Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I'm Home

Never before have two little words held so much meaning.

Those of you who have been to a country or countries in the eastern hemisphere can imagine how much of a shock it is to the system to go back and forth between the two, not only in terms of a culture shock, but a shock to the internal clock. For example: as you can tell from my posts, I don't go to bed until about 4AM or later on some nights. So what time did I wake up the first morning after arriving back home?

4AM, of course.

Yes, I'm home...if not quite in the pocket. So I trust that you will forgive me if you're reading this and thinking that I'm a little all over the place. (You would be all over the place too if you took a flight from Barcelona thinking that you were landing at Newark airport...only to be diverted to an Air Force base in Poughkeepsie because you don't have enough gas to remain in a holding pattern for thirty minutes...then get gas as if you were at the Dolly Madison rest stop and go up in the sky again for a half an hour to go from Poughkeepsie to Newark in a 757 airbus. And did I mention that we did all this in the rain with visibility at a mile and a quarter? All that was left to happen was for me to see Mel Rojas on the wing of the plane and I was ready to go into crash position right then and there.)

But I'm home...and after those harrowing plane rides, plus the taxi ride afterwards (I'm not going into that, but let's just say the Newark TLC got a phone call from me today), the words "I'm home" aren't just time fillers. They're pure emotion. ("I'm exhausted" could count as pure emotion as well...for the first time in a long time, I was happy that the Mets had a day off. I couldn't stay awake past 10PM last night...and that's not the blogger you know and love).

It was an amazing trip. Spain? Italy? France? The Principality of Monaco? Yes, I hit all of these places (along with Poughkeepsie), and as a result I have European culture dripping out of my pores (I plan to see a doctor about this right away). But yes, I've learned many things. Even visited the Roman Colosseum. It was a pitchers park, for sure. I learned that the park factor slanted the advantage even more in favor of the Lions over the Christians than even we thought. The Colosseum gets loads of visitors every day...so many in fact, that they say the place hadn't seen so much action since 79 B.C. when Emperor Aase gave up a home run to Augustus, and then subsequently was eaten by a Lion named Schottzie.

(The official Roman mascot back in those times was called the "Pompeii Phanatic". Our tour guide told us so.)

Also saw a young boy in a "Totti" jersey get a gas face from one of the local waiters in Rome, which is funny since this Totti character is on the Italian national soccer team, and has even played his entire career in the city of Rome. So why would a guy in Rome wince at the sight of his jersey? That's when I learned from our tour guide that the English translation of "Totti" is actually "Schoeneweis". Who knew?

You know what else I learned? Our American dollar sucks. One euro is worth about $1.44 right now. How are we a country so prosperous that we have wifi compatibility in McDonald's, but can't produce currency worth a damn? Perhaps we should put Ronald McDonald on the dollar bill and put good ol' George to rest. We're complaining about $7.00 beers at Shea? I went to the bar in our Barcelona hotel and ordered two Coca-Colas. Not the 16 ounce bottles we're used to...more like little eight ounce thimbles. For two little Cokes? Nine euros...which is like 14 bucks.

You heard right: $7.00 Cokes at eight ounces a pop. I could get wine for a piece of string, but needed to put down a mortgage for a Coke and a Coke Light (that's lingo for Diet Coke). Now Barcelona is a beautiful city but mamma mia, seven dollars for a mouthful of Coke?

I'm home. And do you know who else is home? Check out the following quote:

"I asked God, if I don't come to Atlanta, I might as well pack it up. I wouldn't go anywhere else, because at my stage and age, if I go anywhere, guys don't know how to use me and they don't know me as well as this organization.
I'm home."
-Julio Franco, upon re-signing with Atlanta
Forgive me if I'm not breaking out my kleenex for you and your egg whites, Julio.

Let me tell you why this bothers me, and if you're a Braves fan visiting my blog, it should bother you too. It bothers me because I can't remember the last time someone came to the Mets and proclaimed "I'm home". People always have to be convinced when it comes to the Mets. Then they leave to go "home". Franco had to be convinced about the Mets when it came to giving him the extra season on his contract, without which he would have never been here in the first place.

And that's why it should bother you Braves fans. Oh sure, you rolled out the red carpet for him with your "Ju-li-o" chants and made him feel welcome in his first game back. "Ooh, he loves us, he came home for us." No, he came home because he was hitting .200 with the Mets, and he had no real choice. Funny how when the last time Ju-li-o did have a choice at the beginning of 2006 about whether to return "home", or whether to take an extra season's contract with the arch-rivals, your beloved Ju-li-o left "home" for the money. But now, with nowhere else to turn, he goes home...like the kid who drops out of college and needs money for food so he moves back home for all the chicken and homemade brownies he can eat. Must make you Braves fans feel good.

