Wednesday, November 11, 2015

NFL Picks Week Ten: Off to see, among other things, Team No. 68

Earlier this summer I had a trip back from Japan that lasted roughly 30 hours, beginning with a massive bowl of ramen at Narita International Airport and ending at my work cubicle after a hastily-taken shower and approximately two hours of sleep. It does not actually take this long to fly back from Tokyo, but I had the foresight to schedule a 14-hour layover in Chicago that I foolishly thought would be shortened by catching an earlier connection. I would not have done this in any city that wasn't Chicago. For one thing, there are 20 flights per airline per day between Chicago and New York, and for another, should I somehow not be able to move to an earlier flight, at least I knew several people in the city with whom I could have dinner or drinks to kill those 14 hours. Unfortunately, I was not able to get on an earlier flight, and proceeded to find myself too tired to drag my luggage downtown and then back again. What followed was four pleasant hours chatting with an ex I had randomly bumped into in the terminal, and then 10 interminable hours of intermittent napping and general misery.

I deeply regret being too lazy and/or tired to leave the airport. Tomorrow, I will be flying to Chicago again. This time I will leave the airport. I'm excited about that.

I haven't yet decided if I'm going to make going to Chicago to see a Northwestern game an annual tradition, but I'm starting to think it's a good idea. Beyond the numerous friends I have in the city and the fact that it is a relatively easy trip, something just feels good about walking around campus again. I assume this is a pretty common bit of nostalgia across all college-educated Americans, and I assume I will keep this up for at least the next two years considering I already have a Chicago fall wedding on the books for 2016 and 2017 will be my 10th (holy fucking shit, 10th) college reunion.

The thing is beyond those milestone raison d'êtres, there are only so many excuses to keep flying back that sound more reasonable than "a desire to feel young again." And in my experience, not everyone thinks what you find reasonable is actually reasonable. Oh well. The only other legitimate cause I've had to return to the upper midwest, or at least within a 90-minute drive of Chicago, is to see the lone major professional sports team in Illinois or Wisconsin that I have not yet crossed off my list of teams seen. This Saturday night, however, that will come to an end.

That's right. After much delay and national panic, I will finally see that mysterious holy grail known as the Milwaukee Bucks.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

We Must Keep Dreaming

I have often told people of a dream I had once a few years ago that was at once both practical and fantastical. Visually it was something of a blur with little defined or specified aside from patches of green, brown, white, blue and orange. What I remember most clearly from this dream, however, was not I saw in my unconsciousness, but what I heard, and it was one, simple, declarative statement.

"The New York Mets have won the World Series."

It shouldn't be a surprise that I might dream about hearing this. If you read this blog, if you know me personally -- hell -- if you've seen me walking on the street, you know I've been a Mets fan roughly two and a half decades. You know I've cared about this team so long that it felt less like a choice than a happenstance akin to my having brown eyes or being Jewish. You know that I've shamelessly peppered my nephews with Mets merchandise in hopes they, too, will feel the same way one day.  That I might dream of the Mets winning the World Series may be a bit sad for a 30-year-old man, but it is hardly a shock.

What was noteworthy about this dream, was not that it was about the Mets winning the World Series, but rather, that my it was the only time I can recall dreaming, pausing my dream and then rewinding my dream so I could see it twice. Even my subconscious knows seeing this team that is often so inept and dysfunctional win a world championship is such a ridiculous concept, it had to see it twice to verify what, in fact, it was seeing.

I'm not sure if that says more about the Mets or my neuroses -- or perhaps how misaligned my priorities are -- but it certainly says that in my very core, I don't really believe I'll ever see this happen.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

NFL Picks Week Eight: The Mets have the Royals right where they want them

Ok. I'll be honest. Game 2 last night did not exactly go how I wanted it to. Actually, it went the exact opposite way of how I wanted it to. Down 1-0 in the World Series, but with the Mets' top pitcher this season Jacob deGrom and Kansas City's wildly unpredictable Johnny Cueto facing off, I anticipated the Mets would win the game and earn a split in KC. Most importantly, though, the key was getting to Cueto early, not just because it would mean runs on the board, but because the Royals' bullpen had expended itself dramatically in that epic 14-inning win in Game 1. Kick Cueto to the curb early, force an already tired bullpen to throw six innings and you might have the Royals on their heels for the rest of the series.

A complete-game two-hitter that saves a tired bullpen and puts the Mets down 2-0 is not exactly what I was looking for.

