Someone listening. Alternately (and far more likely): Someone making reasonable decisions

Check it out:

Me, here, Dec. 4:

So it seems to me that the Mets would be better served trying to identify the next Ryan Ludwick rather than committing two years’ worth of guaranteed money to the current Ryan Ludwick. Somewhere, almost certainly, there’s a guy the Mets can have for nearly nothing who can serve as an effective right-handed half of an outfield platoon in the Majors. Maybe he’s not likely to hit as well as Ludwick did in 2007, but it’s far from a safe bet Ludwick will, either.

With some quick searching, I found my horse: Andrew Brown. The 28-year-old Brown notched 112 unspectacular at-bats with the Rockies in 2012, then elected free agency last week after the Rockies removed him from their 40-man roster. Brown bats right-handed, has experience in all four corners, and has hit .296/.373/.551 over the last two seasons in Triple-A with a .314/.416/.564 line against lefties.

Brown’s presented here more as an archetype of what the Mets should be looking for than a specific guy the Mets should be signing, and for all I know there are 10 teams currently bidding for Andrew Brown’s services. But if Brown’s looking for Major League playing time, it’s hard to figure a better spot for an unproven righty-hitting corner outfielder than Queens right now.

So, ahh, Andrew Brown: Make me look good here, huh?

New Year’s over-under polls

Busy morning here, unburying myself after some time off. Here are some over-unders.

Friday Q&A, pt.3: Food stuff and randos

Top 10? Gil! What am I, Zagat? Here are the Top 5: 5) Adobo torta, 4) No. 7 Sub Club, 3) Fry bread taco, 2) P.B.L.T., 1) Jibarito.

Also, for what it’s worth: I’ve seen so many year-end top-sandwiches list, and almost all of them contain multiple sandwiches that I’ve tried and don’t think belong anywhere near a top sandwiches list. I suspect some of it is flavor-of-the-month stuff and some of it is sample-size issues.

My wife and I enjoyed some leftover Chinese food and watched old episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia on Netflix. Pretty good way to celebrate your birthday, actually.

Notably, the Chinese food was fish, and I enjoyed it very much. It tasted more like the delicious sauce it came in than it did fish, but this is a huge step for me. My goal is to have as few dietary restrictions as possible, so I’d like to like fish, and I never really have before.

Wait, is anyone against ice cream sandwiches? Like, anyone in the world? The only possible problem I can think of with an ice cream sandwich is that sometimes if you get a freshly made ice-cream sandwich and squeeze the cookies too hard, the ice cream pushes out of the side and you have to scramble to lick up all the ice cream before it drips all over your hands and you get brain freeze. But that’s just really not so bad.

I welcome ice cream sandwiches of all varieties. I think the classic, store-brand, rectangular ice-cream sandwich is a massively underrated dessert treat. I like how you get the weird, delicious cookie sludge all over your hands while you eat it.

Typically it’s wildly overrated. What’s worse than New Year’s Eve? Until you’re old and crotchety, you wind up pressured by someone to spend $100 on some stupid open-bar thing that’s going to be a nightmare and packed with people but because you’ve invested in it you can’t even leave if it sucks.

This year, I’ll eat fancy cheese in my apartment then go watch the fireworks in Central Park. Maybe old-person New Year’s Eve is actually underrated.

Yikes. I really hope I’m never in any type of disaster that requires robots to uncover me, and I really, really, really, really, really hope that if I ever am, they don’t send f-ing cyborg cockroaches to root me out. Trauma on trauma.

Beats me. I usually eat my fill at Citi Field, and I almost never get pizza there. I know that if you go west along Roosevelt Avenue from the park, there are a bunch of little storefront eateries and a few of them always smelled pretty good when I would go out that way for a car service ride home at my old job. And obviously if you go east on Roosevelt into Flushing, there’s pretty much all you can handle in terms of Asian food (except Laotian food, incidentally. As far as I understand it, there’s no readily available Laotian food to be purchased in New York City. Luckily I should be getting plenty of Laotian food in Laos soon). Anyone? Good pizza near (but presumably not inside) Citi Field?

Friday Q&A, pt. 2: Other sports stuff

I don’t hate the Yankees the way most Mets fans do. Because I’m typically drawn to the underdog and the Yankees are never that, I rarely root for them, but I don’t surround myself with the type of Yankees fans who make it difficult to like Yankees fans. I owe a lot of that to the two Yankees fans with whom I most frequently chat online these days, Tom Boorstein and Alex Belth, both of whom are generally reasonable and not at all entitled.

