

It had just struck 11 p.m. on the east coast, and the announcement was made: Barack Obama was projected as the winner of the 2008 general election.

I bet I’m not alone when I say that when I went to sleep after watching President Elect Obama’s victory speech, as well as when I woke up this morning that I was immediately living in a new America.

Sure, President Bush will serve out the remaining 11 weeks of his Presidency before Obama is inaugurated in January; however there is a sense of both joy and hope that comes with the election of the first African American President in the nation’s history.

Along with his running mate, the democratic senator from Delaware Joe Biden, Obama will officially take office on January 20th, 2009.

I realized that last night, Barack Obama became my generation’s Jackie Robinson; in breaking both a social and political color barrier that many had figured would never be broken.

I realized that last night, Barack Obama also became my generation’s John F. Kennedy; a young, inspiring politician whose victory gives this country some much needed promise heading towards a major crossroads in its history. It’s been some time since the younger generation was so inspired by a Presidential candidate, but like Kennedy, Obama will be an iconic figure of a political youth movement.

And I realized this morning that last night, Barack Obama reignited the spirit of what makes this country so great, which is that democracy can still triumph, while anything truly is possible.

In regards to Senator John McCain, who delivered a stirring concession speech following the announcement of Obama’s projected victory, was both gracious and selfless, stating that while he and his now former opponent may not agree on all issues, he was looking forward to working for and with his new President elect in making sure the United States of America gets back on track.

I’m no political expert; however it isn’t difficult to figure out that McCain’s defeat was as much due to the discontent with the last eight years as it was to anything McCain was trying to promise for the next four.

In addition, one can’t help but wonder how McCain’s campaign would have turned out had he selected a different running mate, a decision that ultimately was his and is one he may one day look back on and regret making.

Governor Sarah Palin from Alaska was tapped as the Republican nominee for Vice President, and certainly sparked a renewed interest from her own party; however it may have come at the cost of victory.

Palin performed miserably during early interviews, and was involved in a number of off-the-ballot issues, among them her daughter’s teenage pregnancy.

Ultimately, her questionable domestic executive experience as well as her nonexistent foreign policy knowledge probably brought her ticket down considerably.

If nothing else though, the republican ticket provided us with some great entertainment thanks both during interviews and debates while fictionally on Saturday Night Live.  (Congrats to Tina Fey who can finally get some sleep now)

Following a long and tedious campaign season, America took to the polls yesterday in record numbers, and spoke loudly and clearly that they wanted to find out if all the change that had been promised to them by the new President elect would in fact become a reality.

Obama didn’t just win an election, he dominated it.

While the popular votes was relatively close, a 52%-47% advantage for Obama, he blew out McCain in the electoral college, securing 338 electoral votes McCain’s 163 as of early this morning, with three states still too close to call.

How did he do it?

Pundits agreed last night that Obama ran one of if not the most impressive Presidential campaign in history, reaching out to hoards of different voters, all of whom seemed to respond to the prospect of change Obama pledged throughout the campaign process.

Heading into last night before any of the polls had officially closed, Obama had seemed to have a mathematical edge with electoral votes, however McCain was given a fighting chance with upwards of 90 electoral votes that were made up of swing states Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Montana and North Dakota.

In addition, McCain’s advisers repeatedly stated how important it was for the Arizona Senator to win Pennsylvania, which we would eventually fail to do.

The loss in PA was the first real blow McCain would take last night; however it would also turn out to be a sign of things to come.  Both Ohio and Florida, with 48 electoral votes between them, landed in the lap of Obama.  When the polls closed at 8 p.m. local time on the West Coast, California’s 55 electoral votes along with the announcement that Virginia went blue allowed the official projection of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States.

It was an exciting night if you’re a democrat or just an overall Obama supporter, however on a greater scale it was one of the most significant events in the 232 year history of this country.

The election of an African American to the country’s highest political office was perhaps a final knockout blow in the ongoing civil rights movement that still unfortunately has lingered more than a half-century after it started back in the 1950’s.

What is more impressive than his victory, is the fact that Obama looks to move forward not as the first black President, but simply as the nation’s President, eager to take on the challenges that await his early days in office.

For one night, it was easy to forget that this country finds itself in severe economic turmoil, while still at war over seas.  There is an ongoing environmental threat which will also demand the attention it’s been denied throughout much of the last eight years.

Regardless of who you voted for, any American who can’t appreciate how monumental last night’s victory for Barack Obama is needs to re-examine their beliefs in the ideals of the country they live in.