But hey, here we are. The 2015 National League Champion New York Mets are headed back home to Citi Field facing a 2-0 deficit in the World Series ahead of Game 3 Friday night. It didn't have to be this way. The Mets have blown three separate leads over the first two games of this series, and almost certainly should have taken Game 1, which Kansas City tied on a solo home run by Alex Gordon with New York two outs away from victory. But ifs and buts, etc. What's done is done and all the Mets can hope to do now is even the score with three games in Queens this weekend.

Surprisingly, I actually like their chances. After all, Noah Syndergaard has basically been dynamite this postseason and Steven Matz, well, everyone says he's really great, so he must be even though I never see him pitch into the sixth inning. What I'm saying is, Mets fans across the boroughs are having a bit of a doomsday freakout right now, which, uh, I guess is understandable. But we could very easily be sitting here in three days with the series all square at 2-2 and Matt Harvey on the mound at home in a pivotal Game 5.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Ya Gotta Believe

When the calender turned this past December, I looked toward 2015 with anxious anticipation as well as disbelief that in just a few short months I would somehow be celebrating my 30th birthday. I also looked forward with amazement at how in just a few short hours my nephew Sammy, would be celebrating his first. Since before Sammy was born I have done my best to pepper him with gifts and plant the seeds so that years from now he might watch the same teams I do with the same feelings. Of those gifts, there is no other team for which he has gotten more silly pieces of paraphernalia, than the New York Mets.

Time flies and over the past week I have received the revelation that somehow, someway, it has now been half of my life since the Mets were last in the World Series, and nearly all of it since they had actually won the damn thing. After all, I was a mere one year, three months and 13 days old on this exact date 29 years ago, which, incidentally, happens to be the last time the Mets won a world championship. Sammy's parents don't care very much about baseball, though my brother does claim, ironically, to be a Kansas City Royals fan. But their ambivalence opened the door for me to shower their son with Mets-related clothing, the goal of which, of course, was to warp his mind into being one of those sad folks who invests themselves in this aimless second-fiddle franchise.

I had a plan in place, though. Babies grow. They grow fast. Most clothing you can buy for them is sized in terms of months rather than years because they won't fit very long, and so I made a conscious decision to buy Sammy Mets clothing sized for the ages at which they would be in season. 2014 wasn't supposed to be breakout season for the Mets, though, and so when it came to his first jersey, I opted for the 18-month fit as opposed to six. My argument was the Mets might actually be decent in 2015 and wearing the jersey wouldn't be an embarrassment. Keeping that foresight in mind, along with my nephews impending first birthday on Jan. 1, 2015, and that the Mets' lone championship in my lifetime came when I was all of one year old, I proclaimed for my annual year in review that this would be it, and I titled that post "2015: The Year the Mets Win the World Series."

It was supposed to be a joke.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

NFL Picks Week Seven: This is really happening, isn't it?

There is a certain element of drama that disappears from the game when the outcome is no longer in doubt. The last time the New York Mets won the National League pennant, a five-game romp over the Cardinals in 2000, I remember being on the phone with my father during the final outs as I watched on the couch in the den of my childhood home. As the Mets inched closer and closer to the World Series, leading 7-0 as Mike Hampton was in the midst of a masterful three-hit shutout, there was no angst, no worry, no concern. I just told my dad, "Let's end this thing already."

This was the only time I had seen the New York Mets win the pennant until last night. The Mets wrapped up their first ever four-game sweep in a best-of-seven postseason series with an 8-3 win in which they had put up a four-spot before the Chicago Cubs ever came to bat and ended a series in which they never trailed once. It is a delirious, euphoric moment, but in no tangible way does it really feel real. There are probably many reasons for that. For one, these things always feel bizarre in the moment, and not as if they're a part of history. For another, I'm not really used to seeing good things happen to the Mets. And lastly, it was just so damn easy. The Cubs were a Vegas and popular favorite heading into this series and the Mets toyed with them as if they were the Murderer's Row Yankees facing a group of high schoolers. The Mets' offense struck early in each game and the pitching locked the Cubs' considerable offensive power down with literal trouble in a way that doesn't so much prove New York's championship bonafides as it does defy belief.