That said, I am partial to Alex Rodriguez in part because he’s great and hilarious and in part because of the way the worst Yankee fans seem to hate him so much despite how great and hilarious he is.

My favorite Yankee ever, though, is easily Rickey Henderson. And I know Rickey spent way more time with the A’s and later played for the Mets, but he was a Yankee when I first became conscious of baseball. Henderson was, in fact, the man on the first baseball card I ever got for myself, at card show at the Holiday Inn in Rockville Centre before the 1987 season. There was a lottery at the show, where for a couple of bucks you could pick from a pile of envelopes featuring nine cards apiece, each envelope containing a different team’s starting lineup. My brother got the Brewers. I got the Yankees, with Rickey in front. (I also took home the grand prize from that same lottery, by the way: A coveted Kevin Seitzer rookie card.) I suspect I would have ultimately liked Rickey anyway, because Rickey.

I rarely watch them. I’ve got nothing against college football and if I’m someplace where people are watching, I’ll tune in and enjoy all the particulars of football at that level that don’t exist in the NFL. I’ve always loved offensive strategy in football, dating back to afternoons spent drawing up formations and plays with my friend Bill in perhaps the nerdiest jock activity ever. So I like watching the replays of successful plays and trying to figure out how everything worked and why it worked, identifying who made key blocks, and which players who probably aren’t getting credit for the play on the broadcast that will definitely get credit for the play in the team’s film review.

But I’ve never had any rooting interest in a college football team, and since I spend so many of my waking hours watching baseball, the NFL and college basketball, I rarely feel the desire to take on new sports at this point. I’ve watched a lot more NBA this season than I have in the past, but I still prefer the college game even if the players are clearly nowhere near as good.

Pretty sure it’s the media. Sad thing is, I’m not even kidding. And that’s not to diminish Tebow’s desire or anything.

https://twitter.com/bo0n27/status/284679349955854336

Ben! Don’t let Ben’s humble egg-avatar fool you, he’s as triumphant a guitar shredder as you’re ever going to play in a band with for several years, provided you are me. No joke: One time I went to see him play at Carnegie Hall only to be turned away because it was sold out.

Also, that’s awesome. I claim no exclusive dominion over fake mustaches, and Blake Griffin wears his well. I’d ask for context, but I think I prefer to dream on it.

Friday Q&A, pt. 1: Mets stuff

I don’t know, but if it’s anything of value, it’s probably not worth it. Cuddyer’s a nice player, and though he’ll be 34 by Opening Day he seems a pretty safe bet to hit for the next couple of seasons. Plus he bats right-handed, which the Mets need, and can play all four corners. But he has two years and $21 million remaining on his contract, and given the Mets’ widely reported financial constraints, that seems like more than the team should take on for a player of his age and ability even without sacrificing additional resources.

Per the latest reports, the Rockies have “made it clear that they highly value Cuddyer,” so a salary-dump type deal appears unlikely. If that’s the case, it seems the Mets could re-sign Scott Hairston for less money and yield similar production without having to trade away a pitcher to do so. Several teams have been linked to Hairston this offseason, but no reports I’ve seen have suggested he’ll earn anything like what Cuddyer’s set to make for the next two seasons. So if the Mets did somehow have the financial flexibility to bring on Cuddyer, they could pay whatever it takes to bring back Hairston and allocate the rest to bringing on a backup middle infielder or a bullpen arm.

Good question, and I fear I’ve been guilty of that some too. But to clarify: Right now, Baxter looks like the Mets’ best all-around outfielder on the roster. That’s damning with faint praise, I know, and all of Baxter’s Major League success has come across a tiny 260 plate-appearance sample. But it’s not out of line with what Baxter did in the Minors, and at the very least Whitestone Mike’s strong 2012 campaign should put to rest the nagging assertion from before last season that he had no place on a Major League roster.

From here, Baxter looks like a viable platoon and bench option at the very least, and given that he’s solid on defense in the corners, I wouldn’t mind seeing the team give him a few more opportunities against left-handers to see what he could do with them. Baxter, by his own account, lost playing time to more heralded prospects throughout his Minor League career. He seems like exactly the type of solid big-leaguer that can fly under the radar and emerge when given a proper chance.

Also: Awesome dude, shares a name with Ron Burgundy’s dog, grew up a Mets fan, saved the no-hitter. I’m not here to tell you what to do, but if you’re a Mets fan and you’re still complaining about Mike Baxter’s role on the team, you probably need some time away.

