Wednesday, June 29, 2011

You Know, I Really Just Don't Get This Team Sometimes

Pick one. Seriously, just pick one. I can accept if you're bad. I'd love it if you're good. But I can't deal with uncertainty, and if the Mets continue to stun and surprise me by being competitive without their ace pitcher, all-star third baseman, slugging first baseman and, well, any competent hitting out of left field or a member of the rotation who before the season would have gotten you excited, I'm going to have no clue what to think.

Doesn't this team realize I planned my summer around them not being interesting?

This was supposed to be something of a rebuilding year, and while the Mets did have talent on the roster this spring, that delightful injury bug which always seems to snag them was surely going to keep them from competing. Hell, Johan Santana was already out before the season started. Given the likely hardships in Flushing this year, I planned accordingly, purchasing a season ticket package in which all of the games were done by mid-July.

When the season started the Mets opened with a robust 5-13 record through their first 18 games, David Wright and Ike Davis both went down with injuries, low risk/high reward pitcher Chris Young went out for the season and Jason Bay returned to perform as if he may as well never come back.

But all of the sudden, that all seems like ancient history. The Mets have only lost one series in the month of June, they just took two out of three from the defending American League champions -- on the road, no less -- the offense has scored 36 runs in the last three games, and New York is actually over .500 for the first time since April 6 at 40-39. The Mets are five games back of the Wild Card with 83 games still left in the season. Of the four teams ahead of them two (Pittsburgh and Arizona) are probably good bets to fade over the course of the season, one (St. Louis) will be without its best player for 4-6 weeks, and the last one (Atlanta) lost both series it played against New York in the past month.

Don't these people know I planned a three-week trip to Europe for next month assuming I'd miss nothing of interest?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

This Is A New One. Even For Me.

Ladies and gentleman, I am a Mets fan. You know this. I don't keep it a secret even though perhaps I should. But being a Mets fan means I have seen a lot of bizarre things, both in person and on TV. But all that said, I'm pretty sure I've never, ever, ever seen a baseball game end the way it did last night.

Yeah, you read it right.

The Mets defeated the A's -- and their totally awesome yellow jerseys -- when, with the bases loaded, Justin Turner fashioned the Amazins' first walk-off win of the year with a bases loaded hit by pitch.

Sometimes you just can't make these things up.

That is, I suppose, the beauty and wonder of baseball. It is nearly impossible to predict everything that will happen and there is always a bizarre chance that something totally unusual like this will happen. Of course, in a sport where, as we've found elsewhere last night, even the mascots are as tough as they come, it doesn't seem so crazy that a man would be willing to surrender his body for the good of the team. In fact, sometimes I wish they'd do it more often.

Still, this was a most peculiar way for this, or any game to end, even if it apparently has happened before with the Mets falling on both sides of the ledger. However, keep in mind that this was already a pretty odd night at the ol' ballpark. For starters, the game was delayed an hour by a fairly unrepentant rain storm that swept through and left puddles through a stadium that has shockingly uneven concrete for a building that's only in its third season of use. Also note that Mets starter R.A. Dickey was utterly brilliant for eight innings, at one point making us furious that a dropped ball by center fielder Jerry Hairston Jr. in the second inning had already put the kibosh on a potential no-no.

Add into that that with both Dickey and A's starter Gio Gonzalez throwing pills all night, the Mets were in line for a 2-1 win courtesy of Jose Reyes' eighth-inning triple and Justin Turner's single afterward that set Francisco Rodriguez up for a save -- a save that almost sent us home in a relatively lightning quick two hours and 20 minutes.

Almost.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

GAMESEVENGAMESEVENGAMESEVENGAMESEVENGAMESEVENGAMESEVEN

Yeah, that's right. For just the 16th time ever -- although, bizarrely, the sixth time in the last decade -- there's something pretty damn awesome on TV tonight, and it's Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. Yes, a Game 7 is special in any sport, there is no doubt about this, but something about Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final speaks of a heightened excitement. It may not have the gravitas of Game 7 of the World Series, but it does contain the extreme tension where one mistake can mean your season as well as the potential for the same easy up-and-down, back-and-forth action we might see in Game 7 of the NBA Finals.

Also, they do it on fucking quarter-inch wide ice skates.

So yeah, this is going to be a pretty sweet treat, and despite the frequency of Cup Final Game 7s of late, this actually a pretty rare occurrence. From 1966 to 1986, the Stanley Cup Final went seven games a grand total of one time. And as I've mentioned before, this series has had just about everything you could ask for as far as blowouts, tight games, overtimes, scuffles, wars of words and intrigue is concerned. And if the Canucks wind up with their first championship in franchise history tonight, not only will it end an angsty 40-year drought, but it would be the flukiest championship in any of the three major sports that play a final series, well, ever.

Of course to call it a fluke would be an injustice to a stellar season for Vancouver in which the Canucks were head and shoulders above the rest of the League. But winning a Cup despite being outscored by a double-digit margin to this point would be something that is, well, utterly bizarre. Even more bizarre than Mike Rupp's three-point night in Game 7 of the 2003 Final between New Jersey and Anaheim.



Not that I'm complaining. Historical curiosities make for an interesting bit of entertainment, regardless of what you're watching, but when it's something like Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final -- at least for me -- it only gets more interesting. Besides, as anyone who has watched this season knows, the Canucks were hardly a fluke in getting this far.

Monday, June 13, 2011

So There's This Hockey Game Tonight

I know long gaps in posting are unusual for me, and this nearly two-week gap right here has been one of the longest, but, you see, I've been busy lately. Those of you who know what I do for a living know that it's been a particularly busy time of year, I also was in Colorado last weekend for a wedding and to top all that off, I'm also planning a somewhat massive excursion out to Europe that I'll be leaving for in a little less than a month. All of this has led to a lot of exhaustion and little time to write, which I'm sure has plagued the four regular readers I've got.

Somehow, I think you've managed to survive though. And that's a relief.

That all aside, all y'all probably know that I rather like hockey. And, you see, right now there's some big stuff happening in hockey. Yeah, that whole "Stanley Cup Final" thing has been going on. And while you weren't paying attention, the Canucks and Bruins have put together a pretty fun little championship series, with wild overtime goals, growing tension, physical jousting, verbal forays and a goalie leveling a forward on a breakaway.

Seriously, what more could you want in a postseason series?



And so the reason I bring this all up for you excited individuals out there is that tonight happens to be a potentially decisive Game 6, in which the Canucks might well lift the Stanley Cup for the first time in their 40-year franchise history. And if they lose, all we get is a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final, which just might be the most exciting thing that happens in North American sports. Combine all this with the fact that that other Final series came to an end Sunday night, and there's just about nothing distracting all of you from the spectacle of seeing, possibly, the greatest trophy in sports awarded Monday in Boston.