And at the heart of it, that's the issue. This, what the New York Mets are doing, defies belief. This doesn't seem real or possible for a team that was tip-toeing around .500 for the first half of the season while putting out lineups where people like John Mayberry Jr. and Eric Campbell took turns batting cleanup. This team is now going to its first World Series since I was a sophomore in high school with a starting rotation that some are calling one of the best young groups ever assembled, a lineup that is mashing when it has to and a second baseman who hit a career high of 14 home runs this season, but now has apparently been anointed by the blood of Jesus.

It all makes no god damn sense.

Monday, October 19, 2015

This is what magic feels like

There is something about witnessing a postseason run for one of your teams that, in the moment, doesn't quite make it seem real. In the particular scenario in which that team is noted for a history of heartbreak when it's good, mediocrity when its not and generally tripping over its own feet, it is doubly surreal. What the New York Mets are doing right now, however, might make surreal seem ordinary. That New York is riding the arms of its long-touted pitching staff is not exactly a surprise. But ripping off two wins to start the NLCS against the favored Chicago Cubs, beating their two ace-caliber pitchers in the process no-less, and doing so with Curtis Granderson and Daniel Murphy delivering almost all of the offensive punch is something to behold.

And, I can tell you, it's something to see.

I have been to more than 180 Major League Baseball games in my life. According to my Hardball Passport profile, 138 of those have involved the New York Mets, though given that I wasn't quite as dedicated to keeping track of my ticket stubs in the 1990s, that number, in reality, is almost certainly higher. Until Saturday night, I had never seen the Mets play in the postseason in person. I did have tickets to the first round in 2007 and 2008, but we all know what happened there. Three years ago I decided on a whim to see my first postseason game when the Yankees and Orioles played in Game 5 of the ALDS.

I'm not sure why I did that. For years I had said I would avoid the postseason until I saw my Mets playing there myself. Perhaps I just saw a deal too good to pass up on an afternoon I was free, perhaps I got tired of waiting. While that afternoon was fun, it was no different or worse for me than any other baseball game. I had no care or investment. It was just nine innings between two teams with whom I have almost no connection.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

NFL Picks Week Six: Oh, right, so that's what it feels like

I remember this. The tension, the angst, the agita. It's all coming back to me. Nine years is quite a gap to go without being invested in October baseball, and the way it twists your stomach in knots was long forgotten and yet feels all too familiar. I often tell coworkers of a conversation I had in 2011, when the New Jersey Devils endured their first season without a playoff berth since 1996, when I was just shy of my 11th birthday. As I watched the postseason that spring I told my coworker how I experienced the most bizarre phenomenon during that first round.

I enjoyed it.

This is not unusual. Watching your team play a postseason game is a stressful, nerve-wracking affair, and when it comes to baseball, I had nearly forgotten just how stressful it can be. I was reminded of it this past Friday, when after a long day of hiking around Glacier National Park with two good friends and a heart dinner of grilled buffalo ribeyes in Kalispell, Montana, I settled in in my friends Dave and Caitlin's living room to watch the Mets play the Dodgers in Game 1 of the NLDS with them, my friend Frankie and Dave and Caitlin's black lab mix Bergen. Almost instantaneously, stresses rippled through my body in a way I hadn't experienced since October 19, 2006, when the Mets lost Game 7 of the NLCS to St. Louis in what would be their last postseason game for almost a decade.

In this particular instance of course, I was lucky. It was a tiny bit of misfortune that the Mets' first postseason series in nine years happened to fall almost entirely throughout the course of a trip to Montana, but luckily they have technology out there now even if my friends there somehow don't have cable. That first game, a dominant strikeout-laden win for Jacob deGrom, though, was relatively stress free. Game 2, which I watched partially at a condo in Big Sky and partially at a nearby bar called The Broken Spoke, was a less pleasant experience and the night that will be singled out in this series if the Mets don't reach the NLCS because of the slide heard 'round the world. I may or may not have made a scene in front of several people I don't know, but on the plus side, the credit card minimum there was only $6 and you still needed to buy two drinks to reach it. Game 3, the most-enjoyable game of the series for obvious reasons, I watched at my friends' Sarah and Jeff's place in Missoula, along with their insanely adorable 18-month-old Marshall, who has a knack for industriousness and may or may not be a good luck charm.

And then there's Game 4.

Thursday, October 8, 2015


Montana is one of a handful of states in the lower 48 bereft of any major league professional sports teams. That doesn't mean there's no reason to visit, obviously. Montana also happens to maybe be the most beautiful place on Earth. That Montana lacks any major league sports teams isn't a bad thing, but it does make it a curious place for me to spend what might be one of the busiest sports weeks on record.