You may not like him, but if you have to respect what the new President Elect was able to accomplish on his road to the White House.

Obama’s inexperience is noteworthy, and will likely be sticking point for his critics heading into his Presidency.  However, to rise as quickly as he did in the American Political arena proves the land of opportunity we’ve always read about in textbooks was validated last night.

I can honestly say that although I may be young (21), I have never felt the rush of excitement I did yesterday, first in making my inaugural trip to the voting booth, and secondly when watching the announcement that Obama had been elected President.

I’ll also admit that I did in fact vote for Obama, although mainly because I had felt he was simply the lesser of two evils, as neither candidate had appealed much to me through the campaign.

And even upon his election, I’m wary of just how much change Obama can make, and whether or not he’ll be able to pull this country out the hole it’s dug itself into.

But I can tell you that no matter how much or how little I may support his ideas, I could not be prouder as an American citizen this morning, knowing that our democratic process worked, and produced a winner of historic proportions. Being able to take part in that, as simple as pulling that lever was- was pretty powerful.

Come January, when officially sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama will venture off on what President Bush referred to last night as “one of the great journey’s of life” in his congratulatory phone call following the announcement of Obama’s victory.

Obama will lead this country’s citizens into the next frontier of what is right now a great unknown for the United States of America.

I’ll finish with an excerpt of Obama’s victory speech he gave in Chicago last night:

“The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.

I promise you, we as a people will get there.”

America can celebrate now, but must get back to working on restoring the potential and prominence this country is capable of achieving.

As American citizens, we can now only hope we selected the right man to lead us there, and if you ask Barack Obama whether or not we’ll get there, I have a feeling his answer would sound something like this:

“Yes we can.”

November 5, 2008 Posted by | Election '08, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Needs Football in an Election Year?

11/3/08

On the eve of the most historic Presidential Election in modern American History, time seems to be standing still.

Our country, facing troubled times of equal hisotical significance, will head to the polls in only a matter of hours (or as you’re reading this for all you Pacific Timezone nuts), and I can’t help but feel somewhat overwhelmed with excitement and intrigue in waiting to see how this election plays out.

While the candidates were spending this final night (surprise surprise) filling up prime time television minutes during halftime of Monday Night Football, I don’t know about you, but tomorrow’s election has all the drama and suspense of a big time football game.

Call it the Super Bowl of elections, but as a sports fan who has within the last year taken a great interest in politics, I’ve been rewarded with not only some great political commentary, but some lasting entertainment.

I could talk about how great the Saturday Night Live sketches have been, from Tina Fey’s dead on impression of Sarah Palin, to re-enactment of the debates and so on, or even how magically both The Daily Show and The Colbert Report have covered the election.

(This might have been the funniest thing SNL has produced in a while)

However, the entertainment I’ve enjoyed most has been from the candidates themselves.

Sure, Palin’s Katie Couric interview was classic, but having watched all four debates (3 presidential and the memorable VP debate), I found myself eyes glued as though it was a Sunday afternoon and my Jets were playing.

Except I wasn’t watching Brett Favre throwing touchdown passes (or interceptions of late), I was watching the priceless facial expressions of John McCain, and the avoiding of issues by Governor Palin.

Personally, I got a kick out of the second Presidential debate, where the town hall format was the perfect setting for Senator McCain to show off his inner ‘old-creep’, pacing around the stage as though he was lost, while getting uncomfortably close to the people asking questions.

Listen, I’m not going to pretend to be unbiased.

I’m a registered Democrat, and while I won’t disclose who I’m voting for, I’ll admit I’ve grown quite fond of both Senator McCain and Goveronr Palin.

Does that mean I would ever vote for their Presidential ticket?  I’ll let you guess, however the two of them have provided some of the most memorable moments in recent election history.

While both have been making plenty of headline, many of which for all the wrong reasons, both have come acorss to me as people I wouldn’t mind spending the next four years on television….just not necessarily as the next President and Vice President of this country.

With Palin, like most American males, the camera loves this woman.  She attractive and “folksy”, and while she probably is a sandwich or two short of a picnic, she has a career in show business waiting for her should her ticket fail and she decide to persue a different path for her post political career (which may be ending about as quickly as it was thrusted into the national spotlight).

All the drama surrounding her pregnant daughter coinciding with her stance on abortion and abstinance is stuff you just can’t make up.  And just to reiterate, how good does she look in those glasses?

With “McRage” as WIll Ferrell’s George W. Bush referred to Senator McCain as during a skecth on SNL a few weeks back, you gotta admire his lack of camera savyness.

