Due to some great feedback from my readers, one of the suggestions that I had gotten was to try to get an interview with a professional athlete. When I was thinking about how I would go about that, I said to myself, “I know it’s going to be tough to get an athlete to answer an E-mail about an interview, or to get in contact with a professional organization. But what if I interviewed someone who is involved in pro sports that someone might not notice?” I was thinking about an umpire, referee, or maybe a front office type employee? Well, thanks to a reader (We’ll call him “Point Five”), I got into contact with someone who has done something that almost every young kid has dreamed about doing.
I got the chance to have an e-mail conversation with Matt Harris, who was the bat-boy (don’t call him that) for the New York Mets from 2006 thru parts of 2009. Here is the interview…
Total Sports Blog: How did you get the job?
Matt Harris: During the Junior year at SUNY Cortland in one of my Sports Management classes, a person in my group used to have a job, and he gave me the contact info.
TSB: Are you a Mets Fan?
MH: No, I was born and raised a Yankee fan, a pretty passionate one at that. I think this helped in a way, cause I was able to keep a better fan/employee balance.
TSB: Are you still the bat-boy?
MH: I am not currently the bat boy, or employed by the New York Mets. I worked the 2006, 07, 08, and briefly in 09.
In the last couple of months, I’ve heard more and more people say things along the lines of, “This is not what the ’86 Mets would be doing”, “This team needs to get more grit like the ’86 team” and “We need more guys from the ’86 team around.”, blah blah blah.
I completely understand why fans want what the ’86 team had. I can’t remember a team that had such an “Eff You” attitude, in my lifetime. They knew they were gonna beat you, and if it meant they had to punch you in the face to do it, they would.
When you look at that team, versus the 2010 team, there’s no doubt in my mind that the only 4 guys on the 2010 team that could cut it on the ’86 team are Santana, Blanco, Carter and Frenchy. I know Reyes got into it with Miguel Olivo back in ’07, but Jose just isn’t that type of player.
The ’86 team’s biggest SOB’s were their best players. Carter, Knight, Hernandez, and the beast in LF, Kevin Mitchell. Seriously, do you think if Hanley Ramirez came into 3rd base hard, that David Wright would throw a right hook and then Jason Bay would come sprinting in from LF to throw bodies across the diamond? I don’t think so.
The good old days of great pitching and timely hitting are just not in the cards for the 2010 Mets. One week the pitching is great, and then the offense goes into hibernation (as we are seeing right now). There won’t be any bench clearing brawls to spark this club. It’s a different era. Everyone is friends, and even the most heated rivalries don’t have the pure hatred like they once did.
Listen, before the season started, every Met fan would have signed up for an 84-87 win season. We knew if we got a break here or there, we could make the playoffs. Well here we are. 1 game over .500 and 6 back in the Wild Card standings with 63 games to go. There are no Ray Knights or Gary Carters out there. So Omar has his work (If he’s still employed by the time this is printed) cut out for him in the next 5 days.
Let’s go Mets!
When you hear people talk about team chemistry, different opinions are everywhere. One guy will say that it’s overrated, the next guy thinks that it’s essential. I think in sports like football, basketball and hockey, there are multiple parts moving in unison during gameplay that makes chemistry essential. But in the game of baseball, so many plays are one player vs another player, that I don’t believe chemistry comes into play. It’s more of an overall attitude.
The 2010 Mets are a perfect example. Early on in the season, the team looked pretty lost like most of the 2nd half of last season and the final month of the previous two seasons. We can blame it all on the injuries, but when it’s all said and done, there was no excitement or energy on this team other than Reyes, Wright or Santana. For the past 3 years Omar has gone out and found some good value off the scrap heap like Fernando Tatis, Damion Easley, and R.A. Dickey. But for every one of those moves, there have been the Louie Castillo, Garry Sheffied, Garry Matthews and Frank Catalanotto’s of the world. What do they all have in common? They are all essentially AARP members.
