A Good Day To Be A Mets Fan

david-wright

On July 21st, 2004, I was lucky enough to watch David Wright’s major league debut from the left field bleachers at Shea Stadium. Back then, you got into the bleachers for free on Wednesdays if you showed up early and had a Pepsi can or bottle, so we went pretty much every week the Mets were at home and saw some thoroughly mediocre baseball teams. The promotion ended after the 2005 season when management, sensing the Mets were about to be pretty good, no longer needed gimmicks to fill random parts of the stadium.

I remember having followed Wright through the minors since the Mets had gotten him as a compensatory pick for the loss of Mike Hampton and being pretty psyched about his arrival. His debut was fairly unspectacular; he went 0 for 4, and the Mets won the game on a Nick Johnson error in the 8th inning against the old Expos, but over the coming weeks and months it became clear he was here to say. It was a transitory period for the Mets, for certain, but things were looking up.

Also on that 2004 Mets team was Mike Piazza, who didn’t play that day but split time between catching and first base that season, still a threat at the plate even if his powers were waning. He was the last reminder of the Mets of my teenage years and my favorite player for so long, who moved on after the 2005 season. By now I was 18 and in between my first and second year of college. When we sat in the bleachers during those otherwise miserable Mets seasons, Piazza would routinely crush balls into and over the old Shea bleachers, but once he arrived Wright joined him, and I actually managed to recover a ball Wright hit into the stands during BP and get it signed by Mr. Met (I hear it’s worth a lot of money).

That was eight years ago, and the torch was passed then from Piazza (who’s now on the Hall of Fame ballot) to Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and the would-be Mets dynasty of the late 2000’s. A lot can happen in 8 years, and while those teams fell short, I was a massive fan of both Reyes and Beltran. Reyes’ departure was painful, Beltran’s was far more inevitable, and by 2012 David Wright remained as the last link to both them and Piazza.

It seemed like anything but a certainty for a long time, but at least now he’ll be around for another 8 years, the face of yet another generation of Mets players who, ownership issues aside, hopefully accomplish what none of his teammates could before. At the very least, he’ll be around for eight more years while they try to figure it out, the last man standing out of all of them, and that’s pretty swell in and of itself.

Grimace wins. Grimace always wins.

Some months back I wrote about the tragic circumstances involving my purchase of a Big Mac with one (1) beef patty from the Riverhead McDonald’s. Not being able to let this stand, I wrote a strongly worded letter to McDonald’s. Their response, and my ensuing reaction, is yet another example that consumer laziness will generally trump dissatisfaction with service.

Behold:

Hello Tino:

Thank you for taking the time to contact McDonald’s regarding our website, www.mcdonalds.com. We always appreciate hearing from our customers.

We apologize you were unsatisfied with our website. Please know your comments have been shared with our Web Development Team. I am certain they will further investigate.

Again, thank you for contacting McDonald’s.

Jennifer
McDonald’s Customer Response Center

Clearly, they didn’t follow the link I included in my original complain. Upsetting. So I responded in kind:

Your continued intransigence on this matter baffles me. A few days ago I contacted your website in good faith about a Big Mac I received at one of your restaurants that was missing fully 50% of it’s meat content, or one (1) beef patty. Not able to fit the entire complaint into your 1500 character limit, I instead wrote my letter, posted it online, and linked to it with a comment about how inadequate said limit was for properly discussing important matters like this.

Well, on Sunday I received a response relating to the issue of the website’s rather pedestrian character limit from a “Jennifer”. However, there was not a word about the more pressing issue – the damaged Big Mac I received. “She” clearly did not take the time to read my well-thought out letter, which I provided a link to, in an effort to alleviate my distress.

Please bear in mind that my patience has been exhausted and I will be patronizing the Salads, Wraps, N’Such in the Tanger Food Court until I receive a response appropriate to my issue. However, I do thank you for considering the issues with your complaint page.

Thank you,
Tino

Whatever customer service representative read this (rightly) caught on to the fact that I’m an asshole, so there was no response. Still, not even a coupon? Weak.

As for my boycott? It has ended, but I limit myself to the dollar menu. Food courts are fucking pricey, man.

Blue Sunday

“Are you a Manchester United fan?”

This irritating question has been asked of me any number of times, either by those unfamiliar with any other EPL teams, much less the “other” Manchester, or friends looking to get a rise out of me. It works, of course. But it doesn’t fully explain why I ran through my house screaming like a lunatic when Sergio Aguero worked past four defenders, took a perfectly weighted return pass from a fallen Mario Balotelli, swung his right leg through the ball and ended 44 years of frustration for City.

I’ve talked at length why I started following City when I did – the resilient fans, the ones so long dealing with their obnoxious, world-famous neighbors. The sharp blue kits. The dynamic goal-scoring prowess of Greek legend Gerogios Samaras (okay, maybe not that). There was Richard Dunne! Steven Ireland! Sven Goren-Erikkson! I got sacked as City’s manager in FIFA 2006 for only managing to finish 5th with my Fowler/Cole strikeforce. Imagine that.

But this makes me a relative noob. I wasn’t around for a lot of heartache and triumph: the troubles of the 90’s, the third division, the epic play-off comeback vs. Gillingham in 1999. Most of the fans I’ve become acquainted with, either on twitter (an amazingly large proportion of my followers are fellow Blues) or at the local City pub, the Mad Hatter (where I’ve been twice – the Rooney overhead kick and Tevez’s refusal to play vs. Bayern – maybe I’m bad luck) have seen it all, and proved everything I believed about them correct.

The experiences of the past few years, waking up at odd hours on weekends when I should have been sleeping in, DVR’ing matches when that wasn’t possible, scouring the web for streams when that wasn’t possible, and feeling like I was a part of something pretty great, well that helped make me as emotionally invested in the club as I am today. My near-obsessiveness even made a couple of friends City supporters by osmosis. But I also know for a lot of my fellow fans City is the only team, and you could feel that, through the TV or through the internet Sunday. You knew how much it meant.