Rolling his eyes while Senator Obama was discussing the difference in their policies was priceless, and ot’s difficult for me to hate a guy who considers all of us his “friends”.

Do you hate your grandfather, because I know I don’t, and that more or less what John McCain is to this country.

I’ll call him Grandpa John, and like most grandfathers, he’s older, distinguised, a war veteran, loves to offer advice even if you don’t want it and often forgets where he is and who he is talking to, as noticed during a speech he was giving in Pennsylvania (clip below).

…oh Grandpa John you old goof

This election will forever remembered as one of the most historic in American history, as much for the entertainment value and political importance.

Assuming we can avoid a repeat of the 2000 election debacle, tomorrow night around this time, we should have a projected winner in this election, as the 44th President of the United States will be either Barack Obama or John McCain.

That man will be responsible for dealing with a historically unpopular war, a devastated economy and an ongoing environmental crisis, and whoever is elected, needs to get to work quickly in restoring this nation to prominance.

If you can, go out and vote tomorrow.

I don’t care who you vote for, but make sure you can say you took part in something truly historic, as an election of this magnitude may never occur again in our lifetime.

Then again, depending on who wins and how they’re able to handle the problems facing this country, we might be back here again in four years going through this all over again.

Then again, even if we’re still at war, still in the midst of financial turmoil and Florida falls completely underwater, at least we’ll have another round of great TV.

Election day has finally arrived.

With all the entertainment and drama, who needs football in an election year?

November 4, 2008 Posted by | Election '08, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Blogroll

10/10/08

2 quick changes to point out.

First off, I fixed the time setting so now when I post something it will post the correct time in which I posted it, not the time four hours from now.

Also, I finally realized a little whlie back what the purpose of a blogroll was, which isn’t to list the different websites I frequently visit, but rather to list other blogs I enjoy reading, get information from and reccommend to anybody who reads my blog.

I’ve promised more posts in the past but usually fail to deliver, however I came up with no less than a dozen things on my mind I hope to talk about soon, ranging from my usual sports rants and commentary to my feelings towards the election and current economic crisis (yea, I’m going there.)

Thanks for the overwhelming support.

AF

October 10, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My Top Ten Shea Stadium Memories

10/4/08

I’ve been going to Shea Stadium since I was 5 years old.  I can’t remember who the Mets were playing when I saw my first game there, but I know I was sitting in the upper deck, down the first base line.  My father tells me that I couldn’t wait to leave by the fifth inning, probably because I had already had my ice cream, gotten my souvenir mini bat and was ready for a nap.

All these years later, I can think back on a handful of other times when thanks to their poor play, the Mets dug themselves in 10-1 deficits I had no interest in sticking around for, and decided to depart Shea earlier than expected.

The following is a list of ten memories that had me spending just a bit more time inside a ballpark that is, was and always will be a home away from home for me, where I saw playoff games, big home runs, great catches, rock and roll legends, Opening Day’s and a final weekend.

The Mets have been as big a part of my life as anything else, and Shea Stadium was the place I was always able to go where I could the anything else would go away when I needed it to.

I grew up there, and I’ll always be thankful for the wonderful times I’ve been able to share with both family and friends, as well the baseball team that captured my heart some 15 years ago.

Here are my top ten Shea Stadium memories.

10.  May 19th, 2006

All Wright Now

David takes down Goliath Rivera in Comeback win vs. Yankees

Few games bring a playoff atmosphere to Shea Stadium during the regular season like Subway Series games. I’ve been fortunate enough to attend at least one at Shea ever year since 1998, and in 2006, I was in attendance Friday night May 19th. I had just gotten home from my freshman year of college, and my first trip to Shea since being home brought the Yankees in for their annual three game series. The game seemed one sided before it started, with Randy Johnson pitching in pinstripes while the Mets were starting relative unknown Geremi Gonzalez. In the top of the first, Gonzalez allowed his nerves to get the best of him, allowing 4 runs staking Johnson and the Yanks to an early lead. But as they became accustomed to doing all season, the Mets struck back, with Carlos Beltran hitting a three-run bomb off Johnson. The game would be tied at 6 heading into the ninth, and Yankees manager Joe Torre brought in the seemingly invincible Mariano Rivera to keep the game tied. The Mets would have none of it, as they loaded the based against him which set the stage for David Wright to send a Rivera pitch sailing over the outstretched reach of Yankees Centerfielder Johnny Damon, giving the Mets an inspiring come-from-behind 7-6 victory. For all of the Mets-Yankees games I’ve seen at Shea- and at Yankee stadium for that matter- I’ve never experienced a game with such a rollercoaster ride of emotions, ending in such dramatic fashion. It was by far the greatest Subway Series game I’ve ever seen, and starts out my list as my tenth most memorable moment.

