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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Smullens: Don Draper and the New York Mets: 1969, A Year of Miracles

Those Madison Avenue types could Frisella _____ to a _____.

Now here comes the optimistic foreshadowing—the year for Don and his Mad Men (and Women) is 1969, the Mets’ eighth season in the Major Leagues. In the seven preceding seasons the Mets had never finished higher than ninth place in the ten team National League and had never had a winning season. Records show that they lost at least one hundred games in five of the seasons.

Now stay with me, and yes, prepare to hoot and holler! The Mets got their act together when the Chicago Cubs suffered a late season breakdown, finishing the season 100-62, eight games ahead of the Cubs. They then defeated the National League West champs, the Atlanta Braves, three games to none in the League Championship Series. On a roll, they proceeded to defeat the American League champs, the Baltimore Orioles, in five games (I remember this well, as my home town was Baltimore!!), and win the World Series.

By the way, do you recall the first baseman who was named the series most valuable player (on the strength of his .357 batting average, three home runs, and four runs batted in)? His last name is Clendenon; his first, Donn.

And there is more foreshadowed hope symbolized by the formerly rumpled Mets pennant, now neatly attached to its new home, front and center! Casey Stengel, who managed the Mets from their inaugural season to 1965, called his team the “Amazin’ Mets.” Others refer to them as the “Miracle Mets.” Well, you and I know that miracles can happen if you believe they can and will yourself to turn your life and luck around.

Yep, I join those wholeheartedly who are not giving up on our Don. He’s got many a home run in him, and it will be thrilling to see what he does with them.

Repoz Posted: May 11, 2014 at 08:46 AM | 22 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: business, history, media, mets

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   1. Repoz Posted: May 11, 2014 at 09:02 AM (#4704334)
From Klap...

It’s a long way from the hard-drinking/carousing Don Draper in Mad Men, but Hamm has had baseball in his blood since his days growing up in St. Louis.

In fact, he’s still a die-hard Cardinals fans, whose loyalty to the team goes all the way back to the days when the Mets were the enemy in the mid-80s.

“I hated the Mets,” Hamm told a group of baseball writers Friday, part of a press junket for the movie. With a laugh, he said, “I still do.”
   2. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: May 11, 2014 at 09:13 AM (#4704336)
“I hated the Mets,” Hamm told a group of baseball writers Friday, part of a press junket for the movie. With a laugh, he said, “I still do.”

So do most of their fans.
   3. McCoy Posted: May 11, 2014 at 09:24 AM (#4704342)
Mad Men has become a tough show to watch over the last couple of seasons. Unpleasant people with unpleasant storylines.
   4. Moeball Posted: May 11, 2014 at 10:03 AM (#4704352)
I have met some old retired ad men here in San Diego who have stated that it was pretty much like the show back in the crazy '60s.

One thing that particularly stood out to me was when they told me that they had to eventually stop having Christmas parties at the office because supposedly wives would be showing up and having wives and girlfriends (the local office secretaries, of course)at the same party was a disaster just waiting to happen.
   5. Lassus Posted: May 11, 2014 at 12:33 PM (#4704449)
Mad Men has become a tough show to watch over the last couple of seasons. Unpleasant people with unpleasant storylines.

Agree.
   6. BDC Posted: May 11, 2014 at 12:50 PM (#4704456)
TV series about dysfunctional workplaces are common, but hard to sustain. What forces keep the group together? In the more successful series of the type, the forces are the military (MASH), civil service (Barney Miller), family (Six Feet Under), or surrealism born of parody (from WKRP to Scrubs, 30 Rock, The Office).