When the Mets went on their run this year, I believe there was no coincidence that it started with the call-up of Ike Davis. He brought this shot of youthful exuberance to not only the Mets lineup, but to the entire fan base. As the season rolled on, Ruben Tejada was called up, Chris “The Animal” Carter was unleashed, Jenry Mejia was pitching regularly, Josh Thole was battling Strasburg, Jonathon Niese was starting every 5th day, and we even had a few games where the entire infield was home-grown. Ike, Ruben, Jose and David put a huge smile on the face of Mets fans everywhere. Heck, even Ollie was placed on the DL and we didn’t have to deal with that garbage.
First off, I’m not a big soccer guy. I know my way around to be able to have a below average conversation about teams and players… Man U., Messi, Barcelona, etc. But I couldn’t tell you the name of the German League or which club team Landon Donovon played for in England. I didn’t think I could keep up with all the hardcore fans that would be there.
Security was a big concern. A week before the games started, there was the incident with the Nigerian team where fans were getting trampled to get their hands on free tickets. Needless to say, it didn’t help to allay my fears of lack of crowd control.
And then there were the vuvuzelas. I tried to do as little research as possible in planning the trip (my buddies I went with planned the whole thing). So when I heard about these things called vuvuzelas about a week before the trip, I was pissed. It was described to me as the scene in Dumb and Dumber when Jim Carrey asks, “Wanna hear the most annoying sound in the world?”, but it goes on for two hours straight.
So going in, I had set my expectations pretty low. Third world country, lack of security, a sport I don’t really care for and annoying instruments the whole time. Cheers.
I can say with ease that all of my expectations were blown away.
First, the country is just flat-out gorgeous. We stayed the majority of the time in Cape Town. The city is just like San Francisco, right down to the island prison (Robben Island, where Mandela was jailed for 18 years). It’s very modern and very clean and the people are exceptionally friendly. They have their wine country, which is about a 2 hour drive out and it’s really something to behold. Cape Town’s main attraction is a hike up Table Mountain. On a clear day it has spectacular views. There’s other standard touristy stuff like Cape of Good Hope and Boulders Beach where they have a penguin colony (that’s right, there are penguins in Africa and in the summer you can actually swim with them). These were all great experiences.
Remember that time you had 62 saves that year? Yeah, that was awesome. Also, remember that time you used to throw 97 or 98mph? Those were some good times too. I love how earlier in the year, you looked great with the glasses on again. It brought out the intimidation again that your game had. But you know what? It’s just not working right now. Maybe if you need to keep your mind fresh, you can start-up another tomato garden out there underneath the Shea Bridge? When you are in the game, I’ll tend to it and make sure it gets plenty of water. When you are on a road trip, I’ll have the grounds crew throw a little extra Miracle-Grow down for you.
I know nobody is perfect, but can you do all of us a favor and please stop blowing games for Johan? Its one thing to blow a game for R.A. Dickey or Jon Niese, but every 5th day, we are counting on a W from our ace. I remember when everyone loved the move by Omar and thought that 3 years at $39mil was a very fair contract for you. Well honestly, do you think that was fair? With the money we are paying you, we NEED you to pitch like K-Rod, not “Que”-Rod. No question marks, no nail-biting, just lock it down.
We NEED the K-Rod from the early days with the Angels. We NEED the blazing fastball and that insane curveball. And please, can we stop hearing from you that you need to pitch a lot to be effective. So if the Mets have a save situation tonight after your 47 pitch disaster, (I mean outing) yesterday, you need to be in there? I don’t think so Frankie. Bobby Parnell can come put your fire out. He CAN hit 99mph on the gun you know?
I’ve seen you pitch in person for about a season and a half now, and I’m no pitching coach. But can you please listen to Dan Warthen or whoever is coaching you, and start following through towards home plate instead of into Ike Davis’s back pocket? How many times have you had a ball hit like a missile back up the middle and you are nowhere to be found?
Listen, I’ve had to endure the likes of Wagner, Looper, Benitez and Franco in the past 20 years. Hell, I’ve even had to endure Anthony Young saving games for us. So please…I’m begging you…for all he Mets faithful.please go back to being K-Rod.