I wanted to say before all this blog business gets too far, that I’m dedicating it to my brother-in-law Anthony Perrotti, who died this year at age 43. He was a nice fellow, a wonderful father, and also a huge, huge baseball fan who would hardly miss his beloved Mets when they were on the telly. One of my enduring images of Anthony is in his Barca-style lounger, a Saranac beer or martini in hand, hot summer night outside, listening and watching Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling and Gary Cohen describe the latest goings-on in Mets land. Sometimes when it was really muggy he had to wipe his shaved head (chemo=lost curly black hair) with a towel.
My sister gave me one of his Mets shirts after he died, and I treasure it.
Anthony got me back into New York baseball big time when I moved back to New York; living in the basement of his house didn’t hurt. I had decided to spurn my lifelong Yankee fandom (much like Ronald Reagan deciding to go with the Republicans in the ‘60s after his Hollywood-era dalliance with the Democrats) because George Steinbrenner was such an asshole and I worked for so many of his kind in my day—belligerent, belittling egomaniacs who thought insults and innuendo were part of your benefits package, so I had to say, fuck them all. Also, the way the Yankees co-opted 9/11 into their own twisted personal corporate tragedy –especially with that fucking carpetbagger Giuliani along for the ride (speaking of someone who would switch horses, political parties, or wives at the drop of a hat or the drop of an electoral ballot)—was absolutely sickening.
But back to the Mets and Anthony. Since my return to New York in 2005, A.P. and I watched countless games together, went to Shea Stadium, went to the new Citi Field, we had ourselves a ball being Mets fans in New York and all the masochistic joy that the near-pennants of recent vintage brought. Sitting through two-hour-plus rain delays on a Saturday afternoon, only to finally leave and watch the damn game at the Black Sheep Pub on Third Avenue. Watching Dontrelle Willis, a pitcher, hit a screaming line-drive-grand-slam over the “K’ scoreboard in rightfield, effectively ending the game and crazy Jose Lima’s career with one swing of the bat. The joy of Reyes uninjured; the bummer of Reyes hobbled; the joy of Pedro uninjured; the total bring-down of Pedro limping through his last two seasons at Shea and then…the kicker…coming back with the Phillies to get to the World Series. Oh God.
I even got a plant from Anthony’s wake—a big unwieldy green thing that I’ve kept alive and even re-potted through a hot New York summer. I decided that this plant had taken on Anthony’s spirit and I was going to watch the games with him, still. So, I call the plant Anthony, I talk to it in an odd Irish accent when I water it, and we watched many games together this summer. “Didja see dat one Antony? Jaysus what a shot!” You can imagine one bachelor, two cats, a six-pack and a disembodied brother-in-law on about the fifth inning of a game that’s broadcast from the West Coast (i.e. not starting until 10 pm). My narrative is far more entertaining than Gary Cohen’s and I’m sure Anthony and my cats agree on that.
During my time in Venezuela I found many connections to Mets past and present, and I’m sure Anthony would’ve laughed to hear some of the names. One of the reasons I went back to do this thing, anyway, was because you realize when people shake off the old mortal coil—and I’ve seen them come and go already at various ages—you gotta live life to the fullest and go for the gusto, even if it’s in some ramshackle stadium in Caracas (in fact, there’s more gusto there than in many other places you’d care to look).
So brother-in-law—as Christmas approaches we all miss you greatly. The Mets are financially in the same shape as the Greek government, Jose Reyes is now trolling South Beach for babes who can handle his hackneyed hamstrings, and we don’t know what the future holds for our beloved Queens-bound franchise (since the Jets left, the only New York pro team outside of Manhattan—how cool is that? And–in the most diverse borough in all the United States, ethnically speaking.). So next season, I’ll still put the ticket stubs from the games in your branches, give you a pat on the leaves and a game summary, and dammit, I’ll still miss you.