Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015: The Year the Mets Win the World Series

Yep, that's right. I'm placing an awfully large amount of responsibility on Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard, two pitchers who didn't toss an inning in the Major Leagues in 2014, but what the hey. I haven't got much else to look forward to sports-wise, so why not? Since we've last spoken (which is what I'm going to cheekily call the intermediate period in which I was too lazy to post my NFL picks (Final record: 120-132-4)), a lot of things have happened and they aren't particularly positive. First there's the Giants ending their mediocre season in a loss to the Eagles, though I guess the fact that it's over might be a positive, and then the Devils decided to make one of the more bizarre coaching moves I can remember. The Devils then proceeded to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins and sully their chances in the Connor McDavid sweepstakes. Southampton dropped out of second-place in the Premier League after a rough five-match losing streak, and then the Knicks, well, the Knicks are apparently still playing basketball, so that's either a negative because they're so awful or a positive because they've somehow managed to continue putting a team together for 48 minutes despite being so awful.

I can't decide.

This brings us to the Mets, who, along with the Geelong Cats, are one of just two teams I follow on the entire planet that haven't lost a game in the past month, and that's only because they haven't played. The Mets, somehow, have become my one last hope for satisfaction, and that brings us to 2015. For the first time in quite some time the Mets actually have some reasons to be excited, although we only get to see one of them each day. At the start of the 2015 MLB season, the Mets' starting pitching rotation should feature Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler and Jon Niese. Those first four could be a first or second starter on most Major League rosters. Each of those four is under 26 years old, and Jon Niese isn't much older.

That's a pretty good reason to be excited about the Amazins, and it's about time, too. The Mets, and this will be shocking to most of you, are currently in their longest championship drought ever (really!) at 29 years. 2015 will mark 15 years since the Mets' last appearance in a World Series, which, amazingly (see what I did there?) is also the longest the team has ever gone without winning the National League pennant. 2015 is also the year in which I will turn 30 years old, which is an ethical crisis in and of itself, but it means at 30 years of life and the last 15 of them without seeing the Mets reach the Fall Classic, I will have officially spent half of my life since I last saw the Mets play a World Series game. I suppose you could say this same occurrence happened when I turned two, but it's more useful for me to explain my neuroses with it now.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

NFL Picks Week Fifteen: Music City is great, but look both ways

This past weekend I made my first-ever visit to Nashville -- or to the entire state of Tennessee for that matter -- and after being told by friends and coworkers that it was one of the most enjoyable towns you can spend three days in I must report back that it is all true. I had a tremendous weekend full of good friends, a family-required visit to our distant uncle Jack, pulled pork topped with mac-n-cheese, I had a ton of fun at the Blackhawks-Predators game and the Giants actually won for the first time in two months.

There was only one minor thing that went wrong.

Ok, I may be blowing that slightly out of proportion. When I say "hit by a car," what I really mean is more "nudged by a slowly rolling automobile and not suffering even a bruise," but the shock is about as dramatic as you could expect, particularly when after being stuck in traffic for an hour in search of a restaurant and a parking space we found the restaurant had free valet parking. Irony. In any event, on Friday night just hours after arriving in the Volunteer state, my friend Jill and I walked in downtown Nashville toward our ultimate destination, Puckett's Grocery, a highly-recommended home of greasy southern fare that truly hit the mark. Just let your eyes get lost in that fried cookie dough brownie sundae I had for dessert. The only stumble came when my brother frantically called me after hearing from his wife that someone had written on Facebook about me getting hit by a car.

I probably should have explained in more detail that I was merely bumped by a driver who wasn't looking as he made a right turn on a red light (and also that I had the right of way), but people only communicate in 140 characters or less these days, so I was in quite the pickle.

No matter.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

NFL Picks Week Fourteen: My first trip to Music City

So, I didn't write an update in this here blog last week. Was it because I couldn't bear the impending mediocrity that was Northwestern's masterpiece in egg-laying against Illinois on Saturday, which cost them a bowl game? Was it because I somehow knew the Giants would blow a 21-point lead against the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team with a total of 13 wins in the past four seasons? Could it be because I anticipated Southampton's disheartening 3-nil loss to Manchester City and its rough 1-nil loss to Arsenal just a few days later? Was it because the Devils continue to struggle and the Knicks continue to be the Knicks?

No, I was just busy.

But there is no escaping the fact that for many reasons, it has been a busy week. Beyond the fact that all of my teams seem to be terrible at the moment, I've had my own bit of personal work to sift through, like this story on U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Jeff Sauer, and an obituary for late Montreal Canadiens legend Jean Beliveau. Then there's the added quirk that my complete childhood and everything I know to be true and just in this world was shattered on Tuesday afternoon.

It's been a tumultuous few days, which may or may not entirely explain why I never got around to telling you all what my picks were for last week's NFL games. I went 9-7-0 in case you were wondering, which I'm sure you weren't.

All in all, the whirlwind has left me somewhat exhausted and mentally spent, which means I could really use a vacation, and just as luck would have it, I'll be hopping on a plane to Tennessee tomorrow. My impending trip to Nashville, one of the few major American cultural hubs I've never been to, has me pretty excited, even if it involves watching the New York "Football" Giants play the Tennessee Titans in what has the look of a high-intensity battle for top-five draft position. Doesn't get any better than that.