Friday, April 13, 2012

Well, It's Too Bad That's Over. On To Something Else Now.

So Monday night when I attended my first Mets game of the year, something magical happened. They actually rallied from an early three-run deficit and won a Major League Baseball game with a walk-off single by Daniel Murphy.

I know. I was shocked, too.

See of all the doom-day soothsayers and negative prognosticators, I wasn't one of the extreme dramatists that assumed this team was due for a 100-loss season. But I won't tell you I thought a 100-win campaign was in the offing either. This wasn't going to be a particularly good season. Maybe not terrible -- they might come close to 80 wins -- but I was perfectly comfortable making other plans for late October.

That the team opened the season with a sweep of rival Atlanta and then won a fourth game Monday night was some cause for hastened exuberance and, well, surprise as I entailed earlier this week. So of course it only makes sense that in a span of roughly ten minutes Tuesday night, not only did the Mets have two devastatingly embarrassing -- and ultimately game-costing -- blunders, but the team also announced that David Wright had broken a bone in his pinkie the night before setting up what every doctor thinks will be a few days off or a potentially brief stint on the DL and every fan thinks will be a year-long nagging injury that probably causes him, and the franchise's hopes of ever being good again to die in a fire.

That last bit may have been a bit dramatic, but the psychology of a Mets fan is not exactly a stable situation. At least this anxiety was somewhat mitigated by the news that apparently, if he can prove himself healthy for long stretches and return to the dominant form he appeared to show last week, the team's front office is leaning toward offering Wright a long-term extension, which would silence the critics who assume he is as good as traded at this year's deadline. Still, having Wright out for a spell and seeing the team -- on a day when they paid homage to the 1962 Mets by lowering ticket prices to 1962 levels -- do their best impression of the 1962 Mets, who set the mark for modern futility with 120 losses. To make matters worse this all had to coincide with a fully stocked breakfast muffin, bagel, croissant buffet at work Wednesday and National Grilled Cheese Day on Thursday when it just happens to be passover. Dealing with another 156 games of this makes me wish I had some sort of wonder drug to avoid the pain.

Maybe the Mets will redeem themselves this weekend in Philadelphia -- I'll be there tomorrow to see if they do -- but even if they don't manage to put themselves together, I will have a distraction.

Just what is that exactly? Well, I'm so glad you asked. See Wednesday night was the start of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, which, if you've ever watched them, you know are the best playoffs in North American sports. Look to last night for any indication of that when not just one but three games went into overtime, including one game-winner in double overtime by Martin Havlat, that looked conspicuously like a D2: Mighty Ducks-brand knuckle puck.

I was disappointed that the Hawks wound up falling to Phoenix in Game 1 despite Brent Seabrook's wild, game-tying goal with 14.2 seconds left, but all things considered, we all know I was just waiting for tonight when the Devils' brief one-season absence from the postseason comes to an end in Sunrise, Fla., when they drop the puck for Game 1 against the Panthers, who themselves are snapping the longest postseason drought in the League at 12 seasons.

I thought I'd get a little nutty and open myself up to some criticism by posting my picks for the first round -- and yes, I know seven of the series have already started, but I made these picks on Wednesday and considering that four of my picks to advance lost Game 1, I think you can accept that I'm being honest. After all, I've got faith in my choices and I didn't pick any sweeps. I'll be ok.

Here we go.

Eastern Conference
(1) New York Rangers over (8) Ottawa Senators in five
(2) Boston Bruins over (7) Washington Captials in five
(6) New Jersey Devils over (3) Florida Panthers in six
(4) Pittsburgh Penguins over (5) Philadelphia Flyers in seven

Western Conference
(1) Vancouver Canucks over (8) Los Angeles Kings in six
(2) St. Louis Blues over (7) San Jose Sharks in seven
(6) Chicago Blackhawks over (3) Phoenix Coyotes in six
(4) Nashville Predators over (5) Detroit Red Wings in seven.

I know it's chalk, but there's a reason chalk exists. It's usually right. That said, I'm sure we're in for  Kings-Senators Stanley Cup Final this June.

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