9. May 24, 1998

A Piazza Delivery: Mike Piazza’s first weekend in New York

It was a Sunday afternoon game in 1998 against the Milwaukee Brewers. In what would seem to be an otherwise meaningless, early season game with little significance, that Sunday will forever go down as the first time I can remember not asking- but begging my parents for tickets to a Mets game. I was 11, and just two nights earlier, my favorite baseball team suddenly revealed itself on the baseball map, by acquiring Mike Piazza in a trade with the Marlins. I’ll never forget hearing about from a Yankees fan friend of mine at the time, and I was so shocked I refused to believe him. When I finally had the rumor confirmed, I had never been so anxious to get to Shea. I wasn’t able to make it to the ballpark for Mike’s first game, which I’ll never forgive myself for, but Sunday I was able to persuade my father to get tickets. It was on that Sunday afternoon, in what was an 8-3 win for the Mets, I was able to- for the first time- feel connected to a player like never before. My fan-crush on Mike Piazza began that day, and hasn’t dimmed since, despite Piazza retiring from baseball earlier this year while not appearing in a Mets lineup card since the final day of the 2005 season. But that Sunday, I’ll never forget the electricity in the air, as fans finally seemed to have a reason to believe again at Shea. The Mets were the recipients of a future hall of fame catcher, while I was the recipient of a hero.

8. June 11th, 2005: Cliff Banger

Floyd wins it in 10th with Homer after Anderson ties it with Inside-the Park Shot

Before my buddy Ian and I ever made it to Shea that day, we had purchased tickets to meet Pedro Martinez. After waiting several hours, we were informed Pedro was going to be a no-show, forcing us to change our plans for the rest of the day in hopes of making up for our wasted morning. We decided to purchase some cheap seats in the upper deck for that night’s game against the Angels, which we were just happy to be at regardless of outcome. The game itself was pretty dull, a 2-1 game with the Mets trailing heading into the bottom of the ninth. The Angels had their dominating closer on the hill, Frankie Rodriguez (who this season saved a Major League record 60 games), ready to finish the Mets off. A pinch-hitter extraordinaire that season, Marlon Anderson had other ideas. With nobody on and one out, Anderson laced a ball into right centerfield. Steve Finley, who Mets fans will always remember as the centerfielder who failed to reel in Todd Pratt’s NLDS winning home run in 1999, dove trying to catch the ball, but ended up not only missing the ball but kicking it away from himself. Realizing the ball had kicked away, Anderson just kept on running, all the way home for what would be a game-tying, inside the park homerun in the bottom of the ninth. I couldn’t dream up a more exciting way to tie the game, but that only got the action started. In the top of the 10th, the Angels went ahead 3-2, thanks to a Darren Erstad single, set the stage for a memorable bottom of the inning. Having already pitched K-Rod, the Angels were forced to turn over their closing duties to Brendan Donnelly. Jose Reyes led off the inning with a single. Mike Cameron followed with a walk. Donnelly then seemed to compose himself, striking out Carlos Beltran and Mike Piazza, leaving it up to Cliff Floyd. Floyd worked Donnelly into a 9 pitch at-bat, at one point sending a ball deep down the right field hooking just foul, but carrying home-run distance. After that foul ball I admit losing all hope, figuring that whenever a player hits a home run ball foul, he almost never actually ends up hitting a home run. Wouldn’t you know it, on the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Floyd launched a moonshot over the right center field wall, winning the game 5-3 with a 2 out, bottom of the tenth 3-run homer. An unforgettable ending to an otherwise forgettable day at Shea.

