Archive for New York Mets

This Week’s Greatest Thing Ever

I’m off to Baltimore, Camden Yards specifically, to see the Mets play the Orioles.

Every year I take a trip with my buddy from Queens. Always to see the Mets. We’ve been to Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Chicago and Washington D.C. Our big dream is San Francisco, but that can wait for a while. Last time I was in Baltimore I visited Edgar Allan Poe’s grave. You are supposed to leave a penny or a bottle of bourbon or something like that. Pretty sure I went with the penny.

NOTE: Found this on NPR, just to prove how a reasonable guy (me) can truly mess up his facts:

For decades, three roses and a bottle of cognac mysteriously appeared once a year at the grave of Edgar Allan Poe. Now a 92-year-old man claims it was all a promotional stunt aimed at preserving the Baltimore churchyard where Poe is buried. Sam Porpora, a former advertising executive, says either he or one of his tour guides would drop off the gifts every year on Poe’s birthday. Poe’s fans say only this and nothing more.

Actually, I still might be right about the penny. No time to look into it now, I’ve got a plane to catch!

In the meantime, please — oh, you must! — click on the video below, stick with it a little while, watch the drummer, and let the awesomeness flow over you. Around the 1:00 point should do it.

Funny, I own the same jacket.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

Fan Mail Wednesday #87

Crazy busy time of year. Spring hits, the family calendar fills up, and we can barely keep up with our day jobs. Quick: Let’s answer a letter.

This one came the old-fashioned way . . . by Pony Express!

I replied:

Dear Madison from Canyon Lake:

Best letter ever. I mean it.

Okay, maybe you share first place with a bunch of other folks, but nobody beats Madison from Canyon Lake. As a children’s book author, there’s nothing better than hearing that maybe you helped someone become enthusiastic about reading.

I love books and I am amazed at the life that has come to me through that love of books. As a kid, I never planned on being a writer. I planned on being an All-Star southpaw pitcher for the New York Mets. (As John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”) These days, I am always reading something, with a long list of books that I’m eager to tackle next. So many books, so little time. It makes me happy to think that you are on the same journey: reading, thinking, learning. Keep up the great work.

The Case of the Buried Treasure is one of my all-time favorite books in the series. There’s a lot of little things that I snuck in there, such as a sly tribute to former NY Mets manager Gil Hodges, and another to Alfred Hitchcock. I also paid tribute to a 1963 movie that was a favorite from back when I was a boy, “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.” You can find that in the chapter titled, “The Big Y.” I tend to think young readers don’t notice these things, like small treasures I bury in the story, but it pleases me to include them just the same. I guess I put them in there for the parents who might be reading along — and for myself.

For readers who don’t know the book, here’s the first in a series of riddles that Jigsaw must solve in order to locate the treasure: A man left home. He ran as fast as he could. Then he turned to the left. He ran and turned left again. He ran and turned left again. He headed back for home. He saw two masked men waiting for him. Yet he was not afraid.

Jigsaw’s grandmother, a baseball lover, helps him figure it out.

Thanks for writing. Your friend,

James Preller

Happy Nappy Bloggy Baseball: Around the Horn with Doret

My friend, Doret Canton, of The Happy Nappy Bookseller blog, goes around the horn with nine authors of children’s baseball books. It’s a pretty cool lineup with some heavy hitters, sure to score runs in bunches.

Doret’s come up with a fun, inventive way of sharing her passion for baseball and baseball books, with each author answering interview questions over a series of days.

Here’s the lineup:

1. Gene Fehler, Change-up: Baseball Poems
2. Linda Sue Park, Keeping Score
3. Kurtis Scaletta, Mudville
4. Alan Gratz, Brooklyn Nine
5. Julianna Baggott, The Prince of Fenway Park
6. James Preller, Six Innings
7. Jennifer E. Smith, The Comeback Season
8. Carl Deuker, Painting the Black
9. Mick Cochrane, The Girl Who Threw Butterflies

Alongside this company, I’m like that kid at second base, murmuring to himself, “Don’t screw it up, don’t screw it up, please God don’t let me screw it up.”

Here’s Round One, questions 1-3.

Here’s Round Two, questions 4-6.

Stop on over and check it out.

By the way, I interviewed Doret back about a year ago. She’s a passionate, voracious reader and I love her attitude. You wanna get real? Go talk to Doret. But don’t believe my word for it, decide for yourself.

After spending time with Doret, you’ll definitely want to put on a squeeze play.

Alex Rodriguez Gets a Makeover: “I Had to Look in the Mirror. I Had to Face the Music. I Had to Change.”

In a recent article in the New York Daily News, writer Anthony McCarron describes the rehabilitation of Yankee slugger, Alex Rodriguez.

Soon after helping the Yankees win the 2009 World Series, Rodriguez noted: “A lot of people were very honest with me. I had to look in the mirror. I had to face the music, and I had to to change, and I did that. Kevin Long came to my house in November and said some things that were uncomfortable and I listened, and I changed.”

