Break On Through
Whereupon—what princes!—every guy I know volunteered to escort me to Shea for my first professional sporting event ever, heaven forfend that I, poor helpless widow that I am, lawks!, should set foot in a scary major-league stadium without a big strong male protector (you could just hear the thinking: hey, Jim’d want it that way, make sure his little woman is looked after, he’s not here, we stand-up guys’ll help him out…). But since Ken Dashow (huge Mets fan) had been the instrument by which the Mojo will was made known to me, it seemed right that he should not just ride shotgun but ’splain baseball. So Dasher got the assignment, and chose to accept it.
Mission Highly Improbable: my brother Timothy (the Mets fan brother) and my friend Steve Hochman (rock critic for the L.A. Times, who broke the Mojo story on the Coast, husband of my darling friend Mary Herczog) and my friend Rick Gentile (bigtime sports exec, ran the Winter Olympics for CBS, husband of my darling friend Janice Scott) and my friend Bruce Abbott (actor and star of “Dark Justice”, cool cult TV show, husband of my darling friend Kathleen Quinlan), also stepped up to the plate for the Herculean labor. The splainin’ sounded like Ricky Ricardo telling Lucy why she can’t be in his act at the club. (Actually, it sounded like this: “blahblahblahsqueezeplayblahblahblahsacrificebuntblahblahblahPATRICIA!blahblahblah
A noble effort. But they might as well have been talking to the cat. The lifespan of a giant SEQUOIA wouldn’t suffice… I begin to think that sports talk—Jockish—is like that whistle only dogs can hear: you really do need that Y chromosome as the secret decoder ring. I am not a stupid woman, but in my brain there is maybe one receptor—weeping softly to itself because it’s all alone—capable of holding that stats’n’plays stuff. It’s not that women can’t grasp such things, it’s that we can’t be bothered: not so much too much information as the wrong sort of information. It made my head hurt. It made my ears bleed. It made my eyes go all glazed and puffy. It was denser than a cheesecake on a neutron star, and it was nowhere NEAR as much fun.
But I’m also smart enough to know when to quit, so after what seemed like centuries of impenetrable praxis I thanked my tutors and said yeah sure fine whatever one guy throws the ball the other guy tries to hit it just tell me when to yell and scream yay hooray for the Mets and when to boo and hiss and cast evil fu at the other team, because that is all I know on earth, and all I need to know. And they said oh just do what everybody else in the stadium is doing.
So I did. But it didn’t stop there. Oh no. It didn’t. No indeed.
…Sorry, I was laughing again. But it is just SO far out: Jim Morrison as Mojo the Baseball God, Shaman of Shea and Deity of the Dugout, the Archangel of the Amazin’s, the Mets’ patron saint…what a trip! And a nicely ironic new line of work it is for him, too—though I can’t imagine why the Lizard King, at this stage of his ongoing existence, would all of a sudden be into baseball, and New York baseball at that, or why in this world or any other he’d want me to be his earthly emissary to the majors, unless it was for the admittedly considerable entertainment value of seeing the Lizard Queen—about as likely a prospect for baseball fandom as Queen Amidala—get into the sport. Still (too bad, Dodgers!), he has made his choice of team abundantly clear to all the world, and no doubt he has his own very good reasons. I guess that is just his little way, and, like every other man, he is on occasion The Thing from Planet Guyworld (yes, even he).
And oh, I got SO into it! In loving wifely obedience to Jim’s manifest bidding, sure, but also because I am, let’s face it, an obsessive personality and here was something brand-new for me to obsess about! I trust Jim is duly amused (my friends sure are), but—out of left field, so to speak—I found to my astonishment that I was enjoying this. It was FUN. I actually CARED. And, because it is my little way, that once I am interested in something I have to know all about it, I found myself poring over stories about the Mets, yearning (or grieving) over the league standings, listening enthralled to TV and radio sports raps, to the point where now I am every bit as boring as a guy about trades and pitching rotations and who’s coming up from the minors.
And—this is the chick part—best of all, how great is this, I actually get to go shopping! RIGHT AT THE STADIUM! Apparel of all sorts, bags, keychains, clocks, mugs, water bottles, kiddie gear for the anklebiters of my kin and kithship, a gold charm for the Victorian charm bracelet Jim gave me (though I drew the line at one of those big foam fingers)…
Who knew? What a sport!