7. May 23, 2006 & August 22, 2006

Belted: A pair of Walk-off Beltran Blasts

As stated earlier, in 2006, the Mets seemed to score early, score often and find new ways to win game night after night. En route to winning 97 games that season, Carlos Beltran settled the fears of fans who believed that the Beltran they saw in 2005 was a guy their team had grossly overpaid for. Beltran, after all, hit just 17 home runs while driving in only 78 runs, hitting .262. But in 2006, he rebounded with emphasis, tying the franchise record for homers in a single season (41), while driving in 116 runs. He was an MVP candidate, and helped carry his team into the playoffs for the first time since 2000. Two nights in particular stand out from that season. In May, Beltran helped end a marathon, 16 inning affair with the Phillies, sending a ball deep into the right field bullpen prompting Gary Cohen to call “…and we’re goin home!” in a game that ended around 12:30 AM. Later that season, in a head to head match up with a fellow MVP front runner, Albert Pujols, Beltran seemed to be sitting in the backseat to the show Puols was putting on. Pujols hit 2 home runs, one a grand slam and the other a 3-run shot, giving himself 7 RBI’s that night while opening up a 7-1 Cardinals lead. It would be another Carlos who helped get the Mets back into the game, as Carlos Delgado, in his first season wearing orange and blue, connected for a grand slam of his own, which coincidentally was also the 400th home run of his career. It was also his second home run of the game, which brought the Mets to within 2, at 7-5. Jose Reyes drove in a run in the 8th inning making it 7-6, but the fireworks would be put on hold for another inning. In the bottom of the 9th, with a runner on and one out, as Cohen was on air uttering the phrase “and Beltran can win it with one swing”, Carlos connected on a first pitch from former Met Jason Isringhausen, sending a towering drive to right, sending the Mets to an 8-7 victory. The crowds on both of those nights seemed dead at times when the Mets were down or the game was stagnant, but both nights, it would be Beltran who lifted them up, along with his team to two memorable victories, both of which I was lucky enough to be at.

6. July 4th, 1999

Pre-game Photos, Post Game Fireworks and a Handshake with my Hero

1999 was a defining season in Mets history, filled with as many memorable moments as any. Todd Pratt and Robin Ventura both ended playoff games in walk off fashion, while the team was just thrilled to be taking part in postseason baseball for the first time since 1988. Ironically, it was a member of the 99 Mets rotation, who I saw start that day, who single-handedly eliminated the Mets from the ’88 playoffs. Orel Hershiser, an old, washed-up has-been as my family and I affectionately referred to him as, didn’t last long, allowing 6 runs in only 2.2 innings. The Mets would end up coming back against John Smoltz highlighted by a 7th inning Edgardo Alfonzo home run, winning 7-6, and pulling themselves to within 4 games of first place Atlanta. The game itself was great, but had nothing on pre-game festivities, which included photo-day, a tradition the team has since removed. The first 500 (maybe 1000) fans who showed up were allowed to go on the field before the game and walk around the field taking pictures of the players, with the rules specifically stating that you weren’t allowed to take pictures with them. A few things that stand out about that day: First, it was the 4th of July and I somehow convinced my parents to take me to Shea instead of doing whatever it was they would otherwise wanted to do. Secondly, it was no cooler than 105 degrees that day. I’m talking sweltering heat that made you want to wear nothing but freshly frozen ice trays as clothing. Lastly, for some reason that to this day I’ll never remember, I decided to show up at Shea wearing a Hawaiian shirt. It was hot, but I wasn’t a rationally thinking 12 year old, so the heat had nothing to do with my decision making. No Mets jersey, no Mets t-shirt. Not even a Mets themed Hawaiian shirt. Just a standard, I’m 45 and single Hawaiian shirt. Be as it may, I was there early with my parents, and we walked around the field, snapping shots of everyone from Rey Ordonez to Al Leiter, Bobby Valentine to John Franco and Benny Agbayani to Jay Payton. But of course, knowing he was their biggest star, Mike Piazza was the last guy you were able to see, and the crowd around him was huge. Realizing this might be my only chance to ever get this close to him, I decided to make a daring dash towards him, sticking out my hand to shake his. The ushers hadn’t yet finished yelling at me to step back by the time the camera did its job, getting a perfect shot of both Mike and myself, shaking hands and both staring directly into the camera. Not only was I not supposed to get that close to the player, but Mike didn’t have to shake my hand, and certainly didn’t have to smile and look at the camera. But he did, and it provided a photograph and a memory I’ll always have.

5. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, September 26th, 27th and 28th 2008