That week already began on Tuesday when the Astros bored the Yankees to death in the AL Wild Card Game and continued last night when Jake Arietta turned the Pirates into mincemeat as the Cubs took the NL Wild Card Game. Nothing like watching a 98-win season go down the tubes in a winner-take-all frabrication designed for TV. I'm also fortunate in that I was too lazy to blog my MLB postseason bigs on Tuesday like I should have, considering I was going to pick Pittsburgh to win the World Series. The zaniness continues tonight when the American League Division Series kicks off, and the NFL's Week Five schedule gets underway. It was compounded last night when the NHL dropped the puck on the 2015-16 season, during which I will watch the Blackhawks try to defend their Stanley Cup championship and I will cheer the Devils' inexorable march toward the best odds in the Auston Matthews (or whomever) Sweepstakes. No. 13 Northwestern, newly sporting its highest national ranking since 2000, has one its biggest games in years as it visits No. 18 Michigan Saturday afternoon.

Also there are some baseball games this weekend that I'm kind of interested in.

There aren't many things in life that would set my heart aflutter like a deep New York Mets playoff run, and I use the term "aflutter" in the most literal sense as my angst and agita throughout is sure to cause some irregular beats. That said, it is just my luck that the first time the Mets play a real, bonafide postseason game in my adult life happens to fall in the middle of a vacation to the mountain west. Luckily for me, facing the Los Angeles Dodgers means the opening two games of the series will be in later time slots. Game 1's 9:45 pm ET start has not gone over so well back east, but as I am spending all of Friday hiking around Glacier National Park, my mind has been put at ease over not having to balance one of the few chances in my life to truly experience untouched natural splendor with one of the few chances in my life to watch the Mets play an October game that matters.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

NFL Picks Week Four: Is there a Ralph Around Here?

Ladies and gentlemen, much like my beloved New York Mets, I am in the midst of a drought. Much like my beloved Mets, that drought will end this month. Now, I'm not really naive enough to think my drought, which is all of nine months, is as significant as the Mets' which has lasted nine years, but I'm as excited for mine to end this weekend as I am for the Mets' to end on October 9. Ok, that's not entirely true, but it is enough nines to make Herman Cain proud. Except this is marginally more sensible.

Look, here's the point. I started this blog several years ago with the stated intentions of chronicling my irrational goal of seeing every sports team in the four major North American sports leagues play a home game. Unfortunately, there aren't enough teams, enough trips or enough money in my bank account to have a new adventure ready for posting each week, so I have often verged into other topics. Even as I've done that, however, I have still managed to make progress on my goal, typically matching or exceeding my ideal pace of six new teams per year for the next three decades or so.

Then 2015 came.

This year has been slowed by several other commitments, be they vacations, visiting family abroad or still being stuck in that brutal stretch in which everyone you know is getting married. I have capitalized on this to some extent, finally seeing my beloved Saints for the first time when I stayed with my sister in London and experiencing the insanity of Japanese sporting culture as I made a mid-summer trek around the globe. I even managed to combine a wedding in California this past June with trips to see the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A's.

The catch here is that none of these teams were both in North America nor teams I had never seen before. In fact, the last time I ventured outside my sports comfort zone within the lower 48 was way back on December 7, 2014 when I watched the Giants pulverize 22 homeless men masquerading as the Tennessee Titans. Since then it's been nothing but watching the same teams I always watch, and if you happened upon a Devils or Knicks game last season you know that can't be a good thing.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Pave paradise. Put up a parking lot.

Much has happened in my life since 2006. I've graduated college, moved to New York and worked in a job long enough to vest a pension. I've seen two siblings get married, two cousins and countless friends across the U.S. I've gone on vacations to 21 countries across four continents. I've seen 53 new major league teams in five different sports play home games across 33 cities in four countries over three continents. I've seen the Giants win a Super Bowl unexpectedly, collapse into mediocrity and then unexpectedly win the Super Bowl again. I've seen three of my four favorite North American teams move into new buildings, I've seen Bruce Springsteen in concert six times and I've even become an uncle.

I have not, however, seen the New York Mets play a postseason baseball game.

That drought, mercifully, will end next week when the Mets face (and possibly host?) the Los Angeles Dodgers on Oct. 9 in Game 1 of the National League Division Series. That I may be hiking in Glacier National park at the time makes me a bit anxious, but with the magic of modern technology, I'm clinging desperately to the hope that I will still be able to see the magic on a phone or at a local bar. But the fact that it is happening at all, is important. The life of a Mets fan, so often, is an exercise in masochism or, if one wants to believe it ultimately serves a higher purpose, asceticism.