Mad Men, on the other hand, is basically realistic, and it's about a large and volatile industry. It's hard to keep it coherent. I think even The Wire, brilliant as it was, had a hard time regaining that coherence after the first season. Why should a certain group of continuing characters who came together on a project in the first season, and then dispersed, continue to be of mutual interest and have their interactions produce stories? Mad Men has resorted to ad hoc devices several times to bring its characters back into close association. Perhaps the most languishing of all its plotlines is Betty (speaking of unpleasant). Why do we care about her per se for the last few seasons, at all?
   7. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: May 11, 2014 at 03:03 PM (#4704515)
Mad Men has become a tough show to watch over the last couple of seasons. Unpleasant people with unpleasant storylines.
"Prestige television."
   8. formerly dp Posted: May 11, 2014 at 07:15 PM (#4704621)
I'm still sticking with it, but it has been tough. I give them credit for telling the story they want to tell, rather than the one that will be easiest for the audience to watch, but the show's had a lot of moments over the past few seasons where I really have no clue what they're thinking. BDC, pretty much every scene with Betty elicits this reaction-- just scratching my head to figure out why they think it's a good idea to continue giving her screen time.

And totally based on anecdote, when the show first came out a lot of my students (who aspire to work in that industry) watched it. Now, a few cohorts later, I maybe get two or three students each semester who are familiar with the series.

The whole 'computers replacing humans' storyline, complete with the literal displacement of workers by the machine, has some promise.
   9. Zach Posted: May 12, 2014 at 02:17 AM (#4704729)
I gave up on it after three or four seasons when I decided it was just about Don Draper making bad decisions.

I thought it was a lot more interesting when Don Draper was a basically good guy with some unresolved contradictions, who was really good at his job. I didn't really like the turn toward stupid and self destructive, but does he even write ads anymore?
   10. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 12, 2014 at 08:08 AM (#4704750)
i watch as i find the story of a functional alcoholic intriguing. wisconsin has a plethora of such individuals but having the setting being new york city 1960's makes for a good change.

if we are to use other shows as a roadmap clearly the creator has some big 'ta da' in mind. just that his journey getting there is not nearly as interesting as other popular shows. it just SEEMS like the creator wants to chase as many viewers away i guess to reward all those who remain. he's succeeding at being tedious. he's got that down pat.

and is the guy, winner or something like that, using the show to help old pals get jobs? i keep finding out that actors and actresses for this season were once somebodies back in the 90's.

anyway, he's got the drunk thing down pretty well so i grant him that. and if they use the 1969 mets season as a backdrop that will help.

and more scathing sterling.

   11. McCoy Posted: May 12, 2014 at 08:18 AM (#4704752)
I gave up on it after three or four seasons when I decided it was just about Don Draper making bad decisions.

I thought it was a lot more interesting when Don Draper was a basically good guy with some unresolved contradictions, who was really good at his job. I didn't really like the turn toward stupid and self destructive, but does he even write ads anymore?


The show isn't about Don Draper the man but Dan Draper-symbol of America's journey through the 60's. I mean it isn't coincedence that the show started out on New Year's Day 1960 and is going to end in the fall/winter of 1969.

The show starts with Don sort of being a dreamer/optimist who would go off on these long soliloquys about the dream or attempting to obtain paradise and now has the decade winds down his long speeches are more about paradise lost.
   12. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 12, 2014 at 08:47 AM (#4704766)
Minor spoilers ahead:


I think its interesting so many baseball fans have latched onto the Mets pennant as symbolizing optimism and a miracle redemption for Don. The pennant is a dead man's memento, the reminder that the man who occupied the office before Don, who helped found the company, committed suicide. The creative and business types are getting shoved out in favor of computers! You nerds, this is about you vs. Joe Morgan! Don is about to be replaced by the advertising version of WAR.

I thought the "Mets" episode was the most enjoyable episode they've had in a season or two. And I loved the moment a few eps back where Sally told him casually she loved him. And the Roger/Marigold standoff was very interesting. They've really nailed some of the generation gaps and the creation of the Boomers well I think.
   13. Lassus Posted: May 12, 2014 at 08:55 AM (#4704776)
They should end the series with five minutes of everyone 40 years later, ala Harry Potter.
   14. McCoy Posted: May 12, 2014 at 09:07 AM (#4704788)
You could also view the Mets pennant as a symbol in a phoenix sort of way. Draper has bottomed out and now he is on a journey of rebirth. The pennant is a symbol of the bottom, of the fire that Draper had a choice to be consumed by. It was even directly stated in the episdoe when the Murray character asks Draper if wants to die or do the work. Draper makes his choice and starts the journey to being reborn inside the Draper shell once again. Remember this is a guy that shed his old life because it was too hard and too depressing for him but this time instead of cutting and running he's trying to make it work. Which ties even more into the Mets. Lane as a foriegner tried to adopt a new life in America and he chose the new but hapless Mets as his baseball team. And here is Don who upon seeing the pennant throws it away much like he did before when he had an unhappy life and yet he goes back and retrieves the pennant. Even hangs it up and what happens at the end of 1969? The miracle Mets. The hapless and pitiful become the best team in baseball.
   15. McCoy Posted: May 12, 2014 at 09:07 AM (#4704789)
They should end the series with five minutes of everyone 40 years later, ala Harry Potter.


