With every at-bat leading to a standing ovation, whether it is from the suddenly jam-packed Citi Field stands or the swathes of Mets fans spaced throughout stadiums on the road, Wilmer Flores has become a Mets icon overnight. Everything that the franchise has represented over the past decade, from near-misses during those final Shea seasons, to a plummeting payroll that forced the team to take chances on young and unproven players, to a sudden resurgence, Wilmer embodies it all. Mets fans aren’t cheering for Wilmer Flores because he proved that there is in fact crying in baseball, they cheer for him because he is the New York Mets: relevant out of nowhere.
The Mets lineup is now a familiar Facebook feed. Each player brings a story with them to the plate. My wife, who is used to watching a Mets team as boring as congressional roll calls, now cares what certain hitters do. When Wilmer Flores comes up, she pays attention, ready to share another fun moment.
Grand Slam Rockies appeared on my iPhone screen. My friend, who graciously let me stay at his place in DC way back on Opening Day, was letting me know that a door had opened for the Mets. The Nationals were losing.
I got his text in the 9th inning of the Mets game. They were three outs away from losing the series opener against Tampa and ending their six game winning streak. Then, what couldn’t have been more than 14 seconds later, the Mets started to rally. Lucas Duda reached base on an error, Michael Conforto doubled him home to tie the game, and then Travis d’Arnaud added another hit to put the go-ahead run at third with, who else, but Wilmer Flores coming to the plate. A little bloop single to the opposite field made Flores a hero again. The Mets won 4-3.
Over 162 games, there is a lot of random noise in a season. Individual at-bats, rallies, innings, and games become data points on a scatter plot that is a whole season. Then points begin to cluster and patterns emerge that define a pennant race. A grand slam by the Rockies, another big hit by Wilmer Flores, and within a few minutes of a season one million minutes long, a signal is found in the noise.
After sweeping the Nationals last weekend, the Mets swept the Marlins and took that first game in Tampa to extend their winning streak to seven games. Their first place lead ballooned to 2.5 games, 2.5 games! That’s enough to have a few bad days, as they did on Saturday and Sunday, and still sit atop the division with more than a game to spare.
Get used to it people, the Mets are contenders!
I have an obsessive personality. This blog is a product of that. So when I write for the first time about a real obsession that I have, it feels numb. As if the expression of all of my other obsessions steal meaning from this one. I can’t use words to describe how I feel because words have been devalued by an inflationary policy of writing about every interest that crosses my mind. Yet, to my words I return.
My obsession is with Lana Del Rey. She is my mistress. I met Emily when I was 21 years old, too young to even use words like mistress, and young enough that, now, ten years later, married, with one kid refusing her nap and another one on the way, talking about my fascination with a pop singer requires a word like mistress.
What makes Lana, or Lizzy – since the obsessive type should use her birth name instead of that silly stage name – so special? I don’t know. There’s just something about her. No writer, not even Franzen or Eugenides or Hosseini could arrange their words better in this case. So my simple words don’t feel so inadequate as I try to explain it.
I’m not the type to stand in line with a fold-up chair before the clock hits midnight and wait until the sun punches the horizon on the day that concert tickets go on sale. Does anybody do that anymore? Hasn’t the thrill of buying tickets the moment they are released been hijacked by the same hackers who have stolen our social security numbers and bank accounts? Either way, I’m not the type to express my fandom by standing in line, whether it be along a city building or in some virtual cloud. Again, that is what this blog is for. I express my fandom in words.
Lana Del Rey is meant to be a guilty pleasure. Not because you watch looping videos of her on YouTube while your lovely wife is asleep, but because she is a pop singer. She has more substance than Taylor Swift, sure, but she’s still a pop singer. It’s like with Alanis Morissette. No matter how many times you use your t-shirt to rub the fingerprints off that Jagged Little Pill CD to play it again, you never can admit that it’s one of your favorite albums.
I’m supposed to be listening to Tame Impala not Lana Del Rey.
As in any relationship, things can grow tired, just like the cliche that inevitably follows, that nothing is ever as good as the honeymoon. Lana’s latest single, Honeymoon, is a reminder of this. Nothing will be as good as Born to Die, her first album, where pop, hip hop, and jazz collided, and more than half of the album became single worthy, not because each song was written for a mass audience, but because they are so damn catchy. Many listeners probably miss the lyrics while bopping their heads and singing blindly to the made-for-repeat hooks. But there’s a lot there in the meaning of each song. There is desperation. There is anti-feminism. There are themes that a strong female singer in 2015 isn’t supposed to be about.
Maybe that is what I like so much about Lana Del Rey. There are so many obvious things that she could be, and those are normally the things that would keep me away, grouping her with the other pop singers who belong on terrestrial radio and tabloid magazine covers, but she manages to be something different. She adds discomfort to the obvious. She’s obviously talented, but also flawed. She’s obviously pop, but also punk rock. She’s obviously beautiful, but also made up.
One of the first performances I saw of Lana was on YouTube, when she sang Summertime Sadness at a rock festival. Wearing jean shorts at a cut-off length that would suggest they would be tighter than their actual boxy fit, she chomped on bubble gum, singing her hit song like a teenage fan who had picked the number for a talent show.
Midway through the song, she lowered her body, her stunning legs – muscular, feminine, seductive, perfect – keeping her balance, her high heels pure show at this point, too distracted by her strong legs to be supportive, and in that crouching position, she held the mic to the crowd, still chewing her gum, letting the fans sing in a tone as strong as hers that day, and for every obsessive fan like me, showing off why it doesn’t even matter how good she sings the song, she looks so fucking hot doing it, with no obvious reason she should, and clearly not caring if she does, that it works. It more than works. It mesmerizes.
That does it for this week!