Shea Goodbye: The Last Weekend at Shea Stadium

Had things turned out differently on Sunday, this easily could have skyrocketed higher on the list, but I actually debating leaving last weekend completely off following the disappointment I experienced during the 4-2 loss to Florida, ending the 2008 season for the Mets as well as the 44 year lifespan of their ballpark. That being said, I made it a point to drive home from school (Syracuse) early Friday morning, knowing that nothing was going to keep me from being part of the last possible games ever played at a place that as much a part of me as anything else. I’ve been going to Shea since I was 5 (so my father tells me), and between the ages of 5 and 21, I’ve certainly seen a lot (as this list proves). But I had never seen a clinching game, whether it was for a playoff spot or of a playoff series. The Mets had given me that opportunity, heading into the final weekend of the season tied with the Brewers for the Wild Card, while only trailing the first place Phillies by a game. Three games stood between me, my team and the playoffs. Also standing in my way was the worst weekend of weather I can remember. It rained seemingly non stop from the time I left Friday morning, through my drive home Sunday night. Incredibly, the rain seemed to break at the right time each day, giving the Mets and Marlins a chance to play some baseball. Friday night may not have been a wash weather-wise, but it certainly was on the field, as the Mets offense didn’t show. They lost 6-1, and combined with wins by both Philly and Milwaukee, the Mets would wake up Saturday in a do-or-die situation, needing a win to extend their season. Just as they had a year before, they came through, thanks almost solely to the left arm of ace Johan Santana. Santana, pitching with what we now know was a torn meniscus in his knee, on only three days rest, delivered a complete game, 3 hit shut-out. The Phillies clinched the east, but the Brewers lost, putting the Mets back into a tie with them for the wild card. This set up a win-and-in situation, meaning a win Sunday would at the very least force a 1 game playoff, but as had happened a year earlier, it wasn’t to be, as the offense didn’t show again, and the bullpen did what it became best known for doing all year, allowing two late inning home runs, giving Florida the win, and the Brewers a playoff birth following their win that day. In what I can only describe as the most awkward feeling I’ve ever had in a ballpark, the Mets then began their post-game, Shea Goodbye celebration. 50,000 plus fans had stayed behind, despite having just watched their season end. The Mets celebrated their teams history in their ballpark, bringing back 45 former players to take part in the festivities. From Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza, to the first Shea Stadium appearance of Dwight Gooden in a Mets jersey since 1994, to folk heroes like Robin Ventura and Cleon Jones, for 45 minutes you were almost able to forget about the gut-wrenching end to the season, and just embrace the teams past, while enjoying a final smile inside Shea. Personally, I couldn’t bring myself to leave, staying in my seats about an hour after the game ended, just thinking about all the years and all the memories I was lucky enough to experience there. I finally left and Ian and I took some pictures outside the ballpark before finally heading home around 7:45 that night. The ceremony probably ended sometime between 6 and 6:30. It was an unbelievably devastating end to both the season and my time at Shea, but it will also forever be remembered, even if not for all the right reasons.

4. April 2000, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008

Opening Days at Shea

Starting back in 2000, the decision was made within my household that going to Opening Day was something we wanted to take part in. And since 2000, I’ve been sitting at Shea for both season and season home openers six out of nine times. Opening Day is no more important a game as far as the standings are concerned, but there is the hope a new season brings and the pre-game ceremonies that always bring 55,000 fans to the ball park for the first home game of the year. The Mets have historically played winning baseball on Opening Day, 29-18 during their 47 year history. Up until this past April, I had boasted a perfect 5-0 record, including a win over the Padres in 2000 thanks to an 8th inning Derek Bell home run. In 2002, the arrival of big names like Mo Vaughn, Roberto Alomar and Jeremy Burnitz had a frenzied crowd anticipating a big season. We had to settle for a 6-2 win in the opener, but not much success thereafter. Fast forward to 2005, the ‘New Mets’ took the field behind new skipper Willie Randolph. The pre-game intros were highlighted by a resounding standing ovation for new ace Pedro Martinez, who a day earlier had secured the teams first win of the season after starting 0-5. The Mets beat Houston 8-4, as the theme of the day was old faces in familiar places, with Andy Pettitte starting for Houston and John Franco coming in to relieve later in the game against his former team. It was also the first time both David Wright and Jose Reyes took part in Opening Day. 2006 was when Mets fans saw Carlos Delgado, Paul Lo Duca and Billy Wagner for the first time. David Wright homered and another new face, Xavier Nady had 4 hits in leading the Mets to a victory. The game ended with Carlos Beltran throwing out Washington’s Jose Vidro at second base for the final out of the game earning Wagner his first save as a Met. In 2007, Jimmie Rollins of the Phillies proclaimed his team the one to beat, but couldn’t back up his words during the season opener, going 0-3 and committing a big error which helped spark a 7 run 8th inning to give the Mets another opening day victory. And just this past April, coming off their epic collapse, the Mets had the Phillies at Shea again, playing their last ever home opener at their home of 44 years. The Phillies would crash the party, winning 5-2 after the Mets bullpen coughed up a 2 run lead and the offense was unable to tack on any runs late, trends they seemed to continue throughout the entire 2008 season. Although the Mets lost in their final Shea Stadium opening day, they gave me yet another chance to see them start a season in what has become a tradition I hope to continue over at the new ballpark, starting a string of new memories.

