Puma Dishes Behind-The-Scenes Mets Stories In New Book
In the clubhouse, on the field, or from the press box, Mike Puma is no stranger to the New York Mets.
Every once and a while a book comes along that you'll want to hold onto, with plans to read a second or third time. Mike Puma's If These Walls Could Talk - Stories from the New York Mets Dugout, Locker Room, and Press Box (triumphbooks.com) is that kind of read.
By day (and night games, too), Puma has been the New York Post's Mets beat writer since the 2010 baseball season. There's not much he hasn't witnessed. The Johan Santana no-hitter in 2012, the arrival of pitching studs Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, and Jacob deGrom, David Wright's arrival and being named team captain, and former club owners the Wilpons - Puma has reported on all.
Now, for baseball fans enjoyment, Mets history is neatly packaged in eight chapters spread out through 218 pages.
Having spent two decades covering National League ball in New York City, Puma doesn't disappoint as a reference for Mets' history.
Mets' fans enjoyment with If These Walls Could Talk comes with a price for Puma. Covering a beat for a daily newspaper requires a trained journalist to also become an expert travel agent, in needing to book hotels, rental cars, and hunt for places to eat late into the night, after ball games are over, and in cities from coast to coast.
This past Thursday, when the Mets and Philadelphia Phillies were rained out in Flushing, Queens for a scheduled afternoon game, the club jetted to Denver, Colorado for a series
with the Rockies. For the Post's reporter, it was onward and upward to the Mile High City, too.
Getting the story, on anything Mets, is what Puma is the expert on.
Sports fans remember headlines very well. Particularly as time moves on, details of memorable events become a bit fuzzy. This is where If These Walls Could Talk fills in the blanks of exceptional moments in Mets' history over the past decade.
I especially enjoyed learning more on the relationship between former Mets' manager Bobby Valentine and then general manager Steve Phillips (and former Little Falls Mets player) in chapter two - Valentine's Day Massacre, beginning on page 35. The rocky relationship between the two leaders is detailed with the precision of a surgeon.
Billy Wagner, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, all with pivotal moments in the club's history are well documented by Puma. Think of Mets yearbooks, and you have a condensed version of more than a decade of publications with If These Walls Could Talk.
Remember when David Wright retired in September of 2018? Chapter eight - The Captain begins on page 201, and brings the book to an end on page 218. As Wright put on a Mets' uniform for one final time, I learned why rehabbing teammate Yoenis Cespedes was on the bench for the game with Atlanta at Citi Field. Interesting.
So many wonderful Mets memories come jumping out at me, as I cracked open Puma's If These Walls Could Talk. Easy peasy reading. Puma takes you by the hand and reintroduces readers to some of their favorite players (Mike Piazza speaks with Puma, as well) and reminds us why they matter in the club's history.
For his first book, Mike Puma, take a bow. Applause, applause. From this Mets fan, my grip remains solid on my copy of If These Walls Could Talk. It's a keeper.
Don Laible is a freelance sportswriter living in the Mohawk Valley. He has reported on professional baseball and hockey for print, radio, and on the web since the 1980's. His columns are featured weekly at WIBX950.com. Don can be contacted via email at Don@icechipsdiamonddust.com.
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