And that knowledge amplified the swing in emotions, at 2-1 down to relegation-threatened 10-man QPR, at home, with those guys winning their game, and with it the title, the despair. I wrote at one point it felt like a bad dream. The ups and downs of the long season couldn’t have all happened so that it ended like this, could they? To let it all get away now? No. But there was a point, at 90 minutes, you weren’t sure. My head was in my hands. I’d watch to the end, win or brutal loss. Rooting for any one of my favorite teams has, at times, been an exercise in brutality. This would be another such exercise, but I’d bear it, and I’d be back next season for more, damn it. They would all be back, too.

Then there was Edin Dzeko scoring with a header. A chance, maybe, a flickering one. “Just one good attack, that’s all” I was saying to myself. It happened, somehow. There was Sergio Aguero. And then there was joy, and one guy on Long Island running outside and screaming at the top of his lungs, and a whole lot more around the world who had seen everything doing the same. The replay will always bring it back – starting with the roar of the crowd when Nigel De Jong made that final thrust into QPR’s half, knowing what was about to unfold like a great movie you can watch again and again.

There are, of course, other sports moments I will never forget – the Tyree catch, the Manningham catch, LJ’s three, any number of Mets near-misses and the faint memories of 1994. 2012 is probably the best sports year of my life, to date, and the Rangers are still playing for a Stanley Cup. There will be more memories ahead – for all I know, there might be a triple-overtime game seven victory in the near future. There might be a Mets revival. There will probably be more City titles and Champions League runs. Every one will have it’s own special place. And as far as City goes, it’s hard to imagine Sunday not being at the head of the list forever. But that’s why we watch sports, isn’t it? To find out what might happen next.

“No. I am a Manchester City fan.”

The Return of It’s Always Sunny In Medford, Now With More Complaining.

Hello and welcome, old friends. It’s been a while. So long, in fact, that you may be asking yourself what the occasion is. What momentous, life changing event has spurred me back here, to share my wisdom and general being-right-about-everything-ever-ness? Well, you’re in luck, because my misfortune is your gain. Have a look:

You may recognize what I am holding in my hand. It is a half-eaten McDonald’s Big Mac. If you look closely, you should be able to notice two things:

  1. Half-eaten food looks kind of disgusting, but half-eaten fast food looks especially disgusting.
  2. There is only one beef patty in this Big Mac.

Look closely. You will notice the arrangement, top to bottom, is bun-patty-bun-cheese-lettuce-bun. They forgot an entire beef patty. They somehow forgot fully 50% of what makes a Big Mac a Big Mac and not a cheeseburger with thousand island dressing on it. 

What I find most puzzling about this is that there was cheese and lettuce between the bottom two buns, but no meat. It’s as if they skipped over that part of the assembly line when making this burger. Imagine taking a car home without half an engine (I think this actually happened to everyone who bought a Daewoo one year*)? You couldn’t, of course, but just imagine. It’d be terrible. This was terrible. This was my 1997 Daewoo Leganza.

Understandably, I was outraged. It happened on New Year’s Eve while I was working at the mall, and everything was definitely not sunny in Riverhead that day.

Hence, I have decided to draft a letter of complaint to McDonald’s in the hopes that I will receive suitable compensation, as I couldn’t think of a worse way to end my year than being shafted on an American classic. My letter follows.

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am contacting you and the McDonald’s Corporation with a grave complaint about food I recently received at one of your locations. I have been a life-long consumer of your meals and, as a recreational athlete, can speak for its role in turning me into the man I am today. I’m also a working man, and this past New Year’s Eve I was ensuring the gears of American Commerce remained well-oiled while others were out “planning parties” and “taking the day off because they have real jobs”. That day for my meal break I chose, as I’ve done many times before, to partake in your Big Mac as my preferred means of sustenance.  I went back to our store’s break room, and with excitement I bit into my burger, but there was something uncanny about this particular Big Mac – and not in the cool, X-Men way. On second thought, you could say that this was the Jubilee of Big Macs: ill-conceived and unloved.

The problem, you see, was that this Big Mac was 50 percent the Big Mac it was meant to be. As you can clearly see in the attached photo, it was missing an entire meat patty. Now, I don’t want to come down on any of your employees – like I said, I’m a working man myself, and we all make mistakes. However, you can imagine my distress at receiving a sandwich that consisted of solidly 75% bread. Maybe if I had ordered a “Big Bread”, I would understand, but I didn’t. Also, please do not introduce a sandwich called the Big Bread.

Having only a 15 minute meal I obviously had nary an opportunity to go back to the Food Court and inform your employees of this oversight, so I soldiered on and finished this poor wounded burger off. I then toughed it out and worked the rest of my shift. However, it bears noting that my job pays only $9 an hour. I work hard for that money, and with the price of an extra value meal being what it is, it’s essentially worth an entire hour of work. Now, I’m normally willing to pay that much for satisfaction, but unfortunately on New Year’s Eve I only received half the satisfaction that I paid for. You could say that it’s hard to Protect This House™ with that kind of disappointment lingering over your day.

I hope that you and your company can address this situation. I plan to remain a loyal customer, as yours is the only burger establishment within walking distance, but I do reserve the option of switching permanently to wraps for lunch if this is not remedied.

Thank you for your time, I eagerly await your response.

Tino Evangelou

Concerned Customer

I think that this letter gets the point across without being too nasty. What do you guys think?

Stay tuned for next time, when I’ll probably have a follow-up to this sad, pathetic story and some more good stuff. No, like, actually good, maybe.

* – Not actually true, as far as I know.