Saturday, July 30, 2011

Back To Your Regularly Scheduled Programming

Alright everyone, you can stop worrying. I'm back in the U.S., we can all breath sighs of relief, the world is back to normal. You'll have to excuse the lack of updating over the last three weeks, but as I mentioned before leaving, I was busy running around Europe for a while. Over an 18 day stretch that ended with an interesting 24-hour period in which I dragged a 25-pound bag of chocolate through four countries, I saw five countries, 11 cities, some 25 museums, 20 Cathedrals and spent more money in ATM fees than I'd really like to admit.

Naturally, as you can imagine, this trip left me somewhat out of the loop as far as the sports world is concerned though I kept as regular tabs as I could on the major things, namely the Women's World Cup, the NFL lockout resolution (which, if you pay attention to logic, should have been no surprise whatsoever), the Mets and the Carlos Beltran trade. At least those were the events important to me. So in between my attempts to figure out how screwed I would be on the exchange rate if the U.S. debt talks continued to go south, whatever twitter could tell me is whatever I got.

But what I want to talk to you about is a particularly interesting phenomenon that I experienced on Sunday night, July 17, and that was the experience of watching the United States in a national sporting event among fellow citizens in a foreign country. You with me? I speak of course about the positively brutal experience that was watching the U.S. Women come up short in the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup. For a while I had started to believe the Women's World Cup might be a defining aspect of the trip in general. Sitting in the Airport in Boston I saw the U.S. take an early 1-0 lead in its quarterfinal against Brazil and then boarded a plane. Then I landed in Philadelphia, walked off the plane and right up to a sports bar as this thing happened.

Not that I want to tell any sort of tales out of school, and I don't want to give the impression that I'm a soccer expert by any means, but that just may have been the most dramatic moment in a American soccer that I've seen -- and maybe ever -- which is a tough slot to take given Landon Donovan's amazing goal a year ago and the U.S.'s dramatic penalty kick-victory over China in the 1999 Women's World Cup Final. With the eventual win in penalty kicks against Brazil to move on I was in an upbeat mood on my way to Europe (though a disastrous plane experience would change that) and I knew there was a chance I'd have to watch the U.S. potentially win the World Cup while on Germany soil.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Scotty Doesn't Know

As many of you know, and really considering how much I've talked about it as all of you should know, I will be going to Europe tomorrow for my first hop across the pond in five years and my first wild youthful-indiscretion filled backpacking trip, well, ever. As a result, I've basically been playing the movie Eurotrip in my head for the last several days and quoting some of my favorite lines in it like, "You brought a guide book to a party?" and "I saw a gay porno once. I didn't know it until halfway in. The girls never came. The girls never came!" And to think, the only reason I saw the movie when it came out was because it was the only one playing after Starsky and Hutch that we could sneak into.

Oh college.

In any event, this wild whirlwind trip will take me through Rotterdam, Antwerp, the Hague, Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Munich, Aachen and Brussels in roughly two and a half weeks, so I'm going to be out of the loop a little bit and sparsely updating here if at all.

But that's not the real concern that is weighing on all of our minds. The real concern, obviously, is "How will Dave's wild Eurotrip impact his favorite baseball team, the New York Mets?" It's a question we've asked ourselves for ages, with great minds often going mad in the process. In fact, it was St. Thomas Aquinas who at one point said, "A Met has free choice to the extent that he is rational," which one has to assume that the Amazins and myself, really, operate independently of one another.

However, a look at some of the evidence argues otherwise. See in my last few entries I noted this impending concern by expressing relief that I won't be in the U.S. to see what I can only assume is likely to be the Mets' inevitable downfall and tumble in the wild card standings. After all, I had mostly mentally checked out before this season began expecting an 82-win season at best (which is about what they're on pace for at the moment), but that doesn't take into account how well they've played over the last month and since the first 18 games in particular, which would indicate an increasing rate of productivity and wins. Essentially, their likely win output over a broader sample size is hampered by their horrendous start, but if we take a derivative of the data set, we'll see that the rate in change in the function when X=July 9 is obviously much higher than it was on April 16.

Did I lose you? I got all calculus-y on you for a second. It's been a few years. Essentially, what I'm saying is the increased rate of change means that if they continue to improve exponentially, they're likely to win more than 82 games. Unless this is a parabolic function. I think. I was a history major, what do you want from me.

I'm getting off track.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

They're Still Equivocating And I Can't Take It

There we were on Sunday afternoon, one strike away from having some clarity and relieved anxiety. The Mets were losing to the Yankees in the bottom of the ninth, 2-1, facing the greatest closer in the history of the game and potentially, their season was on the brink. A loss would have given the Mets a demoralizing sweep at the behest of their crosstown rivals, and a fourth-straight loss overall, dampening any of the positive feelings we had gotten from a recent and surprising offensive outburst against the Tigers.

Then it happened.

The Mets rallied off Mariano Rivera, won the game in extra innings, and have since responded with two impressive wins to open their west-coast road trip in Los Angeles, which brings them to a season-high two whole games over .500 (although they've actually lost some ground in the Wild Card, where they're 6.5 back). Either way, the Mets haven't rolled over and died just yet, which is surprising to many for a few reasons and is also making me wonder about a few things.

A) Is this team for real? Like, are they going to make us think they're in the race longer than just the All-Star Break?

B) Is this the real Jason Bay? The outfielder was a disappointment last year up until he spent the latter part of the season, and the first part of this one out with a concussion. But in the last 10 games, he's hitting .359 with 13 RBIs, 8 runs scored, 3 homeruns and 2 stolen bases. Oh and his six homers this season are equal to his total from last year. Maybe the last three years of that contract won't be quite the albatross we all feared it was.

C) Why am I so damned anxious about this team?

That last one is the real question. I'll chalk it up to my Jewish neuroticism, but it makes me uncomfortable to not know if this team is going to suddenly get my hopes up only to dash them again or if I can comfortably ignore what's happening on the field. That's a terrible perspective to take. What I should be saying is, "I expected nothing and I'm getting something. It's all gravy."