I’d say Roy Hobbs but he’s old and notoriously streaky, plus the last thing the Mets need is more lefties. So I’ll stick with the same fictional world and go with The Whammer, who was purportedly the greatest hitter in the world, hit right-handed (at least in the movie, despite his obvious parallels to Babe Ruth), and was smart enough to strike out against a farmboy in front of a mysterious woman dedicated to shooting the best there ever was and best there ever would be.

I’d take the World Series, without question. I live well outside of the Rockville Centre Gino’s delivery range now, and a big part of Taco Bell’s appeal is its inexpensiveness. How much am I legitimately going to spend on Gino’s and Taco Bell over the course of the rest of my life? Hard to imagine it’s more than $6000 or so, unless inflation runs wild. I’d gladly shell out $6000 in monthly installments over the next 50 years to secure a World Series win for the Mets now.

Doesn’t seem like he will be, but I sure hope he is — if only because I want Mike Piazza honored in every which way possible. Don’t try to come at me with rational arguments against this because I won’t hear them. LALALALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU MIKE PIAZZA IS THE BEST.

I don’t know if it’s a longstanding thing or a recent trend, but I think it’s silly when writers leave guys off their first ballots because they don’t believe they should be “first-ballot Hall of Famers.” If you decide a guy’s a deserving Hall of Famer, vote for him. Let the first-ballot stuff happen organically.

Scott Hairston or bust?

Since we last met, both Cody Ross and Nick Swisher came off the market, leaving precious few viable free-agent outfield options remaining for the Flushing Nine. Here’s the full list of unsigned outfielders who bat right-handed or switch, from MLB Trade Rumors:

Here's what Scott Hairston looks like. – Jeff Baker
– Mark DeRosa
– Ben Francisco
– Scott Hairston
– Austin Kearns
– Darnell McDonald
– Ryan Raburn
– Juan Rivera
– Delmon Young

Slim pickings. Not all of those guys could realistically be called outfielders, and some of them are no safe bet to be upgrades over Justin Turner in an outfield corner. No joke.

Baker has played more infield than outfield across his career and suffered a woeful season at the plate in 2012, but he can boast a lifetime .296/.344/.498 split against lefties, even if it’s bolstered by stints in Colorado and Chicago. DeRosa will be 38 by Opening Day and hasn’t done any hitting to speak of since 2009. Francisco’s a poor fielder with no demonstrable platoon split, so he’s no upgrade over the Mets’ cadre of lefty-hitting guys, even against lefties.

Hairston you know about. Kearns you probably know about too, though he’s somehow still only 32. He doesn’t have much of a platoon split either, but since he gets on base and is a decent defender, he wouldn’t be the worst option for the Mets.

McDonald also wouldn’t be terrible on a flyer. A Minor League veteran who became a fan favorite with the Red Sox in 2010, he seemed to suffer at the hands of the BABIP demons in 2012 and has a Fenway-aided and small-sample career .274/.342/.436 line against lefties. Raburn had a terrible, horrible, worse-than-Jason-Bay 2012, but hit lefties very well in 2009 and 2010 and pretty well in 2011. Supposedly six teams are interested in his services, so he might cost more than he’s worth, but on a cheap contract Raburn’s a decent bet to bounce back, with the added bonus of some positional flexibility.

Rivera’s offensive output has been on a steady decline since 2009 and at 34, he’s pretty limited in the outfield, but he can still hit lefties a bit. Delmon Young looks a lot like Reginald VelJohnson but lacks Lieutenant Winslow’s plate discipline.

Not included on MLBTR’s list is my guy Andrew Brown, a better option than about half the above listed players. If I had to rank them in terms of how they’d fit the Mets’ needs, I’d probably go something like this:

1) Hairston
(Gap)
2) Kearns
3) Rivera
(Gap)
4) Raburn
5) Brown
6) Baker
7) McDonald
(Gap)
8) Francisco
9) Young
10) DeRosa

With the bottom three there not really preferable to making the best of what’s already available in house.

So, yeah: Scott Hairston makes sense for the Mets, and, since Hairston reportedly seeks playing time above all else, the Mets make sense for Hairston. Depends on the deal, of course, and since Hairston’s hardly Nick Johnson in his ability to get on-base he’s not the ideal fit for the Mets’ lineup. But he’s the best of what’s available, and his awesome laser shots made for some of the team’s greatest moments of 2011 and 2012.

