Written before Game 1: Somewhere, sometime, Colon helps win a game in long relief, like Ryan in 69 and Fernandez in 86. Royals play the game right -- good energy, make contact. Mets in 7.
I admit it. I blinked when I saw the title of Steve Kettmann’s book around Opening Day: “Baseball Maverick: How Sandy Alderson Revolutionized Baseball and Revived the Mets.”
It wasn’t the main title. I was willing to find out how Alderson was a maverick (computers, Mr. McGuire?) but what about the subtitle, the “Revived” part?
I was intrigued by Kettmann’s choice of that R-word as the Mets gamely staggered into July -- subs, AAA players, walking wounded, veterans, a few live arms, all playing hard for Terry Collins.
Then in a space of two weeks, darned if they were not revived, by Alderson, by Collins, by Cap’n Wright, by Cespedes, by trades and demotions and recuperations.
But you know all that. Writers care about titles -- and subtitles. I have been blessed with all-stars as book editors over the years, too numerous to mention, except for the most recent. When I was writing my soccer book, Paul Golob of Holt (working with Times Books) noticed my scattered mentions of the dictator of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, and his collaborators.
“Don’t forget to include the dark side,” Golob suggested. I agreed, and he came up with the title: “Eight World Cups: My Journey Through the Beauty and Dark Side of Soccer.”
As FIFA's legal charges added up, was I glad the editor had prodded me. I could go on talk shows and intone those book-writer words, “As I say in my book….”
I knew Kettmann, based on the Left Coast, had access to Alderson from covering the Oakland A’s. I asked Kettmann how he came up with his title and subtitle and he replied:
It's funny about subtitles. We tend to think of them as nearly invisible, like the subtitle to "One Day at Fenway," my first book, which was "A Day in the Life of Baseball in America." I'm not sure a single person ever cited that subtitle or made a point of it. Then again, that was 11 years ago, long before the age of Twitter.
I spent a lot of time going over the title and subtitle for my Sandy Alderson book with Jamison Stoltz, my editor at Grove Atlantic. We thought if there was going to be controversy, it would concern the title, "Baseball Maverick," since "Maverick" is a word that can mean different things to different people.
Some, we knew, would picture Tina Fey as Sarah Palin, talking about getting all "Mavericky." But I took the title from a quote given to me by Billy Beane, which he clearly meant as a tribute to his former mentor and to me, the important meaning was the original one, going back to the rancher Samuel Maverick, who left his cattle unbranded, meaning he would end up with all unbranded cattle, and he developed a reputation (rightly or wrongly) for being a free thinker who was just a little smarter than everyone else.
As for the subtitle, I thought then and think now that it was inarguable, at least among people interested in having an actual discussion, as opposed to flinging free association at each other on the Internet in short bursts. Alderson was one of a small group that "revolutionized" baseball and, given where the Mets had been in recent seasons, no question that by 2015 the team had been "revived."
That was the consensus at baseball's annual winter meetings in December 2014, and that was my view: The Mets had too much dominant young starting pitching not to make a major leap forward, and Alderson had always said that when they had enough talent to be competitive in the postseason, they would make midseason upgrades to improve further. I could not have known the Mets would have the magical season they have, but I was sure they'd make the playoffs. I was sure they'd be playing meaningful games into October - now they might be playing them into November.
Playing into late October, I think you would agree, qualifies as "Revived." .
10/27/2015 03:44:52 pm
Thanks, George - and I always wondered how you came up with "dark side." Coco was just playing with that book yesterday, as a matter of fact.
10/27/2015 04:03:44 pm
The scene in the Mets’ locker room is pandemonium as they celebrate their first World Series trip in 15 years. Meanwhile in a dim hallway underneath Wrigley Field, Yoenis Cespedes, still in full uniform, is seen talking to a man in a dark suit with a bright red tie. The man goes by the name of Mr. Applegate.
10/27/2015 07:09:58 pm
Roy, I think the Applegate Moment came when NL pitchers started to go outside on Cespedes. But I'm still picking the Mets. Kettmann's piece talks about spirit in a series. KC strikes me as a team with good vibes itself. But I'm sticking with the people I've been watching -- deGrom, Familia, Murphy, Wilmer. Colon, Best, GV
10/27/2015 06:21:49 pm
I like to read the Nobel authors. My kids know this and I sometimes I get a gift on the latest. Mostly, I'm interested, satisfied, but a bit disappointed. I haven't read your soccer book, George, or Kettmann's but you've got me real interested in both. Maybe the Nobel committee should add a prize on sports books. In any event, I'll let my kids know about this particular blog entry.....enjoy the game Mets fans!
10/28/2015 03:55:43 am
Finally, you spoiled Americans get to be tired watching post season ball. Tell Bill Wakefield to pick a side. We may need him. Why is Duda taking two strikes on 3-0 late in game?
10/28/2015 09:08:05 am
Mendel: In your line of work, you deal with complexities. What is more complicated than a guy who still has friends in his beloved home town, and has great memories of being young and a Met? Wakefield was wide awake at the end - I was listening to Rose & Lewin on the radio, eyes closed, but well aware Mets were in trouble.
10/29/2015 05:07:48 am
I spent a lot of time to read this book and it was literally not of my taste. That was quite boring for me.
10/29/2015 08:39:28 am
Don't worry, I get that a lot. GV
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From the great Maureen Dowd:
As I write this, I’m in a deserted newsroom in The Times’s D.C. office. After working at home for two years during Covid, I was elated to get back, so I could wander around and pick up the latest scoop.
But in the last year, there has been only a smattering of people whenever I’m here, with row upon row of empty desks. Sometimes a larger group gets lured in for a meeting with a platter of bagels."
--- Dowd writes about the lost world of journalists clustered in newsrooms at all hours, smoking, drinking, gossipping, making phone calls, typing, editing.
"Putting out the paper," we called it.
Much more than nostalgia.