I am not one of those people. There is not higher calling or ultimate lifestyle reward for being a Mets fan. In fact, so often there is no reward at all, large or small. That has been particularly true over the past near-decade since Carlos Beltran was unable to get the bat off his shoulder (though given the nastiness of a 2006-Adam Wainright curveball I refuse to be one of those who still bears resentment against Beltran). The last nine years of living with the Mets has included two epic collapses, the acquisition of one of the greatest pitchers of his era only to see him breakdown over the course of his contract, a ponzi-scheme fueled bankruptcy, front office turmoil and, and yes I know I've mentioned this, but it cannot be stressed enough, a high-ranking front office employee who challenged a clubhouse full of minor leaguers to a fight.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

NFL Picks Week Three: This entry canceled by the Pope

Some of you following the news this week may have noticed that some guy named Frank is visiting New York today and tomorrow, which is apparently bringing every Catholic out of the would work. The Pope is in town and that means tons of traffic changes, early office closings and New York generally being in a dizzy tizzy. The upshot of this is that I am also too busy to write a full entry in this blog -- or at least too lazy -- because the holy father has made it so.

Pope Francis will curiously not be hosting a mass at Yankee Stadium, which is the typical public location for a sitting pope to do so out of concern for his exhaustion, but he will be hosting a mass at Madison Square Garden. This, I believe, is the closest this trip will get to anything sports-related, which is a damn shame considering John Paul II's visit to St. Louis in the late 1990s that included a private audience with Mark McGwire, and a hilarious photo of him receiving an authentic jersey from the St. Louis Blues that I have to imagine he wore regularly around St. Peter's. He certainly wasn't wearing it around the rink.

I don't much believe in Catholicism or the Pope's significance on a religious level (which really shouldn't be a surprised considering the obvious), but I will admit I know people that need his guidance. The New York Giants have a rare Thursday night tilt against the Washington Redskins tonight, and if anyone could use the help of a higher power to get back on the straight and narrow, it's probably my boys in blue. Following consecutive back-breaking losses that could otherwise have the Giants in commanding early position in the NFC East, the Giants need a win desperately to get back into the race, which is a lot to say in Week 3 of the season, but it isn't wrong.

It is rare that both the New York Giants and the Holy Father are in the same general geographic area at the same time -- there aren't many football fields in the Vatican, though I hear there are some good livestock shows -- but I can only hope some of his influence can rub off on Big Blue as they make a bid to save their season. If Francis manages to have an impact on his brief visit to New York, well, maybe I'll start believing in miracles.

If nothing else he might leave with a pretty sweet personalized jersey.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Just what does it take to turn around a hat trick day gone wrong?

Those of you who read this space regularly (and feel free to let me know if you do personally, because I'm pretty sure I could count you on one hand) are probably aware that on those sublime, fortunate afternoons and nights where three different teams I root for win, I like to boast that I've had a hat trick day. Some of those days are truly memorable. Some, however, are not. And then there are those special inverse hat trick days that are so brutally painful that you start to question why you wrap up so much emotion in a trivial event you have no direct influence on in the first place.

Then again, maybe it's not so much that I have no direct influence as it is that I wore the wrong Eli Manning jersey yesterday. We can't really know for sure.

The point is, it often takes something pretty remarkable to overturn the misery of an inverse hat trick day, let alone one where all three teams you're following happen to blow leads in the process. Yesterday, I got to test the theory of just how unlikely a positive occurrence you need to be connected to to truly block out that kind of disappointment, particularly when, at one point, it looked like I might be in for a pretty damned good day.

It all started around 11:12 a.m. ET as I sat in my office watching Southampton, which has not exactly set the world on fire like it did a year ago when the Saints spent half the season in second place in the table. Yesterday the Saints were playing those irritating 800-lb. gorillas known as Manchester United, the type of outfit that overspends to the point that you can mock their inefficiency, but still get steamed that even if quadrupling your payroll only gives them a better team than yours by a hair, they've still got that single hair. At that time, Southampton striker Graziano Pelle had slammed an easy rebound into the net to give the Saints a 1-nil lead over United, which got me thinking I could be in for a hell of a day.