Chuck D is a Mets fan

I knew this, but it’s always nice to be reminded of it. It makes sense, since Chuck D was born in Queens, went to high school and college on Long Island, and is inexplicably awesome.

Also, in between Public Enemy’s heyday and his reality-TV revival, Flavor Flav was a regular at Freeport High School football games, big clock and everything.

Friday Q&A, pt. 2: Food stuff and randos

I’m tempted to say the Breaded Steak from Ricobene’s, the highest rated sandwich ever reviewed on this site, but I’m pretty sure I’d go with the Full Bird, the sandwich that made me love sandwiches. I think I’d want something comforting in my final hours on earth, and that’s a sandwich that makes me feel like I’m at peace with everything, and home.

No disrespect to the bankers out there, but no. I do often dream of having much more money, though, and banking would probably be a good way to get about that. But I really don’t have the head for the particulars; I’d start thinking about how much money changes hands, and how that money rarely takes physical form and is instead just this weird ethereal wealth-cloud zipping through wires and how serious everyone’s being about this formless thing that seems six steps removed from anything of real, tangible value, and then I’d giggle a lot and lose focus on whatever banking stuff I’m supposed to be doing. Also, I don’t even really know what bankers do.

I think the only way I could actually do it would be as concept art. I’m not even sure if it’s true, but I read one time about David Byrne scheduling business meetings with executives, then showing up and putting on bizarre Powerpoint art presentations. I think I could do that type of banking.

Thin, definitely. No one wants a steak-sized portion of deli ham. Thinner slices allow for better ribboning, and better ribboning makes for better sandwiches. That’s proven.

One issue I’ve had though is it feels like people go so crazy with requesting their deli meat sliced thin that everyone’s always trying to one up each other, like, “Sliced extra thin!” First off, the deli man at anyplace worth its salt knows that you probably want your meats sliced thin, so even if you don’t say anything you’re going to get reasonably thin slices of meat. Second, there’s no “extra thin,” at least not that you want. When you specify you want your meat sliced thin, the guy’s going to set the slicer to make it about as thin as it can be without shredding the meat. Extra thin is a big (delicious) pile of shredded meat that’s impossible to do anything with after it’s wrapped up and it basically reconstitutes.

At good New York pizza places, they’re largely unnecessary. A good, well-proportioned slice of New York cheese pizza is like a perfect thing. There’s no need to upset the balance. Sometimes I’ll order one slice of cheese and one slice of something meaty (buffalo chicken, perhaps) for the sake of having protein, but chicken works better than pork on pizzas — and no disrespect to pork here, obviously — because pork is crazy greasy and so is pizza.

Also: Pepperoni pizza is wildly overrated. It’s fine, and I’m not going to turn down a slice if you hand me one. But I would way rather you give me a small stack of thinly sliced cold pepperoni and a slice of cheese pizza than watch bake that pepperoni onto the pizza. Not a synergistic relationship. Once the pepperoni heats up, the fat drips out and the pizza becomes unreasonably greasy.

Do you eat seafood and shellfish, or no? This sushi sandwich was awesome. And if I could eat lobster rolls without getting sick from them, I would do so as often as my budget would allow. Plus, I’ve recently decided to learn to like fish, so I’ll get back to you with more ideas if you’re open to fish.

If not, it’s pretty much falafel. The upside is that falafel’s amazing. Also, I’ve heard really good things about the broccoli sandwich at No. 7 Sub, but I’ve never been able to bring myself to order it when there are so many meatier options.

Our man Ceetar’s referring to a weird recent Twitter thing wherein I have been accused (by many people, multiple times) of Tweeting as @JedSmed, a now defunct account known for making jokes about the Mets. It’s just not true. I don’t particularly care if people think it’s true, but I don’t want to take credit for the guy’s material either. Also, I can’t understand why anyone thinks I’d do that. I make jokes about the Mets on Twitter under my own name, both for sad pathetic Twitter validation and because it increases my exposure and helps me promote this site. Why would I put effort into making other jokes about the Mets on a second, anonymous account? Also, I write thousands of words here every day and manage all the real-job parts of my job, to boot. How much time do people think I have?

I started a fake Twitter once. I’m not going to tell you what it is. It was a stupid meta-joke about fake Twitters, no one seemed to get it, and it lasted about two weeks. That was the only time I’ve been moved to do so. Have I mentioned that I’m incredibly vain? I like having my jokes attributed to me.