[Long said:] In order for the team to be together, he had to change and he did. A lot of people tell Alex what he wants to hear. It wasn’t comfortable for me to talk to him like this, but if it ultimately helped us become a better team, that’s what matters.”

Rodriguez changed some little things — made more eye contact with folks he talked to “as opposed to a quick look and his mind already racing to something else,” Long said. He chose the team plane more often, eschewing private jets, and cut down his cell-phone calls at the ballpark. He joined clubhouse conversations, spent time with teammates, tried to be one of the guys.

In a related note, US Weekly recently ran an item noting that Rodriguez had two portraits of himself as a centaur hanging over his bed.

What follows is an attempt to reconstruct the conversation between Long and Rodriguez during that remarkable November visit.


DL: Alex, sit down. It’s time for an intervention. I hate to say this. I know it’s painful. But you’ve got to change. No one on the team likes you.

A-Rod (defensively): You like me.

DL: Actually, no. I’m on your payroll. Otherwise, I’m not here, I’m playing golf with Posada.

A-Rod: Posada?

DL: You’ve got to learn how to be a regular guy in the clubhouse, Alex. Your teammates don’t — Alex, Alex! Could you please stop staring at the mirror. Look at me!

A-Rod (whispering): God, you’re sooooo pretty. I could stare at you all day long.

DL: Alex, that’s still the mirror. Turn around. Eye contact. Look . . . at . . . me.

A-Rod: Why? You’re not as pretty as I am.

DL: Alex, don’t you understand. That’s why I’m here. You act as if you don’t care about anyone but yourself.

A-Rod: How dare you say that! It’s not an act — I really, honestly, sincerely don’t care about anyone besides myself.

DL: Your teammates think you are a self-absorbed egomaniac.

A-Rod: Teammates?

DL: You know, Derek, Jorge, Mariano, Mark . . .

A-Rod: I’m drawing a blank.

DL: C.C., Johnny, Hideki . . .

A-Rod: You mean the Japanese guy? Isn’t he my sushi chef?

DL: No, Jesus, Alex! And Matsui hates when you call him that. These guys are your teammates.

A-Rod: Oh, wait, hold on, I think I know who you’re talking about — you mean the guys who always dress like me?

DL: It’s a uniform, Alex. Everybody wears the same uniform. Alex, another thing . . . could you please put down the cell phone for one freaking minute? Do you have to text right now in the middle of our conversation? Who could be that important?

A-Rod: I wish I had my own airport. Boras promised me that . . .

DL: Alex, for the love of all that is good and holy in this world. Please. It’s time for you to change.

A-Rod: But I want to change!

DL: You do?

A-Rod (jumps up from chair): Yes, desperately. I’m going to change right now!

DL: Alex, Alex? Where are you . . . ? (Long follows Rodriguez into his bedroom, where the Yankee third-baseman changes into a new outfit.) Alex — not that kind of change.

A-Rod: How do I look? Too gypsy?

DL: Jesus, Alex.

A-Rod: Too matchy-matchy?

DL: I don’t know, maybe you could make it work. Do you have a pair of boots or something that highlighted your glistening orbs . . . My God! What am I saying??!!

A-Rod: Man, I wish I could tickle myself. Isn’t it sad? People can’t tickle themselves.

DL: Alex, please, for the love of . . . what the . . . is that a centaur over your bed?

A-Rod: Isn’t it amazing?

DL: Uh, yeah, amazing — that’s a word for it. I mean, there might be other words, too, better words, but — Holy God, there’s another! You have TWO paintings of yourself as a centaur? One wasn’t enough?

A-Rod: I’m not sure if two is enough. I’m hiring a guy to paint a new one of me as a unicorn. Except that instead of a horn coming out of my forehead, it would be my . . .

DL: Alex, please, enough already. Just stop. I’m out of here. I’m  gone. In fact, forget I was ever here. Just, just . . . keep hitting home runs . . . okay? We don’t care about the rest. It’s baseball. It’s not like it’s a real team sport anyway.

A-Rod: Thanks for this talk, Hank. Or, um, Fred? Or, anyway, it was really helpful. I promise you. I’m going to change. Do you think if I tied this sweater around my waist, like this, it makes me look too bloated?


Centaur image from, courtesy of Jason Fry, from the Faith and Fear in Flushing blog (see sidebar).

James Preller is a life-long Mets fan who, as a third-grader, went to Shea to watch the 5th Game of the 1969 World Series. He is also the author of the ALA Notable Children’s Book, Six Innings.

Glad That’s Over: The Mets Season in Two Photos (For Mets Fans Only)

Allow me to interrupt “The Never-Ending Lewis Buzbee Interview” to bid a not-so-fond adieu to the end of the baseball season for my beloved New York Mets . . .

File this one under: “How It Feels To Be a Mets Fan These Days.”

Hat tip to the hardworking Aaron Gleeman for first commenting on the photo. I’m basically just stealing Aaron’s act right now. As for the photo below. Woof.

That’s how bad it’s been. The longest. Season. Ever. Or at least since the dismal, dispiriting 1979 squad that lost 99 games.

Glad it’s over. And I never say that.

Tonight, I’m a Twins fan . . .