3. October 16 1999, October 5th, 18th & 19th, 2006

In 1999, I was able to experience post season baseball at Shea for the first time, and I quickly learned just how different the crowd can be in October. The place was full of life, standing up from first pitch to last. It was game 4 of the 1999 NLCS, the Mets were facing elimination down 3-0 to Atlanta, but John Olerud wasn’t ready to let his team fall victim to the Braves powerhouse. After hitting a homerun earlier in the game, Olerud came through off Mets nemesis John Rocker with an 8th inning two run single to put his team ahead, forcing game 5 which would set the stage for Robin Ventura’s ‘grand’ heroics. Following the game 4 win, I would make a postseason return to Shea until 2006, when I was at game 2 of the division series, which saw Tom Glavine pitch six shut out innings in a win against the Dodgers. Two weeks later, I was back at Shea for game 6 of the NLCS against St. Louis. The Mets were down 3 games to 2, and had the unproven John Maine starting against Cards ace Chris Carpenter. Jose Reyes got the party started early; hitting a lead off home run in the bottom of the first, and the Mets wouldn’t look back, as a 4-2 victory would force a game 7. I had flown home from school for game 6, not having tickets for a potential 7 or a flight that would have allowed me to get back, but when an offer came for a game 7 ticket, I rushed to change my flight and come up with a hefty price tag for a ticket I knew I might never have another chance of getting my hands on. Game 7, trip to the World Series on the line at Shea Stadium. It just didn’t get any better than this. I ran into Tim Kurkjin from ESPN before the game, and asked him who he liked, and he told me he had picked the Mets to win and was sticking with them. If Tim felt the Mets were winning, that was good enough for me. It didn’t matter that Oliver Perez was starting despite having an ERA north of 5, or that the last game 7 the Mets played in an NLCS saw them lose to the Dodgers in 1988. This was going to be different. And it certainly appeared that would be the case after the Mets scored first, and Perez pitched 5 easy scoreless innings. In the top of the 6th, with a runner on and only one out, Perez was facing Scott Rolen, who connected with a Perez pitch launching it deep to left field, chasing Mets outfielder Endy Chavez back to the wall. In a defining moment in Mets history, Chavez made a spectacular leaping catch, fully extending his arm over the wall and pulling the would be home run ball back into play, and throwing the ball back in to double off the runner on first. To this day, I can still hear the roar of the crowd when Endy made what is known to Mets fan simply as “the catch”. Of course that would be the last time fans would get to cheer that night, as Aaron Heilman surrendered an 8th inning home run to Yadier Molina, and Carlos Beltran left the bat on his shoulders with the bases loaded, striking out looking against Cards closer Adam Wainwright, sending St. Louis to the World Series. 56,000 people have never sounded so quiet, and watching the visiting team celebrate winning a pennant on my field was heartbreaking. I never though I’d leave Shea Stadium so emotionally crushed (little did I know what the team had in store for me last Sunday). As rotten as it was leaving game 7, the memory was a once in a life time sort of experience, and although they lost, the Mets, and Endy Chavez that night along with Jose Reyes the night before and John Olerud back in 1999, showed me that there is nothing in the world that compares to playoff baseball at Shea.

2. July 18th, 2008

Billy the Kid rocks Shea

Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined looking back on the hundreds of times I went to Shea that the second greatest night I’d ever spend there wouldn’t feature a single pitch being thrown or a single swing being taken. Back in July, I hit the jackpot of jackpots in landing floor seats to the second of Billy Joel’s ‘Last Play at Shea’ concert series. I had only been to a concert of any kind once before, and while I considered myself a fan of Mr. Joel’s, I was hardly the fanatic worthy of the seats I was lucky enough to get. I only knew the words to a handful of his songs, and couldn’t name half of the ones I heard by the time I left. But a number of things happened that night which have changed a whole lot of that. Since that concert, I find myself listening to his songs, all of them, dozens of times a week, knowing the words to most and anxiously searching online for an announcement of another tour. I also got to experience Shea Stadium in a way I never had before, being able to walk around the field and explore everything from the outfield wall to the dugouts to standing in straight-away centerfield, just admiring the 50,000 people looking down upon the stage. It was overwhelming to say the least. I was also able to scoop up some grass and dirt from Shea, knowing I would never have another opportunity to do such a thing. By the time the concert started, I had already gotten my money’s worth, or so I had thought. During a 3-plus hour performance, Mr. Joel played all of his biggest hits, along with some of his lesser known gems, while welcoming a number of big name guests to join the stage with him. Tony Bennett, Garth Brooks, Steven Tyler and Roger Daltrey all took the stage to amaze the crowd, but it was the final guest of the night who may have stolen the show. It had been more than 40 years since the Beatles took the stage at Shea, but Mr. Joel made sure the place wouldn’t be torn down without a final goodbye from one of the Fab Four’s shining stars. Sir Paul McCartney was introduced, singing two songs to a euphoric crowd who walked out in such a state of shock that it was unusually quiet for what had just happened inside. Piano Man, Movin’ Out and Scenes from an Italian Restaurant had Shea rocking like it was an October night with a championship on the line, while Sir Paul playing Let It Be was perhaps as spine chilling a moment as I’ll ever experience.