Hell, you wouldn't even 5 minutes. Just show a 5 second shot of a graveyard.
   16. AROM Posted: May 12, 2014 at 09:36 AM (#4704824)
but Hamm has had baseball in his blood since his days growing up in St. Louis.


You can definitely tell this from the celebrity softball games they do during the allstar break. Hamm is a pretty good athlete for an actor, but what really stands out is that he's the one person taking the game seriously.
   17. Scott Lange Posted: May 12, 2014 at 09:39 AM (#4704829)
I'm enjoying the show as much as ever. I don't mind watching unpleasant people do self-destructive things so long as the show has interesting things to say about them, and I still feel like it does. I feel like the show is just as remarkable as ever in terms of painting incredibly real pictures of who a character is, even with minimal screen time. Lou Avery, Jim Cutler, Bob Benson- I feel like I know everything about each of them, not to mention all the characters that have been there since the beginning.
   18. Lassus Posted: May 12, 2014 at 09:41 AM (#4704832)
Hell, you wouldn't even 5 minutes. Just show a 5 second shot of a graveyard.

Whereas my suggestion was more to create a coda to enrage the fans and just suggest something hilariously awful, I did think about that bit above. There are plenty of characters under 40 who could make it 45 more years, and hell, you only need Don of the older majors to hold on to 92 or so to make it work. Profit!
   19. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: May 12, 2014 at 04:32 PM (#4705310)
Mad Men has become a tough show to watch over the last couple of seasons. Unpleasant people with unpleasant storylines.

Right. Most stories about characters like this take one of two directions - (a) the imperfect character develops as a result of some external hardship, trial, relationship, etc., or (b) the imperfect character hits rock bottom, loses everything, has some kind of catharsis as a result.

I haven't watched any of the last two seasons of Mad Men yet, so I don't know where this one is going, but in the earlier seasons they haven't really taken the opportunities to pursue either of these paths. *spoiler alert* After Don goes to California and returns to reconcile with Betty, we are given the impression that he's going to change his ways (following path a), at least for a little while. But he almost immediately begins cheating on her with Sally's schoolteacher. And while Don's personal failings come with a cost, he still lands on his feet with the great job, the beautiful wife, the expensive apartment, etc.

This is probably more like real life but it seems unsatisfying in a drama where we expect more narrative arc. "Guy makes same mistakes over and over again, suffers limited consequences, learns nothing." I'm sure I will watch the last two seasons at some point this year, but I have not been in any rush.
   20. djordan Posted: May 12, 2014 at 08:05 PM (#4705439)
There's some incredible lessons about sales in the better episodes. Still a very well-crafted series.
   21. McCoy Posted: May 12, 2014 at 09:02 PM (#4705465)
Just watched last night's episode. Pretty good but, jesus, let the computer thing go. It is a bad symbol.
   22. Zach Posted: May 13, 2014 at 12:51 AM (#4705591)
The show isn't about Don Draper the man but Dan Draper-symbol of America's journey through the 60's. I mean it isn't coincedence that the show started out on New Year's Day 1960 and is going to end in the fall/winter of 1969.

But the actual way you see it happen is through watching a guy make stupid, self destructive choices over and over again.

Also, there's a bit of a sour aftertaste to the "Draper represents America" angle. It's like he never gets to just be Don Draper, interesting but flawed character. Instead, he's got to be Symbol of the Dying 50s, Who is Being Symbolically Punished.

Like I say, I liked it the first couple of seasons. But then they took it in a direction I didn't care to follow.

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