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.

The Mets' pennant drought, their surprising promise for a top-notch rotation in the coming seasons, and the fact that nearly all of my teams are awful right now (though I guess the Giants will be due to win the Super Bowl again in 13 months), means I cannot wait for 2015. And hey, wouldn't you know it? That's less than 24 hours away.

Seriously, I've heard 2015 will be great.

With 2014 winding down that means it's also time for my annual rundown of my previous year in review. I'm sure none of you can imagine a finer way to close out the year than finding out about how many airports I went through, how many visits I made to Culver's or how many sporting venues I visited, particularly since I snuck a new one in just under the wire. Relatedly, if you haven't been to the RAC, it's pretty great.

In any event, without further ado, here's what happened in 2014:

-- I saw eight new professional sports teams (Cincinnati Reds, Detroit Lions, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans, Toronto Blue Jays, Vancouver Canucks) and crossed the half-way point of my 122-team quest.
-- I saw professional sports teams in nine new venues (Great American Ball Park, Ford Field, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, Bridgestone Arena, Heinz Field, LP Field, Rogers Arena, Rogers Centre, BC Place)
-- I saw one of these teams (Vancouver Canucks) play home games in two separate venues in one week.
-- I saw two hockey games in a baseball stadium (Yankee Stadium) and one hockey game in a football stadium (BC Place).
-- I saw two new college sports venues (Notre Dame Stadium, Rutgers Athletic Center).
-- I saw sporting events, professional or college in 20 different venues (Citi Field, MetLife Stadium, Madison Square Garden, Prudential Center, Barclays Center, Lincoln Financial Field, Great American Ball Park, Ford Field, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, Bridgestone Arena, Heinz Field, LP Field, Rogers Arena, Rogers Centre, BC Place, Yankee Stadium II, Nassau Coliseum, United Center, Notre Dame Stadium, Rutgers Athletic Center). While I can't verify this, it has to be a record for me.
-- I sat in snow while looking like the Grimace before witnessing one of the craziest come-from-behind upsets I've ever witnessed.
-- None of the four major league sports teams I call my favorite reached the playoffs.
-- I ran my first half marathon only to see someone else hog all the credit.
-- I watched one Aussie Rules Football game on my phone while driving across Kentucky.
-- I went on one crazy road trip in which I saw four sporting events, two halls of fame, three bourbon distilleries on no sleep, one natural wonder, one bat factory, one horse-racing track and an obscene amount of fried food.
-- I stayed in one seedy motel in Windsor, Ontario that definitely had two prostitutes leaving the room next to ours as we arrived.
-- I watched the end of one baseball game I had attended at an airport because it went into extra innings.
-- I caught my first baseball at a Major League game in six years, and had a second glance off my mitt weeks later.
-- I was hit by one car in Nashville.
-- I visited 30 different cities (Vancouver, Los Angeles, Chicago, South Bend, Nashville, Louisville, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Windsor, Toronto, Buffalo, Madrid, Toledo, Salamanca, Porto, Lisbon, Seville, Cordoba, Tarifa, Tangier, Rabat, Fes, Marrakesh, Granada, Barcelona, Valencia, Philadelphia, Anaheim, Ocean City)
-- I stepped foot in four different countries other than the United States (Canada (twice!), Spain, Portugal, Morocco)
-- I flew on a plane 13 times and passed through seven different airports.
-- I found that security in Madrid is perfectly comfortable touching you anywhere they damn well please during a patdown.
-- I had one visit to a soccer stadium ruined because of a One Direction concert.
-- I began writing a novel I will probably never finish.
-- I stowed away on one overnight train from Spain to Portugal with my sister.
-- I stayed in 10 hotels, three AirBNB apartments, five hostels and five friends' apartments or houses.
-- I somehow only attended two weddings. Don't worry, next year is making up for it.
-- I ate at In-N-Out Burger once.
-- I ate at Culver's twice.
-- I had one Giordano's stuffed pie that I flew leftover slices from back to New York.
-- I won one fantasy football league, which, predictably, had no money at stake.
-- I wrote 41 entries in this blog, thus failing in my promise to write more than last year.
-- I acquired one nephew.

I can only imagine what 2015 will hold. To this point, all I know is I will definitely be going to London and Paris and seeing Southampton play in person for the first time. I know I might be going to Australia or Japan, but definitely not both, and I know I will be attending about a billion weddings, including one where I'll be an usher and thus completely nervewracked.

Oh, and I might see the Mets win the World Series. Anything's possible.

Meanwhilst, there's also a whole NFL playoffs thing that starts Saturday, so why don't we take a look at how I think that's going to go? You will be disappointed by how boring I think it's going to be.

AFC Wild Card Playoffs
(4) Indianapolis over (5) Cincinnati
(3) Pittsburgh over (6) Baltimore

NFC Wild Card Playoffs
(6) Detroit over (3) Dallas
(5) Arizona over (4) Carolina

AFC Divisional Playoffs
(1) New England over (4) Indianapolis
(2) Denver over (3) Pittsburgh

NFC Divisional Playoffs
(1) Seattle over (6) Detroit
(3) Detroit over (2) Green Bay

AFC Championship Game

NFC Championship Game
(1) Seattle over (3) Detroit

Super Bowl XLVIII
(1) Seattle over (1) New England
(1) New England over (2) Denver

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