Of course, the first thing he does with the Braves is pull a baseball for a two run single. He hasn't gotten a hit since, which mean his next one will be against the Mets in a key spot, against the team that is paying the rest of his salary. I can feel it.

But I'm home. And the Mets returned home a day after me. They were 6-3 in my absence, which is probably a good reason to have customs keep me out of the country. But I'm happy to be back...back to reasonably priced soda, sporting events that I'm familiar with (the Hard Rock Cafe in Barcelona had on their big screen, of all things, the Formula One race...won by Fernando Alonso if you must know) and soap that doesn't smell like bacon (don't ask). Back to the wonder that is John Maine, pitching well and smacking one over the wall in a single bound, and Lastings Milledge throwing in a two run bomb as if to say "Franco Schmanco". Maine, Milledge, and those like them are going to have to carry me during this period of blogging rehab for me, because after a week plus away, I'm rusty. My computer is rusty. And Julio Franco has gone home, which means my old man jokes are rusty. But as long as Moises Alou and I rehab together, then things are going to end up being just fine.

Fine indeed...because I'm home.


upstate met fan said...

Poughkeepsie? You could of stopped by and said hello, metstra. You were only 45mins from my home town, Catskill. And, about 3 hours from Cooperstown. Who needs eastern europe when you have cooperstown?

The Mets were 6-3 in your absence? hmmm

Good to have you back....?

Mike said...

Welcome back, Metstra. I hope you rooted for Atletico Madrid while in Spain. They're the Mets to Real Madrid's Yankees, for sure.

Anyway, I have to take issue with this: pull a baseball for a two run single

I refuse to believe this "pull" thing. Pigs don't fly (to Poughkeepsie or anywjere else), French people don't wear deodorant, and Julio Franco doesn't "pull" base hits.

I know you're jet-lagged and all, but for goodness sake man: edit & proofread your posts!

Metstradamus said...

Thanks Mike. The one sporting event that was going on in Barcelona the night we stayed there was...are you ready for this...bullfighting.

Good thing we didn't go. I would have been kicked out rooting for the bull. We just went to Hard Rock Cafe instead.

Daniel said...


Totti probably got the gas face bc the waiter was a Lazio fan.

In Rome, you have the pro-fascist Lazio team (Yankees) and the working class team AS Roma (Mets). Totti plays for Roma!

Mets Guy in Michigan said...

Welcome back! Nice retro ballpark in the top photo. Looks a little run down, but still safer than Yankee Stadium.

sean said...

Welcome back, Metstra. I'll be hitting Europe in about a month, so yor advice regarding the soda is much appreciated.

Glad to see Julio Franco hitting the stuffing out of the ball in Atlanta. Is there a record for oldest player to bat below the Mendoza line?

Lastings Milledge has been an absolute pleasure to watch over the past few weeks; what kind of playing schedule do you think he'll have once Pee-Pee Hands comes back?

And I know you said don't ask, but I absolutely must hear about this bacon soap...

Metstradamus said...


The hotel we stayed at left us a bar of soap in the bathroom...and I swear to you it had a hint of bacon in its odor.

You have to understand we had a week where all we used was gel...so a solid bar of soap was a welcome surprise until we got the distinct odor of pig lard.

The sodas are expensive wherever you go in Europe, but especially stay away from ordering a soda from your hotel. A regular store will sell you a soda for about 2.50 euro (about $4) which is still a rip off, but not as bad what your hotel would probably charge.

Do yourself a favor and just stick to wine while in the old country. Cheaper.

Anonymous said...

Atletico? Jesus man, they aren't the Mets, they're the Cubs' "success" with the fans from pick-your-Oakland-team. No...that's not true...futbol fans don't relate to any type of fans in this country.


Toasty Joe said...

Wow - two bloggers, two European recaps. Why do you and I always have this weird karma about our posts, Metstra?

Elliot said...

I'm straining to remember exactly who they were, but didn't we have a few guys on the team in the last few years who grew up Mets fans and "came home?" I think Roberto Hernandez is one, although like Franco he didn't have a ton of offers after 2004. Being a draft pick, David Wright doesn't really count, but weren't there a few other recent examples? And of course there was Leiter and Franco, who were both traded here but "stayed home" in their prime when they probably could have squeezed some extra coin out of an open market. And I'd hate to even invoke his name but didn't Bonilla grow up a Mets fan?

Metstradamus said...

Toasty, first off congrats on your wedding dude! That's an awesome place to have a wedding.

We are just in sync. Either that, or you're the voice in my head. Or maybe you're like that woman who was narrating Will Ferrell's life in that movie that we only caught half of in our stateroom while waiting for our next dinner, and missed the ending of. It's weird.

Welcome back!