At 11 Southampton faced Manchester United. At 1 the Giants opened their 2015 home schedule against the Atlanta Falcon. At 8 the Mets looked to cap a Subway Series win against the Yankees. And finally, at that same time, the Emmys would be happening out in Los Angeles. Typically, I don't care that much about the Emmys, but, see, I knew a guy who was nominated or something.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

NFL Picks Week Two: Let's do everyone a favor and not talk about last week

Ok, look. I'm not going to go into my complaints and frustration from the Giants' colossal meltdown against the Cowboys in Week One. I mean, sure, the clock management was totally screwy, the refusal to run for short yardage out of a spread is a constant reminder than football coaches accept change slower than eroding mountains and the idea that somehow a one-possession lead with 90 seconds left is better than a two-posession lead with two minutes left is, you know, nuts.

But look on the bright side!



Ok, so when you think about it, there are, at least some positives to cling to. The Giants' defense looked far better than many anticipated, with the notable exception of backup middle linebacker Uani' Unga being picked on like a the nerdy kid at lunch during Dallas' winning drive. While the Giants still only have themselves to blame for not ultimately winning, you can also include the fact that the Cowboys got a little bit of home cooking. New York won the turnover battle and more or less held its own in a road game against one of the League's title favorites that any sane person would say it should have won.

I take a mild bit of reassurance from that, or maybe I just get a reminder than the difference in the NFL between great and terrible is razor thin, but the important thing is that I've emotionally moved on from a colossally frustrating season opener. I haven't lost hope even if the betting public has. After all, the Giants would have won a huge season-opening game if it wasn't for a few easily fixable mistakes. So, the logic goes, fix the mistakes, the wins will start coming, right?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

NFL Picks Week One: It's the fourth year of the cycle, everybody!

Tons of great things happy every four years. In the world of sports, we see how intensive training and a strict doping regimen can produce thrilling competitions at the Olympic Games. In politics we witness first hand how much money it takes to buy the Presidency. Scientists gather to find out what cool things we can do with dirt. And in the NFL, it's starting to appear that against all odds, something truly crazy happens.

Every four years, the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.

I know, I know. Two Super Bowl titles four years apart does not a trend make. But when one looks at how totally zany those two title runs were, and how much better the Patriots, Packers or any other team the Giants played during those runs objectively were (2007 Buccaneers and 2011 Falcons excluded), one has to wonder if something strange isn't in the air. The Giants were a combined 19-13 over those two seasons compared to a combined 29-3 mark from the 2007 and 2011 Pats. New York was mediocre in most statistical categories, suffered coach-jeopardizing losing streaks and barely scrambled their way into the postseason in both seasons. Both Super Bowl victories required a late fourth-quarter touchdown drive that involved a mind-altering catch to pull off an upset. Each Super Bowl berth required an unexpected overtime field goal on the road against a superior opponent in perilous weather conditions. Each championship, in order to occur, would require its own series of implausible and improbably events.

And yet at the beginning of February, there we were, twice watching Eli Manning, the quarterback who had been a poster child for aloofness and unfulfilled expectations, lifting the Lombardi Trophy with a big ol' "Screw you" grin on his face.

No one really knows how all that happens, but there must be a reason. There must be an outside force affecting the data. And so, much like my belief that the Chicago Cubs must actually be cursed, something has predetermined the Giants' cyclical success. Some higher power has preordained that New York will upset the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl every four years. It's as dependable as the globe's greatest soil scientists gathering quadrennially to talk about earth.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

What on Earth is going on here?

This is not my team. These are not the Mets I know.

In my emotionally-scarring 2.5 decades of baseball fandom I have grown used to scars and disappointment, to collapses and anemic offenses, to insurmountable deficits left insurmounted against mentally stronger foes. What I have never grown used to, what I may never grow used to, is watching this team give up a crooked number and have anything resembling "confidence" that it was capable of a rally.

And so, after last night's stunning comeback, which not only gave the Mets a six-game lead in the NL East but also may have provided the back-breaking moment that puts the proverbial fork in the Washington Nationals, I ask the one question that continues to run through my mind as I try to contain my youthful glee.

"What on Earth is going on?"

The New York Mets, suddenly, are good. Like, really good. On July 31, the Mets opened a three-game series against the Nationals coming off two losses and trailing Washington by three games. That night Wilmer Flores, who days before was crying on the field when he thought he was on the verge of being traded, hit a walkoff home run, sparking a stretch that has seen the Mets go 25-11. In that span, New York has made up a shocking nine games on Washington in the standings while winning all five games between the teams.