Marty Noble (above) covered the Mets for Newsday and the then-Bergen Record from roughly 1916-2004. It can’t have been easy, in those early years, when the Mets didn’t actually exist, but it’s a testament to Noble’s hardcore-ness that he gutted it out. What it means that Noble is continuing to cover the Mets — for MLB.com, now — I don’t know, but I don’t sense it’s a good thing. Everyone’s got to pay their rent/mortgage/cigarette bills, and I’m sure Noble’s no different than the rest of humanity in that regard, but there’s something kind of poignant to me about Noble having to stay in the game and cover this particular Mets team. The last couple years ruined a lot of peoples’ retirement plans, but there’s something unmistakably Unitas-in-a-Chargers-jersey about Noble dutifully getting quotes from Cory Sullivan for another year’s worth of rote gamers at an age when he (Noble, not Sullivan) should be in a hammock somewhere.
The Mets, although it’s easy to forget this when you watch them, are professionals playing out the string on a miserable season, and I suppose it could be said that Noble is doing the same. Noble is not an all-time great, and this old Fire Joe Morgan post is a reminder that he’s not exactly a forward-thinking baseball mind, but he’s well past retirement age at this point, and I can’t help but feel bad when I look at his MLB blog, to which Noble himself hasn’t posted since July 30. This man shouldn’t have to blog — he covered his first Mets game in 1970, show a little respect, let him nap, you know? But either Noble really can’t give it up or his 401k well and truly bombed, because he doesn’t seem keen on quitting. In fact, if his perplexing recent Mets.com feature — an open letter from Shea Stadium to Citi Field — is any indication, he’s just gearing up to enter his baroque phase.
Your guys lost almost the whole team. Even David. He’s one of your guys who I had, and I know he never wanted to go on the DL. But it got just about all the guys. And how ’bout Louie Castillo falling down the steps? I understand you feel a little guilty about that one. Pat Zachry broke his toe on the steps of my dugout in ’78 after he gave up a hit to Rose. And I always felt bad about Rusty hurting his shoulder on my right-field wall in the ’73 playoffs. I might have had three World Series flags if Rusty was 100 percent in the Series.
But your guys won’t even get in. That’s tough. Sorry. Let me tell ya, nothing feels better than wearing the postseason bunting. I must say, I looked pretty good duded up in red, white and blue in October. I’m sure you’ll get your chance.
Otherwise, how’d your first season go? I know you took some grief for all the Dodgers stuff. But that was Fred’s passion as a kid. It doesn’t fade. And the rotunda is real cool. I didn’t have anything like that. Anyway, I see there’s a lot more Mets stuff now. Those flags outside. They’re all my guys — George Thomas, Koosy and Gil. Tug, I miss him! — and Agee and Cleon. Mex, Doc and Straw. Big Mike. And I love that Doc signed on that wall inside.
I see you’ve got your own apple. Too bad it’s not used more. And my old one is still there by the bullpens. Cool. Straw and Piazza and HoJo wore mine out. I saw Church just missed yours before he left.
It’s kind of like a middle school creative-writing exercise, only as performed by a chain-smoking, sleep-deprived septuagenarian who has a personal relationship with Elston Howard. While Noble’s piece is not nearly as impossible to finish as this unmasterpiece — seriously, I dare you — it’s not (as GC wrote in the email in which he sent me the link) a career high point. The saddest part: the time Noble spent on that letter wasn’t spent on his artwork.