The Shea Witch Project
It was weirder even than it sounded: a long-dead rock star’s song about L.A. being used as a theme song for the quintessential New York team, his wife (a native New Yorker) enlisting her witchly powers on that team’s behalf. Needless to say, the local sportswriters pounced upon it—the hitherto unsuspected sorcerous aspect of the story as well as the sheer unlikeliness of the sports connection.
A few of them later quoted me as saying Jim disliked sports, but what I really said was that he didn’t much care about them either way, and the picture in the dictionary next to the words “team player” is definitely not his. Though in his youth he was a member of the high school swim team, and on the road with the Doors he may have glanced at a game or two on the tube when he was bored of hot and cold running groupies, and he was even seen to indulge in the occasional spot of touch football out at the beach, by general policy Jim Morrison was even more uninclined to sports than I am. (Hey, before I read it I thought “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” was about a college football player…) (I’m not kidding…)
In fact, apart from a couple of Rams games (chiefly enjoyable, apparently, because he got to sit outdoors in the L.A. sunshine all day and drink beer with his buds), I personally know of only two authenticated Morrisonian Sports Moments:
he once heaved a TV set across the studio because the engineer had the World Series on (with the sound off) while the Doors were recording; and
he took a book with him the one time his Florida State roommates dragged him to an important football game (no stats on his years at alma mater UCLA, another big football school, but it’s probably safe to say the pattern held), and when his friends taxed him, he calmly closed his book, climbed over the bleacher railings and did a perfect reverse gainer onto the field below, landing on his feet and vanishing into the crowd before security could catch him—thus setting the pattern for his future in more ways than one.
Anyway, as soon as I read that piece in the News, I knew that now I had an utterly unexpected and yet deeply personal stake in Mets victories: Jim’s honor and my own, les Mojos homme et femme, ’sieur et ’dame, were publicly on the line. Well, it wasn’t our idea, the Mets started it! Obviously they hadn’t realized it was a package deal, kind of like the Hampton/Bell trade—once Jim had been signed to play the position of team demigod, I came along gratis as team sorceress, his handmaiden on earth. And if I didn’t want to disgrace us all I was going to have to get seriously to work.
So I sent Robin Ventura a suitably inscribed hardcover of Strange Days, and a thank-you note for being nice enough to think of Jim when choosing a team anthem, and I began to watch the games, and, oh, you know, help things along, just a bit.
And the Mets started more and more to, oh, you know, WIN. Not all the time, of course, but more than often enough to rattle the laws of averages, late-season in-the-hole baseball and coincidence itself (yes, Master Obi-Wan, I know there’s no such thing as coincidence…)—and to make even scoffers and sportswriters and eternally-hopeful-but-eternally-braced-for-the-worst Mets fans begin to believe in the Power of the Risen Mojo, as the team took aim at the National League playoffs for the first time in over a decade.
Now I don’t for a HEARTBEAT mean to vaingloriously claim credit for all this—the Uncrowned Bruja of Baseball—but you must admit it was getting a little weird. As we say in this burg, I’m just saying. I would turn on the TV in the middle of a game, and, previously scoreless, the Mets would bust loose; friends would call in the eighth or ninth inning, sometimes even from Shea itself, pleading for victory, “It’s done!”, and the tie would instantly break in our guys’ favor. Absolutely true (and documented): and it kept on happening—and though extremely gratifying, it was also just a tad bit spooky.
It didn’t always happen: there was a rather worrisome dry spell (and I use the word “spell” advisedly) in mid-September: termites in everybody’s bat, gloves dipped in butter, arms like limp—well, arms like fallen soufflés, nobody could hit or throw or hang on to a damn thing, maybe Saturn was retrograde or counterwitchery was afoot—and several times the Mets were pronounced dead and out of the running; prematurely, as it turned out. But it happened just enough, and at just the right times and places (and this being, after all, the NEW YORK METS, in the most head-clutchingly dramatic way possible), to get the team within striking distance of the league wild-card spot.
And then—you have to work up to these things, you need a bit of momentum, can’t do it cold—then the Mojo really kicked in, majorly kicking some major-league butt…