Thursday, September 27, 2012

NFL Picks Week Four: The Greatest Casualty of the 2012 New York Mets Season

In life I have known very few things that mattered and were certainties. Death. Taxes. Chicken McNuggets. And Keith Hernandez's iconic mustache. There are some people very important, very near and dear to me, that have had close, intense relationships with Keith's robust facial hair. My most important and tortured of baseball franchises, the New York Mets, are as linked to Keith's pushbroom as they are to the borough of Queens itself. Through great moments in the franchise's history, Keith's whiskers have been there. In 1986 when the Amazins won it all the mustache was there. As long as Hernandez has been in the booth, it was a part of the Mets Family. Even when Emmitt Smith and Randy Johnson had their own emotional distress, the mustache was there for them. The American Mustache Institute has bestowed remarkable recognition on Hernandez's cookie duster.

Even Jerry Seinfeld understood the importance of the mustache.

But all of that is just a memory now. Today, for purposes of charity and maybe catharsis after what has been a brutal second half of the season, Keith Hernandez sat down in a barber's chair outside of Citi Field and said goodbye to the hirsute facial state we all held so near and dear. It is a in no uncertain terms, a difficult, dark and troublesome day if you are a Mets fan. And there are no two ways around it.

This is, simply put, a devastating moment for all Mets fans, and there is no one that we can place the blame on other than the team itself. Much like the girlfriend who breaks up with you simply because she is in a rut in her life and something -- anything -- needs to change, Keith clearly felt that a new look was in order after the Mets' utterly disastrous second half of the season. This was Keith telling us all that he knew something or someone had to shake things up, and as this season winds its way down this is his sign that we all need the Mets to do better a year from now.

Just how bad has it gotten?

Well, there are about a dozen things more exciting than Citi Field these days, and on my last trip to the ball park on Monday night, in which I and at least three -- no -- four dozen other fans witnessed a 6-2 victory over the Pirates, all the buzz was about Keith's 'stache and the absolutely amazing Pat LaFrieda's steak sandwich. This at a time when there are actually some fairly exciting things going on in Mets Land. After all, R.A. Dickey is taking his stab today at becoming a 20-game winner for the Mets, and last night David Wright made some considerable history when he passed Ed Kranepool as the franchise's all-time hits leader.



But even among all of this, there is simply no words that can dampen the feeling of what we've all lost today. There is a hole in the hearts of Mets fans everywhere, and nothing, not a victory today over Pittsburgh to cap a four-game sweep, not concrete from the center field Shake Shack, not another sandwich from Pat LaFrieda's can fill.

Well maybe the sandwich can fill it. It's a pretty big sandwich.

Still, I think we all know this is a troublesome crossroads for those of us who wear the blue and orange. For many of us, the hope will stay alive that come next spring when the Mets open camp in the grapefruit league, Keith's mustache will have returned. If it hasn't, we may all just feel a little more lost than we did before. And the Mets will have no one to blame but themselves.

On that note, I think it's time for me to do this week's football picks before I get a little too emotional. Then again, whatever reaction I have, it cannot possibly be more embarrassing than what happened to the NFL Monday night.

Last week: 8-7-1 (Would have been 9-6-1 if not for Green Bay-Seattle)
Season: 22-23-3

BALTIMORE (-13) over Cleveland
NY Giants (+1) over PHILADELPHIA
Carolina (+8) over ATLANTA
New England (-5) over BUFFALO
DETROIT (-5) over Minnesota
San Diego (-1) over KANSAS CITY
Seattle (-3) over ST. LOUIS
San Francisco (-5) over NY JETS
HOUSTON (-12) over Tennessee
DENVER (-7) over Oakland
ARIZONA (-6) over Miami
Cincinnati (-3) over JACKSONVILLE
New Orleans (+8) over GREEN BAY
Washington (+3) over TAMPA BAY
Chicago (+4) over DALLAS

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