1. September 21st, 2001

Baseball returns to NY after 9/11, Piazza wins it with HR in 8th

This was about more than baseball. This was about showing the world we weren’t afraid, and that were going to pick ourselves up off the mat, and go on with our lives and prove that we could be bent but not broken. September 11th, 2001 was a day that permanently changed the lives of every American. Living in New York City, I had a front row seat to the events which shook us to our very foundations. I also had tickets to a Friday night game at Shea only ten days later, not knowing if the game was going to be played, and if it was, whether or not it would be worth going. Once we knew the Mets and Braves would in fact be playing, the decision was easy. That was the first season I had my Tuesday-Friday season ticket plan, so the tickets were ours and we knew there was nowhere else we’d rather be than at Shea. The night was emotional to a point where you simply had to be there to appreciate. The crowd was excited to be back but cautious and still very much hurting from what had taken place less than two weeks prior. The replica skyline that rests above the scoreboard had a ribbon covering the World Trade Center. The American Flags waving around the ball park suddenly took on new meaning. Both teams took the field during the anthem, and greeted each other before the game to display an act of unity. Mark Anthony and Diana Ross sang, and the place was ready to watch some baseball, and distract itself for the first time since the tragedy. The game was tied at 1 going into the 8th, when the Braves took a 2-1 lead. While most fans would probably agree just being at a baseball a baseball game was distraction enough, walking out of Shea with a loss wouldn’t have helped lift the morale’s of New Yorkers who sorely needed a reason to smile. Trailing 2-1, on a night when New York’s true heroes were honored, Mets fans had their own hero put on his superman cape. In a moment scripted too perfectly for a Hollywood film, Mike Piazza hit a long, two run homer giving the Mets a 3-2 lead they wouldn’t give back. To this day, watching the replays give me goosebumps each and every time, and hearing the crowd erupt was a sound that still never goes away. The moment was so powerful, and so emotionally uplifting that people weren’t sure whether it was more appropriate to cheer or cry. It had been an inning earlier when Liza Minnelli sang New York, New York during the 7th inning stretch, eliciting a worthy standing ovation and cheer. But it was Piazza, the heart of a team who, if only for a night, sewed the hearts of a city with a swing that even he admits was probably bigger than any other he’s ever taken. Personally, watching my favorite player hit a home run to win a game would be special any night, but it was obviously considerably more special under the circumstances. On a night when baseball was serving simply as a way to think about anything other than the falling of those towers, it was mission accomplished thanks to the bat of Mike Piazza, who gave his team a win, and a city a reason to smile again.

October 4, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

George Carlin (1937-2008)

6/23/08

RIP to one of the greatest comedians of all time, George Carlin, who died late Sunday from heart failure at the age of 71.

Check back in later for a lengthy tribute to my absolute favorite stand up comic.

He’ll be dearly missed.

June 23, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

These Are Entertaining

5/14/08

…good looks Mr. Freed

May 14, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Home

5/9/08

Home from school.

Summer has officially begun.

Lots to talk about, and I’ll be making up for lost time this weekend or early next week at the latest.

Also changed the header on the page from the Dome (in Syracuse) to my home away home (Shea Stadium) right here in Queens.

AF

May 9, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Scott’s Show Added

5/3/08

Three posts down you will fine Scott’s show, in its entirety, including his two very entertaining opening acts.

Please watch them, they were a lot of funny, and the event actually raised 600 bucks for Cystic Fibrosis so cheers to Scott for that as well.

May 3, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

For Anybody With Facebook

5/2/08

I found this on Sports Illustrated Hot clicks page and had to pass it on

May 2, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment