Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I'd ask you to pinch me, but we don't want anyone else getting hurt

For the first time in franchise history, the New York Mets have won their first seven games at home. They've also won eight games in a row for the first time in five years and have a 10-3 start that has only been accomplished two other times in franchise history, with each of those seasons (1986, 2006) resulting in at least a division title and in the first case, a World Series championship. Matt Harvey is 3-0, Bartolo Colon is 3-0, Jacob deGrom is 2-1 and the staff's ERA is 3.00 even.

Oh, and the Mets have the best record in the National League.

So look, guys. I know it's early, but even though I expected the Mets to be improved this season, I wasn't quite expecting improvement like this. It's a long season with 149 games remaining and a plummet back to Earth may well be in the offing, but at the moment New York looks like a bonafide postseason contender and, at the moment anyway, in control of the NL East. There's just one small problem...

So even as the Mets begin the season tearing up the National League, there's a stockpile of absences that's starting to build up, and despite my greater hopes that it's just a required bit of adversity for a truly special season, at some point the chickens are going to come home to roost. To wit, since the start of spring training, the following issues have befallen the Mets' anticipated every-day roster:

1. Anticipated No. 2 starter Zack Wheeler needs Tommy John surgery
2. Lefty reliever Josh Edgin also needs Tommy John surgery
3. Closer Jenrry Mejia is suspended 80 games and any potential postseason games for taking steroids
4. All-Star third baseman and team captain David Wright suffers a hamstring injury
5. Reliever Vic Black has to get an MRI
6. In the span of one inning shutdown reliever Jerry Blevins and hot-hitting catcher Travis d'Arnaud each break bones that will keep them out six weeks and three weeks, respectively

So yeah, the Mets are looking great and doing great, but what in the name of Sidd Finch is going on here?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

19 innings in purgatory: My first baseball game of 2015

Mike, who for the purposes of clarification will henceforth in this post be referred to as "Duffman", was two innings late. Last week my stepmother told me she had happened upon four tickets to the Delta Suite at the Boston Red Sox-New York Yankees game on April 10 and asked me if I would make good use of them. Even with no dog in the fight, the answer to that was obvious, and so I chose to take with me Mike, one of my best friends from high school, ardent Red Sox fan Luisa, one of my best friends from college and her recently-wedded husband, Duffman.

And Duffman was two innings late.

I'm a bit of a stickler for arriving to sporting events on time. I don't like to miss first pitch, but if someone else gets held up or sidetracked, and evidently this was the case, well that's their folly. Mike, Luisa and I had all been at the stadium since 5:30, watching some batting practice, at which Luisa sweet talked her way into a baseball from one of Boston's outfielders, and checking out Yankee Stadium's various exclusive areas to which our tickets provided access. First we went to the Mohegan Sun sports bar, which was about as sterile as one could imagine, and next to the Audi Club in left field, which seemed nice and elegant, but was only slightly less sterile than the Mohegan Sun sports bar. Finally we made our way through the indirect, confusing tunnels that are concourses at Yankee Stadium, and we made our way to the Delta 360 suite where our actual tickets were.

We indulged in the free popcorn, peanuts and soft drinks and watched the game slowly get underway, and all the while we wondered, "Where could Duffman be? He's not usually late to things." And then, at least in my mind, one thought began to pervade as one inning turned into two.

"What if Duffman doesn't get to see enough of the game to make his trip worth the time?"

Monday, April 6, 2015

2015 MLB Preview: I'm actually excited and I don't need to hide it

They just don't make sports days like today, anymore. Granted, to truly understand why today is so wonderful, you have to crawl deep inside the deranged psyche of a man who would contemplate staying awake until 4:30 a.m. on a school night to watch Australian Rules Football. Still, the fact remains that from the wee hours of this morning to the final hours of tonight, my brain is being treated to a smorgasbord of sports that literally spans the entire globe.

The day starts at 1:20 a.m. ET when Geelong and Hawthorn bounce for each team's opener of the 2015 Australian Football League home and away season. Yes, I know none of you really care about this sport at all, but trust me when I tell you that it is totally awesome. Of course, staying up until 4:30 a.m. when you have work the next morning isn't particularly advisable, so I only watched the first quarter before watching the conclusion of Geelong's, ugh, loss this morning as I got ready for work.

The hours after work bring more excitement still, as I get to see if at least one Big Ten family member will witness a national championship in his or her lifetime when Wisconsin takes on Duke for the NCAA Men's Basketball title, Bucky's first chance at a hoops championship since 1941. My Badger sister was following the score of her alma mater's massive update victory over previously-undefeated Kentucky as best she could from the Atlas Mountains in Morocco last night, which generally just meant waking up to a text message update from me.

Everyone experiences sports fandom in their own way.

Still the start of footy down under and the conclusion of an NCAA Tournament that was turbulent and predictable all at the same time merely serve as bookends for the most exciting part of the day. That comes at 7:05 p.m. when Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals throws the first pitch of the New York Mets 2015 season. Typically, as a Mets fan, the start of a new campaign is something I've grown to dread in my adult years, as the Amazins haven't put together a winning record since they played in Shea Stadium, and have largely spent the last six seasons tripping over their own feet on the way out of the dugout.